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MEDIA RELEASE: Jan. 7, 2012

Media contact: Phil Wilayto – Phone: 804-247-3731; e-mail:

Jan. 14 march on State Capitol to demand:
'Don't balance the budget
on the backs of Virginia's working people!'

Responding to the threat of more job losses and state budget cuts, Virginia activists representing a broad range of issues will converge in Richmond Jan. 14 for a networking conference, march and rally under the general theme of “Jobs, Peace, Justice!”

The day's events will include a 5 p.m. march on the State Capitol to tell Gov. Robert McDonnell and the General Assembly: “Don't balance the budget on the backs of Virginia's working people!”

The conference, march and rally are sponsored by the Virginia People's Assembly, an annual gathering of progressive activists held to coincide with the opening of the Virginia General Assembly.

Jan. 14 is the day before the 83rd anniversary of the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., so it's a fitting time for us to march,” said VPA organizer and prisoner rights activist Lillie “Ms. K” Branch-Kennedy. “We'll be standing up, just as he did, to demand jobs for the unemployed, an end to wars, restoration of civil and voting rights for those convicted of a felony and justice for all our communities.”

The VPA contends there are alternatives to balancing the state budget by cutting state jobs, slashing needed social programs and reducing support for cities and counties, “Instead, we say raise Virginia's state corporate income tax rate, one of the lowest in the country,” said Ms. Branch-Kennedy. “End the use of the Virginia National Guard for wars abroad. Stop using state money to glorify the Confederacy. And use the savings to create a massive public jobs program, which will put money into the hands of the unemployed and really stimulate the economy.”

The 2012 Virginia People's Assembly networking conference will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at St. Stephen's Koinonia Church, 505 N. 33rd St. in Richmond's East End. The march on the Capitol will begin at 5 p.m. at Monroe Park and end at Kanawha Plaza, followed by the rally from 7 to 9 p.m. back at St. Stephen's.

Conference registration begins at 9:30 a.m. Child care, lunch and dinner will be provided. There is no admission charge, but donations for the meals and use of the church will be appreciated.

As of Jan. 7, the 2012 VPA had attracted more than three dozen endorsers, including the Occupy Wall Street movements in Blacksburg, Virginia Tech, Richmond and Virginia Beach; as well as organizations promoting the rights of immigrants, prisoners, labor, women, the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community; and civil rights, anti-war and community organizations. (See next page for a complete list.)
For more information on the 2012 Virginia People's Assembly, see:, call 804-644-5834 or e-mail