UGA Finds Student Protester, Adam Veale, Not Guilty
(APN) ATLANTA — A University of Georgia (UGA) student, Adam Veale, was found not guilty by the school’s Student Judiciary, part of its Office of Student Conduct, for his non-violent civil disobedience and arrest at the State Capitol while advocating for Medicaid Expansion with Moral Monday on March 02, 2015.
Veale was offered a deal to avoid the violation hearing–sixteen hours of community service and lunch with faculty members–but he choose to take his chance before a judicial panel on April 24, 2015.
Veale is a 20 year-old sophomore political science major from Augusta, Georgia. He credits the successful outcome of the disciplinary hearing to the all-star team of political leaders who turned out to support him.
“You shouldn’t need an all-star cast of political figures to avoid being punished for doing the right thing,” Veale said at the hearing.
Those testifying for Veale included: Dr. Francys Johnson, National Association of the Advancement of Colored People, Georgia Chapter, President; State Senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta); Melissa Link, Clarke County Commissioner (District 3); Tim Denson, Athens for Everyone; UGA professors; Freedom University members; and a Moral Monday Georgia member.
“There’s glaring hypocrisy in a university that names buildings after civil rights leaders, praises them in its history curriculum, and then prosecutes students for using the same tactics of nonviolent civil disobedience that Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and John Lewis not only used, but explicitly and strongly recommended for the movements that would follow. The University of Georgia must make a decision: are participants in non-violent civil disobedience to be praised or punished?” Veale said to the Judiciary Board.
Previously, the UGA Student Conduct Office brought four other UGA students–Claire Bolton, Brian Williams, Richard Milligan and Devin Ruiz–up on conduct charges. They had been arrested during a classroom sit-in to protest the Board of Regents ban on undocumented students. They took the informal resolution or plea deal for hours of community service, and thus have a conduct charge on their university record.
“I call on UGA to reverse their ruling in these students’ conduct cases and exempt civil disobedience from prosecution,” Veale said at his hearing.
Moral Monday Georgia has been advocating for Medicaid expansion to be adopted in Georgia, but Gov. Nathan Deal has refused to accept federal money to expand Medicaid.
Since January, 2014 at least 61 people have been arrested at the State Capitol in non-violent civil disobedience actions to raise awareness of the issue.
By turning down Medicaid Expansion, Georgia has refused to accept over 40 billion dollars from the federal government that would help the 650,000 Georgians who lack health insurance and thus access to most care.
Research at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggests that the refusal of federal Medicaid funds in several states may have resulted in the deaths of 27,452 U.S. residents, nationally, in 2014.
Out of that number, over one thousand Georgia citizens are dying annually because they are the working poor who fall in the gap of being too poor to buy health insurance and but not qualifying for Medicaid.
State Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) “is an attorney and has an office in Athens on Broad Street. Athens for Everyone plans an action at his office on Friday, May 1st at 1:00 p.m. We will ask him to publicly support Medicaid Expansion or not. We want him to take a public stand one way or the other,” Veale told APN.