SPRINGFIELD — Protesters slammed Gov. Bruce Rauner outside the Governor's Mansion on Monday, calling for politicians to fight poverty or be voted out.
The approximately 40 protesters, many bused in from outside Springfield, gathered around the mansion's gate on Fifth Street, promising to vote out Rauner for his veto last year of a bill that would have increased Illinois' minimum wage.
"Gov. Rauner couldn't take the moral high ground and make a decision to benefit working families by increasing the minimum wage ... so we're keeping the promise to veto him at the polls," said Aiesha Meadows, an activist with Fight for $15. "This is our way of showing Rauner, other elected officials and greedy corporations that our demands for $15 an hour and union rights is a way to win."
The Rev. Saeed Richardson, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Waukegan, chastised Rauner's renovations of the Executive Mansion, which are being funded with $14 million in private donations.
In response, the demonstrators set up tents next to the mansion's gates as a symbol.
"We want to identify the contrast between standing in front of a mansion ... when there are so many people who do not know where they are going to sleep at night," said Erica Nanton. "But at the end of the day that is not his house. That is our house."
Some demonstrators also called out President Donald Trump's immigration policy, which has led to deportations of undocumented immigrants, in some cases separating families.
"Today, with Father's Day fastly approaching, I think about the over 3 million American citizen children who will not be able to celebrate with their father," said Cecilia Garcia, whose own husband was deported after being caught at a traffic stop. "I am now a mom and dad, not because my husband abandoned me, but because this country took him from us. My children suffer because I'm always working two jobs."
For five weeks, protests similar to the ones in Springfield have popped up all over the country organized by the Poor People's Campaign and minimum wage increase advocates Fight for $15. The Illinois groups have demonstrated inside the Capitol, sometimes leading to arrests.
The Poor People's Campaign's goal is to highlight poverty in the U.S., echoing a movement of the same name organized by civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
"Ninety-five million people in our country are going through hell; 29.6 percent of the population are either poor or low income. That ain't right," said Richardson. "People are going through hell right here in Springfield."