I have been arrested and hauled off in zip-ties five times in my life, all of them for trying to talk to legislators in Raleigh and Washington about the need for access to health care for every human being.
If you know me, you know why I have entered the NC General Assembly Building and the US Capitol to speak about health care. My son died on April 1, 2008, because he was denied the care he needed because he didn’t have insurance. And he couldn’t get insurance because his birth defect was a pre-existing condition. And doctors were able to deny him the care he needed to survive and not face any penalty for his death.
Legislators refused to speak to me, and I refused to leave until I had spoken to my representative/senator or a legislative leader. I was never threatening. I was not armed. I didn’t cuss at anyone. I never raised my voice until the door was closed in my face, and then I raised my voice to be heard through the door. I sang “Hold On Just a Little While Longer” as they hauled me away.
I was arrested three times in Raleigh for trespass in a public building, while it was open to the public. I was convicted once and had the conviction thrown out because you can’t actually be trespassing in a public building while it’s open to the public. You can be disturbing the peace, but not trespassing. The rules of the General Assembly Building were found to be unconstitutional.
I have been arrested twice in the US Capitol for wanting to speak to representatives and senators about people dying from lack of access to health care. Again, I never threatened anyone. I was armed only with a 5″x 7″ photo of my son — unframed because I didn’t want to appear threatening in any way. The photo fit nicely inside the brochure I was given to take into the Senate chamber with me. The officer called it a poster and claimed posters aren’t allowed in the Senate gallery.
Fast forward to yesterday, when a group of armed men entered the State Capitol in Michigan and were scary enough to drive several legislators to don bullet-proof vests. They screamed at police who were there to keep the peace and wandered around threateningly with semi-automatic weapons because they want their “personal freedoms” back. They want to be able to spread COVID-19. It’s their risk to take, they say, and they don’t care about anyone else’s freedom to survive this pandemic, and their lack of concern for anyone else was made evident in their failure to wear masks or social distance.
And they weren’t arrested.
They weren’t forced to leave.
Their weapons weren’t confiscated the way my son’s photo was.
They were allowed to act like terrorists and get away with it.
Imagine what would have happened if they hadn’t been white men.
Hell, unarmed black men can’t even jog through a white neighborhood unarmed without getting slaughtered, let alone enter a government building with a gun.
I can’t even enter a government building with my knitting and thread snippers.
But these fascist white men can roam around a state capitol armed to the teeth and get away with it, all because they don;t want to act like responsible adults in the middle of a deadly pandemic.
If you ever doubted we live in a racist, fascist state, you can stop doubting now.