The following 'indictment' was read by 100 protesters outside the New York Senate Chambers on Monday, June 15, 2015, at a Moral Mondays rally. Earlier, faith, labor, and community leaders, workers, and people of conscience criticized the State Senate's inability to enact ethics reforms, fully fund public education, raise the minimum wage, enact criminal justice reforms, or implement fair and equitable taxation. Sixteen protesters, including six clergy, were arrested for blockading the Senate doors.
Just behind these doors our elected officials approach the end of session and have accomplished little for most of the people in our state. Corruption is a way of doing business. Leadership on behalf of the people is just lip service. The corruption is so pervasive, is so deep, that our officials don’t know how to do their jobs without it. The fear of indictment has them paralyzed. But in the most unequal state in the nation, paralysis means the status quo continues. And the status quo is unacceptable.
The status quo gives tax breaks to the wealthy while increasing the burden on everyone else. The status quo denies living wages, keeps children and families in poverty, while allowing corporations to reap billions in profits. The status quo is incapable of meeting the basic needs of hungry people across the state. The status quo continues the torture of solitary confinement. The status quo means youth are charged and tried as adults, and suffer abuse in adult prisons. The status quo denies rights and opportunities to immigrants seeking to build a better life. The status quo denies fair educational opportunities to every student and siphons public education dollars to private corporations. The status quo exploits the environment regardless of the consequences putting us all at risk and placing the highest dangers on the poor. The status quo ensures only the wealthy shape policy, and makes a mockery of the very concept of ethics in government.
For the poor, the marginalized, the working-class the status quo is a nightmare. Every faith tradition implores us to stand against this injustice. To stand in solidarity. To lift up the voices of the poor, the marginalized, the immigrant, the worker. To stand for policies, systems, and structures that will benefit all New Yorkers, and not just the wealthy few.
We stand here today to make an indictment. It is an indictment against corruption. A corruption that pays lip-service to the common good while refusing to enact ethics reforms that would limit the influence of the wealthy. This hypocrisy acts as though there’s no need for new ethics measures while legislators keep being brought to trial.
We have gathered together, throughout this legislative session, to call on our leaders to serve the common good. They have failed. This session is almost over, but we will continue to stand together to stand for all of the people of New York. As people of faith, as people of conscience, we can stand in no other place. We believe in the equality and dignity of all people. We will continue to oppose the immoral actions of our elected officials with all that we have. We will not be silent. Forward Together Not One Step Back!