Poor People's Campaign

Poor People’s Campaign marches in picket line at WV senator’s office one day after rally where over 70 arrested 

Contact: Martha Waggoner | [email protected] 

Grassroots leaders of the West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign marched in a picket line Tuesday outside Joe Manchin’s office in Washington, D.C., demanding that their senator meet with them about his refusal to support Build Back Better and voting rights protections.

And as he continues to refuse their demand — as the senator did Tuesday — their question is: “What are you scared of, Joe Manchin?” 

“Everybody knows ours is one of the poorest states in the country. It’s a damn shame that the senior senator, a Democrat, cannot support his state and the people in his state,” said Stewart Acuff from Jefferson County, West Virginia.

The state leaders marched in a picket line outside the Hart Building, where Sen. Manchin’s office is located. After several people spoke, police officers warned that their voices were too loud, so they continued with the silent picketing. 

Bishop William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, explained the reason for the picket: 

“We’re here today because we know that Sen. Manchin not only lied to West Virginians. He lied to the nation,” Bishop Barber said. “And I’m using that word intentionally because it’s provable. And his inaction and his lies about scarcity — he’s saying he’s taking these positions because we don’t have enough — that’s a lie. And it’s actually a form of political violence against the 140 million poor and low-wealth people in this country and especially to people who have suffered during COVID, regardless of their color or their geography. He has engaged in a form of political policy violence. People will stay sick, people will die, people will not be able to recover. He also never asks these questions about scarcity when it comes to the military or to corporate America. He’s never seen a corporate tax break he didn’t want to pass or a military budget he wouldn’t fund.”

The action in front of the Hart Building came one day after about 70 poor and low-income leaders  — representing 32 states and DC — along with faith leaders and allies, were arrested at a rally in support of Build Back Better and voting rights protections. 

Earlier this year, Sen. Manchin met virtually with leaders of the West Virginia PPC, and he has said that would meet with them again. But he has rejected at least four requests over the past 1.5 months. That includes one made Tuesday, when Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the PPC:NCMR, read a letter sent to the senator. 

“We write concerned not just about your policy positions that are hurting the poor, but the soul and future of the democracy of the nation,” the letter reads. “These positions are sinful,  but you can change and we want to help you change.

Manchin’s director of scheduling replied that the senator’s “schedule is at capacity this week” and he had no time to offer for a meeting. 

At the end of the action, Bishop Barber and others went to the doors of the Hart Building, asking to be allowed inside. When police refused them, they dropped off 10,000 copies of a letter to the senator.

“We are infuriated and fed up that you continue to care more about lobbyists and corporations than you do about hard working poor and low-income people of West Virginia,” the letter reads. “We, the West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign, represent the 710,000 West Virginians who are poor and low-income and the 351,000 West Virginians without a living wage,” the letter reads. “We are the 187,000 children living in poverty in West Virginia and the more than 108,000 people without health insurance. We represent the 346,000 children who will lose benefits from the Child Tax Credit if you keep trying to undermine the Build Back Better plan.”