Skip to content Skip to navigation

Quaker Leaders Arrested During Launch of New Poor People’s Campaign

Photo: Carl Roose / AFSC

Actions across the nation highlight moral call to end racism and poverty

WASHINGTON, DC (May 14, 2018) Today, leaders of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a 100-year-old Quaker organization committed to building lasting peace with justice – were arrested in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience as part of the new Poor People’s Campaign. The Poor People’s Campaign is a national mobilization to challenge systemic poverty, racism, ecological devastation, and militarism, led by poor and working people and grounded in faith and nonviolence.

“As a Quaker, I believe that there is the divine in all of us,” said Laura Boyce, AFSC’s Associate General Secretary for U.S. Programs. “This belief calls us to stand with marginalized people all over the world, and to work together to build systems that are grounded in justice and peace. I am participating in this action to help shine a light on the urgent need to end oppression and poverty.” Boyce was arrested along with hundreds of others who engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience in the nation’s capital to mark the launch of the campaign.

AFSC was one of the principal endorsers of the original Poor People’s Campaign in 1968. AFSC’s Barbara Moffet worked directly with Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to develop the campaign’s platform. As AFSC and other organizers from 10 cities and five rural areas strategized and gathered supplies, Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Organizers decided to continue the campaign in King’s honor, and AFSC and other organizers mobilized people across the country to come to Washington, DC for two weeks of protest.

This time, AFSC offices in West Virginia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Georgia, and the policy office in DC are participating in the campaign. Today's action in D.C. was accompanied by other rallies and acts of civil disobedience in over 30 state capitols across the country.

“My Quaker faith led me to take this action to stand up to the deep injustices of systemic racism, militarism, poverty, and ecological devastation,” said Lucy Duncan, Director of Friends Relations for AFSC, who was also arrested at the action in Washington, D.C. “We are proud to stand with people from across the country to say it is time for a moral approach to politics – one that honors the inherent rights and dignity of all people.”

The Poor People’s Campaign has called for 40 days of nonviolent moral direct action, which began on Mother’s Day and will continue through June 23rd. For more on the Poor People’s Campaign, see:

# # #

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.