FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 7, 2017
CONTACT: Madeline Stocker (860) 808-7857
COLUMBUS, OH – After a morning of peaceful sit-ins on the first floor of Senator Portman’s office building, Columbus police officers began forcibly removing disabled activists from their wheelchairs with sudden levels of force and aggression.
Officers policing Portman’s 37 West Broad Street office resorted to force 3 p.m. Friday afternoon, minutes after claiming the activists were blocking EMT’s from providing medical assistance to someone elsewhere in the building. But this claim directly conflicted with the statement officers gave to the three activists occupying Portman’s office upstairs, who were told officials of Huntington Bank had chosen to put the property on lockdown.
Police then arrested 15 leaders from National ADAPT, a disability rights group that came from across the country to sit in at Portman’s Columbus and represent those whose lives are at risk under the Republican healthcare bill.
“We cannot forget why these protesters were there,” said National ADAPT in a Facebook post. “Disabled people will die without Medicaid. In Ohio, people are being arrested instead of being heard by Senator Portman.”
The action, which was part of a national demonstration consisting of 28 other sit-ins around the country, began Thursday at noon, with some activists spending the night in Portman’s office. Throughout the entire action, protesters were consistently denied communication with Sen. Portman and received no word as to how he plans to vote on the bill.
“Whether it was officials at Huntington, CPD or Senator Portman himself, whoever made the call to force us from the building was clearly trying to manufacture a reason to use excessive force,” said Yes We Can Columbus Communications Coordinator Madeline Stocker, who was one of the three activists occupying Portman’s upstairs office. “As demonstrated by the statement released after the arrests, Senator Portman appears more willing to misrepresent his constituents than to actually listen to them.”
The arrested activists, who are being charged with criminal trespassing, were then transported to Jackson Pike Correctional Facility and the Franklin County Jail. As of Saturday morning, all had been released.