Poor People

Pictured are some of the statewide delegation of the Poor People’s Campaign, which traveled through Bradford County on May 8. From left are Nijmie Dzurinko, PA-PPC Co-Chair, National Steering Committee (Philadelphia); Jacob Butterly, PA-PPC Theomusicologist, Put People First! PA (Montgomery County); and Borja Gutiérrez, PA-PPC Co-Chair (State College).

ATHENS – A statewide delegation of 10 from the “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival National Emergency Truth and Poverty Tour” traveled through Bradford County on May 8.

They shared stories and music at the teach-in “Community Connections: How to Reverse Profits Over People.” The event was hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Athens and Sheshequin. Four local businesses also shared their experiences and effort to alleviate poverty in our area. Dave Nowacoski, owner of Windstone Landing Farm and Delivered Fresh, spoke about their “Pay It Forward” pantry donation option available on their online Delivered Fresh website. Lori Beth Cole of Red Door Mission informed the audience of her organization’s men’s shelter, non-profit stores, food pantries, meeting spaces for Alcoholics Anonymous and other free programs provided to children and low-income families. The Rev. Michael Bell of Frederick Douglass Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church in Elmira, N.Y., discussed his involvement with inmates and families of the Elmira Prison System. Janelle Daddona of Project GROW discussed educational trainings, children’s cooking programs and community gardens that promote healthy eating and skill building.

Several speakers from the Poor People’s Campaign of Pennsylvania discussed personal struggles of being poor and highlighted legislative actions in Pennsylvania that can affect middle- to low-income families. These bills were highlighted as well as the Poor People’s Campaign on their passages.

Pro: House Bills (HB) 1291: Non-partisan Gift Ban for Public Officials – Make it illegal for lobbyists to bribe Pennsylvania legislators with gifts like cars, vacations and fancy meals – https://www.mohpa.org/our-blog/2019/5/7/our-actions-forced-speaker-turzai-to-co-sponsor-hb-1291.

Against: HB 33: Cuts and Guts to General Assistance – Against eliminating $205/month for those in deepest poverty which can make a difference in a person being able to rent a room, buy some toothpaste, or maybe even a tent when forced to live on the street – https://medium.com/@pappcblog/general-assistance-in-pennsylvania-must-be-expanded-not-eliminated-8b77af759890.

Against: Senate Bills (SB) 652: Criminalizing pipeline protest around critical infrastructure such as gas and oil pipelines – http://polluterwatch.org/PENNSYLVANIA-Oil-Gas-Critical-Infrastructure-Anti-Protest-Bills-alec-csg. Under the bill, entering such an area with the intent to cause damage or disruption is a second-degree felony. An individual who “conspires” to do so commits a first-degree felony. The Poor People’s Campaign believes this bill is intended to prevent gathering onsite evidence of wrongdoing. The penalty is severe when compared to other first- and second-degree felonies:

First-Degree Felony: A felony in the first degree is the most serious felony criminal charge in Pennsylvania. The penalties for a first-degree felony conviction include from 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. This includes crimes such as: murder; aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; kidnapping; rape; arson endangering persons; and theft of property worth $500,000 or more.

Second-Degree Felony: A conviction for a felony in the second degree in Pennsylvania includes from 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. This includes crimes such as: sexual assault; involuntary manslaughter of a victim under 12 years old; burglary (with no one in the structure); indecent assault; aggravated assault; theft of property worth at least $100,000 but less than $500,000.

The event concluded with sharing of experiences and building coalitions for the work ahead. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Athens and Sheshequin is located at 112 North St., Athens. Parking is in the rear of the building. UUCAS is an intentionally inclusive congregation which welcomes people of all religious backgrounds, racial and cultural origins, sexual orientations, and gender identities. If you would like more information, please call us at (570) 888-0252, email us at uucas@uucas.org, or visit us at www.uucas.org. Everyone is welcomed.

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