A candidate for U.S. Senate in Delaware was among the nearly 600 women arrested Thursday in the nation’s capital during a protest against the federal government’s ‘zero-tolerance’ immigration policy.
Kerri Evelyn Harris made the trip to Washington DC with three other women from Delaware to protest family detentions, demand the reunification of immigrant parents and children, and call for the abolishment of ICE.
Harris and another Delaware woman were arrested for civil disobedience in the U.S. Senate’s Hart Office building.
Harris, who announced her U.S Senate bid in February, says it’s the first time she’s been arrested for civil disobedience—though in the past she’s provided support for others to be arrested.
Elizabeth Ito, a Delaware Tech faculty member and the daughter of an immigrant, was also arrested for the first time during Thursday’s action.
“We sat down, and we had signs and we were chanting. And then the police came in ... they were ready for us,” she said. “And we just continued chanting and singing.”
Ito says the women were processed individually by the Metropolitan Police Department and fined $50.
Harris says she was moved to protest federal immigration policy because she believes human rights are being trampled on—and that silence is complicity.
“It is important for us to stand up and go the way of our leaders of the Civil rights movement, making it clear on television for the world to see what is happening,” she said.
Kristen Bricker attended the protest but was not arrested. The member of Food Not Bombs Wilmington says the choice of the protesters to engage in civil disobedience was significant.
“We know that simply getting arrested today, we get out in a few hours,” she said. “And there’s still kids sitting in immigrant detention camps who are still not reunited with their families.”
Harris says she thought of her own children when deciding to protest.
She says she hoped to send a message to lawmakers, as well as the world.
“We are not going to allow the mistreatment of anyone on our watch.”
Harris says her participation in the action was not part of her campaign—though her arrest Thursday came the day before she officially filed to run against incumbent Tom Carper in September’s Democratic primary.
The protest was organized by groups including the Women’s March and the Center for Popular Democracy.
Note: A previous version of this story referenced family connections to Nazi concentration camps. Delaware Public Media could not independently verify that connection and removed the reference.