New Yorkers without means used what they had to march on Wall Street.

New York Poor People’s Campaign (NYPPC) marched to Wall Street starting at the Museum of the American Indian, passed the New York Stock Exchange and ending at Trinity Church Wall Street where multiple people spoke about the plight of the voiceless and what needs to be done politically to fix things.

“We live in a time where there is great suffering and crisis,” said Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, at the mass meeting. “And much of what is going on doesn’t make sense. We throw away more food than it takes to feed every man, woman and child in this country…We have brokers here on Wall Street bidding on food prices as families in this country and around the world are facing some of the highest food prices in history!

“But it doesn’t have to be this way,” said Rev. Dr. Theoharis.

The march was part of a national “Poor People’s Campaign” that aims to use “grassroots community and religious leaders, organizations, and movements” to fight against systemic racism, poverty, environmental issues, and overreliance on the military engaging in perpetual war with some entity or nation.

Representatives from Vermont, Rhode Island and Massachusetts joined the march as part of the “Mass Poor People’s & Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls.” The groups want to hit the nation’s capital on June 18th.

“I worry for my son. I worry that he’ll be able to find a living wage,” said Kelly Smith, a tri-chair of the NYPPC. “I worry that he lives in a world where his Black skin is valued less than my white skin. And I could worry and worry and worry and wring my hands. Or I could stand up. I could speak up. I could fight.”

Pamela Poniatowski, tri-chair of the Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign, said that she wasn’t aware of the number of households with disabled members living below the poverty line according to Annual Disability Statistics Compendium via the Administration for Community Living’s National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (which is funded by the federal government) people with disabilities live in poverty more than twice the rate of people without disabilities (27.8% to 11.9% respectively), which gave her yet another reason to march and voice their displeasure with the way things are.

“There are still millions of people waiting for housing, just look around,” Poniatowski said. “We can see them in every state. It is heartbreaking and there are 140 million people who are just one emergency away from losing everything. The waiting list for housing anywhere is years long. What are we expected to do during those years?”

“You’ve got a mess,” added Bishop William J. Barber. “These kinds of politics turn us against each other, blame the poor for their poverty even though we live in the midst of abundance. And we know that poverty is not so much a personal choice as a political consequence of policies. We have the resources to meet the needs of everybody.

“The only thing we don’t have enough of is moral consciousness and the will to do what’s right. And that’s our job––to shift the moral narrative of this nation.”

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