In the not too distant past, liberals allowed themselves to be arrested protesting large things like the war in Vietnam, segregation and capital punishment, but on Monday, outside of Gov. Jeff Colyer’s office in Topeka, 16 were arrested in a protest over Medicaid expansion.
The 16 were part of a larger group that camped out in front of Colyer’s office to “shame” the governor for his failure to expand Medicaid in Kansas. “One hundred and fifty (thousand) Kansans are in the coverage gap because of the Kansas Legislature refusing to accept federal dollars for Medicaid expansion,” Topeka folk artist Oshara Meesha told the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Medicaid expansion was the cherry on top of the group’s sundae of things that peeved them. They also demanded action on hot topics like water policy, pollution, and “health care access for people with disabilities.” The protest was a weekly reboot of the Poor People’s Campaign, Topeka branch.
Virtually identical protests are taking place across America. To date, the media are mum on who is orchestrating and/or funding this textbook bit of astro turfing.
The group’s national web site offers no useful information about the group’s funding. The first selection under the “About Us” rubric is “Demands.” The list of demands is varied and nearly endless. Curiously, however, they are largely compatible with the national Democratic agenda.
Said Colyer spokesman Kendall Marr in response to the Medicaid demand, “Governor Colyer appreciates the advocacy of the protestors today, however he continues to support work requirements for able-bodied adults on government welfare programs and opposes the expansion of Obamacare in Kansas.”
The police gave the protesters a five-minute warning to clear out. Most did. The boldest of the 16, or perhaps the most bored, refused to. They were handcuffed, the video of which will surely make their protest highlight reel, and booked into the Shawnee County Department of Corrections on suspicion of criminal trespass, a misdemeanor.
And so ended the perilous day of the “Topeka 16,” as history will surely not remember those arrested, not even until tomorrow.