Charges were dropped Tuesday against 27 protesters who blocked traffic to the State House parking garage in March, objecting to the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law.
A judge dismissed 37 charges against the protesters at a City of Columbia court hearing, a city spokesman said.
The protesters, organized under the banner of Truthful Tuesday, faced charges related to two protests they held outside the State House, where they entered the roadway and refused to leave. The protesters were charged with being in the roadway and disorderly conduct.
The activists also were protesting a bill that would have made it illegal for state or local government agencies or employees to assist in carrying out the Affordable Care Act, making it illegal, for example, for libraries to donate space for people working to sign up others for health insurance through the federal online marketplace.
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That bill later died in the state Senate.
“The City of Columbia, being a more rational institute than the state Legislature, decided that we weren’t criminals,” said Brett Bursey of the S.C. Progressive Network.
“The charges themselves, we may have been able to beat on their face. I think that the city, a Democratically controlled city, didn’t have the will” to move forward with the charges, Bursey said.
The activists, he added, now will focus their campaign on identifying registered voters who could benefit from expanding Medicaid and educating them on where their elected representatives stand on the issue.