Newswire : Alabama Poor Peoples Campaign: State of Alabama drops charges against protestors for defacing Confederate monuments in Montgomery

 

Pictured : Chalk on monument  and Jefferson Davis monument

Rev. Carolyn Foster, Alabama Coordinator of the Poor People Campaign, A National Call for Moral Revival announced that the State of Alabama dismissed charges against 17 activists on the eve of their trial for tampering with and defacing Confederate monuments in Montgomery Alabama. “We are elated at this great victory for protestors arrested in weeks 4 and 6 of our forty days of moral witness of the Poor People’s Campaign in June of this year,” said Foster. Eight protestors were arrested on June 4, 2018 for tampering with the statue of Jefferson Davis, in front of the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama. After the Poor People Campaign held a rally in support of Medicaid expansion on the steps of the State Capitol, the eight protestors threw a sheet over the statue to symbolize Davis’ connection to the Klu Klux Klan. The protestors then squeezed catsup on to the sheet and statue to symbolize the bloodshed caused by the Confederacy, white supremacy and continuing racism. Monday, June 4 was the first business day after Jefferson Davis’ birthday on June 3. The State of Alabama is the last remaining state that observes Davis’ birthday as a state holiday, so state offices were closed that day. Two weeks later on June 18, nine protestors were arrested for throwing colored chalk on the Confederate Memorial, also on the grounds of the State Capitol. The 17 protestors were part of over 3,000 people arrested nationwide for peaceful civil disobedience in connection with the Poor Peoples Campaign. The group was scheduled to go to trail on Monday. October 1, 2018 in Montgomery Circuit Court before the cases were abruptly dismissed by state prosecutors on Friday. The group was preparing a classic “free speech defense” of their actions before the dismissal of charges made it unnecessary. Rev. Foster concluded her press release by saying, :”We must continue to work for equity and justice. There are a number of ways to become actively involved and stand up against systemic racism, systemic poverty, militarism, ecological devastation and confront today’s distorted moral narrative. Somebody’s hurting our brothers and sisters and we won’t be silent anymore !” Contact the Alabama Poor People Campaign for more information.

Poor Peoples Campaign holds Rally and March in Washington, D. C. to mark end of initial 40 days of protest and begin the next phase of ‘A National Moral Revival’

By John Zippert, Co-Publisher

Pictured John Zippert, Faya Rose Toure and Hank Sanders at
a Poor Peoples Campaign Rally

On Saturday, June 23rd thousands of people from across the nation came to the Mall in Washington D. C. for a Rally and March to mark the end of the initial phase of the revitalized Poor Peoples Campaign and plan for the future.

The Rally heard from the leaders of the Poor Peoples Campaign, those of national recognition and those who have emerged from the past three years of organizing at the grass roots level. The rally was opened with a prayer from the San Carlos Apache Nation, an indigenous group that prayed, sang and danced to a traditional drumbeat.

Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the Campaign said to the assembled crowd, “You are the founding members of the 21st century Poor Peoples Campaign. This is not a commemoration of what happened 50 years ago but this is a re-inauguration of the struggle. We have had 3,000 arrested for civil disobedience in 30 state capitals over the past forty days of protest since Mothers Day. We are moving forward and if the system resists change then we will have to shut-it-down.”
Rex. Liz Theoharis, a Presbyterian minister and head of the Kairos Center for Peace and Justice and co-chair of the Poor Peoples Campaign said, “ We have 140 million poor and working poor people in this country and they are seeking justice and fairness in issues that affect their daily lives, access to health care, a $15 an hour minimum wage, free tuition at colleges, an end to our war economy and ecological devastation in our communities.”
There were two massive banners hanging from the stage saying ”Fight Poverty – Not Poor People” which sum up the theme of the campaign and rally to date. There were many songs including some civil rights standards but also new songs like ‘When you lift from the bottom – Everybody rises’.
There were speakers like Rev. Jesse Jackson, actor Danny Glover, Essence Magazine publisher, Susan Taylor, but there were also many new leaders and organizers of the Poor Peoples Campaign, A Call for a National Moral Revival. One of the strongest speakers was Louise Brown, who led the Charleston, South Carolina hospital workers strike 50 years ago and is still battling for workers rights.
Rev. Barber moderated a discussion by grassroots organizers in the five thematic areas of the campaign: systemic racism, systemic poverty, labor and workers rights, ecological devastation and ending the war economy and militarism.
After the speeches, more than 10,000 marched from the Mall up to the U. S. Capitol building and back. A smaller representative group from the Poor Peoples Campaign went into the capitol and brought a letter of the Campaign’s demands for every Senator and Congressperson.
About twenty people from Alabama were part of the delegation including Rev. Carolyn Foster of Greater Birmingham Ministries, who is co-chair of the state committee. More than 50 people from Alabama participated in civil disobedience during the initial 40-day campaign since mid-June. Many were present at the rally and march.
During the march, many of us walked behind a banner that attracted much attention, which said, “We are from Alabama, and we are ashamed of Attorney General Jeff Sessions”.
Riding home from the event with Alabama participants, all said they were pleased to be part of founding this new movement and ready to take part in the next steps as they are developed and implemented.
Any one seeking more information or wishing to join may go to: www.poorpeoplescampaign.org.

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.