Sit-in for the Soul of America
Yesterday West Virginia and Arizona community leaders and constituents marched and risked arrest nonviolently shutting down streets in the rain and 100 degree heat in Charleston and Tucson. Chanting “End the Filibuster! Save America!,” they demanded that Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema end their corrupt obstruction and vote to end the filibuster so the majority can pass legislation to solve the existential crises facing our nation.
With legislation to deal with urgent crises that plague America blocked by Senators Manchin and Sinema and the filibuster, Arizona and West Virginia leaders came together to reignite and escalate the fight to end their obstruction. The Tucson marchers stopped at Sinema’s office, which they said has never been opened or staffed, where Erika Andiola, a former Sinema staffer who was the first DACA recipient to work for a member of Congress, denounced her former boss’s transformation, saying, “I want to ask my former boss, Senator Sinema, someone who I deeply cared about at that time, “Where are you?! We need you back, our children need you, our mothers, and grandparents need you. My community, our community needs you. Not the billionaires!”
7 West Virginians were arrested after refusing to move from their street sit-in, which blocked traffic outside the Robert C. Byrd federal courthouse. They were charged and released later in the day. One of the West Virginians arrested, Malik Smith, community organizer, said, “I find it inexcusable for our senators to support the filibuster while ignoring its infamous history of blocking civil rights, anti-lynching bills, and the unwavering tactics that are used to disenfranchise Black voters and our ballots.”
The actions come just days after Republicans, joined by Manchin, filibustered a bill to codify Roe v Wade and with another filibuster of a gun safety and domestic terrorism bill with majority support expected within weeks. Meanwhile, Manchin and Sinema continue to block passage of a budget reconciliation bill that could circumvent the filibuster and address climate, child care, poverty, prescription drug pricing, and many other serious issues.
Maria Gunnoe, environmental justice leader and recipient of the “Green Nobel Prize,” the Goldman Environmental Prize, said “Senator Manchin! You simply can’t take everything from people and expect them to sit back quietly while you profit. You can’t continue to prop yourself up on the poorest people in our nation. We aren’t resilient as you say, sir. We are tired. The past 150 years haven’t been easy on our people. With the previous administration, the entire nation just got a dose of what politics in WV has been since history began here.”
In Tucson, protestors took over the intersection of Congress and Church St for hours and police did not arrest. Chanting “Hey hey hey ho, the filibuster has got to go!,” they said that they were blocking Congress Street just as the filibuster blocks Congress from delivering for the American people.
Kai Newkirk, founder of For All and a lead organizer of the campaign, a born-and-raised West Virginian who now lives in Arizona and was arrested in Charleston, added, “Manchin and Sinema continue to put their corporate donors and a racist Jim Crow relic before our democracy, our people, and our planet. We cannot accept it. Too much is at stake for our democracy, planet, and people to give up now — we must escalate the fight to break the Manchin-Sinema blockade this year. To do it, people across our country will need to take historic action. But they're our Senators, so we're leading the charge.”