Poor People's Campaign

Reply Fri 25 May, 2018 12:31 pm
The second week of the revived Poor People's campaign has begun. Martin Luther King died when he attempted this 50 years ago. Here is a report on the campaign as it stands this moment:


The second week of the Poor People’s Campaign has kicked off in Chicago, where the theme of the week is “Linking Systemic Racism and Poverty: Voting Rights, Immigration, Xenophobia, Islamophobia, and the Mistreatment of Indigenous Communities.”

Truthdig reported from the front lines as thousands of activists and civil rights advocates gathered in Washington, D.C., last week for the Poor People’s Campaign, an effort to relaunch Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight against poverty, war and income inequality. May 14 was the first of 40 days of action planned across the nation. The campaign’s goals include federal and state living-wage laws, an end to anti-union and anti-workers’ rights efforts, welfare programs for the poor, equity in education, Medicaid expansion and accessible housing.

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See Truthdig’s multimedia coverage of the action, read Truthdig photojournalist Michael Nigro’s piece about the movement and view his 18-minute audio photo essay.

With funding support from our readers, Nigro is reporting live from the first day of action this week. Scroll down to see Truthdig’s live multimedia updates.

4:38 p.m. CDT: One of the most interesting things about the Poor People’s Campaign so far has been the police response, or lack of response. The police are not arresting people, even though many of the acts of civil disobedience—sitting in a state capitol building, for example—are arrestable actions.

The police non-action appears to be a coordinated tactic. Arrests give people motivation and momentum. Arrests bring more media coverage. More exposure can turn a campaign into a movement. Not arresting people defuses the power of protest.

The corporate state does not want the Poor People’s Campaign to turn into a major political force. The state does not want the voices of 140 million poor people to be heard and would like extinguish every last ember of this activism.

We have a battle of wills. Whichever side prevails will determine how much America changes.

4:15 p.m. CDT: Terrance Wise, one of the organizers with Fight for $15, sums up the meaning of Monday’s action in Chicago and Springfield, Ill.: “All labor has dignity, whether you are a worker at McDonald’s or a sanitation worker.”

Wise, who works at McDonald’s and Burger King to make ends meet, adds that McDonald’s (and every corporation making millions because of its workers) can pay their workers better. Fifteen dollars won’t make people rich, but it will allow them to have a living wage and take their kids to a movie or the zoo.

This protest is not the beginning, middle or end. It is an ongoing struggle.

Remember the words of Frederick Douglass: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. … This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

The Poor People’s Campaign gives the 140 million Americans living in poverty hope.

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Reply Fri 25 May, 2018 02:42 pm
For the wealthy people, Trump cut cooperation tax from 40% to 20%. A big half. That's a loot from poor people they depend on social welfare.

51 Million U.S. Households Can't Afford Basics
United Way ALICE Project May 17, 2018

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- There are 50.8 million U.S. households that can't afford a basic monthly budget including housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to new data released by the United Way ALICE Project.

Reply Fri 25 May, 2018 02:55 pm
This tax cut IS significant but when you quote something statistical particularly newsworthy re finances try to be more accurate:

" this year's reduction of the US corporate FEDERAL tax rate from 35% to 21%".

Also this corporate FEDERAL tax cut is for the following year
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Reply Fri 25 May, 2018 04:27 pm
katsung47 wrote:

Trump cut cooperation tax from 40% to 20%.

Good to see, I applaud cooperation and think the tax code should reward it. Wink
cicerone imposter
Reply Fri 25 May, 2018 06:52 pm
Looks like our stock funds are gonna pay off good from now on!
Our Vanguard Funds rate of return for one year: 12.8% As of 04/30/2018
Not too shabby.
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Reply Fri 25 May, 2018 07:27 pm
Minnesota clergy lead the way in new Poor People's Campaign

On May 14, the group kicked off a 40-day campaign in 30 states. Each week includes several events, from rallies to reflection times, focused on a theme. This week it was immigration, racism and other issues. Next week is gun violence and military spending. Then it’s health care and the environment.

