The Philadelphians are already starting to put pressure on Joe Biden.
The elected president has not yet taken the oath; nonetheless, on Monday night, advocates will surround his campaign headquarters in Center City and call on Biden to use his executive power to write off student loan debt.
Chris Casuccio, 37, of Germantown, a longtime organizer of the Debt Collective, which is organizing the protest, said he believes the time is right for the federal government to work on solving the student loan crisis.
“When I first got involved in this movement in 2011, 2012, a lot of people were like, ‘This is your responsibility. It’s your fault, ”he said. “And I think we’ve made it clear that this is a failure of public policy, and that it is a structural and systemic problem, not a problem with individuals.”
Casuccio started out with $ 80,000 in student debt from his undergraduate and graduate years, and, along with interest, has since climbed to $ 140,000. Some of his private loans have rates as high as 12%, he said.
“This is really absurd,” added Casuccio. “Obviously this is a scam. The whole system is a scam.
Monday’s protest will be biblical, echoing the Jubilee, a period every 50 years or so when slaves would be freed and debts would be canceled. Casuccio said the organization will be handing out bells and candles, and they hope for a happy atmosphere.
He said advocates had worked to make people aware that the cancellation of student loans was a racial justice issue, and several local organizations pledged to participate in the protest, including Black Lives Matter Philly and the Black and Brown Coalition.
Among the speakers will be City Councilor Kendra Brooks of the Progressive Working Families Party, according to Casuccio.
It is not known whether the campaign headquarters is still actively used. Biden’s transition team did not return a request for comment on Sunday.
There appears to be a growing momentum on the left for a large-scale loan forgiveness, with some Democratic lawmakers asking Biden to write off up to $ 50,000 in student debt per person.
Biden, just before Christmas, told the Washington Post that he was “unlikely” to follow this recommendation and that it is “questionable” that the president even has the power to do so by executive order.
The president-elect has expressed his support for the cancellation of student debt of up to $ 10,000 for borrowers.
In Philadelphia, more than 310,000 residents have university debt, worth a total of $ 11.6 billion, according to Debt Collective.
The protest, which will start at 6 p.m. at 1500 Market St., will be the first of many similar Debt Collective events in the country, Casuccio said.
A hundred members of the organization will go “on strike” by refusing to pay their loans, he added, qualifying this as “economic disobedience”. Activists will travel across the country in an attempt to garner support.
The goal, he said, is to get all student debt canceled, regardless of the amount, including private loans.
“We’re not going to stop until everything has been canceled, however long it takes,” Casuccio said.