Protesters roll loudly through Senate office buildings, 155 arrested

Posted at 7:22 PM, Jul 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 19:22:54-04

The chants of vocal activists echoed through the hallways of Senate office buildings Wednesday, as hundreds staged sit-ins to protest the Republican health care plan that's already on shaky ground.

Clashing with the shouting was the sound of two-way radios from a larger-than-normal police presence to arrest those refusing to heed warnings to stop.

Such protests have become routine on Capitol Hill this summer, but Wednesday marked one of the busier protest days, with 200 to 300 people attempting to target all 52 offices of Republican senators. US Capitol Hill Police told CNN that 155 demonstrators had been arrested Wednesday.

Using the "mic check" approach, groups that ranged from just a few people to a few dozen would walk into offices until they were kicked out. Those willing to risk arrest would then sit on the floor in the hallway and continue to chant their concerns about the bill.

"Please Sen. Toomey! Please don't kill me!" they yelled outside the office of Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. "Shame! Shame! Shame!"

US Capitol Police, who've grown accustomed to the methods of the health care protesters, warned the groups to stand down. After waiting several minutes, they began peacefully arresting the protesters, as fellow demonstrators in the hallway would cheer and applaud.

Groups moved from one office to another, thinning gradually as more and more were picked off because of arrests.

Several of the demonstrators had taken part in previous protests at the Capitol. One woman, outside Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse's office, said she had a child born prematurely who would not have survived without former President Barack Obama's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. She said she's walked 50 miles on Capitol Hill this summer "to beg for my daughter's life."

Not all demonstrators were willing to risk arrest and protested quietly instead. The groups represented included the Center for Popular Democracy, Housing Works, National Nurses United, Rise and Resist, Positive Women's Network - USA, ACT UP, and Health Care for America.