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

Friday, June 22, 2018

This Monday at the Poor People's Campaign

A blog post reposted from Detroit Jews for Justice
by Miriam Lupovitch
June 21, 2018

This past Monday I had the privilege of taking part in the Poor People’s Campaign in Detroit, the last of this spring’s 40 days of Moral Action. 

This was my first experience with this type of action. Surrounded by people flooding the streets of downtown Detroit, so committed to racial and economic justice, I was deeply inspired to be a part of this community.  A priest offered a blessing to all the folks taking part in the action. He asked everyone to reach out and touch the person in front of them. I touched the shoulder of a kind older woman in front of me, she turned back to me and smiled. I think she knew I felt out of my comfort zone. Her warm look comforted me as the priest offered his blessings for all of us. My favorite part of his blessing was the call and response. When he said, “We’re going to speak when the spirit says,” we called out, “Speak!” When he said, “We’re going to shout when the spirit says,” we called out, “Shout!” When he said, “We’re going to act when the spirit says,” we called out, “Act!”

I got chills when the people around me all shouted the final word of each sentence. The energy of that moment stuck with me as we walked to Campus Martius, where "moral witnesses" climbed into the fountain to reclaim water in honor of those who don’t have access to clean water. They distributed the fountain's water to buckets labeled with different cities in Michigan facing a water crisis. As the people around me were taking action, I could hear the priests words’ in my head, calling me to act. 

Please see Detroit action video at

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Reporting on a powerful final day of 40 days of action in Detroit

To learn more about the Michigan Poor People's Campaign, please read this terrific article on the first-hand experience of a participant journalist, Dawn R. Wolfe.

In an article entitled, "The Mustard Plant Comes Into Bloom: Michigan Poor People’s Campaign Takes the Movement to Duggan, Gilbert," Dawn vibrantly describes what she witnessed and concluded on the last day of 40 days of action in Detroit. Here's an example:
Yesterday, I personally witnessed a 400-plus-strong gathering of activists as they burst into a mighty, confidence-filled crowd ready to take on the forces that are endangering poor people in the city of Detroit. From Central United Methodist Church to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, and then on to Campus Martius and blocking the QLine at Woodward and Michigan Ave., poor people — and their allies throughout the state — put those in power on notice.

Before setting off to take action in the streets, the Michigan Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) first came together at Central United Methodist Church for what had become the traditional pre-action rally. Monday’s speakers included the Rev. Dr. Jill Hardt Zundel, Central United’s senior pastor, and the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization’s (MWRO) State Chair, Maureen Taylor.

But Monday’s pre-action rally also had something different — a memorial service for Gordon Leon King, a formerly homeless person who had been receiving support from the Central United community. While the rally’s speeches and protest songs helped cut through the sticky heat, there is nothing like mourning a human being’s death by state-sanctioned poverty to illustrate just why the Michigan Poor People’s Campaign has been taking to the streets.
Read the full story at:

Monday, June 18, 2018

WDIV: 23 people arrested in Detroit during protest of mass water shutoffs in Michigan

5 arrested for blocking Quicken Loans entrance, 18 arrested for blocking QLine

Twenty-three people were arrested during a protest in Detroit. (WDIV)

DETROIT - Officials said 23 Michigan residents were arrested Monday while protesting the mass water shutoffs in Detroit, Highland Park and Flint.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and the Great Lakes Water Authority in support of low-income families unable to afford water and sewage costs.
Participants of the Poor People's Campaign marched to Campus Martius.

Five people were arrested for blocking the entrance to Quicken Loans and 18 people were arrested for blocking the QLine in both directions, according to the Michigan Poor People's Campaign.

Protesters said the event was sparked by "gentrification, poverty and public-private partnerships." They said dozens of low-income seniors have been evicted from HUD apartments in Downtown Detroit to create market-rate units for Quicken Loans employees.

Protesters said the development of Downtown Detroit has come at the cost of residents who live in the city's neighborhoods.

"The Poor People’s Campaign is addressing the moral crisis in this nation and calling to change the moral imperative of a country that has lost its way," the Rev. Edwin Rowe said.

According to a release from the Michigan Poor People's Campaign, there are tens of thousands of households at risk for water shutoff and thousands already without water.

"The disorganized chaos of DWSD has consistently perpetuated harm towards my family and many others with their massive shutoffs and blatant refusal to institute a proven water affordability plan," Detroit mother Nicole Hill said. "This has caused irrevocable damage to my health, financial life and well-being, and I cannot allow this harm to continue."

Monday's protest is the culmination of the group's 40-day campaign in Michigan, protesters said. Hundreds of participants previously showed up in Lansing, where nearly 100 people were arrested.

Copyright 2018 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.

Help us send a full bus to DC on June 23

Please help us fill up and/or pay for the bus from Detroit to DC on Saturday, June 23

To get on the bus for the Poor People’s Campaign Global Day of Solidarity Mass Rally click here.


Click here to sign up to be on the WAIT LIST to ride the bus. We are contacting registered riders to confirm they will travel. Will will notify you ASAP if seats become available.

The bus will leave Detroit for Washington DC on Friday, 6/22 at approximately 8pm, and will return to Detroit on Sunday, 6/24 at approximately 6am. This is a turn-around trip which means no overnight stay in DC. All riders must pay $25. (A toddler or baby who can sit on your lap is free.) Please take your own spending money for food and other purchases. SIGN-UPS ARE FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED.

