Wed, May 16, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Activists rally at state capitals across US as part of Poor People’s Campaign


Activists on Monday converged on state capitals around the US to begin six weeks of nonviolent protests calling for new programs to help the millions of Americans who live in poverty, an overhaul of voting rights laws and other social change.

Reports by police from seven state capitols and Washington showed that more than 200 people had been arrested or cited during the first day of the so-called Poor People’s Campaign.

In many instances, police said protesters were cited for blocking traffic.

In Washington, the two leaders of the campaign were among the protesters arrested outside the US Capitol.

Campaign leaders said the protests would cover 35 states.

A statement from the campaign said the Reverend William Barber and the Reverend Liz Theoharis, its two cochairs, were among those arrested outside the US Capitol for standing in the middle of a street.

Police had no immediate confirmation of arrests or a specific number of those stopped.

“We’re living in an impoverished democracy,” Barber said.

“People across the country are standing up against the lie of scarcity. We know that in the richest country in the world, there is no reason for children to go hungry, for the sick to be denied healthcare and for citizens to have their votes suppressed. Both parties have to be challenged — one for what it does and one for what it doesn’t do,” he added.

Barber is a North Carolina-based minister and former president of the state National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter.

Theoharis is codirector of the New York-based Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice.

In Missouri, 88 people were issued summonses in Jefferson City for obstructing a lawful police order to move after they blocked a downtown street.

Police in Raleigh, North Carolina, led off 49 people after they walked out into the street in front of the legislative building, held hands and refused to depart until each was taken away and cited.

Officers cited 10 protesters at the Iowa Capitol who gathered in and around the staff offices of Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds when they refused to leave the building at the close of business hours.

The campaign cast the protests as a “reignition” of the Poor People’s Campaign, a 1968 movement started by Martin Luther King Jr and others to challenge racism, poverty and militarism.

According to the campaign, protesters would spend the next 40 days engaged in nonviolent action, including the mobilization of voters and holding teach-ins.

The first teach-in was scheduled for yesterday in Washington. It was to feature Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund and a part of the 1968 campaign.

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