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Sit-In at Pelosi's Office After Breaking Promise on Kucinich Amendment

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Update

Wed 12:00 AM ET-
The following is a report received on the sit-in at Nancy Pelosi's office.

Around 3PM this afternoon I was one of 12 single payer activists who were escorted from the reception area of Nancy Pelosi's office in the San Francisco Federal Building and arrested by members of the Federal Protection Service of U.S. Homeland Security.

Just before noon we went to Pelosi's office to ask Dan Bernal, the district director, make a phone call either to Pelosi herself or Terri McCullough, Pelosi's chief of staff in Washington. We wanted to directly communicate two demands: that the Kucinich amendment be included in the health care bill that will soon be brought to a vote in the House and that the Weiner amendment be voted on by the House, as previously promised by Pelosi.

For two hours Bernal refused to meet with any of us. Then he called in the police and had them arrange for a meeting with himself and three of us in the reception area. The doors between the reception area and the hallway were closed. Two policemen stayed in the room. The other activists and other police stood outside the closed doors in the hallway. Instead of working out how a call could be made so that we could discuss our demands, Bernal promptly and brusquely said he'd just listen to what we wanted and then all of us had to leave the building. As soon as we said that wasn't why we had agreed to the police's conditions to meet with him, Bernal broke off the meeting, left the reception area and went back inside the locked doors to his office.
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Then the police took us from Pelosi's office on the second floor to the basement, where they processed our arrests. Because Bernal was too cowardly to file an official complaint, an elaborate charade was worked out by Bernal, building management and the Federal Protection Service. The misdemeanor charged against all of us was based on a technicality: our singing and chanting for single payer was not in accord with the rules and regulations of the federal building. This technicality was then extended to mean that we had "disobeyed" the police officers. We were issued citations and told that we would be summoned to court later. Then we were dismissed from the building.

From noon until we emerged from the basement with our citations in hand, there was a spirited rally for single payer taking place across the street. The demonstrators included a large contingent of members of the California School Employees Association, some of whom had come from Sacramento and Stockton. The rally also included members of California Nurses Association and Single Payer Now.

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The "Pelosi Twelve" are members of organizations such as ActforSinglePayer, AFSCME District Council 57, California Alliance of Retired Americans, California School Employees Association, Gray Panthers, and Health Care for All-California.

All of us today, those who were arrested and those who rallied in support of us, will keep fighting to get the Kucinich amendment in the House health care bill. And we'll keep fighting to win single payer in California and the nation. Republicans, Blue Dog Democrats or sell-out Democrats, like Nancy Pelosi, will not prevent us from succeeding.

Dan Hodges
Chair
Health Care for All-California

Original Entry

Ten to twenty people engaged in a sit-in at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco Office in the afternoon on Tuesday. The sit-in was a response to Pelosi's decision to not bring health care reform legislation to a vote with the Kucinich Amendment, an amendment that would have gave states the option to enact single-payer health care.

Buff Whitman, who was arrested for participating in the direct action, explained that the individuals engaging in the action "wanted to have a conversation with Nancy Pelosi" and they knew she was in Washington but wanted staff to call her and allow her to talk to them about breaking a promise she had made on the Kucinich Amendment.

Those participating in the action also wanted to draw attention to the fact that the Weiner Amendment had been dropped. The Weiner Amendment would have given representatives in the House a chance to vote on single-payer health care.

The action began as something not confrontational. Those concerned about health care reform walked in, asked to speak with Pelosi, were told nobody was available, and decided to wait and sit down in the waiting area.

According to Buff, a young man came out a while later and told them again that she was not available. They once again said they would wait.

The group of individuals chanted and sang songs while they all hoped somebody would change Pelosi's mind so the group could "have a dialogue with her."

After an hour and a half in the office, the group decided they "should block some doors." Individuals blocked one door going into the office and then another door coming out of the office.

The Homeland Security police came up and told the activists to stop what they were doing. When the individuals refused to leave, around 13-15 were arrested, taken to the basement of the Federal building Pelosi's office is in, and cited for refusing to obey a lawful order.

The sit-in at Pelosi's office came together very quickly. It was the product of a coalition including citizens from Direct Action for Single Payer, the California Employees Association, Single Payer Now, and a retired Americans association in California.

The sit-in came about a week after a blockade at BlueCross/BlueShield, which was organized as part of MobilizeforHealthCare.org's actions for real health care reform for all.

CrooksandLiars.com reports on a conference call Nancy Pelosi recently had with bloggers. Pelosi claimed "single payer would be disruptive to Medicare." (Audio of the call can be found here.)

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com

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