Last week, Free Press Action and our allies gathered outside the FCC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to speak out against the agency’s brutal plan to roll back Lifeline — a program that helps millions of people living below the poverty line access telephone and internet services.
Community members, advocates and Lifeline subscribers gathered to share stories about why this program is essential for low-income families, survivors of domestic violence, Puerto Ricans attempting to recover from Hurricane Maria and so many others.
Two former FCC commissioners also joined us at the event. Michael Copps described how the agency’s proposed changes could result in 70 percent of subscribers losing access. Gloria Tristani talked about how more than 300,000 households in Puerto Rico that benefit from Lifeline could have their services disrupted. And for Puerto Ricans still struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, saving the Lifeline program is a life-and-death issue.
Leonard Edwards, who works with Bread for the City, shared his story about relying on Lifeline after becoming ill: “I don’t know what I would have done without this vital service ... Without Lifeline keeping me in touch with my doctors, social workers and neighbors, it would have been like being stuck on an island without any way to get in touch with anyone.”
Ian Harris, an attorney with the National Network to End Domestic Violence, explained that he always asks his clients if they have a working phone because accessing communications services is often a literal lifeline for survivors.
Other speakers included George Alvarenga of Shelter House; Craig Aaron, Brandon Forester, Carmen Scurato and Joseph Torres of Free Press Action; Yosef Getachew of Common Cause; Cheryl Leanza of the United Church of Christ Office of Communication, Inc.; Francella Ochillo of the National Hispanic Media Coalition; Jesse Rabinowitz of Miriam’s Kitchen; Erin Shields of the Center for Media Justice; Aja Taylor of Bread for the City; Monica Thammarath of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and Oliva Wein of the National Consumer Law Center.
The FCC will likely vote on its plan to roll back Lifeline before the end of the year. With millions of people’s health and safety on the line, we need to keep up the pressure.
Watch the video of this powerful event below and check out the photos of just a few of the inspiring speakers.