"Something's wrong in America."

So declared Rev. William Barber, co-chair with Liz Theoharis of The Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, at an event outside the Capitol in Washington, D.C. yesterday, to mark Day One of 40 days of nonviolent action and advocacy in pursuit of meaningful and lasting solutions to poverty.
The crowd parted and Barber and Theoharis led a procession of activists trained in civil disobedience toward the street, where they were prepared to be arrested. Two-by-two the demonstrators walked, representing nearly three-dozen states and Native American reservations.

The group sang hymns and chanted their demands as they marched toward the police, who had formed a blockade. Barber, in his purple robe, was the first to breach the line and was arrested. Dozens more followed as hundreds more cheered them on from the steps of the Library of Congress. Theoharis was the last to be arrested.

Similar scenes were replicated across the country in North Carolina, Missouri and California. In total, the Poor People's Campaign said 1,000 activists were arrested nationwide.

The group hopes their action will draw attention to what they say is an urgent need to alleviate poverty and improve living conditions for millions of Americans. In 2016, nearly 41 million Americans lived in poverty, according to the U.S. Census. But the organizers point to research by the Institute for Policy Studies that found nearly 140 million people are either poor or low-income when other factors are considered, including expenses on food and housing.

The campaign's list of demands are long and aspirational. It includes federal and state minimum wage laws "commensurate for the 21st century economy," relief from student-loan debt, a repeal of the 2017 GOP tax cuts legislation, restoration of the Voting Rights Act, an end to mass incarceration, a fracking ban, protection of public lands, a cessation of U.S. military involvement, and universal healthcare.

...The protesters will return each Monday for the next 40 days. Every week will focus on a different group of marginalized people. This week the protests and activities will focus on child poverty, women, and people with disabilities. Other themes include racism, veterans, war, and the environment.

At the end of the 40 days of protest, on 23 June, the activists from around the country will gather in Washington for a mass demonstration at the U.S. Capitol. Organizers say the 40-days of action are just the beginning of what they hope will be a multi-year campaign that will include voter mobilization and other efforts.
This is an amazing piece of resistance — and a critically important one. Because something is indeed wrong in America.

There's something wrong with one of the wealthiest countries in the world failing to provide basic necessities for all of its people, especially when we are creating new billionaires and throwing away tons of food every day. There is more than enough to go around, and yet instead of redistributing excess to people who need it, the power-brokers hoard or dispose of resources.

Nothing could more perfectly, terribly exemplify what's wrong in America than the fact that we would rather throw perfectly good food in the garbage than "give handouts" to hungry children.

And, yes, there are logistical barriers to getting excess resources to the people who need them, but the bigger barrier is will.

On May 8, in protest of Republicans once again seeking to defund food stamps, I tweeted:

If there is any question about what the real barrier to ending scarcity in the United States is, take a look at the responses to those two tweets.

Nature doesn't believe any living being is 'entitled' to live. Survival is always earned or a gift.

So does someone else OWE them the food in question? Did they earn it? Who is handing out the daily rations in the end? Wheres my free stuff?

Poor people are fat. Think about that.

You're entitled to work the hours required producing the food and bottling the water that they need, but you're too busy not putting your money where your big fat mouth is.

How about this. We republicans keep the poor and the democrats move the hell out of the USA? We can take care of all the poor and work to get them jobs or start a buisness or farm. You democrat pukes are the ones we can't afford. GET OUT!

Let's be clear about THIS: Nothing that must be provided by someone else is, or ever could be, a right. That's called slavery.

Et cetera. My suggestion that we should provide food and water to our fellow countrypeople who don't have access to it was met with aggressive contempt, resentment, selfishness, ignorance, and bigotry. With profound misunderstandings of what the role of government is even supposed to be. With literal arguments about how Jesus Christ didn't give handouts.

Something's wrong in America all right.

The lack of basic kindness was extraordinarily depressing, though entirely unsurprising. That very vacuum lies at the center of modern conservatism.

I honestly don't know how we change that, or if it can be changed.

But I take up space in solidarity with William Barber, Liz Theoharis, and the Poor People's Campaign. I hope they find a way.

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