Wednesday, October 27

‘It was simply inconceivable’: Cori Bush on her fight to extend the eviction moratorium | Abandonment

When Cori Bush decided to camp on the steps of the United States Capitol for four days to protest the end of the eviction moratorium, people hinted that her behavior was unbecoming of a congresswoman.

“Shameless and embarrassing,” was what Matt Walsh, the self-described He called him a “theocratic fascist” radio host. Ben Shapiro called the protest “stupid”, meanwhile, Bush’s local newspaper, the St Louis Post Dispatch, wrote that she “aspirations that sound straight ” Do not “They seem to take into account the political reality.”

The first-year Democratic student’s behavior was certainly unconventional. Dressed in bright orange sweatshirts, a T-shirt and sleeping bag, she camped out in the heat and rain with little food to campaign against the end of the moratorium, which had temporarily put in place measures to prevent people from being evicted during the pandemic.

During a telephone interview, Bush admits to being in a bad mood during the four-day protest. “It was exhausting on my body and my mind,” he said, talking about the difficult weather conditions and sleeping in a camp chair as he handled the endless requests from the media. “He was physically exhausted.” Still, Bush went on, 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 the White House decision on the moratorium on evictions in Washington.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush celebrate the White House decision on the moratorium on evictions in Washington. Photograph: Evelyn Hockstein / Reuters

His resolve was partly focused on disbelief. Bush, who has also experienced homelessness (she sometimes slept in her car with her two children before being elected to office) could not imagine that as the end of the moratorium approached, Congress was on the verge of leave for a long summer break. leaving up to 11 million people at risk of homelessness or being pushed into communal facilities as the Delta Bypass ravages the United States.

Bush’s personal story sometimes made his protests tougher, as he recalled the difficult times he had gone through while camping. “It was triggering and traumatic,” he says. “It just reminded me where I came from. That part was tough. I just remembered being back in that place where all you can do is try to warm up and stay warm. “

But it also stabilized her resolve. “I feel like the urgency that needed to be there at that moment was not there. Up to 11 million people could have been evicted from their homes. It was just inconceivable to me, ”he said.

Some believed that Bush’s tactics were useless, considering that the Democratic Party leadership appeared to agree to extending the moratorium in principle, but felt they did not have the authority or legal backing to do so. President Joe Biden, who allegedly also wanted to extend the eviction moratorium, However, he said his hands were tied. Scholars had told him that a renewed moratorium “was not likely to pass constitutional scrutiny,” he said, acknowledging a legal dilemma, after the Supreme Court ruling blocked an extension of the 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 experiencing a “substantial” spread of the coronavirus, which covers 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 the very least, by the time it’s litigated, it’ll probably give some extra time while we deliver that $ 45 billion to people who are actually behind on their rent and don’t have the money,” Biden said.

Cori Bush thanks the protesters who joined her protest against residential evictions.
Cori Bush thanks the protesters who joined her protest against residential evictions. Photograph: Evelyn Hockstein / Reuters

Bush acknowledges that his approach was unconventional, so he believes it worked.

“If we went the exact same path and did the exact same things that Congress has done for so long, if those things worked, we wouldn’t have had this situation on Friday. So we needed to do something different, ”he said by phone.

Bush was tapping into a skill set that she had honed extensively 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 her advantage, although opponents still use it to fire her. When he began his second campaign against Democratic incumbent William Lacy Clay Jr, who had held office for 30 years before Bush ousted him, he sent an email trying to smear Bush for his spotty work history and eviction notices.

When I ask about the mail, he doesn’t beat around the bush. “How do we, as legislators, who sign up to be representatives of a district, full of people, how do we turn around and disparage or denigrate the very people for whom we are supposed to be working?”

Choosing this path was to his detriment. Bush says people showed up at her office after that, outraged by the implication that her background made her unable to represent them. “People would rush into our office… saying that if he felt that it made me a bad person for being in that position, that meant [they were bad people]. ”

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

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

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