Twenty protesters were arrested Thursday during a health care worker rally at the state Department of Public Health on Capitol Avenue in Hartford.
The workers, members of SEIU 1199, called on the state to help implement a Long-Term Care Workers Bill of Rights, which includes demands for better pay, protection against short-staffing practices, and benefits like vacation and sick time, health insurance and child care.
“I’m just saying we need to fix something that’s an issue and this is a real big issue for all of us," home care worker Terrell Williams explained.
“We are here because staying quiet and being patient does not make change. We need to be able to tell our state representatives what is actually going on in the streets of Connecticut because this can not continue," Suzanne Clark, SEIU District 1199 Secretary-Treasurer added.
Police said they responded to a report that about 100 people were involved in the protest and were trying to make their way into the building.
Several union members did enter the lobby of the Office of Policy Management and Office of Health Strategy, which neighbors DPH. According to Connecticut State Police, some of them refused to leave despite multiple orders by police. Police said approximately 20 protesters were arrested and charged with first-degree criminal trespass. They were all released on $1,000 non-surety bonds and scheduled to appear in court Monday, police said.
State police said around 20 people entered the building and refused to disperse and they were taken into custody and charged with criminal trespass in the first degree. They were released on $1,000 bonds and will be arraigned on Monday, April 12 at Hartford Superior Courthouse.
Pedro Zayas, a spokesperson for SEIU 1199, said the event was a planned peaceful protest and that rallygoers who entered the building walked in, sat on the floor and cooperated with police.
State police also said the demonstration was peaceful.
Connecticut State Police said there were no injuries reported by those arrested or by troopers, and no use of force.