People For the American Way

We Occupied Capitol Hill to Call for End of Government Shutdown

People For in Action
We Occupied Capitol Hill to Call for End of Government Shutdown

This government shutdown is officially the longest in modern history, and thousands of federal employees will soon miss their second scheduled paycheck. This is a serious blow to hundreds of thousands of American families as Trump continues to hold their jobs hostage and their wellbeing over a racist, vanity border wall he promised to his far-right base during the 2016 campaign. After more than a month of frustrating back-and-forth between members of Congress and the president, Republicans continue to block all efforts to reopen the government or present a reasonable compromise. To protest this injustice, PFAW joined a coalition of organizations and furloughed employees on January 23 to rally against the shutdown.

The rally began in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building. Because no signs were allowed, people wrote their messages on plates as a symbol of the federal workers who cannot afford to feed their families without a paycheck. Organizers instructed everyone to remain silent for 33 minutes to symbolize the 33 days—and counting—of the shutdown.

Among some of the incredible leaders who showed up to speak out against the shutdown, protestors were joined by newly elected Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. Both joined within minutes of the protestors going silent and stood for the remainder of the demonstration.

After the 33 minutes passed, organizers led the participants in a brief chant before dismissing those who did not want to participate in civil disobedience. Those who stayed went to another side of the atrium and divided into groups to visit various senator offices to ask about when and how they plan to reopen the government and put people back to work.

A large group of protestors went to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office to demand a meeting. They were led by union leaders and activists including Jeffery David Cox, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees. A few leaders entered Leader McConnell’s office and asked if they could speak to him about what he is doing to end the shutdown. When they were not given an answer, they began leading the crowd in various chants and demanded that McConnell to do his job and get the government back up and running. Several protestors were arrested before the crowd dispersed.


government shutdown, Immigration, Mitch McConnell, rallying, shutdown, Trump administration, unions, workers' rights