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Protesters stage overnight sit-in at Sen. Gardner’s office over health care bill

DENVER -- A group of protesters spent the night in the lobby of Sen. Cory Gardner’s office in Denver on Tuesday.

Disability advocates from a group called ADAPT organized a protest beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday outside the senator’s office.

They want Gardner to vote against the proposed federal health care bill, saying they believe it will cut Medicaid benefits to individuals who need them to survive independently.

“They depend on these services to be able to live in the community independently, and have jobs and be productive members of society, go to school. Families do all the things that we get to do and we don’t have to fight like this,” Hope Morris said.

The protest quickly turned into a sit-in after participants were reportedly denied access to the senator’s office.

“Police shut down the elevators, the fire department shut down the fire stairs,” Jose Torres-Vega said.

“They came in about 4 o’clock this afternoon and said they were going to start arresting folks,” Morris said.

No arrests were made.

“We have not asked for anyone to be removed from the office," a Gardner spokesman said. "Sen. Gardner wants the constituents that were in his office today to have quality health care. He has concerns that our current system is imploding and won't be able to provide quality care if nothing is done to fix it.”

Of the nine people who refused to leave Gardner’s office, most use wheelchairs and at least one person is diabetic.

When asked why they would choose to spend all night in the hallway, Morris responded, “because they spend the night in a hallway in this building or they spend the rest of their life in an institution where they’re locked away.”