"I'd rather go to jail than to die without Medicaid," chanted Wheelchair Sports Camp MC Kalyn Heffernan, around 7 p.m., Thursday, June 29, as she live-streamed footage of police arresting her fellow activists. The disability rights group ADAPT had been staging a three-day sit-in at Republican Senator Cory Gardner's office. At the time she was filming, her own arrest was inevitable.
The demonstrators, many in wheelchairs, had pledged on Tuesday, June 27, to occupy Gardner's Denver office until the senator promised to vote no on a GOP-backed healthcare measure that the Congressional Budget Office says would lead to 22 million people losing health insurance by 2026.
Gardner's office has not replied to multiple requests for comment on the protest.
ADAPT is demanding Gardner sign this statement pledging to vote against any bill that would reduce Medicaid funding for seniors and people with disabilities.
The sit-in was into its third day when police started arresting demonstrators. As Heffernan watched officers awkwardly attempt to take away people in weighty wheelchairs, she said, "This is where our tax money goes: arresting cripples for fighting for healthcare."
Police warned each of the protesters that they were trespassing and gave them a chance to leave. Heffernan told her fellow activists: "This is my first time. They can't fucking break me."
She continued to chant as arrests went on around her. Eventually officers approached Heffernan.
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"Are you ready?" asked a cop.
As they took her away and turned off her phone, cutting off more than 6,000 people who had tuned in, she continued to chant: "I'd rather go to jail than to die without Medicaid."