Saturday, January 12, 2019

June 4 MDEQ arrestees press conference and pre-trial hearing: Tue, Jan 15 at 12pm

Dear Michigan PPC Community:

We bring you new year's greetings and updates in 2019!

During last summer's 40 Days of Action, there were 105 arrests at several Lansing and Detroit locations. These non-violent, moral fusion direct actions were in protest of unjust Michigan policies and leadership failures that harm poor and low income working people.

On June 4th, thirty MI PPC activists were arrested at the MI Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) for several reasons against the state agency, including: criminal actions and negligence harming and killing Flint residents; failure to protect public health from water, air and soil contamination; faulty scientific protocols and responsibility to uphold standards and policy requirements against pollution and environmental degradation; culpability in allowing for unjust and harmful natural resource privatization, commodification, fracking, pipelines, extractions, toxic spills, water shut-offs and rate increases; failure to uphold its EPA responsibilities; human rights violations and more.

This Tuesday, January 15th, fifteen of the original thirty MDEQ arrestees will be holding a press conference prior to appearing before a judge for their pre-trial conference (what is a pre-trial conference?). Please join them in support of MI PPC moral fusion actions:
Press Conference: 12:00 pm on Tue, 1/15/19 at Lansing 54 A District Court, 124 W Michigan Ave # 54A, Lansing, MI 48933. We will gather in the lobby or right outside the lobby of the Lansing City Hall (across from Michigan Capitol buildings). Please arrive by 11:30 am
Pre-trial Court Conference: 1:30 pm on Tue, 1/15/19 at Lansing 54 A District Court, 124 W Michigan Ave # 54A, Lansing, MI 48933. Located inside Lansing City Hall (across from Michigan Capitol buildings).

More details: Last summer, approximately one-third of the MDEQ arrestees chose to settle quickly their case with the Ingham County prosecutor's office through guilty or no contest pleas and/or by participating in a diversion program to remove a misdemeanor charge from their record. The remainder of the group had been waiting for the announcement of arrest warrants to appear before the court. They were finally issued in late December. On December 28th several MDEQ arrestees traveled to Lansing 54 A District Court to appear on their warrants and pay bonds. Among the outcomes were: (1) Those charged with “trespassing” appeared before a magistrate; (2) Those charged with “disturbing the peace” appeared before a judge; All were fined and paid $150 thus fulfilling all that is required of them, plus they will have a misdemeanor on their record; (3) A third group pleaded “not guilty” and requested a jury trial.

At this time, a handful of warrants are still outstanding for a few people who have been unable to get to Lansing and/or are out-of-town. We take seriously the concerns our attorneys have raised for these warrants to lead to re-arrest so future appearances is being coordinated.

Also, please save the date for more MI PPC 40 Days of Action court proceedings in Detroit beginning January 23 at 1:30 pm at 36th District Court for the #Gilbert7 group arrested on June 18th against gentrification, low income housing evictions, corporate profits on the back of poor residents, real Detroit corporate dystopia and more.
Additional updates on the entire list of arrests during the 40 Days of Action can be found on the Michigan PPC website.

Finally, National Lawyers Guild (NLG) attorneys who have been working on these cases pro bono tell us that their resources to support trial work are depleted. They are requesting that MI PPC defendants consider raising funds to support unpaid and underpaid attorneys so that they may continue representing us through low bono arrangements. We deeply appreciate NLG work and sacrifices and will follow up with more on this soon.

We will share more updates, news and National PPC 2019 campaign actions and moral positions in the coming days.

With appreciation and in solidarity,

The Michigan PPC Coordinating Committee

P.S. Please help support the legal needs of the MI PPC with a contribution today at

Also, please ask your friends and family to join the MI PPC by signing up at

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Support Jan 15 court pre-trial hearing of MDEQ nonviolent moral fusion direct action defendants

UPDATE: Please join the MI PPC for a 12pm press conference at the Ingham County 54-A District Court in Lansing (at the City Hall). Please arrive by 11:30am. More info to come...

