About 60 disabled protesters showed up at Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar’s private residence Sunday, but he wasn’t home and some of them got arrested.
Disability advocacy group ADAPT organized the protest, bringing handicap-accessible busses to Azar’s home in the Indianapolis, Ind., suburb to protest what they call an inhumane type of electric shock therapy. (RELATED: HHS Chief: Trump Is Not Afraid To ‘Disrupt’ The Health Care System)
Around two of the protesters were arrested, the Indy Star reports, though it’s unclear how many, if any, have been charged.
Azar wasn’t home at the time, Indianapolis Police spokesman Michael Hewitt told the Associated Press, but the protesters said they saw lights on in the house. “The lights were on at the house,” ADAPT member Chancelor Shingleton told the Indy Star. “As soon as we started chanting, they turned off the lights and dogs came.”
In a video posted by ADAPT, an officer is heard telling a wheelchair-bound protester that she will be “arrested for trespassing, just like everybody else is getting arrested for trespassing,” if she didn’t leave the property.
— NationalADAPT (@NationalADAPT) June 10, 2018
One neighbor thought there must have been a murder when she saw the police response. “There are just so many police cars and lights and officers … it looks like a murder scene,” Catherine Wade, who lived nearby and walked by the scene, told the Indy Star. “I’m so glad that no one is hurt, but it is very scary to wake up to all this on Sunday morning. I pray this all ends peacefully.”
An Indy Star reporter posted video of the busses and police vehicles on Twitter.
As the rain begins to come down hard, a large number of accessible transport vehicles arrive at the home of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to transport protestors from the north side pic.twitter.com/tdxsPWe3Rz
— Justin L. Mack (@justinlmack) June 10, 2018
In a press release, ADAPT said they want Azar to stop the shock treatment designed to keep autistic patients from having violent outbursts. The Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts, is the only facility in the country that still uses the devices, the Washington Post reported in 2016. The Food and Drug Administration proposed rules to ban the use of the devices in 2016, but it hasn’t finalized them.
“It happens every day to both children and adults,” Anita Cameron, part of the Rochester ADAPT chapter, said in the statement. “They are mostly people with developmental disabilities and mostly people of color.”
One young black teenager from New York was shocked 31 times in 7 hours, ADAPT says, because he refused to take of his coat. “Andre has never recovered from that torture. Every day that this continues, Americans are being hurt and Alex Azar is allowing it to happen,” Cameron said.
The protesters Sunday said they would stay out front of Azar’s house until he took action, or until they were removed, the Indy Star reports.
ADAPT also protested in front of FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s DC residence in May, urging him to advance rules banning the electric shock devices.
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