Indiana Poor People’s Campaign Week 5: “Everybody’s Got a Right to Live”

Posted on: June 13, 2018, by :

By Jeff Turner

The Indiana Poor People’s Campaign held a rally this week for the fifth straight week, part of a nationwide “forty days of moral revival” to bring Martin Luther King Jr.’s original Poor People’s Campaign back to the forefront.

The subject of this week’s rally was equal housing and a living wage. The rally took place downtown at Monument Circle, where there were about forty activists in attendance. There were several speakers at the rally, including Kandra Viescas of Greencastle, Indiana. Viescas had moved to Oregon where CBD oil is legal, and which she uses for her epilepsy, only to move back to Indiana and find herself homeless. She has five children, two of whom are disabled, and the money her husband made simply wasn’t enough to support their large family. Thus she decided to speak at the rally, “demanding affordable wages for the working poor.”

“It really hit close to home,” said Viescas after the rally. “I’ve had personal experience all my life with poverty. And now that I’m a parent, I want to be able to better my children’s lives and for them to have what I don’t have.”

When asked about what happened during week two of the Poor People’s campaign, where five activists tied themselves to the gates of the Governor’s residence demanding a phone call from Governor Holcomb (He was out of the country in Europe at the time.), only to be rebuffed after twenty-four hours and threatened with arrest (Their jail support team was not present, so they vacated the premises.), Viescas said: “I think it takes time. Since this is only getting started, as I understand it, it will take time. A lot of people care, though.”

Also speaking at the rally was Matthias Beier, a professor at the Christian Theological Seminary. He spoke at length about how poverty causes mental health issues. “Indiana ranks forty-seven out of fifty for mental health,” Beier said. “Creating and maintaining poverty is sociopathic, is sick, is mentally ill. Those who maintain (a) system of poverty are mentally ill. (They) don’t have empathy for those who are suffering.” Beier went on to cite Trump’s “divide and conquer mentality,” how Mr. Trump works to divide people by race, class, religion, sexual orientation, immigration status, and how this strategy “must be fought.”

Mental health was a key subject of his speech, one echoed by other speakers, who went so far as to demand Medicare for All to address America’s lack of addressing the mental health of the marginalized and disadvantaged in this nation.

Week one of this forty day campaign involved activists blocking off the streets downtown, many being arrested. Week two involved the previously mentioned protest at the Governor’s Residence in response to systemic racism. Week three focused on militarism and the war economy, with activists protesting at the City-County Building. Last week’s topic was ecological devastation, and activists protested at the Statehouse.

The campaign will conclude with a nationwide rally in Washington D.C. on June 23rd, the Indiana Poor People’s Campaign offering to shuttle people to the Global Day of Solidarity. After the event in the nation’s capital, the Indiana Poor People’s Campaign plans to hold rallies focused on voting issues and voting rights, according to one of the volunteer’s present at Monday’s rally.

More information on the Indiana Poor People’s campaign can be found at www.poorpeoplescampaign.org, at their Facebook page — https://www.facebook.com/IndianaPPC/ —  or by texting “MORAL” to 90525.

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