Poor People’s Campaign holds actions in about 30 states, arrests made at offices of Sens. Collins, Feinstein & Hyde-Smith

Three social justice leaders — Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Barbara Arnwine — were arrested during a sit-in outside the office of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema as the Poor People’s Campaign and its partners continued to press Congress to end the filibuster. 

The three were among 39 people charged with third-degree criminal trespass and released on site. The sit-in, which followed a rally and march in Phoenix, was part of the Season of Nonviolent Moral Direct Action that the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral launched earlier in July; Arizona leaders and activists invited the campaign to join the sit-in. 

“Anytime you march and anytime you risk arrest, you need to be real clear why you’re doing it,” Rev. Barber said at the rally. “It’s not a fad. It’s not just a one-time moment. It ought to always be to open up a movement.”

Others arrested included: Arizona State Sen. Martin Quezada, Doug Moore (director of United Domestic Workers), prominent local Black clergy and community leaders, and other Arizona faith leaders.

Hundreds of Arizonans participated in a rally and march before the sit-in began. 

Photos and video footage can be found here.  

The action was part of the Poor People’s Campaign Moral Monday: Taking It to the States, where activists in about 30 states held actions at the state offices of their U.S. senators. In Maine, four protesters were charged for their sit-in at the Portland office of Sen. Susan Collins. Four protesters also were arrested at the Gulfport office of Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in Mississippi, and four were arrested at the Los Angeles office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

“There were powerful actions all over the country, in more than 30 states, where we were putting pressure on the senators in their home offices, making sure that they know our demands,”  Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, said during an online program Monday night. 

Those demands are: 

  • An end to the filibuster
  • Restoration of the full Voting Rights Act
  • Passage of the For the People Act
  • A federal minimum wage of $15 an hour
  • Protection and respect for all immigrants

“Why must we end the filibuster? First of all, it’s non-constitutional. You should not be using a non-constitutional thing to block constitutional rights,” Rev. Barber said. “Secondly, it’s never been used to bring people together.”

The filibuster has been used to block not merely rights for Black people, but also to block voting rights for women, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other laws, Rev. Barber said.

“America can’t keep doing this — going back and vomiting up the same stuff over and over and over again,” he said. “We’ve got to have a final Third Reconstruction to do this for once and for all.”

The Season of Nonviolent Moral Direct Action continues Tuesday with a news conference and church service in Georgetown followed by the state of a 27-mile, four-day Moral March for Democracy from Georgetown to Austin. The march culminates July 31 with a rally at the state Capitol in Austin. 

SUBJECT LINE: End the filibuster: Social justice leaders, activists charged in Moral Monday actions

Contact: Martha Waggoner, mwaggoner@breachrepairers.org | 919-295-0802