Thursday, May 01, 2008

Disability Rights Advocates Challenge McCain

For Immediate Release
May 1, 2008

For information contact:
Bob Kafka
Marsha Katz 406-544-9504

Disability Rights Advocates Challenge McCain and Republicans on Lack of Support for Community Choice Act: McCain’s Office Responds by Arresting Over 40

Washington, D.C.---

ADAPT took over the offices of Sen. John McCain and the Republican National Committee Tuesday, demanding support for the Community Choice Act (S799, HR1621) from the only presidential candidate who has thus far not signed on as a co-sponsor. What they got for their efforts were arrests, excuses, and statements about how the National Republican Committee doesn’t have the power to call its own presidential candidate to ask for a meeting.

“I don’t get it,” said Cassie James, an Organizer with ADAPT of Pennsylvania, “Sen. McCain’s website says ‘There is …no cause greater than protection of human dignity.’ We were at his office asking him to partner with us to protect OUR human dignity by
supporting legislation that allows all older and disabled Americans to live in their own homes instead of being forced into nursing homes where all dignity and personal privacy are lost. This is not rocket science….it’s basic human and civil rights!”

About 250 ADAPT activists filled Sen. McCain’s office in the Russell Senate Building and the halls just outside the office. A few blocks away another 250 ADAPT activists stormed the offices of the Republican National Committee (RNC), with 5 wheelchairs gaining entry, and the remainder blocking all the doors and driveways. There was a nine hour standoff into the night, during which the RNC staff refused access to the bathroom for the ADAPT members who were in the building. The main ADAPT demand was that the RNC assist to schedule a meeting with Sen. McCain where ADAPT representatives could talk about support for the Community Choice Act. The RNC staff repeatedly stated that they did not have the power to call their candidate’s campaign staff to ask for such a meeting.

“I find it very hard to believe that the organization that raises so much of the funding for the presidential campaign can’t talk to its own candidate,” said Randy Alexander, Tennessee ADAPT Organizer, who was trapped inside the RNC building for nine hours and not allowed to use a bathroom. “We weren’t asking them to guarantee a meeting, just to pick up the phone, call Sen. McCain, and try to get a meeting set up. Any person on the street could make that call, yet they said they didn’t have the power to do that.”

During the nine hours ADAPT spent trying to gain cooperation from the RNC, many Congressional co-sponsors and supporters of the bi-partisan Community Choice Act came by to personally meet some of the people affected by this important legislation and to congratulate their efforts to get it passed. The 500 ADAPT activists in Washington this week from nearly every state in the union represent thousands more ADAPT members back home who don’t have the ability travel to the nation’s capitol, a very expensive destination, to make their voices heard. And those thousands of ADAPT members nationally are only the tip of the disability voting bloc nationally, a voting bloc that is currently feeling disrespected and ignored by Sen. McCain and the Republican Party.