Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Stick With Love (#StrikeOutHate)

Stick With Love 
by C.A. Matthews
protest photos by Adrian J. Matthews

This past week, a group of  Toledo area activists took to the streets across from a neighborhood bowling alley with one mission in mind: #StrikeOutHate 

The owner of the bowling alley had a history of posting racist, Islamophobic, homophobic, transphobic, and misogynistic comments on his business' Facebook page and Twitter account. He had been repeatedly called out for his hateful behavior, but he refused to stop the postings. He eventually went as far as to accost a woman wearing a hijab in retaliation for what he felt were Muslims following him in a shopping mall.

Area activists decided enough was enough and a demonstration was planned. It was delayed by one week after the bowling alley owner was interviewed in the newspaper and on local TV news. He claimed he was "sorry" for saying what he said, but he did not apologize to the victims of his hateful postings. He even went on to use further racial slurs in his remarks. A multi-faith council asked to speak with the bowling alley owner and his wife and their faith leader to see if the situation could be resolved positively, but he declined. 

With business dropping off, his Facebook page shut down, and the public and press looking more closely into the bowling alley owner's hateful actions, the owner and his wife said they'd be willing to speak to only one faith leader from the community he wronged. The #StrikeOutHate demonstration was postponed for one week in hopes a full apology was forthcoming. Alas, it was not.

The evening of the demonstration was sunny and windy, but the activists were
strong in their convictions and strong in voice. The vast majority of traffic passing by the bowling alley and the demonstrators honked and gave thumbs up when they saw the signs and heard the chants. Many in the neighborhood had earlier expressed dismay and anguish that such an individual was allowed to operate a business in their ethnically diverse area. What did it say about their community?

Police cars were plentiful just in case of retaliation by white supremacists who had issued death threats and trolled some of the organizers' social media pages. At the start of the event, four individuals wearing mostly black were seen standing diagonally across the street from the protest. They glared sullenly for about fifteen minutes--one of their group carrying a hockey stick--but eventually they walked away. It's telling that white supremacists are rather timid creatures who slink away when it becomes apparent the rest of the neighborhood doesn't approve of racists or racism and death threats.

In this season of re-birth, it is fitting a revival of Dr. Martin Luther King's Poor People Campaign is  now underway. Fifty years on, the same evils King fought against--racism, militarism, poverty--are still with us, more prolific and onerous than ever before. In 1968 (the year of King's assassination) there were 40 million Americans of all colors living in poverty. Today there are over 140 million poor Americans. The campaign labels itself as a "National Call for Moral Revival," and it is seen as a continuation of the campaign King had planned before his death.

Dr. King saw the interlocking nature of poverty, ecological destruction, systemic racism and militarism. It is impossible to get rid of one of these ills without ridding ourselves of the others. King and many others realized that America's problems were not caused by a scarcity of wealth, rather they are caused by a "scarcity of will." The campaign's six week agenda begins the week after Mother's Day and will focus on key issues in a "season of moral resistance" that isn't so much about "left or right, but right and wrong."

Week 1 will focus on children, women and the disabled in poverty. Week 2 considers the connection of systemic racism and poverty, voting rights and attacks on immigrants. Week 3 features Memorial Day, and so it will focus on veterans' issues. Week 4 will look at ecological devastation and how it affects the poor, as well as the right for all to have access to health care. Week 5 covers the topics of wages, guaranteed income, housing issues and social services. Week 6 concludes the campaign with a discussion of America's "distorted moral narrative."

More information about local and statehouse rallies, teach-ins, and cultural events will be posted online at the Poor People's Campaign web site for your state. The national website is https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/

As the #StrikeOutHate activists understand, our society's problems don't go away simply by us refusing to face them head on. We all need to challenge the status quo. We must expose discriminatory practices and business people such as the bowling alley owner who thinks attacking women wearing head scarves is a good thing and leaving racist/homophobic/Islamophobic/misogynistic comments online is entertaining and not hurtful. We must model the justice and compassion we wish to see in the world. Only by standing up to hate and sticking with love can we ever hope to bring about the future Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life fighting for.

Join one of the first statehouse rallies in Columbus, Ohio:

More about the #StrikeOutHate protest (and how some in the local media seemed more worried  about the owner's lost business than in human rights):




As the Poor People's Campaign points out, ecological devastation affects the poor first and foremost. Oil pipelines that leak and threaten water supplies is one such issue that needs calling out. A new protest song epitomizes how First Nations People of Canada have taken on the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Listen to the lyrics to "We Don't Want Your Pipeline" and sing it at your next protest.

Jordan Chariton interviews anti-pipeline activists, mother and daughter Red and Minor Terry. Keep a tissue handy while listening to their harrowing story of what's happening to their ancestral home in Virginia. Corporations and governments simply don't care about your health, your civil rights or your  land when they believe there's money to be made exporting fracked natural gas overseas. They'll  destroy pristine woodlands and archeological finds, and then sell you bottled drinking water after they've polluted your well.

Our net neutrality could be under attack this week.  Go to https://www.battleforthenet.com/ to join the battle 
by sending an email to your representatives.

We have just one week until our 40 Days of Nonviolent Direct Action begin and we need to be ready. 

With thousands of supporters poised for action at dozens of locations around the country as part of our growing moral fusion movement, we have to be prepared for everything. 

That’s why we created the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival Legal Defense Fund—to ensure the rights of those on the front lines in the fight to reclaim our nation’s soul are protected. 

Donate to the fund today to make sure everyone joining our fight on May 14 and beyond has the legal support they need.
Poor and disenfranchised people, clergy and advocates will be protesting at more than 30 statehouses across the country, hosting teach-ins and demanding policies that lift up the 140 million Americans living in poverty. This isn’t about left and right, it’s about right and wrong. 

