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Twin Cities Daily Planet: Truth commissions, ‘Poor People’s March’ to shine light on poverty

The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign will hold truth commissions in Minneapolis leading up to the Republican National Convention.FROM TWIN CITIES DAILY PLANET


On the heels of a statewide bus tour which exposed the reality of Minnesotans living in poverty, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign will hold truth commissions in Minneapolis leading up to the Republican National Convention.

The national coalition of poor people’s organizations, which includes member groups from Minnesota, kicked off its Poverty Bus Tour Aug. 1 in the Twin Cities. Since then, coalition members have stopped in 18 communities from Taconite to Owatonna. In each town, the group has hosted discussions and media events designed to expose the real toll of poverty, including the lack of adequate housing and health care. This week they’ll convene a similar tour of the Twin Cities.

On Sept. 2, the campaign plans to lead thousands of people through the streets of St. Paul to draw attention to the economic policies that have left them and their allies battling homelessness and poverty.

“It’s time for low-income families across America to stand up and stand together,” stated Cheri Honkala, national organizer for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. “We need to demand that our voices are heard and that the daily human rights violations we are experiencing are exposed and ended.”

Honkala will be joined by her son, filmmaker Mark Webber, who recently made his directorial debut in an award-winning film Explicit Ills—inspired by their own experiences with poverty and homelessness.

The campaign encourages union members to join them, citing the growing burden on all working families and the strong need for solidarity.

“Now is the time for all of us to come together,” explained Honkala. UNITE HERE has already signed on to support the campaign’s efforts, as have The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and other worker centers.

Here’s how you can join in:

• Saturday, Aug. 30, at 2 p.m.: Minnesota Truth Commission, Sabathani Community Center, 310 E. 38th St., Minneapolis. Poor residents from Minnesota will testify before a panel of commissioners from the religious, labor and human rights communities.

• Monday, Sept. 1, at 7 p.m.: National Truth Commission, Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill, 105 W. University Ave., St. Paul. Poor residents from across the United States will testify before a similar panel.

• Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 4 p.m.: “March for Our Lives” and rally through downtown Saint Paul. Route begins at Mears Park, corner of Sixth and Wacouta Streets. Led by poor and homeless children, elderly people, members of disabled communities, and religious communities, actors Rosario Dawson, John Ritter and Mark Webber. Some participants will engage in nonviolent civil disobedience to serve the Republicans with a “citizen’s arrest.”

For a full schedule of the group’s activities and more information, go here.

Deborah Rosenstein is a labor educator at the University of Minnesota Labor Education Service, which publishes Workday Minnesota.