Friday, May 18, 2012

Shock As Noah Wyle, Disability Advocates Ordered To Court

More than 70 disability advocates arrested last month during a Medicaid protest at the U.S. Capitol are being forced to return to Washington to appear in court.
In what the disability rights group ADAPT is calling an unprecedented event in their over 30-year history, members of the organization are being threatened with bench warrants if they do not appear in D.C. Superior Court on Tuesday.
Last month, 74 people — many in wheelchairs — were arrested on charges of unlawful conduct after they refused to disband a protest in the rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building. The group organized by ADAPT was there to oppose cuts to Medicaid.
Actor Noah Wyle who is best known for appearing on NBC’s “ER” is a vocal advocate for universal health care and was among those detained in the April protest.
Though ADAPT regularly holds protests where arrests are commonplace, leaders of the group say they are typically represented in court by an attorney and are not required to be present. This time, however, prosecutors are insisting that all of those arrested appear in person at the hearing.
The requirement is leading to a mad scramble since several of those arrested live as far away as Colorado and Utah. Traveling back to Washington on short notice is costing some involved $1,000 or more.
“I’m shocked and angry,” said Marsha Katz, a member of ADAPT who lives in Missoula, Mont. She plans to make the return trip to Washington in order to assist her husband, Bob Liston, who uses a wheelchair and was among those arrested during the April action.
“This is the first time in more than 20 years that the court wouldn’t allow an attorney to represent us and wouldn’t entertain a motion to postpone,” said Katz. “Are they doing this to dissuade us from exercising our First Amendment rights?”
Read more of Michelle Diament's Disability Scoop article HERE.
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