SOS holds caravan to ‘Vaccinate before it’s too late and Expand Medicaid” in Montgomery on Saturday, will move around the state

Vaccinations offered at SOS event

The SaveOurselves Movement for Justice and Democracy held a caravan to “Vaccinate before it’s too late and Expand Medicaid” in Montgomery, Alabama on Saturday, October 2, 2021. This is the beginning of a statewide effort to encourage unvaccinated people in Alabama to get the shot and encourage the state to expand Medicaid as the best way to protect people’s health during this and future pandemics.

The caravan started at the Alabama New South Office and went down the street to the Urban Fine Arts Dream Center at 3860 South Court Street.
Vaccinations were provided with help from UAB Medical Services.

Bill Harrison, SOS coordinator of the event said, “We leafleted the surrounding communities and had a good turnout. About 30 people were vaccinated, including some who received boosters. We served hot dogs and had a live band, all of which added to the attention in the community.”

“We were also able to register some people to vote at the event,” said
Harrison which is the first of a series of similar events that SOS will be sponsoring around the state.

At a press conference to kickoff SOS’s statewide caravan for vaccinations and Medicaid Expansion held at Noon Thursday on the steps of the State House, SOS and Black Lives Matter activists promoted the caravan.

Attorney and Civil Rights Activist Faya Toure said: “Alabama
learned this past week that more than 1,000 additional people in our state have died of COVID, which maintained Alabama as one of the deadliest states for COVID in the nation. This is avoidable, and this has to stop. Vaccinations save lives. All medical and scientific evidence supports this, and Alabamians must get vaccinated to save their own lives, those they love, and others.”

As State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said: “These aren’t numbers or stats. These are our families and friends and loved ones dying of COVID. . . At least 90 percent of these deaths are completely preventable with vaccination.”

Greene County Health System Board Chair and SOS Steering Committee member John Zippert said: “This caravan will take place in all corners of Alabama, starting this Saturday in Montgomery. Between Alabamian’s deadly low rate of vaccinated citizens and Alabama leaders’ ongoing failure to expand Medicaid, people in Alabama have died and are dying who should be alive and people will needlessly suffer with ongoing and long-term health issues.

“Also, hospitals across Alabama have closed while others are on the brink of closure with virtually every hospital across our state overrun with COVID cases, making them often unable to treat and save people with other health issues. This is deadly wrong on every level.”

Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan said: “In the year 2020, more people died than were born in Alabama. This hasn’t happened since World War II, and so many of these people did not have to die. With vaccinations and Medicaid expansion, Alabama can save lives.”

Members of SOS, BLM, and other human rights groups will begin a Statewide Caravan this Saturday To Vaccinate Before It Is Too Late and To Expand Medicaid to Save Lives and Hospitals. This caravan will hold events over the coming weeks and months in cities, towns and counties in every corner of Alabama.


SOS continues protests to demand Medicaid Expansion for Alabama

Montgomery, AL – Peaceful protestors – many in wheelchairs and walkers – gathered at the state Capitol to demand Medicaid expansion and were met by at least 32 armed law enforcement officers, not counting those in Montgomery City Police vehicles. The nearly three dozen armed police remained standing while speakers, including several young activists, continued to plea for Medicaid expansion in Alabama
Attorney and Civil Rights Activist Faya Toure said: “It is regretful that such a scene is taking place week after week at SOS events to save lives in a city with a Black Mayor and a Black police chief. Montgomery is known for its historic civil disobedience, which led to Montgomery’s having its first ever Black Mayor elected last year.”
Those present included leaders of SOS, the Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy, and other human rights and civil rights groups. They met at the historic King Memorial Dexter Avenue Baptist Church at 11:30 a.m. and marched up the street to the Alabama State Capitol facing a sea of armed city police officers for a noon press conference to continue to push for Medicaid expansion. Individuals with physical limitations participated in the march and the press conference and stressed the critical need to expand Medicaid to save lives, now more than ever with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Young leaders from across Alabama also participated in today’s events at the Church and the Capitol, including two who were previously arrested and jailed for civil disobedience misdemeanors or “good trouble” as Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed likes to quote the late Congressman John Lewis.
SOS and LGBTQ leader Judson Garner called out state leaders for finding money to build private mega prisons while refusing to move to save lives and save hospitals with Medicaid expansion. “We will be paying for these private prisons long after the Governor and other elected leaders have died. They can find billions to warehouse Alabamians in private facilities, but they can’t find a pittance to save lives, build our economy and improve every corner of our state with Medicaid expansion. This is wrong, and all young Alabamians – and all Alabamians – should be outraged.”
Kumasi Amin with Black Lives Matter and SOS said: “This movement consists of people of all ages, and we will not stop until Medicaid is expanded. We will continue to stand side by side, recognizing that the issues that affect our elders also affect us intergenerationally. Just as we watch our Black brothers and sisters being murdered at the hands and knees of law enforcement across this country, we also see people needlessly dying and suffering in Alabama because of the failure to expand Medicaid and the lack of health coverage and healthcare. I myself will lose my health coverage when I turn 26 this year. And Black people are dying throughout this city, state and nation because of policies at all levels of government.”
Alabama remains one of only 12 states in America that has taken no action to expand Medicaid. Because of the state’s ongoing failure to act, thousands of Alabamians have needlessly died in Alabama since Medicaid expansion was made available to all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. “This is unforgivable,” said Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan.
Travis Jackson with Black Lives Matter and SOS who is also a veteran of the Iraqi War said: “How can the State of Alabama find billions of dollars for private prisons and yet can’t find a penny to expand Medicaid? How can leaders of good faith justify such actions? There is no justification, and Alabama must expand Medicaid now.”
SOS leaders John Zippert and Johnny Ford, who have been a part of the movement to expand Medicaid from day one, also made remarks as well as brought individuals with physical limitations to participate in today’s events. Eutaw resident Gus Richardson urged the state, “Expand Medicaid NOW!”
Zippert said, “More than 340,000 Alabamians fall in the gap between current Medicaid eligibility and ability to qualify for subsidized health insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace. These uninsured Alabamians are placing financial pressure on all hospitals and causing many smaller rural hospitals to close. Expanding Medicaid in Alabama will save 700 lives a year of people dying because they lack health insurance coverage. With the coronavirus, many more people with underlying health conditions like asthma, diabetes, hypertension, obesity and others, which go untreated because they lack insurance, are suffering higher death rates from the pandemic.”
Ford said, “We welcome persons directly affected by the lack of Medicaid Expansion in the State of Alabama, to join us in our SOS weekly protests to urge Governor Ivey to do the right thing. We want more people directly impacted by the lack of health insurance in Alabama to testify at our SOS rallies and press conferences to put more pressure on the Governor.”
Annie Pearl Avery who was on the bridge in Selma, Alabama on Bloody Sunday in 1965 said: “I have been part of the Civil Rights Movement for six decades. From Birmingham to Montgomery to Selma to Atlanta to Jackson to D.C. and more, I have been on the front lines fighting for civil and human rights. Our fights directly led to Black mayors and other Black elected officials as well as Black police officers, including the nearly three dozen lined up in front of us now. I have also been fighting for Medicaid expansion from the beginning, and I’ll be here fighting for it until Alabama leaders do the right thing and save lives instead of taking lives.”
Persons interested in joining or supporting the SOS Movement for Justice and Democracy may contact SOS through the Internet and Facebook. Support can also be sent to the SOS Survival Fund, 838 South Court Street, Montgomery, Alabama 36104; phone 205-262-9032.