- Associated Press - Monday, June 4, 2018

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Protesters with the Poor People’s Campaign were back at South Carolina’s Statehouse on Monday, this time blocking a major road while demanding universal health care.

About a dozen people were arrested.

Nearly two dozen people participated in a “lie-in,” calling for a “moral revival” of the health care system and an immediate expansion of Medicaid.

Following that protest, about a dozen demonstrators blocked U.S. Highway 1 in front of the capitol and were arrested by Columbia police. Those arrested were holding two signs, one of which read “Death Runs the Statehouse,” while the other read “Our Blood Your Hands!”

Columbia minister Charles Rhodes, one of the arrested protesters, said it’s time for clergy and citizens alike to take a stand against what he called moral wrongs.

“There are people who are burdened by the cost of medical care,” Rhodes said. “One party has tried to destroy Obamacare and that impacts poor people, the elderly, a whole variety of people.”

At the rally, physician David Keely of Rock Hill told protesters to question their local lawmakers about their stance on health care and demand answers before the June 12 primaries and November general elections.

“In my 40 years of primary care medicine, I’ve taken care of many individuals that if we were able to keep them on preventative medications, we would have prevented heart attacks or strokes,” Keely said.

The public health professional said South Carolina has an “incredible waste” in the health care system that is benefiting people with higher income. There are significant health disparities compared to people with a lower income, Keely said.

The Rev. William Barber, campaign president and co-chair, told The Associated Press ahead of last week’s rally in North Carolina that South Carolina lawmakers are creating “policy violence.”

“When you have a legislature and governor that is blocking living wages and health care expansion, those policies produce death,” Barber said.

Monday’s rally was the fourth recent one in Columbia and one of several held at state capitols nationwide.

The 40-day nonviolent national campaign will conclude in two weeks with a rally in Washington.

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