D.C.'s Mayor Hopes Monday's Demonstration Sparks Others

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Tom Sherwood has reaction from D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, one day after Gray and several council members were arrested during a Capitol Hill sit-in for D.C. budget rights. (Published Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011)

    Monday evening's dramatic autonomy protest was just the beginning, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said. He hopes his arrest and the arrests of 40 other voting rights supporters will spark more demonstrations.

    But the fight won’t be easy, Gray said.

    Those arrested Monday evening were protesting the White House and congressional budget deal that denies the city the right to spend its own money on abortions, a provision on which Republicans insisted. Another provision forces the city to accept a controversial school voucher program -- also a GOP demand.

    Emerging from a Capitol Hill police jail after midnight Tuesday, protesters displayed their arrest bracelets and vowed to fight for the full right to run the city's own affairs.

    At a Planned Parenthood rally to support the city's abortion rights funding, Gray said the city can't just have one day of activism.

    "One event on one day is  not going to reverse decades of a travesty, decades of injustice," Gray said. "Hopefully yesterday was a spark."

    City leaders are especially angry with President Barack Obama for abandoning a city that gave him 93 percent of the vote in 2008. 

    "It's disappointing," said Council member Muriel Bowser, one of six council members arrested Monday. "I mean, when you support somebody as strongly as we have supported the president. … Why would we support him? It's kind of like there's only so much abuse you can take."

    The White House had some tough decisions to make to reach a budget compromise and avoid a federal government shutdown. Obama supports D.C. home rule, the White House said, but had to sacrifice it as part of the negotiations. The Obama administration acknowledged Monday's demonstration but said it isn't changing its budget decisions concerning the District.