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About 20 protesters – many of whom were in wheelchairs – were arrested Wednesday afternoon after blocking L Street in front of the Capitol to protest cuts to in-home care services in the state budget.
“Those services provide the means for people to live independently and stay out of nursing homes,” said Peni Hall, who came from Berkeley to participate in the protest but who left the street before officers started making arrests.
About 40 police and CHP officers arrived at the protest, said Sgt. Norm Leong, spokesman for the Sacramento Police Department.
“We were notified of an improvised protest in the middle of L Street,” Leong said, adding that he believed the group had a permit to protest at the Capitol.
Leong said officers asked the protestors to move, and when they didn’t, they were arrested.
At press time, the 20 protesters were being processed, which Leong said would result in their being cited and released or jailed.
The fact that many were in wheelchairs hindered the process, he said.
Leong did not know exactly how long the protest went on, but he said it had been at least a couple of hours.
Officers reopened L Street at 4:15 p.m.
Hall, who sat in her motorized wheelchair with a sign reading, “Cuts Kill,” said the services currently on the chopping block include in-home care providers.
In-home care providers are instrumental in helping disabled – many of whom are elderly – live in their homes by assisting them with getting out of bed and into their wheelchairs and doing household chores throughout the day, Hall said.
“An institution costs three to five times as much as in-home care,” she said, adding that many disabled people can’t afford that, and must live with family.
Connie Barker is an in-home care provider in San Rafael, and she said it is not just her livelihood at stake, but in many cases, “the very lives of the people I care for.”
Barker said she cares for three people, and they have become friends to her.
“The whole argument behind (the cuts) is really just a travesty,” Barker said. “They say it will save money, but it’s just not true...It’s penny-wise and pound-stupid.”
Barker said the short-term cuts will lead to long-term problems.
“A lot of these people can live on their own for a week, a month, maybe a year,” Barker said, “but after that, they’ll be worse off, and possibly very sick.”
Both Leong and Hall said the protesters intended to be arrested.
“It’s the only way to get the message out,” Hall said.
Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.