Friends & Family,

Mark your calendars and join us to support those arrested in Lansing on June 4, 2018!  Tuesday, January 15, 2019 MI PPC members will be in Lansing District Court 54-A.
As part of the MI Poor People’s Campaign (PPC), 40 Days of Action, on June 4, 2018, the MI PPC organized a rally and demonstration at the Michigan State Capitol focused on the theme: The Right To Health and A Healthy Planet: Ecological Devastation and Health Care.  Hundreds of MI PPC supporters joined in to make their voices heard on the Capitol steps and then surrounded Lansing’s Constitution Hall, headquarters of the MI Department of Environmental Quality, encircling the entire building with yellow tape, identifying the building as a “crime scene.”  

Those risking arrest blocked the doors to the North, South, East and West building entrances.  At each side side of the building, we named the crimes. To the North- the M5 Pipeline. To the West- Nestle’s pumping of water. To the South- the Detroit water shut offs. To the East- the poisoning of Flint’s water. At 5 pm on June 4th, PPC members risking arrest moved to block the parking lot and were immediately arrested. 30 people were arrested.  

CONSEQUENCES: Eight PPC members have accepted a Diversion Program offered by the District Court. 14 of those arrested plan on taking this to a jury trial.  On Tuesday, January 15th, those seeking a jury trial are scheduled to appear for pretrial hearings at 1:30 p.m. MI PPC supporters and members are encouraged to appear with us in court in either the morning, the afternoon, or both. Defendants are to appear in the courtroom of Judge Louise Alderson.

Lansing District Court 54-A, 124 W. Michigan Avenue, Lansing, MI 48933

Greg Olszta
For the Washtenaw PPC
(This post is re-posted from an email alert from the Washtenaw PPC) 

For more information, please contact

Monday, December 10, 2018

Recognizing Human Rights Day and Articles' Violations in Michigan

Today is International Human Rights Day. It marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) -- a document that comprises 30 Articles that outline our inalienable rights for global freedom, justice and peace.

The Michigan Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) has organized several actions in recent months in defense of human rights to call attention to communities that are being harmed or endangered, and to address injustice at all levels of society.

In the last week, we've discussed the current jailing of two MI PPC activists who engaged in non-violent, civil protest at the MI Department of Health and Human Services on May 21, 2018: Rev. William (Bill) Wylie-Kellermann (of Detroit) and Thomas (Tommy) Tackett (of Jackson). The cold and uncomfortable conditions of their excessively unjust 12-day Ingham County jail sentence for a misdemeanor charge, are part of human rights violations taking place in our state.

There are three UNDHR Articles that speak to these issues. At the core, we are fighting to protect our loved ones. Article 25 encompasses our basic human rights, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

It is for these needs that the MI PPC directed political protest literally at the doors of the MI Department of Health and Human Services. This is the state agency that should be assuring the well-being of Michiganders but instead they contributed to the lead water poisoning of Flint residents; and are actively separating Detroit children from families whose water has been shutoff when they are unable to pay. Around the state, MDHHS has done little to alleviate poverty and hardship.

Each year it’s becoming more difficult for everyday residents to get their concerns and voices heard by elected representatives. Sometimes we're resigned to political protest to call for change. Article 20 iterates our right to gather, “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”

Yet, in Michigan peaceful political protest is often met with strong police state presence, heavy-handed officers and military-grade weaponry that threaten peaceful assembly. Often times our calls for change fall on deaf ears and some activists choose to put their bodies and freedom on the line. During the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called for people to fill the jails in protest.

To quell protest, some elected officials and courts push for maximum sentencing or additional fines and court costs. Article 21 notes that a heavier penalty should not be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed. Nonetheless, human rights activists are oftentimes burdened with unaffordable court costs, fines, fees, travel expenses, job constraints and lost wages.

Tell Michigan officials that its residents demand compliance with international human rights standards. Join us for two events this week:

  • Tue, Dec 11 at 6:30 pm - Candlelight Vigil at Ingham County Jail, 630 N. Cedar Rd, Mason, MI 48854.
Please take candles, dress for the cold weather, and show your support for Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann and Tommy Tackett!  Parking is available outside the Ingham County Jail and in surrounding lots at the County complex.

