Seven marchers who participate in the Moral Monday Week of Action’s Jericho March at the Alabama Capitol were arrested when they refused to leave the State Capitol building after it closed at 5 p.m.
They were protesting Gov. Robert Bentley’s decision not to allow expansion of Medicaid in Alabama.
The Save OurSelves Movement for Justice & Democracy held marches for seven straight days at the State Capitol to advocate for a variety of causes, including voting rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights and others. They called the marches Jericho marches because of the Biblical story in the book of Joshua, when the Israelites followed God’s instructions and marched around the city of Jericho for seven straight days, including seven times on the seventh day, to bring the city’s walls down.
State Sen. Hank Sanders said that at the end of Thursday’s demonstration, 10 of the 40 or so marchers decided to enter the Capitol and stay for 24 hours as a special protest for Medicaid expansion.
“When law enforcement asked them to leave, three left but seven remained,” Sanders said.
“They said, ‘This house does not belong to the politicians, it was the people’s house,’ so they had a right to stay in there,” said Sanders, who was there but not among the group that went in the Capitol.
“I think the seven people that stayed in there were prepared to be arrested,” Sanders said. “They felt like that just because of politics hundreds of thousands of folks can’t get medical insurance and hundreds of folks die each year. It’s a moral issue.”
Those arrested Thursday were charged with second degree criminal trespassing, according to state police. Sanders said they bonded out of the Montgomery County jail at about 1 a.m. Friday.Seven
For more than a year, Bentley has staunchly opposed expanding Medicaid, which is a state option under the Affordable Care Act. . . .
Read the full story at AL.com.
Those who were arrested are:
- John Zippert, publisher of the Greene County Democrat newspaper and member of the Greene County Hospital and Nursing Home Board;
- Augustus (Gus) Townes, retired state employee and community leader;
- Faya Rose Toure’, civil rights attorney, activist and wife of Sen. Hank Sanders;
- Alecha Irby, college student and community worker;
- Rev. Fred Hammond, Tuscaloosa pastor and community leader;
- Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, Dothan pastor and director of The Ordinary Peoples Society (TOPS); and
- Annie Pearl Avery, civil rights veteran longtime grassroots warrior
Read John Zippert’s first-person account of his arrest in this article of the Greene County Democrat. This is a section from his article
About 5:00 PM we were approached by a group of half a dozen Black state troopers who were part of the State Capitol patrol. They told us it was closing time and that we needed to leave. Other state police officials came over the next half hour advising us that we needed to leave or we would be arrested. We told the police we had come to stay for 24 hours to bear witness against the Governor for failing to extend Medicaid. Two persons in our group left at that time because they did not want to be arrested.
At about 5:45 PM, Spencer Collier, the Governor’s head of Homeland Security, came accompanied by State Troopers to give us a final warning that if we did not leave we would be arrested. We told him we planned to stay for 24 hours to respectfully urge the Governor to change his position on Medicaid expansion. Collier said that decision was not in the jurisdiction of his department.
At about 6:00 PM, a group of mostly Black state troopers came and took our driver’s licenses or other identification, as well as taking our cell phones. Up to that time some members of the group had been taking pictures and communicating with social media sites.
The police then handcuffed each of us with yellow plastic handcuffs. The three women in the group were handcuffed in front and the four men were handcuffed in back.
The seven arrested were: Annie Pearl Avery of Selma, a former SNCC worker; Faya Rose Toure (Sanders), of Selma, a renowned civil rights attorney and activist; Alecha Irby, a student who recently transferred from Miles College to Alabama State University; Augustus (Gus) Townes, a retired state worker, who is active in SOS; Rev. Fred Hammond, a Unitarian minister from Tuscaloosa; Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of Dothan, Director of The Ordinary Peoples Society (TOPS), an organization dedicated to assisting ex-felons and persons currently incarcerated; and John Zippert, Co-Publisher of the Greene County Democrat and SOS member.
Faya Rose Toure, head of the SOS Direct Action Committee, continued leading songs after we were handcuffed and separated to different parts of the room. She also observed that it was interesting and a sign of progress that they sent mostly Black state troopers to arrest and guard us.
We spent the next two hours handcuffed waiting to be transported to jail. The police officials were confused as to exactly what to do with us. It was also clear that they were reluctant to take us out of the Capitol while our supporters and the press were outside and might impede our arrest. They told us that they were getting warrants for our arrest.
We learned later that the police told our supporters on the outside that they were taking us to the Montgomery City Jail, which was not true.
About 8:00 PM, it was almost dark; they led us through a tunnel connecting the State Capitol and the State House (where the Legislature now meets) and out a back service entrance into a waiting police van. Ms. Avery, who had been seated in a wheelchair, was driven in a police car, while the rest of us were transported in a standard police van with two benches. The van took us a short distance to the Montgomery County Detention Facilities.