Many people take to the streets and protest for causes they truly believe in. Celebrities sometimes join protestors because they too have causes they truly believe in. And in some cases, celebrities have stood their ground against police… and got arrested.
Click on to see which celebrities felt so strongly about a cause that it ended up getting them arrested.
Boxer Muhammed Ali protested in a way that’s a bit different than everyone else on this list. Ali refused to be drafted into the military, aka was a conscientious objector. His reasons for refusal were because he was anti-Vietnam War and said the war was against his religious beliefs. So, Ali was arrested due to his protest, was found guilty of being a draft dodger, and was stripped of his boxing titles.
Actress Jaime King was arrested outside of the Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s home during a Black Lives Matter protest. King said the protest was peaceful… and yet, her and some of her fellow protestors were arrested.
King was live-tweeting her arrest, and she tweeted “Currently arrested for a peaceful protest. Writing in handcuffs in back of bus. EVERYONE WAS PEACEFUL. – Jaime and the rest of my sisters on this bus. 77th precinct.”
She also told Twitter that she, along with her fellow protestors, were kept on a bus for 4 hours.
Actor Cole Sprouse was arrested in Santa Monica during a Black Lives Matter protest. Sprouse said the protest was peaceful and he wasn’t the only one arrested.
Sprouse also noted his privilege by saying – “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.”
Rapper Mos Def’s arrest for disorderly conduct in 2006 occurred when he did an impromptu performance outside of Radio Music Hall. The rapper broke into his freestyle rap, “Katrina Clap”, a criticism of the George W. Bush administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina.
Police told him his crew he needed a permit to perform, but Mos Def kept on rapping, which resulted in his arrest. His arrest was actually a result of a misunderstanding, because Mos Def didn’t initially hear the order to shut down his performance, but once he did, he did stop the show.
MTV reported that his arrest turned into “a summons for operating sound-reproduction device without a permit, which he is going to contest.”
Actress Jane Fonda has been arrested quite a few times. Her first protest-related arrest was actually back in March 1970. Fonda was protesting with Native Americans who were fighting to regain land in Fort Lawton, Seattle.
Her infamous mugshot in November 1970 wasn’t for protesting, but for kicking a cop during her arrest for drug smuggling (which turned out to be a false claim). Most recently, Fonda has led Fire Drill Friday, which was a weekly protest in Washington DC to inform people about climate change.
Fonda was arrested 5 times during these protests, but had to slow her roll so she wouldn’t have to serve a longer amount of time in jail. However, she had some of her most famous friends join her in her cause… some of them are on this list!
Actress Rosario Dawson has had a couple of protest-related arrests… sort of. In 2004, Dawson’s arrest for protesting was a huge misunderstanding. She was actually filming a movie at the same time an anti-George W. Bush protest was going on in NYC. The police thought she was with the protest, and arrested her because she was wearing a scarf over her face, violating the city law that prohibits protestors from covering their faces.
In 2016, Dawson was arrested for actually protesting on Capitol Hill. Dawson joined pro-democracy protests with the movement Democracy Springs. The protestors were demonstrating against the corruption of money in politics.
In 2012, George Clooney and his dad, Nick Clooney, were arrested for protesting outside Sudan’s Embassy in Washington D.C. He was protesting Sudan’s government and their treatment of their citizens.
The protest accused Sudan’s government of attacking civilians and not providing humanitarian relief for its own citizens. It is rumored that Clooney had planned on getting arrested and wanted his celebrity to be used to help bring focus on the crisis in Sudan.
“Real Housewives of Atlanta” cast member and radio personality Porsha Williams was arrested in July of 2020 alongside protestors outside of Kentucky’s Attorney General David Cameron’s home.
Williams and other protestors demanded justice for Breonna Taylor, who had been killed by Louisville Police in her own home. The photo above was taken after Williams was released from jail and has her standing next to Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer.
In October of 2018, comedian Amy Schumer was arrested alongside other protestors who opposed Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. Hundreds came to a U.S. Senate Building to protest Kavanaugh who had been accused of sexual misconduct by three women.
Schumer has been an advocate for Women’s Rights issues, and the photo above shows her at the Women’s March on Washington.
Yes, Martin Sheen was arrested during Fire Drill Friday… but that wasn’t his first arrest during a protest. Not at all! Sheen has participated in a number of protests over the years, and has often joked that his rap sheet is almost as long as his film credits.
Sheen boasts that he has been arrested 66 times for protesting and acts of civil disobedience! Various news outlets refer to him as the “most arrested man in Hollywood”.
In 2010, actor Danny Glover was arrested in Maryland during a labor union protest at headquarters of Sodexo, a food service company that was accused of having unfair and illegal treatment of workers.
