Protester Arrested Outside Judiciary Committee

Posted July 25, 2008 at 4:20pm

As fireworks flew inside Friday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on alleged abuse of power by the executive branch, action was also taking place outside in the halls.

Several anti-war protesters were up in arms after they alleged that as many as six police officers helped arrest a man for refusing to move away from a wall near the entrance of the hearing room.

Three people who saw the incident said the officers threw the man on the ground, got on top of him and pinned his arms back until picking him up and leading him away.

“It was unbelievable,” said Jenny Heinz, a self-described “outraged citizen” who wore a button that read, “Empty the prisons, make room for Congress.”

Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, spokeswoman for the U.S. Capitol Police, confirmed that officers arrested John David Wortman and charged him with unlawful assembly and assault on a police officer.

Wortman was among dozens of people standing immediately outside of the room who were asked to lower their voices, which were interfering with the hearing in progress, Schneider said. But Wortman refused to move away from the room entrance “after repeatedly being asked by the officers to comply with our direction,” and he “challenged the officers.”

Schneider said Wortman then resisted the arresting officer. In an effort “to protect the safety of others in the hallway, at least one other police officer was required to assist in arresting Wortman, who continued to resist,” the spokeswoman said.

Heinz, who was with a group of women wearing matching “Arrest Cheney First” T-shirts, said Wortman “politely and calmly” told the officers that he had “a right to be here,” at which point he was restrained.