Tag Archives: demonstrations

Trump prevails in Electoral College vote, protesters respond

Republican Donald Trump prevailed in Electoral College voting on Dec. 19 to officially win election as the next president, easily dashing a long-shot push by detractors to try to block him from gaining the White House.

Trump, who is set to take office on Jan. 20, garnered more than the 270 electoral votes required to win, even as at least half a dozen electors broke with tradition to vote against their own state’s directives, the largest number of “faithless electors” seen in more than a century.

The Electoral College vote is normally a formality but took on extra prominence this year after a group of Democratic activists sought to persuade Republicans to cross lines and vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. She won the nationwide popular vote even as she failed to win enough state-by-state votes in the acrimonious Nov. 8 election.

Protesters disrupted Wisconsin’s Electoral College balloting.

Also, in Austin, Texas, about 100 people chanting: “Dump Trump” and waving signs reading: “The Eyes of Texas are Upon You” gathered at the state capitol trying to sway electors.

In the end, however, more Democrats than Republicans went rogue, underscoring deep divisions within their party.  At least four Democratic electors voted for someone other than Clinton, while two Republicans turned their backs on Trump.

With nearly all votes counted, Trump had clinched 304 electoral votes to Clinton’s 227, according to an Associated Press tally of the voting by 538 electors across the country.

“I will work hard to unite our country and be the president of all Americans,” Trump said in a statement responding to the results.

The Electoral College assigns each state electors equal to its number of representatives and senators in Congress. The District of Columbia also has three electoral votes. The votes will be officially counted during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6.

When voters go to the polls to cast a ballot for president, they are actually choosing a presidential candidate’s preferred slate of electors for their state.


The “faithless electors” as they are known represent a rare break from the tradition of casting an Electoral College ballot as directed by the outcome of that state’s popular election.

The most recent instance of a “faithless elector” was in 2004, according to the Congressional Research Service. The practice has been very rare in modern times, with only eight such electors since 1900, each in a different election.

The two Republican breaks came from Texas, where the voting is by secret ballot. One Republican elector voted for Ron Paul, a favorite among Libertarians and former Republican congressman, and another for Ohio Governor John Kasich, who challenged Trump in the race for the Republican nomination.

Republican elector Christopher Suprun from Texas had said he would not vote for Trump, explaining in an op-ed in the New York Times that he had concerns about Trump’s foreign policy experience and business conflicts.

On the Democratic side, it appeared to be the largest number of electors not supporting their party’s nominee since 1872, when 63 Democratic electors did not vote for party nominee Horace Greeley, who had died after the election but before the Electoral College convened, according to Fairvote.org. Republican Ulysses S. Grant had won re-election in a landslide.

Four of the 12 Democratic electors in Washington state broke ranks, with three voting for Colin Powell, a former Republican secretary of state, and one for Faith Spotted Eagle, a Native American elder who has protested oil pipeline projects in the Dakotas.

Bret Chiafalo, 38, of Everett, Washington, was one of three votes for Powell. He said he knew Clinton would not win but believed Powell was better suited for the job than Trump.

The founding fathers “said the electoral college was not to elect a demagogue, was not to elect someone influenced by foreign powers, was not to elect someone who is unfit for office. Trump fails on all three counts, unlike any candidate we’ve ever seen in American history,” Chiafalo said in an interview.



Washington’s Democratic governor, Jay Inslee, said after the vote that the Electoral College system should be abolished. “This was a very difficult decision made this year. There is great angst abroad in the land,” Inslee said.

Twenty-four states have laws trying to prevent electors — most of whom have close ties to their parties — from breaking ranks.

In Maine, Democratic elector David Bright first cast his vote for Clinton’s rival for the party nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who carried the state in the party nominating contest. His vote was rejected, and he voted for Clinton on a second ballot.

In Hawaii, one of the state’s four Democratic electors cast a ballot for Sanders in defiance of state law binding electors to the state’s Election Day outcome, according to reports from the Los Angeles Times and Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspapers.

In Colorado, where a state law requires electors to cast their ballots for the winner of the state’s popular vote, elector Michael Baca tried to vote for Kasich – but was replaced with another elector.

In Minnesota, one of the state’s 10 electors would not cast his vote for Clinton as required under state law, prompting his dismissal and an alternate to be sworn in. All 10 of the state’s electoral votes were then cast for her.

