“Save Our Care! Save Our Care! Save Our Care!”
The chants from hundreds of protestors who lined Plantside Drive in Jeffersontown’s Bluegrass Industrial Park were surely loud enough to penetrate even the sturdy shell of Vice President Mike Pence’s armored limousine as his convoy and police escort rolled by, blue-and-red lights flashing.
While Pence spoke to an invited group of small-business owners about the Republican administration’s plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and push the spread of so-called “Right-to-Work” laws, protestors gathered down the road from where Pence was speaking: Harshaw Trane Parts and Distribution Center, a local business owned by a major Republican contributor.
The protest, dubbed “Tell Mike Pence We Want Affordable Healthcare for All,” was a joint effort of Indivisible Kentucky and many progressive groups, including Black Lives Matter, Democratic Socialists of America, Fairness Campaign, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Jobs With Justice, Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Louisville-area Muslim Community, Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice, Parents for Social Justice, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky, TWW Louisville and Southern Indiana, Ally Network of Kentuckiana, Indivisible Shelbyville, Forward Kentucky, and The Care Bus.
Although the protest—and Pence’s arrival—was set for after 10 a.m., protestors armed with signs, bullhorns, drums, and noise-makers began trickling in well over an hour beforehand. After parking nearby, protestors gradually formed lines, respecting Metro police reminders to stay out of the street. (Shoutout to police for being generally friendly and respectful, an approach to which the crowd responded in kind.)
The crowd grew gradually until around 10, when police blocked off vehicle access to the area blocks away. However, more protesters, not to be deterred, parked outside the perimeter and walked in, eventually swelling the group to an estimated 1,000.
Along with the chants and songs, organizers arranged a program with a variety of speakers, using an impromptu stage with the oversized black “Save My Care” national traveling bus as backdrop. With Indivisible Kentucky’s Kate Sedgwick and Derek Penwell as emcees, speakers included Democratic state representatives Mary Lou Marzian and Joni Jenkins; Richard Becker with Jobs With Justice; Jake Bush, representing Democratic Socialists; Reena Paracha for the Muslim community; Chanelle Helm, testifying for Black Lives Matter; Betsy Foster, committee lead for ACA with Together We Will (TWW) Kentucky and Southern Indiana; Betsy Foster, Reice Hamilton, and Sage and Mary Cay Martin sharing their experiences with Planned Parenthood; and Indivisible Kentucky spokespersons Chris Rowzee and Dawn Cooley talking about the ACA.
By the end of the demonstration, the crowds lining the sidewalk extended more than one-quarter mile down Plantside toward Harshaw Trane as Pence’s caravan departed just before noon. This time a pair of green Jeffersontown fire trucks escorted the VP’s limo, shielding it from the chanting crowd.
Nevertheless, it’s likely that he still left with “Save Our Care” ringing in his ears.
It was that loud.