Protesters Arrested After Storming Kevin McCarthy’s Office

X/Housing Works
X/Housing Works

Multiple protesters were arrested after storming House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) office Monday, demanding the California congressman reauthorize the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, otherwise known as PEPFAR.

Video shows protesters entering the speaker’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building — not his Capitol office — repeatedly shouting, “Pass PEPFAR now McCarthy!” and sitting down in his office as they continued their rallying cry. One of the protesters could be seen wearing a shirt reading, “HIV-Positive.” Another sign read, “end AIDS.”

U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) intervened and arrested seven protesters for “unlawful entry.”

“This morning, multiple individuals were demonstrating inside a House Office Building,” U.S. Capitol Police told the New York Post. “After the demonstrators refused to cease demonstrating, USCP then arrested the 4 males and 3 females for unlawful entry.”

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) holds a news conference as the House prepares to leave for its August recess, at the Capitol in Washington on July 27, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The protest was organized by two groups — Health GAP and Housing Works, the latter of which revealed that its CEO Charles King was among those arrested.

“NOW: 7 activists including Housing Works CEO @HWCharlesKing and @HealthGAP Executive Director Asia Russell are being arrested at @SpeakerMcCarthy’s D.C. office, calling on him to PASS PEPFAR NOW with a clean 5-year authorization,” Housing Works said, sharing an image of the arrests.

“PEPFAR has saved millions of lives. It is criminal for some members of Congress to treat it as a political football,” King said in a statement. “AIDS isn’t over until it’s over for everyone. PEPFAR has been essential to helping people in developing countries flatten the curve of HIV transmission.”

“The United States has committed to the international goal of ending AIDS by 2030, and we cannot do that if PEPFAR is threatened,” he added.

Lawmakers have until September 30 to provide additional funds to the program, which is credited with saving an estimated 25 million lives. Some Republicans, however, are not in favor of replenishing the program over suspicions that it is being used to “indirectly support abortions,” according to the Washington Post:

As a result, lawmakers have spent months wrangling over whether Congress will reauthorize the program for five years, for one year or not at all — a decision that experts warn has both practical and symbolic consequences.

But the program is now dogged by accusations that its funds are helping prop up abortion providers, a charge first publicly leveled in a report from the conservative Heritage Foundation in May and amplified by Rep. Christopher H. Smith (N.J.), an antiabortion Republican who chairs a key House panel.

Health GAP also shared a video of the protest, lauding their activists who continued to shout as they were arrested.

“As activists from @housingworks and @HealthGAP are arrested in an act of civil disobedience in Speaker McCarthy’s office, a reminder that @PEPFAR exists today because of brave activist direct action targeting duty bearers. Proud of activists!” the group exclaimed.

Notably, many across social media wondered if these activists would get the same treatment as some of the January 6 protesters, some of whom entered the U.S. Capitol and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office.


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