BENEFITING: PEOPLE ORGANIZED FOR WESTSIDE RENEWAL
This year, four POWER representatives joined over 500 leaders and organizers at the 40th Annual National People's Action Conference. We looked back at the last 40 years of NPA's history-making work, where we took on powerful legislators and corporate big whigs who polluted our environment, destroyed our homes, took our jobs, denied us citizenship, and tried to divide our movement along race lines. We didn't divide, though — we came together, fought back, and won! We took direct action that changed the world in New York, Chicago, New Orleans, and of course Washington, DC.
We've saved thousands of low-income apartments and made homeownership a reality for thousands more. We stood up to Big Banks and Big Oil. We lampooned racist, anti-immigrant lobbyists with our special "Horse's Ass Award" for worst legislation proposed and we gave the "Cowardly Lion Award" to timid federal bank regulators for failing to protect our communities while banks robbed them blind. And, of course, we wrote and passed the Community Reinvestment Act, which has put billions of dollars into low-income communities of color and outlawed redlining in the US.
After the financial meltdown that crashed our economy, we worked on a reform bill that would protect consumers and regulate Wall Street. We needed just one Republican to join us and vote for communities to pass the law. So, we filled Senator Scott Brown's (MA) office on Capitol Hill with a "Big Tent," because he had campaigned as a "Big Tent Republican," and demand he meet with the people he promised to represent. At that meeting, we won his support, and the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill passed into law, creating the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
We committed that in the next 40 years we will change the world again by building a new economy that works for everybody! It's going to take a lot of work, a lot of planning, and a clear vision for how to get there. So here's where we began:
- We joined allies from National Nurses United, the Amalgamated Transit Union, and from around the Globe to demand a Robin Hood Tax! This small fee on financial transactions would go a long way toward making Wall Street fund our commitments to the Human Rights to housing, education, jobs and health care.
- We've been working all year to get President Obama to replace Ed DeMarco. DeMarco, the Acting Director of the Federal Housing Finance Administration, is one of the biggest roadblocks to recovery for underwater homeowners, and in turn to our broader economy. We wrote a resignation letter for Ed, and went to his house to ask him to sign it. If the government keeps putting the needs of the banking elite above the common good, we'll never build the World As It Should Be.
- We brought our message to the US Senate as the Judiciary Committee held hearings on Comprehensive Immigration Reform. 50 of us brought our message inside the hearing as we demanded that Congress #ProtectThePath to Citizenship and #KeepFamiliesTogether. Meanwhile, hundreds rallied outside the chambers and shared testimonies with national and local media. Immigration Reform is a major step toward building an economy that works for all of us, no matter what hate-peddling politicians like Kris Kobach think.
- We stood up to Fix The Debt, an organization backed by Wall Street, greedy corporations, and (shamefully) by LA's own Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. This dangerous group of wealthy and powerful individuals is trying to blame our continued economic woes on us: workers, students, single mothers, children, veterans, the elderly, the disabled, and all of us who struggle every day to make it in America. They want US to pay even more for their mishandling of the economy, through deeper cuts to social programs, job creation, and investment in our future. Meanwhile, they protect the wealthy corporations who WE bailed out, instead of demanding that they pay their fair share!
- On the way home, our plane was delayed for 3 hours due to Air Traffic Control furloughs. These ongoing furloughs are caused by the Sequestration (basically, deep cuts to all government spending caused by Republicans' and Democrats' inability to compromise on a budget) — which we could have avoided if Wall Street paid their fair share, instead of throwing money at politicians who obstruct any attempt to find solutions that work for all of us. THAT AIN'T RIGHT! Even though we were exhausted after the Confernce, POWER never misses an opportunity to spread our message. So, we got up and organized all the disgruntled passengers in the Virgin America terminal at Dulles Airport to join the movement. When we landed, we overheard a few dozen people explaining to their friends and relatives waiting for them that they were late "because of budget cuts because they banks don't pay taxes."
That's how our organizing works. We connect the real-life strugglles that people in our communities face every day to our big ideas about how to build a better economy. Because our messages are common-sense, real people can spread our Big Ideas to others.
We've got a long way to go, but it's a pretty good start for the first 72 hours of our 40-year plan. If you agree, please donate what you can to help us continue this important work, and to offset the cost of our trip to the conference. We want to send a bigger delegation in 2014, and we want to be able to take action every day in-between. That takes investment, and we can't do it without you!
You can use this site to donate $5, $25, or $500 — or whatever you can to help us continue the fight. You can also mail a check, made out to "POWER," to 235 Hill Street | Santa Monica, CA 90405.