A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Poor People’s Campaign protestors allowed inside State Capitol upon return to Frankfort Tuesday

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Emboldened by an Attorney General Andy Beshear’s opinion that limitations on their entering the State Capitol were illegal, more than two dozen members of the Poor People’s Campaign returned Tuesday and this time were allowed inside.

Deanna Cope Brandstetter, assistant to Chief of Staff Blake Brickman, accepts items from the Poor People’s Campaign at the doors to the Governor’s office.(Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)

During a rally that began on the front steps of the Capitol, Rev. Don Gillett, pastor of East Second Street Christian Church in Lexington spoke to the crowd saying: “After 40 days of successful moral fusion and non-violent direct protests, the movement continues.  So here we are once again on the Capitol steps, calling for our nation to enter into a period of a moral revival.”

He also addressed the action by a federal judge in Washington to strike down provisions of Kentucky’s Medicaid waiver that mandates 40 hours of community engagement by recipients, including work, school job training or another community service, that was supposed to begin July 1.

Gov. Matt Bevin said the ruling also eliminated the funding mechanism for vision and dental services.

“Healthcare should be improved and not taken away,” Gillett said, referring to action taken by the Bevin administration after the ruling to halt vision and dental benefits for expanded Medicaid recipients.  “Here we are again calling state government to a moral revival. The evils of poverty, racism, the war economy, and ecological devastation are hurting our people.  And, as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, ‘If one of us is hurting, we’re all hurting.’”

According to Rev. Megan Houston of Bowling Green, their work will continue into the fall.

“We are going to have a laser-like focus on mobilizing voters,” she said.  “You ain’t seen nothing yet.  You just wait until we show up at the polls.  We’ll remember in November. We will be voting with our conscience as we support our teachers, and more importantly, our children.”

The group then walked up the steps to the Capitol, where uniformed officers allowed them to go inside after inspecting their bags and having them go through metal detectors.

The protesters passed through the Capitol Rotunda on the way to the Governor’s office, where they were stopped by police, who told them they had to have an appointment.  They asked if they could leave their demands and toothbrushes to protest the governor’s recent decision to end dental and vision benefits for some of Kentucky’s Medicaid recipients.

A woman from Bevin’s office accepted the items from the group. 

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