In Chickasaw, Alabama residents are faced with battling a heinous ordinance that recently passed that will allow charging residents with theft of services for delinquent utility bills. Once ticketed for violating this ordinance, citizens face the possibility of incarceration and further fines. The sad reality is this isn’t the first time an ordinance such as this has existed within the city of Chickasaw. Nearly five years ago a woman was charged and jailed for not being able to pay a $55 sewer bill, because of a similar ordinance which has since been overturned.
Ordinance 2021-01 UB is a direct attack on the poor and vulnerable of Chickasaw who’re already facing the financial hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. To add insult to injury, citizens of Chickasaw weren’t allowed to voice their opinions to city officials in a manner that was appropriate due to being restricted from partaking in city council meetings. The overall lack of transparency and willingness of city officials to unilaterally pass an ordinance that criminalizes its citizens for financial insecurity amidst a pandemic is appalling. There is absolutely no reasonable justification for the passing of this immoral and predatory ordinance that will further penalize and dehumanize those who’re already suffering financial hardships.
In an economic climate where parents must choose between paying a bill and feeding their children, the consequences of ordinances such as 2021-01UB are a devastating reality for working-class people. In a state that ranks the fifth poorest state in the United States with 800,000 Alabamians, including 256,000 children, living below the federal poverty threshold, this ordinance undoubtedly sets a dangerous precedent for the continued criminalization of poor working-class people in the state of Alabama.
Last year a statewide nonprofit organization called Alabama Possible published a data sheet outlining data related to poverty in Alabama in 2020. The report paired information from sources including the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Alabama Commission on Higher Education and Alabama Department of Human Resources to generate a comprehensive resource. Within this report it showed that since the beginning of the pandemic 400,000 Alabamians had lost their jobs. It’s with those numbers in mind that we recognize the importance of struggling against ordinances such as 2021-01UB, especially when we take into account that nearly 37% of the Chickasaw population live below the federal poverty line.
As we reflect on the grim situation of workers in Chickasaw, Alabama, we must also remember that not so long ago communists were at the forefront of progressive affairs and the champions of economic justice in this great state. It was in the haydays of communist activity in Alabama that we found leaders such as Ralph Gray and so many others whom laid the foundations for the revolutionary struggle we’ve been tasked with continuing today. It’s through our communist heritage as Alabamians that we find the inspiration to continue struggling against all attacks against the working people of this state. We understand this ordinance to be but another symptom of the decadent logic of capitalist society and it’s with that in mind that we stand firm in our struggle towards a socialist system and the inevitable emancipation of the working class.