Earlier this week, for example, about 130 people gathered on the steps of the Capitol at a rally condemning federal deportation policies. Lined up behind the speakers stood about two dozen clergy, many carrying posters bearing the group’s motto, “A National Call for Moral Revival.” They began the event by singing songs that echoed through the civil rights movement, such as “We Shall Not Be Moved.”

The Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, director of the Center for Sustainable Justice at Lyndale United Church of Christ, was the first speaker. She said federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials are overstepping their authority, including arresting people on private property without warrants.

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Reply Mon 28 May, 2018 09:14 am

By Martha Mercado | Photos by Roger Baker | The Rag Blog | May 23, 2018

AUSTIN — On Monday, May 14, 2018, Texas was one of over 30 states to participate in the launch of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival. More than 60 people gathered at the Texas State Capitol in solidarity with women, children, and disabled people living in poverty, including two busloads from Dallas. Also in attendance were individuals from San Antonio, Houston, Pasadena, and Waco.

The spirit of Dr. King resonated as faith leaders, community organizers, and concerned citizens came together to publicize and challenge the war on the poor. Songs of freedom filled the air as people approached the rally, including, “We Shall Not Be Moved,” a famous anthem from the Civil Rights era.

In between songs, testimonies were given by impacted persons, including two people experiencing homelessness, two community activists, and a representative of the Carrizo/Comerudo Tribe. The crowd stood behind these individuals in solidarity, listening closely to the stories of people living in poverty just like us.

The state-wide campaign, which only came to Texas a couple of months ago, is in the process of planning for its next action on June 4, 2018. The theme of the week will be “Ecological Devastation and Health Justice.” This time, even more caravans are expected to come, including people from the Rio Grande Valley. The Texas movement is just getting started.

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Reply Sun 3 Jun, 2018 03:45 pm
For Marx, and I think for any authentic left today, the moral predisposition of bourgeois “elites” was and is of little concern. It’s not about speaking truth to wealth and power. Beseeching our capitalist masters to be nicer and smarter for the common good of all is a fool’s errand. We’re not trying to write a Charles Dickens novel in which rich Mr. Brownlow saves the day for poor Oliver Twist or the bad capitalist Scrooge becomes the good capitalist Scrooge. We know there’s no appealing to capitalist chieftains’ better angels where money and profit are concerned.

Real leftists know that five people owning as much wealth as the bottom half of the species while millions starve and lack adequate health care and half the U.S. population is poor or near-poor is capitalism working.

We know that giant corporations buying up every last family farm, tapping every new reserve of cheap global labor, raping the Congo’s raw materials in alliance with warlords, purchasing the votes of nearly every elected official, extracting every last fossil fuel and driving the planet past the limits of environmental sustainability is capitalism working.

We know that a giant military-industrial complex, generating vast fortunes for the owners and managers of high-tech “defense” (war and empire) firms while schools and public parks and infrastructure and social safety nets are underfunded—we know that that too is capitalism working.

I could go on.

The only solution, a real left would know, along with Marx, is for workers and citizens to organize collectively to overthrow the amoral profits system and take control of what they produce and how society is organized.

Power to the people. Power to the workers. And power to the commons, whose enclosure was and remains among other things the making of modern capitalism and its wage-enslaved working class.

That is what I have always understood to be the basic irreducible bottom-line perspective of anything that deserves since the time of Marx to be called “the left.”

I’m always amused when I hear mainstream U.S. media reporters, talking heads or pundits refer to “the left” in statements like “the left won’t like Trump’s tax plan” or “the left is gearing up for the 2018 midterms.” What left are they talking about?

In the reigning U.S. media-politics culture, “the left” refers first and foremost to the Democratic Party and its many allies at places like The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, CBS, MSNBC, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Brookings Institution, the Center for American Progress, most of academia and a host of other elite sectors and actors. But for anyone who knows anything about the history and meaning of radical movements, calling the dismal dollar-drenched Democrats and their many media allies “the left” is like calling the National Pork Producers Association vegan. As the multimillionaire House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told a young CNN town hall questioner last year, “We’re capitalist and that’s just the way it is.”

