The genocidal devastation of the healthcare system in Gaza is funded by the U.S. government as poor and dispossessed people here are being kicked off of Medicaid by the millions.

Poverty in America is a death sentence – it is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States. There is no American military without American poverty, and there is no Zionist state without the U.S. state.

Despite the majority of Americans across lines of division supporting a ceasefire, the ruling class continues to wage its war on the people of Gaza and the American poor.

Join us for a strategic conversation with members of the Nonviolent Medicaid Army about how we use healthcare organizing to build a movement strong enough to outmaneuver the powers that be and fight state violence in all its forms.

Nijmie Zakkiyyah Dzurinko is a co-founder and co-coordinator of Put People First! PA and the Nonviolent Medicaid Army. They are a Black and Indigenous organizer with Levantine roots (the area that now contains Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine) whose decades of work organizing with the poor and dispossessed in the United States is informed by her experience with the International Women’s Peace Service during the second Intifada.

Karim Sariahmed is a physician, a coordinator of the Nonviolent Medicaid Army in Massachusetts, and co-founder/co-coordinator of Healthcare Workers for Palestine.

Marc Shi is a physician, a member of the Nonviolent Medicaid Army, co-coordinator of Healthcare Workers for Palestine in New York and a member of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition.

Tony Eskridge is a political and cultural organizer born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. He earned a B.A. in Urban Studies with a minor in Political Science at Rhodes College, and Tony’s work focuses on building relationships, sharing personal narratives, and researching the true impact that interlocking injustices have on our society. He is committed to centering the poor, low wealth, and dispossessed in policy conversations and building a movement to end poverty.

Learn more at

In November, Put People First! PA Healthcare Rights Committees held three actions – two in person, one virtual – to connect the genocidal devastation of the healthcare system in Gaza, funded by the U.S. government, to the poor and dispossessed people here are being kicked off of Medicaid by the millions. Here’s some of what our leaders had to say.

Kiki, Central Appalachia PA Healthcare Rights Committee Gaza Solidarity Action, November 17th, 2023

“We’re giving billions of dollars for genocide. To kill babies. To kill innocent men and women. And For what? To have nothing here! Billions and billions of dollars that could be going to make our country a better place, but democrats and republicans – both conservative and liberal agree it should be going to genocide. It’s been going on for too long. All the war. For nothing. To enrich but a small amount of people. To enrich a ruling class that doesn’t give a damn about us. It shouldn’t be happening. 

Are we meant to just sit down and be like it’s fine? It’s fine? No! We’re meant to fight with each other! We’re meant to fight with each other – oh you’re conservative, oh you’re liberal, oh you’re black, oh you’re white, you’re a Muslim, you’re Jewish. We’re meant to just sit here and fight while they’re laughing in your faces, billions of dollars to genocide. It has to end! It has to end! We need to come together. We need to defeat them. We are working class people and they don’t stand for us. It doesn’t matter where in the world we are. They don’t stand for us. If you think that you’re better than a person in Gaza, you aren’t! They think of us all the same. We need to stand together. We need to stand against apartheid. We need to stand against genocide. That’s the only way we as working class americans we’re going to get what we need here, the healthcare infrastructure, education, we need to rebuild this entire country.[…]

It’s been nothing but a month of anger and horror and we need a ceasefire now. But they’re afraid to do it. Because they’re afraid of peace. They’re afraid of unity. They want this war to go on for as long as possible. It doesn’t matter how much money or resources they waste. When it comes to: we just need simple healthcare, they can find money for infinite war anytime. I keep repeating this but it needs to end. 

What we’re doing now, coming together, speaking out, even though we’re in a small town, is important. It’s what they don’t want us to do. They don’t want to see unity. They don’t want to see peace, and they don’t want to see a working class that unites across it’s differences. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, if you’re white, if you’re palestinian, if you’re jewish, if you’re gay, if you’re trans, or if you’re cis, we need to stand together as a class!”

Click below for press coverage of the Johnstown Action!

In November, Put People First! PA Healthcare Rights Committees held three actions – two in person, one virtual – to connect the genocidal devastation of the healthcare system in Gaza, funded by the U.S. government, to the poor and dispossessed people here are being kicked off of Medicaid by the millions. Here’s some of what our leaders had to say.

