The Common Good

Liberty Has Been Ransacked: MOBILIZE!

I saw the first tweet at 1:10 a.m. Tuesday:

@OccupyWallSt: Raid happening NOW at #libertysq MOBILIZE! #ows #occupyallstreets  cc:@OccupyWallStNYC

Lying in bed in Washington D.C., I felt helpless. So, I re-tweeted.

Then the following tweet was posted at 3:42 am, when approximately 100 people were still left in Liberty Square:

@OccupyWallSt: Folks in #thepoeopleskitchen are gassed, tackled, dragged by arms and legs, and all others are being barricaded out so they can’t watch #ows

Bulldozers had already confiscated their make-shift homes. The last stand of the 99 percent was to protect one of the most basic human rights — the right to food. But authorities dragged them from it. And thousands of books in The People’s Library had already been thrown in the trash.

By 7:00 am Zuccotti Park and Liberty Square were empty. More than 150 protesters had been arrested, and approximately 130 riot police surrounded the encampment where Occupy Wall Street protesters have gathered since mid-September. All public access to the square and park has been blocked by police and the surrounding area is also blocked off for a 2-to-4-block radius.

I dream of an America where we are truly one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Over the last few weeks the Congressional Budget Office and the Census Bureau have released reports that reveal how liberty has been ransacked in America — and just how unjust our current system is.


Poverty numbers:

  • According to the 2010 Census another 2.6 million people slipped into poverty in the United States last year.
  • Right now in America, 16 percent of Americans, that’s nearly 50 million people, live below the poverty line. (NOTE: That’s an income of $22,000 for a household of four.)
  • Nearly half of all 25-34 year olds in the United States live below the poverty line. They can’t find jobs to make ends meet. (NOTE: that’s exactly the age group of most of the Occupy Wall Street protesters.)

Growing Disparity:

  • According to the Congressional Budget Office study released in October 2011, The top 1 percent owns 42 percent of all wealth in the U.S., while the top 20 percent owns 93 percent, and the bottom 80 percent owns only a measly 7 percent.
  • Likewise, since 1979 the income of the top 1 percent nearly tripled — rising 275 percent — while the bottom 20 percent's income rose only by 18 percent.

Effect of Government programs to alleviate poverty:

  • Government has the capacity to keep people from slipping into poverty.
  • Last week, the Census Bureau released its “Supplemental Poverty Measure” that revealed programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit, SNAP/Food Stamps, Housing subsidies, WIC, the National School Lunch Program, and Medicaid all keep people from slipping into poverty.
  • Nearly 7 million people were kept out of poverty by these programs in 2010.

When God established the government of ancient Israel, God made sure to institute the Sabbath, the Sabbatical Year, and the Jubilee.

These were regulations that placed limits on the power of businesses to grow to the point of empire. God knew when business is allowed to grow to the point of empire money becomes God. When money becomes God, people are exploited and oppressed.

There’s a reason Jesus said “You cannot serve God and money.”

Mayor Bloomberg takes full responsibility for clearing the 99 percent from Liberty Square.

Word has it the mayor made his decision to raid and empty Liberty Square in response to rumors that the 99 percent intended to protest on Wall Street this Thursday by shutting down traffic.

Several cities have seen similar evictions of the 99 percent in recent days. The eviction of our country’s original protest in New York City will no doubt embolden authorities to squash protests in towns across the nation.

What’s more ironic, in just one week the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka “the supercommittee”) will bring its recommendations for $1.2 trillion in cuts to the federal budget. Budgets are moral documents and how we balance the budget is a moral issue. Half of the committee is determined to protect Bush era tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans while drastically cutting programs that serve the people.

Many of the programs that have proven to keep people from slipping into poverty are on the chopping block right now, including SNAP/Food stamps, Head Start, WIC, Housing subsidies, Medicare, and even Social Security. Not to mention huge cuts to foreign aid, including major funding for the International Justice Mission and World Vision.

It’s time for people of faith to get up off the couch, out of the pews, and MOBILIZE!

THIS WEDNESDAY Sojourners and other groups in support of the Circle of Protection will coordinate Human Circles of Protection, a national effort by people faith to show Congress and the world that Jesus followers want an America where our credo is bond: liberty and justice for all!

In cities across the nation, at 12 noon in every time zone people of faith will join hands forming symbolic Human Circles of Protection around “the least of these” in prayer.

Circles are currently being planned in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, Vancouver, Orange County, California, Boise, Idaho, and Colorado.

There are also circles large and small being planned on Christian college campuses across the country!

You can form a circle right where you are! Just grab a few friends. Stand in a circle. And pray! Pray for God to move the hearts and minds of the supercommittee. Pray for God to protect the least of these in our current budget battle. Pray for God’s liberty and justice for all.

Click here to find out where a Human Circle is happening near you…or form a small circle with your friends and colleagues and let us know your plans!

 

meLisa Sharon Harper is the Director of Mobilizing at Sojourners. She is also co-author of Left, Right and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics and author of Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican ... or Democrat.

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