Actor George Clooney and several other prominent activists have been released from jail following their arrests during a protest in front of the Sudan Embassy in Washington, D.C. today.
A crowd of reporters was on hand to interview the Hollywood star, who has taken a lead role in protesting the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, as he left jail in the company of his father, who had also been arrested during the protest.
Clooney and the other protesters were put in plastic handcuffs and removed from the steps of the embassy earlier Friday after accusing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir of provoking a crisis and blocking food and aid from entering the Nuba Mountains in the county’s border region with South Sudan.
The arrests began after protesters were warned three times not to cross a police line. They were rounded up and put into a U.S. Secret Service van as others in the crowd chanted "al-Bashir to the ICC."
The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president on charges including genocide in 2009, but the African Union has ignored the warrant and al-Bashir has freely travelled outside Sudan several times since then.
John Prendergast of the Enough Project, which organized a National Day of Action on Friday to advocate for emergency aid for the people of Sudan, was the first to be detained.
U.S. Representative Jim Moran, a Democrat from Virginia, NAACP president Ben Jealous, Martin Luther King III and others soon followed, and then Clooney and his father, Nick.
"They need to stop using rape and food as weapons in Sudan," Jealous told reporters as he was led away.
When it was Clooney's turn, a reporter asked what he thought about being arrested with his journalist father, and the actor responded by saying, "I'm proud to be standing here with my father."
"We need humantarian aid to be allowed into the Sudan before it becomes the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, immediately," Clooney said before the protest was shut down. "The second thing we are here to ask is a very simple thing, is for the government in Khartoum to stop randomly killing its own innocent men, women and children."
On Wednesday, he spoke to the U.S. Senate foreign relations committee, telling members there is a campaign in Sudan of "murder, and fear, and displacement and starvation."
He urged President Barack Obama to help open a humanitarian corridor in Sudan to allow aid to reach the South before the rainy season. The actor told Friday's rally the lives of thousands of people are at risk with the upcoming rainy season.
Clooney, just back from an eight-day trip to Sudan's Nuba Mountains, said the Khartoum government is attempting a kind of ethnic cleansing with aerial bombardments that have forced farmers in the region to take shelter in caves.