Sen. Biden Cheers On the Free Our People March.
DE) Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware attended the ADAPT Rally today in Rodney Square Park to help the Free Our People marchers send their message to Congress: Pass MiCASSA this session. The ADAPT March on its third day of a fourteen day journey to Washington DC paused at noon in downtown Wilmington for a press conference and rally.
“When my wife and I talk about Attendant services, they just see me as a Politician,” said Biden. “When they see you on this March they begin to get it and understand it.”
The march started late this morning because the marchers did not have far to go to be in Rodney Square at noon for the rally. It seemed as if Biden had just heard the march pass by and decided to join in.
“This march should show those that oppose us in Congress that you not only have the right to do this march,” said Biden, “but the capacity and the gumption to take care of yourselves.”
Biden told the marchers that there is a strong case for MiCASSA and “we don’t have to back off in any way.”
“The most expensive thing to do is to put people into institutions. To those that say that we cannot afford to do this,” said Biden, “I say we can’t afford not to do this.”
Sen. Biden was comfortable with the crowd and walked up and down the line of marchers as he spoke.
“I believe we will prevail. I don’t think it will happen this year but we are going to give them hell trying,” said Biden. “This will be hard, but I have been a Senator for 31 years now and everything that matters did not come easily.”
Today the set-up and breakdown people took center stage - center stage behind the scene. The March relied heavily today
on the set-up and breakdown duties that are an essential part of the march. The volunteer crew was able to break camp, go directly and set-up the press conference, then break down the press conference and set up camp in New Castle before the march got there. Their dedication to the success of the march made for a powerful and meaningful rally.
A surprise at the rally was the public statement by Delaware Legislator Pamela Maier that she would introduce legislation to allow the money to follow the person. This will allow more choices for people in Delaware and it shows how the March is getting the message out.
Cheryl Hampson from Delaware was the MC. She introduced Sam Prado of the Wilmington Mayor’s office who read a Proclamation of support of the March and ADAPT and she introduced Debbie Bain the Director of the Freedom Center for Independent Living.
“I was 29 years old in the nursing home with a 7 year old son,” said Sheila Dean of Denver, Colorado who spoke following Sen. Biden. “I had to get out. I did it my way: I went AMA - Against Medical Advice.”
“We are marching for our lives, our freedom.” said Daniese McMullin-Powell of Delaware. “We are marching for people in nursing homes and people at risk of being in an institution. We march for Congressional support and passage of MiCASSA. Delaware is known as the ‘First State.’ We will remind the nation that ‘We the People’ includes people with disabilities. ‘We the people’ includes people with mental illness. ‘We the people’ includes people with cognitive disabilities, sensory disabilities and the aging.”
At 1:30 following the rally, the Free Our People March started out with a lot of spirit demonstrated by loud and sustained chanting. The chants are made with accents from around the country: Southern, Brooklyn, and Midwest all blend together for the tour of Wilmington. Out of town, the marchers encountered the heat of the day along Route 13 and turning on US 40.
The March traveled on busier roads today and at one point using the shoulder the Delaware State Police asked the marchers to “bunch up” so the line would not be so long. ADAPT responded by ‘going two by two’ or forming two parallel lines on the shoulder. Around 4 pm the march passed the Delaware State Hospital that started a round of chants. “Free Our People,” was the message
to those inside.
The March reached the New Castle Victory Fellowship Church at 5:30. Everyone gathered for a big meeting where Stephanie Thomas said: “Three days down and still going strong.” Bob Kafka said that he was getting calls of support from all over the country – all telling us to keep up the good work. Dinner was salad and pizza.
- Tim Wheat