WASHINGTON – Several dozen protesters were arrested Thursday after they gathered and chanted outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office over the GOP health care bill.
“Don’t touch Medicaid, save our liberty,” the protesters chanted outside his office.
The protest was organized by ADAPT, a national disability rights organization. In a statement, they said about 60 protesters gathered for a “die-in” to fight back on the health care bill, which will drastically cut back federal support of Medicaid.
“The American Health Care Act caps and significantly cuts Medicaid which will greatly reduce access to medical care and home and community based services for elderly and disabled Americans who will either die or be forced into institutions,” Bruce Darling, an ADAPT organizer taking part in the protest, said in a statement. “Our lives and liberty shouldn’t be stolen to give a tax break to the wealthy. That’s truly un-American.”
The statement also stated the group’s protest falls on the 18th anniversary of Olmstead v. LC — the 1999 Supreme Court Ruling that first recognized disabled people’s right to live in communities rather than institutions.
Reporters tweeted photos of the protesters being carried out by Capitol Police.
Forty-three protesters were arrested and charged with “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding,” Capitol Police said in a statement.
“Many of the demonstrators, as part of their protest activities, removed themselves from their wheelchairs and lay themselves on the floor, obstructing passage through the hallway and into nearby offices,” the police statement read.
McConnell’s office referred to Capitol Police for comment.
Alison Barkoff, protest participant and director of advocacy for the Center for Public Representation, told CNN, “This is a tax cut to the wealthiest Americans on the backs of people with disability.”
“These are literally people outside who are taking over McConnell’s office who are on ventilators and wheelchairs,” she said. “Many of the people with disabilities were forcible removed. They were literally carried from the space out to a separate area.”
The 28 female and 15 male protesters who were arrested were transported to Capitol Police headquarters for processing, authorities said.
One of the protesters who was arrested, Mike Oxford, told CNN that the police acted professionally and used accessible paddy wagons with wheelchair lifts to transport the protesters with mobility disabilities.
By Daniella Diaz and Pete Grieve, CNN
CNN’s Jennifer Hansler and Paul P. Murphy contributed to this report.