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Action outside the convention: Protesters’ stories

For some of the protesters outside the Democratic convention this week, the demonstrations in Philadelphia are the latest in a lifetime of political activism. For others, they’re a first.

The demonstrators have come from near and far, some driven by specific issues, some inspired by a candidate.

Here are some of their stories.


Sue Kirby needed a second seat on the bus from Boston for her traveling and protesting companion: a larger-than-life Bernie Sanders doll with a papier-mache head and foam body.

Kirby, 65, built the doll about a year ago for Sanders rallies near home in Salem, Massachusetts. She learned from a lifetime of activism that having a prop is a good way to get public (and media) attention.

It works: People take pictures with him, and reporters ask questions.

Back in the 1970s, Kirby protested against the Vietnam War and in favor of women’s rights. The slightly built Kirby later worked as a welder at a factory so she could be a union organizer. She also worked for a policy organizing group for senior citizens.

Now she’s retired. “This is my job,” she said.

She sees younger Sanders supporters on the same activism path she was on 40 years ago. “I sort of see the next generation coming forward, being helped by the generation before them,” she said.


Living abroad helped Daisy Chacon tune into politics in the U.S., her home country.

Chacon, 31, returned to Boston in May after spending two years teaching English in Spain. She found that people there knew what was going on in their country – and hers. “They stand up for things,” Chacon said.

At the same time, she caught wind of Sanders and his populist movement. “To be honest, Bernie lit a fire under me,” she said. “I really didn’t believe in the political system before Bernie.”

As protesters began to show up for a rally Wednesday, Chacon, a student at Salem State University in Massachusetts, carried a sign calling for a ban on the gas-drilling technique known as fracking. She also had a plastic bag of “Latinos for Bernie” buttons to hand out.


Twenty-two-year-old Arthur Ryshov (REE-jawv), born in Russia and adopted by a family in Indiana, recently became a U.S. citizen, and now he is exercising his right to free speech.

Ryshov, who works for an engineering firm, came to Philadelphia from Bedford, Indiana, with his mother and has joined rallies and protests near City Hall and outside the Wells Fargo Center, where the evening convention proceedings are held.

Like most of the protesters, Ryshov is a Sanders supporter. He became one only in the last few months. Before researching Sanders and following his speeches on YouTube, Ryshov said, he wasn’t interested in politics at all.

“He opened my eyes to the reality we live in,” Ryshov said.


At the edge of a rally on Wednesday, Drew Webb held a sign with a line drawn through the word “oligarchy.”

Webb, 32, said he really hadn’t given any thought to destroying oligarchy, but he does like the idea of the rally’s hero, Sanders. “He’s got a good cause,” Webb said. “He’s bringing people together.”

Even though he was off to the side, Webb considers himself a protester.

Webb, a Philadelphian who served just over two years in prison for drug trafficking, volunteers with a prison reform group. A few weeks ago, he joined his first march, making his way from impoverished North Philadelphia to Center City to protest violence by police against black people.

After witnessing nearly two years of similar demonstrations across the country, he finally felt compelled to join in: “Now it’s a boiling point.”


Wednesday was the third or fourth day for many protesters. They nursed foot blisters and sunburns and were generally haggard.

Not Jorge Ruvalcaba, 28, a computer technician from Palmdale, California, who was born in California but grew up in Mexico.

He arrived Tuesday night and was fresh for a day of protest. Despite temperatures in the 90s, he had on long pants and a long-sleeve shirt with a T-shirt over it reading “Our Political Revolution Bernie.”

Ruvalcaba is also a political neophyte, becoming a Sanders supporter just a few months ago.

While many protesters have spent days railing against Hillary Clinton and pledging not to support her, Ruvalcaba said his mission is to try to make sure she fights for key elements of Sanders’ agenda.

“If Bernie says we need to support her,” he said, “I guess, you know, what the heck?”

Can Cleveland keep the peace during Republican convention?

How will Cleveland be able to keep the peace when police officers and activists flood downtown during the Republican National Convention?

City officials have been coy about their plans for handling convention protests, saying only they are prepared for “challenges” and are working to free up jail cells, while activists have warily eyed the city’s acquisition of riot gear.

Larry Bresler, who hopes to help stage an economic-inequality protest on the first day of the July convention, is among those who believe activists can’t expect the same accommodations they got in protests after the police killing of black 12-year-old Tamir Rice and the acquittal of an officer for his role in the deaths of two unarmed black people in a 137-shot barrage.