  • Wed, Dec 12 at 10:15 am - MI PPC Press Conference at Michigan Dept of Health and Human Services (DHHS), 235 S. Grand Ave, Lansing, MI 48933 With Rev. Wylie-Kellermann and Mr. Tackett.
Please arrive by 9:45 am. For this press conference we return to the DHHS in Lansing, where 16 MI PPC members were arrested on May 21, 2018, including the Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann and Tommy Tackett. Please dress warmly and take signs supporting them, along with speaking against the continued mistreatment and oppression of the poor by the MI DHHS across Michigan. Short-term metered, on-street parking is available, as well as in multiple garages and surface lots near the DHHS office: Lansing Parking Map Locations


An update on jail conditions and financial burdens:
Rev. Wylie-Kellermann's wife and children have been in continual contact with him, especially to monitor his health conditions. They report that, as expected, jail conditions are challenging -- it is cold and the blankets are short and tattered; the lights never go completely out; and getting him his daily medications was delayed and worrisome. Additionally, they are allowed only one visit per week which has turned out to be over a video screen, and each phone call is a minimum of $15, run by private phone companies. They've had to pay into a commissary account just so that he can purchase (at high cost) paper, pens and peanuts. Both men will also be given a bill for $50 a day once they are released.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Calls to Action! Dec 11 (Mason), 6:30pm and Dec 12 (Lansing), 10am

December 8, 2018

Dear Michigan Poor People’s Campaign Community:

The Michigan Poor People’s Campaign (MI PPC) is mobilizing to support our members jailed on Monday, December 3rd, the Rev. William (Bill) Wylie-Kellermann (of Detroit) and Thomas (Tommy) Tackett (of Jackson), in the Ingham County Jail, Mason, Michigan. Their incarceration is related to the MI PPC actions at the MI Department of Health and Human Services on May 21, 2018.

We urge you to join us for the following actions:
  • Tue, Dec 11 at 6:30 pm - Candlelight vigil at Ingham County Jail, 630 N. Cedar Rd, Mason, MI 48854. Point person: Lydia Wylie-Kellermann,
Please bring candles, dress for the cold weather, and show your support for Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann and Tommy Tackett!  Parking is available outside the Ingham County Jail and in surrounding lots at the County complex.
  • Wed. Dec. 12 at 6 a.m. Meet outside Ingham County Jail, 630 N. Cedar Rd, Mason, MI 48854. Point person: Lydia Wylie-Kellermann, lydiaiwk AT  Greet the Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann and Tommy Tackett to welcome their release and support their acts of conscience in submitting to the unfair and disproportionate sentencing for their participation in direct action on May 21, 2018.
  • Wed, Dec 12 at 10 am - MI PPC Press Conference at Michigan Dept of Health and Human Services (DHHS), 235 S. Grand Ave, Lansing, MI 48933. Point person: Sylvia Orduño, smorduno AT Please arrive by 9:45am
For this press conference we return to the DHHS in Lansing, where 16 MI PPC members were arrested on May 21, 2018, including the Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann and Tommy Tackett. Please dress warm and bring signs supporting them and opposing the continued mistreatment and oppression of the poor by the MI DHHS in Detroit and across Michigan.

Short-term metered on-street parking is available, as well as in multiple garages and surface lots near the DHHS office:  Lansing Parking Map Locations

For more information about why the MI PPC took direct action at the MI DHHS on May 21, 2018, and why the Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann and Tommy Tackett chose to go to jail rather than pay the court assessed fine, please click on the link: Call to Action Explanation on May 21st Action.

How to Help: Donate / Sign Up / Learn More

The financial burden for those incarcerated builds quickly…not including the loss of income from missing work, the state bill of $50 for each day they're incarcerated doubles the cost of the $300 fine option; these plus other costs such as those incurred by phone calls during their stay put a dollar sign on the cost of justice.

