FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Disability Activists were Brutally Arrested While Occupying Senator Portman’s Office in Protest

At roughly 3:10pm on Friday, July 7, 16 activists from the disability group ADAPT were arrested by Columbus police during an occupation of Senator Portman’s office.

The occupation was a continuation of a sit-in the previous day, organized by Junto Unsilenced’s Kelly Weber, John Shade, and Bilal El-Yousseph and supported by Ultraviolet and Planned Parenthood. They were aiming to accomplish two major goals – get Senator Portman to agree to vote “no” on any version of the current Senate healthcare bill, the BCRA, and to force Portman to hold a town hall to address his constituents on the topic of healthcare, which he has thus far avoided. The sit-in mirrored those at every single one of Portman’s Ohio offices, though only Columbus and Cincinnati (the latter of which was led by Socialist Alternative and Democratic Socialists of America) were able to hold the offices.

The sit-in turned into an overnight occupation when activists were unable to receive any answers from Portman’s staff.

“[Portman’s Press Secretary] kept saying, ‘Oh, he holds hundreds of meetings all over the state.’ Where are those meetings and where can we find the schedule so that we know when to show up?” said Kim Kelly, an occupier who said she was there for her disabled son, Joseph LaValle. “She said that they don’t publish them because it’s a safety issue for the senator.”

The occupiers were also directed to fill out ‘schedule forms’ to get a meeting with the senator, but Shade said that these had no effect.

“I’ve filled out like three [schedule sheets] online, and probably four or five in person,” Shade said. “I’ve never even received a reply.”

The next day, after the original occupiers were replaced by a new shift, disability activists from ADAPT joined the fight, completely shutting down the lobby, front revolving doors, and several elevators in order to demand no cuts to Medicaid. Most of the occupiers had disabilities themselves and relied on Medicaid in order to remain in their own homes with appropriate care.

They were able to hold the lobby for several hours, but just after 3pm, the Columbus Police Department descended in full force.

There were at least 30 police cruisers locking in the entire building, and the Columbus Free Press counted at least 50 police officers for the relatively small amount of activists (perhaps 20 inside the lobby and several upstairs). There was so much police activity that onlookers speculated if there had been a terrorist attack.

In one particularly brutal incident, a thus far-unnamed CPD officer tipped disability activist Alisa Grishman out of her wheelchair onto the floor and simply walked away.

As many as 16 activists were arrested for trespassing, but all were released that night as the Columbus jail was not equipped to accommodate the activists’ wheelchairs and healthcare equipment.

The ADAPT activists have received nationwide attention for their penchant for driving around the country, getting arrested at different actions, but they noted that the treatment by Columbus police was particularly bad even in their extensive experience.

The action in Columbus was by no means the only one – ADAPT along with many other organizations occupied Congressional offices all over the country during the week of recess that Senator McConnell had originally planned on using the gather support for his healthcare bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

But thanks to these activists, that plan has backfired – it no longer appears that the bill will pass, as

Senator John Hoeven, Republican of North Dakota, just pledged not to support the bill “in its current form.” He marks the 10th GOP defection from supporting the bill.

The lesson learned from ADAPT and activists across the country is not only that mass action is the only way to truly make gains against Trump and the GOP’s agenda, as shown by the defeat of two Muslim travel bans and the original iteration of Trumpcare, but that an escalation of tactics is also necessary.

Leftist action in America has risen from protests to overnight occupation of Congressional offices, an evolution that cannot be ignored.

In Columbus, Junto Remains Unsilenced and Socialist Alternative will be hosting a town hall at 6:30pm on July 11th on the Ohio Statehouse grounds, whether Portman shows or not. Their actions the past week have proven that Ohio activists are not going to back down from the fight, and certainly are not to be underestimated.

More articles by:

January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail