BELLEVUE, Wash. — In an effort to keep attention on the stalled immigration reform efforts in Congress, more than 30 women were arrested at a rally inside the Washington state Republican Party headquarters in Bellevue. Among the arrested was the wife of outgoing Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Peggy Lynch.
Dozens of demonstrators, including some elderly women on scooters, were there with guitar, banners and drums to cheer on the women being arrested as they were walked from the office building to waiting Bellevue police patrol cars and vans.
We're here to "highlight that women can't wait for reform," said Rachael DeCruz, a spokeswoman for the organizers. "So we're escalating pressure and bringing the pressure back home to district where it matters."
The women were arrested because they refused to leave the offices of the state Republican party — a charge of trespassing, said Bellevue Police spokeswoman Carla Iafrate.
The new chair the Washington State Republican Party, Susan Hutchison, was in Washington D.C., but said in a statement she agrees the immigration system needs to be reformed.
"It's unfortunate that I was in D.C. and was unable to hear the concerns of these women," she said in a statement, adding, "We are happy to have a dialogue with anyone on the important issue of immigration reform. You cannot fix a broken law by breaking the law."
The rally was organized by Washington CAN! and OneAmerica, as well as support from labor unions.
Demonstrators streamed into the lobby of the building where the headquarters are located and began singing and chanting. Except for the women who wanted to be arrested, the rally moved outside after the landlord asked them to leave. Overall, the demonstration was peaceful. Bellevue police called in help from nearby departments and some officers were dressed in riot gear. The demonstrators thanked the officers at the end.
"We were here for a while. We've been chanting. We've been singing. We've been supporting people. We certainly shutdown business as usual at the GOP headquarters," DeCruz said.
DeCruz said they targeted the GOP headquarters because they want House Republicans to take a vote on an immigration bill. The U.S. Senate, which is under control of the Democrats, passed its version of an immigration reform bill.