If you cannot make the trip please consider making a donation so that others, particularly those most impacted by poverty, can.

Online donations can be made at MI PPC Online Donations – Please be sure to designate the donation is for MI-PPC

Thank you for any and all support.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Direct Action Updates

Michigan Poor People’s Campaign
Direct Action Updates

During the 40 Days of Action for the Poor People's Campaign, dozens of Michigan residents trained in two-days of non-violent, direct action training. They pledged to take a stand against poverty, injustice, systemic racism, and a variety of harmful actions by governments and corporations. Faith leaders from across the state joined grassroots groups, union members, parents and children, and people from all walks of life in our Great Lakes state to march for justice and demand change and accountability from elected officials and business leaders. To make our calls for action loud and clear, 105 Michigan residents were arrested over six weeks of justice-seeking, non-violent direct action in Lansing and Detroit.

Here is the weekly breakdown:

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

On May 14, following the rally at the Capital, we took to the streets. Around the country, at 3pm in close to 40 states, we blockaded the streets in front of our Capitals shutting down business as usual. In Michigan, 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. With a powerful spirit, we held the space on a hot, humid day for three hours. We declared victory.

No arrests made.

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

On May 21, following a rally at both the Capital and in a nearby park, we marched to the Department of Health and Human services. Twenty activists went to the front door and blocked the main entrance to the building. When it became clear, that the building and police were more than fine to use different entrances to the building, the group split into affinity groups and shut down two additional entrances. Eventually, 16 people were able to move inside the building and were immediately told they were under arrest.

They were bonded out at $300 a person and charged with the misdemeanor of trespassing.

16 people arrested.

Friday, June 15, 2018


Dear Michigan PPC Family,

Thank you for pledging your support for the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.  We have had five very successful days of action so far. Our sixth action, which will be held in DETROIT,  promises to be very profound and impactful! We are also excited about plans for a trip to Washington D.C. for the Global Day of Solidarity Mass Rally on Saturday, June 23. For information on how to reserve a space on the bus to Washington, please see the end of this email.
This week’s action will be in Detroit on Monday, June 18th. The theme is: A NEW AND UNSETTLING FORCE: Confronting the Distorted Moral Narrative.

If you plan to participate with us this Monday, please register on this form (even if you have before), so that we can know how many to expect, and can confirm you are aware of this week’s particulars.
Also, we want to make sure that we know how many people are planning to participate in the Non-Violent Direct Action this week. If you have already done a Direct Action training (Part 1) and plan to participate in Direct Action this week, please respond to this form to confirm your Direct Action participation plans.

The schedule for Monday, June 18th is as follows:
10:30            DA training, part 2: only for people who’ve completed part 1. Direct Action participants will gather at Central United Methodist Church, 23 E. Adams St., Detroit MI with their support people for further training and action planning from 11:00-12:30. Registration is at 10:30 am.[SEE PARKING INFORMATION BELOW]

11:30 am   Registration, gathering and light lunch for rally participants (those who will be witnessing but will not otherwise be involved in the Direct Action). This will also be at Central United Methodist Church, 23 E. Adams St., Detroit MI. [SEE PARKING INFORMATION BELOW].

12:30 pm All participants: Pre-rally and program at Central United Methodist.

1:30 pm  March to Rally Site and Rally (specifics to be announced at the church)

3:00 pm  Non-Violent Moral Fusion Direct Action at a location that will be announced at the rally. [Again, only those who have been trained will participate in the Direct Action. The rest of us will stand in support and witness with our brothers and sisters while they take Direct Action.]

Moral Monday June 18th in Detroit! #PoorPeoplesCampaign #FightPovertyNotThePoor

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

We're looking for 100 Michigan Faith Clergy to sign the PPC pledge!

A Declaration for Religious/Faith Leaders to Sign
We have been asked by media if there
are one hundred clergy/religious
leaders who will stand against
water shut offs in Detroit.

Are you a religious leader, or represent
a religious organization, that will endorse
a statement and participate in a public action
for declaring the water shut offs as
immoral and spreads disease contributing to
a public health crisis to the city of Detroit? 
The human solution is a water affordability plan.

If so please add your name to the list of 100 clergy:  
We will follow up with you to announce a plan for a Detroit press conference.
Turning off water in homes that are in hardship is inhumane. People are not able to flush toilets, bathe, or cook. As a result, there has been a dramatic increase in waterborne infectious diseases since the shut offs. The best way to prevent disease is hand washing. No running water creates a major public health risk for adults and children affected and those they come in contact. Water can be made affordable through an affordability plan passed in the city of Detroit.

We are looking for faith leaders from across Michigan, please sign and join us!

Thank you for your participation. 

Water is Life!
Water is a Sacred Gift and Natural God Given
Resource to be Shared by All.

As clergy/religious leader, (or a religious organization I represent) I stand in support of those who need water. Further, I commit to participate in a public action (press conference) declaring water shut offs immoral and contribute to the public health crisis within the city of Detroit.

I declare water to be a human right, necessary for life. I endorse a water affordability plan.

People’s Water Board, Faith Action Committee

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Last Week of Actions Is in Detroit Not Lansing

Join Michiganians from across the state in Detroit on Monday, June 18th as we hold the final statewide rally and direct actions for the Poor People's Campaign "40 Days of Action." Again, there will be no MI PPC activity in Lansing that day.

 Detailed will be posted here as they become available.