Nearly 50 MPA members traveled over twelve hours on a bus to attend the National People’s Action (NPA) conference in Washington, D.C. this April. The conference included a packed schedule of trainings, direct actions, and Capitol Hill visits with Congressional staff and members of Congress. For many of the MPA members on the trip, it was their first visit to our nation’s capital.
On day one, members joined thousands of others at a rally in the heart of Washington’s financial district. Wearing green hats to invoke the image of Robin Hood, speakers from organizations across the nation spoke about how the “Robin Hood Tax” could help provide an additional $350 billion in revenue each year. Thousands of green-hatted supporters then marched from the International Monetary Fund building to the United States Treasury Building, asking President Obama and Treasury Secretary Lew to stand with the American people and not with Wall Street.
On day two, members attended training sessions where they learned about ongoing efforts to reform Wall Street, improve public housing, close corporate loopholes, and create a common-sense immigration system.
Participants also took their message straight to the homes of two individuals who have a lot of influence over the kinds of policies that come out of D.C. Fourteen buses of activists first unloaded at the residence of Edward DeMarco, the acting Director of the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA). FHFA oversees the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Mr. DeMarco did not come out to address the crowd of hundreds on his lawn, so a letter was delivered asking for his resignation for the role he played in creating the housing crisis that affected thousands of Americans and sent our economy into a tailspin (a week later, DeMarco was ousted and President Obama named his replacement).
The next stop was the home of Eugene Ludwig, who is on the Board of the Fix the Debt campaign. Fix the Debt is a group of Wall Street banks and large corporations who are advocating major cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other important programs in the federal budget. MPA member Alex Jackimovicz, a small business owner from Boothbay Harbor, spoke at the rally and his comments got national attention.
Finally, members got the chance to be in D.C. just as the debate about immigration reform was beginning to heat up. Over 500 people packed the hallways of the Hart Senate Office Building, while others stood outside praying and singing in unison. MPA member Abdi Matan spoke at a national press conference that was organized that day, and the image of refugees from Lewiston standing up for immigration reform was featured in many of national news stories that evening.
MPA members played an integral role in making this national conference a success--from presenting at workshops, to speaking at press conferences, to leading chants and organizing a meeting to share some of their personal stories directly with Senator Collins. We thank the many members who took time off from work to represent MPA so impressively on a national stage!