Please help support the legal support needs of the MI PPC with a contribution today at MI PPC Donate

Also, please ask your friends and family to join the MI PPC by signing up at
MI PPC Get Involved

Friday, December 7, 2018

Updates on the arrests and court actions from 40 Days of Direct Action

UPDATED: Jan 12, 2019.
From the MI PPC Coordinating Committee:

The consequences of the direct actions in Lansing continue to play out within the legal system. For all those arrested in Lansing, everyone was offered the Diversion Program which included a steep fine, community service, and no record. Some have chosen to take this, while others have or will be going to court to plead no contest and testify in the courtroom to why they acted with the Poor People’s Campaign that day. About half the group from the June 4 action at the Department of Environmental Quality are in preparation to take the action to a jury trial. In Detroit, for the June 18 action, most took a plea deal with a fine. Seven folks (#Gilbert7) are preparing for trial beginning January 18. We continue to be a new, unsettling force for liberation through every stage of these actions!

Michigan Poor People’s Campaign
Direct Action Cases Detailed Updates

During the 40 Days of Action for the Poor People's Campaign, 105 Michigan residents were arrested over six weeks of justice-seeking, non-violent direct action in Lansing and Detroit.

May 14: SOMEBODY’S HURTING OUR PEOPLE: Children, Women, and People with Disabilities in Poverty, LGBTQIA+
The State Capitol

ACTION: On May 14, following the rally at the Capital, we took to the streets. We had over 40 people risking arrest that included rabbis, pastors, priests, an imam, and religious sisters. As those risking initially held the street, it liberated the space for hundreds to step in singing, chanting, and dancing. No arrests made.

May 21: LINKING SYSTEMIC RACISM AND POVERTY: Voting Rights, Immigration, Xenophobia, Islamophobia, and the Mistreatment of Indigenous Communities
Department of Health and Human Services

ACTION: On May 21, following a rally at both the Capital, we marched to the Department of Health and Human Services. Twenty activists blockaded the entrances and pushed inside the building. 16 people were arrested.

CONSEQUENCES: Six people took the option of the Diversion Program paying a fine and doing community service.  Ten people took it to court speaking into the record why they acted as they plead no contest. They were fined $300 or 12 days in jail. Tommy Tackett and Bill Wylie-Kellermann refused to pay and are currently serving their time at Ingham County Jail.

May 29: THE WAR ECONOMY: Militarism and the Proliferation of Gun Violence
The State Capitol

ACTION: On May 29, following the rally at the Capital, those risking arrest planted crosses on the lawn to commemorate all the death as a result of our military spending. Hundreds then went into the House while in session singing “Somebody’s hurting my children, and we won’t be silent anymore.”  At closing time, arrests were made to folks who remained in the Rotunda doing a die-in. 19 were arrested.

CONSEQUENCES: Nine of those arrested took the Diversion Program paying a fine and doing community service. Ten folks plan to plead “no contest” in the court. These cases have just been filed and we will have court dates soon.

June 4: THE RIGHT TO HEALTH AND A HEALTHY PLANET: Ecological Devastation and Health Care
MI Department of Environmental Quality

ACTION: On June 4, following the rally at the Capital, those risking arrest blocked the doors to the North, South, East and West. At each side, we named the crimes. To the North- the M5 Pipeline. To the West- Nestle’s pumping of water. To the South- the Detroit water shut offs. To the East- the poisoning of Flint’s water. At 5pm, folks moved to block the parking lot and were immediately arrested. 30 people were arrested.  

CONSEQUENCES: Eight folks entered the Diversion program to remove a misdemeanor from their record. All but 15 of the remaining group pleaded no contest or guilty and are seeking a jury trial. Sixteen of those arrested plan on taking this to a jury trial. The first pre-trial conference is scheduled for 1/15/19 at 1:30pm in Lansing 54 A District Court.

June 11: EVERYBODY’S GOT THE RIGHT TO LIVE: Education, Living Wage Jobs, Income, Housing
MI Treasury and MI State Housing Development Authority

ACTION: On June 11, following a rally at the Treasury which called attention to their control of our school systems, we marched to MI State Housing Development Authority. Almost 50 people sat in front of the entrance and were quickly arrested. 17 people were arrested.

