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Poor People’s Campaign To March Without Permit From UN to Madison Square Garden

StoryAugust 30, 2004
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Cheri Honkala discusses the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign’s “March for Our Lives: Stop the War at Home” rally. [includes rush transcript]

the Poor People”s Economic Human Rights Campaign will hold their “March for Our Lives: Stop the War at Home” rally and march at the United Nations at 4pm. They are marching without a permit.

The group brought their traveling Bushville caravan to New York through to the end of the convention. The tent city is located on Myrtle Ave in Brooklyn.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to a demonstration that’s going to take police today. It is not permitted, it is the poor people’s economic human rights come pain march. Cheri Honkala is the organizer of the campaign. First let’s go to her speech yesterday just before the march.

CHERI HONKALA: Continuously, we see billions for the war and still nothing for the poor. Yet every day in the United States of America more people die here at home. Over 18,000 people will die this year this don’t have health care. That’s more than died after 9/11 and that’s more than died in terms of American soldiers in Iraq. Something’s got to change. I’m the one that’s been living with homeless children and poor people for two months in Bushville. 802 Myrtle Street it you come down to Myrtle — Myrtle, you will see poor homeless people from around the entire country that have come here to talk about poverty in America. Tomorrow at 4:00, we will march without a permit to the front doors of the Republican National Convention to give George Bush an arrest warrant for crimes against humanity. Let’s stop the war at home and abroad!

AMY GOODMAN: Cheri Honkala, national coordinator of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, leading the March for Our Lives, Stop the War at Home rally today at the U.N. at 4:00, marching without a permit. The group brought their traveling Bushville caravan to New York through the end of the convention. The tent city is located on Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn. Talk about the tent city and your march today, Cheri. Welcome to Democracy Now!.

CHERI HONKALA: For a for a month now, we began in New Jersey and walked to all five borrows — boroughs and set up our encampment of Bushville on Myrtle Street. We have poor and homeless families that are living there 24 hours a day from all walks of life. A large deaf community, farm workers, public housing tenants, you name it. People that are tired with what they see in this country.

JUAN GONZALEZ: What’s been the reception from the local community there to your group?

CHERI HONKALA: They have very much embraced this. I’m not going to pretend that we have had a great number of folks from homeland security visiting us, and — the police that have turned — had turned off the water in the park across the street so the children couldn’t use it, and those kinds of things, but other than the law enforcement agencies, they have been very supportive.

AMY GOODMAN: Could you talk about the march today.

CHERI HONKALA: At 4:00 today, we will have a permitted rally in front of the United Nations. However, we haven’t been granted a right to march, which is really no surprise to us. Four years ago, 10,000 of us decided to step onto the streets. We were not granted a permit to march four years ago. I think that’s because there’s an extra effort to insure that poor people are invisible and made to disappear in this country. JUAN GONZALEZ: So, you sought a permit and were not able to get one?

CHERI HONKALA: That’s correct. We applied for a permit, and fought for a permit, the police went to the extra extent sending out incorrect press releases to journalists and all media outlets, giving wrong information about where and when our — the time of our march was. Including today, sent out on one of the wires of the Associated Press that our march was taking place at actually 1:00 today and not 4:00.

AMY GOODMAN: Cheri Honkala, it was interested yesterday at the protest also to see there w5gs almost no place for the people to speak. No rally in Central Park, which means no amplification system. At the end of the march, they were only allowed to say that people could go to restaurants, people could leave, but not allowed to make a political statement. You will march and do you expect to be arrested?

CHERI HONKALA: I’m sure that we probably will be arrested. I’m constantly reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King. He was given court order after court order, orders not to march. He continued to march. That’s what we intend to do today. We don’t understand who made up the whole idea of permits in the first place. We can’t give up these freedoms. People have literally died in our country for these freedoms. We have a responsibility to go forward to insure that those that have the least in this country are heard from and that they’re seen. So, yes, we are peaceful, non-violent people, and we will march today including deaf people and people in wheelchairs. That — veterans, farmers, you name it, we will all step off and march today.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Four years ago, the city of Philadelphia, at least at the last moment, did decide to allow you to march, and there was — it occurred — the protests occurred without incident. I remember I was there covering it, so i would hopefully, the city fathers here will have the same thought and realize it’s better to let you go and march than to created a major confrontation.

AMY GOODMAN: Maybe if there were city mothers it would be more likely?

CHERI HONKALA: I’m hoping that that happens, and i just want to say over and over again, we have members of the deaf community that can’t hear police orders, and hopefully they will make sure that they —. They understand that we will have deaf people with us marching today.

AMY GOODMAN: As well as a number of people who are disabled?


AMY GOODMAN: Cheri Honkala, I want to thank you for being with us. The Republican National Convention begins today, the official ceremonies kicked off by mayor Michael Bloomberg and the former mayor, Giuliani who are known to make the Republican Party look more moderate, at least pro-choice as well as less adamantly anti-gay, as more conservative factions of the Republican Party are. Your comments on that face along with governor George Pataki that will be presented?

CHERI HONKALA: I think the policies of this administration; they can try to cosmetically appear to be something other than what they really are. This administration is responsible for the lives of so many people here in this country and around the world, and have done a — a wonderful job of worsening the conditions in our country.

AMY GOODMAN: Cheri Honkala, thanks so much for being with us, national coordinator of the People’s Human Rights and Welfare Campaign. We’ll report on the march that takes place today and tomorrow afternoon. You can get links of the organizations that we have spoken about. That’s democracynow.org.

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