Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez walks with her hands behind her back, flanked by police after a protest

Conservatives Are as Obsessed as Ever With AOC, Claim She Was Somehow TOO Compliant During Arrest

On Tuesday, 17 members of Congress (and at least 18 other people) were arrested during an abortion rights protest outside of the Supreme Court. But right-wing media and politicians are as obsessed as ever with just one of those protesters: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

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After Ocasio-Cortez’s arrest, right-wing “news” outlets couldn’t contain their glee at what they saw as a huge gotcha moment. Showing photos and videos of her being escorted away from the protest site by Capitol police officers, they focused in on the fact that she was walking most of the way with her hands behind her back. According to them, and to a number of Republican members of Congress, this was because she was pretending to be handcuffed.

Fox News has run multiple segments and articles accusing Ocasio-Cortez of “faking” being handcuffed. That take has also run in other mostly right-wing outlets from Newsweek to the NY Post to the Washington Times and many more. Many of the articles, segments, and tweets also accuse Rep. Ilhan Omar of doing the same thing. Some have even gone so far as to accuse the women of faking arrest entirely, mostly because they were not taken to jail but rather detained and photographed on the sidewalk. (To be clear, Capitol police explicitly used the word “arrests” for the process of detaining the congress members.)

In one article, Fox News specifically targets ABC News for running pictures of the congresswomen with their hands behind their back, accusing the outlet of backing up this purported handcuff ruse.

Of course, no one was pretending to be handcuffed. As that right-wing commentator there even notes, both congresswomen were waving and raising fists in the air to supporters, in addition to walking with their hands behind their back at times.

And as AOC herself pointed out in a Twitter response she didn’t owe to anybody, there’s a very good reason to walk that way when being detained by the police. “Putting your hands behind your back is a best practice while detained, handcuffed or not, to avoid escalating charges like resisting arrest,” she wrote in a response to her Republican colleague Nancy Mace.

If you were to do a cursory Google search for advice on what to do while being detained by the police, those results will consistently say to keep your hands where officers can see them. So if a cop has a hand on one of your arms and is walking behind you, common sense says to do exactly what AOC did.

Still, as you might expect, there have already been a slew of reaction articles from those same obsessed right-wing outlets, calling her response weak and fake. Nothing like a bunch of mostly white people telling two women of color that they’re behaving wrong while getting arrested, right? Usually, we see accusations that POC aren’t being compliant enough with police, but apparently it can go the other way as well.

(image: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)


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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.