SOS continues the struggle for Medicaid Expansion with demonstrations in Montgomery

SOS members kneel in prayer placing banner saying “Black Lives Matter
and Expand Medicaid” in the street in front of the State Capitol.

The SaveOurselves Movement for Justice and Democracy has continued its fight for Governor Ivey and the Alabama Legislature to Expand Medicaid especially in this time of the coronavirus pandemic.
On August 6, 2020, on the 55th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, about 50 members of SOS held a demonstration and press conference on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery.
Despite the presence of over twenty Montgomery Police Department officers, SOS members carried a banner saying “Black Lives Matter and Expand Medicaid” and placed the banner in the street in front of the Capitol, where its members had previously been arrested in July for writing those same words in the street with yellow spray paint.
On August 20, 2020 SOS members held a “Shout Out to Save Lives” in front of the Governor’s Mansion in the Garden District of downtown Montgomery. When SOS demonstrators arrived at Noon, the police had barricaded the sidewalk in front of the entrance to the Governor’s Mansion for 400 feet.
SOS set up its speaking podium on the sidewalk in viewing and hearing distance of the Mansion and began our shout-out for Medicaid Expansion despite the barricades and the police insistence that we move our cars that were parked across the street from the Mansion or risk having them towed.
Former Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee, who also serves as Co-Chair of the SOS Health Committee, said “Health rights are the Civil Rights issue of our times. In this time of COVID-19 there is a need for great Federal and state support of health care for all people but especially people of color who are dying at disproportionately higher rates.”
Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of the Ordinary People’s Society in Dothan, Alabama and an advocate for prisoners, said “I do not understand why Gov. Ivey and the State Legislature is ready to accept money from Federal sources for building prisons and every other purpose but will not accept funds to expand Medicaid. We must also work to release prisoners from jails and prisons so they will not contract the coronavirus.”
Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan said: “An Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) poll released three weeks ago shows a majority of the people of Alabama – Democrats and Republicans and Independents –support Medicaid expansion. Alabama is one of only 12 states in the nation that has failed to act. The people of Alabama know we need Medicaid expansion and want Medicaid expansion in Alabama NOW. All it takes is leadership.”
Greene County Health System Board Chair and Co-Publisher of The Greene County Democrat John Zippert said: “There is a reason why the Alabama Hospital Association has been campaigning and fighting so hard for the expansion of Medicaid. Medicaid expansion will not only save lives and improve the health of those Alabamians who need and should be getting health care in our state. It will also save Alabama hospitals, both rural and urban, which Alabama has been killing at an alarming rate. Every time a hospital closes in a community, all people with insurance as well as those without insurance are detrimentally affected, and too many times this results in failed health and death. This is wrong, and Governor Ivey is a murderer for intentionally refusing to expand Medicaid. All it takes is leadership to end this wrong.”
Since July 23th, 2020, 13 Alabamians have been arrested by the Montgomery City Police for civil disobedience misdemeanors to save lives in our state, improve health in Alabama and secure justice for people in Alabama. They include: Kumasi Amin with Black Lives Matter; former Tuskegee Mayor and state Representative Johnny Ford; Community Advocate and Civil Rights activist Karen Jones; attorney and Civil Rights activist Faya Rose Toure; Board Chair of the Greene County Health Systems and Co-Publisher of The Greene County Democrat John Zippert; Stef Bernal-Martinez with the Poor People’s Campaign; attorney Ellen Degnan with the Southern Poverty Law Center; Judson Garner with Black Lives Matter and SOS; Yomi Goodall, a community leader based in Montgomery and Selma; Alabama Law Professor Emerita and attorney Martha Morgan; Hank Sanders, an attorney and former 35-year Alabama State Senator; Dana Sweeney with Alabama Appleseed; and Queen Tate, a film specialist.  
Law enforcement, after calling their superiors, originally assured the peaceful protesters at the Capitol on July 23rd that no one would be arrested. Then hours later City Police issued two arrest warrants for Black leaders Karen Jones and Johnny Ford that night. When SOS pointed out the next day the Montgomery City Police only issued writ of arrests for two Black people, instead of summons as advised by the Governor in her 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Proclamation, and also not for the White man who painted “Expand Medicaid” on a small patch of pavement with no traffic in front of the Capitol at the same peaceful event.
The next evening three more writs of arrest were issued, including for John Zippert. Those five, who learned of their arrests from the media and not the City Police, voluntarily turned themselves in on signature bonds on July 27th and were held in a jail with City employees and inmates who were not masked for more than five hours. 
 Nine additional misdemeanor arrests were made on July 30th by the Montgomery City Police, with five of those arrests being for people simply standing on the pavement in front of the Capitol and nothing more. While in custody on July 27th, only two individuals who turned themselves in on misdemeanors were strip searched – Black women Karen Jones and Faya Toure. During the later July 30th arrests, the City started strip searching White man Judson Garner but suddenly halted that.
City Police also threatened to arrest two Whites on July 30th for legally parking in a public parking space only after they realized they were with members of SOS. Similar intimidating actions by the City of Montgomery Police continued today even though all protestors were peaceful. The City again said, as they did on July 23rd, that no arrests would be made today, and no arrests have been made and no arrest warrants have been issued thus far. SOS and the other groups will continue their work to ensure Medicaid is expanded in Alabama so no one else has to needlessly die due to inaction by Alabama elected officials.

