COLUMBIA - Police ticketed 12 protesters outside the Statehouse Tuesday, as a well-orchestrated event by liberal activist groups to raise awareness about the Affordable Care Act known as "Truthful Tuesday" continued.
A group of about two dozen activists gathered outside the Statehouse parking garage - just as they did last week- with signs and placards that said "Shame" and "Expand Medicaid." Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have chosen to expand Medicaid coverage, a key part of national healthcare expansion under the healthcare law known as Obamacare. South Carolina has declined federal dollars to expand the program for low-income people.
Unlike last week, no protesters were handcuffed or taken to jail. Organizers spoke with Columbia police beforehand, who agreed not to make physical arrests but instead issued disorderly conduct citations.
Still, protesters were not sure how police would react. Protesters briefly blocked Sen. John Courson, R-Richland, a key Senate leader, as he drove into the building. He smiled and leaned across the passenger seat to say hello to protesters. They moved aside to let him pass.
Protesters later stepped off the curb and blocked the Statehouse entrance for less than a minute. They were given a warning and then escorted to nearby steps where they were ticketed. The protest was swift and relatively uneventful. Because penalties are more severe on Statehouse grounds compared with the roadway, protesters have tried to avoid arrest on grounds controlled by state police.
David Ball, 54, from West Ashley, was ticketed. An Air Force reservist and nurse, Ball said in an interview he was "about as law abiding as they come."
But he said the people will die as a result of failing to expand Medicaid coverage. "It doesn't have to be that way," he said.