News & Politics

Jane Fonda and Ted Danson Got Arrested Outside of the Capitol and We Were There

For the third week in a row, Jane Fonda has been arrested in front of the Capitol after protesting without a permit. This week, Ted Danson joined her.

Fonda recently moved to DC to protest every Friday until January as part of “Fire Drill Fridays,” an effort she organized to demand action from Congress on the Green New Deal. The past two Fridays she has been arrested for civil disobedience on the steps of the Capitol and it seems likely she’ll continue to bring other celebs, too: Last week, it was Grace and Frankie co-star Sam Waterston by Fonda’s side.

It’s likely Fonda and Danson will be released today. Since this is her third offense, there’s a chance Fonda could be kept longer, but she’s prepared to stay the night if necessary, according to Fonda’s publicist.

Photographs by Rosa Cartagena.

The group of Fonda and fellow activists from Code Pink, DC Action Lab, Gaia, and other organizations gathered this morning at the United Methodist Building across the street from the Supreme Court. When Fonda and Danson stepped out to start mobilizing, they met some high schoolers visiting from Ohio and encouraged them to join (after snapping some photos, of course).


Fonda led a small rally in front of the Capitol, speaking on a small stage to encourage everyone to get in the streets. “Put your body on the line!” she shouted. “Especially us grandmas, what do we have to lose?” Some older attendees sat up front in wheelchairs or foldable seats. Today, the group focused on protecting the oceans. “Of course, I’ll come get arrested,” Danson, a board member of ocean-conservation organization Oceana, told the crowd about agreeing to participate. “How cool is that?”

“The fossil fuel industry wants us to think [climate change is] our fault—bullshit!” Fonda continued. “They’re lying to us.”

“I’m not much for doing protests—the last thing I did, believe it or not, was the Poor People’s March back in the ’60s,” said Ann McGill from Northern Virginia, who wore a Fonda-like red coat and black sun hat. McGill’s daughter helped bring her to Capitol Hill with a wheelchair. She came out after hearing about Fonda’s protest in the news. “I thought, ‘What can I do right here and now, right this minute?’ I just feel it’s going to take warm bodies to support this movement. We should’ve been acting yesterday and the day before.”

She was not the only supporter whose experience dates back to the ’60s. As they began the formal civil disobedience in the middle of First Street, Northeast, protestors chanted, “Grandmas for Greta!” referring to teen climate activist Greta Thunberg. About 20 people congregated as Capitol Police created a perimeter and warned the group that they were illegally protesting without a permit. “Get in motion, save the ocean!” they chanted. Officers had large plastic zip-tie cuffs, ready to use after the third and final warning.

“I think it’s very honorable that people from different classes and social statuses are using their platform and privilege,” said Damon Barnes, who came from Ann Arundel County after hearing about the demonstration on Twitter. “They can get arrested easily, they don’t have to fear what will happen.”

Danson soon joined Fonda and a handful of others in lining up to get patted down and jump into a police van.

As she waited, Fonda was chatting a bit with the officers and her fellow protestors. “You again!” she greeted one woman who joined the waiting line. To another, she asked, “Are you coming next Friday?”

Rosa is a senior editor at Bitch Magazine. She’s written for Washingtonian and Smithsonian magazine.