Poor People's Campaign denied entry into Capitol for third time

06/13/2018 02:31 PM

FRANKFORT- For the third time, the Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign was denied entry into the state Capitol building.

The Kentucky State Police blocked entry of the protesters, only allowing two in—two out. In response to the lock out, the group led by Rev. William Barber held a rally on the steps of the Capitol. The group says Kentucky is the only state in which they have been denied entry into the statehouse.

After the rally, the group of a couple dozen protesters went to the Capitol to try and get inside, but they were once again blocked by five Kentucky State Police Officers—in response the group prayed in front of the front doors before marching back down the steps.

The mission of the nationwide group is to call on lawmakers to address affordable housing, workers issues and public education. Now—the anti-poverty group feels their rights to free speech are being infringed on by not being allowed into the statehouse.

“When we first started gathering here 5 weeks ago, our purpose was to bring awareness to the profound and urgent issues affecting the people of Kentucky due to poverty, systemic racism, war and destruction of our environment.” said Rev. Megan Huston. “We now have the added concern for the exercise of our rights for peaceful assembly, for redress to our government as guaranteed in the Kentucky Constitution.”

A group of Democratic lawmakers have sent a letter to Attorney General Andy Beshear, D-Kentucky, asking him to rule if the group should be allowed access to the capitol without a permit. They believe the two-in-two out policy is only for this group.

“This is setting a precedence to limiting people’s access to the people’s house and that can not stand. There is nothing right about this,” said Rep. George Brown Jr, D-Lexington. “Look at it no other group has been locked out of the Capitol, since they tried to limit the number of teachers and retirees into the Capitol.”

“There is really no rational behind this, this is the people’s house, and they should have the opportunity to come into it,” said Rep. Jeffery Donohue, D-Fairdale. “They can’t justify the reason why they are doing that, there is no justification.”

Rev. William Barber quickly turned the blame to Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky, for denying entry into the Capitol and implementing the two person rule.

“If you are being blocked from going into the statehouse, the governor is somehow involved in that,” said Rev. Barber. “Your governor is determined to violate the Constitution he swore to uphold.”

The Kentucky State Police say the group has not applied for a permit required to protest inside the Capitol building. The Poor People’s Campaign, however, says they do not need one to exercise their voice.

“They keep telling you that the people didn’t apply for a permit to go in, they don’t have to! This Capitol building was first built with the people’s money.” said Rev. Barber.

Rev. Barber went on to claim that Gov. Bevin was “a blocker” for his part in denying access into the Capitol. While attacking him for the new Kentucky HEALTH waiver that will go into effect beginning next month.

“Your governor is a blocker. He wants to block healthcare. Your governor wants to block helping any kind of entitlement programs he calls them. He wants to block higher wages. He wants to block poverty programs. The only thing he doesn’t want to block is tax cuts for the wealthy. Or the greedy. But anything that’s going to help anyone. So he is a blocker,” said Barber.

The Poor People’s Campaign has filed an open records act to identify when the rule to allow only two people into the Capitol was created.

Michon Lindstrom

Michon is a producer for Pure Politics. Michon comes to Kentucky from Springfield, Illinois where she served as the statehouse reporter for the NBC affiliate. During her time in the Land of Lincoln she covered the state’s two year budget impasse and the largest school funding overall in Illinois history. Pure Politics airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Michon on Twitter at @MichonLindstrom or reach her by email at michon.lindstrom@charter.com

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