Why I keep getting arrested in the Poor People’s Campaign

By Cecilia Kingman | Jun 13, 2018
Courtesy of: Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Congregation The Rev. Cecilia Kingman has been arrested three times in support of the Poor People’s Campaign.

A few weeks ago, as I was being arrested, the officers said to me, “I hope you got what you wanted today.”

I replied, “What I want is an end to poverty and racism and environmental destruction and the mistreatment of our veterans.”

These Olympia police officers then shared with me the story of a call they had responded to recently. A veteran had lost his life to suicide. He had killed himself in front of multiple people, broken by despair and unable to get the treatment he needed.

One officer’s voice shook as they told me this story. And then they thanked me for being in the streets, blocking an intersection with my body, and finally getting arrested.

I have now been arrested three times – me, a pastor, a white, middle-class, middle-aged, gray-haired lady with no prior history of criminal activity. Why on earth would I be lying in the streets of our state’s capital?

Somebody’s hurting our people – our veterans, our children, our elderly, our neighbors and our families. Somebody’s hurting our planet. All around us we see increasing suffering and devastation. Are you one paycheck away from disaster? Are you clinging to a job you hate because you need the health insurance?

Has someone you know lost their home, or their job, or their health, because of financial struggles? Do you know an immigrant family who lives in fear of deportation? Are you or someone you love a member of the LGBTQIA community and suffering discrimination or even violence?

Are you angry about police brutality? Do you know a veteran who suffers from injuries – of the body or the spirit – due to their service in our wars?

I see these folks all the time, in my church, in my kids’ school, in my family. And I am fed up. I am brokenhearted over the suffering.

And I can no longer keep quiet.

“Somebody’s hurting our people, and it’s gone on far too long, and we won’t be silent anymore.” We sing these words in the Poor People’s Campaign, all across this nation, as we rally and march for justice.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival, is a renewal of the work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Fifty years ago, King called for a national movement linking poor folks, people of color, veterans and people of faith to fight against the sins of poverty, racism and militarism.

King was killed before he could see his work realized.

Fifty years later, under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. William Barber and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharris, and led by people of color, the poor, and veterans, we have renewed King’s campaign. All across this nation we are rising up to demand an end to racism, poverty, militarism and environmental destruction.

More than a 1,000 people across the country have been arrested as we demand our legislatures and Congress address the suffering of our nation.

Every day our numbers grow.

We are not a political party, nor do we serve one. We serve the people who are suffering, and the dream of justice for all. This is a nonpartisan movement. This is not about right or left. It’s about right or wrong.

If the suffering of our people is troubling you, if you are longing for a way to be of use, if you can’t keep silent anymore, I hope you will join us in the Poor People’s Campaign. You can find out more at poorpeoplescampaign.org.

See you in the streets!

The Rev. Cecilia Kingman is Minister for Peace and Justice at Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Congregation.

 

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