By Kärin Radock
The Human Rights Action Committee (HRAC) held a rally demanding the U.S. Congress resolve the current government shutdown and fix the national budget in front of the McCarthy Center yesterday.
HRAC general member Roman Long, a senior, led the rally.
The current government shutdown has furloughed 800,000 workers and two million people are out of work because of it, said Long.
“Who cares about all this, though, right?” he asked repeatedly.
“I thought America and the government were supposed to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people. What happened?” asked Long.
He said Republicans, in attempting to block the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, were unwilling to make concessions.
“Don’t get me wrong,” he said. “There have been mistakes made on both sides. But that’s over now. No more finger pointing! Let’s do something!”
He urged onlookers to call House Speaker John Boehner “to call a vote with the House today and pass what’s referred to as a ‘clean CR’ [continuing resolution] to operate under a budget, so that Congress can distribute funds immediately.”
According to a National Post article, “A ‘clean CR’ refers to a “continuing resolution,” without conditions attached, that would allow the government to keep borrowing and re-open federal offices.”
Long said Americans need to put pressure on federal and state legislators to support a budget provided for all people – not just the “well-off.
“Let’s break these chains of oppression once and for all and show the government that people care about these issues,” he said.
“No longer will we accept corporate abuse, excessive spending, tax breaks for the top one percent. We must stand together! Students of the world unite!”
Long, who is also an intern for Mass Peace Action in Cambridge, said he protested the U.S. Government’s strike on Syria, and along with others, wrote letters to the government and Obama.
Because of their efforts, he said, they stalled “the government so that we [America] didn’t fuel the fire.”
Long said Americans have the same ability to influence the government to solve the shutdown and fix the national budget.
“This budget will not be tolerated,” said Long. “This is only a temporary fix. … It needs to provide relief to the middle class – you and me.”
Sociology Professor Jonathan Martin, who also attended the rally, agrees with Long. He said that while there weren’t a lot of people attending the rally, “social change in our country has often happened with just a few people making some noise, and there are other people around the country doing this.
“So I wouldn’t be discouraged by that – we need to give people a little time to wake up to what’s going on,” he said.
Long amended Samuel Francis Smith’s “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” exclaiming, “From the hills of Framingham State University / from this hallowed spot right here / let freedom ring!”
HRAC President Kendra Lohr said she thinks “it’s really important for people to know what’s going on and not take it lightly. We need to do what we can, and if we all work together, we can accomplish our goal.”
HRAC Vice President Colleen Sullivan said she thinks “the ‘Clean CR’ bill needs to happen. It doesn’t make sense to shut down welfare and employment.”
At the end of the rally, Long amended the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, saying, “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, do ordain a budget for all!”