Power Grid Blog
Mark’s Weekly Message
May 18, 2012 | Mark Perriello
Fighting for Justice as One Community
We are one community. One movement. No exceptions.
I am outraged today because 74 courageous and engaged disability rights activists are being unjustly singled out by a seemingly vindictive D.C. attorney’s office – more concerned with clamping down on free speech in our nation’s capital, than with protecting the fundamental right to protest and petition our government. These 74 Americans were arrested in DC on April 23rd while protesting the U.S. House’s plan to cut $800 billion from Medicaid. They had come here from all over the country to protect a program that provides health care and other vital tools to millions of people.
The D.C. attorney’s office is demanding that the 74 return to DC from all over the country to appear in court this coming Tuesday. Getting arrested for a good cause is a time honored tradition in our nations’ capital. Usually, people pay a small fine. Not this time.
Bruce Darling was one of the protesters. Here is what he had to say:
"These protesters, including myself, were arrested doing what was right. We were drawing attention to policy decisions that could be devastating for millions of people. We spend months saving up for each trip because making our case is that important. Many of the people who are being called back to DC live on $700 per month and have already paid enormous fines in the form of travel arrangements. I’m surprised and appalled that this is the price we must pay to protect Medicaid from being dismantled. In America we should not have to pay this price to exercise our right to address our government."
Bruce is right. This is not how we treat our fellow Americans for exercising their rights. The ironies abound:
1) The protesters were in Washington objecting to a proposal that would cut spending on the backs of people who are already living close to the margins. They were here to fight for justice, and they’re being treated like criminals.
2) This past week, AAPD and The Leadership Conference released a report showing how our transportation systems are leaving people with disabilities behind. The dozens of people who have been ordered back to DC from all over the country are going to experience that first hand, and at enormous financial expense. People in rural areas will have few options for getting to the airport. Some might deal with TSA screeners who might not know the procedures for protecting lifesaving medical equipment. And when they get here, they’d better have a plan to get to the courthouse that doesn’t involve a cab—because DC is just starting to consider legislation to make 4% of our cabs accessible.
3) The US House just voted to prevent the Department of Justice from enforcing the ADA’s requirement that swimming pools be accessible. When we’re fighting to preserve already meager Medicaid payments, access to recreational facilities such as swimming pools is not at the top of our priority list. But here’s the thing—since our community traveled to Washington to point out Congress’s shameful behavior toward people with disabilities, Congress turned their back on us again, voting to cut a piece out of an important civil rights law.
Should our government spend our tax dollars to punish courageous citizens for peacefully assembling in protest? No, it shouldn’t. Government by the people, of the people, and for the people depends upon civic engagement, and that should not be punished.
I am grateful to the ADAPT protesters for fighting for all of us. We are one community and one movement—which means that we fight for one another. That’s why I’m encouraging all of you to support the ADAPT activists by contributing to the MMM! Legal Defense Fund. AAPD donated $5000 to the Fund and we are doing all we can to get this message out.
You can send your tax deductible donation to:
MMM Legal Defense Fund
1640A East 2nd St
Austin, Texas 78702
Through PayPal http://www.adapt.org/donate