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Congresswoman Watson Coleman among 17 members of Congress arrested at abortion rights rally

<h6>Mark C. Olsen / Public Domain</h6>
Mark C. Olsen / Public Domain

Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), who represents New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District, which includes Princeton and parts of Mercer County, was one of 17 members of Congress arrested outside the Supreme Court during an abortion rights rally on July 19.

Several other notable Democratic lawmakers were arrested as well, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (D-Mass.).

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“A month ago, six reactionaries in robes ended the constitutional right to an abortion. They showed us they’re willing to eliminate our freedom to make decisions about our own bodies,” Watson Coleman said in a statement following her release.

“The attacks on our personal freedoms must stop,” she continued. “On Friday, Democrats in the House passed legislation to protect the right to choose. We’ll continue to fight until the right to bodily autonomy has been restored to all Americans.”

Soon after protestors arrived at the Supreme Court, led by the Democratic Women’s Caucus, U.S. Capitol Police ordered them to “cease and desist.” Instead, the protesters began sitting down. 

At 1:18 p.m., Capitol Police tweeted “Demonstrators are starting to block First Street, NE. It is against the law to block traffic, so officers are going to give our standard three warnings before they start making arrests.” Shortly after, they began leading the protestors away one by one. 


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Thirty five people in total were arrested “for crowding, obstructing or incommoding,“ and were ticketed and released on-site, according to Capitol Police spokesman Tim Barber in The Washington Post.

When asked about how the Congresswoman viewed this arrest of peaceful protestors, her spokesperson Mike Shanahan said in a statement that “the Congresswoman has always defended the right to peaceably assemble in protest.”

“It’s unfortunate that the police felt it necessary to arrest the protesters who included both Members of Congress and everyday citizens who are fed up with the reactionary decisions of the Supreme Court and are fighting for their basic right to privacy,” Shanahan added.

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The Democratic Women’s Caucus did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Bhoomika Chowdhary is a staff writer who often covers University affairs/policy and research. She can be reached at bhoomika@princeton.edu. She is also a senior copy editor for the Prince.’

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