SOS holds Juneteenth march across the bridge in Selma

Some of the speakers at the rally in Voting Rights Memorial Park after march across the bridge
Marchers on Juneteenth, cross the Pettus Bridge, asking that its name be changed

The Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy, the NAACP, ANSC, and other organizations sponsored a Juneteenth celebration in Selma, Alabama which culminated in a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and rally in the Voting Rights Memorial Park at the foot of the bridge on the Eastern side.
The June 19 – Juneteenth celebration honors the end of slavery in the United States when the Union Army reached Galveston, Texas in 1865, four months after the Confederate surrender in Virginia. Union forces brought the news that enslaved Black people were free under the Emancipation Proclamation.
The SOS march across the bridge had several purposes including calling for a change in the name of the Pettus Bridge because it is named for a Confederate general and grand dragon of the Klu Klux Klan.
Other purposes of the march were to support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, for criminal justice reform to end police brutality; Expansion of Medicaid in Alabama and an end to healthcare disparities in the treatment of Black and other people of color, especially during the coronavirus pandemic; and support for the ‘Vote or Die Campaign’ to increase voter participation and end voter suppression.
The SOS march supported the demand to change the name of the bridge from Edmund Pettus to the ‘Freedom Bridge’. “We are aware that there is a national petition drive to rename the bridge for Congressman John Lewis, who was beaten on the bridge on March 7, 1965 – Bloody Sunday. We feel that it should not be re-named for one person, since there were so many leaders and grassroots foot-soldiers involved over many decades, in a movement for voting rights. It would be better to have a generic name,” said Hank Sanders, SOS Steering Committee member and local leader.
Earlier in the week on Monday night, June 15, 2020, SOS supported a march and rally in Tuskegee to call for the removal of the Confederate statue in the center of town. Former Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee said, “We have been trying for more than thirty years to remove this statue and vestige of white supremacy from the town.”
At the end of the rally, the Selma chapter of SOS distributed Afrocentric and Black History books to children. This was to kickoff of a special reading program that ultimately will lead to the presentation of scholarships to youth participating in the reading program.

Rev. Kenneth Glasgow says “God had prepared us for this attack”

Special to the Democrat By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

 

Glasglow.jpg

On Friday, May 4, 2017, The Ordinary Peoples Society (TOPS) of Dothan, Alabama held its 17th Annual Founders and Unity Day. The dinner was attended by 200 people who were honoring Rev. Kenneth Glasgow on his 53rd birthday, the TOPS organization for its work with the community and incarcerated people around the country and ‘Moma Tina’, Glasgow’s mother, for her work in sustaining the organization and helping to feed hungry and homeless people in the area.
The dinner came in the shadows of Rev. Glasgow recent arrest and suspicious charge of ‘capital murder’ in the March 26th death of Breunia Jennings. Rev. Glasgow was asked by Jamie Townes, a friend to help him find his car that was taken. Glasgow, Townes and two others went to search for the car. They spotted the car and then the car rammed into them.
Townes jumped out of Glasgow’s car, drew a gun and shot Jennings. When the police came they arrested Townes and Glasgow and released the other two persons. Glasgow, a nationally recognized activitist on prisoner issues was charged with ‘capital murder’ under an Alabama statute which says unless you actively try to prevent a crime you are an accessory and implicit in it.
National and state organizations like the NAACP, Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy, ANSC, ADC and others challenged the suspicious nature of Kenneth Glasgow’s arrest and are working to have the charges dismissed. These groups and others packed the Dothan Courthouse for Glasgow’s preliminary hearing on April 6, 2018.
Circuit Judge Benjamin Lewis sent Glasgow’s case to the Houston County (AL) Grand Jury but also made the unusual decision in a capital case to grant a bail request of $75,000. Glasgow has been out of jail on bail since April 9, 2018.
Friday’s dinner was one of his first opportunities to make a public statement to supporters about his case. “ We expected this kind of attack because of the work we have done on prisoners rights, our fights against police brutality and mass incarceration of Black young people. We have been preparing for this. God has been preparing us for this kind of attack.
“We were ready for this. We were prepared. When we got to jail, we started organizing and had a prayer circle for the DA, the Police Chief and others. WE must get beyond this to fight the real issues.”
There were other speakers at the dinner that supported Glasgow and TOPS including Dorsey Nunn of ‘All Of Us or None, a California group that initiated the ‘Ban the Box’ campaign; Asha Bandele, with a New York City prisoners campaign, State Senator Hank Sanders of Selma, former Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee and others.
Rev. Glasgow said that he needs people to continue to help support the work of TOPS (The Ordinary People’s Society, 403 West Powell Street, Dothan, Alabama 36303; phone 334-671-2882 office and 334-791-2433 cell; West Powell Street. Dothan, AL 36303) and support his Legal Defense Committee by going to this website: http://www.glasgowdefensecommittee.org.