Vincent Gray released after protest, vows to continue budget battle (VIDEO, UPDATES)

A day after D.C. mayor Vincent Gray, several councilmembers and several dozen protesters were arrested for staging a protest in front of the Senate, Gray said the arrest was just the beginning of a budget battle between federal lawmakers and the city.

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(Photo: Associated Press)

During an appearance on CNN Tuesday, Gray said the city became a "political pawn" between Republicans, Democrats and the White House as they negotiated to avoid a federal government shutdown, the AP reports. He also said that "there's no other jurisdiction in America that would be told they cannot spend their own local tax dollars."

When asked if he would protest again, Gray said, "we will do whatever it takes to get issue in front of people."

Gray also said he was proud that he was arrested along with the other councilmembers.

"I was proud to stand up for my city,” he said. “I was proud to be there with council members, with 41 (protesters) who were detained during the protest.”

During a Tuesday press briefing, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Obama supports D.C.’s home rule. However, the president had to make “tough choices.”

"In a negotiation, you have to make tough choices, and he (Obama) fought hard to -- and succeeded in preventing a strenuous effort by the Republicans to de-fund Planned Parenthood, to de-fund access to women’s health providers around the country, and felt that that was vitally important and made sure that that was preserved," Carney said, according to a transcript of the briefing.

Gray, councilmembers charged with unlawful assembly

Gray and six city councilmembers were arrested on Constitution Avenue in front of the Senate Monday afternoon while protesting the recent congressional budget deal.

"Getting arrested on the Hill for DC autonomy," the mayor tweeted moments before he was taken into custody.

Police also arrested councilmembers Kwame Brown, Muriel Bowser, Michael Brown, Sekou Biddle, Yvette Alexander and Tommy Wells.

Wells on Tuesday said he was disappointed with President Barack Obama. "Our rights being bargained away by our president was just an insult that we couldn’t stand for,” he said.

As for what happens next, the mayor said thousands more Washington residents needed to get mobilized.

"We've got to be able to have a consistent strategy and it's gotta involve tens of thousands of people in the District of Columbia,” Gray said. “Otherwise it will never work."

U.S. Capitol Police arrested a total of 41 people during the protest. All, including the mayor and councilmembers, were charged with unlawful assembly, which carries a $50 fine. One of the arrested protesters was taken to a local hospital after she complained of pains, according to ABC7's Mark Segraves.

Monday demonstration drew 150 people

The protesters said they were angry over congressional meddling in the affairs of the District: In an 11th-hour budget deal Friday night, Congress banned the city from spending its own money to fund abortions for indigent women and mandated resumption of a school vouchers program.

The demonstration was organized over the weekend by groups including D.C. Vote. The crowd that mustered to voice its disapproval reportedly swelled to about 150 Monday afternoon.

They chanted "we want democracy!" and “Hey hey ho ho, the D.C. riders have got to go.”

"Why should women in the District of Columbia be subjected to a set of rules that no other woman is subjected to?” the mayor said during the protest.

“I am calling on all residents of D.C. to join us NOW at the Hart Senate Office Building to stand for our freedom!” the mayor tweeted Monday afternoon.

After his arrest, the mayor’s office released a statement calling his actions an act of civil disobedience to protest the congressional budget deal that affected D.C.

At about 11 p.m. Monday, Sulaimon Brown appeared where Gray and the other protesters were being held. He told reporters that Gray getting arrested was a "good cause" and it "shows a lot of courage," reported Segraves.

Brown has said Gray's campaign during the mayoral election promised him a job in Gray's administration in exchange for criticism targeting then-mayor Adrian Fenty.

 

 

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