CONSEQUENCES: Six people have taken diversion. Eleven plan to plead no contest. Currently awaiting court dates.

June 18: A NEW AND UNSETTLING FORCE: Confronting the Distorted Moral Narrative
Q-Line and Quicken Loans, Detroit

ACTION: On June 18, over 200 people protested at the main offices of DWSD and GLWA against immoral and unjust water shutoffs. PPC also interrupted the narrative of millionaire developer/gentrifier Dan Gilbert as the savior of Detroit. Those risking arrested climbed into the fountain in Campus Martius declaring water for Flint and Detroit not for profit. People also blocked the entrance to the One Detroit Building that headquarters Quicken Loans. Other blocked the Q-Line in both directions. 23 people were arrested.

CONSEQUENCES: Most arrestees pled no contest and gave statements in court to why they acted. 7 people refused the plea and are taking this to a jury trial. #Gilbert7. The trial begins January 22 in Detroit at 36th District Court at 1:30pm, and continues Jan 23-25 at 9:30am daily.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Two Michigan PPC Activists Sentenced to 12 Days Jail for MI DHHS Peaceful Action

   Michigan State Chapter

For Immediate Release

***Press Release***

Monday, December 3, 2018

Contact: Valerie Blakely 313-704-5150

Pastor and Young Activist Choose to Do the Time Instead of Pay the Fine!

Lansing: Today Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman and Tommy Tackett turned themselves in to the 54th District Court, in Lansing, regarding the action taken on May 21st, at the Michigan Department of Human Services. They were immediately taken into custody to begin their 12 day sentence.

In May, as part of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, a group of Michigan residents blocked the doors and entered the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

On that day legislation was pending that would have required recipients of food and health aid to work 80 hours per month, but by a clever stipulation exempting white rural counties and binding black majority ones. They stopped office business as usual to ask: Who will DHHS serve? Systemic racism? Corporate development? Neighborhood clearing? Or will it serve justice? Will it serve people, poor and Black and all?

      44 % of children in Michigan live in poverty
      Tens of thousands live without water in their homes
      Emergency management has gutted our democratic process and directly impacted 51% of black residents and 16.6% of latinx communities
      Black residents are incarcerated at 6 times the rate of their white peers
      Our immigrant communities are under attack with illegal raids, intimidation tactics, and fear of deportation

Rev Kellerman and Tommy Tackett took action to demand justice from the government that serves “We The People”, to shine a light on poverty and systemic racism and to demand that the people being most impacted be heard!

During their court appearances on October 30, they pled “no contest” and were sentenced by Judge Delucca of 54 District Court to “$300 in costs and fines or 12 days in jail”.
Eight activists decided to pay the fine; however, after some deliberation and prayer, this morning, Rev Kellerman and Tommy Tackett turned themselves in and will serve 12 days in jail.

Tommy Tackett says, “This was a moral action rooted in my deepest spiritual values, to hold the department of human and health services accountable for crimes against humanity, including their role in the mass water shut offs in Detroit.” Tommy adds: “In good moral conscious I cannot bring myself to pay the fine. When the judge said it was going to be 12 days in jail, I had to ask myself “what are our communities worth?” And what am I willing to give in this struggle for justice.”

Minister Emeritus of St Peter’s Episcopal Church and longtime Detroiter, Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman gave this statement on his decision to serve jail time, “I believe that civil disobedience and non-violent direct actions have moral trajectories to them – lines which can be played out in a variety of ways. I am willing to be held accountable and to give an accounting of my actions. Whether one goes to trial or enters a plea, as we did in this case, it represents an opportunity to “go on record” with our commitments. That is also the case with my choice as a matter of conscience to do the 12 days instead of paying the fine.

Facing the prospect of jail, we are mindful, as the Poor People’s Campaign stresses, that though People of Color make up 37% of the US population, they comprise 67% of prisoners in county, state and federal systems.

