Capitol police move to arrrest Debt Collective protesters

Capitol Police prepare to arrest demonstrators at a May 22, 2024 Debt Collective rally in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Debt Collective)

Activists Arrested as Debt Collective Demands US 'Fund Education, Not Genocide'

"Our government always finds money for war, but never finds enough when it comes to canceling student debt or funding public education," Rep. Cori Bush told the Capitol Hill rally.

More than a dozen members of the debtors' union and activist group Debt Collective were arrested Wednesday at a Capitol Hill protest demanding that U.S. President Joe Biden "fund education, not genocide."

Debt Collective members marched from the U.S. Department of Education to the Capitol, where they unfurled banners with messages including "You Are Not a Loan" and "1,700,000,000,000" the approximate dollar amount of all U.S. educational debt. Democratic Congresswomen Cori Bush of Missouri and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan attended and addressed the rally.

"As we stand here today, there are 43 million people whose collective debt burden stands at a staggering $1.75 trillion dollars. Shame," said Bush. "At the same time, our defense budget is over $880 billion per year, which could pay for our student debt crisis in two years."

"If we prioritize our communities the way we prioritize endless war, we could wipe out all student debt, we could end the unhoused crisis, we can fund Medicare for All, we could fund the Green New Deal, and we could provide universal school meals," she continued. "Instead, we are constantly, constantly told... by our leaders that 'we don't have the money. How are ya gonna pay for it? We don't have the money to invest in our own people and our people's basic needs.'"

But these are the same people, the same leaders, who will easily and readily send tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer money for endless war and genocide," Bush added.

Tlaib said that "it seems like over and over again, our country seems to find funds... when it comes to endless wars."

"Why is it that our president... moves with urgency to use every single tool at his disposal to bypass Congress to send more weapons to that genocidal maniac Netanyahu," she added—a reference to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanuyahu—"and why can't we do that same thing for the 40 million Americans still waiting for help with their student loans?"

Debt Collective said ahead of the event that "we are calling on the president to use his executive powers to liberate student debtors, not accelerate war."

"The president of the United States holds great power. President Biden has used his authority to send billions of dollars of weapons to Israel," the group noted. "Israel's military offensive has cost at least 34,000 lives in less than a year."

Debt Collective continued:

And yet, when it comes to relieving 45 million Americans of crushing student debt—an action that would not cost the federal government a dime but would actually boost the economy for everyone—President Biden has held back. Although has used his executive authority swiftly and with conviction to approve millions of dollars emergency weapons sales to Israel, he refused to take bold, urgent action to cancel all student debt.

"Instead, Biden has slow-walked student debt cancellation through bureaucratic rulemaking processes, scattering drops of relief here and there along the way. One in 10 debtors have had their debts canceled; 9 in 10 are still waiting," the group said. "With a flick of a pen, President Biden could cancel all student debt. Why the delay?"

"We demand the president use his executive powers to cancel all student debt, and to do so with intensity, speed, and moral conviction not use those powers to authorize Israel's destruction of Palestine," Debt Collective added. "Invest in education, divest from genocide."

"The rally comes as Biden is running for reelection against former President Donald Trump, a Republican expected to roll backthe Democrat's limited actions so far to provide student debt relief.

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