Jesse Jackson, William Barber arrested protesting filibuster, Manchin, Voting Rights Bill

Barber Jackson Arrest

Jackson, 79, along with Rev. William Barber II and about 20 other activists were among those arrested for obstructing during a Poor People’s Campaign demonstration at the U.S. Capitol 

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Poor People’s Campaign co-chair the Rev. William Barber II were among several civil rights and religious activists arrested at a protest outside the U.S. Senate on Wednesday (June 23), where demonstrators demanded West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and other lawmakers abolish the filibuster and pass voting rights legislation.

Shortly before his arrest for blocking the street, Barber stood in the middle of Constitution Avenue as hundreds of demonstrators marched behind him along the sidewalk outside the Hart Senate Office Building. As police began to encircle Barber and others huddled behind a banner that read “Manchin, stop hurting West Virginia: Stop the filibuster,” the pastor explained he was willing to be arrested to protect voting rights.

“It took this to win it, it’s going to take this to keep it,” Barber said.

Rev. Jesse Jackson, center, speaks from the podium in a push for the passing of new voting rights legislation

Jackson, nearby, signaled his own readiness to be detained earlier in the day, saying “we come not as an insurrection group, but as a resurrection group” and “today we must fill up the jails,” before adding “if you call yourself a child of God, you oughta act like it sometimes.”

Shortly thereafter, police led Barber and a dozen other demonstrators away — including Jackson, 79, who was assisted by his son and another demonstrator.

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The arrests were the culmination of two-hour-long demonstration that began a block away outside the U.S. Supreme Court. There, faith leaders and activists spoke out against the recent failure by the Senate to take up voting rights legislation, known as the For the People Act, which would undo recent limits on mail-in voting and poll hours passed in Georgia and other states.

On Tuesday, a motion to debate the bill failed, as the senators deadlocked at 50-50. Advocates of the For the People Act, including Barber, have urged Manchin to agree to change Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster, which would allow Democrats to pass the bill with a simple-majority vote. Manchin and another Democrat, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have vowed to keep the rule in place.


Barber singled out Manchin on Wednesday, saying, “We are also here to say to Manchin: Any so-called Democrat who claims to support the non-constitutional filibuster over the constitutional guarantee that no state can deny or abridge the right to vote … you are assisting the Republicans in their extremism.

William Barber II at the protest against the current filibuster on June 23, 2021, in front of the Supreme Court

“Manchin, don’t you let sin block the salvation of this democracy and its soul.”

Barber chided Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as well — “There’s still time for McConnell to repent,” he said — but he and the other speakers during the day directed most of their ire at Manchin, the focus of pressure from the Poor People’s Campaign for weeks: Last week, the West Virginia chapter of the campaign led a separate march to his offices in the state.AMIBC® - VOTE! BE COUNTED! BE HEARD!


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