Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: why was US representative handcuffed and arrested during an abortion rights protest?

Capitol Police confirmed they had arrested 16 members of Congress including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar

Democrat US representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) has been handcuffed and arrested whilst attending an abortion rights protest.

AOC and a group of Democrat Congress members which included US representatives Ilhan Oman, Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush joined in the protest on Tuesday 19 July.

Members wore green bandanas which read "Won’t Back Down" as they marched from the Capitol to the Supreme Court.

Capitol police ordered them to “cease and desist” before leading AOC and other prominent Democrats off in handcuffs.

The protest comes after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, which had protected abortion rights in America for nearly 50 years.

The Supreme Court ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in nearly half of US states.

Access to the Supreme Court building has been blocked by a large black “unclimbable” fence since the ruling, in a bid to keep protestors away.

Here’s everything you need to know about AOC and why she was arrested.

Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is most commonly known by her initials AOC, is a 32-year-old American politician and social justice activist.

US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is detained after participating in a sit in with activists from Center for Popular Democracy (Pic: Getty Images)

AOC has served as the US Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district since 2019.

She drew national attention as the youngest woman ever to be elected to congress, taking her seat at only 29-years-old.

Before getting into politics, AOC worked as a bartender, launched publishing firm Brook Avenue Press and worked as an organiser in Bernie Sander’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Why was she arrested?

AOC was arrested, along with other Democrat US Representatives whilst taking part in an abortion rights protest.

The group marched from the Capitol to the US Supreme Court.

Once there, they sat down in a pedestrian crossing, blocking the street in an act of peaceful protest.

In a tweet, Capitol Police said the group were “starting to block First Street, NE” and that: “is against the law to block traffic, so officers are going to give our standard three warnings before they start making arrests.”

Officers then began to arrest the lawmakers, handcuffing them and taking them to another area to be processed.

The group were protesting the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe V Wade, which had protected abortion rights in America for nearly 50 years.

The latest ruling means that states can individually decide what their stance on abortion is, with over half estimated to now have banned the procedure.

Who else was at the protest?

The protest was attended by prominent Democratic US Representatives including AOC, Ilhan Oman, Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush.

AOC looks on as activists and lawmakers are processed after being arrested by U.S. Capitol Police Officers (Pic: Getty Images)

Capitol Police later confirmed they had arrested 16 members of Congress.

Here are the Democratic Congress members arrested:

  • Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark of Massachusetts
  • Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts
  • Barbara Lee of California
  • Jackie Speier of California
  • Sara Jacobs of California
  • Ilhan Omar of Minnesota
  • Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey
  • Andy Levin of Michigan
  • Rashida Tlaib of Michigan
  • Jan Schakowsky of Illinois
  • Madeline Dean of Pennsylvania
  • Cori Bush of Missouri
  • Carolyn Maloney of New York
  • Nydia Velazquez of New York
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York
  • Alma Adams of North Carolina

The protest was live streamed by the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), a social justice movement who organised the event.

In a statement, Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat who was arrested, said: “I have the privilege of representing a state where reproductive rights are respected and protected – the least I can do is put my body on the line for the 33 million women at risk of losing their rights.”