Dan Choi | Don't Ask, Don't Tell | Human Rights Campaign | Joe Solmonese | Kathy Griffin | Military | News

Video, Photos, Report:
Lt. Dan Choi and Cpt. Jim Pietrangelo Arrested After Chaining Themselves to White House Fence in 'DADT' Protest

Choi  

Developing...refresh for updates below...(images via twitter)

Lt. Dan Choi, Captain Jim Pietrangelo, and activist Robin McGehee of GetEQUAL were arrested earlier today following a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rally thrown by the Human Rights Campaign which featured Kathy Griffin. 

While different versions of events are being offered (see bottom of post), Lt. Choi spoke at the rally and asked participants to join him on a march to the White House. Choi led hundreds of people from the rally to the White House where he and Cpt. Pietrangelo cuffed themselves to the fence while the crowd rallied around them. Shortly thereafter Choi and Pietrangelo were cut from the fence and arrested by police. During the minutes leading up to their arrest, activist Robin McGehee of GetEQUAL was also arrested.

Kerry eleveld of the Advocate reports, in a Tweet, that Choi and Pietrangelo are being held in jail overnight and will appear tomorrow in court:

 "Police Spokes says Choi/Pietrangelo will be held overnight and appear tomorrow in DC superior court."

*****

NOTE: The following post was constructed as it happened, mostly via Twitter, which gives it its "timeline" form and somewhat disjointed narrative.

UPDATE: Late breaking statement from HRC at bottom.

According to Tweets from Robin McGehee at GetEqual (see stream below) reporting from the Kathy Griffin - Human Rights Campaign "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rally, McGehee, who is traveling with Lt. Dan Choi, asked Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese if Choi could speak at the rally and he rebuffed her, telling her it was Kathy Griffin's rally.

McGehee is the co-director of the National Equality March and the organizer of the Meet in the Middle 4 Equality rallies in California.

Rally
(above photo: Ty_DC twitter)

Choi took the stage anyway, told Griffin "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is not a joke, and announced that he was marching to the White House. Choi then began leading hundreds to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Choi_march  

12:50 pm: Reports are now coming in that Choi has chained himself to the White House fence.

"Until we have full equality," Choi reportedly says.

Choi and Captain Jim Pietrangelo are reportedly both handcuffed to the White House fence.

Choi  

1:10 pm: According to DC Agenda's Tweet, "Yellow police tape is being put up around Dan Choi, and Secret Service agents are standing with him. Choi remains chained."

Choi3  Approximately seven Secret Service Agents are inside the tape with Choi.

Reportedly one woman has been arrested, and is being identified by DC Agenda as the co-chair of GetEqual - which would be Robin McGehee.

1:21 pm: According to D.C. Agenda, police are not attempting to disperse the crowd and 20 Secret Service are on the scene. A crowd of 50 is chanting "Keep your promise, Obama" and "Repeal DADT".

1:27 pm: DC Agenda reports that there appears to be a stand-off between Choi and security. No effort is being made to arrest him.

1:32 pm: DC Agenda says the crowd has shrunk to 30 people.

1:37 pm: DC Agenda reports that people have been directed to stand at Lafayette Square. Two Secret Service officers are speaking with Pietrangelo and Choi, and it's not clear what's happening.

GetEqual's Robin McGehee was the woman arrested, it is confirmed. According to @MichaelsThought on Twitter, McGehee was shouting, "Get equal! You want your rights?! The fight for them!" 

Photo: 

Mcgehee2  

And here's a photo of Robin McGehee being arrested:

Mcgehee  

1:44 pm: DC Agenda reports a female woman "is kneeling in the crowd with hands raised, praying for the souls of gay people."

Here is the first video posted of the crowd:

Here's what Dan Choi said at the rally - HIS REMARKS - right before he took the crowd on the march to the White House.

Wh  1:48 pm: Joe Sudbay at Americablog reports via Twitter that the crowd in front of the White House is growing.

1:55 pm: Police just informed the crowd that everyone must leave the sidewalk in front of the White House or be arrested, according to MetroWeekly. Choi and Pietrangelo are the only two remaining.

1:58 pm: Lt. Dan Choi and Captain Jim Pietrangelo have been removed from the fence and arrested.

2:02 pm: Choi and Pietrangelo get cheers from the crowd as they are put into police van. Crowd applauds them as heroes.

AmericaBlog has some great coverage from on the scene.

Tweets Michelangelo Signorile: "Dan Choi took HRC's and @kathygriffin 's celebrity photo op and turned it into a real protest at White House. And they stayed behind."

