Fort Myers Democrat Cindy Banyai, a candidate for Congress, was arrested protesting at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Capitol Police on Thursday arrested 181 people taking part in a sit-in protest outside the court and charged them with crowding, obstructing or incommoding, violating a Washington city ordinance. The agency around 12:30 p.m. said demonstrators illegally blocked the intersection at First Street and Constitution Avenue.
Police say three warnings were given to protestors before detaining individuals. The intersection opened again at 1:20 p.m.
Banyai, the Democrat challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds in Florida’s 19th Congressional District, was in a wheelchair at the time, a result of a recent injury after jumping from a boat to get her daughter.
The candidate said she remained proud to have participated in the demonstration.
“It was really inspirational to join together with people from across the U.S. to raise our objection to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs that has stripped us of our right to body autonomy and medical privacy,” she said.
The Supreme Court last week ruled in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case and overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision protection access to abortion services. The recent ruling sparked national outrage from pro-abortion rights groups and women’s advocates.
The Center for Popular Democracy Action and Planned Parenthood Action Fund organized the Thursday demonstration, where U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, a California Democrat, was also arrested.
A press release from her campaign states Banyai cooperated with police during her arrest and processing. She ultimately faced a fine, and said she will remain in Washington until Friday to pay it.
She expressed no regrets for participating in the protest and obstruction of traffic.
“We know a majority of Americans believe people should have access to abortion care, but far right extremists in our government and judiciary decided to put their views ahead of the American people’s,” Banyai said.
“I came to D.C. to show my commitment to making access to abortion care law, as well as marriage equality and access to contraception, which is also threatened by the Dobbs ruling. Enough is enough when it comes back to rolling back our rights.”