Police arrested 18 people protesting inside Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office on May 21.
The previous week, 24 citations were issued by Topeka police after protestors from the same group blocked traffic for two hours on Topeka Avenue, just south of the State Capitol.
The protestors are part of the nationwide Poor People’s Campaign with similar actions taking place in 30-states. On May 14, the Kansas group of about 75 protestors, joined in as other groups across the country kicked-off 40 days of direct nonviolent action of the poor, clergy and advocates.
The kick-off was timed to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the original Poor People’s Campaign held on the National Mall in Washington D.C. The campaign had been the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated six weeks before the campaign was scheduled to begin. His associates and Coretta Scott King went on with the campaign in his absence.
The campaign demanded economic and human rights for poor Americans of diverse backgrounds. After presenting an organized set of demands to Congress and executive agencies, participants set up a 3,000-person protest camp on the Washington Mall, where they stayed for six weeks in the spring of 1968.
This year’s campaign “the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival,” is co-chaired by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis.
Barber said that 50 years after King’s assassination, systemic poverty, systemic racism, ecological devastation, the war economy, and Christian nationalism still persist and that the campaign intends to bring these “moral failures” back to the center of public discourse.
Kansas protestors plan weekly protests in the state’s capital on Mondays, except on Tues. May 29, because of Memorial Day. Each week of the campaign will focus on a different issue.
Their “season of organizing” will culminate in “mass mobilization in Washington, D.C., on June 23, but Rev. Dr. Theoharis says that event will not be the end for the campaign but a “recommitment.”