Striking photos show demonstration where hundreds of women occupied a US Senate building to protest family separations

  • More than one thousand women from all over the US marched in the streets and occupied the Hart Senate Office Building on Thursday.
  • They were protesting the Trump administration’s immigration policies and calling for the abolition of Immigration Customs and Enforcement.
  • At least 575 women were arrested, according to Capitol police.

More than one thousand demonstrators from 47 states descended on Washington, DC, for a peaceful protest and sit-in over a “zero tolerance” immigration policy the Trump administration has touted in recent weeks. That police had led to the separation of thousands of children from their parents before the Trump administration halted the separations in late June.

Hundreds of children remain separated from their parents in shelters throughout the US.

The protesters occupied the Hart Senate Office Building on Thursday while wearing foil blankets that resembled those worn by children being held in detention facilities on the US-Mexico border. During their sit-in they called for the reunification of families and the dissolution of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

Several prominent members of Congress, including Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts joined in solidarity with the protesters.

In all, Capitol police arrested at least 575 women for the misdemeanour offence of unlawfully demonstrating in the Capitol. Two of those arrested included actress Susan Sarandon and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who serves the 7th Congressional District of Washington state.

These incredible photos that show the size and impact of the event:

The protesters first marched from the Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, to Capitol Hill. The march and civil disobedience in the Capitol was organised by the Women’s March, the Center for Popular Democracy, and CASA in Action

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Source: Vox

Protesters held colourful signs calling for an end to family separations, reunification of families, and the dissolution of ICE

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Source: Vox

One woman held up a powerful photo and sign of her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor. Many have compared the family separation to various forms of concentration camps throughout history

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Actor George Takei, who lived in a Japanese internment camp at age 5, wrote an op-ed in Foreign Policy in which he drew comparisons to Japanese internment camps and the Trump administration’s now-defunct practice of causing the separation of children from their parents as a consequence of crossing the US border illegally.

“At least during the internment, when I was just 5 years old, I was not taken from my parents,” Takei wrote.

Source:Foreign Policy

One protester wore a mask replicating President Donald Trump’s face. There are increasing calls among Democrats to completely abolish ICE altogether.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Source: New York Times

Protesters occupied the atrium of the Hart Senate Office building, wearing tinfoil blankets to create a sea of silver. Children held in shelters after they were separated from their families wore similar blankets in photographs that sparked outrage around the world.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Source: TIME

Protesters engaged in a sit-in at the Hart building atrium, during which they chanted refrains like “We care” and “This is what democracy looks like”

The “we care” chant is a cheeky reference to a June 21 incident in which First Lady Melania Trump wore a jacket that had the words, “I really don’t care, do u?” emblazoned on the back, as she prepared to travel to a shelter housing unaccompanied children in Texas.

Source: Business Insider

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, whose office is located in the Hart building, had a front-row seat to the protests, as this photo taken by one of his staffers shows.

Courtesy of the Office of Sen. Robert Menendez

“Inspired by brave protesters at the Capitol yesterday fighting back against this President’s inhumane zero tolerance policy that tears children from their parents. People can’t do this in Cuba or North Korea. But these kinds of actions are exactly what moves policy makers to act,” Menendez later wrote on Twitter.

Source: Twitter

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts also cheered on demonstrators from above

Source: The Washington Post

Actress Susan Sarandon joined in a line of protesters as Capitol Police led them out of the atrium to be arrested.

Sarandon tweeted from the demonstration: “Arrested. Stay strong. Keep fighting. #WomenDisobey.”

Sources: The Guardian, Susan Sarandon

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York made herself comfortable on the floor, wrapping herself in a foil blanket.

Gillibrand became the first sitting US senator to call for the dissolution of ICE on Thursday.

In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, she said she supports “getting rid” of ICE, and finding a new solution to replace it.

“I believe that it has become a deportation force,” she told Cuomo. “And that’s why I believe you should get rid of it, start over, reimagine it and build something that actually works.”

Source: CNN

Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois joined in to show her support with her two month-old daughter Maile in tow.

Duckworth later tweeted, “Proud to join women protesting Trump’s policy of separating families. I’m lucky to be the mum of 2 incredible little girls & I can’t even begin to imagine being torn away from them or the pain and fear they would feel if they were ripped from my arms.”

Source: Twitter

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who serves the 7th Congressional District of Washington state, was among those arrested by Capitol Police

Jayapal, who worked as an immigration lawyer before being elected to Congress, later wrote on Twitter, “I was just arrested with 500+ women and Women’s March to say President Donald Trump’s cruel zero-tolerance policy will not continue. Not in our country. Not in our name. June 30 we’re putting ourselves in the street again. Join us.”

In a statement, the DC Capitol Police said they charged 575 people with unlawful demonstration, but released those who had been arrested and charged them a $US50 fine.

Sources: AP, Seattle Times,Twitter

The unprecedented mass protest and civil disobedience are part of long-running demonstrations that began almost immediately after Trump was elected

Source: The Washington Post

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.