HARTFORD, CT — Five disability advocates, three of them in wheelchairs, were arrested Tuesday after refusing to vacate the front of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office in an act of civil disobedience to protest funding cuts to programs for those in need.
After staging an hour-long sit-in, the five — Elanah Sherman, Melissa Marshall, Molly Cole, Elaine Kolb, and Gary Gross — were charged with trespassing by state capitol police.
They were released on a promise to appear in court on July 26.
“We came here (the state capitol) today with the intention of being arrested,” Melissa Marshall, who lives in West Hartford, said. “We’ve tried protesting the budget in normal ways, by speaking out.
“It hasn’t worked. When that happens civil disobedience is what you do next,” Marshall said.
Malloy wasn’t in his office during the incident. He was at an event in Bridgeport.
The arrest of the five came on a day when people with disabilities and their advocates took over much of the Capitol — holding press conferences, confronting legislators, carrying signs both inside and outside on the front lawn of the building.
Marshall, and the others arrested, faulted Malloy for not proposing what they termed a “moral budget.”
They said the governor’s repeated position that he would not propose a revenue-based budget package to combat the state’s multi-billion dollar deficit was wrong and would inevitably hurt the state’s most vulnerable.
Ken Butler, who is Marshall’s spouse, was outside the governor’s office speaking to the news media while the five staged their protest.
“Our position is the budget is a moral document,” Butler said. “The budget the governor is proposing is going to hurt anyone with a disability. We frankly don’t think revenue should be off the table.”
Malloy has repeatedly said he won’t sign a budget that leads with revenue increases.
Kolb, of West Haven, stated that she has been arrested 23 times for various acts of disobedience. She said she was proud to be among the five charged on Tuesday.
“There are so many things that have been cut in the state budgets over the past few years that will cause low income people, and people with disabilities, to not only suffer, but possibly die,” Kolb said.
Sherman is from Norwich, Gross is from Unionville, and Cole is from Windsor.