“It was simply unacceptable”: Cori Bush on his fight to extend the moratorium on evictions

“It was simply unacceptable”: Cori Bush on his fight to extend the moratorium on evictions

WOri Bush decided to camp on the steps of the United States Capitol for four days to protest the end of the moratorium on evictions, people insinuating that his behavior was unbecoming of an MP.

“Shameless and embarrassing,” said Matt Walsh, the self-described The “fascist theocratic” radio host called him. Ben Shapiro called the protest “stupid”, while Bush’s local newspaper, the St Louis Post Dispatch, wrote that his “righteous aspirations” “did not seem to reflect political reality.”

The behavior of the first Democratic year was certainly unconventional. Pulling on sweats, a t-shirt and a bright orange sleeping bag, she camped in the heat and rain with little food to campaign against an end to the moratorium, which had temporarily put measures in place to prevent people to be deported during the pandemic.

In a telephone interview, Bush admits to having felt uncomfortable during the four days of the protest. “It was tiring on my body and mind,” she said, speaking about the harsh weather conditions and sleeping in a camping chair while responding to endless requests from the media. “I was physically exhausted. Still, Bush continued, eating junk food in the rain with no place to dry off, taking interview after interview wrapped in a soggy sleeping bag.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush celebrate White House decision on Washington’s deportation moratorium. Photographie : Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

Part of his resolve was centered on disbelief. Bush, who has experienced homelessness herself – she sometimes slept in her car with her two children before she was elected to power – could not imagine that as the end of the moratorium approached, Congress was about to leave for a long summer vacation, leaving up to 11 million people at risk of homelessness or being pushed into communal facilities as the Delta variant ravages the United States.

Bush’s personal history sometimes made her protest more difficult, as she remembered the difficult times she had gone through while camping. “It was triggering and traumatic,” she says. “It just reminded me of where I’m from. This part was hard. I just remembered being back to this place where all you can do is try to warm up and stay warm.

But it also stabilized his resolve. “I have the impression that the urgency that must have been there at the time was not there. Up to 11 million people could have been forced to leave their homes. It was just unacceptable for me, ”she said.

Some thought Bush’s tactic was futile, given that the Democratic Party leadership seemed to agree with extending the moratorium in principle, but felt they lacked the authority or legal backing for it. do. President Joe Biden – who also reportedly wanted to extend the moratorium on evictions – nevertheless stated that his hands were tied. Academics had told him that a renewed moratorium was “not likely to pass the constitutional course,” he said, acknowledging a legal dilemma, after the Supreme Court ruling blocked an extension of the law. initial moratorium. Nancy Pelosi lobbied the president without success.

Then on Tuesday, Biden announced that the moratorium would be extended until October 3 in states with “substantial” spread of the coronavirus – covering about 80% of US states and 90% of the US population. Biden acknowledged that the extension would likely be challenged in court, but argued that protecting people in the meantime was essential.

“At a minimum, by the time it is litigated, it will probably give a little more time as we distribute this $ 45 billion to people who are in fact behind on rent and don’t have the money,” Biden said.

Cori Bush thanks the demonstrators who joined in his protest against the residential evictions. Photographie : Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

Bush admits her approach was unconventional – which is why she thinks it worked.

“If you were following the exact same route and doing the exact same things that Congress has been doing for so long – if these things worked, we wouldn’t have had this situation on Friday. So we had to do something different, ”she said over the phone.

Bush was harnessing a skill set that she had honed considerably in recent years: activism. After the police murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in 2014, Bush spent 400 days on the streets campaigning.

That her background separates her from most politicians is something Bush uses to his advantage, although opponents still use it to fire her. When she began her second campaign against incumbent Democratic President William Lacy Clay Jr, who had held the post for 30 years before Bush ousted him, he sent a courier trying to smear Bush for his uneven work history and his eviction notice.

When I ask her about the mailer, she doesn’t mince words. “How can we, as lawmakers – who have signed up to be the representative of a district, full of people – how can we then turn around and belittle or belittle the very people we’re supposed to be working for?” ? “

The choice of this path was made to his detriment. Bush says people have come to her office after that outraged at the implication that her background made her unspeakable to represent them. “People were rushing into our office… saying that if he felt like it made me a bad person to be in this position, it meant [they were bad people].  »

I ask her what she thinks it represents. “We have a lot of work to do,” she said. “Until we have more people sitting in Congress who understand some of the struggles and burdens that face everyday people in our communities. Up to [politicians] are able to truly understand, empathize and talk… about all the nuances of poverty, ”she says.

And then, she repeats, exasperated. “We have a lot of work to do. “


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