Action Alert: Don’t let Healthcare Activists Go to Jail

New York City Assistant District Attorney Reopens Dismissed Cases of Healthcare Activists, Re-arrest Imminent

What to Do:

  • Call the office of Cy Vance, Manhattan District Attorney, to Demand “No new charges for healthcare activists.”
  • Ask to speak with Erin Duggan, Communications Director, (212) 335-9400.

What to Say:
“I’m calling because I’m concerned about ADA Eric Kratzville’s decision to re-file charges against healthcare activists Kate Barnhart and Joan Pleune. These activists were already charged, and their cases were dismissed by a judge. The ADA is wasting city resources by pursuing charges against this nonviolent protest. Instead, he should prosecute real criminals, like insurance companies that deny people lifesaving medical treatment. ADA Eric Kratzville should NOT re-file charges against Kate and Joan.”

Background Information:
Last fall, Healthcare-NOW! co-founded the Mobilization for Health Care for All campaign, which organized peaceful sit-ins at insurance companies to highlight their deadly practice of putting profits over people and demand Medicare for All. More than 200 activists were arrested in more than 20 cities.

The campaign launched in New York City in September, when 17 healthcare activists were arrested at Aetna’s offices. This was the first of four related protests in New York City that resulted in 49 arrests.

The activists were arrested for “criminal trespass” and “obstructing governmental administration” then spent the night in jail. After repeated court dates over six months, all the activists except Kate Barnhart were eventually offered conditional dismissals. Everyone accepted this offer except for Joan Pleune, who opted to stay in the case in solidarity with Kate. Kate alone was asked to plead guilty to a criminal charge and was offered jail time.

The District Attorney’s office targeted Kate because of a previous misdemeanor conviction for an anti-war action–despite several other activists also having prior convictions. However, after the activists’ attorney Stephen Edwards filed a motion to dismiss Kate’s charges on the basis of “facial insufficiency,” Judge ShawnDya L. Simpson granted his motion and dismissed all charges on July 19th.

Unbelievably, on July 30th (incidentally Medicare’s birthday!), Assistant District Attorney Eric Kratzville informed the activists’ attorney that he is planning to re-file “amended charges” against Kate and Joan and that the two of them should either arrange a date to turn themselves in or be re-arrested against their will.


  1. Kimber on August 2, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Thanks for the info. I just called. At this point, the person who answered the phone was just taking name and numbers. So it was super easy – doubtful he’ll call back, but we’ll see!

  2. Susan Chandler on August 2, 2010 at 11:46 am

    I can’t make phone calls, and miss out on helping because of it. Please consider doing petitions. Thank you.

  3. Kallyn Krash on August 2, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    How can we help Joan and Kate? I called the person you recommended on the web site, but what else can we do? The decision to reopen the case is apalling.


  4. Grania Marcus on August 4, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    I don’t have spare money, but I do have energy. All of us need to join together to prevent cuts to Medicare by the so-called deficit commission and to end the Big Pharma screwing of seniors that is Medicare Part D. How can I join up with the NYC Healthcare Now group–love the creativity and energy of the “Stop, in the name of Health” campaign. I will call to support Joan and Kate–outrageous that they are being rearrested.

  5. lauren serven on August 4, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    As someone who was arrested last fall trying to talk to Senator Lieberman I am horrified at the thought of these individuals are now having their cases re-filed. Obviously, this is an effort to intimidate others from future protests. I will call and I will write and when and if these individuals go to trial I will be there sitting in silent protest. Please keep us posted.

  6. di on August 17, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    I have listened to Rep. Grayson on the house floor and know that thousands are dying from no healthcare…this is all the info I need.. my daughter is in her twenties and was unable to get coverage because she has medical issues. In Texas there is a hippo law that does not work…they don’t deny but give one the runaround and will not cover

  7. LjRose on August 18, 2010 at 11:18 am

    What the hell was the “action” re the previous conviction? Was that disclosed?