Healthcare protesters arrested after protest in GOP senator's office

Healthcare protesters arrested after protest in GOP senator's office
© Greg Nash

Police arrested 10 protesters in Denver Thursday night after they staged a two-day sit-in at Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerMcConnell calls for Senate hearings on Russia sanctions GOP seeks separation from Trump on Russia Republican bill aims to deter NATO members from using Russian pipeline MORE’s (R-Colo.) office to protest the Senate GOP's ObamaCare repeal bill.

The protesters, many of whom had disabilities, urged Gardner to vote against the bill and chanted that they would “rather go to jail than die without Medicaid,” according to a CNN report

The group of disability activists, many of whom were affiliated with the ADAPT disability rights group, arrived at the office at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday and spent two nights protesting the healthcare bill. Members of Gardner’s staff took extra “significant steps to ensure they were comfortable and safe,” Gardner spokesman Casey Contres said.

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ADAPT also hosted a “die-in” protest at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight Hillicon Valley: Trump's Russia moves demoralize his team | Congress drops effort to block ZTE deal | Rosenstein warns of foreign influence threat | AT&T's latest 5G plans On The Money: Trump 'ready' for tariffs on all 0B in Chinese goods | Trump digs in on Fed criticism | Lawmakers drop plans to challenge Trump ZTE deal MORE's (R-Ky.) office last week over the GOP healthcare bill, which would drastically reduce funding to Medicaid if passed.

Gardner aides disputed the group’s claims that they were locked in and threatened with arrest, saying the protesters weren’t asked to leave and that a staff member stayed in the office overnight with them.

The 10 protesters were arrested after disobeying orders to disperse following a formal police complaint filed by the senator’s office, Denver police public information officer Marika Putnam told CNN. Contres said police removed the protesters due to “concerns for their health and safety.”

The organization has spoken with Gardner several times, and is in “constant contact” with Gardner’s health care policy staff regarding their requests for health care reform, Cortes said.

A vote on the healthcare bill had originally been scheduled before the Fourth of July recess, but McConnell moved the vote in the face of opposition from GOP senators. Republicans can only afford to lose two votes in the Senate and still pass the bill with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Pence.