The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Charles Idelson, 510-273-2232,,Jennifer Flynn, 212-537-0575,Carl Ginsburg, 917-405-1060

DC Press Event, Vigils at Legislative Offices in 22 Cities

Activists to Call on Congress to Honor Dr. King’s Fight for Economic Justice with Tax on Wall Street


Nurses, AIDS activists, students, transit workers, and other community activists will call on Congressional offices in 22 cities from Virginia to California April 4 - and a Washington DC press conference - to step up the call for a tax on Wall Street speculation to fund programs to redress economic inequality and address other basic needs.

April 4 marks the 46th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was slain in the midst of a campaign for economic justice that, in his last year, included an anti-poverty campaign and worker justice.

Activists say a tax on Wall Street speculation, also known as the Robin Hood tax and embodied in HR 1579, the Inclusive Prosperity Act, is a vital step to fund the programs needed to continue the cause that Dr. King fought to achieve.

The actions kick off with a Washington D.C. press conference at 10 a.m. at the House Elm Tree area just across from the U.S. Capitol building.

HR 1579 author Rep. Keith Ellison, a leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, will be joined at the press event by Rev. Rodney Sadler, a leader of the Moral Monday movement that has rocked North Carolina and other Southern cities, and Bill Lucy, president emeritus of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists who was with Dr. King in Memphis in April, 1968.

Sandy Falwell, RN, a national vice president of National Nurses United, the largest U.S. organization of nurses, and Amanda Lugg, director of advocacy for the African Services Committee in Harlem, NY and a board member of Health GAP (Global Access Project) are among other expected participants.

Beyond Washington, the activists will hold vigils in Dr. King's memory outside Congressional offices, followed by a visit to the legislator asking them to pledge to support HR 1579 to raise the revenue needed to fight economic inequality.

Vigils and Congressional visits are planned in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, Orlando, Boston, San Diego, San Antonio, Las Vegas, West Palm Beach, Fl., Bangor, Me., Herndon, Va., Pawtucket, R.I., Ann Arbor, Mi., Brownsville and El Paso, Tx., Dayton, Oh., and Concord, Modesto, Oxnard, Rancho Cordova, and San Jose, Ca.

"This is America's opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have nots," Dr. King once said. "The question is whether America will do it."

Rev. Sadler: 'Robin Hood Tax, an idea whose time has come.'

"The idea of the Robin Hood Tax is an idea whose time has come," says Rev. Sadler. "For far too long the wealthiest among us have been enjoying the fruits of the labor of the poorest among us without reaching back to offer them a hand up. The Robin Hood Tax is a simple idea that would provide considerable resources to make the lives of so many at the bottom rungs of the economic latter that much better. "

"Dr. King reminded us that every human being is a child of God made in God's image, and therefore deserves to be respected as such," Rev. Sadler noted. "This tax will allow us a nation to offset human suffering without increasing our national debt and provide a modicum of relief for the least, the lost, and the otherwise left-out."

"Nearly half a century later, poverty and inequality remains a persistent blight on our nation," said NNU's Sandy Fallwell. " As nurses we see the pain of patients who are struggling to survive with un-payable medical bills while trying to find the resources their families also need for their daily life. HR 1579 is an essential step to providing the resources our communities need for good jobs, quality health care, and fighting poverty and inequality and fulfilling Dr. King's dream."

"If you ever want to see just how corporate interests are allowed to rise above the interest of the people and of justice, look at the global AIDS pandemic," said Jennifer Flynn, Managing Director, Health GAP (Global Access Project).

"Systemic racism and homophobia enables elected officials to turn a blind eye to the corporate pharmaceutical industry while they price lifesaving medications out of reach for millions around the world just to protect their enormous profits. This Congress can correct course and stand on the right side of history by passing a Robin Hood Tax that will generate enough revenue to actually end the AIDS pandemic," Flynn said.

HR 1579 would set a small fee, similar to the sales tax most Americans pay on consumer goods, of just 50 cents on every $100 of stock trades, and smaller amounts on transactions involving bonds and derivatives with revenues available for jobs, healthcare, education, and the international fight against HIV/AIDS and climate change.

Major sponsors of HR 1579 include NNU, Health GAP, National People's Action, with endorsers from 150 national and local community organizations.

HR 1579 is patterned after a similar tax being implemented by 11 European countries, and already in place in every major financial world market except the U.S. It targets the wealthiest of the wealthy, the bankers and brokers whose gambling broke our economy, and the top 1 percent who own most of the nation's stocks and bonds, says the Robin Hood Tax Campaign.

The U.S. Robin Hood Tax would set a 0.5% tax on the trading of stocks, 50 cents on every $100 of trades, and lesser rates on trading in bonds, derivatives and currencies in the U.S. It marks the return of a tax on financial transactions in place in this country during the years 1914 to 1966. Some form of the financial tax is in place today in more than 40 countries. Who's behind it? We are Nobel Prize-winning economists, former US Vice Presidents and founders of Microsoft. We are Ronald Reagan's Budget Director, the UN's Secretary General and the Archbishop of Capetown. We are union members, nurses, small business owners, community organizers, faith leaders, AIDS activists, environmentalists, movie stars and musicians, and we are part of a global movement of more than 220 million people in 25 countries who are fighting for a Robin Hood Tax - a small tax on Wall Street trades. We are a force to be reckoned with, and we are demanding justice.