CNN and MSNBC seem to have totally ignored this protest. However, as the protest was happening, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was holding a press conference in the Rose Garden. A reporter asked him if they were given a heads-up that there was civil disobedience happening outside.

Said Gibbs: "No heads up that I'm aware of, and I don't believe there's any meetings scheduled today."

2:19 pm: Kathy Griffin, who either disappeared or was advised not to follow Choi after the HRC rally, tweets...

Griffintweet  

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese was reportedly nowhere to be seen during the Choi action either.

HRC blogged about their rally late this afternoon, offering an explanation for why Solmonese and others stayed at the rally (was there any rally left after Choi departed?) and did not accompany Lt. Choi and Captain Pietrangelo to the White House: 

"There’s been some confusion about Lt. Dan Choi’s role in the rally. As Joe Solmonese was walking to the stage, Lt. Choi asked Joe if he could have a speaking role. Joe explained that it wasn’t his sole decision to make on the spot given that there was already an established program that included Kathy Griffin, other organization and veterans. After Choi then spoke with Kathy Griffin, she agreed to bring him up on stage and speak to the crowd during her remarks. Lt. Choi in his speech called on the crowd to march on the White House. Joe Solmonese along with Eric Alva and others felt it was important to stay and engage those at the rally in ways they can continue building the pressure needed for repeal. This does nothing to diminish the actions taken by Lt. Choi and others. This is the nature of social change and everyone has a role to play."

AmericaBlog says HRC is lying

"That is simply untrue. I was there, standing next to Dan, about 10 feet from Kathy Griffin and Solmonese. They were behind a rope line, to keep them from the rally attendees. They looked over at Dan when he asked them, for the second time, to come with him to the White House (mind you, they had no idea that he was planning to handcuff himself), and they just stared back at him. They were not helping engage the rally about how to build pressure - the rally was over, they were already off the stage, behind it actually, getting ready to leave behind a secure rope line to separate them from the crowd. I'm sorry, but this statement is flat out untrue. They were getting their photos taken. Unbelievable."

ABC is one of the first MSM reporters to cover the story: "An Iraq war veteran and vocal opponent of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was arrested by police officers after chaining himself to the front gate of the White House, in apparent protest of that policy."

CNN Coverage (at 3:10pm):

AP Raw Video:

BELOW: Robin McGehee's Twitter stream prior to her arrest, as the Choi White House action was getting underway:

Mcgehee
 

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Comments

  1. @Ruby

    I doubt the White House will prosecute. President Obama wants DADT off the front pages of the NYT and having a trial for a trivial "offense" will keep it in the headlines.

    Posted by: John | Mar 18, 2010 4:29:16 PM


  2. @ Robert - An addtional go fuck yourself to you.

    @ Tank - I take back 1/2 of the go fuck yourself.

    Posted by: REYnoldo | Mar 18, 2010 4:30:42 PM


  3. Rosa Parks? Erm, no. More like Cindy Sheehan.

    Posted by: Jane Roe | Mar 18, 2010 4:46:21 PM


  4. some CNN video coverage of Choi's protest:
    http://www.gotchamediablog.com/2010/03/cnn-lt-dan-choi-handcuffs-himself-to.html

    Posted by: Matt | Mar 18, 2010 4:53:29 PM


  5. As dramatic as Choi's Kanye moment was, it's really not going to be viewed as constructive at this point. He is still I believe an officer in the Army and needs to conduct himself in a law abiding manner. I have been concerned for some time with his self-agrandizement and growing ego concerning this matter, and we have seen the culmination of this today.

    Posted by: niles | Mar 18, 2010 5:01:07 PM


  6. I like the example about the four black men at a lunch counter in this discussion where people feel the need to mock and belittle what happened which took courage. And I agree that neither Holden nor anyone needs to approve of Dan or Kathy's actions for either to be a valid act of protest. Holden no one is forcing you to like it but stop attacking those who are trying. It is not helpful. Also, I repeat this is not about Kathy vs. Dan Choi. They are fighting for the same thing in different ways. There is no need to denigrate either one and I find it ironic that we have people doing it to both. I thank them for trying to get a point across. It is the only attention the issue is gettin in DC right now. As for the points about Dan Choi losing his military career for doing this in uniform or at all, I would remind you they are already throwing him out so he is trying to go out with a purpose.

    Posted by: Rann | Mar 18, 2010 5:05:25 PM


  7. Thank you, Niles, for clocking in with the "Sehr are rules and ve must obey zem...Gut German Circa 1932-1945" viewpoint [and, please, pseuedo intellectual queens, spare me the ludicrous Godwin's Law asshattery].

