Protesters With Disabilities Occupy Gardner’s Denver Office

UPDATE: Denver7’s Blair Miller, still going strong after 24 hours:

The protesters first took up residence in Gardner’s Denver office Tuesday afternoon, just hours after Senate Republicans decided not to try and vote on the Senate’s version of the bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.

The office is in a large office building that also houses several other businesses. Police showed up to the office Tuesday evening for several hours, but never removed any of the protesters, who ended up staying overnight and remained there Wednesday afternoon.

—–

KDVR FOX 31 reporting, a situation developing inside Sen. Cory Gardner’s downtown Denver offices:

A group of protesters spent the night in the lobby of Sen. Cory Gardner’s office in Denver on Tuesday…

They want Gardner to vote against the proposed federal health care bill, saying they believe it will cut Medicaid benefits to individuals who need them to survive independently.

“They depend on these services to be able to live in the community independently, and have jobs and be productive members of society, go to school. Families do all the things that we get to do and we don’t have to fight like this,” Hope Morris said.

The protest quickly turned into a sit-in after participants were reportedly denied access to the senator’s office.

“Police shut down the elevators, the fire department shut down the fire stairs,” Jose Torres-Vega said.

“They came in about 4 o’clock this afternoon and said they were going to start arresting folks,” Morris said.

Although police threatened the protesters, many of whom use power wheelchairs or have other disabilities, in the end they were not arrested. This appears to be a deliberate choice made by Sen. Gardner, looking to avoid the horrible scene outside Sen. Mitch McConnell’s offices last week as protesters with disabilities were dragged away by U.S. Capitol police:

“We have not asked for anyone to be removed from the office,” a Gardner spokesman said. “Sen. Gardner wants the constituents that were in his office today to have quality health care. He has concerns that our current system is imploding and won’t be able to provide quality care if nothing is done to fix it.”

As of this writing, the protesters remain camped out inside Gardner’s Denver offices. There are conflicting reports about whether they have access to such basic accommodation as bathrooms, though they reportedly did have access to them last night. The protesters are with a group called ADAPT, a disability rights organization with a decades-long presence in the Denver activist community. The protesters report via livestream that they are in good spirits, and for the moment well-supplied with food and other essentials coming from supporters outside. A public rally outside the building is set for 11AM today, and the situation is quickly accumulating media coverage.

We’ll be watching closely to see how this resolves–the protest began before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called off the vote on the Senate’s Obamacare repeal bill, so there’s no predictable stopping point. Gardner is smart to refrain from ordering their arrest, but there’s nothing about this that adds up to good news for him.

It’s just another symptom of an unfolding political disaster.

16 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    These folks are truly inspiring. I never want to hear (or say) "Oh, protesting is just too much work. I'm too (tired, busy, lazy, burned out) to get involved. They're all alike anyway."

    I just got an email from the NEA. It reminded me that $4 billion in Medicaid funding goes to vision and hearing services in schools, as well as the services disabled kids have at home.

    Let's say Johnny can't read – what if we have no way of knowing if Johnny also can't see or can't hear? It would be disastrous for education, even if your idea of great education is all-private religious schools.

    If Medicaid is not gutted, it will be because of heroes like these protesters.

  2. vertigo700 says:

    Gardner's spokesperson is full of crap, “Sen. Gardner wants the constituents that were in his office today to have quality health care. He has concerns that our current system is imploding and won’t be able to provide quality care if nothing is done to fix it.”

    Even if you bought the dubious claim that healthcare system is "imploding," the issue if anything appears to be with those on the ACA individual markets, which for the most part do not include individuals with disabilities, many of whom are on  Medicaid, the program the Senate healthcare bill wants to cut by nearly $800 billion. 

    And that is exactly what concerns these protestors. ADAPT was founded to get people with disabilities out of abusive nursing homes and into the freedom of their own homes. Medicaid helps them do that. Ironically, the GOP is supposedly selling this reform as "freedom" from government, but its actually the government that gives many with disabilities the freedom to live independent lives. 

    Shame on Cory Gardner for supporting this bill and kudos to these protestors who are doing important work shining light on a dangerously inhumane bill. 

  3. ModeratusModeratus says:

    Disgusting to see leftists exploiting the disabled to score political points. Did ProgressNow tell them Cory Gardner wants to pull their plug? This is shameless.

