COLUMBIA, SC — Protesters calling on lawmakers to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act -- and to stop trying to impede the law in South Carolina -- blocked a driveway into the State House parking garage for the second week in a row.
This time, the 11 protesters standing in the street were asked to step aside and await tickets -- a different outcome than last week, when Columbia Police hauled protesters off in patrol cars. Another protester today was written a ticket after attempting to block traffic with his vehicle.
Lexington resident Daniel Deweese, 26, only got a verbal warning last Tuesday when he blocked the entrance to the State House parking garage, long enough to allow a group of protesters to block traffic. Today, Deweese was among the protesters ticketed for standing in the road.
Their message today was the same as last week.
Deweese cited a study that says 1,000 people in South Carolina will die without access to Medicaid.
"This is not ethical, and there are people who will not stand for this and will risk arrest" to make the point, he said.
"I'm about as law-abiding a citizen as they come," said David Ball, who represents a group called Healthcare for All South Carolina, the state chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program.
A nurse for 25 years and U.S. Air Force reservist, Ball said he was willing to participate in civil disobedience, even with risk of arrest or a ticket, to raise awareness about the broken healthcare system.
Ball, who says Medicare should be available for everyone from "cradle to grave," also said the United States is one of the richest countries, but spends a lot more than other countries on healthcare -- a problem he attributed to powerful healthcare and pharmaceutical lobbyists.
Steve Compton, a social worker from Greenville who also received a ticket, said he's seen the impact of poverty on healthcare and came out to protest as a way of increasing "the attention that we can bring to the problem. Not enough information has been given to citizens" about the Affordable Care Act or what the state's rejecting of expanding Medicaid would do.
The protest was one of several that activists, organized under the umbrella of Truthful Tuesday, have planned at the State House.
The protesters all have the same March 28 court date as those arrested last week, Columbia Police officials said Tuesday.