Thursday, September 7, 2017
WASHINGTON -- Protesters, including five from Arkansas, were arrested Wednesday on Capitol Hill while protesting Republican efforts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The demonstrations took place in the Hart Senate Office Building.
A spokesman for the U.S. Capitol Police said demonstrators were charged with violating D.C. Code Section 22-1307, which prohibits "Crowding, Obstructing or Incommoding."
"Officers warned the demonstrators to cease and desist with their unlawful demonstration activities. Twenty-eight individuals were arrested when they refused to cease with their demonstration activities," spokesman Eva Malecki said.
Protesters were freed after each posted and forfeited $50.
Under the District of Columbia Code, "The resolution of a criminal charge using the post-and-forfeit procedure is not a conviction of a crime and shall not be equated to a criminal conviction."
Wednesday was the fourth time that Arkansas supporters of the Affordable Care Act have traveled to Washington to commit civil disobedience this summer, an organizer said.
Christian Taylor, a 19-year-old University of Central Arkansas sophomore, said he viewed his protest as a form of civil disobedience.
"It gets the message across, and it lets people know you're not joking around and you're serious if you're willing to get arrested for something," he said.
An attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act failed in the Senate in late July, but Republicans are working to draft new legislation.
"They're going to try to get something through. ... They're going to come back with something, and we want to be prepared," said Loretta Fudoli, 56, a Conway woman who was also arrested.
Too many people rely on the current health care law, she said. "We want that ACA. We want it better. We want to take care of our people," she said.
Hannah Bruner, a 20-year-old from Van Buren, said this was her first arrest.
"I was a little nervous, but we had a lot of support," she said.
A dozen other Arkansans who made the trip complied with the officers' orders and weren't arrested. They were waiting to greet their fellow activists upon their releases.
It wasn't a traumatic experience, Bruner said.
"The Capitol Police were pretty kind," she said. "They gave us our three warnings, and we continued to chant and we waited to get arrested."
Bruner said she believes it's important to oppose Republican legislation that undermines the Affordable Care Act.
"Health insurance and health care is really important for rural communities, especially in Arkansas," she said. "If repeal were to happen, there are a lot of hospitals that could get shut down."
A Section on 09/07/2017
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