Disabled Protesters To Extend Their Berkeley Camp

By Dan McMenamin (BCN)
Sunday July 04, 2010 - 09:33:00 AM

A tent city has sprouted up for the second time in as many months on the median of a Berkeley street in protest of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed budget cuts to in-home support services, an organizer said today. 

"Arnieville" is made up of a couple dozen people camping out on the median near the intersection of Adeline and Russell streets to protest the proposed cuts, organizer Dan McMullan said. 

The group started camping out on June 21 and planned to stay at the intersection until Tuesday, McMullan said Saturday, but organizer Jean Stewart told the Planet on Sunday that there are now plans to extend the demonstration for an indefinite period because it's been so successful. They held a similar demonstration in May when Schwarzenegger made his latest budget proposal. 

The governor's proposal called for drastic cuts to in-home support services, which McMullan said would likely "put severely disabled people and elderly people in nursing homes instead of being able to stay in their own homes." 

McMullan, director of the Disabled People Outside Projects, said the tent city was a last resort after other actions brought no results. 

"We've tried marching, tried going to Sacramento, tried just about everything, but we're not getting any kind of results," he said. 

McMullan said dozens of people gather during the days at the intersection to take part in the demonstration, and a core group of about two dozen people sleep there in tents overnight. 

A large statue of Schwarzenegger was made and shown at the intersection along with other posters and signs expressing discontent with the proposed cuts, McMullan said. 

"We're the model of independent living throughout the entire world" and the governor "is tearing that apart," he said. 

Schwarzenegger's office was not immediately available for comment.