A grassroots jubilee: Debt resister Thomas Gokey

Thomas Gokey, who has taught art at Syracuse University and is a former student at Bethel Seminary, was one of the organizers of Strike Debt, part of the debt resistance movement. An affiliated organization, the Rolling Jubilee, bought more than $17 million worth of student loan debt with $107,000 in donated funds—and then abolished that debt. The organization has now purchased nearly $32 million of debt. In February, Strike Debt launched a “debt strike.” Former students of the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges are refusing to pay back their loans on moral grounds.

How did the idea for the Rolling Jubilee develop?

During the Occupy Wall Street dem­onstrations in Zuccotti Park in New York, some people recognized that debt is one way that Wall Street occupies our lives; it is a tie that binds the 99 percent. In classic Gandhian-style nonviolent action, you figure out how you are cooperating with injustice, then find creative ways to stop.