Washington, D.C—Fourteen of 74 ADAPT activists arrested in April for protesting Chair of the House Budget Committee Representative Ryan’s proposal to cut Medicaid funding by $800 billion were sentenced in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
During the court proceedings, Mike Oxford, an ADAPT organizer from Kansas, made a statement on behalf of the group. “People felt that they had no option but to protest because the proposed Medicaid cuts are so extreme,” he said. “If enacted, these cuts will leave people with disabilities without services that help them with the most basic aspects of living: getting out of bed, getting dressed, eating and going to the bathroom. For some with significant health problems, it will mean no healthcare. These cuts threaten our very lives.”
Bruce Darling of Rochester ADAPT said, “The Medicaid cuts often focus on home and community services. What scares people most is that these cuts end up forcing people with disabilities and seniors into nursing homes and institutions.” People should not be forced to give up their freedom to support tax cuts for corporations and the rich.
Medicaid budget cuts are being enacted across the country, shredding the social safety net for millions who have no financial recourse to preserve the services that empower them to live in their own communities.
After demanding that all those arrested appear in court in person, which would have caused great financial distress to those who lived far away (which was everyone), the U.S. Attorney’s Office made a last minute reversal. Sixty were excused from appearing, but most had already made travel arrangements that were non-refundable. However, 14 of the protesters, from as far away as Kansas, Minnesota and Texas, were ordered to appear in the D.C. court.
The judge refused to allow ADAPT’s attorney to appear on behalf of his clients. The 14 pled guilty and were sentenced to a suspended 10 days in a D.C. jail, and put on six months probation. In addition the court required they pay $50 toward a crime victim’s fund. During the six months, they must not be arrested and must stay off the Capitol grounds. The remaining 60 activists signed a similar agreement.
Said Adam Ballard of Chicago ADAPT, “Defending our freedom should not be regarded as a criminal act, and I will not be intimidated into silence by these tactics.”