INDIANAPOLIS–Chanting “forward together, not one step back,” a crowd of 300 protesters marched from the Crispus Attucks high school to the Indiana statehouse to protest regressive laws passed by the Indiana legislature and policies that impact the poor.
A delegation of 25 SEIU Healthcare Indiana & Illinois members was among rally participants, standing in unity with other labor groups, activists, clergy and residents.
The Rev. William J. Barber II, president of the NAACP in North Carolina and founder of the Moral Mondays Movement, delivered the rally keynote address. Moral Mondays is a protest movement characterized by its civil disobedience. The Rev. Barber spoke at the 2013 HCII Leadership Assembly, an event that prompted Indiana activists to invite him to the state.
Rally speakers addressed such issues as anti-worker “right to work” laws, the need for a higher minimum wage, unfair immigration policies and affordable healthcare, among other issues. Home care provider Adam Patti addressed the issue of healthcare.
“Even though I spend every day providing healthcare to Hoosiers in need, I can’t afford insurance to keep myself healthy,” Adam told the cheering crowd. “Caring for people with disabilities brings me great joy, but unfortunately my employer’s health care is too expensive. I stand with thousands of other healthcare workers who do not have access to healthcare themselves.”
Adam, a father of one daughter, said he hasn’t had a check-up in four years and a recent bill to pull an abscessed tooth cost $400. He called on the legislature to act on a Medicaid Expansion bill.
In order to cover the unexpected cost, Adam had to “skip meals and some utilities went unpaid. I faced foreclosure on my home, but thankfully I was able to secure a grant to save my house. I am $48,000 in debt from student loans and have had to rely on family and friends for food, gas, childcare, and other necessities. With all of this, health insurance seems like a distant luxury,” he said.
Rev. Barber said the Moral Mondays Movement is growing and put the rally into a biblical context. “If we help the poor, we shall be called repairers of the breach and God will hear our prayers,” Rev. Barber said. “”Weeping may endure for a night. Tea parties may endure for a night. Mean folk may endure for a night. But hang in there, because joy still comes in the morning.”