Arrests at Alabama Capitol protest for Medicaid expansion
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Several people, including a former longtime state senator, were arrested Tuesday for attempting to paint “Good Trouble” and “Expand Medicaid” on the street in front of the Alabama Capitol.
Montgomery police swiftly handcuffed former Sen. Hank Sanders, 77, and at least five others as they began to write the words in yellow spray paint. A few others were arrested after they refused to move back onto the sidewalk. It was not immediately clear what they were being charged with.
The painting and arrests followed a news conference by the Alabama Save OurSelves Movement for Justice an Democracy and other groups who have held periodic events urging Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and legislators to expand the state’s Medicaid program.
“We have to keep fighting. Right here in Alabama we are calling upon the governor once again to expand Medicaid. More than 300,000 Alabamians would benefit in terms of having affordable and accessible health care if she would expand Medicaid in this state,” said Johnny Ford.
Alabama is one of about 13 states that have not approved the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation
“Good Trouble” is a reference used by the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis for the arrests and entanglements he faced during the civil rights movement. Lewis, an Alabama native, was honored Sunday at the Alabama Capitol.
“Today the new civil rights struggle is health rights,” Ford said.
This is the second time members of the group have been arrested.
Sanders said they were willing to get arrested to continue drawing attention to the issue of Medicaid expansion.
“The issue of saving lives is not only important, but urgent. We have been holding press conferences, and other demonstrations for six or seven years ... It is important that we continue to put this issue in the minds and hearts of the governor and the people of Alabama,” Sanders said.
The group returned for the painting protest after five members of the group were arrested earlier in the month for writing Black Lives Matter and Expand Medicaid on the same spot. They said the two women in the group were strip-searched at the jail that time.