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Low-income people demand doubling welfare grants at opening of MN legislature

By Mick Kelly |
January 6, 2015
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Welfare Rights Committee protest demands legislators raise the grants
Welfare Rights Committee protest demands legislators raise the grants (Photo by Kim DeFranco)

St. Paul, MN – The chant “What do we want? Raise the grants! When do we want it? Now!” boomed throughout the Minnesota State Capitol building, Jan. 6, as low-income people marched in demanding that the legislature double welfare grants and pass a law that will provide immediate assistance to all in need. The protest, organized by the Welfare Rights Committee, coincided with opening day of the 2015 legislative session.

With the wind chill well below zero, the protest began on the steps of the State Office Building, where Ebony Harris told the crowd, “We are here today as we are here every year to let these legislators know that poor people in this state will not be forgotten. We are here to demand that they raise the grants now and give aid to all in need.”

It has been 29 years since Minnesota last raised the welfare payments. “There are people literally dying at the hands of the politicians in this building here! And the inaction is on both sides of the aisle. No one party is causing the suffering of people in this state; it’s both parties,” said Harris.

Demonstrators then marched into narrow hallways of the Capitol building, which is undergoing renovation, and filled the corridor where the Minnesota House session was just starting. Angella Kahn led the crowd in the call and response chant, shouting, “Double the grants!” with the crowd thundering back, “Past due!”

Protesters then marched to Senate chambers and kept up the loud chanting. They then went on to the offices of politicians, where ‘past due’ notices were delivered. The past due notices stated protesters’ demands to double the grants, stop the time limit on welfare and to give aid to all in need.

Legislation will be introduced in upcoming weeks to double the welfare grants.