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DC Rep Wants Answers After Protester’s Forcible Removal

The District of Columbia delegate to Congress is demanding answers from U.S. Capitol Police after she said their “troubling” policies led to a protester being forcibly removed from a hearing last month.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton sent a letter Monday to capitol police chief Kim Dine to seek clarification as to why a D.C. resident was literally carried out of a House committee hearing April 21 and charged with unlawful entry.

“In my more than 20 years as a member of Congress, I have seen officers treat demonstrators at hearings and business meetings inconsistently — with some allowed to stay, some asked to leave and some forcibly removed,” Norton wrote. “Such inconsistency is troubling if it results from unclear policies, lack of training or unregulated officer discretion.”

The demonstrator asked to leave was Adam Eidinger, a local activist and marijuana advocate in the district. He was at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing to protest a resolution that would overturn a D.C. ‘non-discrimination’ law.

Eidinger has been an ardent supporter of the D.C. law, which was intended to stop businesses from firing women for how they choose to use reproductive healthcare options.

However, members of congress were concerned that the law would force employers to provide options for abortion or birth control in their insurance coverage, despite their moral objections, and moved to block the law from taking effect.

During the hearing, Eidinger was seated near a group of other protesters from the human rights organization CODE PINK who stood up and began yelling “D.C. votes no” in an apparent protest of the lack of congressional voting rights for D.C. residents.

Police officers asked those protesters to leave, and they did so peacefully, but when they asked Eidinger and another woman to do the same, they refused. Eidinger was carried out, arrested and spent the night in jail.

Eidinger has said he was sitting peacefully, not making a ruckus, and photos and accounts from witnesses seem to corroborate his story.

The bill Eidinger and the others were protesting passed the committee vote, and eventually passed a vote in the full House, but failed to become law when the Senate didn’t vote on it in time.

According to federal law, any law passed by the city council in D.C. has to go before Congress for a 30-day review period, during which time Congress can block the legislation with a joint-resolution.

Eidinger went to court for an initial hearing Wednesday, and will be back in court to face charges later this month.

A spokeswoman from the capitol police did not immediately respond to request for comment for this story.

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