We pray our decision about this sentence will truly be in the service of justice.
“Everybody’s got a right to live!””

For more information about the Michigan Poor People’s Campaign:
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is co-organized by Repairers of the Breach, a social justice organization founded by the Rev. Barber; the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary; and hundreds of local and national grassroots groups across the country.
The campaign is building a broad and deep national moral movement – rooted in the leadership of poor people and reflecting the great moral teachings – to unite our country from the bottom up. Coalitions have formed in 39 states and Washington, D.C. to challenge extremism locally and at the federal level and to demand a moral agenda for the common good.
A Poor People’s Campaign Moral Agenda, was drawn from this listening tour, while an audit of America conducted with allied organizations, including the Institute for Policy Studies and the Urban Institute, showed that, in many ways, we are worse off than we were in 1968.
The Moral Agenda, calls for major changes to address systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and our distorted moral narrative, including repeal of the 2017 federal tax law, implementation of federal and state living wage laws, universal single-payer health care, and clean water for all.

Monday, September 24, 2018

A mother and veteran speaks out on poverty and a better future for kids

MI PPC note: Ms DuPree shared this story at a community meeting in Ypsilanti and later gave us permission to post it here.

Hello, my name is Krystle DuPree. I am a black single mother and a Veteran ... both a DPS and Eastern Michigan University alum, now a Graduate Student at The University of Michigan. I cannot help but thank God for my blessings. I recognize it is only his mercy that allows me to tell my story. I hope to do so in a way that employs sincere thought and consideration.
As My story is merely one of about 4.1 million residents within the state of Michigan who are living at or below the poverty line. Over half of us are Black or Latinx.
My family and I became routine residents at shelter after shelter. Public housing and, just so you know slum lords usually offer the cheapest rent. As time progressed school was truly a place of refuge.  Although the schools I attended were gravely underfunded, they proved to be an essential layer of resilience before and after I left home and became an emancipated juvenile. Through choir I found my voice, through dance I found my rhythm, and through poetry I bore my soul. Throughout my senior year, I was blessed to have peers with caring parents who let me sleep in their homes and helped me feel as close to an “average” teenager as I could. I was “adopted” by the community; they helped me to see the uniqueness in my reality and the beauty in its imperfection.
After high school, thanks to the lingering effects of redlining and budding gentrification, underemployment took me out of my community like many people. Only to be deflated by the reality of layoffs vs rent. Once the likelihood of homelessness began to linger yet another time, I reached out to an old friend. We talked about his choice to join the Army. At the time I was devoutly apolitical, and the choice to wear a uniform initially, felt like an assault on my soul. Yet as time progressed I had recognized the same thing that many my peers had. For me this was the only valuable option for educational advancement and upward mobility. In indentured servitude or the Army, I found the pseudo sense of stability, I had been seeking. All I had to sacrifice was my mental stability. Almost like flipping a switch in attempt to ignore the gender bias and supremacy.
Leaving, was also like entering a world of unknowns. Unknown possibilities yet also unknown barriers as I began to navigate single motherhood, divorce, the Veterans Administration and my education. The bottom began to shake until it fell out. Yet by then I had made my way to Washtenaw Community College and fortunately met councilors, teachers and peers who again adopted me and motivated me to keep moving forward. This is how people help each other. There is nothing wrong with my work ethic, my story is not a tale of laziness and entitlement. It is the story of many who wake up every day and do what they have to, to make things happen.
In this nation the value of humanity has an asterisk and the fine print reads, “ There is a complexion for progression. If you are affluent  you are influential. If you are impoverished, you are invisible.” Every day we wake up to a society whose moral fabric is swiftly and steadily eroding, just as our roads and the pipes that carry our tap water. We have so called leaders condescendingly imitate empathy by offering, food boxes and less than affordable fair housing. This is not The American Dream but an American Reality, a ghoulish nightmare where slavery exist on plantations behind barbed wire yet some folk think we still need more policing in black and latinx communities. Where black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated.
I fear the world that is awaiting my beautiful, sweet and wise son.
I fear what will happen to my Cousin, his name is Deonte Newsome. He is 20yrs old and he is in jail on false charges. Awaiting his second trial on the 27th of this month. We cannot afford to stand idly by and allow our elected representatives to continue to fail at representing us. The speakers that came to you today shared their stories of dedication to the tenants of this campaign as we stand against, systemic racism, poverty, ecological destruction, The War Economy and Militarism. Recognizing their interconnectedness, we see that we cannot address one issue with fighting them all.
We stand together to uplift this nation and build communities that are adequately equipped to foster mental and physical well-being. A place where healthcare is universal, where housing and water is affordable, where people can live without fear of the law or fear of their neighbor.  Where the roads aren’t crumbling and pipelines aren’t destroying our mother earth. Where I don’t have to go broke on child care, and my son can be guaranteed a quality education no matter where his school is located. Now is the time, it the time to flip the narrative and fire those who aren’t doing their job. Which is to work for us, November is coming. It time for us to send some folks home. Move forward together not one step back. As you think over the stories that have been shared today and the work that still needs to be done think about how you can join in on that work and help to cultivate a better future for our kids, through creating a better Nation.

