Protesters in wheelchairs and on respirators were dragged away from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office by their hands and feet on Thursday afternoon as Republican leaders unveiled their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“McConnell's gonna kill us,” said one protester, wearing a t-shirt with “my Medicaid matters,” as he was escorted out of what the demonstrators called a “die-in.”
The bill would cut Medicaid, end the ACA’s mandate that Americans must have health insurance or pay a fine, and allow states to drop previously required benefits for health insurance.
“The government wants to kill me,” another protester shouted, as she was removed from the hallway by a Capitol Police officer.
“My child is going to die, my grandkids are going to die!” another protester yelled. “My people are going to die because of these decisions.”
At least three dozen protesters in total, many with physical disabilities, were forcibly removed from McConnell’s office in the Russell Senate Office Building while he spoke on the Senate floor in favor of the legislation.
“Are you being arrested?” The Daily Beast asked one woman, as she was wheeled away.
“Yes I am,” she responded. Officers wheeling her away would not answer questions, but others who were able to walk were later taken away in handcuffs.
Paramedics arrived around noon, and custodians were on staff cleaning blood off of the floor.
Most of the protesters were with ADAPT, a national grass-roots community of disability rights activists who engage in nonviolent direct action, according to the group’s website.
A Capitol Police spokeswoman told The Daily Beast that 43 people were arrested after being warned not to block hallways and office entrances. “Many of the demonstrators, as part of their activities, removed themselves from their wheelchairs and lay themselves on the floor, obstructing passage through the hallway and into nearby offices,” the spokeswoman said.
— Olivia Messer contributed to this report.