Founded in 1972 by Methodist minister Shel Trapp (1935-2010) and activist Gale Cincotta (1929-2001), National People’s Action (NPA), also known as National People’s Campaign, is a Chicago-based Alinskyite community-organizing group dedicated to “progressive social change” and “economic and racial justice.” NPA serves as an umbrella organization for 24 groups in 13 states and Washington, DC.
- Alinskyite community-organizing group
- Co-founded by the authors of the Community Reinvestment Act
- Focuses on “progressive social change” and “economic and racial justice”
See also: Community Reinvestment Act
One of NPA’s top initiatives is its Immigrant Justice campaign, calling for “comprehensive immigration reform” that “includes broad legalization of immigrants” and “strong civil liberties” protections for illegals. Also advocating “strong worker protections,” NPA condemns “the cruelty of immigration raids.” Further, the organization supports “equal access” to taxpayer-funded “quality education” for immigrants regardless of their legal status, and economic and racial justice is a steering-committee member for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.
NPA co-founders Trapp and Cincotta are widely credited with having authored the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), landmark legislation that ranks high among the primary causes of the 2008 financial crisis. Blaming banks rather than the CRA for that crisis, NPA sometimes uses terms such as “credit segregation” to imply that bank lending practices are based on racism rather than on objective financial considerations. NPA proudlytakes credit for having forced banks to invest “over $4.7 trillion … in low and moderate income communities.”
As part of its “Showdown in America” campaign, NPA in 2009 demanded that Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke “exhibit the same resolve toward helping families facing foreclosures that he displayed in helping bail out large financial firms.” Toward that end, NPA staged numerous protests – some involving hundreds of people – not only at financial institutions across the United States, but also at the private homes of some bank executives.
In addition to their work with NPA, Trapp and Cincotta also founded (in 1972) the National Training and Information Center (NTIC). Between 2000 and 2003, congressional earmarks steered millions of dollars in federal grants to NTIC, which in turn used that money to train community organizers. A subsequent federal audit and criminal probe (investigating misappropriation of funds and illegal lobbying activities) ended with the executive director of NTIC pleading guilty to undisclosed charges and serving five months in prison.
Trapp, a former Methodist minister, was trained in community organizing by a Saul Alinsky protege named Tom Gaudette, lead organizer of the Northwest Community Organization in Chicago. Trapp is also the author of several books and pamphlets on community organizing, including Dynamics of Organizing, wherein he writes that “the professional organizer … sees the oppressed and the oppressor, those with power and those without power, and works toward the day when the roles shall be equalized or reversed.”
Cincotta was likewise a strong believer in the ruthless mob tactics of the Alinsky method of organizing, in some cases bringing hundreds of activists to camp out in front of officials’ homes until they agreed to meet with the protesters.
Since 2007, NPA’s director has been George Goehl, who, before joining the organization in 1996, had worked as a “strategist and field organizer” for the Center for Community Change.
In 2010, NPA participated in a protest designed to intimidate bank lobbyists and to show support for sweeping anti-bank legislation which was pending in Congress. Other key organizers of the demonstration included the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the AFL-CIO, and Americans for Financial Reform (headed by Heather Booth).
In February 2011, NPA took part in a “Rally to Save the American Dream” (RSAD), which was organized as an expression of solidarity with Wisconsin public-sector union employees who were striking in protest against Republican Governor Scott Walker’s state budget. In an effort to close a $137 million budget shortfall, Walker was proposing that state public employees should pay 5.8 percent of their own pension contributions (up from less than 1 percent), as well as 12 percent of their own healthcare premiums (up from 6 percent). In response to these proposed measures, NPA and its allies called for “an end to the attacks on worker’s rights and public services across the country.” Moreover, they “demand[ed]” not only that additional taxpayer “investment” be used help “create decent jobs for the millions of people who desperately want to work,” but also that “the rich and powerful” begin to “pay their fair share.”
Other key participants in the RSAD rally included MoveOn.org, the SEIU, the AFL-CIO,AFSCME, Color of Change, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, 350.org, People for the American Way, USAction, Democracy for America, the Daily Kos, Green for All, theCampaign for America’s Future, the Apollo Alliance, True Majority, the Energy Action Coalition, the United States Student Association, the Sierra Club, Media Matters, Campus Progress, the Blue Green Alliance, Progressive Majority, Health Care for America NOW, theProgressive States Network, Common Cause, Public Citizen, and Faithful America.