Statement on the treatment of peaceful protesters with disabilities in Senator McConnell’s office

America has a rich and textured history of peaceful protests.  These protests demonstrate the power of citizens in a civil society.  Respect and dignity were removed today when citizens with disabilities were hauled out of the Senate Majority Leader’s office via a fireman carry.  Their power and manual wheelchairs were left behind while security wore medical gloves as if these people were contagious. 

A group of individuals with disabilities gathered inside and outside the office of Senator Mitch McConnell to oppose the Senate’s version of the American Health Care Act, the Better Care Reconciliation Act.  The protesters had planned a "die-in" to demonstrate the effects of Medicaid cuts on the disability community.  

Many of these protesters have medical conditions ranging from spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, visual impairments, along with other intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Some protesters have issues that require specialty seating systems to support skeletal issues. 

Senator McConnell was not in his office to see the protests. Instead, he was introducing the Republican plan on the Senate floor.

News coverage ranging from Fox News, ABC News, the Washington Post, to the USA Today broadcast the treatment some of these protesters experienced.  Witnesses characterized the removal as excessive, inhumane, and harsh. 

FAAST believes in the right to associate and to assemble.  We feel other steps could have been taken.  We call on all members of Congress from Florida to denounce these actions.  We request Senator McConnell issue a public apology. 

FAAST hopes the state of Florida would not resort to similar actions when individuals from our most vulnerable populations peacefully protest unpopular policies. 

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