Sunday Sermon – The Appropriateness of an Easter Protest

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We are having a protest at the Easter Parade on Easter in Richmond. There were of course, critics. The Easter Parade is a family event, and Easter itself is Christian holiday which celebrates the Rising of Jesus Christ from the dead. Clearly, that is some significant stuff.

However, we find the Easter Parade to be a completely appropriate setting for this type of a protest. I would go so far as to say that Jesus is/would be on our side and that we would be doing a great disservice to his message were we to not emphasize some of the incredibly salient points in Christianity which relate to current local political issues.

We are protesting against Venture Richmond (who now sponsors the Easter Parade and pushes for tax breaks while still getting more than their fair share of tax payer money), the privatization of Monroe Park by the Monroe Park Conservancy (one of whom’s members lives on the hoighty toit Monument Avenue at 1643), and the Revitalize RVA plan being pushed by Mayor Dwight Jones and Developers. What all three of these issues have in common, is that they largely benefit the rich, while deprioritizing other issues like schools, public parks, the history of the slave trade and institutional racism, poverty and the homeless.

We will again emphasize something very significant, which is the 27% poverty rate in the City of Richmond. 40% of the youth live in poverty. Richmond is a poor City, and the elected officials, corporations, and non-profits are not doing enough to help the poor and fight against all forms of oppression. Instead they are working to increase their profits, their money, and their power.

With the help of friends we have done some exploration of the bible and related texts to see what they have to say. We hope that folks at the Easter Parade and in positions of power in the City of Richmond will give these words the consideration they deserve.

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We start with the Lord’s Prayer, which includes the very telling lines, “Give us our Daily Bread and forgive us our trespasses”.

People deserve food, food is a right not a privilege. And in Monroe Park, people come for food, and they should never, ever be considered trespassers on public lands. Public parks should remain public.

This image is of a statue at Regis College, of homeless Jesus sleeping on a park bench.
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“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of heaven” Mark 10:25

This is just one of the many statements in the Bible critiquing the rich.

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need, but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth” 1 John 3:17-18

We hear a lot from politicians talking about compassion for the poor or homeless, but at the end of the day we have seen very, very little. Words do not mean anything if not backed up by actions. The selfishness of many is reflected in the corporations in this City, who give only when tax deductible and consistently lobby for better deals for themselves while ignoring the poor.

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” Proverbs 14:31

Privatizing parks, ignoring or making illegal the homeless, racial profiling by police, failure to protect folks of all genders and in the lgbtqia spectrum, classism, and racism are all forms of oppression constantly and consistently occurring in Richmond. There is nothing honorable about these forms of oppression, they are contemptuous. A specific example of this in Richmond is that the Richmond Police Department goes around and finds homeless camps, and then destroys the camps and throw away all of the belongings of the people who had lives there. The Richmond Police also force people with court ordered community service to participate in this violent, dangerous, and incredibly oppressive act. Any City official who does not stop this from happening is complicit. We are all complicit.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You can not serve both God and money” Matthew 6:24

Mayor Jones, you have to choose. Who is more important, the private developers looking to make a quick buck, or the poor?

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“They also will answer, ”Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me’” Matthew 25:44-45

“Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the LORD will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them” Proverbs 22:22-23

And finally, a very powerful statement, “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?” Isaiah 10:1-3

For a Mayor who is also a minister, the City of Richmond clearly lacks leadership who will fight oppression and show compassion to the needy. We have built a new jail for the poor and needy, but we have not built them shelters. They are planning to use tax payer money to pay the utilities for a restaurant in Monroe Park, but they could not keep the Conrad Center funded as one (actually badly conceived and executed) location to serve food to the poor. The Mayor only pushes for grocery stores in food deserts when he can also build a baseball stadium on historic slave trade sites.

Something is wrong in Richmond. We do not have to be Christians to see that the Bible itself, and especially Jesus, had a lot to say which is valid and relevant. We hope that anyone will consider these words and take the messages to heart. We need a big change in our culture.

What Would Jesus Do?

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From Redskins to Monroe- We Shall Not Be Moved

Update!! Easter Sunday – protest Venture Richmond, a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom, and Monroe Park Lease at Robert E. Lee statue at Monument and Allen in front of Alice Massie’s house from 1-5pm Please Share!!! Spread the word and bring signs and banners and noisemakers!!!! #rvacouncil #monroepark #venturerichmond #nostadium #shockoebottom #rva #foodnotbombs #rvafoodnotbombs #anarchist #radical #wingnut #vulturerichmond

This is the text of the speech I will be delivering on 4/14/14 at City Council during the public comments period. Below the speech are 2 amazing songs and information on the May Day Parade and Celebration in Monroe Park!!!

Sign made by Sarah Boggs for City Council Meeting

Sign made by Sarah Boggs for City Council Meeting

In 2013 the City of Richmond spent 11 million dollars to build a training camp for the racist football team from D.C. That racist team is the 3rd richest of all the teams in the NFL. But the City of Richmond has to pay them half a million dollars a year to practice here for 8 weeks. That comes to a total of 4 million dollars over the course of the 8 year contract. The rest of the year the facility remains vacant.
The training camp space can and ought to be used as a homeless shelter and resource center for the poor- who make up 27% of Richmond residents. The locker rooms and other aspects of the facilities make the training camp a huge improvement on existing options for the homeless.
Oh – and speaking of the homeless, they are facing the very real threat of being evicted from Monroe Park by the Monroe Park Conservancy if City Council approves this bogus lease tonight.
I have to ask- what kind of people spend 15 million dollars on a racist football team that is already the 3rd richest in the league, but would rather put at further risk some of our most vulnerable residents in order to not spend 3 million more on Monroe Park? What kind of people?

