Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) came out swinging on Monday, taking aim at activists who followed her into a bathroom to make their case for the Biden administration’s infrastructure agenda.
“Yesterday’s behavior was not legitimate protest,” Sinema said in a statement. “It is unacceptable for activist organizations to instruct their members to jeopardize themselves by engaging in unlawful activities such as gaining entry to closed university buildings, disrupting learning environments, and filming students in a restroom.”
A video posted to Twitter on Sunday by social justice group Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA) shows youth organizers confronting Sinema on the campus of Arizona State University, where the freshman senator has taught since 2003.
Looking to talk to the Democratic representative about her opposition to the Build Back Better agenda, President Biden’s ambitious economic recovery plan widely supported by Democrats, several activists can be seen in the video waiting outside what LUCHA said was Sinema’s classroom.
When Sinema emerges, they ask to speak to her. “Actually, I am heading out,” she replies, and walks into a bathroom stall.
Over the sounds of toilets flushing, an activist identified as Blanca spoke to Sinema from the entrance to the bathroom.
“We need to hold you accountable to what you told us, what you promised us that you were going to pass when we knocked on doors for you,” Blanca says in the footage. “It’s not right.”
After Sinema’s communications director declined to comment on the confrontation, telling The Daily Beast, “We are not dignifying this behavior with a response,” Sinema’s statement on Monday blamed the activists for “deceptively” getting an audience with her.
“In the 19 years I have been teaching at ASU, I have been committed to creating a safe and intellectually challenging environment for my students,” Sinema’s statement read. “Yesterday, that environment was breached. My students were unfairly and unlawfully victimized. This is wholly inappropriate.”
In another video posted to Twitter by LUCHA, the protesters follow Sinema as she walks back into her classroom.
“We wouldn’t have to resort to confronting @senatorsinema around Phx if she took meetings with the communities that elected her,” the caption reads. “She’s been completely inaccessible.” In the footage, the group stands outside, chanting, “Build back better! Pass the bill!” and “Undocumented! Unafraid!”