Active Culture

The Road is Long

Brian Kelly

This article is from the July/August 1999 issue of Dollars and Sense: The Magazine of Economic Justice available at

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This article is from the July/August 1999 issue of Dollars & Sense magazine.

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The welfare rights group, Welfare Warriors, discovered during their May week of action against welfare cuts that it is easier to win the attention of police than of politicans, potential demonstrators, or the press.

In Milwaukee, Welfare Warriors protested the privatization of welfare services by picketing four of the new welfare offices run by private companies for the state. The private companies decide who gets benefits and who does not.

But protestors were outnumbered by law enforcement agents, many wielding video cameras, anxious to limit the demonstrations, reports Pat Gowens, director of the Welfare Warriors’ Milwaukee chapter.

Politicians and the media, by contrast, ignored the protest, Gowens reports. "Though the events were highly publicized and announced to the press, no press showed up."

In other states, activists held public marches, celebrated Mother’s Day with barbecues, or satirized the flaws of welfare policy with puppet shows and skits. In San Luis Valley, Colorado, activists held a circus to further involve the public in the defense of welfare rights.

The Welfare Warriors are circulating a petition to lift the state and federal laws limiting benefits to 21 to 60 months. The group also wants states to allow all welfare recipients to attend school or training programs instead of work programs.

Welfare Warriors 937-275-7259 (Milwaukee) or 414-342-6662 (Michigan).
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