21 Arrested Interrupting Senate Protesting Torture & Guantanamo

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Photo by @climate_rev

Over a dozen protesters disrupted the Senate Monday afternoon by chanting demands for an end to U.S. torture with impunity.

The civil disobedience, organized by Witness Against Torture, was a dramatic culmination of a week of action in Washington, D.C. to press for the closure of the military’s offshore prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba as it enters its 14th year.

“Torture, It’s Official, Prosecute Now!” protesters shouted in unison, in reference to the recently released, partially-redacted executive summary of the Senate report on CIA torture.

A video by Roll Call shows protesters sitting down on the gallery floor and halting Senate proceedings for at least a minute and a half before 11 people were arrested:

Meanwhile, more protesters filled the nearby Capitol Visitor Center, where they chanted and hoisted two banners which read: “Accountability for police Murder, Accountability for Torture” and “From Ferguson to Guantánamo, White Silence = State Violence” before more people were arrested, bringing the total detained at both actions to 21, according to Roll Call.

Just hours later, members of Witness Against Torture blocked the entrance to the D.C. police headquarters for 28 minutes “in recognition that a person of color is killed by police or vigilantes every 28 hours in the United States,” according to an organizationalstatement. The D.C. Hands Up Coalition stood nearby chanting and singing support for the direct action.

The actions followed an earlier rally for an end to impunity for police who kill people of color and for indefinite detentions without trial in Guantánamo Bay.

Uruj Sheikh, from New York City, declared in a a Witness Against Torture statement that protesters sought “to convey with a new voice that racism and Islamophobia, torture tactics in US prisons like extended solitary confinement and the torture of indefinite detention at Guantánamo are two parts of the same system of white supremacy and militarized violence.”