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State Police Restrict Anti-Poverty Group’s Access To Capitol

Ryland Barton

About 100 protesters from an anti-poverty group crowded the entryway to the Kentucky Capitol Monday after state officials restricted the group’s access to the building.

Kentucky State Police say they will only allow two protesters at a time from the Poor People’s Campaign to enter the Capitol building following a series of escalating protests in recent weeks.

Tayna Fogle, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, called the restrictions “sad and hurtful.”

“They’ve been doing this for years to my ancestors and people of color and people who are poor,” Fogle said. “And if we don’t have access to this office and access to democracy, they’re denying democracy today.”

Two of the group’s leaders were barred from entering the lobby to Gov. Matt Bevin’s office as they delivered a petition calling for living wages and more funding for anti-poverty programs.

In recent weeks, the Poor People’s Campaign has organized weekly rallies in more than 30 states.

This is the second week that Kentucky State Police has restricted the group’s access to the Capitol following a demonstration when 16 people spent the night in the building.

KSP Commissioner Rick Sanders said in a letter delivered to Reps. Attica Scott and George Brown that the group’s access had been restricted “based upon prior unlawful acts by the protesters.”

Officials from KSP say the group failed to file paperwork to protest inside the building.

Credit Ryland Barton
Poor People’s Campaign delivers petition to Gov Bevin’s office, but not allowed in on June 11, 2018.

Sgt. Josh Lawson, spokesman for KSP, said the agency restricted the group’s access so they can more easily secure the Capitol building.

“We’re very up front to let them know that we’re being accommodating that we want them to be able to come into the Capitol to protest, to redress their government, but that protocols will be in place to maintain the security of the Capitol,” Lawson said.

The Poor People’s Campaign was initially a 1968 effort launched by Martin Luther King Jr. to push for economic justice in the U.S.

The movement has recently been revived by Rev. William Barber, a North Carolina activist who attended the Frankfort rally last week.

Pam McMichael, a co-chair of the Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign, said that the group was being unfairly discriminated against.

“We asked can we come in because people are suffering from these things? No. Can we just come in and pray? No. So this access question is a big one, we’re exploring our options, we have a right to be here,” McMichael said.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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