Activists for a higher minimum wage blocked a busy intersection in downtown Boston Monday, shouting “We won’t be silenced anymore!”
Police blocked off streets near the intersection of Franklin and Congress streets, snarling traffic during the afternoon commute. The protest began around 4 p.m. and ended at 7:45 p.m.
The action was part of a national effort called the Poor People’s Campaign, modeled after protests led by civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., said Rev. Vernon K. Walker, co-chair of the campaign’s state chapter.
“We’re sending a message to those that sit in privileged seats in corporate America that someone is hurting our brothers and sisters and it’s gone on far too long,” Walker said. “There are 140 million people suffering from the crippling effects of poverty and there seems not to be a systemic way to address that.”
Walker said the group has been holding weekly protests to draw attention to issues such as raising the minimum wage, union rights, funding for anti-poverty programs, free tuition at public colleges, and affordable healthcare.
“We consider ourselves a fusion movement — we’re black, we’re white, we’re Asian-American, we’re people of faith, we’re people of no faith — we’ve all come together to help shift the moral narrative of this country,” Walker said.
The group’s co-chair, Savina Martin, said the group has been working to mobilize poor people affected by a host of problems.
“People are hungry, they’re ready to learn, eager to get involved and engaged,” Martin said. “We’ve seen hundreds of people come out every single week to do this.”
Martin said the group chose to demonstrate in the Financial District at rush hour to draw attention to their cause.
“We’re going to make you uncomfortable today because 140 million people are uncomfortable,” she said. “If we take a few hours out of your day to make this statement, that’s a tiny victory.”