A Moral Monday movement that has resulted in about 81 arrests in the Georgia State Capitol during the 2014 legislative session will come to Columbus Monday as part of a “Jailed for Justice” statewide tour.
State and local activists will speak out against state policy regarding medicaid expansion, the state’s new gun-carrying law and other social justice issues, organizers said. They’ll also highlight inequities impacting the local community. The event will be held 6 p.m. at the City Services Center, 3111 Citizens Way.
Speakers will include some people who have been arrested for civil disobedience.
Jackie Rodriguez, 31, is an intern community organizer with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), an international Quaker organization coordinating the event with the Georgia National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She was arrested three times for civil disobedience, she said, and will be among those sharing their stories at the Columbus event.
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“Our purpose for coming into Columbus is really to make it a state coalition,” she said. “We’ve been really Atlanta focused and we want to branch out and see what are the problems facing the communities outside of Atlanta and how do we bring about an effective campaign during the next legislative session to make sure we’re addressing the issues of the entire state.”
One of the local organizers is Howard Mingo, of LaGrange, who is entering his junior year at Harvard University. This summer, he has been working as a Freedom Summer Fellow at the state NAACP. The program is in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Summer of 1964, when hundreds of summer volunteers convened in Mississippi to help dismantle rigid segregation. Mingo said the “Jailed for Justice” tour is continuing the fight for equality.
“It’s important to get involved in the Moral Monday movement in any way possible because the issues that are being discussed and advocated are important to all Georgians,” said Mingo, a psychology major. “It is apparent, looking at the current trajectory, that it’s not necessarily the case that these problems will be fixed simply by legislators. We have to voice our concerns and our opinions or no change will happen.”
The Moral Monday movement first started in North Carolina in 2013. Rodriguez said activists in Georgia decided to follow suit after trying to save a veteran’s home from foreclosure. They felt a broader coalition was needed to address social justice issues and turned to North Carolina organizers for help launching a Georgia Moral Monday campaign.
Rodriguez said the Georgia protests started in the 2014 legislative session. Demonstrators have been arrested for protesting at the Governor’s office, interrupting Senate proceedings and blocking the senate doors.
“The goal with the civil disobedience is really to bring attention to the things that we see are morally egregious,” she said. “So we went to jail over Medicaid expansion. We went to jail over the fight to repeal Stand Your Ground and to stop expanded gun carrying throughout the state.
“We went to jail for immigration reform because we knew that these were bigger fights that we might not be able to win,” she added. “But we knew we had to bring attention to them so we could start a conversation about how to change the larger issues that exist in the state.”
Since the legislative session, the group has been on a 16-day tour. So far, they’ve visited Riverdale, McDonough, Dalton, Carrollton, Athens, Augusta, Statesboro, Savannah, Brunswick, Waycross, Macon, Albany and Rochelle. The tour will end in Marietta on Tuesday.