Protesters with disabilities engaging in a planned protest were arrested by Capitol Police outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office after a draft of new healthcare legislation was released.
Capitol Police said in a statement that 43 people were arrested at the Senate Russell Office Building after the Senate Republicans’ “Better Care” reconciliation bill to replace aspects of the Affordable Care Act became public. Prior to the arrests, many protesters in wheelchairs lined up outside McConnell’s office chanting “no cuts to Medicaid, save our liberties.”
The new healthcare bill includes Medicaid cuts, which led some disabilities rights organizations like ADAPT to protest the new proposed healthcare plan.
Capitol Police, charged with the task of keeping the hallways clear, began to remove protesters. A statement from Capitol Police said that “officers warned the demonstrators to cease their unlawful activity or be faced with arrest” but some “did not cease their demonstration activities and were arrested.”
In some cases, Capitol Police removed protesters from their wheelchairs. On social media, videos and pictures of elderly wheelchair-bound protesters being dragged away went viral.
In a tweet, it was pointed out that Capitol Police dropped a protester while moving him from his wheelchair.
One woman, who was escorted out in her wheelchair, said: “The government wants to kill me.”
Some protesters were led away in their motorized scooters while others were brought away by police in front of reporters and cameras on the scene.
Capitol Police did assist protesters back into their wheelchairs, though one woman had a simple message as she was escorted out: “With this bill, people will die.”
Those arrested were charged with Crowding, Obstructing or Incommoding and were sent to U.S. Capitol Police headquarters for processing, a statement said.
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