And they’re not all bad.
Yesterday, Thursday, October 1, 2020, the Nonviolent Medicaid Army marched down Broad Street in center city Philadelphia. We were one of eight such marches that are going on this week throughout Pennsylvania organized by Put People First-PA, and one of many such marches sponsored by the Poor People’s Campaign throughout the country, including multiple marches in the states of New York, Vermont, Alabama, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. As its website explains,
The Nonviolent Medicaid Army of the poor is a growing militant force of the poor and dispossessed, united across identities, regions, races and issues, modeled after King’s ‘nonviolent army of the poor’ from the first Poor People’s Campaign of 1968.
The route of our march yesterday embodied the failure of our society to recognize and provide health care to all as a basic human right. We started at the old Philadelphia Inquirer building on which the city is spending $300 million to make a new police headquarters and walked down to the Hahnemann Hospital building, now empty because the hospital was closed by a developer who bought it to turn it into condos and profits for himself. This hospital provided medical care for many poor and working people in the city. It is now empty while the City spends millions to police those same poor and working people.
Healthcare is just one of the ways that the current system is failing us. With that in mind, at the start of the march Jamaal Henderson spoke about the encampment for the homeless that he and others organized across the Parkway from where I live. This week we had good news to celebrate. The City has finally agreed to transfer 50 properties owned by the Housing Authority to a land trust which will rehabilitate them and manage them as homes for the homeless people in the encampment.
We marched to make people aware not only of the failings of the current system, but also to celebrate a victory that shows what militant self-organizing can achieve.
By the way, I’m using a cane now (see picture above) because my right knee is shot, but I’m not ready for a knee replacement during the pandemic. It helps control the pain from walking any distance. I was wearing a yellow vest because I was working as a peacekeeper/marshal in the march, which I had done for the Poor People’s Campaign marches in Trenton in 2018.