NAACP Sit-In at Sen. Sessions' Office Puts AG Pick's Worrisome History in Crosshairs
Six people arrested in action Tuesday evening
Saying he represents "a threat to all of our civil rights," roughly 30 people led by the NAACP on Tuesday occupied the Mobile, Ala. office of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.), President-elect Donald Trump's pick for attorney general.
The sit-in ended with the arrests of six demonstrators, including including NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks. According to CNN, they face charges of criminal trespass in the second-degree.
Brooks posted on Twitter their mugshots and said the action was "to support a Justice Department for everyone."
Since his nomination in November, Sessions has been criticized by advocacy groups as "one more way the Trump administration shows its racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and misogynist colors," and his nomination described as "a direct attack against" the nation's minorities. Democratic lawmakers are also gearing up to show their opposition to Sessions' leading the Justice Department.
Outlining its opposition to Sessions, the NAACP in an earlier statement pointed to the senator's "record on voting rights that is unreliable at best and hostile at worse; a failing record on other civil rights; a record of racially offensive remarks and behavior; and dismal record on criminal justice reform issues."
Speaking to CNN from Sessions' office on Tuesday, Brooks said the senator should withdraw his name from the nomination or be prepared to arrest the group.
Explaining the motivations for the action, Brooks said that "in the midst of rampant voter suppression, this nominee has failed to acknowledge the reality of voter suppression while pretending to believe in the myth of voter fraud, and we need at the helm of the Department of Justice somebody who acknowledges the reality of voter suppression, someone who is going to stand at the side of people who need the defense of the attorney general, and a Justice Department that works for everyone."
"Can you imagine Sen. Session as Attorney General going to a Ferguson in the manner of Eric Holder? Can you imagine him dispatching federal officials across the country to ensure the integrity of our elections? So, we're simply saying, either arrest us or withdraw you name," Brooks continued.
Also on Tuesday, over 1,100 law school professors sent a letter to Congress writing that they "are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation's laws and promote justice and equality in the United States."
The letter, addressed to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), represents faculty from over 175 law schools spanning 49 states.
They write in part:
In 1986, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, in a bipartisan vote, rejected President Ronald Reagan's nomination of then-U.S. Attorney Sessions for a federal judgeship, due to statements Sessions had made that reflected prejudice against African Americans. Nothing in Senator Sessions' public life since 1986 has convinced us that he is a different man than the 39-year-old attorney who was deemed too racially insensitive to be a federal district court judge.
Some of us have concerns about his misguided prosecution of three civil rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in 1985, and his consistent promotion of the myth of voter-impersonation fraud. Some of us have concerns about his support for building a wall along our country's southern border. Some of us have concerns about his robust support for regressive drug policies that have fueled mass incarceration. Some of us have concerns about his questioning of the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change. Some of us have concerns about his repeated opposition to legislative efforts to promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community. Some of us share all of these concerns.
All of us believe it is unacceptable for someone with Senator Sessions' record to lead the Department of Justice.
The Washington Post reports that the letter "is also scheduled to run as a full-page newspaper ad aimed at members of the Senate Judiciary Committee."
That committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Sessions Jan. 10-11.
Ahead of that hearing, the Huffington Post reported last week, Sessions "is withholding decades' worth of records from his career [...] according to an exhaustive report [...] by progressive advocacy groups," even though he "chided previous nominees for failing to provide the committee with a full account of their backgrounds."