The seven Alabamians arrested for singing and praying in the State Capitol as an act of faith in support of health care and Medicaid expansion will head to trial on Monday, October 6, 2014.
The trial is scheduled to begin at 8:00 a.m. in Courtroom 2C of the Montgomery County Courthouse at 101 South Lawrence Street.
The activists were arrested on August 28, 2014,for peacefully protesting by attempting to hold 24-hour, non-violent vigil in the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. The arrests came on the last day of the Jericho March, seven days called the Week of Moral Action in five states that were part of the national Moral Monday Movement.
Those headed to trial are:
- Annie Pearl Avery of Selma, a former SNCC worker;
- Faya Rose Toure (Sanders), of Selma, a renowned civil rights attorney and activist;
- Alecha Irby, a student who recently transferred from Miles College to Alabama State University;
- Augustus (Gus) Townes, a retired state worker, who is active in SOS;
- Rev. Fred Hammond, a Unitarian minister from Tuscaloosa;
- Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of Dothan, Director of The Ordinary People Society (TOPS), an organization dedicated to assisting ex-felons and persons currently incarcerated; and
- John Zippert, Co-Publisher of the Greene County Democrat and SOS member.
The seven had come to stay for 24 hours to bear witness against Gov. Robert Bentley for failing to expand Medicaid coverage to more citizens in Alabama. Bentley is among 29 Republican governors who have refused to expand Medicaid in opposition to the President Barack Obama’s administration for political reasons. The seven had plead not guilty by written notice to the Montgomery District Court.
Attorneys Hank Sanders of Selma and Gwendolyn Kennedy of Montgomery represent the group and entered a written not guilty plea to the misdemeanor charges in court for each of the seven.
“We were just trying to hold a peaceful 24 hour vigil in the State Capitol to push the Governor to extend Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. How can we be trespassing in a public building that belongs to all of the people of Alabama. It’s the people House”, said Faya Rose Toure, one of the State Capital Seven.
Rev. Fred Hammond said, “This is a moral issue of life and death. Medical studies show that up to 700 Alabamians will die each year because they lack this basic health coverage. The federal government funds 100 percent of this coverage for the first three years (2014 -2016), and from 2020 onward federal dollars will fund 90 percent of this lifesaving coverage. By rejecting the funding that a majority of states have accepted, the Governor will be sacrificing lives of people he was elected to serve.”
John Zippert said, “A disproportionate number of people will die in rural Alabama because of Gov. Bentley’s failure to extend Medicaid. His deadly decision places grave financial pressures on hospitals in the state, particularly smaller rural hospitals. Not expanding Medicaid is bad for Alabama hospitals and communities and is literally a matter of life and death for some Alabamians.”
Faya Rose Toure’ said, “On the average at least one person dies every day as a direct result of not expanding Medicaid. That is morally wrong and is unacceptable.”
On his recent visit to jumpstart the Moral Monday / Forward Together Movement in Alabama, Rev. William Barber II, the movement’s founding and spiritual leader, urged more people to face arrest in their stand against immoral and extreme policies that hurt the poor, the sick and working-class families. He said he hoped the “faithful seven’s” act of civil disobedience will grow to 70, 140 and more. More than 1,000 citizens have been arrested during Moral Monday / Forward Together protests Barber’s North Carolina, where the movement started, and in Georgia, where it has spread.
The world is waiting on Alabama, Rev. Barber told a group of activist leaders in a prayer breakfast before a rally on the Alabama Capitol steps.
“It’s your moment. You have to lead this,” he said. “Nobody can come from (Washington) D.C. or New York to lead this because movements begin from Montgomery up; they don’t come from DC down. I’m just glad to be an encourager this morning and I’m glad to be a part of this beginning . . . When Alabama stands up, when you stand up long enough and strong enough, you have the historical anointing to inspire the rest of the country. And it’s your time.”
[ Note: Portions of this story came from the Greene County Democrat article, ‘State Capitol Seven’ pled not guilty in Montgomery County District Court; will fight the charges and from the Birmingham View Magazine article, Moral Monday: Anatomy of a 21st Century Movement. Read more about the arrests HERE on this site. ]