Sisters Pat Murphy and JoAnn Persch, longtime advocates for immigrants and immigration reform, are no strangers to the consequences of engaging in civil disobedience to advance causes they believe in. Twice they’ve been arrested in Washington, D.C., for prayerfully, peacefully protesting near the U.S. Capitol. Both times, Pat, 91, and JoAnn, 86, were zip-tied and processed along with dozens of other protesters, paying a fine before they were released.
So it was with great surprise and consternation that the pair watched violent insurrectionists storm the Capitol on January 6 and seemingly get away with it—that day, anyway. Although more than 200 have been arrested since, Pat and JoAnn could not believe how the insurrectionists were treated at the scene in comparison to how Black Lives Matter protesters were treated in summer 2020 and how peaceful protesters against U.S. immigration policy have been treated in the past.
The two were invited to share their experience on late-night television February 10 on “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.” They were interviewed remotely along with two in-person guests—a disability-rights advocate whose wheelchair had been taken from her by U.S. Capitol Police at a demonstration and a man who was arrested, handcuffed and thrown to the hood of a car in New York City for protesting unjust deportations. Both shared their experiences of being treated roughly by arresting officers while nonviolently protesting.
“What happened on January 6 was a mob, not civil disobedience,” said JoAnn. “Civil disobedience is civilians protesting something that is very wrong.” When she asked all four of her guests how we move forward as a country, Samantha Bee jokingly suggested it was through “thoughts and prayers.”
“Prayer is powerful,” said Pat, “but you also have to put your body on the line. We’ve got to listen and talk to each other.”
Click here to watch the segment.