MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) – Community activists pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges on Friday for spray-painted messages on a street outside the Alabama Capitol urging the state to expand Medicaid.
The four activists of the SaveOurSelves justice and democracy movement were arrested last summer after painting “Expand Medicaid: and“ Black Lives Matter ”. The protest began with a mock funeral to remember those who died due to lack of medical care.
Two women in the group said they were strip searched at Montgomery Prison after being arrested, while the two men were not.
“All I’m guilty of is trying to save lives by expanding Medicaid so more people don’t die needlessly or lose their health. I want people to have the health care they need, ”Karen Jones, one of those arrested, said in a statement.
Faya Rose Toure, a civil rights lawyer, said she and Jones were strip searched in prison. Touré is married to former State Senator Hank Sanders.
A spokeswoman for the Montgomery Police Department said last year that prison staff follow proper and legal protocols, which include naked searches of men and women during the admissions process.
Medicaid is health insurance funded by the state and federal governments. Alabama is one of the 12 states who have not expanded the program to allow low-income workers to receive coverage. Alabama’s program currently covers children and the elderly or disabled, but few able-bodied adults are eligible.