Becca, Northeast PA HRC at the Southeast PA HRC  CEASEFIRE NOW! From Hahnemann to Al-Shifa Healthcare is a Human Right Action, 11.24.23

“In a speech crying out against the horrors of war, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed, “A nation that continues, year after year, to spend more money on military defense than programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” The powers that be in America have spent 55 years dedicating themselves to the war economy since King sounded his warning. We have reaped not just a spiritual death, but an ever-increasing physical death toll runs rampant. There is an invisible war being waged against the poor and dispossessed in the richest country in the history of the world. A war that results in mass casualties of 800 people every single day. Up in Northeast PA, where I live, we have many small towns with less than 800 people living in them. I imagine an entire town’s worth of Americans being murdered every day, and I grieve for my people. Then I think of the genocide happening in Gaza, the towns being bombed into rubble daily, the children homeless, orphaned, alone, hungry, crying, dying. I think about how more than half of every dollar of the taxes I pay from the money I struggle to earn pays for the bombs and bullets that took their lives. I grieve for them too. 

Our fight is one and the same. We are all struggling to survive under a system that profits off of our deaths. 26 out of 35 hospitals are currently nonfunctional in Gaza. At Al Shifa Hospital, premature babies died in incubators when power was cut. Ground troops stormed the hospital with only one hour notice, even though there were no ambulances available to transport evacuees, turning Gaza’s largest medical facility into a warzone. There have been 164 reported attacks on healthcare centers in Gaza since October 7th. In the past year, hospitals are under unprecedented attack in Northeast PA as well. We have witnessed the closures of Tyler Memorial Hospital in Tunkhannock, First Hospital in Kingston, Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, and Berwick Hospital. Many of these facilities were snatched up by private buyers after they closed and “reopened” under niche specialities designed to turn a quick profit. And standing outside of closed Hahnemann Hospital, it is plain to see that hospitals are under attack here too. As we speak, the Medicaid cuts, the largest cuts in 40 years, are robbing literally millions of Americans of access to lifesaving healthcare.

What do we do when our healthcare is under attack? (Stand up, fight back!)

What do we do when Gaza is under attack? (Stand up, fight back!)

It is a lie that Americans support the genocide being carried out by the state of Israel. Over two-thirds of us demand a ceasefire. We don’t want any war. We don’t want our tax dollars going to wage endless wars against other poor folks just like us. We want our money to be spent here at home. We want our money spent on Medicaid for All. We want our money spent on preventing our hospitals from closing. We want our money spent on better staffing in all of our healthcare institutions. We want our money spent on dental care because dental care is healthcare and our teeth are not luxury bones. We want our money spent on guaranteeing healthcare as a human right. We want Healthcare, Not Warfare!

Say it with me!
Healthcare, Not Warfare! (Repeat)
Healthcare, Not Warfare! (Repeat)

How do we make that world a reality? A world where poverty is erased, a world where war is ended, a world where the wanton destruction demanded by Empire is eliminated?

I chased the answer to that question for decades. I tried electoralism. I tried charity. I tried unionizing. I tried protesting. None of these actions alone granted the power that our class needs to enact change.

When I joined Put People First! PA, they taught me a quote from King that I hadn’t heard before: “If they can be helped to take action together, they will do so with a freedom and a power that will be a new and unsettling force in our complacent national life.”

The “they” that King spoke of was the 40 million poor and djspossessed of his time. Today that number has risen to 140 million. This is the leading social force of our time.

How then, can they “be helped to take action together”? At Put People First! PA, we say that we need to develop “Many Martins”, many leaders like King, brave enough to take up the call against the interwoven evils of poverty and militarism.

If we are to end the war economy so that our family in Gaza, or Iraq, or Syria, or Nicaragua, or anywhere else in the world can live free, we must break free of the silos that the ruling class wants to trick us into. We will never build the “new and unsettling force” necessary for change when we keep falling for petty culture wars. We need to build permanently organized communities, and unifying issues like healthcare as a human right can bring People together.

The People united will never be defeated!
The People united will never be defeated!
The People united will never be defeated!

Click here to watch the full livestream.

Members of the Southwest PA Healthcare Rights Committee tabled at the Mission of Mercy clinic at the Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA on October 27th & 28th. We met people who had waited in line for 3 hours or more to receive dental, hearing or vision services. Many of these folks are on Medicaid/welfare but needed something that it doesn’t now provide, so we spoke about our work to restore the Adult Dental benefit for people on Medicaid. Other people spoke about not having insurance at all or not being able to afford the service, even if it’s ‘covered’ by their insurance. Why are our teeth, eyes and ears separated from the rest of our bodies for purposes of insurance? It makes no sense and we’re fighting for Medicaid for all and the human right to healthcare to overcome these insane holes in our system.

We also met people at the convention center on November 18th for the Urban League Thanksgiving food distribution. We spoke to hundreds of people who agreed that healthcare is a human right, we need Medicaid for all and a Public healthcare advocate for Pennsylvania. People also wrote on our storyboard – “How would your life be different if healthcare was a human right?” We wrote 72 postcards to the Governor, 37 to State Reps and 17 to State Senators to push for these demands and to make sure the next state budget has enough money to restore the Adult Dental Benefit for people on Medicaid.