After two days of protests, a group of disability activists were arrested and removed from Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner’s Denver office on Thursday, in the latest emotionally charged skirmish over the GOP’s ongoing efforts to gut American healthcare as we know it.
The protesters, many of whom have disabilities themselves, began their sit-in on Tuesday morning in the waiting room of Sen. Gardner’s office, the Denver Post reported. The action, coordinated by the disability advocacy group ADAPT, was aimed at pressuring Gardner to act against a number of cuts to programs for the disabled community proposed by Republican senators as part of their ongoing Obamacare repeal effort.
“Rather go to jail than to die without Medicaid!” some protesters chanted as Colorado police began removing them from Gardner’s office. According to the Post, some protesters sitting on the floor were physically returned to their wheelchairs and forcibly removed from the building during the arrests.
In a statement to local news station KDVR, Gardner’s office confirmed that they asked police to remove the protesters, and claimed they had worked to make the sit-in participants “comfortable and safe.” Earlier reports from the protest claimed that Gardner’s staff had attempted to prevent activists from using the bathrooms.
“We had so much coffee, someone was bound to shit,” activist Kalyn Heffernan told Denver’s Westworld alt-weekly.
“Denver police removed these individuals from the building due to several factors,” Gardner’s statement continued,“including concerns for their health and safety, and the impact of the protest on other tenants in the building.”
According to KDVR, 10 people were taken into custody by Denver police.
Thursday’s arrests come days after Capitol Hill police physically removed dozens of protesters—many of them disabilities and in wheelchairs—from outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office. That protest was also organized by ADAPT.
According to Bruce Darling, the group’s national organizer, Thursday’s arrests are part of a nationwide effort by disability activists to fight against president Donald Trump’s healthcare agenda. As for how many activists have been arrested thus far, Darling said that he’s stopped keeping track, telling The Denver Post, “There’s enough that it’s gotten confusing.”