GOP senator blocks disabled protesters from bathroom, bars media from covering it


When disability rights advocates showed to Sen. Jeff Flake's office, not only was the senator nowhere to be found — his staff also denied media access to the demonstrations, and even locked the public bathrooms.

It seems a lot of Republican lawmakers just can't seem to learn from their colleagues' terrible and very public mistakes.

When disability rights advocates arrived at Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake's office to discuss the GOP's health care repeal bill and cuts to Medicaid, the senator himself was apparently not in the building.

Flake may not have been willing to show his face, but his staff was on hand, and immediately went about creating yet another callous public spectacle by showing a marked disregard for the protesters' concerns and for their health.


Members of the media were initially denied access to the protest, and the public bathrooms were locked, in a clear attempt to make continuing their demonstration as physically strenuous as possible for Flake's constituents.

Police officers showed up at the scene, and while the protestors made a sarcastic request for assistance in finding the "missing" senator, the officers were, as usual, more interested in shutting down the demonstration than anything else.

Veterans were present at the protest as well, but even they did not merit an appearance by Flake.

This kind of treatment of disabled constituents pleading for their health and well-being to be respected by their senator would be appalling enough were it an unprecedented occurrence.

But Flake could hardly claim to be taken by surprise, and one wonders what excuse he could offer when we have seen similar moments play out over and over again over recent weeks.

At Republican Sen. Cory Gardner's office in Colorado, disabled protesters were zip-tied and arrested after their sit-in to call out the dangers of the GOP's health care cuts. Gardner's staff had also previously turned up the heat while trapping people in an office to attempt to dissuade them from continuing their protest.

At the office of Indiana Republican Sen. Todd Young, activists were injured by police officers who forcefully accosted them as they tried to demand protection of health care and Medicaid.

And at Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office, protestors were even dragged out of their wheelchairs by security guards, leaving indelible images in the public's mind of the depths of callousness exhibited by the GOP toward those who would be most harmed by their repeal plan.

These scenes keep happening, because Republicans refuse to change their ways.

But activists and advocates also refuse to back down. And no matter how many arrests, or confrontations, or missing-in-action senators they confront, the protests against the dangerous health care repeal bill and cruel cuts to Medicaid will only get stronger, louder, and harder to ignore. SaveSave