Congressman Charles Rangel and Assemblyman Keith Wright were among those taken into custody Monday after they briefly blocked a roadway during a workers rights protest at LaGuardia Airport. NY1's Michael Scotto filed the following report.
Congressman Charles Rangel spent part of Martin Luther King Junior Day in handcuffs. He and several other lawmakers were arrested as part of an act of planned civil disobedience outside LaGuardia Airport in an effort to give airport employees better working conditions.
"We should be able to have sick leave and certainly to enjoy Dr. Martin Luther King's holidays," Rangel said.
For Rangel, that protest was an opportunity to jumpstart his campaign and play up the issue of income inequality: A theme that is likely to dominate this election cycle, much like it did in 2013.
In fact, standing not far from Rangel was one of his opponents, Pastor Michael Walrond, who joined in the demonstration and was arrested as well. Walrond sees the widening gap between the rich and poor as a big problem, but interestingly, Walrond had nothing but good words to describe Rangel's leadership on the issue.
"I think he's done a tremendous job, a tremendous job, and I think he needs to be applauded for the work he's done. He's admired by many including myself," Walrond said.
The wildcard in the race is State Senator Adriano Espaillat. He has yet to officially declare his candidacy, but in 2012 he ran against Rangel and came close to beating him.
Espaillat was invited to the airport protest, but had a scheduling conflict. Still, Espaillat traveled the district and focused on the same theme as Rangel but with a call for new leadership.
"There's certainly a need for new voices to come to Congress. We see how Congress is in gridlock. We see how they're fighting over issues that are no brainers and we need new forces to come in with a clearer vision," Espaillat said.
That said, Espaillat is not saying whether he's going to run.
He says he will make an announcement in about two weeks.