Eleven protesters were arrested Tuesday for blocking the roadway leading into the State House garage, a Columbia Police Department spokeswoman said.
A group of about two dozen protesters gathered at the Pendleton Street entrance to the State House parking garage -- and proceeded to block the roadway -- in protest of the state's rejection of Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act, which they say will lead to unnecessary deaths.
They held signs that said “Expand Medicaid,” “Morality is not Partisan” and “SHAME.”
Around 11 a.m., a protester drove a truck into the roadway, blocking the entrance, allowing protesters to enter the roadway.
Police eventually directed the truck to drive away and blocked the roadway with cones until they could clear protesters from the street.
An organizer originally had said 10 people were arrested, but a Columbia Police spokeswoman later confirmed that 11 arrests had been made. The spokeswoman did not immediately release the names of those arrested.
Those arrested include Columbia pastor Tom Summers, Shawn Crowe and Kitt Grach of Charleston.
Grach, 74, said she did not fear getting arrested.
“I'm not a young person. I don't have to worry about getting a job,” she said, referring to the charge being on her record.
Crowe, a self-described life-long Republican, said that as an engineering student in Columbia, he did worry about having a charge on his record.
But the protest was worth it, he said, “because it's the human thing to do.”
Crowe said the GOP is making the healthcare issue partisan when it should not be. He said he “never left the Republican Party, but they left me.”
Loreen Myerson of Charleston works as a navigator, assisting people with signing up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act's healthcare.gov marketplace.
The City of Charleston loaned space to the operation, allowing navigators to assist 400 families with signing up for insurance in three weeks, said Myerson, who came to protest, but stayed on the sidewalk with some other protesters.
Under a bill up for debate in the Senate, the city would be barred from allowing the use of their space, Myerson said.
Summers, the pastor, said before entering the roadway and getting arrested that the Senate bill, aimed at impeding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, was “vindictive” -- “a drama, a pageant” put on by politicians.
To get arrested, Summer said, “makes a statement” coming from a representative of a faith group that “this is awful.”
Those arrested have a court date set for March 28.