Photo by Heather Nelson
James Bible was not afraid to speak to a crowd dressed merely in sweatpants and a sweatshirt.

NAACP President James Bible pays a visit to Ballard

At a meeting about homelessness on Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Ballard Odd Fellows Hall, King County National Association for Advancement of Colored People President James Bible paid a visit to talk about poverty and the law.

He was late and he showed up dressed in a sweatshirt and sweat pants -- hardly the formally dressed lawyer that he presents himself to be in the courtroom -- but he made up to a small, pro-social services crowd with eloquence and an explanation.

“I’m thankful to be in front of a group that does not judge me for not wearing a suit and tie and wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants,” he said. “What ultimately I think we have to talk about … is make it critical that we put the human condition first.”

Bible, referring to people of low-income and/or in a state of homelessness, explained that people need to have the same rights, no matter who they were or what their appearance was. He was critical of comments on local Ballard news sources -- he didn't name them -- that expressed negativity toward social services in the neighborhood. (No one in the crowd had a negative opinion on the issues.)

“We all deserve shelter, we all deserve clothing, we all deserve to be here,” Bible said. “It’s going to be up to us to standup and say that people deserve to live in Ballard, in Seattle in general and everywhere.”

Bible said poor people were at a clear disadvantage when it came to the law.

“The law is not at this stage designed to protect people in poverty,” he said.

Specifically, he pressed the point that poor people need proper, professional representation in the court.

“We need civil public defenders. Until you have that, you won’t have equality under the law,” he said. “When you see an attorney who looks across the aisle and sees someone who is not an attorney, maybe they will do something they wouldn’t do if an attorney was there. It’s amazing.”

Bible explained that when he would represent a client who was from a low income background, that the opposing lawyer wouldn't know what to do. He said they have gotten so used to taking advantage of poor people.

Regarding how much poor people are helped these days, Bible said: “We claimed at one point that there is a war on poverty. What we have is an absolutely unadulterated war on poor people.”

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