Doral

Anti-Trump protesters try for hours to be arrested, cops don’t budge

Jonathan Harrington is removed by police officers for protesting at the entrance of Sen. Marco Rubio’s office in Doral on July 6, 2017. He was one of about 30 people protesting the Senate’s healthcare bill.
Jonathan Harrington is removed by police officers for protesting at the entrance of Sen. Marco Rubio’s office in Doral on July 6, 2017. He was one of about 30 people protesting the Senate’s healthcare bill. sballestas@miamiherald.com

Anti-Trump protesters in Doral tried for about three hours to get arrested on Wednesday, in an attempt to publicly pressure Sen. Marco Rubio to oppose Senate Republicans’ healthcare proposal.

They sat outside Rubio’s Northwest 36th Street office, chanting and sassing police. One protester played limp and another mocked police for feeling threatened.

But Doral police didn’t bite, and the plan ultimately fell apart under the scorching South Florida sun.

A group of about a dozen so-called “birds” willing to be arrested Wednesday filled out sign-up sheets affirming their commitment prior to marching from Doral Central Park to Rubio’s office. The crowd, about 30 in total of varied ages, took a pit stop in front of the Trump National Doral Miami golfcourse, where some took photos flashing their middle fingers at the property.

“This is what democracy looks like!” they screamed, some through megaphones.

The protest was part of a nationwide effort by several liberal groups — including the Bernie Sanders-linked Our Revolution — to urge senators to reject the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act. Nationwide, conservative groups including Freedom Works have organized events to push senators to support repeal of Obamacare.

Around 4 p.m., the Doral protest organizer Laurie Woodward Garcia called for her birds to flock to the front of the office, which she referred to as the “Bastille.”

Of the 12, just four ventured up the steps of the office. Police forcefully removed one protester, 23-year-old Jonathan Harrington, as he approached the front door, bruising his arm in the process. He proudly took photos of the bluish spot afterward.

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Joe Kreps confronts a police officer telling people to move outside Sen. Marco Rubio’s office in Doral, on Thursday, July 6, 2017, during a protest of the Senate’s healthcare bill. Sebastián Ballestas sballestas@miamiherald.com

For the next two hours, a handful of protesters sat on the steps as police stood guard behind them. Asked if they would arrest anyone, Lt. Catherine Jewett said they didn’t plan on it.

“Sooner or later, they’re gonna force us to leave,” Harrington said. “None of us are going to respond with force but some of us are not willing to leave and we’re gonna risk being arrested.”

Harrington, who voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein in the 2016 presidential election, said his main gripe with the GOP proposal is the prospect of millions of Americans becoming uninsured. He and many in attendance called for “universal healthcare” and “Medicare for all.”

The Congressional Budget Office, Capitol Hill’s official scorekeeper, has said the Senate bill would increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026.

Officers handed out sign-up sheets for protesters who wished to speak with Rubio’s staff on a one-on-one basis, but Harrington and company did what they could to obstruct the process.

Jewett decried the sit-in, calling to attention the media coverage the protesters wanted.

“Sitting out here, it’s nothing. Everybody’s capturing their pictures, everybody’s getting videos, everybody, I’m sure, has a great shot, but let’s move on,” she said. “Come here to accomplish what you came to do. Sitting out here is not accomplishing that.”

By 5:45 p.m., there were no arrests, the building had closed and Harrington took comfort in some pizza and a nicotine vaporizer. But he wasn’t downtrodden.

“In many ways it has been a success,” he said. “It’s a lose-lose for Rubio no matter what.”

Miami Herald reporters Amy Sherman and Alex Daughtery contributed to this article.

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