“Bring only your ID!” were the only words/instructions I received in a text from a clergy colleague who was risking arrest with me for a “Moral Monday” protest- standing against the unfair budget proposed by our Governor Rauner.

‘Moral Monday’ is a movement, bringing together faith leaders and lay activists from all political views and social standings, to advocate equal access to better resources and possibilities for all people.

I participated in this action because

  • Our governor is proposing a $31.5 billion spending plan without any new revenue coming in and decreasing/eliminating funds for many needed community services
  • The proposed budget attempts to do the exact opposite of what we desire for our communities
  • The people most affected by this budget cut are the most vulnerable people of our communities
  • Funding for childcare programs, community care programs, fair housing, health care, education and other such services will be reduced significantly, which in turn will cause many of these services to either shut down or not be able to provide services for everyone
  • This budget taxes the working poor who constantly find themselves in between a rock and a hard place
  • This budget is downright sinful

I participated, because as a person of faith, clergy in The United Methodist connection, an immigrant and an advocate for justice, I realize this budget proposal mostly hurts:

  • our children because family service agencies will have to immediately suspend their services and/or cut staff
  • the 2,400 18-21-year-old young adults, whose lives literally depend on the services they receive through DCFS and who will be pushed deeper towards homelessness
  • an estimated 12,582 homeless households whose already insufficient safety net erodes even as we speak
  • the low-income families who will not have sufficient health care due to the $1.5 million cut to the Medicaid program
  • all students and daily commuters who use public transport, who will have limited services die to the $200 million reduction in public transit systems across the state
  • the immigrants who are already working long hours and get paid minimum wage but the budget proposes to completely eliminate this line item
  • families that already have a difficult time keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table

– to name only a few.

As a person of faith, how could I not respond?

I did what Jesus calls me to do: care for the homeless, the widows and the children. I did this because I was reminded that whenever we do the right thing for one of the least, we do it to Jesus.

I did what I did because I am pastor to those vulnerable children, homeless youth, migrant workers and differently abled people among many others.

So on June 29th I joined the protest outside the Citadel, challenging the CEO of Hedge Fund Firm, Ken Griffin, who donated millions to Rauner’s campaign but seems to have no opinion about the cuts proposed in the budget, to help the governor rethink the budget.

We were arrested almost immediately upon our arrival at the Citadel.

We spent almost four hours in prison cells. I could tell you all about those six hours at the police station, but that is a story for another time.

For now we need to keep the pressure on people with power to “tax the rich” and to “stop the corporate greed.”

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