ALBANY, N.Y. — Protesters arrested Wednesday at the Capitol are speaking out.
Bruce Darling was one of more than 70 from the disabled community and the Center for Disability Rights to storm the Capitol Wednesday advocating for a bill backed by the governor.
Seventeen were arrested after they refused to leave the building after its scheduled closing at 7 p.m.
Protestors say they arrived at the building at around noon Wednesday, but say meetings they had with assembly members were without substance. So they wanted to stick around to get answers — even if it meant being cuffed in the process.
“They threatened initially to take us to county lock up but when they realized they needed wheel chair transport, ASL interpreters and need to accommodate the blind individuals, they changed their minds and released us,” said advocate Bruce Darling.
He says he traveled from Rochester to Albany to lend support to a bill backed by the governor to create a new classification of caretaker, saving $350 million in federal funds in the process. But he says the legislature wasn’t listening.
That is why the group came from across the state to camp out and see why they say the legislature is dragging their feet to approve the bill. According to Darling, they were waiting for a second meeting at the end of the day when they were arrested by police for trespassing inside the chamber after it was closed.
“While we were fighting to secure the rights of people with disabilities and bring in $350 million the assembly was voting to make yogurt the official state snack,” he said.
Assembly member Deborah Glick says she was one member who met with the group to try and explain why getting the bill through the assembly and senate would take some time, describing the meeting as tense.
“People don’t understand that the legislative process involves conversations and that is sometimes frustrating for people, and I understand,” she said.
But those answers didn’t sit well with Darling, who says a bill concerning the disabled should take precedence over all else.