Five men and one woman, including NAACP President Cornell William Brooks, were arrested at Sessions' office on Tuesday evening and charged with second degree criminal trespassing, according to a spokesman for the Mobile Police Department. The crime is a misdemeanor that carries maximum penalties of three months in jail and a $500 fine.
Police on Tuesday evening arrested demonstrators who staged a sit-in at Sen. Jeff Sessions' office in Mobile, Alabama. Video posted online by Alabama political reporter Lee Hedgepeth showed police confronting the protesters inside Sessions' office and the protesters' peaceful surrender.
In the video, NAACP President Cornell William Brooks can be seen shaking hands with the police officers and telling them that the demonstrators were aware of trespassing laws and were engaging in a voluntary act of "civil disobedience." The protesters at one point kneeled and prayed while police officers stood in front of them.
A spokesperson for the Mobile Police Department was not immediately reached.
WASHINGTON — The NAACP is staging a sit-in at Sen. Jeff Sessions' office in Mobile, Alabama, to protest his nomination as US attorney general, saying they will not leave until Sessions withdraws his nomination or the protesters are arrested.
NAACP President Cornell William Brooks, joined by activists from Alabama, held a press conference outside Sessions' office midday Tuesday before proceeding inside. Brooks tweeted a photo of himself and other protesters seated on the floor.
The NAACP has also been live-streaming the demonstration inside Sessions' office on Facebook. A woman who answered the phone at the Mobile office referred questions about the sit-in to Sessions' press office in Washington. A spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.
According to a spokeswoman for the Mobile Police Department, no arrests have been made so far.
Sessions, a former federal and state prosecutor in Alabama and a US senator since 1997, is scheduled to appear for confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 10 and 11. Republicans announced on Tuesday that Sessions will no longer sit on the Judiciary Committee.
The NAACP is one of many civil rights groups that oppose Sessions as the next attorney general. Sessions' nomination for a federal judgeship in 1986 failed after allegations surfaced that he made racist comments while he was a US attorney in Alabama. One of his former colleagues reported at the time that Sessions had called the NAACP "un-American."
Sessions acknowledged making some of the comments at issue, but said he had been quoted out of context or that certain remarks — such as that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was okay until he learned its members used marijuana — were meant as a joke. He denied accusations of racism.
In a statement released in anticipation of Tuesday's protests, Brooks said that Sessions couldn't be "trusted" to enforce voting rights.
Benard Simelton, president of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, said in a statement that Sessions has "been a threat to desegregation and the Voting Rights Act and remains a threat to all of our civil rights, including the right to live without the fear of police brutality."
The NAACP held protest events on Tuesday at Sessions' fives offices in Alabama.