Local residents stand out in solidarity with Washington D.C. marchers

  • Patrick Falvey holds a sign at the Poor People’s Campaign rally on the Greenfield Common on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Marty Schotz and his stuffed giraffe, Rosie, at the Poor People’s Campaign rally on the Greenfield Common on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Ted Scott and Garrett Connelly hold signs at the Poor People’s Campaign rally on the Greenfield Common on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer
Published: 6/19/2022 2:26:40 PM
Modified: 6/19/2022 2:26:20 PM

GREENFIELD — While thousands joined in the Poor People’s Campaign march in Washington D.C. on Saturday, aimed at addressing the intersection of racism, poverty and militarism, a group gathered in solidarity on the Greenfield Common.

About 20 protesters holding signs, and a stuffed giraffe named Rosie, gathered to call attention to the cause.

“Martin Luther King first tried to do this,” said Sheila Fowler, a protester who has been regularly attending Saturday standouts on the common. “This is about not just gay people, not just Black people; it’s about all poor people at the end of the day.”

The Poor People’s Campaign has brought attention to the interconnectedness of issues in America since 1968. In recent years, the message of the Poor People’s Campaign has grown to also focus on the impact of ecological devastation and religious nationalism.

According to Pat Hynes of the Greenfield-based Traprock Center for Peace and Justice, the Poor People’s Campaign estimated that 140 million Americans live in poverty or are low-income.

“That’s 40% of our county,” Hynes said.

Hynes went on to say that “the priority of our elected officials is not to end poverty.”

“The military budget is over $850 billion,” she said. “If half that money were put into ending poverty, we would live in a more equal democratic country.”

Attendee Suzanne Carlson said she wished she could be in Washington D.C., but was unable to go. Kate Scarborough, a member of the coordinating committee with the Massachusetts Poor People’s Campaign, organized a bus trip with more than a dozen local residents to D.C.

“I’m getting too old for my body to be on that bus,” Carlson explained. “But the campaign is bringing up all the issues dear to my heart. These are the issues that should be dear to all of America.”

Attendee Garrett Connelly held a sign depicting a peace symbol.

“My wife made this sign before she died, so she comes every Saturday,” he said.

Greenfield resident Paki Wieland, who was part of the first Poor People’s Campaign march 54 years ago, shared her experience in D.C. in a phone interview.

Wieland said people at the rally in D.C. told their own stories about how the military budget affects their lives.

“Many of us were touched to the core,” Wieland said. “We need to look at the system of racism, poverty and militarism. They need to be eradicated. They need to be exposed and changed.”

On Sunday, Wieland attended a planning conference with the Poor People’s Campaign to discuss how she can bring lessons from her experience to the local community.

Upcoming exhibit

The group who protests every Saturday will have an exhibit opening at The LAVA Center on Saturday, Aug. 6. The exhibit will display photos from vigils and protests in Greenfield over the past 20 years, with statements from the attendees.

Contact Bella Levavi at blevavi@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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