Rev. William Barber powerfully condemned Congress’ COVID-19 relief bills as a “dereliction of duty” that amounts to “choosing people not having money" they desperately need.
April 25, 2020

On AM Joy this morning, Barber was asked by host Joy Reid what he’d like to see Democrats push for in the next coronavirus relief package, if there is one. His remarks combined a forceful denunciation of government’s neglect of the poor with an urgent plea for their help.

BARBER: The problem is what have we fought for? And we have to start before the pandemic. Even before the pandemic, Republicans racialized poverty, Democrats ran from poverty. When Democrats had a majority, we did not vote on certain things that should have taken place.

The issue is what should we be fighting for? And if we are saying that people are heroes and they’re frontline workers – you know, we used to call them service workers 45 days ago, now we call them essential workers. They have not been provided guaranteed health care. We found $3 trillion for corporations. We can't find the money for them to be guaranteed health care? It's in our bloated defense budget. It’s in the wealthy paying their fair share.

Billionaires have actually made money during this pandemic and the poor have gotten worse. We are choosing these long lines. We are choosing people not having money during this period of time. Germany said they would pick up the salary of their people during this pandemic.

Where is the permanent sick leave? Where is the salary protection? Where is the rent forgiveness? Where is the guarantee that utilities can't be shut off? Where is the money for undocumented workers and the homeless? Where is the direct money for those communities, people of color that are being hurt the most and poor communities like up in Appalachia in Kentucky?

Joy, we are making a fundamental mistake because the scientists tell us, the data tells us that pandemics spread through the fissures of this society and these type deals are a dereliction of duty. It says that too many people are still too comfortable with too many other people's deaths. And that is a psychosis that is a part of the American reality. We have to admit that. It’s what caused the genocide of natives, it’s what caused slavery and lynching and lies about Vietnam with people in power keep saying the next bill, the next bill, the next bill or no deal, and we don't fight for it. And people in power are too comfortable with other people's deaths and it's time to stop this foolishness and do right from the bottom up if we’re gonna deal with this pandemic.

Amen to that.

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