Glover and 11 others were arrested for passing police yellow tape and not retreating.
In 2016, actress Shailene Woodley was arrested during a protest against Dakota Pipeline Access. She was charged with criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot.
Woodley claimed she was peacefully protesting and was accosted when she was heading back to her car. She also believes the police arrested her because she was livestreaming the protest on social media. In a Facebook video, she said she was arrested “because I’m well-known (and) because I have 40,000 people watching.”
In January 2020, actor Joaquin Phoenix was arrested during a Fire Drill Friday. Phoenix gave a speech calling out the dairy and meat industries for their roles in the climate crisis.
Phoenix was arrested along with other protestors, and fellow actor Martin Sheen, when they marched up the Capitol Hill steps and didn’t disperse after police ordered them to.
Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad was arrested during a Los Angeles protest for George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer who kneeled on his neck even after he said he couldn’t breathe. Muhammad went to Instagram to talk about what led up to her arrest.
She said the protest was peaceful but “[a]s we made our way to City Hall, the police barricaded the surrounding blocks, unbeknownst to me. As LAPD choppers circled the sky, the barricade of police in riot gear began to close in. Along with hundreds of other protestors, I was held for hours.”
In 1967, singer Joan Baez was arrested during an anti-Vietnam War protest. Baez was one of 40 people arrested taking part in a sit-in at a military induction center.
Baez joined her fellow protestors in an anti-draft rally, and their goal was to force the draftees who were going into the military induction center to climb over them. Those draftees were then handed leaflets and asked to change their mind, refuse their fate of being inducted, and join the protests.
Actor Woody Harrelson was arrested in 1996 when he and other protestors scaled the Golden Gate Bridge to get the government to save a 60,000-acre redwood grove from loggers.
The protest started at 9 AM and caused an intense traffic jam that lasted all day. Harrelson said the group’s plan wasn’t to cause a traffic jam, but he did want those driving past to take home the group’s banner messages home with them.
Actress Lily Tomlin was another one of Jane Fonda’s friends who was arrested during a Fire Drill Friday protest to fight climate change. Tomlin gave a speech during the protest, saying that “we have got to stop hugging and start saving the trees.”
Tomlin was then arrested when she and about a dozen other demonstrators occupied the steps of the Capitol. Climate change isn’t the only cause Tomlin is passionate about – the photo above is from the Los Angeles Women’s March.
Houston Texans Wide Receiver Kenny Stills, one of the leading activists in the NFL, was arrested with the group of protestors who gathered outside the Kentucky Attorney General’s home, demanding justice for Breonna Taylor.
When Stills posted this photo on Social Media, he captioned it – ““Good trouble” with my brothers and sisters- organized by @untilfreedom. Arrested for peacefully protesting. While Breonna Taylor’s murderers are still out on the street.”
Model, actress, and activist Emily Ratajkowski has been known for her very strong stance on feminism and political activism, so it’s no surprise that she was arrested during the protest against Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.
At the time of her arrest, she tweeted, “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.”
Actress Sally Field is another person on this list arrested during a Fire Drill Friday. Field spoke to the crowd, telling them to get out of their comfort zones and help make drastic changes to protect the environment.
Field then joined a small group of other protestors on the US Capitol steps and like we have seen before, was arrested when the group refused to move. Field seemed triumphant when she was arrested, smiling and showing the crowd the zip-ties around her wrists.
Actor James Cromwell has been arrested a couple of times during protests. In 2015, he was arrested at a power plant construction site. Cromwell was protesting against the plant, claiming it is bad for the environment, can cause cancer and asthma, and had lowered property values. His first arrest was due to an obstruction of traffic and when Cromwell didn’t pay his finds, he ended up spending 7 days in jail.
In 2019, Cromwell joined a PETA protest at Texas A&M, protesting against their use of golden retrievers for muscular dystrophy research. His second arrest came when he was charged with hindering proceedings by disorderly conduct during a board of regents meeting at the school.
Musician Chrissie Hynde was arrested twice for her involvement in PETA protests. The first arrest came in 2000, when she was charged for criminal mischief in the first degree during a protest at a Gap store in NYC. Hynde and three other PETA supporters destroyed over $1,000 of merchandise in the store. Her and fellow demonstrators claimed that Gap was using leather that was illegally obtained from cows in India.
In 2003, Hynde was arrested by Parisian police during a PETA protest against KFC. Hynde was a part of about a dozen protestors who shut down traffic due to their congregating by KFC. The group then splattered red paint on the windows of the restaurant, which was supposed to symbolize the blood of dead chickens.
