I got arrested again.
For the fifth time, I was arrested for trying to speak to lawmakers about the mess that is our health care system.
They don’t care.
They don’t care that tens of thousands of people die prematurely every year, and that millions can’t afford the care they need, even with insurance.
They practice the religion of I-got-mine-get-your-own, as they and their families all have the best care this country has to offer.
I was a speaker at the Poor People’s Campaign rally in Washington on Monday, and we had a coffin in front of the stage to illustrate the fact that innocent people are dying every day from lack of access to health care and from industrial pollution.
And as these things happen, those in power continue to roll back environmental regulations and chip away at the Affordable Care Act, which has given millions of Americans access to the care they need.
As I was about to step up to the microphone, the police told organizers that they had to remove the coffin.
Several times, I have been denied entry to legislators’ offices and public events because I won’t surrender the photo I carry of my late son. That’s why I have the T-shirt with his photo on it. So far, no one has tried to confiscate that. But the forced removal of the casket became the same thing as the attempted confiscation of my son’s photo.
Something in me snapped.
It’s as though they want to erase the lives they have sacrificed on the altar of greed.
I stepped up to the mic.
“You can force us to remove this symbol, but that doesn’t change the fact that my son lived!” I said. “He DID exist. He was here. He was loved. And he was murdered by a broken system.”
The crowd began to chant, “SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!” But the casket was removed anyway.
The problem is, these people who have the power to save tens of thousands of lives a year refuse to make any move to do so. In fact, the “Justice” Department has announced it no longer will defend the Affordable Care Act in court when states challenge it.
These powerful people call themselves “pro-life,” and “Christian,” as they try to take away women’s rights to control their own bodies, and I’m not just talking about abortion. I’m talking about attacks on contraception and on women’s health clinics, which are the only access to health care many poor women have.
As it says on the T-shirt with my son’s photo on it, “When you take away access to care, real people die.”
And closing women’s clinics is taking away access to care.
When you care more about whether a woman is having “moral” sex than her very life, you are not pro-life.
When you care more about whether a business has to serve a gay couple than you do about real people’s lives, you are not pro-life.
When you think people should have to work three full-time jobs at minimum wage just to make a living wage, you are not pro-life.
When you attack education, you are not pro-life.
When you attack Meals on Wheels, food stamps and free and reduced-price school lunches, you are not pro-life.
When you put people who have committed nonviolent crimes into for-profit prisons, you are not pro-life.
When you think we’re OK spending more than half of all our nation’s discretionary dollars on the war economy, you are not pro-life.
When you tear children from their parents’ arms and place them in cages in an old Walmart, you are not pro-life.
When you hate someone because of the color of their skin or the name of the god they worship, you are not pro-life.
When you rob people of the right to vote to determine the destiny of their own nation, you are not pro-life.
When you’re OK with children’s lives being snuffed out so that you can continue to have unfettered access to high-powered, military-grade guns, you are not pro-life.
When you think it’s perfectly OK to poison the water and the land of poor people, you are not pro-life.
These murderers seem just a little uncomfortable being reminded of the lives they have been responsible for ending.
Bad public policy is lethal, and they don’t want to be reminded of that. They only want to think of themselves and how much more money and power they can amass.
But people are beginning to rise up. Thousands have been arrested during nonviolent protests in the last month, and more are coming.
We are coming for the corrupt people in power.
We are coming to end the greed that fuels our government now.
We are coming to save the lives being lost to that greed.
We are the ones who are pro-life.
We are the ones who are moral.
We are the ones you should fear because we will win, maybe not in November, but eventually.
Your days are numbered.
We. Will. Win.
You can take away my son’s coffin, you can try to confiscate his photo, you can call me names, you can arrest me.
But you will not erase my beloved son’s life. I will not allow that.