Montgomery County Students Arrested During Sit-In Protesting Family Separation Policy

Teens were charged with crowding and obstructing outside House Speaker’s office on Capitol Hill


Published:

Police officers arrested Montgomery County students Tuesday outside House Speaker Paul Ryan's office.

Credit Nate Tinbite

Five teens, including some Montgomery County Public Schools students, were arrested on Capitol Hill on Tuesday while protesting the Trump administration’s family separation policy for migrants.

In a Facebook Live video following the sit-in, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin of Takoma Park spoke with some of the student protestors who hadn't been arrested. Among the group gathered in Raskin's office were Matt Post, the student member of the Montgomery County school board who recently graduated, and Michael Solomon, a founding member of the group MoCo Students for Gun Control.

On the video, Solomon explained the teens had gathered outside House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office in opposition to the practice of separating migrant children from their parents at the southern border. MoCo Students for Gun Control has previously organized sit-ins to press lawmakers for congressional action in the wake of school shootings.

“Those two issues seem to be separated, but they both play into this idea of the government abandoning children and having complete disregard for the safety of young people in this country and those who seek refuge,” said Solomon, a student at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring.

The students knocked on Ryan’s locked office door and waited there for about five minutes until U.S. Capitol Police officers arrived. The officers warned the students they’d be arrested if they continued, Post said. Ultimately, the officers did take several students into custody, using zip ties to bind the teens’ hands behind their backs.

A spokeswoman with the U.S. Capitol Police said officers told the teens to “cease and desist with their unlawful demonstration activities” at the Longworth House Office Building, but five of the students persisted. She said they were charged with crowding, obstructing or incommoding and were released Tuesday evening.

One of them was Nate Tinbite, a student from John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring and another member of MoCo Students for Gun Control. He later wrote on Twitter that he’d protested in part because he is a son of immigrants; his parents immigrated from Ethiopia 25 years ago.

“Back in their home country, they didn’t have the same opportunities as us, but they knew that there’d be a better place for their children ... a place called America,” Tinbite wrote. “They envisioned ... a country that will teach their children to love and respect one another. Sadly, that’s not the case. This administration has shown complete disregard for the values our nation was built off. That’s why we as HUMANS are going to keep marching and we’re going to keep getting arrested if it means that another life could change for the better.”

Post said the students are urging lawmakers to pass a bill that focuses on ending the child separation policy.

“When confronted with straight-up evil like we’re seeing now, it is incumbent on all of us to speak up, stand up and put your body on the line to protest the injustice,” he said.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com

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