Three individuals, including a reverend, being led out of a Senate office building in zip-tie restraints.
credit: Jennifer McLauglin

A Medicaid rally was held near the Hart Senate Office Building on July 13. A large crowd gathered on D Street Northeast and marched to the Russell Senate Office Building, chanting “We want health care!” and “When do we want it?! … Now!”

The protest was organized by Justice and Witness Ministries, which aims to helps local United Church of Christ congregations “respond to God’s commandments to do justice, seek peace and effect change for a better world,” according to the group’s website.

The diverse group of protestors came together in front of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office to talk about the need for universal health care in the United States. Until that is achieved, according to the speakers, Medicaid is too important to cut.

There are over 500,000 people experiencing homelessness in the United States and many more that are struggling to make ends meet. Many housed people in more stable situations struggle to afford private insurance. “People could die without Medicaid,” one speaker told the crowd.

The group waited and hoped McConnell would address them. Security officers urged the demonstrators to stay close to the walls of the hallway and not block anyone. They pushed media like me and anyone recording with a smart phone, farther and farther back. Only outlets with large, professional-looking cameras were allowed to stay near the front.

No one from the Senate, McConnell included, addressed the group.

All in all, the rally was mostly peaceful but some people were arrested — most of them faith leaders. Justice and Witness Ministries representatives told the protestors and passersby in the Senate offices that they will continue to come back and demonstrate until someone hears them.