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.
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 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 proudly takes 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 AFL-CIO, Americans for Financial Reform (headed by Heather Booth), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
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 350.org, the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, the Apollo Alliance, the Blue Green Alliance, the Campaign for America’s Future, Campus Progress, Color of Change, Common Cause, the Daily Kos, Democracy for America, the Energy Action Coalition, Faithful America, Green for All, Health Care for America NOW, Media Matters, MoveOn.org, People for the American Way, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Progressive Majority, the Progressive States Network, Public Citizen, the SEIU, the Sierra Club, True Majority, the United States Student Association, and USAction.
In mid-June 2013, NPA led a mob of some 300 pro-amnesty demonstrators who swarmed the driveway of Kansas Secretary of State and immigration-enforcement lawyer Kris Kobach’s private home and assembled just outside his front doorstep. With a bullhorn, the fist-waving protesters derided Kobach as the “King of Hate” for his legal work representing border-security activists and federal customs-enforcement agents.
In April 2015, activists from the Black Lives Matter movement held a “Populism 2015” assembly at a Washington, DC hotel. The event was sponsored by NPA, the Campaign for America’s Future, USAction, and the Alliance for a Just Society.
NPA is funded by the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Tides Foundation. It has also received large sums of taxpayer dollars from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Massachusetts Department of Education.
For additional information on NPA, click here.