House Representative John Lewis (D-GA) is no stranger to protest. As a leader during the Civil Rights Movement while he was still a young man, he organized sit-ins to protest segregation and marched to Selma to demand the vote. Today Lewis is demanding another vote — on gun control.
Led by Lewis, Democratic members of Congress occupied the House floor on Wednesday, staging a sit-in on the House floor to demand action on gun control. House Speaker Paul Ryan, in response, ordered the House break for lunch, shutting off the cameras and effectively closing the session to press.
Ryan issued a statement saying that the House “cannot operate without members following the rules of the institution,” and that the House is therefore recessed “subject to the call of the chair.”
Lewis replied that he doesn’t care if the sit-in breaks “the rules.”
“Sometimes you have to violate a rule or law to uphold a greater law or moral law. We — we have a right to stand up, to speak up, to speak out, and we have a right to sit down or to sit in, to engage in nonviolent protests.” Lewis replied to the statement on CNN. “It is always right to do right.”
Lewis also said that the members don’t have any intention of leaving any time soon.
“We will continue to sit. You know, many years ago when I was only 20 years old, I participated in sit-ins, and by sitting down we were really standing up. So by sitting down or sitting in with my colleagues in the well of House today, we’ll send to the Republican leadership, to the Speaker and others, it is time to bring the bills to the floor and let us pass these bills”
Outside the eye of the official House cameras Representatives continued to protest for a vote on gun control.
“Too many — too many of our children, too many of our sisters and brothers, our mothers and fathers, our friends, our cousins are dying by guns, and we have to do something about it. We cannot wait. We cannot afford to take a break and go home,” Lewis said. “We should stay here until we pass the bills.”
Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), however, seems to think he knows more about sit-ins and civil rights than John Lewis, who is now the last living member of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.
Calling this a sit-in is a disgrace to Woolworth's. They sat-in for rights. Dems are "sitting-in" to strip them away https://t.co/uBT0cPqsjT
— Rep. Mark Walker (@RepMarkWalker) June 22, 2016