Friday, August 10, 2018

PPC reflections from Rabbi Alana Alpert

(reposted from email)
The morning after an incredible shabbaton of relationship and skills-building, over a dozen DJJ leaders schlepped to Lansing to participate in the Poor People’s Campaign. We were rolling deep because the day’s theme of Environmental Justice brings out the cause dearest to our collective heart: water.

Those of us risking arrest shared why we were there. I said, “I’m here because this is how I pray.” Spiritual practice challenges our need for certainty, our obsession with clarity, our hubris of imagined control. We don’t know if anything will come of using our bodies to communicate our outrage about water shutoffs and poisoned land to decision-makers in Lansing. But we do know that we must practice taking risks for justice. We must practice answering the call of our partners to stand with them: indeed, without the work of DJJ, there would have been almost no Jewish presence in the Michigan campaign. As DJJ practiced these things, I felt deeply grateful to be rooted in a spiritual tradition and Metro Detroit Jewish community committed to nurturing the critical intersection between faith and social change.

Photo by Tommy Airey
We are especially proud to have inducted an incredible number of DJJ leaders and friends of many ages into the tradition of direct action (including a bunch of rabbis!). One of our young leaders, Seth Archambault, describes his experience:
"The Poor People’s Campaign was an opportunity to stand for racial justice in a way that required more than just words, while staying true to the way of being I aspire to: Loving, Courageous, and Empowered. Now that I’ve experienced what non-violent direct action feels like, I know that even in the face of massive systemic issues, I have the ability to take action and stand for something greater than the status quo." 
This summer has been brutal: family separation, the Supreme Court blow to unions, and on and on. It is the holy chutzpah of leaders like Seth and our partners in the Poor People’s Campaign that keep me from despair. Thank you for supporting our work to take our faith to the streets.

P.S. Our partners in the social justice community are calling for escalation around a number of injustices. I was recently encouraged to speak out at a forum with the Mayor in my district. Click here to check out my remarks and the community response.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Protest at the National Mall

Reposted from American Human Rights Council

[Saturday, June 23, 2018, Washington DC] On a sad and gloomy day, people from across the United States converged at the National Mall in Washington DC to share the conditions and misery citizens of the richest country in the world suffer from. The Poor People's Campaign's (PPC) peaceful march in DC is the culmination of a 40-day protests and civil disobedience across the country in front of dozens of States' capitol protesting against poverty, militarism, systemic racism, voting rights, and ending mass incriminations among other noble causes.

Imam Mustapha Elturk of the Islamic Organization of North America (IONA) and AHRC founding board member and William Antoun, IONA's Outreach Director, joined a group of 48 people from Michigan, organized by the Michigan's PPC chapter and Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, to take part in the historic 50th anniversary of the Poor People's Campaign originated by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in DC. Among the 48 people was activist Lila Cabbil aka mam Lila, a close friend of Rosa Parks.
The protest marks 50 years since "Resurrection City," when nearly 150,000 people came to the Poor People's Campaign in 1968 with many religious leaders and activists from all over the country who camped out on the National Mall for six weeks to protest against poverty, show solidarity and gain attention to their cause.

