The open line: Arrests made of disability rights demonstrators; Attorney General McDaniel makes a hospital visit | Arkansas Blog

Monday, September 15, 2014

The open line: Arrests made of disability rights demonstrators; Attorney General McDaniel makes a hospital visit

Posted By on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 3:57 PM

The open line and video roundup are here. Also:

* HOSPITALIZED: Attorney General Dustin McDaniel was treated at UAMS today for what was described as a reaction to a new blood pressure medication. He said in a statement he'd be back at work tomorrow. A spokesman termed the event "minor." Aaron Sadler said he was admitted for observation and tests and was busily e-mailing and texting.

* DEMONSTRATING: Several hundred people, many in wheelchairs, joined in demonstrations in Little Rock today — a parade, a visit to Gov. Mike Beebe and a visit to state offices — in favor of state adoption of the Community First Choice Option, an expansion of services at the home and community level for the disabled. Hundreds of people are on the waiting list for the program now, which is capped as to size. The Affordable Care Act provides for expansion but conservative legislators have expressed opposition to more spending, even on the disabled. Gov. Beebe today endorseed the CFCO, which is being pushed by the Human Services Department. More here on the group's fight for help to be integrated into the community. The state, demonstrators say, is will to pay for institutionalization, but not as willing to help people live in communities.

UPDATE: National ADAPT, a group of grassroots disability rights activists, which is sponsoring the demonstration here, finally prompted arrests this afternoon at the Victory Building. They had been blocking the doors of the Arkansas Health Care Association, the nursing home lobby, seen as an opponent to community versus institutional care. The ADAPT group cheered the news on its Facebook page. A police spokesman said the charge will be criminal trespass, but the number of arrests wasn't immediately known because the arrests were ongoing. It will be a significant number. The police started with those not in wheelchairs, but have begun escorting out a number in chairs. They were released after being given citations.

UPDATE II:  Police said 75 to 100 demonstrators were inside the Victory Building and when those at a meeting asked that they leave, 36 refused. They were arrested, cited after transport by bus and then release. No one was hurt.

click to enlarge ARRESTED: Disability rights protestor. Buses were sent to transport those arrested. No numbers available yet. - FACEBOOK
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  • ARRESTED: Disability rights protestor. Buses were sent to transport those arrested. No numbers available yet.

* AND SPEAKING OF SERVICES FOR THE DISABLED: Late in the day, the state Department of Human Services announced that Joy Figarsky, director of the Division of Behavioral Health Services, would leave her job Oct. 15 for private sector work. She's been at DHS since June 2013. The division includes the State Hospital, the Health Center in Benton and community agencies. Dr. Charlie Green, currently Director/Commissioner of the DHS Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS), will be Interim DBHS Director. Jim Brader, the DDS Assistant Director for Compliance, will be Interim DDS Director.

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