This fund and those who contribute to it are our last line of defense and a vital part of our movement.

Support the nonviolent direct action at the heart of our call for a moral revival in this country. Contribute now.
Thank you for everything you do,
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

From Credo:

With average payday loan interest rates as high as 338 percent and check-cashing shops charging exploitative fees, more struggling Americans get trapped in inescapable cycles of debt every single year.1

It's no accident: It's the deliberate strategy of Wall Street-backed lenders that vacuum billions of dollars out of low-income communities every year.2 To break the grip of the predatory financial industry we need tough enforcers, strict rules – and a public option like postal banking to serve as a low-cost alternative.

Progressive champions like Sen. Elizabeth Warren have championed postal banking for years and pushed the U.S. Postal Service to use its existing authority to launch pilot programs. Now, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has expanded the fight by introducing new postal banking legislation.3

Tell Congress: Postal banking, not payday lending. Click here to sign the petition.

The dirty secret of the payday lending industry is that there is no money in people repaying their loans on time. The key to the whole profit-making engine, the one that makes lenders’ Wall Street backers rich, is tricking people into taking out a loan and then locking them into months or years of debt. Charging hidden fees and demanding sky-high interest rates, payday lenders are little more than legal loan sharks.4

A full postal banking system would offer a low-cost alternative to the most predatory companies. Low-income neighborhoods often lack commercial bank branches, and many struggling families without access to mainstream banks have little choice but to turn to check cashers and payday lenders. Postal banking would offer basic services like check cashing, savings accounts and cheap loans so that one unexpected expense doesn't trap someone in debt for life.5

The USPS has done this before, from 1917 until 1967. In 1947, the post office held nearly 10 percent of commercial savings in the United States.6 The USPS can do a lot to bring back postal banking on its own and many progressive allies have been pushing for just that. Sen. Gillibrand's new bill adds to those efforts by putting postal banking back on the agenda in a big way.

Tell Congress: Postal banking, not payday lending. Click here to sign the petition.

Some have looked to postal banking as a way to increase revenue for the USPS. But Sen. Gillibrand's bill focuses solely on providing an alternative to payday lenders, thus helping the most vulnerable Americans. The reality is that the USPS's supposed budget woes stem from a deliberate right-wing attempt to sabotage a vital government service by mandating that the agency pre-fund its retiree health care and pension benefits for 75 years – something that no other government agency or private company is forced to do.7

Sen. Gillibrand's bill keeps the attention where it belongs: keeping low-income Americans out of the clutches of a predatory financial industry that wants to trap them into debt and exploit them for all they are worth. Postal banking is an idea whose time has come again, and a big show of support for this bill will provide momentum to every effort to make it real.

Tell Congress: Postal banking, not payday lending. Click below to sign the petition:

Thank you for speaking out,
Josh Nelson, Co-Director CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name:

Sign the petition ►

  1. David Dayen, “The Government is Finally Cracking Down on Legal Loan Sharks,” Fiscal Times, March 27, 2015.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Alan Pyke, "Gillibrand’s post office banking bill bypasses years of careful, quiet work to kill payday lending," ThinkProgress, April 27, 2018.
  4. Dayen, “The Government is Finally Cracking Down on Legal Loan Sharks.”
  5. Pyke, "Gillibrand’s post office banking bill bypasses years of careful, quiet work to kill payday lending."
  6. Campaign for Postal Banking, "Know the Facts: Is Postal Banking a New Idea?" accessed May 1, 2018.
  7. Pyke, "Gillibrand’s post office banking bill bypasses years of careful, quiet work to kill payday lending."
From Sierra Club:

This year's House Farm Bill is an absolute disaster and it must be stopped. Replete with partisan, anti-environmental provisions, the 2018 House Farm Bill represents Big Ag and pesticide companies over our food supply, wildlife, ecosystem, public health and small farmers -- we need to do everything we can to stop it.

What kind of a Farm Bill cuts programs to develop farmer's markets and undermines sustainable farming? It offers subsidies and tax breaks to big corporations while failing our small family farmers, including those who are historically disadvantaged or veterans. It shrinks programs proven to promote soil health and fight climate change, while raising costs for organic farmers.

This bill continues to support big Caged Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and strikes state rights to set their own food and animal standards, such as pesticide bans or cage-free egg requirements. It even dares to cut safety net programs for low-income residents, exacerbating hunger and food insecurity.

Please urge your House representative to vote down this dangerous bill now.

The House bill weakens critical protections to keep wildlife safe from toxic pesticides and unbelievably, seeks to exempt pesticide manufacturers from any liability for harming endangered wildlife. It even proposes a new office to advocate for the use of genetically engineered organisms around the world. This Farm Bill would log its way through our forests, gut water conservation programs and make it easier for corporate polluters to contaminate drinking water.

The public deserves safe and healthy food, water, wildlife and forests and the House needs to put the greater good before Big Ag's toxic agenda.

Jordan Giaconia
Federal Policy Associate for Defense
Sierra Club


  1. The bigoted business owner is being hit where he'll feel it most - his pocketbook. The lack of numbers engaged in counter-protest is telling. For those who plan similar actions against the far right scum appearing these days, know that that are mostly cowardly types who hide behind bluster and threats. Stay strong against them. Justice shall prevail.

    1. You hit the nail on the head. White supremacists are basically wimps. They'll troll you online and issue death threats, but in the end, they'll slink off home to the dark hole they came out of originally. Very sad, sick people who don't know what they're really angry about or who is the cause of their troubles. (It would take a mirror and some deep self-reflection on their parts to figure it out.)

      Really looking forward to the Poor People's Campaign this spring. Let's make MLK proud and show up in numbers!


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