Md. Gubernatorial Candidate Ben Jealous Arrested Outside White House

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Photo by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons

Ben Jealous knows how to appeal to his progressive base, even if it means getting handcuffed and booked.

The ex-NAACP president and 2018 gubernatorial candidate was among a group of 27 people arrested yesterday for protesting against the Trump administration’s immigration policies outside the White House. Organizers called the rally to celebrate the fifth anniversary of President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allowed certain undocumented students to remain in the country to work.

Jealous was joined by Democratic Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez and about two dozen others at Lafayette Square Park across from the White House, The Hill reports. U.S. Park Police cuffed them after they sat down on the White House sidewalk, which is federal property, and refused to move. They were taken to Park Police Headquarters and released soon after.

Jealous hasn’t issued a statement about his arrest, but his campaign spokesman, Kevin Harris, told news stations in an emailed statement, “his actions today are consistent with his life-long work as a civil rights leader and community organizer, including his efforts to steer passage of the Maryland Dream Act.”

Jealous did indeed help push Maryland voters adopt the DREAM Act by referendum when he was president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The law, which took effect in December 2012, granted in-state tuition to college-bound undocumented immigrants who spent at least three years attending high school in Maryland, among other requirements.

The Trump administration has ramped up deportations since the former real estate mogul took office in January, but hasn’t taken a formal stance on DACA. A coalition of Republican attorneys general are now pressuring the president to end the program by Sept. 5. They’re threatening to sue the federal government if Trump doesn’t do as they request.

Jealous is part of a varied pool of hopeful Democratic nominees for next year’s governor’s race, in which a chosen Democrat will run against incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan for his seat in Annapolis. Other candidates include Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Michelle Obama’s former policy director Krish Vignarajah, state Sen. Richard Madaleno, tech entrepreneur Alec Ross and Baltimore lawyer Jim Shea.

Jealous has distinguished himself as a progressive candidate with a civil rights agenda, winning an endorsement from popular Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, for whom he campaigned during presidential primary season last year. He also might be the only current gubernatorial candidate who would be willing to proudly get arrested outside the White House.

Ethan McLeod
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