ANC Commissioner Brian Pate Recounts Demonstration and His Arrest

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


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7 responses to “ANC Commissioner Brian Pate Recounts Demonstration and His Arrest

  1. Kathleen

    I feel for your wife, Brian. But from an outsider’s perspective, I can’t help but be proud of you! Thanks for this, and for all the other sacrifices you make…

  2. Jasmina Miric

    Brian, I can tell your intentions were honorable.
    However, Mayor Gray proved himself already to be a crook and yes, I strongly believe this was his grandstanding gesture.
    Why didn’t he call the citizens of DC to demonstrate with him?
    He called only photographers with the following purpose:
    He knew that he had lost his leadership among his voters over nepotism, irresponsible spending and I really wonder how in the world Gray wants DC to decide for itself when his own behaviour is the very example why the Congress is not giving us statehood.

  3. Brian, I admire your decision independently of anyone else’s motives. And as I have mentioned to you before, the sacrifices in the name of public service that you and your family make are even more admirable.

  4. barbarascotti

    Brian, you are phenomenal! Nothing is more important than standing up for what you believe in. Four cheers.

  5. goldfish

    Bravo Brian.

    But the point of CD is to clog up the legal system, to protest against an injustice that nevertheless is lawful. So the better thing to do, for those planning to get arrested, is for all you to take the court case.

    I take it that since the Capitol Police made the arrests, that the trial would be in Federal court. That is as it should be, because this is a Federal injustice.

  6. Thanks all for your encouragement.

    Jasmina — I share your disappointment with the early ethical shenanigans of the current administration. However, I am willing to set aside my cynicism to ally with Mayor Grey on this issue, and give him credit for making this statement. I don’t doubt the authenticity of his desires for greater DC autonomy and enfranchisement. Further, if we used general government competence as a prerequisite for autonomy, few municipalities and states would be unencumbered. Think Detroit, or even San Diego, a city with a debt crisis that makes DC’s budget shortfall look trivial by comparison. Hopefully, the Mayor, working with the Council will also employ a range of more sophisticated bureaucratic strategies to drive home the point, like, say, selectively refusing to pay attention to the Congressional lay-over rules that impede our Council’s ability to pass timely legislation.

    Goldfish – The irony of the court situation is that the law we broke is actually a DC law, and that the Office of the Attorney General will be the office responsible for adjudicating the cases that will go to court. That sets up an interesting scenario, doesn’t it?

    With that said, I take your point about going to court. I think a little under half of the 41 people decided to see this through to the court hearing. Ryan Velasco, a fellow Ward 6 resident and active voice in the community, is one who decided to do so. We should all track the various court dates and try to attend at least one. Personally, I know I’m guilty ;-), and not knowing what the court date would entail (would it be pro forma, or a stage for further conveying the protest message?) I felt like I’d made my statement.

    As for the utility of the protest, if you check DC Vote’s website, they have aggregated much of the media response to the protest, which has been predominantly sympathetic to DC (unfortunately some media outlets missed the point entirely). The BBC’s interview with Mayor Grey is especially positive. By this measure, the protest was a success. More importantly, I think the protest catalyzed allot of discussion and thinking among the residents of DC, which in the long run may prove to be the most important outcome of the event-self-awareness.



  7. I dont disagree with this blog post…