PHOENIX — Left-leaning civil rights leaders, including the Revs. Jesse Jackson and William Barber, were among 39 people arrested Monday after refusing to leave the Phoenix office of Democratic U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who has faced unrelenting pressure from liberal activists over her opposition to ending the filibuster in order to make it easier for Democrats to enact controversial legislation.
Jackson said the U.S. is in a “civilization crisis” with “battle lines drawn” and he urged activists to fight for their rights.
“The power’s in you, the people,” Jackson said.
Sinema is among moderate Democratic senators who have ruled out changes to the filibuster, which she says encourages bipartisan cooperation and more lasting legislative compromises.
Several hundred activists marched about a mile from a park to Sinema’s office in Phoenix’s Biltmore neighborhood, chanting “end the filibuster now.” Eliminating the filibuster would open the door for Democratic senators to enact voting rights bills and raise the federal minimum wage to $15, they said.
Barber, co-chairman of the Poor People’s Campaign, said Sinema’s opposition to changing the filibuster is imperiling not only voting rights legislation but minimum wage, immigration and climate measures.
Those who were arrested were cited for trespassing and released, Phoenix police Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said.
“The filibuster compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles,” she wrote in the Washington Post last month in the most extensive explanation of her views she has given so far.