Celebs Who Were Arrested While Protesting

There have been plenty of reasons to protest in recent memory. In the "winter of 2003 ... the world assembled, arms linked, to protest the prospect of war in Iraq," according to The New Yorker, who also covered Occupy Wall Street in 2011 and the Women's March in 2017. However, the history of public outcry, which culminates in displays of resistance and solidarity, goes back much further than that.

Not only have people fought against oppression, injustice, and intolerable actions throughout countless generations, "for centuries, on the right and the left alike, it has been an article of faith that, in moments of sharp civic discontent, you and I and everyone we know can take to the streets, demanding change."

That's why we see people from all walks of life stepping up and stepping out to be seen and have their voices heard when they feel like it's the right thing to do — including these celebrities who have all been arrested while protesting for various causes that they believe in.

Jaime King was arrested during a peaceful protest

Jaime King may be a model and actress, however, she's also someone who's willing to put her safety — and a possible criminal record — on the line in order to stand up for the rights of others. That's what resulted in the star allegedly being arrested on June 2, 2020, during a Black Lives Matter protest in Los Angeles following the killing of George Floyd.

"Currently arrested for a peaceful protest. Writing in handcuffs in back of bus," King tweeted (via People). "EVERYONE WAS PEACEFUL. — Jaime and the rest of my sisters on this bus. 77th precinct." She also shared a video posted by a friend that showed what King claims was "what happened to [them] the other night peacefully protesting." The accompanying caption claimed that on top of the fact that "no one read [them their] rights," their treatment also involved "police brutality" and "sexual assault."

The former Hart of Dixie actress added, "Currently still on the bus for over 4 hours. Took us from 77th precinct to San Pedro. Women w/no access to vital meds, bathrooms, bleeding through their pants. They are laughing at us." In turn, the connected celebrity tried to help others by sharing an Instagram post that would hook them up with free legal representation. She added the hashtags #IStandInSolidarity, #TimeForChange, #JusticeandEquality, and #BlackLivesMatter.

Cole Sprouse acknowledged his privilege

Cole Sprouse is another celebrity who found himself in trouble with the law while participating in a Black Lives Matter protest sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in 2020. On June 1st, the Riverdale actor took to Instagram to write, "A group of peaceful protesters, myself included, were arrested yesterday in Santa Monica. ... I was detained when standing in solidarity, as were many of the final vanguard within Santa Monica." He added that they "were given the option to leave, and were informed that if [they] did not retreat, [they] would be arrested." However, he claimed, "When many did turn to leave, we found another line of police officers blocking our route, at which point, they started zip tying us."

While Sprouse had reason to be rattled by his experience, he made sure to note, "It needs to be stated that as a straight white man, and a public figure, the institutional consequences of my detainment are nothing in comparison to others within the movement."

The star's arrest also didn't stop him from protesting, and a week later, he was out again, this time with "model Kaia Gerber, actress Margaret Qualley, his Riverdale co-star, Madelaine Petsch, and actress Eiza Gonzalez," according to Entertainment Tonight.

Lucy Lawless was arrested with Greenpeace activists

Lucy Lawless may have saved the world as Xena, the Warrior Princess on the show she starred on from 1995 to 2001, however, in 2012, the actress was involved in action — more specifically, radical and illegal action — that was aimed at saving the real world. The starlet was arrested along with six Greenpeace New Zealand activists for "having boarded a Shell-owned oil-drilling ship to prevent it from leaving port," according to People. The protestors "spent 77 hours sitting atop its 175-foot drilling tower."

Charged with burglary, per The New Zealand Herald, Lawless released a seemingly unapologetic statement, saying, "This chapter has ended, but the story of the battle to save the Arctic has just begun."

The star also shared an encouraging note for anyone who supported the cause, adding, "Seven of us climbed up that drillship to stop Arctic drilling, but 133,000 of us came down," which People explains "referr[ed] to the 133,000 people who ... swamped Shell's computer server by sending protest emails to the company simultaneously."

Amy Schumer protested against Brett Kavanaugh

Amy Schumer may be known as a funny woman, however, in October 2018, she found herself in a serious situation when she was arrested at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., while protesting then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of both sexual assault and misconduct.

Schumer, who has in the past recalled her nonconsensual first sexual experience, showed up wearing a shirt that read, "This Today, then #ERA," and carrying a sign that declared, "We Believe Anita Hill," who is the woman who "made history in 1991 when she testified before Congress about the sexual harassment she said she had experienced while she was an aide to Clarence Thomas, a Supreme Court nominee," according to The New York Times. People explains that while "point[ing] toward the larger group [of protestors who were] chanting with police officers surrounding them," an officer asked Schumer, "You want to be arrested?" She answered, "Yes."

