Mayor Vincent Gray on recent protest and arrest

Apr 13, 2011

Mayor Vincent C. Gray was online last Friday as part of a new series with the Mayor's Office. In today's special edition, Mayor Gray will discuss his recent protest of restrictions placed on Washington, D.C., as part of Congress' federal budget deal and his arrest along with several other city council members.

Have a question about the restrictions put on the District of Columbia? Gray's reason for protesting? Or anything else D.C.-related? Ask now.

Note: This discussion will not be conducted live as others are -- Mayor Gray will answer select questions and post his replies in the early afternoon.

On a scale of one to ten how was your treatment by the US Capitol Police? - @WhaticnDMV

I was treated fairly. The process was inordinately and unnecessarily lengthy. We didn't get any food; we only got water. And we were in custody from about 6 in the evening until shortly before 1 a.m.!

At your press conference today you claimed the arrests made at the Capitol on Monday were not in anyway planned and completely spontaneous, in fact, you called it "spontaneous combustion." If that is true, why were the Capitol Police briefed around 3:00 p.m. that you and several Councilmembers intended to get themselves arrested? Were you not also given three warnings before the arrest and wasn't your security detail notified? Does this mean it was all a big show?

 

I did not make the decision to be arrested until I was at the rally.  I did not discuss this with Councilmembers.  In fact, when I sat down in the street, I asked one Councilmember, "Are you planning to be arrested?"  While the event organizers may have discussed this with other people, I was not involved in such discussions.  I know nothing about my security detail being informed ahead of time about anything by anyone.  Since I did not know myself I would take this to the point of an arrest, how could they know?  Moreover, whether or not it was a "big show" in no way diminishes the importance of the issue.  If the District of Columbia was treated with respect and in a democratic manner, there would be no need for a rally, protest or "big show."

As far as any warnings are concerned about being arrested, I was asked by the US Capitol Police just before I was handcuffed if I intended to be arrested and I proudly answered, "Yes."

Mr. Mayor, do you think that the press coverage of your arrest was fair? Did they convey the message you were looking to spread on a national level?

I think it was largely fair – but we did this not to get any particular spin on the story. The fact that it IS a story – and I’ve been fielding interview requests from national and international media outlets – is the important thing here. I was fed up with the way that the 600,000 Americans who call our city home are being treated by a Congress in which they don’t even have a voting member. And I’m pleased that so many people are listening.  The real benefit lies in what happens afterwards.

I admire your courage in being arrested for your beliefs. What else do you plan to do to protest / call attention to Congress taking DC's power to spend their own money away? Was the school issue or the abortion issue more important to you and your colleagues?

I am having conversations with staff, several officials and leaders to discuss how we can assess and refine our short-term and long-term strategies for gaining attention for the District's fight for self-determination and autonomy. While I support abortion rights and oppose vouchers to support private schools because I feel they do nothing to help the vast majority of students in need, this event was not about any particular social issue nearly as much as it was about the District of Columbia’s right to self-determination and self-governance. It is profoundly unjust that Congress gets to use us as a bargaining chip, a pawn, and a guinea pig for its pet projects whenever it wants to.  We want the authority to make the decisions about how our local  taxpayer dollars are used.

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Vincent C. Gray
Vincent C. Gray was elected the sixth mayor of Washington, D.C., in November 2010. A District native, Gray served as city councilman from Ward 7 starting in 2004, and was elected city council chairman in 2006.
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