Poor People's Campaign

August 3, 2020

Thousands of people flooded the phone lines of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday as the Poor People’s Campaign held a national call to demand a fair and just COVID relief package that helps all. 

Poor and low-income people across the country shut down phone lines at two McConnell offices in Washington, D.C., and at five others in Kentucky. They demanded that the senator negotiate an equitable COVID-19 relief bill that helps more than corporations, which have received over 80% of the trillions of dollars from stimulus packages approved so far. 

“People are dying. People are hurting. It is too much,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, and president of Repairers of the Breach, based in Goldsboro, North Carolina. “It makes no sense. We could have fixed this a long time ago.”

More than 160,000 people of all races had viewed the program as of Thursday, and almost 8,000 had called McConnell’s office — a number certain to grow as many reported they couldn’t get through despite repeated attempts. 

Because of McConnell, 30 million people don’t have unemployment and 27 million have lost health insurance, in addition to those who already were without it, Barber said. Meanwhile, the wealthy have made hundreds of billions of dollars from stimulus relief, he said. 

McConnell’s policies are just as deadly as the police officer who kills an unarmed person because policy violence kills, Barber said, adding that it’s past time to call out the Senate majority leader out for policies that are just plain mean. 

Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, campaign co-chair and director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice in New York City, called McConnell’s inaction “sin of the highest order.”

“Bailing out the rich and leaving the poor to fend for themselves is evil,” she said. “Sacrificing children to the altar of greed is anathema. … Legislating evil is wrong.”

Artists/activists who joined the call were Erika Alexander, producer of “Good Trouble,” a documentary about the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis; radio host D.L. Hughley and Charlamagne tha God, co-host of “The Breakfast Club.”

“I think we in this country have proven that we have a disdain for the poor, particularly from the coffers of power,” Hughley said. “And Mitch McConnell is the arbiter of that. As bad as Trump is … he (McConnell) is the get-away car driver.”

Several Poor People’s Campaign activists spoke, including Tayna Fogle from Kentucky, who said McConnell “is not living the poor life” when he talks about not re-upping or cutting the $600 unemployment bonus that ended on July 31. 

“Whatever he has in his mind, he is not living the poor life,” she said. We’re here making conscious decisions: do we buy a gallon of milk or do we go get our medication? We can’t even afford to send our kids to the hospitals… How dare he say that we’re here partying? Partying takes money.”

Others who spoke from the Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign were: Pam McMichael, Father Norman Fischer and Arnold Farr. Fernando Garcia of the Border Network for Human Rights also spoke. 

Rev. Barber urged activists to send copies of the Bible and the U.S. Constitution to McConnell’s office as well. 

Taking action, he said, is “the beginning of justice. It might not feel like it. It may hurt like all get out. But we are not going to let this nation be OK while we are dying. It’s over.”

You can view the program here. 

Contact: Martha Waggoner | [email protected]  | 919-295-0802

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral  Revival, is building a broad and deep moral fusion movement rooted in the leadership of poor people to unite our country from the bottom up. We demand that both major political parties address the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. Our updated agenda, A Moral Policy Agenda to Heal America: the Poor People’s Jubilee Platform, addresses these issues.