News This Second also took to Twitter to share a video where one police officer approached Schumer and many other protestors. Although it's hard to see how many people are in the area with the star, "Capitol Police said they arrested 302 people during the demonstrations," according to CNN. Despite the effort of Schumer and the protestors, Kavanaugh was sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice that same month.

Emily Ratajkowski joined Amy Schumer in protest

Amy Schumer wasn't the only celebrity who was arrested while protesting Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination in October 2018. Model and actress Emily Ratajkowski — who appeared in the film I Feel Pretty with Schumer that same year — also attended the protest at Washington, D.C.'s Hart Senate Office Building. The pair were even spotted together in a photo that appeared on CNN. And just like Schumer, Ratajkowski was among the hundreds of demonstrators detained by police at the activism-focused event that occurred "while lawmakers reviewed the FBI report on the allegations against Kavanaugh" (via CNN).

"Today I was arrested protesting the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, a man who has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault. Men who hurt women can no longer be placed in positions of power," Ratajkowski captioned an Instagram photo of herself that she posted on October 4th, 2018. In the shot, she can be seen holding a sign that reads, "Respect female existence or expect our resistance."

Ratajkowski continued her caption by writing, "Kavanaugh's confirmation as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States is a message to women in this country that they do not matter. I demand a government that acknowledges, respects and supports women as much as it does men."

Danny Glover was arrested, but not for a lethal weapon

Danny Glover may have upheld the law as a cop in the Lethal Weapon film franchise, but in 2010, he found himself on the opposite side of the legal system. The star and 11 others were "arrested during a labor union protest at the Maryland headquarters of [French company Sodexo,] a food service company," according to the New York Daily News. Apparently, the crowd of 300 who were supporting the Service Employees International Union were "protesting what it call[ed] Sodexo's unfair and illegal treatment of workers." E! News reported that they made themselves heard by shouting, "No justice, no pizza!" On the other hand, Sodexo was claiming that "the union was spreading misinformation."

As for the protest, "Montgomery County police spokesman Capt. Paul Starks says Glover and others stepped past yellow police tape and were asked to step back three times at Sodexo headquarters. When they refused, Starks says officers arrested them." They were given "citations for trespassing" and faced a "$1,000 fine or 90 days in jail."

Afterward, Glover tweeted (via E!), "I'm fine. Andy [Stern, the former president of the Service Employees International Union], myself, and the org want to thank you all for your support."

Woody Harrelson scaled the Golden Gate Bridge

Back in November 1996, Woody Harrelson and a group of environmental activists "were arrested ... after scaling the Golden Gate Bridge in a protest to save an entire 60,000-acre ancient redwood grove in Northern California," according to the Los Angeles Times. At around 9 a.m., the actor and approximately eight other protestors "stormed the bridge" and hung a 70-foot by 35-foot banner that "flapped across the span above the traffic lanes." It read: "Hurwitz, aren't redwoods more precious than gold?" The Times explains that "It was a personal message to Texas businessman Charles Hurwitz, whose Pacific Lumber Co. owns the Headwaters Forest Complex in Humboldt County."

The incident caused "an all-day traffic snarl that delayed motorists, bike riders and hikers," and although Harrelson claimed that wasn't "his intent," he did assert that he wanted anyone passing "to take the messages on the protesters' banners home with them." Apparently, before he "descended from his perch about 200 feet above the bridge traffic," he also declared over the phone, "I shamelessly and proudly call myself a tree hugger."

The SF Gate notes that following the incident, Harrelson — who has continued to be enthusiastic about his environmental activism in the years since — spoke out after being arraigned, saying, "I'll take all the heat that's thrown in my direction. What we did was right." In the end, the actor was charged with "two misdemeanor counts of trespassing."

Cynthia Nixon demanded funding for education

Cynthia Nixon may not have played a cop onscreen, but she did appear on Sex and the City as Miranda Hobbes, a successful attorney with a take-no-B.S. attitude. And in 2002, she used that same kind of strong-willed manner in an attempt to spark change and, in turn, found herself facing real-life legal issues when she was "busted" at a "school protest," according to People.

The star was "arrested outside City Hall in Lower Manhattan during a choreographed but downright serious protest to demand better funding for public schools." People reported at the time that New York Daily News ran a photo that showed "a bemused-looking Nixon" who had "her hands outstretched in anticipation of being cuffed by police ... From her appearance, she did not resist arrest." After being given summonses and released, the star told Newsday (via People), "I feel good. I feel it's the right thing to do."

However, the starlet's fight for education wasn't over following the protest. In 2018, Nixon went on to seek the Democratic nomination for New York governor while focusing on education during her campaign. While that didn't work out for her, she told Time a year after her campaign that she doesn't regret running, saying, "I ran to win. I hoped to win. ... But at the end of the day, I knew the most important thing about my running was to shed light on these issues."

