For the past forty years, Seattle resident Helen Gilbert has regularly commuted to Olympia to sit in on legislative committee meetings and advocate for everything from women's reproductive rights to basic healthcare access. Last April, she participated in the peaceful sit-in at the Capitol's rotunda to protest state budget cuts—and wasn't arrested—so she thought nothing of driving up to Olympia on Monday with healthcare activist group Sisters Organized for Survival (SOS) to do so again.

But on Monday, Gilbert was one of a handful of protesters who was arrested for occupying the Capitol rotunda after hours. Now, after being arrested again yesterday while on her way to a Ways and Means committee hearing (she'd been banned from the building for a month), and booked on first-degree criminal trespass, the 55-year-old activist is facing a ban from stepping foot in the Capitol, or even toeing its expansive lawn, for the next year.

"They didn’t even tell us about the one-year ban when we were arrested and it definitely affects me," says Gilbert. "I testify at hearings all year round."

"It amounts to an outrageous attack on all forms of free speech," she continues. "We’re guilty of what exactly? Exercising our free speech rights in our Capitol? We’re down there representing people who are losing their access healthcare, their livelihoods, and instead of listening to us, the state is trying to silence us. This is infringing on our constitutional rights."

Gilbert says she and approximately 13 other activists are being arraigned today at 1:30 pm (i.e. nowish). She says all of the defendants plan on pleading not guilty to their various charges.

"They're effectively a gag order," she says, "aimed at silencing the protests to the cuts we’re facing. More importantly, it doesn't make logical sense—why should our rights as citizens be stripped away simply because we chose to exercise them?"