Day 4 - Economic Human Rights Freedom Bus Update: KWRU FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Fri, 5 Jun 1998 23:17:16 -0700 (PDT)


FWD  CC Replies to Kensington Welfare Rights Union <kwru@libertynet.org>

Economic Human Rights Freedom Bus Update
June 4, 1998

Day 4 of the Freedom From Unemployment, Hunger and Homelessness Bus
Tour!

[Pictures and more information are available on our website:
http://www.libertynet.org/kwru ]


Lorain and Cleveland, Ohio

This area of Ohio was built around industry - steel, the auto industry,
etc. As our economy has changed, thousands and thousands of jobs have
been downsized. The results have been tragic and  serious, as the
community tries to cope with its losses.

After arriving in Lorain, Ohio at 2 AM, the freedom riders set up their
tents to sleep for the night (depicted on the front page). Breakfast was
provided early in the morning by members of "Drop the  Guns." Later in
the morning, we piled into the bus to head for Cleveland Ohio. In
Cleveland we heard speeches and testimony from a wide range of
organizations in support of the campaign. We learned that 40% of people
in Cleveland live in poverty. Recent laws have made it even more
difficult to survive. But these struggles are largely invisible - the
major newspaper in the area, for example, fully supported welfare
reform. Representatives from many important organizations came out to
support the rally, including the United Electrical Workers, the
Steelworkers Union, the STOP Coalition, the United Church of Christ, and
many others. Before leaving, we were deeply moved by the words of street
poet Daniel Thompson.

Back in Lorain, we had a tribunal before a panel of influential
community leaders. We heard testimony of people who, after working all
their lives, found themselves without access to life-sustaining
medication. Other community members, gave testimonies. We learned that
52% of welfare benefits in Ohio have been cut since welfare reform. Of
those who have been dropped off the rolls, only 1/3 managed to actually
"get off" welfare because they managed to find a job or their situation
otherwise changed; the other 2/3 have been cut off of assistance because
of sanctioning. And the rate people are dropped off the rolls continues
to accelerate. The panel of community leaders signed a statement
supporting the claims of economic human rights violations in Ohio.

After a day of heartbreaking testimonies, we got a moment of rest,
hosted by UAW local 245 and the Hispanic Council of the UAW. We were
entertained by a children's dance group who performed traditional
Mexican dances. Others told their stories, played music, or gave words
of encouragement. The freedom bus choir performed as well.

Many of the freedom riders have come down with a fairly serious stomach
flu, although it appears to run its course in 24 hours. The bus is also
running short on blankets. Despite these difficulties, morale is high,
as we are constantly reminded of our purpose, and the desperate need for
the task we have taken on for this month.

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For more information, visit our webpage at:
http://www.libertynet.org/kwru

Or contact us at:

Kensington Welfare Rights Union
NUHHCE, AFSCME, AFL-CIO
PO Box 50678
Philadelphia, PA 19132-9720
215/203-1945
215/203-1950 FAX
email: kwru@libertynet.org

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