    Please, share with us where you purchased your meter to measure someone else's "self-aggrandize" and "ego"?

    I'll tell you what my meter measures: the stink of Obambot bullshit that attacks anyone who dares call out our Coward-in-Chief. BUZZ! You win!

    And, no, Matthew, REPEAL isn't progressing, only TALK about it. Perhaps if these protests were done in jock straps you'd pay more attention. But there's a big glass of Kool Aid in the Obama Borg Cafeteria with your name on it.

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Mar 18, 2010 5:10:58 PM


  8. Bravo. This is the way to win rights and embarrass the do-nothing Obama administration. LGBT people are not the property of the Democratic party.

    Those of us who live in free states like Mass, NH, Conn, Vermont and Iowa are now free to vote Republican in local elections, and we do. Maybe that's why the admin is dragging its feet? Maybe they want LGBT voters trapped with the Democrats wbho treat us like doormat ATMs.

    Posted by: Alex M. | Mar 18, 2010 6:17:35 PM


  9. "Those of us who live in free states like Mass, NH, Conn, Vermont and Iowa are now free to vote Republican in local elections, and we do."

    Are you high? What abject idiocy is this? What prevented you from voting Repub before? Absolutely nothing!

    John McCain received 1/3 of the gay vote, the highest ever for a Republican presidential candidate.

    Posted by: Jane Roe | Mar 18, 2010 6:28:17 PM


  10. FYI. Here's ANOTHER perspective from someone from DC that was ACTUALLY there.

    http://www.glaaforum.org/glaa_forum/2010/03/dan-choi-hijacks-hrc-dadtrepeal-rally.html

    Posted by: BMF | Mar 18, 2010 6:28:39 PM


  11. It was nothing but an HRC branding rally, with stickers and signs being passed out for people to hold up for the cameras and sign-up sheets so they could send out requests for money. See, Joe S. and HRC are fighting for you! Now write your address down, clearly, so we can mail you some literature.

    Posted by: Donald | Mar 18, 2010 6:57:10 PM


  12. And I was actually there.

    Posted by: Donald | Mar 18, 2010 7:09:50 PM


  13. Pam, this is excellent reporting! Many kudos to Dan, Jim and Robin for their bravery in taking a firm stand. The day may come when many in our queer community will have to take steps like this if we are to finally receive our equal civil and human rights!

    Posted by: Ace Lundon | Mar 18, 2010 7:33:08 PM


  14. Earth to those people still stuck in the 1990s:

    CHANGE THE MINDS of the people has already happened!!!!

    More than half of Americans want DADT repealed.

    http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/02/dadt_poll.html

    I applaud Lt. Dan Choi. As someone said, we now have our Rosa Parks in action!

    Posted by: FunMe | Mar 18, 2010 8:11:43 PM


  15. Robert, the military member, was right. Choi might have made himself and his friends feel good, but if anything he made things worse for gay people within the military. Remember us, the ones you say you are trying to help?

    Choi is an officer. He says that gay people are qualified to be officers. He's right, but Choi isn't one of them. When you're an officer, you follow the Army's rules. You have to, because you enforce and administer those rules on the job.

    The rules are that you don't protest in uniform. You don't get yourself arrested. Do you realize what can happen to an officer for a minor arrest? Hell, in most commands an officer isn't even allowed to drink a beer in public while in uniform, much less chain himself to the White House fence and get arrested.

    Choi knows all those rules, but he broke them anyway. He just handed a great weapon to anyone in command who says that homos can't follow orders because all they think about is their own selves.

    Thanks, Dan. I don't know who the fuck's side you think you're on, but it's not mine.

    Posted by: Career | Mar 18, 2010 8:38:26 PM


  16. It confuses me when I see people's comments about what went down today at the rally. I was personally there and not 20 or 10 feet away from Choi and Kathy, but 3 inches behind them at the rope line. Lt. Choi arrived at the rally and personally handed out anti HRC fliers and yet they allowed him to have a voice on stage. A voice that asked people to call on the President and not Congress (who will over turn DADT) He then ran back into the crowd and did his own interviews (the same interviews that Kathy and Joe are being yelled at for.) People should not comment on something they did not take part in or stand next to their peers with. Choi did make a statement.. but did that statement effect the change we are seeking?

    Posted by: At the Rally | Mar 18, 2010 8:41:32 PM


  17. Holden,

    I think it's going to take both forms of advocacy to really bring the issue to the forefront -- allies supporting us and blatant, visible civil disobedience. A look back in history shows us that it was the response to the horror of Bloody Sunday (03/07/1965) at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma that finally brought to the forefront the need for civil rights legislation in the 1960s. Dr. King's immediate response was to organize another march two days later, thereby keeping the issue in the media and the minds of Americans.

