This afternoon, protesters gathered at the Wisconsin State Capitol. It was the first Monday of a six-week protest looking to end what organizers see as immoral policies on the state and federal levels. The movement is known as the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. WORT reporter Christian Phelps was at today’s event.
Wisconsin was one of 30 states to see a Poor People’s Campaign event at the capitol this afternoon. About 150 protesters from southern Wisconsin, representing a wide range of racial backgrounds, gathered on the steps of the state capitol.
Each of the movement’s six weeks has a specific theme. Today focused on poverty among American children, women and people with disabilities, and women were the central leaders of the event. Anita Abraham lives in Milwaukee and is an organizer for the Southeast Wisconsin Women’s March, MoveOn.org, and a central leader of today’s protest. She explains that as a low-income Black woman in Wisconsin, drawing attention to these issues is personal.
“The overall goal is to bring attention to the poverty that is going on in our nation and the hardship that millions of Americans are going through. 5.1 million children in the United States of America are in poverty. I have a grandchild that is one of those children.”
Speakers at the event ranged from NAACP officials, to religious ministers, to Native American leaders, to seasoned protesters like Abraham herself. The group was fitting, given that the movement’s national leader, North Carolina Reverend William Barber, has led “Moral Mondays” demonstrations in Raleigh and aimed to model this event after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s original 1968 Poor People’s Campaign for economic justice.
Today’s focus on women and children invited speakers with experience in education, like Yolanda Santos Adams, a former President of the Kenosha Unified School Board.
“Until the achievement gap is closed for all children, particularly children of color, Latinos, and African Americans, we must continue to fight for them.”
Today, protesters carried signs reading “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” “POVERTY IS VIOLENCE” and “STOP WARS ON MOMS AND CHILDREN.” After listening to speakers, they headed into the Capitol, led by women organizers. There, the group continued chanting and delivered a private petition to Governor Scott Walker’s office.
Next week, however, organizers expect a much higher turnout, and Abraham explains that they will begin blocking traffic on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard for a few minutes each Monday.
“We came here to be arrested. This isn’t my first rodeo; I’ve been arrested in Washington in support of the Dreamers, the DACA Act, but we have decided to hold off our civil disobedience until next Monday because we will be in a greater number so to speak.”
After six weeks of protests, themed discussions, and civil disobedience, the national movement plans to gather in Washington, D.C. for a mass rally in the nation’s capital.