For Immediate Release
Rev. Don Gillett, Lexington - 859-396-5925, Tayna Fogle, Lexington - 859-492-0397, Reverend Megan Huston, Bowling Green - 270-996-7021, Pam McMichael, Louisville - 865-235-7077
Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign Shut Out of State Capitol Second Week in a Row
Media Availability in Frankfort with Rev. William Barber, National Co-Chair
Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
Frankfort, KY - Calling on lawmakers to address housing, worker issues, and public education, 150 poor people, clergy and advocates rallied in Frankfort Monday as the Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival continued its fifth straight week of nonviolent direct action. The action in Kentucky was part of a wave of protests hitting nearly 40 state capitals and Washington, D.C.
Kentucky is the only state in the country that has denied Poor People’s Campaign participants access to their statehouse. Rev. Barber is returning to Kentucky on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 and will be available to the media from 10:30 am – 11:30 am on the Capitol steps.
Bearing an eight-foot scroll with Kentucky and national statistics and demands, participants sought once again to enter the Capitol as a group, based on the constitutional right of peaceful assembly to redress grievances through ‘petition, address or remonstrance’. Citing the ‘two in, two out’ rule created specifically for the KY Poor People’s Campaign, protestors were denied access to the Rotunda by armed Kentucky State Police. Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign participants sang, prayed and shared stories as they kept the front doors open into the early evening to emphasize having been denied access.
The KY Poor People’s Campaign is demanding access to a public building that houses elected officials, including the Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General, Supreme Court, Senate President and Speaker of the House.
UN: POVERTY GETTING WORSE UNDER TRUMP
In 35 state capitals, poor people, clergy and advocates demanded the right to healthcare and a healthy environment for all. The protests Monday come days after U.N. officials sounded the alarm on the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine social safety net programs for the poor. On Saturday, Philip Alston, U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty, criticized rollbacks to healthcare and welfare benefits in the U.S. over the past year, which aim to “punish those who are not in employment and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship,” Alston said. He said that under the Trump administration and the current Congress, America’s poor are becoming more destitute.
The U.S. spends more per capita on health care than any other country, at approximately $10,348 per person per year, yet there are more than 32 million people who lack health insurance in America, including 4.6 million Black people, 10.2 million Latinx and 13.6 million Whites. And environmental degradation in the U.S. exacerbates the healthcare crisis hurting America’s poor the most: at least 4 million families in the U.S. are exposed to high levels of lead from drinking water and other sources, while an estimated 13.8 million U.S. households cannot afford water.
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THE UNFINISHED WORK OF 1968 POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN
Over the past two years, leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival have been laying the groundwork for this week’s protests. They carried out a listening tour in dozens of states across this nation, meeting with tens of thousands of people from El Paso, Texas to Marks, Mississippi to South Charleston, West Virginia. Led by the Revs. Barber and Theoharis, the campaign has gathered testimonies from hundreds of poor people and listened to their demands for a better society.
A Poor People’s Campaign Moral Agenda, announced in April, was drawn from this listening tour, while an audit of America conducted with allied organizations, including the Institute for Policy Studies and the Urban Institute, showed that, in many ways, we are worse off than we were in 1968.
Earlier this year, poor people, clergy and advocates traveled to statehouses all over the country and the U.S. Capitol to serve notice on lawmakers of the demand that they address the enmeshed evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and America’s distorted national morality. Lawmakers have failed to act, and this spring’s six weeks of nonviolent moral fusion direct action is yet another attempt to instruct them on these issues.
The Campaign draws on the unfinished work of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, reigniting the effort led by civil rights organizations, labor union and tenant unions, farm workers, Native American elders and grassroots organizers to foster a moral revolution of values. Despite real political wins in 1968 and beyond, the original Poor People’s Campaign was tragically cut short, both by Dr. King’s assassination and by the subversion of the coalition that sustained it. Still, the original vision and many of its followers did not go away.
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral is building a broad and deep national moral movement – rooted in the leadership of poor people and reflecting the great moral teachings – to unite our country from the bottom up. Coalitions have formed in 39 states and Washington, D.C. to challenge extremism locally and at the federal level and to demand a moral agenda for the common good.
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is co-organized by Repairers of the Breach, a social justice organization founded by the Rev. Barber; the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary; and hundreds of local and national grassroots groups across the country.
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