The Poor People’s Campaign, a national effort that has seen members arrested twice in Arkansas in recent weeks, had hoped to have another sit-in in the Capitol rotunda today, but an organizer reports that the group was denied admittance to the Capitol by Capitol police, who work for Secretary of State Mark Martin. UPDATE: More arrests were made today.

Cori Sammons, a spokesman for the group, told me by phone that the group was told they would not be given a permit for an event inside the Capitol because of the two previous arrests. She said the group then intended to enter the rotunda individually through the security checkpoint, but it appeared they would not be allowed as a group. Denied entry, the group stood in the tunnel outside the ground level entrance singing and chanting, “Let us in.”


Earlier, the group had promised the engage in “nonviolent moral fusion direct action …. calling for living wages, the right for all workers to join unions, fully funded anti-poverty programs, and free tuition at public colleges, among other reforms.” Sit-ins had led to earlier arrests.

Said the group:


The action in Arkansas is one of three dozen nationwide. Over the last four weeks, more than two dozen participants have been arrested and hundreds have rallied in Arkansas as part of the most expansive wave of nonviolent direct action in U.S. history. We are breaking the silence on America’s War on the poor.

UPDATE: Times photographer Brian Chilson was on hand when Capitol police made four five arrests. Don’t have the specifics just yet, but trespass, disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental operations charges have been filed previously.

A slide show of rally and arrests here.


UPDATE: Chris Powell, a spokesman for the secretary of state, issued this comment on the arrests:

The group chanted that they intended to shut the building down. State Capitol Police gave them multiple warnings to leave prior to arrests being made. Five individuals were arrested without incident and transported to the Pulaski County Jail. They have been charged with disorderly conduct, criminal trespass, obstructing government operations.

The group asked to have rally either inside or outside. They were not allowed to do so inside because they had violated the terms of their agreement at a prior event. However, they were allowed to hold their rally outside.

So you can be arrested if you refuse to leave a public building? Welcome to Amerika.