Ten Arrested in Second Moral Monday Protest, Seeking Medicaid Expansion
(APN) ATLANTA — Earlier today, two weeks since the launch of the first Moral Monday in Georgia, ten progressive activists were arrested in Gov. Nathan Deal’s office for refusing to leave after the 5pm Capitol closing time.
They were attempting to deliver a letter to Gov. Deal that explained the consequences of not expanding Medicaid in Georgia.
“Many elected officials in Georgia have ignored the moral implications of their actions and inactions with respect to the neediest among us… Our concern today is your refusal to expand Medicaid to the 650,000 Georgians who are in desperate need of health care,” the letter said.
When Gov. Deal did not show up to receive the letter, the ten quietly set and waited for him. After 5pm the Capitol police came in and informed the group that if they did not leave, they would be arrested. They refused to leave without giving the letter to the Governor.
The police handcuffed and arrested State Sen. Vincent Fort, (D-Atlanta). Rev. Alan Jenkins, Kevin Moran, Kathy Acker, Megan Harrison, Brittany Gray, Marguerite S. Casey, Karen Reagle, Michael Sehumm, and Daniel Hanley.
They were charged with code violation 16-11-34.1G, which prohibits picketing, protesting, or causing a disturbance in the Gold Dome. They were taken to Rice Street jail.
When the Medicaid Ten first entered Gov. Deal’s office, Sen. Fort ask to see the Governor and put the letter in his hand. He was told the Governor was in a meeting and unavailable.
“If he can meet with Blue Cross/Blue Shield and accept twenty five thousand dollars from them and fifty thousand dollars from United Health Care… then we think he can meet with Georgia citizens… We don’t have lots of money, all we have is faith that Gov. Deal’s heart will be soften… The denial of Medicaid expansion is a war on the middle class and poor people,” Sen. Fort said to the people waiting to see the governor.
Karen Reagle–a long-time activist with the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda and the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) Women, and a lay minister with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta–explained to Atlanta Progressive News why she was participating in civil disobedience.
“It is part of my commitment to spiritual needs and I think that declining expanding Medicaid is abhorrent. There are too many people who need it and too many people will die without it. It’s unconscionable to my way of thinking, that a state that considers itself Christian and a Governor that professes to be a Christian could treat people, who need our help, the way it’s [the lack of Medicaid expansion] going now,” Reagle said.
Rev. Alan Jenkins told a personal story that he experienced as a Chaplain to the group in the Governor’s office.
“I am here for a man’s family, who had high blood pressure. This was a hard working man who did not have health care because he fell in that gap of not being able to afford health care. So he put off going to a doctor. He had a stroke and was rushed to the hospital and when he arrived at the hospital he was pronounced brain dead,” Jenkins said.
“We have to provide health care for one another… God cries with the people in this State who die every week, every day because they are not getting access to the health care they need,” Jenkins said.
“Today I am willing to stay in Nathan Deal’s office in order to bear witness for the lives of the 600 Georgians who will die, if we don’t expand Medicaid. Also to speak truth to power . Its important that we as Georgia citizens step up and get involved in our government and talk to our governor. Especially when the activities he is doing are immoral and corrupt,” Megan Harrison, 25, told APN.
“The reason I’m doing this [civil disobedience] is because we have to look out for each other. I’m one of the few people in this room that is not a faith-based person. I believe if we don’t take care of each other no one else will, there are 650 thousand Georgians out there who do not have health care that need health care. I think it’s up to me and others that can, to step up and fight the fight for them. So that why I’m here,” Peggy Casey told APN.
About fifty people were outside the Governor’s office supporting the “Medicaid Ten” inside the office. Others stood in the cold outside the Capitol holding signs in support of Medicaid expansion in Georgia.