NAACP sit-in at Jeff Sessions’ office ends in six arrests

Police arrested six protesters, including the national NAACP president, after they spent hours staging a sit-in Tuesday at a Mobile, Alabama, office of Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. attorney general.

The NAACP said the peaceful demonstration was held to criticize Sessions’ record on voting rights and police reform. While Trump was filling out his Cabinet, the civil rights organization has previously called Sessions among the “worst possible nominees” for attorney general during “some of the worst times for civil rights in recent memory.”

“We have an attorney general nominee who does not acknowledge the reality of voter suppression while mouthing faith in the myth of voter fraud,” NAACP president Cornell William Brooks told the Associated Press by phone.

Around 11 a.m. local time Tuesday, Brooks and about two dozen protesters filed into the senator’s Mobile office. A Facebook live stream by local journalist Lee Hedgepeth showed the protesters sitting on the floor and resting against shelves and filing cabinets. Sessions was in D.C. at the time of the protest.

“We are engaging in a voluntary act of civil disobedience,” Brooks can be heard saying in one of Hedgepeth’s videos.

The daylong protest remained peaceful. The sit-in ended later that evening after police arrived when the building closed and protesters refused to leave the premises. As seen in one video, protesters kneeled and prayed before they were arrested.

Mobile police told CNN that those arrested were charged with criminal trespass in the second-degree, a misdemeanor.

When Trump nominated Sessions in November to head the Justice Department, the move signaled a more conservative approach to immigration enforcement policies.

Sessions’ confirmation hearing is scheduled for next week.

November’s announcement was also met with alarm from civil rights groups who pointed out that Sessions’ last confirmation hearing in 1986 was marred by allegations over racist remarks.

Then, several former colleagues accused Sessions of calling the NAACP and the ACLU “un-American, Communist-inspired organizations.” Elsewhere in transcripts of the hearings, one testimony alleged that Sessions suggested that a white lawyer who defended black people in voting rights cases was a “disgrace to his race.”

A former assistant, who is black, said Sessions called him “boy” on several occasions and joked that he thought the Ku Klux Klan “was O.K. until I found out they smoked pot.”

During that hearing, Sessions said he was “loose with my tongue on occasion.”

“I am not the Jeff Sessions my detractors have tried to create,” Session told committee members then. “I am not a racist,” he said.

The Senate voted against Sessions for a federal judgeship.