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City of Cleveland, Cleveland Politics, Ohio City, Photos, Poverty

Cleveland Truth Commission hears testimony at a day-long session in effort to put poverty on trial

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PHOTO BY CHUCK HOVEN Saturday, October 14, 2017; Cleveland Truth Commission on Poverty, Franklin Circle Church, 1688 Fulton Road: William Clarence Marshall offers a passionate reading of a speech by Genevieve Mitchell in which Mitchell asks listeners to imagine a world where Europeans had been enslaved in Africa and were now the victims of poverty and racial disparity.

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PHOTO BY CHUCK HOVEN Saturday, October 14, 2017; Cleveland Truth Commission on Poverty, Franklin Circle Church, 1688 Fulton Road: Journalist and activist leader of the Imperial Women’s Coalition Kathy Wray Coleman talks about expensive bonds that contribute to overcrowding in jails.

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PHOTO BY CHUCK HOVEN Saturday, October 14, 2017; Cleveland Truth Commission on Poverty, Franklin Circle Church, 1688 Fulton Road: Environmental activist Randy Cunningham talks about how environmental harm is an issue of where you live. He said poor minority communities are often selected as sites for toxic waste dumps. Cunningham talked about a group of activists on Noble Road that were fighting a toxic waste dump.

(Plain Press, November 2017)      The movement to End Poverty Now continued its efforts in Greater Cleveland with a Cleveland Truth Commission on Poverty held at Franklin Circle Church in Ohio City on October 14th. The Truth Commission on Poverty was billed as “putting poverty on trial.”

A statement in the program for the event, offered a description of the Truth Commission: “The Truth Commission on the Right Not to be Poor is part of the broader effort to revive the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign by bringing together the struggles of the poor and dispossessed today. As part of this New Poor People’s Campaign, the Truth Commission understands poverty and the devaluation of human life to be the bedrock of the multiple social crises we’re facing, including the crises of racism, militarism and ecological devastation.”

Larry Bresler of Organize Ohio spoke of the three tasks faced by the Truth Commission: 1) to expose lies about poverty 2) develop a moral vision and 3) to develop a platform.

A six-person panel of commissioners was tasked to listening to hours of personal testimonies from low income individuals and their advocates telling stories grouped by categories. The categories of testimony included the right to housing, the criminalization of the poor, the right to quality education, the right to health care, the right to living wage jobs, and environmental degradation.

Commissioners were tasked with collecting and recording the testimonies and coming out with findings. Commissioners in attendance were: Reverend Brooks Berndt, an environmental justice minister with the United Church of Christ; Reverend Sala W. J. Nolan Gonzalez, Minister for Criminal Justice and Human Rights with the United Church of Christ; Maria Smith, Supervising Attorney at the Cleveland Legal Aid Society; Marian Kramer, Co-Chair of the National Welfare Rights Union; Edward Little, Team member of the Collaborative for a Safe Fair and Just Cleveland; and Chris Knestrick Director of Operations for the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.

The testimonies will be posted on the Organize Ohio website www.organizeohio.org. Once in the website click the heading End Poverty Now go to the heading Cleveland Truth Commission and click Personal Testimonies. As the Plain Press was going to press not all the testimonies had been posted to the website.

Organizations sponsoring the Cleveland Truth Commission on Poverty include: CLEAN, Cleveland Peace Action, Cuyahoga Progressive Caucus, For Our Future, Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network, Homeless Congress, InterReligious Task Force on Central America, Move to Amend, Neighborhood Connections, Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, Northern Ohioans for Budget Legislation Equality, Organize! Ohio, Peace in the Hood, Single Payer Action Network of Ohio, Stop Targeting Ohio’s Poor, and United Clevelanders Against Poverty.

About plainpress

Plain Press 2012 W. 25th Street, Suite #500 Cleveland, OH 44113 Email: plainpress@gmail.com Email Advertising: plainpressads@yahoo.com Phone: (216) 621-3060 Managing Editor: Chuck Hoven Editor: Deborah Rose Sadlon Advertising Representative: Tom Sheehan

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