The Robert Rubin-approved and Goldman Sachs- and Citigroup-backed presidential candidate Barack Obama wrote and spoke with gushing praise for the lords of capital and their supposedly glorious profits system, which he called the source of a “prosperity that’s unmatched in human history.” His policy record as a militantly pro-Wall Street and arch-neoliberal president consistently matched his words. He did more for the nation’s leading financial institutions and corporations than any Republican president could have in the wake of the Great Recession, caused by concentrated wealth.

And he was proud of it. “People call me a socialist sometimes,” Obama told some top corporate executives at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council with a laugh in late 2013. “But no,” the arch-neoliberal president, TransPacific Partnership advocate and drone war champion said, eliciting chuckles from his ruling-class friends, “you’ve got to meet the real socialists. You’ll have a sense of what a socialist is. I’m talking about lowering the corporate tax rate. My health care reform is based on the private marketplace.” The CEOs in attendance got a big chuckle out of what CounterPunch called that “tender ruling class moment.”

“Socialists”? The “lying neoliberal warmonger” and arch-corporatist Hillary Clinton recently added those nasty socialists in the Democratic Party to the list of people other than herself and her Wall Street bankrollers that she blames for her defeat in 2016. If socialists in the Iowa Democratic caucuses had properly understood and respected her commitment to what top Democrats oxymoronically called “inclusive capitalism,” Hillary thinks, Trump would not be president.

Leftish liberals call for the supposed “party of the people” to abandon its “corporate and cultural elitism” and “return” to its purported grand mission of “fighting for social justice and ensuring that workers get a fair deal.” When, the plaintive progressive cry goes, will they learn how to win? But for the dismal Dems it isn’t about winning; it’s about serving corporate masters. As William Kaufman told Barbara Ehrenreich on Facebook last year, “The Democrats aren’t feckless, inept, or stupid, unable to ‘learn’ what it takes to win. They are corrupt. They do not want to win with an authentically progressive program because it would threaten the economic interests of their main corporate donor base. … The Democrats know exactly what they’re doing. They have a business model: sub-serving the interests of the corporate elite.”

The reigning corporate Democrats would rather lose to the right, even to a proto-fascistic white nationalist and eco-apocalyptic right, than lose to the left, even to a mildly progressive social democratic left within their own party. So what if Bernie Sanders, running (imagine!) in accord with majority progressive opinion would have been considerably more likely to defeat Trump than the incredibly unpopular and transparently elitist Hillary Clinton in the general election in 2016? The Democrats preferred handing the presidency and Congress to the Insane Clown President and the ever more radical right over letting a leftish neo-New Dealer into the White House. That was the “Inauthentic Opposition”—as the late Sheldon Wolin called the Democrats in 2008—doing its job.

Among other things, Russiagate is the Inauthentic Opposition following its business model and doing its job, working to cover its tracks by throwing the debacle of its corporatist politics down George Orwell’s memory hole and attributing their largely self-made defeat to Russia’s allegedly powerful interference in our supposed democracy. Russiagate is meant to provide corporate Democrats cover not only for 2016 but also for 2018 and 2020. It is meant to create a narrative that lets the Fake Resistance Party continue nominating corporate captive neoliberal shills and imperialists who pretend to be progressive while they are owned by the nation’s own homegrown oligarchs, the real masters of America’s oxymoronic “capitalist democracy.” This year’s crop of Democratic congressional candidates is disturbingly loaded with military and intelligence veterans, a reflection of the Democrats’ determination to run as the true party of empire.

As Jeremy Kuzmarov and John Marciano write in their book “The Russians are Coming, Again,” “The scapegoat of Russia functions as a distraction for a ruling class that has lost its legitimacy.”

What is the Democrats’ leading cry? That the terrible Trump is truly terrible. And, of course, that is all too terribly true. But after you’ve bemoaned the terribleness of the beastly, orange-tinted Trump for the 10,000th time, are you ready to get serious about the systemic and richly bipartisan, oligarchic context within which he has emerged? “The Trump administration,” my fellow Truthdigger Chris Hedges reminds us:

“did not rise … like Venus on a half shell from the sea. Donald Trump is the result of a long process of political, cultural and social decay. He is a product of our failed democracy. The longer we perpetuate the fiction that we live in a functioning democracy, that Trump and the political mutations around him are somehow an aberrant deviation that can be vanquished in the next election, the more we will hurtle toward tyranny. The problem is not Trump. It is a political system, dominated by corporate power and the mandarins of the two major political parties, in which we don’t count.”

