Written by Connie Larkman
The Rev. Traci Blackmon is one of several faith leaders who put their bodies on the line for love of neighbors, their health care and for the sake of justice Thursday morning at the Capitol. The national officer, Executive Minister of the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries was arrested alongside Moral Movement leader the Rev. William Barber and the Rev. Jennifer Butler from Faith in Public Life, as they, other clergy and dozens of supporters marched against pending healthcare reform that proposes to deny coverage to 22 million people.
Long line of Capitol Police getting in position to arrest Rev. Barber, rabbis, pastors after reading out warnings over bullhorn pic.twitter.com/xRjSDAzhlr— Jeff Stein (@JStein_Vox) July 13, 2017
Blackmon, quoting the prophet Isaiah, "How awful it will be for those who mandate wickedness and legalize oppression, denying justice to the needy, taking away the rights of the poor," denounced the Republicans' latest plan to replace The Affordable Care Act.
"Any healthcare reform that denies access to healthcare coverage for an additional 22 million of the most vulnerable citizens among us is wickedness," she said. "Any healthcare coverage that provides less for the least than it does for the most is wickedness. Any legislation that punishes poverty for the sake of greed is wickedness."
"Call your God who your God is: capitalism" pic.twitter.com/WvU0okh0y0— Jeff Stein (@JStein_Vox) July 13, 2017
A group of 50 activists marched to the Russell Senate Office Building on July 13, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced his revised health care legislation, the "Better Care Reconciliation Act," hoping to rally enough support for the measure to bring to a vote next week.
"My Lord turned over the tables when poor people were being exploited in the public square of his day," Barber said. "I have no choice but to nonviolently resist a deconstruction of health care that I know will kill thousands of my neighbors. McConnell has the power to lock us up and he may have the votes to deconstruct the ACA. But I refuse to concede that the richest nation in the history of the world cannot guarantee all of its members access to health care."
Blackmon and Barber were 2 of 11 interfaith protestors, four men and seven women, taken into custody by U.S. Capitol Police outside Senator McConnell's office and charged with crowding, obstructing, or incommoding. All 11 paid fines and were released later in the day.
This is not the first time Rev. Blackmon was arrested while speaking out for justice for all during this presidential administration. She was one of seven clergy members taken into custody on April 24 while praying in another Senate office building in opposition to Trump's budget proposal.
"We are not here to stand for or against any political party. We are not here to play partisan games with any human life. We are here to stand against the wickedness of this legislation," Blackmon said.
"We are here to decry injustice. We are here to cry aloud for the poor. We are here to remind us of our humanity. On behalf of a GOD who loves us all."