Friday, April 15, 2016
Media Source: 
WJLA (ABC News, DC)
Author: 
MIKE CARTER-CONNEEN

WASHINGTON (ABC7) — D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is pushing for statehood. She announced Friday morning, she will submit legislation this summer to get statehood on D.C.'s November ballot.

Her announcement came on the eve of D.C.'s Emancipation Day, which commemorates April 16th, 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln ended slavery in Washington, freeing thousands of slaves within the jurisdiction. In recent years, the local holiday has become a day focused on voting rights.

D.C. shadow Senator Paul Strauss said, "We need to finish the unfinished job that Abraham Lincoln began when he freed the slaves and give D.C. residents full democracy."

After a Superior Court victory on D.C. budget autonomy, polls show strong support for a statehood referendum on the District's November ballot.

But even with voter approval, it's unclear how the Republican-controlled Congress would respond.

"I think this is a problem we have to approach on every level, so anything we can do that's creative I think is worth trying," said D.C.'S other shadow senator, Michael D. Brown.

Friday's DC Vote march merged with a Democracy Spring protest on Capitol Hill. The latter group is calling for campaign finance reform and the restoration of the Voting Rights Act.

Many in the movement also support Bernie Sanders for President and criticize corporate America. The anti-war group Code Pink also participated. So is this a good fit for the non-partisan DC Vote?

The organization's executive director Kimberly Perry said, "Any opportunity to elevate this issue to new audiences is a good thing."

Friday's event ended like every Democracy Spring protest this week, with a large number of protesters arrested outside the Capitol building. U.S. Capitol Police said they arrested 130 individuals outside and another 12 in the Capitol Rotunda.

Rosario Dawson - the actress, activist and outspoken Sanders supporter - was among those arrested outside.

In all this week, Capitol Police have arrested hundreds of Democracy Spring protesters from across the country. DC Vote hopes, when they return home, they will act as ambassadors for D.C. statehood.

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