Corporate Democrats could well re-elect Trump in 2020. The smart money now is on their running the tepid neoliberal centrist Kamala Harris. Part of what could make her irresistible to the corporate and professional-class know-it-alls atop the party is that she would be a “progressive neoliberal”-bourgeois identity politics double whammy when it comes to keeping their own party’s portside wing at bay. With Obama as their standard bearer, the corporate-war Democrats got to call their progressive critics racists. With Hillary as their candidate, the corporate-war Democrats got to call their progressive critics sexists. With Kamala Harris atop the ticket they could call their disobedient left racists and sexists if progressives dare to publicly notice her captivity to Wall Street, Silicon Valley, the Council on Foreign Relations and the military-industrial complex.

Not that Sanders, who was the Democrats’ best chance to defeat Trump, is all that “left.” Bernie “F-35” Sanders’ occasional and carefully hedged claims to be a “democratic socialist” were contradicted by his dutiful if quiet embrace of the mass-murderous U.S. military empire. It takes real chutzpah to repeatedly mention Scandinavia as his social-democratic role model without once noting that Sweden, Denmark and Norway spend comparatively tiny percentages of their national budgets on militarism. Failure to tackle the giant U.S. war budget (a vast mechanism of upward wealth transfer) means that you can’t pay for poverty-ending progressive transformation at home.

Sanders has never seriously criticized capitalism, the profits system or modern class rule. He has never questioned the underlying and foundational institutional despotism of capital over labor and the commons that makes a mockery of the West’s democratic pretense while placing human life itself at grave peril. Along the way, Sanders has sustained progressives’ deadly attachment to the nation’s narrow and strictly time-staggered election- and candidate-centered politics. “The really critical thing,” the great American radical historian Howard Zinn once sagely wrote, “isn’t who’s sitting in the White House, but who is sitting in—in the streets, in the cafeterias, in the halls of government, in the factories. Who is protesting, who is occupying offices and demonstrating—those are the things that determine what happens.”

“The only thing that’s going to ever bring about any meaningful change,” Noam Chomsky told Abby Martin in the fall of 2015, “is ongoing, dedicated, popular movements that don’t pay attention to the election cycle.” Sanders was and remains about the masters’ election cycle, which is dedicated to the delusional notion that we the people get meaningful democratic input into policy by spending three minutes in a voting booth choosing from among a handful of candidates selected in advance for us by the nation’s unelected dictatorship of money once every two years.

The Democrats know that lots of citizens think like Zinn. That’s why they set up Astroturf outfits like Indivisible and Move On and the Town Hall Project. These fake resistance groups masquerade as extra-electoral grass-roots movements, but they’re all about channeling everything into a big get-out-the-vote campaign for candidates affiliated with the not-so-left-most of the two reigning corporate parties.

A number of Sanders supporters have migrated into DSA, the Democratic Socialists of America, whose popular online “Thanks Capitalism” video defines “socialism” as little more than collective bargaining and civil rights. It says nothing about capitalism’s destruction of livable ecology or about its evil twin, imperialism, whose vast military budgets cancels out social democracy in the “homeland.” The video says nothing about Marx’s and other authentic leftists’ long-standing understanding of socialism as workers’ control.

A panoply of outwardly and sometimes substantively progressive advocacy, policy and service organizations can be found across the U.S. But as Les Leopold has noted, they are badly crippled by single-issue-ism, related to do their budgetary dependence on private foundations. “For the last generation,” Leopold wrote last year, “progressives have organized themselves into issue silos, each with its own agenda. Survival depends on fundraising (largely from private foundations) based on the uniqueness of one’s own silo. The net result of this Darwinian struggle is a fractured landscape of activity. The creativity, talent and skill are there in abundance, but the coherence and common purpose among groups is not.”

There are multi-issue nonpartisan progressive policy, lobbying and protest groups in the Citizen Action tradition across the nation. Their 501c3 (nonprofit) status prevents them from openly identifying as Democratic Party-affiliated groups, but that is what they are. Real authentic root-and-branch radicals who want to keep their jobs know to tread carefully and watch their backs when they work in the “progressive” nonprofit sector. It’s the same in “higher education” and the so-called labor movement.

