When Adam Eidinger went to a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee markup a few weeks ago, he didn’t expect to be arrested.
On April 21, Eidinger and a handful of other District of Columbia activists sat in on the panel’s markup of a resolution aimed at blocking a D.C. law. During the proceedings, some of the activists stood up, chanting, “D.C. votes no!” and were asked to leave the room, though Eidinger and one other woman remained seated. “I didn’t want to risk arrest,” Eidinger said, when asked during a Wednesday phone interview why he did not join the other protesters. “I knew that if someone did that they were risking arrest. … I felt just being an attendant was enough of a sign of disapproval.”
When Capitol Police officers asked Eidinger to leave as well, he refused, saying he was not part of the disturbance, and was subsequently carried out by four police officers and arrested.
“I’m going to go all the way with a trial because I don’t think I should have been arrested and this can’t be the way things are run on Capitol Hill,” Eidinger said Wednesday.
Earlier that day, Eidinger attended his arraignment in D.C. Superior Court, hearing the charge of “unlawful entry.” Magistrate Judge Renee Raymond ordered him to stay away from the Rayburn House Office Building.
But the charge of “unlawful entry” is different than the “disorderly conduct” charge Capitol Police spokesperson Lt. Kimberly A. Schneider relayed in an April 21 email to CQ Roll Call. Schneider said Wednesday it is “not unusual” for a charge to change as police learn more information about the situation.
Eidinger said there appeared to be some confusion about the charges when he was arrested. “They didn’t tell me when they arrested me why they were arresting me,” Eidinger said. “They simply said, ‘You have to leave or you’ll be arrested.’” As he was transported from the Capitol to USCP headquarters in April, Eidinger said the driver debated with the passenger about the appropriate charge.
Eidinger, who successfully fought an unlawful entry charge at the Capitol in 2004, said he is ready to take his case to trial and is contemplating further litigation for what he believes was a wrongful arrest.
“If I am successful in fighting the charges, which I believe I will be, I’m also going to sue them,” Eidinger said, though he is still determining who would be party to the lawsuit. “That is a public meeting room. It’s a public space and we pay for it and we have a right to be there.”
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