Capitol police removed at least a dozen people from the Georgia Senate gallery Tuesday morning after they began a staggered wave of protests urging Gov. Nathan Deal to reverse his course on expanding Medicaid.
The protests are part of Moral Monday, a coalition of liberal groups who have staged similar displays throughout the legislative session, which wraps up this week.
"Our lives matter," one group chanted. "Medicaid expansion."
The protesters — all senior citizens — were quickly handcuffed and hauled out of the Capitol by Georgia State Troopers and Capitol police. The protests disrupted the Senate floor action for about 15 minutes.
"I've never seen anything like this before. This is crazy," said Patrice Bass, a Hampton resident who was visiting the Capitol for the first time and was in the Senate gallery when the protest began.
Megan Harrison, a member of the Moral Mondays steering committee, estimated between 15-20 volunteers were arrested and included several clergy members. Harrison said Deal is playing with people's lives by rejecting an expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
"Gov. Deal is making a rhetorical, political point," Harrison said.