A sit-in Tuesday night at the office of Sen. Jeff Sessions by the president of the NAACP and other demonstrators resulted in several people being handcuffed and escorted into a police van, according to the NAACP and a live social media broadcast.
The NAACP said via Twitter Tuesday night that president Cornell William Brooks and youth and college director Stephen Green were arrested. They did not specify charges.
The Mobile Police Department said it planned to release a statement via its website.
Brooks was among 10 to 20 other members of the civil rights organization who began staging the sit-in earlier Tuesday at the Mobile, Ala. office of Sessions, Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general. Earlier, Brooks said the group was prepared to be arrested as it requested Sessions, a Republican, withdraw from the selection process for the nation's top prosecutor.
The incident in which Brooks and the others appeared to be taken into custody was broadcast on Facebook Live shortly after 7:30 p.m. ET from an NAACP social media account. The incident appeared peaceful as demonstrators quietly walked to the open doors of a police van. It appeared that Brooks was among those taken away. Mobile police could not immediately be reached. Staffers at Sessions' Mobile office could not immediately be reached. Brooks also could not be reached Tuesday night.
President-elect Trump has picked Sen. Jeff Sessions to be U.S. Attorney General. Here's what you need to know about the Alabama senator. USA TODAY NETWORK
Sessions has made statements that hint he might rollback advances the Obama administration has made against alleged police misconduct, that he believes the Ku Klux Klan is "OK," and that he supports broad immigration reform, according to civil rights advocates.
He also opposes the Voting Rights Act, which he once referred to as "intrusive legislation."
"We don't derive any pleasure from opposing this nomination, but here's what we know: the Voting Rights Act was literally born in Selma, Ala. ... and Sen. Sessions is son of Selma, he was born in Selma, but if we look at what Selma means, if we look at what the Voting Rights Act means and we look at his record, we have to oppose him," Brooks told USA TODAY in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon.
Brooks referred to Bloody Sunday, the March 7, 1965, event that took place in Selma as 600 civil rights marchers weathered attacks by Alabama state troopers and local police. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., was among those who were injured. Martin Luther King later returned to complete the Selma-to-Montgomery March, a seminal event in the civil rights movement that is credited with passage of the Voting Rights Act.
"It's not good when you vote with the majority of your colleagues to support the re-authorization of the Voting Rights Act but then you call the act unnecessary, you sign onto a report to weaken it," Brooks said.
Brooks and the rest of the demonstrators were told Sessions was not available to speak with them. The group also asked to speak with Sessions' policy staff in Washington, but as of about 4 p.m. ET, that had not happened, Brooks said. A friend from Boston sent the group some pizza and notes of support were pouring in via Twitter from around the world, he said.
A Sessions aide offered a list of black lawyers and officials who she said have endorsed Sessions. Among them are Willie Huntley, a black assistant federal attorney in Alabama, and Quinton Ross, Alabama's Senate democratic leader, Sarah Isgur Flores, spokesperson for Sen. Session's confirmation, said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday.
"Jeff Sessions has dedicated his career to upholding the rule of law, ensuring public safety and prosecuting government corruption," Isgur Flores said in the statement.
"Many African-American leaders who’ve known him for decades attest to this and have welcomed his nomination to be the next attorney general," the statement read. "These false portrayals of Senator Sessions will fail as tired, recycled, hyperbolic charges that have been thoroughly rebuked and discredited. From the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Sheriffs Association to civil rights leaders and African-American elected officials, to victims’ rights organizations, Senator Sessions has inspired confidence from people across the country that he will return the Department of Justice to an agency the American people can be proud of once again.”
The move by the Baltimore-based NAACP is one of a handful of efforts heating up to oppose Sessions, some shared via social media with the hashtag #StopSessions. The civil rights organization ColorofChange.org is asking members of the public to submit questions they would like asked during Sessions' confirmation hearings. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a separate organization from the NAACP, has been distributing fact sheets about Sessions' civil rights record.
"Were calling on citizens of this country to not accept as fait accompli the nomination of attorney general," Brooks said. "It's not a political coronation, it's a democratic confirmation. We're calling on people to tweet, e-mail, show up at the senator's office and voice their opinion, wisely, thoughtfully."