The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is telling people to ignore what they call “deceptive orders from governors to return to a job that’s a possible death sentence” and instead, stay inside and organize for a fight to save their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Don’t believe the governors who are lying,” the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, campaign co-chair, said at a digital mass meeting. “They have lied to us about health care. They’ve lied to us about racist voter suppression. They’ve lied to us about tax cuts. There’s no way in the world we should believe them when they say it’s time to reopen. … This is lethal.”
The campaign has announced a drive called “Stay in Place. Stay Alive. Organize” as it demands that states not reopen until it’s safe for all to return to work. The campaign’s leaders, Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis say that many workers have never left their jobs since they were declared essential. Barber and Theoharis believe others should put their personal safety ahead of the “selfish orders from governors”, some of whom, according to PPC, only want to reopen to avoid paying unemployment.
“America can’t address the moral crisis of poverty without addressing healthcare. Some 140 million people in the U.S. – or more than 43 percent – live in poverty or are low-wealth”
The campaign announced its opposition to any reopening that comes before safeguards are in effect on 30 Thursday April, the same day that social distance guidelines announced earlier by President Trump are set to expire. Trump did not extend those guidelines.
Details of the campaign were announced Thursday night, April 30, at a digital mass meeting featuring activists and leaders from Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Before the pandemic, 700 people died a day from poverty and 140 million people lived in poverty or low-wealth.
“The Poor People’s Campaign is calling for noncooperation with injustice and inequality,” Theoharis said. “We demand that Congress go back to work to fix the coronavirus stimulus bills, to make permanent changes that really help the poor, sick, uninsured, homeless and low-wage workers.”
Theoharis said the campaign demands “a radical redistribution of political and economic power … a revolution of moral values” that will be on display at the digital Mass Poor People’s and March on Washington.
Dr. Sharrelle Barber, the national adviser and coordinator of the campaign’s COVID-19 Health Justice Advisory Committee, says a justice-driven approach to a pandemic demands free testing, free health care and safe and humane isolation facilities.
“None of us is safe … unless all of us are safe,” said Dr. Barber. “By failing to act using a coordinated data-driven approach that creates equity and justice, this government is literally playing Russian roulette with the lives of its citizens.”
According to a study by Repairers of the Breach, some 140 million people live in poverty or low-wealth in this country. The 501c3 not-for-profit organization says, “they should not be sacrificed so that the country can return to an economic “normal” that had abandoned them long ago.
The Poor People’s Campaign has called for a COVID-19 rescue bill that includes health insurance for all, paid sick leave, a moratorium on utility shut-offs and evictions and other measures for essential workers and low-income Americans.