If the City of Richmond funded the entirety of the Monroe Park Renovations that would only be 2/5 of the amount being spent on that racist football team.

If City Council chooses to pass the leasing of a public park, which is an invaluable resource to low income residents, to a private entity made up of the rich and powerful who which to silence and make invisible the homeless, City Council is engaging in violence, classism, and morally reprehensible behavior.

If City Council supports the racist football team from D.C., Council is disgusting and oppressive.  The Washington D.C. City Council voted in 2013 to condemn the racist name, and Richmond City Council needs to as well.

If you support the construction of an unnecessary baseball stadium on historic slave market grounds, you need to step back and educate yourself on racism. If you think the public should fund the baseball stadium spending over  80 million dollars before taking care of our schools and parks you are ethically bankrupt and have no business acting as a leader in this region. Funding the entirety of the Monroe Park Renovations without leasing the park would cost 1/13 of what the stadium is projected to cost.

As my friend Gary Llama pointed out, this City government is acting like an irresponsible person with a credit card who spends money on fun frivelous things like eating out, vacations, and videogames, while ignoring their rent and utility bills and debts. This behavior is fiscally irresponsible and morally reprehensible and I urge you to change your ways.

Our public schools are literally falling down on and around our students. In Sunday’s paper Mayor Jones is quoted saying, “When that community re-gentrification takes place, thats when schools really start turning around”.

April 13, 2014 Richmond Times Dispatch

April 13, 2014 Richmond Times Dispatch

So according to the Mayor, when low income and people of color are forced out of a community by upper middle class white people the schools get better. He thinks that the violence of displacement is necessary to improve schools. I bet if the Mayor and City Council did not spend public funds on baseball, football, and tax breaks for Vulture Richmond there might be money for our schools and parks.

I am telling you, we will not go quietly. Scratch that, we will not go. The neoliberal direction of this administration is creating a resistance among the people, and we will not go, we shall not be moved.

 

We Shall Not Be Moved by Pete Seeger – some get pumped music for the resistance. Because Resistance is fun – which is also why you should join the fight to Keep Monroe Park Open and Free at the annual May Day Celebration and Parade! Info Below!!

Update on May Day from the meeting last night -
May day parade will meet at 2pm on Thursday May 1st in Clay abner park.

The parade will leave the park around 2:30 and march to Monroe Park.

Getting to Monroe Park by 4 at the latest. In Monroe Park there will be a potluck cookout, speakers, workshops and bands as we hold down the park until dark.

We want May Day to be fun, invigorating, and anti- stadium, anti-privatization of Monroe Park, and in support of Fast Food workers and everyone fighting for a Living Wage.

So make your own signs and banners and puppets and parade floats and costumes and bring a dish to share!

All Saints Theater will be organizing their puppets with support and determining the parade route.

Day of, we will need bike marshalls, medics, legal observers, copwatchers, and more!

And another of my favorite resistance songs- Which Side Are You On by Rebel Diaz!

Keep Monroe Park Open and Free Power Point

This is the first power point I have put together in probably a decade.
I made it because I wanted to make a presentation to the Land Use Committee on my bid for Monroe Park. However, they are not giving me equal treatment to Alice Massie/ the Monroe Park Conservancy.
It looks like I will not be able to present to them.
But I hope others will find this a useful tool, tying together some pieces around Richmond that are connected and that can teach us lessons on what not to do with Monroe Park.
If you would like me to come to your school, organization, neighborhood group or religious group to present the powerpoint I would be more than happy to. It is much more comprehensive with narration. And I would welcome a question/answer period at the end as well.
Please be in touch at mokarnage @gmail.com

Workin hard for the money

This is a 70 hour work week, not counting paperwork and making bids. If I let something involving you fall through the cracks I am sorry and it is not personal. Just shoot me a text 804 300 0023 or an email mokarnage @ gmail.com and if you have any work you need done – from old window repair to painting to landscaping to childcare to editing, please get in touch. I am a glutton for punishment and my truck needs new brakes! $$$$

This is a 70 hour work week, not counting paperwork and making bids. If I let something involving you fall through the cracks I am sorry and it is not personal. Just shoot me a text 804 300 0023 or an email mokarnage @ gmail.com and if you have any work you need done – from old window repair to painting to landscaping to childcare to editing, please get in touch. I am a glutton for punishment and my truck needs new brakes! $$$$

Check out my Etsy Shop- new products coming this month and next!

The 80′s Called and They Want Their Throw Pillow Back

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New throw pillow on my Etsy Shop.
New items will be added throughout April and May as I try to fundraise the money I need to take a trip to Indiana and New Hampshire this summer.
I have a short bus I bought but I am trying to pay it off, and get enough money to fix it and pass inspection and add a solar panel and battery bank to it before June. Not to mention the dang ol diesel I will need to make the trip.
So if you need tinctures, throw pillows, books, or weird jewelry please buy some! And check back for more interesting items and one of a kind art.