There are a number of groups that call themselves Marxist in the U.S.—an alphabet soup whose various names and sectarian tendencies can be reviewed on Wikipedia. None of them have anything close to a large membership. Many of them spend more time tearing each other apart in sectarian squabbling than in organizing or inspiring anyone to fight the many manifest evils of capital.

Left anarchism seems as fragmented, marginal and sectarian as the Marxist left.

We’ve seen hopeful seeds of rank-and-file people’s organizing over the years with developments like the Wisconsin Rebellion before it was electorally co-opted, Occupy, the Fight for $15, the Chicago and subsequent statewide teacher strikes, the Verizon strike, rebellions and the movement against racist police killings—a movement bigger than just the Ford Foundation-funded and Borealis Foundation-coordinated Black Lives Matter brand. There’s been the Malcom X Grassroots Movement, We Charge Genocide, the remarkable Standing Rock moment, the broader struggle against the Dakota Access pipeline, the successful struggle against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the remarkable alternative economy political developments led by black radicals in Jackson, Miss., something that strikes me as the most potentially radical and remarkable development of all so far.

Now we have the Poor People’s Campaign, just underway, under the leadership of the Rev. William Barber, who has criticized U.S. militarism and kept Democratic Party politicos off his speaking platforms. Perhaps the PPC can develop in ways that will help us build an authentic radical left—not just another leftish moment that gets folded into a Get Out the Vote for Democrats campaign. To do so, it will need to open its platforms to serious left anti-capitalists. It will have to step further away from the not-so left-most party of capital, the Democrats. It will need to speak less in terms of the immorality of poverty and more in terms of how poverty is rooted in the profits system of class rule and the racism and imperialism that go with capitalism “like white on rice.”

“For whatever reason,” a PPC supporter writes me from Pennsylvania, the campaign is “unwilling or unable to name the disease, capitalism. In the absence of this diagnosis,” he says, “I worry that the PPC might be nothing more than a sheepdog for the Democrats in 2018.”

For now—and this must change—“the [U.S.] left” is still far too scattered, excessively siloed, overdependent on corporate foundations, overly identity-politicized, excessively episodic, excessively metropolitan and bicoastal, excessively professional and middle-class, insufficiently radical, insufficiently working-class, insufficiently anti-capitalist and insufficiently distanced from the dismal, demobilizing, depressing and dollar-drenched Democratic Party.

Noam Chomsky’s judgment five years ago remains all too accurate today: “There is no real left now” in the United States, Chomsky told David Barsamian. “If you are just counting heads,” Chomsky elaborated, “there are probably more people involved than in the 1960s, but they … don’t coalesce into a movement that can really do things. We’re not supposed to say it,” he continued, “but the Communist Party was an organized and persistent element. It didn’t show up for a demonstration and then scatter so somebody else had to start something new. It was always there and it was there for the long haul. … That mentality is basically missing [now]. And it was during the 1960s, too,” Chomsky said.

The absence of a real, dedicated, persistent and serious, adult left is profoundly dangerous. People who are getting shafted and who know it are going to get behind militant and angry politicos seeking to channel their understandable rage. If there’s no effective, durable, organized, intelligent and durable through-thick-and-thin anti-capitalist left around, the job of channeling that popular anger falls by default to the white nationalist racist, nativist and sexist right—the Hitlers, Goebbels, Marine Le Pens, Geert Wilders, Matteo Salivinis, Nigel Farages, David Dukes, Steve Kings, Donald Trumps and Steve Bannons of the world. Resentment abhors a vacuum.

At the same time, without a functioning left able to fight and do things for ordinary working and poor people, we will have nothing to defend and sustain our households, families and communities when the next big capitalist meltdown comes—an event that is due in the very near future. Before the coming collapse, Hedges tell us, “We must invest our energy in building parallel, popular institutions to protect ourselves and to pit power against power. These parallel institutions, including unions, community development organizations, local currencies, alternative political parties and food cooperatives, will have to be constructed town by town.”

