Thursday, April 23, 2009
Protests Rock California State Capitol
This morning, I received this update from the CDCAN mailing list. It made me very, very happy.
I couldn't go to Sacramento to protest, but I want to send my thanks to all for fighting so hard for my child and others with disabilities.
Protests Rock State Capitol
OVER 2,000 MARCH AGAINST DISABLED CUTS HUNDREDS JAM HEARING ROOMS & HALLWAYS
Protestors Demonstrate on Capitol Sidewalk – Focus Against Cuts to Regional Centers, IHSS, Mental Health, SSI/SSP, Medi-Cal – Lawsuit To Stop IHSS Worker Wage State Funding Cut Announced During Protest
SACRAMENTO, CA (CDCAN) [Updated 04/22/09 10:30 PM (Pacific Time) ] - Over 2,000 marched from the Sacramento Convention Center to the State Capitol protesting against budget cuts to persons with disabilities, mental health needs, seniors, community organizations and workers who provide services Wednesday late morning in a loud demonstration that later filled the Capitol hearing rooms and hallways. Some estimates of the crowd exceeded well over 2,500 at its height around 12 noon, with the entire L street sidewalk and parts of the State Capitol grounds filled with people protesting and chanting “No More Cuts” for two solid city blocks. [CDCAN Note: all photos by Stephen Dale]
The protest march and sidewalk demonstration in front of the State Capitol drew a crowd larger than expected was linked to an Assembly Budget Subcommittee hearing on regional center and mental health budget cuts that was held at 1:30 PM. The protest was also linked to a Senate Budget Subcommittee #3 on Health and Human Services hearing on Medi-Cal budget cuts scheduled for Thursday morning (April 23) at 09:30 AM in the State Capitol in Room 4203 (the hearing could be delayed if the Senate floor session does not end by 09:30 AM).
The crowds that packed Wednesday’s Assembly budget subcommittee hearing rooms and hallways were easily the largest to date at the Capitol in the past year.
Persons marching and demonstrating came from all parts of California, and covered the range of persons with disabilities, mental health needs, seniors, families, IHSS and other support workers, community organizations including providers, regional centers, independent living centers and others.
The march began from the west entrance of the Sacramento Convention Center four blocks away from the State Capitol and ended with a sidewalk demonstration in front of the Capitol grounds. Earlier hundreds of the marchers had lined both sides of J Street near 13th Street holding signs protesting cuts to the disabled, blind, mental health and seniors and chanting “No More Cuts!”
Hundreds of regional center funded community-based providers and organizations, their workers, persons with developmental disabilities and their families and workers were on hand, many fearful of the impact of cuts already passed – and what many believe will be new massive cuts coming in late May or June.
Protestors demanded that cuts to In-Home Supportive Services, Medi-Cal optional benefits, SSI/SSP grants, CalWORKS grants, regional center services and other programs be rescinded and funding restored, chanting “find another way”.
The protest march and demonstration was organized by CDCAN working with other organizations and groups.
Capitol Security Concerned About Sheer Numbers of Protestors
Sacramento City Police and the California Highway Patrol were on both sides of the sidewalk to keep protestors off the street and off the Capitol grounds. The California Highway Patrol officers – including those mounted on horses, expressed concern about the sheer numbers of persons jammed on the sidewalk chanting.
One California Highway Patrol officer guarding the Capitol grounds warned that people could be subject to arrest if they entered the Capitol grounds holding any signs or chanting any slogan – a warning that was immediately retracted by his superior officer and other officers who came down to the sidewalk area.
Later around 12:30 PM, hundreds of persons protesting on the sidewalk began entering without incident, the Capitol grounds to enter the State Capitol building to attend the 1:30 PM hearing.
Lawsuit To Block State Funding Cut For IHSS Worker Wages Announced During Protest – Details Will Come Soon
During the protest on the sidewalk in front of the State Capitol. Lynn Carmen of the Medicaid Defense Fund, told the crowd that a federal lawsuit would be filed soon to block the budget cut passed in February and scheduled to take effect July 1, 2009 that would reduce the state’s portion of funding for In-Home Supportive Services worker wages to a maximum of $9.50 per hour (that cost is shared by the state, federal government and the counties).
The news by Carman was greeted by loud cheers from the huge crowd, who promised further details soon regarding the lawsuit. See CDCAN website soon for details on the lawsuit at www.cdcan.us