CLEVELAND, Ohio — As the Republican National Convention approaches, Organize! Ohio plans to make poverty an election focal point though their march for economic justice.
Organize! Ohio’s mission is to “advance and encourage community organizing as a strategy for progressive change” in the state. The organization’s Executive Director Larry Bresler said that most of the time, election discussions focus on middle-class problems. End Poverty Now!, a march for economic justice during the Republican National Convention, hopes to refocus these conversations.
The march covers both domestic and international poverty issues, including making minimum wage equal a living wage, increasing access to affordable higher education and enacting legislation for “a legitimate and non-burdensome pathway to citizenship for immigrants and ending the deportation of undocumented immigrants and refugees.”
“We don’t really expect to get the attention of Republicans,” Bresler admits. Instead, the goal is to bring the many factors that contribute to poverty to the attention of national media. To gather support for their wide-reaching cause before the convention, Bresler said Organize! Ohio, the march’s main coordinator, reached out to groups throughout Cleveland that focus on poverty.
These organizations ranged from United Clevelanders Against Poverty, which aims “to create equality for all humans through advocacy and empowerment practices,” and the Inter Religious Task Force on Central America, whose mission statements says they call “together people in the U.S. to walk in solidarity with oppressed peoples of Central America and Colombia.”
According to Bresler, the final 28 groups on the planning committee each had people submit the issues they felt were important to address in a march for economic justice. The result was an assortment of issues that Bresler said are “all social justice-related. All relate to poverty.”
The dedication this group of people has shown in advocating for policies to fight domestic and international poverty reflects the desire of American people to help those affected by poverty both within and outside of our borders. In a Pew Research Center poll on global problems, 60 percent of the voters polled believed the situations would be worse without U.S. involvement.
In regard to immigration, one of the many issues the End Poverty Now! March will touch upon, 57 percent of registered voters said that they believe immigrants strengthen the U.S. thanks to their hard work and talents. This is a more divisive issue in the Republican Party, according to Pew.
Economic justice for all people, whether they are U.S. natives or immigrants, is not an issue specific to one political party. Bresler said that there will be a similar march for economic justice at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, a week after the Republican National Convention.
That march is being organized by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, a group dedicated to “uniting the poor as the leadership base for a broad movement to abolish poverty everywhere and forever.”
Bresler said that the goal is to make the march and its issues “visible.” This means a boisterous environment, plenty signs and a rally to energize the participants. Due to the intense security at the Republican National Convention, Bresler said that the rally would have to be more controlled this time around.
There is a rally scheduled for June 18 at 2 p.m., and the march will kick off at 3 p.m. following the rally. In total, Bresler expects 5,000 people to turn out for the End Poverty Now! March.
– Anastazia Vanisko