Many clergy, community leaders, and activists shared the stage to address the thousands of people assembled on the Mall. Many of the victims also related their stories and shared their sorrow and grief as a result of the government's oppression and lack of moral conscience.

The gathering was a call for action. The 50-year anniversary of the PPC marks the beginning of a "Moral uprising across America" according to the Reverend William Barber who leads the PPC movement. In his speech, he made sure that the audience understands that they were not there to celebrate an anniversary and that, "This is not a commemoration of what happened 50 years ago. This is a reenactment and re-inauguration."

Clergy from different religious backgrounds quoted social justice verses from their respective holy books. At 2:00 PM the protesters, blacks, whites, browns, young and old, were led by Rev. Barber and those who took to the stage in a march down on Independence Avenue to the U.S. Capitol and back to the National Mall. The Capitol was barricaded with police officers and security guards.

Commenting on the rally in Washington DC, Imam Elturk said, "It is a privilege for me to stand in solidarity with clergy among other people of conscience fighting for the rights of the vulnerable and poor people as well as mother earth's ecological devastation." "There are many injustices that are not being deservedly addressed by our government and mass media. Therefore, a mass popular movement such as the Poor People's Campaign, is the answer to bringing the deserved attention to the power that be," he continued. He wonders, "This is America. Why should anyone live a life of misery?"

Imam Elturk did join along with other clergy and activists the Poor People's Campaign's rally and protest at the state capital building in Lansing on May 14, the day following Mother's day, marking the first day of the 40-day protests across the country. Commenting on that event, Imam Elturk said, "It is amazing how much injustice is taking place right here in our backyard, in America, the richest and most powerful country in the world." He urged that "We, as people of conscience and people of faith, must put pressure on our government through peaceful means including civil disobedience when necessary to change the status quo." As believers, Imam Elturk believes that, "This is our calling. It is our religious and moral responsibility to support The Poor People's Campaign."

The Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, originated in 1968 and organized by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and carried out under the leadership of Ralph Abernathy in the wake of King's assassination. The campaign demanded economic and human rights for poor Americans of diverse backgrounds. The revival started two years ago with reaching out to tens of thousands of Americans in more than 30 states and surveying their conditions and getting testimonies of their stories and their demands for a more just society. The surveys and studies were put together in a report titled The Souls of Poor Folk: Auditing America [1] and it reveals how the evils of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, and the war economy and militarism are persistent, pervasive, and perpetuated by a distorted moral narrative that must be challenged. The campaign seeks to address all of these issues with lists of specific demands.
The Poor Peoples Campaign (PPC): A National Call for Moral Revival! Demands the following:
*           A massive overhaul of the nation's voting rights laws
*           New programs to lift up the 140 million Americans living in poverty.
*           Immediate attention to ecological devastation.
*           Measures to curb militarism and the war economy.
To learn more and get involved please visit

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Riding the MI bus to DC: an activist-journalist's experience

In this personal story from Dawn R. Wolfe, she provides another great account of what it looks like and means to be a part of the Poor People's Campaign. Dawn is one of over 50 participants in the Michigan PPC who rode to Washington DC on June 22 for a national rally and march the next day. She documents the journey of this all-volunteer and diverse delegation and how impactful it was for many members of this delegation.
What was different is that we also had artists, musicians, and individuals running the economic gamut from struggling single moms to comfortably middle-class people like myself. There were also a lot of first-time demonstrators like Heather, a 40-something mom from Monroe who sat across the isle from me on both legs of the trip.
Geographically we were from all over Michigan; from Muskegon to Detroit and Washington Township to Flint. While not everyone mentioned a religious affiliation, it was impossible to miss the number of clerical collars being affixed to shirts as we got ready to disembark — not to mention Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk, a Novi resident and leader of the Islamic Organization of North America’s Warren mosque.
You can read the full story of this memorable experience at