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Channeling MLK's 'Beloved Community,' Vigils Call for Robin Hood Tax

Activists demand that lawmakers pass bill taxing Wall Street financial transactions

"How do we Honor MLK & cure economic inequality in America? Pass H.R. 1464!" (Photo: Health GAP/Twitter)

"How do we Honor MLK & cure economic inequality in America? Pass H.R. 1464!" (Photo: Health GAP/Twitter)

A broad coalition that includes registered nurses, organized labor, AIDS activists, college students, and clergy members on Wednesday staged vigils outside of Congressional offices across the country calling on lawmakers to pass a 'Robin Hood Tax' in order to reverse the country's "crippling inequality."

The day of action was called to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—who was killed 47 years ago on April 4, 1968 while visiting Memphis, Tennessee to support striking garbage workers.

"Inequality in health, still rampant hunger, homelessness and poverty, all critical causes of Dr. King’s life, continue to devastate far too many families," said registered nurse Deborah Burger, co-president of National Nurses United, which took part in the protest. "We need the Robin Hood Tax to protect our health, our families, our communities, and our nation."

The Robin Hood Tax Campaign supports a bill introduced last month by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) saying it reflects King's idea for a "beloved community," and is calling on lawmakers to follow suit.

The legislation, known as the "Inclusive Prosperity Act" (HR. 1464), would raise billions of dollars by taxing Wall Street transactions including the sale of stocks, bonds and derivatives. The tax imposed would be 0.5 percent on stocks, 0.1 percent on bonds, and 0.005 percent on derivatives or other investments. 

"America's working families need their country to invest in them again,” Rep. Ellison said in a statement. "The money raised from a wafer-thin tax on Wall Street’s high frequency trades could raise hundreds of billions of dollars to invest in our families, protect our environment and increase opportunity for all Americans."

Calling the tax a "step towards a society that puts people and the planet first," George Goehl, executive director of National People's Action, said in a statement: "Rev. Dr. King boldly proclaimed that we as a nation must undergo a ‘radical revolution of values’ to become a society that puts people ahead of profits. With the gap between the rich and everyone else rising to new heights, we must heed Dr. King’s words now more than ever."

Photographs from the vigils were shared widely online while the list of locations where events are being held is available here.

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