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      Right up there with Gardner and Lamborn attempting to gut SNAP last Farm Bill go-around? Damn it, if one political party would just stop looking out for the interests of the least amongst us? Amirite?

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      They're speaking truth to wing nuttery…..

      BTW, Moldy, is vacillating on the Senate bill one of the evil, or not evil, things that Gardner has done?  

       

    • unnamed says:

      Could be worse Moldy.  It's not like Progress Now is trying to take away their healthcare.

       

      But still, why are they picking on Cory?  Not everything Cory Gardner does is evil.

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      Mods, you don't get it. The disabled people are leading the fight to keep Medicaid. Because their lives are literally at stake. And they totally kick ass.

      I recommend you check out the twitter feed from Kalyn : @wcsportscamp . She is the "little person" who is rapping out some big beats, and she might have a thing or two to tell you about who's leading who.

    • DawnPatrol says:

      God, Shemp, I would hate to have your monumentally bad karma.

      I hope it's instant.

      • Conserv. Head Banger says:

        Moderatus implies that disabled people can't speak for themselves. What a condescending a-hole! Guess he's never had occasion to be around those with serious medical issues, such as mobility impairments.  

        • DawnPatrol says:

          Agreed. His total lack of compassion and smug willingness to trash and generally demonstrate only utter contempt and disrespect toward such individuals speaks very heavily to me of someone who thus far in life has had the “good fortune” to remain "isolated" from such difficult circumstances.

          Something tells me that's about to change for Shemp, most likely in very dramatic fashion. Karma, as they say, can be a real bitch when you're a heartless, compassion-less, self-centered dick.

          • Conserv. Head Banger says:

            If I was in Moderatus' shoes; having made a total ass of myself; I think I'd disappear for a few days until the whole disabled demonstration matter blows over. But Moderatus probably isn't that smart.

    • Arvadonian1Arvadonian1 says:

      Exploiting?  Looks to me like these are motivated constituents of the Senator expressing their dissatisfaction with the proposed legislation.  There is no exploitation going on there at all.

      I actually find it disgusting that Republicans are cutting medical care to people with disabilities in order to fund tax cuts to the wealthy.

    • Arvadonian1Arvadonian1 says:

      Exploiting an individual with a disability is what Sarah Palin did with her son Trig….   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/18/family-guy-actress-respon_n_468331.html

  4. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Following my favorite activists occupying Gardner's office:

    Here is an album with a portrait and brief bios of all of the people who have taken part, put together by Wayfaring Band. These activists were willing to be on live public video for days, and did these interviews and bios published on Facebook, so I think it’s OK to put them here.

    So, Moderatus, you can see for yourself who these people are, and why they felt strongly enough to do this very physically and emotionally difficult thing. 

    I don't know how this is going to format – so I may end up taking the pictures out. It's worth checking out the bios – An  musician / rapper, counselor,, lawyer,  health aides, pre-med student,  former firefighter, and at least one Denver Senate candidate in the mix.

    Faces of ADAPT: Die-In at Cory Gardner's Denver Office Continues

    12 Photos · Updated 17 hours ago

    Portraits and short interviews with just some of the disability activists involved in the current "die-in" protest at Senator Cory Gardner's Denver office. Most of these activists are affiliated with National ADAPT and local chapter Atlantis ADAPT, and these portraits were taken during the 27th hour of an action they staged to protest proposed Medicaid cuts in the current AHCA bill. They have taken over the Senator's Denver office to demand an audience with Cory Gardner and to demand that he vote NO on the bill. They have already spent one night in the office, sleeping on the floor and in wheelchairs, and they're ready to dig in for the long haul until their public officer heeds their requests. They're equipped with blankets, sleeping bags, food, beverages, grit, and determination! Medicaid matters, Senator Gardner. Please vote NO!

    They are still there, still saying that they will remain until Gardner commits to vote "No" on the Senate BRCA (the Wealthcare bill).

    Here, also, is a  kind of heart-warming video of the police speaking with the protesters, trying to find out what they're about (or in other words, practicing good community policing – if more cops did this, we'd have fewer funerals of black people killed by cops, because it would be very clear that "All lives matter")

    All footage by Carrie Ann Lucas. Video editing by Now This Politics.

  5. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    The protest at Cory Gardner's office is now in its 46th hour. The protesters are clearly worn down, but still strong.

    Here's the live video feed from this morning.

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