Poor People's Campaign -- Salem, Oregon -- May 21, 2018
UPDATE: While the Poor People were on the steps of the Capitol protesting yet another tax giveaway to mostly rich people in business, the vote was cast. It past with only eight no votes in the House -- Fahey, Hernandez, Kennemer, Keny-Guyer, Lively, Nosse, Rayfield, Reardon and twelve nays in the Senate. Baertschiger Jr, Bentz, Boquist, DeBoer, Gelser, Girod, Hansell, Hass, Heard, Linthicum, Olsen, Thomsen. See the vote tally here to find out how all legislators voted.
I knew I was at the Poor People's Campaign when I arrived at St. Mark's Church in Salem, and in lieu of a $20 t-shirt which I can ill afford, I was presented with the option of a printed logo cloth and two safety pins to attach it my own shirt -- $0 - $5. Genius! I felt right at home. Earlier in the week Parents Across America had committed to support the efforts of the Poor People's Campaign. This was my first opportunity to participate. We met up to get to know each other and each other's work, build relationships, and specifically to protest the proposed tax cut for the rich that will undoubtedly pass despite our best efforts.
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is uniting tens of thousands of people across the country to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation’s distorted morality.
Beginning in 2013, the Moral Monday movement, led by the Rev. William Barber II, forged the blueprint for weekly demonstrations followed by civil disobedience. Those protests were intended to oppose the Republican-dominated legislature's agenda, its cuts in unemployment benefits, opposition to expanding Medicaid, and restrictive voting rights laws. This time, Barber has teamed up with the Rev. Liz Theoharis, a Presbyterian minister and co-director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary in New York, to take the protests national.
If you weren't able to attend this meeting/march/protest in Salem, there will be other opportunities. The campaign is intended to create a network of people and organizations willing to nonviolently confront government and its policies regarding the poor. Over the next 40 days, in cities across the nation, protesters will conduct teach-ins, knock on tens of thousands of doors to mobilize voters, and conduct other forms of civil disobedience. You may contact the Oregon campaign here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPEAKING, CHANTING, SINGING, LEADING (THANKS JAMIE PARTRIDGE FOR THIS AWESOME PHOTO)
Did you know there are 140 million people who are poor or low-income in the United States today?
The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), takes into account income as well as the costs of food, clothing, housing and utilities, and government programs that have assisted low-income families and individuals who are not otherwise designated as poor.
According to existing data from the SPM for 2016, the 140 million people who were poor or low-income include:
51.9 percent of children under the age of 18 (38.2 million children)
40.7 percent of adults between the ages of 18-64 (81.5 million adults)
42.5 percent of our elders over the age of 65 (20.8 million elders)
45 percent of women and girls (73.5 million people)
33.9 percent of White people (67.1 million people)
60.3 percent of Black people (25.9 million people)
65.1 percent of Latinx people (37.4 million people)
41.1 percent of Asian people (7.6 million people)
Over 50 percent of children in this country are poor. That's beyond shameful! Yet, without adequately funding education and healthcare in the regular session, the Oregon legislature has called a special session to give another tax break to the rich. So, we took our message to the Capitol. We spoke passionately about people's stories and the facts and statistics that should jolt our leaders into action. We marched. We chanted. We sang. Our numbers were small -- most poor people must work on Monday -- but the number of legislators available to hear us inside was miniscule. We persevered, leaving written messages on the vacant desks of staffers. Not one of us doubted that the rich would get their tax break. Still we posed the obvious questions: Where is our special session for education, for healthcare, for the environment, etc? Below are some photos from my day at the Poor People's campaign in Salem.
A NEW FRIEND
TREK FROM ST. MARK'S TO THE CAPITOL
CAN YOU HEAR US NOW?
EVERYONE WAS THERE
NO MORE TAX CUTS TO BUSINESS. JUST NO!
TAX THE RICH. DAMMIT!
TAX - THE- - RICH!
OUR MESSAGE IS CLEAR