COVID-19: New York Joins Nationwide Moral Monday Caravans of Mourning

New York Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival joined a national Moral Monday caravan
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The New York Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival joined a national Moral Monday caravan to mourn the quarter-million Americans - including 33,767 New Yorkers - who have died from COVID-19 and demand a just recovery from state and national leaders.

Two dozen cars circled the Capitol for over an hour, passing a makeshift graveyard erected on the lawn, with tombstones bearing names of those who died of COVID-19.

The Poor People’s Campaign’s demands include prioritizing universal health care, workers' rights and wages including a $15 minimum wage, sustained full employment, unemployment insurance, expanding voting rights and reversing chronic racial and economic inequality faced by millions of Americans.

In New York, the Campaign called on Governor Cuomo and state legislators to enact a true eviction moratorium, cancel rent and mortgage payments, pass the NY Health Act, and raise revenue from multi-millionaires and billionaires by passing progressive tax reform in the next state budget.

Heather Whitten, who traveled to Albany from Cayuga County, joined in honor of Christobal Gomez, a worker on her family’s dairy farm for over 12 years who passed away from COVID-19 in March. "After seeing my dear friend nearly every day for 12 years, I will never see him again,” she said. “Three members of my family went to the same urgent care as Christobal and were treated differently. My family lived, but our Latinx friend did not. I share Christobal's story because he cannot; because our healthcare system is broken and so is our country's unity."

“Since mid-March we have lost over 20 Veterans,” said Julie Farrar, Veteran Directed Care Coordinator at the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley. “Not everyone died of COVID, some died of lack of access to healthcare services, as COVID has decimated our broken healthcare system.”

In addition to remembering lives lost, the caravan called on officials currently in power and those taking office in January to enact policies to protect people from the coronavirus and poverty.

“New York is the richest state in the nation and billionaire New Yorkers have seen tremendous financial gains while the rest of us face unprecedented hardships,” said Ursula Rozum, a member of the Poor People’s Campaign from Syracuse. “We demand that our political leaders take action to reallocate the resources of this state to meet the needs of the people. This requires taxing the rich and reallocating resources for COVID vulnerable communities: people who have lost work, people who cannot pay their rent, people who cannot afford their medicines, people who cannot afford food, people who cannot afford COVID testing, people who are houseless, incarcerated, detained, and in nursing homes and care facilities.”

Michael Marshall, a Poor People’s Campaign member currently recovering from COVID-19, spoke to caravan participants via conference call from Rochester: “We demand that the New York State legislature pass the New York Health Act {a.5248a.s.3577a} because universal healthcare is a human right. To all elected officials, we demand that you stop being beholden to special interest groups and listen to our demands and meet the needs of the constituents who placed you in power to do the people's business.”

“As elected officials you ran on the premise of uniting and repairing the breaches in our society, well the time is now! We will gather in the squares, on the streets, in the town halls, the steps of the courthouse, the polling booths, state capitals, houses of worship, our homes, and the ever expanding virtual universe. We will not be silenced, our voices will be heard!”

BACKGROUND:

More than 140 million poor and low-income people live in the United States, or 43% of the country’s population, and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, with organizing committees in 43 states, is building a moral fusion movement to address the five interlocking injustices of systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism and a distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. Our demands are reflected in our Jubilee Platform.

For additional information: poorpeoplescampaign.org, nysppc.org

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