‘Rally for dignity’ disrupts Senate

Two Capitol Police officers make their way down the steps to remove Rev. John Bennett, left,   Wallace Hartsfield, Sr. and Sam Mann, at right, who are locked arm in arm during an act of civil disobedience in Missouri's Senate gallery Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Bishop Fred Caldwell, second row, and they were with the Faith Community Rally in Jefferson City to protest the senate's rejection of the expanded medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. These were the last four who refused to leave after the deliberative body was shut down for an hour and 23 people were arrested during the protest.

Two Capitol Police officers make their way down the steps to remove Rev. John Bennett, left, Wallace Hartsfield, Sr. and Sam Mann, at right, who are locked arm in arm during an act of civil disobedience in Missouri's Senate gallery Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Bishop Fred Caldwell, second row, and they were with the Faith Community Rally in Jefferson City to protest the senate's rejection of the expanded medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. These were the last four who refused to leave after the deliberative body was shut down for an hour and 23 people were arrested during the protest. Photo by Julie Smith.

UPDATED INFORMATION (as of 2:15 p.m.)

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A number of people filled the Missouri Senate Gallery in Jefferson City and performed an act of civil disobedience on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. They were with the Faith Community Rally in Jefferson City to protest the senate's rejection of the expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. These were the last four who refused to leave after the deliberative body was shut down for an hour and 23 people were arrested during the protest.

Capitol Police arrested 23 clergy members at the Capitol today, after they refused to leave the state Senate's Upper Gallery when ordered to do so.

Missouri Public Safety department spokesman Mike O'Connell said all the demonstrators were "peaceful and cooperative," and those arrested were not handcuffed and were not transported to the Capitol Police headquarters on West Main Street.

None of those arrested had any outstanding warrants.

Information about the protest and the arrests will be turned over to Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson's staff.

"Any decision as far as an actual charge would be up to the county prosecuting attorney," O'Connell said.

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The Missouri Senate's Upper Gallery was cleared by Capitol Police this morning after a group of Medicaid supporters interrupted the Senate's debate with a chant of "Expand Medicaid!"

The vocal demonstration followed the group's rally in the Capitol Rotunda.

The chant included: "We will not go. We will not be quiet."

The protestors also said they "mourn for those who have lost their lives" because lawmakers have not raised the eligibility level for receiving Medicaid, as envisioned by the federal Affordable Care Act.

"This is the people's house," the protestors chanted. "The people want, the people need Medicaid expansion!"

The chants were interspersed with prayers spoken in loud voices so they could be heard by lawmakers on the Senate floor.

The group included ministers and members of churches throughout the state, especially from the Kansas City and St. Louis areas.

"We stand as clergy and people of faith," the protestors chanted. "We will not be silenced. We will not be quiet!"

The Senate debate was interrupted for nearly 25 minutes.

The protestors also sang "We Shall Overcome," considered to be the "anthem" of the American Civil Rights movement that picked up steam in the 1960s.

They also sang "We Shall Not Be Moved."

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