March 16, 2012, 1:09 PM — Twitter and the activist groups that use it to communicate got a new cause célèbre this morning (or a new celebrity of the same cause) as well as a fast-growing hashtag/discussion list, following the arrest of actor George Clooney during a protest at the Sudanese embassy in Washington, D.C. this morning.
Clooney, his father 78-year-old father Nick, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia and NAACP President Ben Jealous were all arrested late this morning after ignoring warnings by police not to approach a police line placed outside the embassy.
The protest began with speeches and chanting just before 9:30. Politicians and activists made most of the speeches but the main draw was Clooney, who was in town to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday and met with the President and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday.
Clooney was to headline a protest what activists call a humanitarian crisis caused the government of Sudan president Omar al-Bashir. Activists accuse al-Bashir of creating a humanitarian crisis in the country's Nuba Mountains after forcibly relocating tens of thousands of civilians into "peace villages," guarded by the "brutal" Sudanese army, which also sealed off carting routes into the mountains in what activists called an attempt to starve rebels and political opponents into giving up.
Clooney sneaked into the border area between Sudan and South Sudan last week along with activists from The Enough Project, filming scenes of death and destruction Clooney said were the result of attacks by Sudan government planes and artillery against virtually unarmed villagers.
"It is absolutely without question a war crime that we saw firsthand," Clooney told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.