DAY TWO: Activists stay overnight, firm about demands.
Takeover of Bredesen's Office highlights growing dissatisfaction
with TennCare cuts.
(Nashville, June 21, 2005) Seven Activist’s remained in the Tennessee Governor’s office overnight demanding that Gov. Phil Bredesen meet publicly and stop the poorly conceived TennCare funding cuts.
"We will stay as long as necessary," said Louis Patrick from the Governor's Office, "absolutely, no doubt, we are staying."
Two-dozen activists took over the office yesterday to demand that the governor discuss the TennCare cuts openly and to stop disenrollment. From East Tennessee the Governor offered a meeting, but would not comply with the key element of making the encounter an open meeting.
Following closing the building, the activists stayed but had to deal with the state police strictly limiting access. They allowed no food or water into the demonstrators even when a local physician ordered liquid for a demonstrator.
“We survived alright,” said Louis Patrick, “I slept on the cold floor.”
Protestors could see the candlelight vigil held for them outside the governor’s office. More rallies are planned for today, Tuesday the second day of the larger demonstration. At 10:00 am is the Clergy Press Conference in front of the Tennessee Supreme Court Building, and at 5:00 pm a TennCare Rally at the corner of 8th and Church in front of the TennCare Office Building.
A second candlelight vigil is planned if the protest inside the governor’s office stretches into a third day. The state police threatened arrest yesterday but now seem to attempt to wait the protestors out. As more people join the support rally outside the governor’s office, the state police have added more state troopers to the detail.
The twenty-four hour presence of the activists is tolerated but now firmly controlled by the state police. They have limited the office area to only five activists, although dozens of others fill the hall outside during office hours. The only bathroom on the floor is not accessible, even though several of the activists use wheelchairs.
Last week, Randy Alexander who is now in the governor's office,
confronted Bredesen about the impact the TennCare cuts would have on
people who use ventilators to help them breath. The governor responded
that he would remove those people from the community and incarcerate
them in nursing homes. The statements, if they do reflect the
governors plan, would be a direct violation of the 1990 Americans with
Disabilities Act and the US Supreme Court ruling in Olmstead.
- Tim Wheat