Hedges’ list of institutions for parallel people’s power should be expanded to cooperative production, under the participatory and self-managed ownership, control and design of the “associated producers” themselves in harmony rather than at war with the natural environment.

It’s no small matter, given what we know now to be the essentially ecocidal nature of modern capitalism. “If there is not future for a radical mass movement in our time,” Istvan Meszaros rightly argued 15 years ago, “there can be no future for humanity itself.” Signature
0 Replies
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2018 07:05 am
0 Replies
Reply Mon 11 Jun, 2018 01:47 pm
Truthdig Correspondent Michael Nigro Arrested While Covering Poor People's Campaign


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Reply Fri 15 Jun, 2018 06:49 pm
The 'Fight' Phase of the Poor People’s Campaign Has Begun

The Poor People’s Campaign is now entering its sixth week of nationwide nonviolent direct actions. Hundreds of local and grass-roots groups continue to join. To date, over 2,000 people have been arrested and thousands have signed on with coalitions in 39 states and Washington, D.C., to challenge environmental devastation, systemic racism and poverty, locally and at the federal level and to demand a moral agenda for the common good. This movement has nothing to do with left or right, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal. It’s all about right and wrong.

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If the strength of a social movement could be measured by the proportion of force inflicted by those who are in power and trying to kill it, then the Poor People’s Campaign has garnered enough momentum that it is now positioned in a new and dangerous stage.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” This saying, often attributed to Gandhi, is applicable here.

Examining the prior weeks of the burgeoning Poor People’s Campaign, viewing it in correlation with the government’s response to it—being ignored, being laughed at—there is little doubt that after last week’s nationwide actions the Poor People’s Campaign finds itself standing nonviolently in “the fight phase.”

During the first weeks, in 39 states and Washington, D.C., the protests—which address systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and the nation’s distorted moral narrative—were met with little drama. Although there were some arrests, many of the states’ tactics were to stand by and observe, to wait out the protesters until they simply went home.

Most mainstream media, not surprisingly, did not squeeze any of the protests into their 24-hour news cycle. Activists shut down streets in Boston, Sacramento, Calif., and Albany, N.Y., without any arrests. They slept overnight in the Kentucky Capitol Building (and had pizza delivered!)—no arrests. They occupied the Springfield, Ill., Statehouse and blocked entrances to assembly rooms—no arrests.

Since then, however, the movement has grown. But with this growth, various strategies of suppression and constitutionally questionable tactics have emerged.

Building on Our Poor People's Campaign Coverage
Truthdig Correspondent Michael Nigro Arrested While Covering Poor People's Campaign in Missouri
Week 5 saw participants being denied entry into the Kentucky Statehouse, blocked from the Arkansas Statehouse and arrested before even entering the New Jersey Statehouse. In New York, Poor People’s Campaign participants were hit with a bill for “rally security” by the city of Albany. And in Kansas, Poor People’s Campaign activists were informed that they had “harmed” the Kansas Statehouse and would not be allowed back to protest.

The media has begun to take notice, too. In Kentucky, the right-leaning newspaper, the Lexington Herald-Leader, ran an editorial excoriating the Kentucky State Police who barricaded the Capitol and blocked entry for an estimated 400 people. It said, in part: “This is not a proud distinction for our state. The Capitol is the pre-eminent place to assemble and seek redress from the government, a right that is guaranteed to all U.S. citizens by the Constitution.”

In Jefferson City on Monday, where I was covering and livestreaming a protest in front of the Missouri Chamber of Congress, the police arrested me. They did so prior to arresting any of the activists participating in civil disobedience, sitting in the street, locking arms.

My charge, as written on the ticket, was “fail to obey.” Of the 77 people arrested that day, I was the only journalist. We were all issued a citation that carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine. (More information on my arrest can be found at U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.)

Beyond covering the Poor People’s Campaign since its launch May 14, I’ve covered protests for more than seven years, including Occupy Wall Street in New York City and the Dakota Access pipeline protest in Standing Rock, N.D., where journalists’ rights were often violated.

