Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Cheri Honkala and the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign believe farting is the only way Hillary Clinton will pay attention to the poor.
Philadelphia is the host city of this year's Democratic National Convention (DNC). It's also the poorest of the ten biggest cities in America. To raise awareness of the city's dire straits, Cheri Honkala, the co-founder and national coordinator of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC), will be hosting a fart-in outside the Democratic gathering on July 28.
"We are going to take Bernie [Sanders] supporters and poor homeless families here in Kensington [one of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods], and we're going to serve folks beans," Honkala tells Broadly. "On the last day of the convention, we are going to surround the convention center and have a fart-in, because at least we hopefully can't be arrested about that."
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For several decades, Honkala has advocated for Philadelphia's impoverished communities. She and three other mothers founded the Kensington Welfare Rights Union in 1991 to defend the city's homeless and poor. During the 2012 presidential race, she ran with Dr. Jill Stein on the Green Party ticket.
When the DNC announced it would take place in Philadelphia, Honkala and the PPEHRC tried to obtain a permit for a march during the convention. She says the city rejected their request. "As far as we're concerned, [farting is] the only thing that hasn't been ruled illegal yet or that you don't need a permit for," Honkala says.
She is not hyped on Hillary. Throughout the Democratic primary, Honkala has supported Bernie Sanders, and since Clinton became the presumptive nominee, she has advocated for Sanders to run on a third-party ticket with Stein. She hopes the fart-in will help convince Sanders to run with Stein.
"I'm one of the folks that's really advocating that the two of them link up, because I'm very concerned by the Clinton policies, particularly when it pertains with poverty," Honkala says. "The other Clinton ended welfare in this country. A lot of folks who needed public assistance really needed that."
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In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). According to The Nation, the bill destroyed welfare through a series of maneuvers: restricting who could get cash welfare, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); limiting access to TANF to a lifetime total of five years; making states decrease the number of families issued welfare; switching welfare from a federal program to state grant; and basically forcing poor mothers to work, which prevented them from attending college.
Although her husband signed the law, Hillary campaigned for it. "I agreed that he should sign it and worked hard to round up votes," she wrote in her first memoir, Living History. The New York Times reports that she admits in her book that she disliked that the law forbade legal immigrants from receiving welfare, but she and Bill needed to support the bill to prevent Republicans from receiving "a potential political windfall."
Honkala believes her community has paid the price for the Clintons' political gains. "In this case, we think neither Hillary and definitely not Trump represent the people who will deal with the poorest folks in this country," she says.
"Right now Philadelphia hasn't housed any homeless families in the last nine months," she says. "With people coming into town that are going to be spending millions of dollars at lavish parties and those kinds of things, we think there are better ways to use those resources."