Actor Ted Danson is yet another example of a celebrity being arrested during a climate crisis demonstration at a Fire Drill Friday. Danson and other protestors, including Jane Fonda, were arrested for blocking the street.
Danson spoke before his arrest, saying he was Fonda’s “trainee”. Many spectators watching Danson and Fonda be arrested said that Danson seemed to be all smiles and having a great time. When he was asked if he was ever arrested before, he just nonchalantly said “Nope.”
Cast member of “Love and Hip Hop – New York”, Yandy Smith, was arrested alongside those protesting outside of the Kentucky Attorney General’s house, demanding justice for Breonna Taylor. When Smith (left), Activist Tamika Mallory (middle), and Porsha Williams (right) were arrested, they were charged with the felony of intimidating a participant in the legal process.
Smith posted a photo on Instagram of the charge and said, “This is the FELONY CHARGE @danieljaycameron and Louisville Metro Department of Corrections think applies to peaceful protestors. BUT #breonnataylor MURDERERS are still free!”
Smith was not the only one outraged at the felony charge and luckily, it was dropped, but the charges for trespassing and disorderly conduct still stand.
In 2012, New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless and 5 Greenpeace activists were protesting a Shell-owned oil-drilling ship in New Zealand. The protestors sat on top of 174 ft tall drilling tower for 77 hours, preventing the ship from leaving to go on an oil-drilling excursion.
Lawless and her fellow protestors wanted to raise awareness on Arctic oil drilling. Lawless said her reason for joining this protest, which she also said wasn’t for “sissies” due to the high winds, was to take a stand against oil-drilling and global warming.
Lawless and others thought they were being arrested for unlawfully boarding a ship, but were actually charged with a more serious crime of burglary, even though they didn’t steal anything. In the end, Lawless only got 120 hours of community service and a $4,438 reparation.
In 2002, Cynthia Nixon was arrested alongside 11 others during a protest in Manhattan. Nixon and others were protesting for better funding for public schools. The mayor, Michael Bloomberg, proposed to take $350 million out of the Board of Education’s budget that year.
Nixon’s daughter was 5 years old at the time and when she witnessed extreme financial cuts to her daughter’s school, she felt compelled to protest. This was the start of Nixon’s activism, which eventually led to her political career.
In 2015, “Jackass” star Steve-O was arrested for a protest at SeaWorld. Steve-O climbed a 100-foot crane, holding an inflatable Shamu, and a sign saying “SeaWorld Sucks”. The sign didn’t last his whole protest though, as he eventually exploded it with fireworks.
Due to his one-man protest being on a crane high up, authorities weren’t sure if he was up there for a suicide attempt, so five ambulances, a helicopter, and more than 80 firemen joined the crowd. When it was realized this was just a protest, he was arrested promptly when he returned to the ground. Steve-O was sentenced to 30 days in jail, but was released in less than eight hours.
In 1999, actress Susan Sarandon, along with 218 others, was arrested during a protest at the NYC Police Headquarters for the police shooting of unarmed immigrant Amadou Diallo. The charges against those who were arrested were disorderly conduct or trespassing. However, New York ended up dismissing the protest arrest cases.
In 2018, Sarandon and 574 other women were arrested at a sit-in protest against Trump’s immigration policies. Sarandon and the other protestors demanded that the families separated in detention centers be reunited. During her arrest, Sarandon tweeted, “Arrested. Stay Strong. Keep fighting. #WomenDisobey.”
Actor Sam Waterston has been arrested twice for his involvement in Fire Drill Fridays and the demonstrations on the climate crisis… but these aren’t his only arrests. His first arrest in October 2019 was what he said was literally his first time getting arrested.
But that didn’t stop Waterston from protesting. A little over a month later, Waterston was arrested during a Yale-Harvard game where protestors disrupted the game to bring light to climate change and Yale and Harvard’s endowment fund holdings in fossil fuel companies.
Waterston hadn’t had enough of being arrested, because his second Fire Drill Friday arrest occurred in January 2020.
Actress Daryl Hannah likes to fight for causes she believes in and has had four protest arrests on her rap sheet. Her first arrest was back in 2006, when she chained herself (along with about 30 others) to a tree to protest the reclamation of farmland in Central Los Angeles.
For her second arrest in 2009, she was involved with a mining protest in West Virginia. Hannah and around 30 other protestors were arrested for blocking a road into a coal mine. For her third arrest in 2011, Hannah was arrested for a sit-in protest in front of White House protesting expansion of the Keystone oil pipeline.
And for her fourth (and might not be final) arrest in 2012, Hannah was arrested in Texas for protesting the creation of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.