Susan Sarandon has been arrested more than once

Susan Sarandon is known for being political. In 1999, she "was among 219 people arrested at New York police headquarters [on] the 13th day of civil disobedience protests over the police shooting of unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo," People wrote. In total, over 800 people were arrested "for the symbolic acts of civil disobedience" during the protests that spanned weeks and involved "actors Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, former Mayor David Dinkins, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume," as well as a "number of congressmen and ... politicians."

The Oscar-winning actress stated, "If we're not here today, then we're saying that what happened is acceptable and normal." She continued, "I think it's time we focus on this issue, and racial profiling is not acceptable. I don't think we want to be made safe at the expense of our civil liberties."

That wasn't the only time that the actress found herself in trouble with the law during a protest. In 2018, Sarandon was arrested again, this time for protesting Trump's immigration policy. "I was moved by the passionate, committed response to ending the separation of families seeking asylum and the incarceration of children," read a statement from the star provided to USA Today by her representative. "This is a moral, not political question and I'm proud to have stood with the hundreds of women to say that we do not accept this. Unite families and abolish ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement]."

Jane Fonda joined other stars at climate change protests

Getting arrested is nothing new for Jane Fonda. It's been happening to the actress since the '70s when the star, while "in the throes of a professional, personal and ideological rebirth," according to The Washington Post, spent a night in jail "on trumped-up charges of drug smuggling ... Later, an officer told her that orders for her arrest came straight from the Nixon White House. Displeased by her anti-Vietnam War activism, the FBI and CIA had been surveilling her for months."

More recently, Fonda has been arrested at her climate change protests — a.k.a. Fire Drill Fridays — which aim to "answer the alarm sounded by young people like Greta Thunberg and bring the climate emergency to the axis of power." While she's faced multiple arrests during her demonstrations, she's certainly not alone. Along with welcoming any supporters who want to show up, Fonda has been joined by plenty of other stars who have also been arrested at the events, including her Grace and Frankie costars, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, Sam Waterson, and June Diane Raphael, as well as other famous figures like Gloria Steinem, Ted Danson, Sally Field, Diane Lane, Rosanna Arquette, Catherine Keener, Piper Perabo, Taylor Schilling, Amber Valletta, Kyra Sedgwick, and Joaquin Phoenix.

Daryl Hannah is another star with multiple arrests

Daryl Hannah, who's appeared in movies like Splash and Kill Bill (both Volume 1 and 2), was arrested in 2011 — along with "moms, grandmothers, and school teachers," the star claimed, according to People — "during a sit-in in front of the White House to protest a massive expansion of a pipeline carrying oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico."

"I do believe we are in a time of crisis for so many things," the star explained. "And in times of crisis, you have to get engaged in the process. You have to walk your talk." She continued by noting that while "being arrested is something you never hope for," it's also a "risk you take," adding that "civil disobedience is a long-heralded American tradition."

That time around, she paid a fine and was released, which apparently wasn't enough to stop her from protesting. That's why she was arrested a second time the following year in Texas, per People, while again "protesting the creation of an oil pipeline." That resulted in charges of "criminal trespass and resisting arrest," meaning that she paid "a $1,000 and a $3,000 bond, respectively."

Shailene Woodley live-streamed her arrest

With social media making it easier than ever to keep networks updated, Facebook users were able to watch as Shailene Woodley live-streamed her arrest during a protest "against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in Bismarck, North Dakota," in October 2016, according to People.

Following her detention, a representative for the Big Little Lies actress provided a statement, saying, "Shailene Woodley has been released from the Morton County Jail in North Dakota. She appreciates the outpouring of support, not only for her, but more importantly, for the continued fight against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline."

Marie Claire explained that "Woodley was arrested for criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot. Some 40,000 people watched on Facebook Live as her hands were zip-tied behind her back. At the Morton County jail, she reveals, 'I was strip-searched. Like get naked, turn over, spread your butt cheeks, bend over. They were looking for drugs in my a**.'" Apparently, she also noted that "When you're in a jail cell and they shut that door, you realize no one can save you. If there's a fire and they decide not to open the door, you'll die. You are a caged animal.'"

George Clooney was arrested at a protest with his dad

George Clooney made it a family affair in March 2012 when he was arrested alongside his dad, journalist Nick Clooney, "for participating in a staged protest outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington, D.C., organized to bring attention to that country's president, Omar al-Bashir, provoking a crisis with his blockade of humanitarian aide," as revealed by People. In an earlier interview, the actor had explained that if action wasn't taken in three or four months, then "we're going to have a real humanitarian disaster."

USA Today reported that while being arrested, the A-list star said, "This is for the government in Khartoum to stop randomly killing its own innocent men, women, and children. Stop raping them and stop starving them. That's all we ask." After being booked and released, the younger Clooney met with the press in order to "reiterat[e] the importance of ending the starvation crisis."