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Opening day of MN Legislature: Protest Demands Moratorium on Foreclosures, Tax the Rich, No Cutbacks

By staff

MN Coalition for a People's Bailout protest opening day of legislative session

St. Paul, MN – About 100 people gathered here Feb. 4 on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol for a protest that coincided with the opening of the Minnesota State Legislature. The Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout organized the protest. Standing at the top of a giant banner reading, “Tax the rich, no cuts to poor and working people,” Angel Buechner of the Welfare Rights Committee led the chant, “Hey politicians, here’s the fix – tax the rich! Tax the rich!”

Linden Gawboy, of the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout, gave the first speech, stating, “The MN Coalition for a People’s Bailout has legislation for a People’s Agenda. We demand jobs or income now. If this state does not do the right thing and give us jobs – we need income. We want unemployment benefits extended. We want a moratorium on the five-year limit on welfare. We want the creation of a public works program to put people to work now. We call for no layoffs, no furloughs and no attacks on wages, for state and University of Minnesota workers and for all workers. Now is the time to be protecting jobs, instead of putting more people in the unemployment lines.”

Gawboy continued, “We are sick of seeing destruction that foreclosures and evictions cause in our communities. We call for a moratorium on home foreclosures and on evictions from foreclosed properties.” Many participants at the rally held signs calling for a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions.

Mick Kelly, of the Minnesota Coalition for a Peoples Bailout said, “The economic crisis continues to hit poor and working people hard. Every month more jobs are lost and more homes hover on the brink of foreclosure. We are bringing the message to the politicians at the capitol that this is an emergency and something has to be done.”

He continued, “The rally is in support of House File 2604, which will place a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions of renters from foreclosed properties while the economic crisis is still hitting so many families.” Both HF2604 and its senate companion, SF2242 were introduced Feb. 4.

Charlene Wilford of the Welfare Rights Committee told the crowd, “To those politicians who just don’t get it, we say, ‘Get out here.’ Talk to the moms who have been surviving on $437.00 per month. Talk the homeowners who have given their blood, sweat and tears over the years, only to find themselves facing foreclosures by greedy banks. Talk to families whose unemployment insurance and welfare have hit their time limits.” The Welfare Rights Committee and the Coalition are promoting legislation that will place a moratorium on the five-year time limit on public assistance.

Trade unionists played a big role in the rally. Phyllis Walker, the president of AFSCME 3800 said, “We need to extend unemployment insurance in Minnesota. The homes of many of our union members are in jeopardy because their spouse is out of work and they cannot keep up the mortgage without unemployment payments.” Nearby, members of her local held the union’s banner.

Other labor leaders speaking at the rally included Bernie Hess, of the United Food and Commercial Workers and representatives of the SEIU Local 26, whose janitors recently authorized a strike.

Other speakers included representatives from the coalition’s youth, student, tenant, anti-war and immigrant rights member groups.

Deb Konechne of the Minnesota Coalition for a Peoples Bailout says that the coalition will undertake all out mobilizations to fight for justice at the capitol this legislative session.

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