ANC Commissioner Brian Pate Recounts Demonstration and His Arrest
by Larry Janezich
ANC6b05 Commissioner Brian Pate was among the 41 protestors arrested for civil disobedience outside the Hart Senate Office Building on Monday, April 11. The protest was directed at the restrictions imposed by the federal government on the city’s ability to spend its locally raised funds. Specifically, the city’s rights were bargained away in a last minute deal between the administration and the congress to avoid a government shutdown over lack of agreement on a budget.
Pate was asked by emmcablog to recount the experience.
“I decided to go down there before the EMMCA meeting scheduled for 6:30. I got there about 5:20 or 5:30. I was standing on the sidewalk sort of on the fringes listening to Illir Zherka of DC Vote who was up on a platform giving a rallying speech. Then each of the councilmembers did the same. Ilir got up again to close out and demand a vote for DC. Then he said ‘I’m about to do something that changes the game in the nature of the protest today. I hope you will all march with me no matter what happens.’ Then he walks out into the middle of Constitution Avenue. The Mayor and others went with him. You could sense the moment in the crowd – ‘they’re going to do something.’
I thought, ‘They’re going to do something more aggressive. Do I go out there with them?’
At first I thought ‘They’re not going to arrest us.’ Then they stared coming out and giving warning to the protestors. When they started to break out the flexicuffs, there were a good 100 people in the street. As soon as they started giving warnings, people started peeling off. I decided to stay. And other people saw it was going to happen and they decided to stay.
They were caught up in the spirit of the moment. I didn’t go there to get arrested. I knew it was possible – as soon as the first person was arrested, I knew I had to stay. To do anything else would be a failure of leadership. Those who claim the mayor and others were grandstanding miss the point.
They started arresting people one by one. They started from the back. I was the third person arrested. I was tagged as number 8. Tommy Wells was 41. They put us in a paddy wagon. I shared one with the Mayor Gray, Kwame Brown and Michael Brown. I had a chance to observe the Mayor and talk to him about what he was thinking.
I asked him, ‘When did you know you were all in?’ It was clear to me that it was somewhat spontaneous. He security detail didn’t know and didn’t know what to do.
They took us to a facility on Half Street by the DMV. They had flexicuffed us and separated the women from the men in paddy wagons. Extra males were put on a bus.
They were civil to us. They lined us up against a wall and took our info and inventoried our belongings. They uncuffed us and sat us on folding chairs in a warehouse area.
They were understaffed and appeared to be figuring it out as they went along. The processing was slow. I had the impression that the slowness was intentional – ‘Make it inconvenient for them.’
All 41 of us were in a room. They gave us a short explanation of what would happen. We could pay a $50 fine or take a court case. The majority decided to pay. That speaks to the spontaneity. There was no consensus on whether to pay or go to court. There was no time to strategize.
I asked the Mayor whether he was going to pay or go to court. He paid, and I followed his lead.
Then the first ten were recuffed and bused to a holding facility by the Monocle (US Capitol Police Headquarters). They put us in cells, four people to a cell. They let the Mayor sit in a chair by a desk. That was the only time I saw him receive different treatment. The scanned our prints facial features one at a time. That took from 11:30 (pm) until 1:45 (am).
Ed.: What was going through your mind when you were deciding to be arrested or not?
Pate: I was asking myself, ‘Is this the right moment to make a stand or take part in a stand?’ I felt that it was. That’s the decision I made. The worst part is I didn’t have time to call my wife. I have two little children. They refused to give us a phone call. My wife was really worried. That’s the only thing I regret – making her worry.
My observation is that this was a diverse group – 27 men and 14 women. Politicians from mayor to ANC commissioners. Regular citizens. About evenly split between black and white. People with walkers – canes. Older people to those barely out of college. Impressive. People from every or, nearly every, ward coming together in the solidarity of the moment.
Ultimately, I thought of the morality of issue and the moment, and I think I made the right choice and I hope more people will get involved with DC Vote. I hope more people protest in a variety of ways. This was successful if you look at the chatter on the blogs – this issue got more attention in the last two days that in the last two years. .
A complete list of the name of those arrested follows:
1. Michael Brown
2. Kusame (Kwame) Brown (USCP spelling)
3. Vincent Gray
4. Jack Evans
5. Eugene Kinlow
6. Deangelo Scott
7. Lawrence Hams
8. Brian Pate
9. Marc Ferrara
10. Peter Bishop
11. Deborah Shore
12. Patricia Vrandenburg
13. Yvette Alexander
14. Anise Jenkins
15. Muriel Bowser
16. Karen Hixson
17. Ann Aldrich
18. Carly Skidmore
19. Billie Day
20. Rachel Madelham
21. Mary Gosselink
22. Corryn Freeman
23. Joseph Martin Perta
24. Robert Brannum
25. Maceo Thomas
26. Adam Maier
27. Ilir Zherka
28. Ryan Velasco
29. Sekou Biddle
30. Lafayette Barnes
31. Jeffrey Richardson
32. Nicholas McCoy
33. Daniel Solomon
34. George Marion Jr.
35. John Klenert
36. Jay Tamboli
37. Michael Panetta
38. Bruce Spiva
39. Martin Moulton
40. Jason Cross
41. Thomas Wells