Seven moral witnesses arrested in fourth week of Poor Peoples Campaign demonstrations in Montgomery at the State Capitol

 

Poor Peoples Campaign ‘moral witnesses’ at Jefferson Davis statue in front of State Capitol. (Photo by K.C. Bailey)

The fourth week of civil disobedience by the Poor Peoples Campaign, A National Call for Moral Revival came to the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery on Monday June 4, 2018. This week the Poor Peoples Campaign focused on issues of health care, expanding Medicaid and environmental justice.
Seven moral witnesses were arrested for throwing a shroud over the statute of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, which stands inn front of the Alabama State Capitol. The witness wrote “Traitor” and “Shame” on the shroud.

They were arrested when they squirted ketchup on the shroud and statute to symbolize the blood that has been shed by poor and Black people from slavery until today because of white supremacy and inequitable public policies.
Coincidentally, Monday June 4 was the official state observance of Jefferson Davis’ Birthday (actually on June 3) as a state holiday. Alabama is the only state left in the nation that still celebrates this day as a holiday for state workers.
The arrests came at the end of a rally attended by 150 people who were concerned about issues of health and environmental degradation in Alabama that affect poor people. The failure of the State of Alabama to expand Medicaid to those, whose incomes are up to 138% of poverty, means that 300,000 mostly working people are excluded from the insurance benefits of the Affordable Care Act.
Alabama’s decision not to extend Medicaid means a loss of billions of dollars to the state in health care, the failure to create 30,000 new jobs in health care fields and the intensification of pressure on rural hospitals who must serve people who do not have insurance without a source of payment. Many rural hospitals have closed and others are in danger of closing because of the resources they are losing because Medicaid has not been expanded to help pay the health care costs of the poor.
Several persons testified at the rally about their own personal experiences with the health care system in Alabama and the difficulties they face in securing critically needed health care and medicines in the state. Some testified that their relatives had died because they could not afford health care under the present circumstances.
At the conclusion of the rally, a smaller group of the moral witnesses surrounded the statute of Jefferson Davis, to help celebrate his birthday by bringing attention to the connections between slavery, traitorous acts of the Confederacy, Jim Crow laws, the current problems of massive incarceration of Black youth, police brutality and the public policies of neglect, highlighted by the unwillingness of states like Alabama to extend Medicaid.
Seven of the moral witnesses: William Gaston, Dana Ellis, Rev. James Rutledge Jr., Tony Algood, Jimmie ILachild, Rev. Kenneth Tyrone King and John Zippert (Co-Publisher of the Greene County Democrat), were arrested, handcuffed and sent to the Montgomery County Jail for processing. They were charged with Criminal Tampering – 2nd Degree, a misdemeanor offense, for pouring ketchup on the statue. The Poor Peoples Campaign bailed the seven out of jail by 9:30 PM.
These seven moral witnesses join hundreds of other people from around the country who have been arrested since the revival of the Poor People Campaign in mid-May. The Campaign is led by Rev. William Barber of North Carolina, who is working to focus attention on the unfinished business of ending poverty and inequity in our nation. The civil disobedience campaign will continue for two more weeks and then the Poor Peoples Campaign will decide on its next moves and strategy to generate a movement to end poverty and injustice.
For more information go to www.poorpeoplescampaign.org.

 

 

Rev. William Barber questions the Biblical basis of Roy Moore’s extremist Christian views and urges Alabamians ‘to vote like never before in Dec. 12 Special Election’

 

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Rev. William Barber speaking at Mass Meeting in Birmingham.
Faya Rose Toure holds “Vote Or Die” sign in background.

Rev. William Barber II was in Birmingham, Alabama this weekend to conduct training for people interested in joining the ‘Poor Peoples Campaign – A National Call for Moral Revival’.
Barber took time out of a busy schedule preparing for a season of protest activities in 2018 to recognize the unfinished work of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1968 Poor Peoples Campaign, to join local religious leaders in denouncing Senate candidate Roy Moore’s extremist religious views and “unbearable hypocrisy”.

Over 100 Alabama pastors, half from mainline Protestant denominations, have signed a letter stating that Moore is “not fit for public office”. Rev. Barber signed and endorsed the letter at a press conference at Tabernacle Baptist Church in the Smithville neighborhood of Birmingham in the shadows of Legion Field.
“We have been concerned about Roy Moore’s policy positions long before his recent transgressions endangering Alabama’s young children, came to light” said Barber. “We ask Moore and others who share his views to show us the Scriptures, where it says that we need more tax cuts for the wealthy! There is nothing Christian about Moore’s beliefs and his twisted view of Christianity. He is preaching a gospel of lies and greed that is not what Jesus and the Bible are all about.”
“Moore wants to go to the U. S. Senate to vote against the Affordable Care Act and we know that thousands of Alabamians have been denied coverage and hundreds will die because they do not have health insurance. If the Bible teaches anything about Jesus, it shows he was a man who provided free health care. Ask if he charged any of the lepers or invalids for healing and caring for them,” said Barber.
Moore’s position against living wages, his support for discrimination against Muslims and homosexual people, his opposition to public education, all show that he is opposed to justice and well being for poor people in Alabama.
“There are two thousand verses in the Bible, New and Old Testament, that speak about loving and caring for the poor, treating your neighbor as you want to be treated, having mercy for the poor, sick and oppressed; how can people like Moore stand for public policy decisions that oppose all of these basic tenants of the Bible,” said Barber.
“My advice to people in Alabama, Black and White, is that you get out and vote like you never have before to defeat the views and policies of a man like Roy Moore,” said Rev. Barber.

Poor Peoples Campaign

Rev. Barber, who previously served as the head of the NAACP in North Carolina, is the primary lecturer of the Repairers of the Breach, which has joined forces with the Kairos Center at the Riverside Church in New York City to develop the ‘Poor Peoples Campaign-A National Call for Moral Revival’.
“This will not be a 50 year commemoration of the original Poor Peoples Campaign of 1968, but a re-engagement and a re-consecration of the campaign to bring justice and a moral revival to the people of our nation,” said Rev. Barber.
“Our campaign is organized around five; major themes, 1. Ending and confronting systemic racism, especially as manifested in the suppression of voting rights; 2. Ending poverty; 3. Stopping the endless war economy; 4. Ending ecological disasters and their effects on people and communities; and 5 Creating a new morality and concern for all people.
“We are planning to recruit 1,000 people in Alabama and in each of 25 states and the District of Columbia, who are willing to commit civil disobedience, around a common set of demands, over a forty (40) day period next Spring from Mother’s Day – May 13 until June 21, 2018, in state capitals and Washington, D. C. The campaign will come out of community study and political education around the issues, which concern poor, low income and working people,” said Barber.
All of the details of the campaign have not been worked out yet and will flow organically in a movement way from the participants, issues and circumstances of the struggle as it unfolds in communities and states from the bottom-up.
At a Mass Meeting on Sunday night at Tabernacle Baptist Church, over 300 pledge cards were collected from people agreeing to support the Poor Peoples Campaign including 138 people who say they are ready to commit civil disobedience in support of a national moral revival.
Persons interested in joining the campaign can contact: www.poorpeoplescampaign.org to get more information and sign a pledge card on line.