Resisting to the End, 10 Arrested in Rotunda as Senate Acquitted

The 10 protesters from Remove Trump commandeer the center of the Capitol Rotunda in a sit-in just hours before the Republican Senate acquitted Donald Trump.
George de Castro Day

As Republican members of the US Senate, in the iron vise grip of Donald Trump, prepared to acquit the president on February 5, dozens of members of the ad hoc direct action group Remove Trump planned one final act of impeachment-focused resistance.

The Capitol tour guide watches the protesters as their Remove Trump allies cheer them on.George de Castro Day

Having secured tickets to the 12:40 p.m. tour of the Capitol, the group — which when asked by security staff whether they planned any disturbance denied any such intention — followed their guide until the visit reach the historic Rotunda. Having scoped that space out ahead of time, the activists knew that the center of the room was cordoned off — making it a perfect spot for 10 of their members to stage a sit-in.

That’s how activist Donna Aceto, a photographer for Gay City News, set the stage in explaining how she and nine other women — from New York and elsewhere — ended up sitting in a circle with locked arms facing the tour crowd that filled the Rotunda. The activists were surprised that it took Capitol Police more than five minutes to arrive on the scene, and another few minutes before they issued three rapid-fire warnings and began arresting the protesters.

Those sitting in included Donna Aceto (in purple), an activist and Gay City News photographer.George de Castro Day

According to Aceto, the police “couldn’t have been nicer to us.” When plastic handcuffs didn’t work in restraining Aceto, her arresting officer used metal cuffs, but made sure to check with her to see that she was not uncomfortable. The officers included men and women, but it was female officers who searched the 10 women protesters.

In addition to arresting those sitting in, police also cleared the Rotunda, which included many of the protesters’ allies.

The arrestees were held for a couple of hours, with most given “catch and release” treatment for “crowding, obstructing or incommoding,” with a fine of $50. Several activists, however, who had additional arrests by Capitol Police during the recent weeks of Remove Trump activism, will have to appear in court at a later date. Aceto said she has been to Washington several times during the Senate trial for Remove Trump actions but the February 5 arrest was her first related to that activism.

Members of Remove Trump in the Rotunda.George de Castro Day

By the time the “catch and release” activists were back on the street, the Senate had voted for acquittal. All 47 Democrats supported conviction, and all the GOP senators, with the exception of Utah’s Mitt Romney on one of the two impeachment charges, stood with Trump. When senators were leaving the Capitol, Remove Trump activists, including Laurie Arbeiter were outside making clear that they did not share the Republicans’ indifference to the president’s lawlessness.

In addition to Manhattanite Aceto, the women arrested were Tricia Cooke, a mother and film editor who is also a New Yorker; Jenny Fisher, a mother and former civil servant who worked in the Reagan White House; Lisa Fithian, an organizer and author from Texas.; Barbara Schulman, a New York designer; Carla Boccella, a DC-area nurse; Karen Ziegler, a retired hospice nurse from North Carolina; Myra Slotnick, a writer from Provincetown; Linda Morelli, an American-born activist who now lives in Venice, Italy; and Wendy Brandes, a jewelry-maker from New York City.

Americans should thank these 10 women for their service.

Those sitting in were surprised at how long they were able to maintain their protest until the Capitol Police arrived.George de Castro Day




Remove Trump protesters, some of whom were in Washington for weeks as the Senate held its show trial.George de Castro Day


Laurie Arbeiter outside the Capitol bringing her message to senators who had just blown off their constitutional duty.George de Castro Day
Indiana Republican Senator Todd Young, one of 52 Republicans who stood with Trump in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, leaving the Capitol on February 5.George de Castro Day