Poor People's Campaign ends with 16 arrests

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) Sixteen people were arrested at the Kansas Statehouse during the Poor People's Campaign's fourth week of protests.

According to Kansas Highway Patrol, they were arrested on charges of criminal trespassing after violating their permit to hold a demonstration inside.

Immediately following a press conference, protesters moved to in front of Governor Jeff Coyler's office for further non-violent, direct action.

Unable to enter the Governor's office, many stayed and protested outside the locked doors after a verbal warning from officers to clear the area.

One protester, Rosetta Criswell, questioned why they were unable to talk with the Governor.

"Why would you lock your doors to your own people? Yes. I mean this is our house and you lock the door and we cannot come in. It's not right," she said.

In a statement Gov. Coyler responded by saying:

“Governor Colyer appreciates the advocacy of the protestors today, however he continues to support work requirements for able-bodied adults on government welfare programs and opposes the expansion of Obamacare in Kansas.”

This week protesters made several demands including:


  • The expansion of Medicaid

  • Improving mental health access

  • Reducing environmental hazards

  • A ban on oil fracking


Protesters carried signs that read “Denying healthcare is violence,” and “Ecological devastation is immoral.”

Each week they expect to participate in civil disobedience to draw the attention of police officers.

Similar protests are being held in 30 state capitals, as well as Washington, D.C., as part of the Poor People's Campaign, organizers say. Protesters are demanding what they call a "moral revival" that includes:


  • A massive overhaul of the nation's voting rights laws;
  • new programs to lift up the 140 million Americans living in poverty;
  • immediate attention to ecological devastation, and;
  • measures to curb militarism and the war economy

The whole movement is set to conclude on June 23 with a march at the U.S. Capitol.

The protests are meant to reflect the original Poor People's campaign 50 years ago.