Many thousands of people from every part of the country converged on Washington, D.C. on June 18 for the Moral Assembly 2022 called by the Poor People’s Campaign. The demonstration demanded an end to massive wealth inequality, an end to systemic racism, emergency action to tackle the climate change crisis, equal rights for immigrants, the protection and expansion of voting rights, and more. Speakers and supporters from a multitude of backgrounds spent the day rallying behind the common goal to “lift from the bottom” so that “everybody rises”.
Carolyn Hoffman, a candidate for legislator in Monroe County, New York, told Liberation News that “greed is masquerading as inflation,” and “They want to continue making record and increasing profits, instead of letting Americans buy a gallon of milk or tank of gas for a price they can afford. There’s a huge propaganda campaign to convince poor Americans that they have more in common with a rich person who has the same skin color as they do than a poor person who doesn’t.” Hoffman supports housing as a human right, stating “just having stable housing,” provides a “foundation for people to get out of poverty.”
The demands for justice for poor and working people were made all the more urgent by the spiraling inflation gripping the country – something that many expect will become a generalized economic crisis. Recently the Chair of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell stated that he would like to see wages come down further than they already are to combat inflation. Powell was appointed by Donald Trump and was re-nominated by Joe Biden for a second term in May. He was approved in a bipartisan vote of 80-19, showing further proof that ruling class politicians in both parties are united in their willingness to inflict suffering on the working class.
The event drew attendees from across the country. One group of supporters rode on a bus from Milwaukee, Wisconsin throughout the night to show solidarity and raise their community’s demands, which is experiencing a “drought of resources, including affordable housing, jobs and fresh food.” Later, DC natives Dan and Sheila lamented that the for-profit healthcare system views “sickness and death as money” while Kevin, a supporter of the campaign from Baltimore, talked about the high cost of medicine and that “the owners profit with price gouging these medicines people need to survive.”
A group who came from Arkansas talked about how their state purposefully didn’t use the money given to it for pandemic relief. One was angry that the money “wasn’t used to help the homeless or the poor,” and that “the state just passed an expansion of our prison system by $600 million dollars – that’s the housing they are providing for the poor!”
Early on in the event, Rev. Dr. Frederick D. Haynes of Dallas proclaimed “In the face of systemic racism, we declare that silence is betrayal; in the face of poverty, we declare that silence is betrayal; in the face of ecological devastation, we declare that silence is betrayal; in the face of militarism and a war based economy, we declare that silence is betrayal; in the face of a lack of healthcare, we declare that silence is betrayal; in the face of a distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism, we declare that silence is betrayal; in the face of death because of poverty, we declare that silence is betrayal!”
Kenia Alcocer of the Los Angeles Tenants’ Union summed up the demands and values of the action, “We are here to demand housing for all, rent forgiveness, adequate healthcare for all, living wage with benefits, access to affordable and healthy food, to abolish ICE, to abolish the police. We are here to protect voting rights! We are here to fight for immigration reform! We are here! We are the poor and dispossessed and we are here! We are here to say ¡sólo el pueblo salva al pueblo!”