DIS­ABLED PROTESTERS RE­MAIN BE­HIND BARS AFTER AR­RESTS

Ar­rests made Thurs­day at Gard­ner’s Den­ver of­fice

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Danika Wor­thing­ton

A vigil was held Thurs­day, con­tin­u­ing into Fri­day, in sol­i­dar­ity with the 10 protesters who were ar­rested dur­ing a sit-in at U.S. Sen. Cory Gard­ner’s of­fice.

Protesters held a vigil out­side the down­town Den­ver jail Thurs­day night, con­tin­u­ing into Fri­day, in sol­i­dar­ity with the 10 protesters who were ar­rested dur­ing a sit-in at U.S. Sen. Cory Gard­ner’s of­fice.

Those hold­ing vigil said they would be there un­til every­one was re­leased, which is the stan­dard prac­tice with ADAPT, the group that or­ga­nized the sit-in.

The Den­ver Sher­iff Depart­ment con­firmed that at least eight of the protesters re­mained be­hind bars Fri­day. One of the protesters, Car­rie Ann Lu­cas, has a ven­ti­la­tor and was in­stead taken to a hos­pi­tal and re­leased.

The protesters — most with dis­abil­i­ties — were ar­rested in the Repub­li­can sen­a­tor’s Den­ver of­fice Thurs­day, two days after they be­gan a sit-in to de­mand that he pledge to op­pose the Se­nate’s cur­rent plan to re­peal and re­place Oba­macare.

“Rather go to jail than to die without Med­i­caid!” protesters, some in wheelchairs or ly­ing on the floor, chanted while Den­ver po­lice or­dered them to leave and then hauled them away.

The protesters still be­hind bars early Fri­day night in­cluded Lon­nie Smith, Jor­dan Sibayan, Robin Stephens, Dawn Russell, Jac­que­line Mitchell, Dawn Howard and two oth­ers, ac­cord­ing to a Den­ver Sher­iff Depart­ment spokesman. Many were charged with tres­pass and in­ter­fer­ing with po­lice. They are be­ing rep­re­sented by Den­ver at­tor­ney David Lane.

Protesters ini­tially took over Gard­ner’s wait­ing room Tues­day when the of­fice opened at 9:30 a.m. Nine protesters stayed the night Tues­day, turn­ing it into what re­sem­bled a dorm room with blan­kets and food. Eight more spent the night Wed­nes­day. Nine were in­tend­ing to spend the night again Thurs­day be­fore po­lice moved in and ar­rested the demon­stra­tors.

The ac­tion was or­ga­nized by ADAPT, a Colorado-born or­ga­ni­za­tion that works na­tion­ally to pro­mote dis­abil­ity rights. Protesters said they want Gard­ner to com­mit to pro­tect Med­i­caid spend­ing, in­clud­ing as­sist­edliv­ing ser­vices that help many peo­ple with abil­ity is­sues live in­de­pen­dently. Ad­vo­cates say those ser­vices would be cut in the pro­posed Se­nate health care bill, which the group wants Gard­ner to op­pose.

Andy Cross, The Den­ver Post

Dis­abled protesters and sup­port­ers chat with fel­low ac­tivist Car­rie Ann Lu­cas, left, at the Den­ver jail Fri­day while wait­ing for the re­lease of at least eight protesters.

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