I cannot say empirically that I was targeted by the Jefferson City police, but from the get-go, the police were monitoring journalists and those with cameras. Just 30 seconds into my livestream, police bullhorned at me from across the street that this was my “final warning.”

The march had not even started, and the police were belting out “final warnings?” Odd.

But that, right then, was a clear signal to me that more than likely, at some point, they would arrest a journalist as a way to intimidate others who would then refrain from documenting the protest. I’ve witnessed that tactic before. This time, the journalist happened to be me.

The most egregious crackdown on the Poor People’s Campaign’s actions, however, also occurred last week in Washington, D.C., where nine people of faith, including Poor People’s Campaign co-chair, the Rev. Liz Theoharis, were arrested while praying on the steps of the Supreme Court.

The group was protesting to draw attention to the Court’s Husted v. Randolf Institute decision, which upholds voter suppression, one of the main battles of the Poor People’s Campaign.

The nine were held in shackles for 27 hours, had their religious garments taken away, were ordered to surrender their passports as well as to stay away from the Supreme Court, and will be required to conduct weekly check-ins with a pretrial service program. It has not yet known if they will be tried by a jury.

Saturday, June 23, thousands of people from across the country are expected to flood Washington, D.C. “But [that’s] not the end of the Poor People’s Campaign,” the Rev. Barber told me in North Carolina during an action last month. “June 23 is the launch of the movement.”

The “fight phase” has just begun. But how will the campaign survive against powerful forces trying to crush it? That depends on whether the public finds enough value in the campaign’s message to create change.

After Anthony Bourdain taped one of his episodes of “Parts Unknown” in Gaza, he won an award from the Muslim Public Affairs Council. In his acceptance speech, Bourdain said, “The world has visited many terrible things on the Palestinian people, none more shameful than robbing them of their basic humanity. People are not statistics.”

This rings true for what the Poor People’s Campaign is attempting. It has the statistics and facts—hundreds of them—on its website (i.e., 13.8 million U.S. households cannot afford water; over 48 million Americans have no or inadequate health care; more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die due to poverty-related issues each year).

But the Poor People’s Campaign is much more than statistics and facts. In a way, it is implementing what Bourdain was so masterful at: stripping away the theoretical by revealing the stories behind the statistics, the faces behind the facts, and, by turns, connecting us all.

America’s system of intentional inequality is, in essence, assisted suicide. But how many will jump into the maelstrom to help those who are not famous?
Reply Sun 17 Jun, 2018 04:49 pm
They are in Washington DC today. There have to be at least 30 people there.

0 Replies
cicerone imposter
Reply Sun 17 Jun, 2018 08:00 pm
eb, Nature played the dirty trick on us humans; it made sex pleasurable, and the human population keeps growing at an alarming rate. Even in third world countries where food and nutrition are scarce whether from famine or tyranical leadership. Even democracies struggle to answer the questions of inequality in wealth. Why is it that even though the US is the richest country in the world, we still struggle with homelessness and lack of food. Solutions are difficult even with the best of intentions. Our country still suffers from racism and inequality. These problems are here to stay for many more generations.
Reply Sun 17 Jun, 2018 08:12 pm
@cicerone imposter,
The Great Depression affected so many of the rich along with the poor that the shared experience made it possible for liberalism, The New Deal, to be born. The good will of enough of the rich mixed with the push for prosperity for everybody, for a limited time, until that good will wore thin. Then the impetus that made the common persons to prosper became less, and the current war on the poor slowly took shape. Martin Luther King clearly saw this as far back as the 1960s. It was his Poor People's Campaign that finally took his life. The goodwill generated by the Great Depression will never be repeated, because, as with GW Bush's Recession, the moneyed interests have learned how to put the full burden on the poor. The current incarnation of the Poor People's Campaign has a much higher mountain to climb than did King's. If my life could be as it was in the 60's, I would be marching in today's campaigns.
0 Replies
Reply Mon 18 Jun, 2018 08:34 pm
New Progressive Georgia County Commissioner Takes Oath on Malcolm X’s Autobiography
Georgia’s new Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Mariah Parker is a 26-year-old PhD student and rapper who took her oath of office on Malcolm X’s autobiography. She discusses how leftists can start transforming US politics at the local level, and how music can inform social justice
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