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Desperate for Change: Interview with Cheri Honkala

People’s Tribune  |  Issue: September | October 2016

Editor’s note: After the March for Our Lives and the Democratic National Convention, the People’s Tribune interviewed Cheri Honkala, the director of the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign.

People’s Tribune: Describe the poverty in Philadelphia and around the country that you addressed with the March for Our Lives.

Cheri Honkala: Poverty is devastating Philadelphia. It is the poorest large city in the U.S., and number one in death by drug overdoses. Poverty is growing everywhere I travel, in Baltimore, Virginia, Ohio, and New York. Recovery programs are getting shut down, housing programs are cut, and shelters are overcrowded everywhere. People are being denied health care. A lot can’t afford to buy Obamacare, so they have no health care and then they get a tax penalty at the end of the year.

PT: How did people respond to the Democratic National Convention?

A lot of people experienced a change in consciousness. They said, “Oh my God, the corporations have taken over both parties!” It was like a loss of innocence. At one point, 2000 people were outside chanting “Jill, not Hill!” for the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein. There were young people, people with disabilities, and homeless people. This is an important moment for our country. People will look back at 2016 and say, this is when the two party system started to change. People are looking for a new kind of politics, a politics that doesn’t take money from corporations and doesn’t sell itself to billionaires. This is where the movement has to go if we want to end the poverty that is crushing our people.

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