Six protesters were arrested Tuesday evening during a sit-in staged by the NAACP to protest Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Jeff Sessions as attorney general.
Among those arrested were NAACP President Cornell Brooks and Alabama NAACP state conference president Bernard Simelton, report the New York Times, ABC News, CNN and the Washington Post. The group was protesting at Sessions’ office in Mobile, Alabama, and will be charged with criminal trespass in the second degree. The protest was among several organized by the NAACP throughout Alabama.
Sessions, a Republican U.S. senator from Alabama, was formerly Alabama attorney general and a former U.S. attorney in Alabama. Sessions was nominated for a federal judgeship in 1986, but the nomination failed amid allegations he had made racially biased comments.
The protesters want Sessions or Trump to withdraw Sessions’ name from consideration. Brooks told CNN that Sessions “has failed to acknowledge the reality of voter suppression while pretending to believe in the myth of voter fraud.”
The NAACP and other civil liberties groups have also pointed to evidence of Sessions’ biased comments aired during his 1986 judicial nomination. But Simelton told the New York Times that civil rights groups would have opposed Sessions’ nomination in any event because of a legislative record that showed “he has not been a champion for civil and human right.”
A live-stream broadcast of the NAACP sit-in on Facebook showed group members kneeling in prayer before their arrest and shaking hands with officers.
Also opposing the nomination is a group of more than 1,200 law professors, the Washington Post reports. Among those signing the professors’ letter are Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone, Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan, and University of California at Irvine law dean Erwin Chemerinsky.
“In 1986,” the letter read, “the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, in a bipartisan vote, rejected President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of then-U.S. Attorney Sessions for a federal judgeship, due to statements Sessions had made that reflected prejudice against African Americans. Nothing in Senator Sessions’ public life since 1986 has convinced us that he is a different man than the 39-year-old attorney who was deemed too racially insensitive to be a federal district court judge.”
Sessions has said he is not biased. On Tuesday, he ordered pizza for the protesters which, according to the Times “was taken to the office by a somewhat confused deliveryman.”