The California Republican Party convention received unexpected visitors this afternoon as a group of protesters blocked a swath of the Hyatt Regency Sacramento lobby to protest cuts to disabled services.
Some of the protesters lay on the lobby carpet with signs reading slogans such as "Close corporate tax loopholes" and "Our lives are precious."
Two of the protesters said they wanted state officials to tax businesses more to pay for social services and urged GOP legislators to put some $11 billion in tax extensions before a vote, as Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing.
The activist group Communities United in Defense of Olmstead helped organize the protest, said Sheela Gunn-Cushman, of San Lorenzo, a visually impaired woman lying on the lobby floor.
Sacramento police showed up, and the protesters cleared the lobby after about an hour.
"We would like to have the corporate loopholes closed so that companies have to pay for the programs we need to survive," said Gunn-Cushman, who said she was a registered Republican. "I support Republicans working with Gov. Brown and making sure people are given the right to vote."
Several Republican delegates loudly condemned the protest and vented their outrage at the tactics used.
The state GOP had organized a similar protest last year, when several people wearing large puppet heads mocking then-candidate Brown showed up at the state Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles. State Republican Party spokesman Mark Standriff had accompanied the protesters.
Republican delegate Rodney Standhope said today's protesters, several of whom came in wheelchairs, were being used and did not understand what they were doing. Gunn-Cushman strongly denied that was the case.
Delegate Alyse Kolb told Gunn-Cushman that her father had suffered from polio but had not asked for government assistance.
"I am really really sorry, but there are churches and other organizations where you can get help," Kolb said.
She later told reporters, "We will put the taxes on the ballot if we can put proposals on the ballot for political reform."