Before his arrest at sit-in protest, NAACP head says Sessions is not fit to be AG
Civil rights activists and members of the NAACP began a sit-in at the Mobile office of Alabama senator Jeff Sessions Tuesday morning, demanding that his nomination for U.S. Attorney General be revoked by President-elect Donald Trump. By Tuesday night, they’d been arrested and removed by police.
“We’re standing in, by sitting in, a long tradition of civil disobedience in this country,” NAACP President Cornell Brooks told VICE News while still in Sessions’ office. “We need an attorney general who’s going to enforce [the Voting Rights Act] vigorously, unapologetically, and firmly because there are many politicians in this country who are willing to engage in partisan vote tampering [and] voter suppression in order to achieve electoral results.”
If confirmed as the head of the Department of Justice, Sessions would oversee its Civil Rights Division, which former Attorney General Eric Holder repeatedly described as the department’s “crown jewel.” But Sessions’ record on civil rights as both a U.S. attorney in Alabama and as one of the state’s U.S. senators has come under fire for years.
— Cornell Wm. Brooks (@CornellWBrooks) January 3, 2017
Sessions’ 1986 nomination to be a U.S. District Court judge was eventually withdrawn after Senate hearings revealed he had been accused of suppressing black votes and of making racially insensitive comments. In addition, Sessions once called the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protected the voting rights of racial minorities, an “intrusive piece of legislation.” In 2014, Sessions opposed legislative efforts to counter a Supreme Court decision that ruled a key part of the act unconstitutional.
“Jeff Sessions has dedicated his career to upholding the rule of law, ensuring public safety, and prosecuting government corruption,” a spokesperson for Sessions said in a statement. “Many African-American leaders who’ve known him for decades attest to this and have welcomed his nomination to be the next Attorney General.”
Beginning Jan. 10, Sessions will undergo two days of confirmation hearings with the Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite Republican control of the committee, it is expected to be a tough job interview.