    As for the HRC, the point has been made above that they care only about gay marriage and their own relevance as an organization. Any other issues in the LGBT community are secondary at best.

    Posted by: Josh | Mar 18, 2010 8:44:25 PM


  18. Hey Reynoldo (I'll call you douchewater, for short), FUCK YOU, ya old smelly goat.

    Posted by: TANK | Mar 18, 2010 8:54:09 PM


  19. But for all of the complaining about HRC (and the lies that they tell about certainty with regard to legislation to keep up their donations), it doesn't seem like it's having much an impact on them. HRC is long past the point of constructive criticism making a dent in how they operate...and criticism just seems to embolden them. So ignore them...ignore them and contribute to more effective advocacy orgs. Don't you ever get tired of watching your fist wringing?

    Posted by: TANK | Mar 18, 2010 8:57:42 PM


  20. Solmonese has got to go. Andy, please consider using your platform to call for his resignation. Serving us up as an episode of reality teevee is just too much.

    This kind of failed do-nothing ridiculousness has gone on long enough.

    Posted by: Sportin' Life | Mar 18, 2010 9:45:38 PM


  21. Career Troll:

    You acknowledge Dan knows such regulations he was violating but don't get that it was his right TO choose do that. That's why it's called civil DISOBEDIENCE, imbecile. Legal consequences are beside the point.

    And, permit me to remind you that the military reports to civilians NOT the other way around so what THEY think about Dan's actions are IRRELEVANT. That OBAMA has forgotten that, too, and has been ennabling them to play there two-faced game saying they suddenly support repeal BUT, ooooops, you NOT REPEAL until after "The Study" [which only certifiable cretins and invincible homohaters genuinely BELIEVE in] but, oooops, surprise, surprise, it won't be done until after midterms when repeal will be IMPOSSIBLE.

    Despite the Obamabots predictable drooling, there is NO credible argument that Dan has negatively impacted chances for repeal.

    Go back to playing with your GI Joe dolls and getting ready for uniform night at your local watering hole and stop pretending you give a flying fuck about repealing DADT.

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Mar 18, 2010 10:06:51 PM


  22. I think this is proof that HRC has outlived its usefulness. (Actually I have been saying this for two years now.) I think it is time for some grass roots organizations to come up and take the place of these bloated organizations who are doing more harm than good. It is time that we, the average Joe, to start fighting for our future.

    Every day we are all given the opportunity to change one mind, which opens the possibility of that mind changing others. We need to stand tall and relish in who and what we are. You will be surprised at what a difference it can make, not only for yourself, but for others. Clear a path, blaze a trail, rock the establishment or sew a seed. Every bit helps. But it is up to YOU to make the effort.

    Posted by: Bryant | Mar 18, 2010 11:46:55 PM


  23. HRC's biggest problem is it doesn't do a good job of letting people know what it does and how effectively it's work is.

    While Dan is boldly putting himself in the line of fire for the national media, HRC is working 24/7 in six states to get their senators to vote for repeal in the Senate Armed Services Committee. We need 3 of those votes to get the bill out of committee and onto the floor, where it can be added to the defense authorization bill and passed in August.

    While Dan's actions are commendable, it won't have any impact on getting the 3 votes we need in the Armed Services Committee. And the "buckets of cash" that HRC raises goes to pay staff in these 6 states, mobilize volunteers in these states, and get local media attention directed towards these 6 Senators. It's this kind of targeted, strategic action that gets bills passed in the House and Senate.

    Finally, this was Kathy Griffin's event. HRC was asked to support it and be a part of it, but Kathy was calling the shots. It wasn't Joe's place to change the lineup of speakers on the spot.

    People who spend time criticizing HRC should spend a couple of days at headquarters finding out what the organization actually does. The work they do isn't glamorous and doesn't get media attention, but it's the in the trenches, day-to-day work that makes things happen in DC.

    btw: I'm a volunteer with HRC, not a paid staff member.

    Posted by: Bob | Mar 19, 2010 12:05:04 AM


  24. Go suck a dick you worthless homos

    Posted by: Twis | Mar 19, 2010 12:06:37 AM


  25. "HRC's biggest problem is it doesn't do a good job of letting people know what it does and how effectively it's work is."

    Exactly, bob...and we can tell because our fight for equality is over...we've achieved everything...and how long has the hrc had to work on these issues? When was dadt passed?

    Posted by: TANK | Mar 19, 2010 12:19:51 AM


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