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Strike Debt’s Rolling Jubilee Abolishes $13.5 Million in Medical Debt, Owed by 2,693 People, in 45 States

(The Sparrow Project)

(The Sparrow Project)

The Sparrow Project

Strike Debt, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, announced this morning that since the launch of the group’s Rolling Jubilee effort one year ago, it has abolished $13.5 million worth of medical debt owed by 2,693 people across 45 states and in Puerto Rico. This is the third announcement by Strike Debt in the last year which to date has abolished over $14.7 million dollars of medical bills through its Rolling Jubilee project.

The Rolling Jubilee campaign relieves debtors (by buying debt for pennies on the dollar) while building a debt resistance movement. This project highlights the injustice of having to go into debt for basic needs that should be publicly provided, like education and healthcare. “We have been honored to facilitate this effort but understand Rolling Jubilee is a spark, not a solution” said Andrew Ross, a fellow Strike Debt organizer. “Being forced into debt for basic social services is a systemic problem that will require a collective response.”“No one should have to go into debt or bankruptcy because they get sick,” said Laura Hanna, an organizer with Strike Debt, noting that 62% of all personal bankruptcies have medical debt as a contributing factor.

“Debt is the tie that binds the 99 percent,” says Strike Debt member Ann Larson. “Whether you are a student who is delinquent on your student loans, a parent struggling to pay healthcare bills, or living in a community that is cutting vital social services because your city is bankrupt, debt affects everyone.”

Strike Debt chapters in New York, the Bay Area, Austin, Portland and elsewhere are planning celebrations and debtors’ assemblies on Nov 15th.

Strike Debt is working towards building a new kind of collective power in order to challenge exploitation by the financial industry. “Debt is the way we cooperate with Wall Street,” said Thomas Gokey an organizer with Strike Debt, “With the Rolling Jubilee, we’ve demonstrated how little your debts are actually worth. Now that you know this, it’s time to use it as leverage. It’s time to fight back. The Rolling Jubilee needs to roll into larger forms of resistance and outright non-cooperation with Wall Street’s unjust debts.” Looking forward, Strike Debt is laying the groundwork for a debtors’ union capable of collective debt refusal.

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