Arrested alongside him were his father, Nick Clooney, Democratic U.S. Reps. Jim Moran of Virginia and James McGovern of Massachusetts, NAACP president Ben Jealous and Martin Luther King III. The AP reports that the protestors had been warned not to cross a police line, and upon failure to cooperate they were handcuffed and placed in the back of a Secret Service van.
“Listen, what we’ve been trying to achieve today is we’re trying to bring attention to an ongoing emergency,” Clooney said after his release. “Our job right now is to try to bring attention to it, and one of those ways was, apparently, get arrested.”
“It is my first arrest, thanks for asking. And let’s hope it’s my last,” he added.
Things were a bit more serious earlier in the day.
“They were protesting the violence committed by the government of Sudan on its own innocent men, women and children,” Clooney’s representative said in a statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter following the arrest. “They were demanding they allow humanitarian aid into the country before it becomes the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.”
“I’m just trying to raise attention. Let your Congress know, let your President know,” Clooney said during the arrest, adding, “It’s actually a humiliating thing to be arrested no matter what you do, but I’m glad to be standing here with my father.”
The actor has spent the past three days making appearances and taking top-level meetings to advocate action to stop the brutal regime of Omar Al-Bashir, the Sudanese leader who has continued to push a war against the new nation of South Sudan, which seceeded last year. It has been a longtime cause for the Oscar winner.
On Wednesday, Clooney presented to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations findings from his Satellite Sentinel Project, which monitors from above for violence in the region. After attending that night’s State Dinner thrown at the White House for U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, Clooney met with President Obama on Thursday to push for more action, including persuading Chinese President Hu Jintao to take a bigger role in the effort to pressure the Sudanese government to open the South to relief efforts.
Last week, Clooney made a quiet trip to the region, crossing the dangerous Nuba Mountains to reach South Sudan and observe the tragedies and progress. It was the latest of his trips, which are always dangerous.
“Everything about it is difficult, and you never feel safe, and we are not traveling with guns and security guys,” he recently told The Hollywood Reporter about the excursions, recalling a time he was stopped by 13-year-old children with guns before a colleague ushered them away.
Clooney began his advocacy for the cause in 2006, when he first traveled to Darfur to assess the brutal genocide there; that led him to speak at the United Nations to urge intervention to stop the killings. His Satellite Sentinal Program is part of his Not on Our Watch organization, which aims to publicize and end the killings.