Bresler called the convention “a whole different ballgame” and said he doesn’t expect police to be so pliable this summer.

During protests that followed the the killing of Tamir Rice by a rookie patrolman, Cleveland officers would lead processions in their cruisers while blocking intersections and mostly allowing people to march where they pleased.

But the convention will prove an additional test for the Cleveland Police Department, which last year began operating under a reform-minded agreement called a consent decree after a U.S. Justice Department investigation concluded officers had shown a pattern of using excessive force and violating people’s civil rights.

A city spokesman said no Cleveland officials would be available to comment for this article.

A police union official has said around 600 Cleveland police officers are expected to join several thousand officers hired from other law enforcement agencies to provide security downtown during the convention week.

The Secret Service will be responsible for the security perimeter that surrounds the convention site, Quicken Loans Arena, at the edge of downtown.

A police official told City Council members last month that the department is prepared to meet expected “challenges.”

“We are prepared to assist anyone who legally and lawfully wants to exercise their free speech rights,” Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said.

Public Safety Director Michael McGrath told the council at the same meeting that the city is working with Cuyahoga County to free up jail cells should police need to arrest large numbers of people.

Activists have expressed concerns about the type of police-related equipment Cleveland is purchasing using a $50 million federal grant it received to pay for convention security, including 2,000 sets of riot gear.

During a City Council hearing last month, police officials indicated that police would initially wear khaki uniforms and not riot gear, a practice police in other cities have used during political conventions.

While activists also said they were worried about Cleveland buying armored vehicles and “non-lethal” weapons that shoot bean bags and rubber pellets, there’s no indication the city has bought any.

Two groups, including Bresler’s, have submitted parade permit applications that said they expect as many as 5,000 people to participate in separate rallies on July 18, the first official day of the convention. Previous downtown protests never grew larger than several hundred people.

The other group planning a July 18 rally and march is Citizens for Trump.

The American Civil Liberties Union in mid-May threatened to sue if the city doesn’t decide whether to issue permits to the two group by June 1.

The ACLU has said the groups have been told Cleveland won’t issue permits until the U.S. Secret Service has finalized its security plan two weeks before the convention.

Police were sharply criticized last year after arresting around 70 people in an alley in downtown’s popular Warehouse District of bars, restaurants and clubs. They were part of a protest held the day a judge acquitted a white police officer of voluntary manslaughter for his role in the deaths of the two unarmed black suspects.

Police said the arrests were made when protesters refused to leave the alley; protesters said police wouldn’t allow them to leave.

The ACLU sued on behalf of some of the protesters and the city settled out of court.

It also issued a “statement of regret.”

No boundaries in Break Free climate change campaign

Activists in May put their bodies on the line — across railroad tracks, in front of power plants and at the bottom of mining pits — to demand that the world “break free” from fossil fuels.

“The global climate justice movement is rising fast,” said environmental activist and author Naomi Klein. “But so are the oceans. So are global temperatures. This is a race against time. Our movement is stronger than ever, but to beat the odds, we have to grow stronger.”

The Break Free campaign lasted 12 days, with actions on six continents.

“There’s never been a bigger, more concerted wave of actions against the plans of the fossil fuel industry to overheat our Earth,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of the 350.org environmental group. “In the hottest year on record, we’re determined to turn up the political heat on the planet’s worst polluters.”

Environmental activists stopped the open cast coal mine Ffos-y-Fran near Merthyr Tydfil, Wales from operating. The activists from Reclaim the Power wants to shut down the mine and a moratorium on all future open coal mining in Wales. Open coal mining is hugely damaging to the environment and  contributing to global climate change. — PHOTO: Break Free 2016
Environmental activists stopped the open cast coal mine Ffos-y-Fran near Merthyr Tydfil, Wales from operating. The activists from Reclaim the Power wants to shut down the mine and a moratorium on all future open coal mining in Wales. Open coal mining is hugely damaging to the environment and contributing to global climate change. — PHOTO: Kristian Buus/Break Free 2016

Protesters targeted some of the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects in civil disobedience actions, including:

United States: Demonstrators marched in Chicago to protest new tar sands projects in the Midwest. In other actions, protesters targeted fracking in Denver; “bomb trains” in New York state; refinery pollution in Seattle; and drilling off the Arctic, Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts.

Australia: On May 8, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Newcastle at the largest coal port in the world, shutting down operations for hours and making clear that climate change will be an issue in the election of the next prime minister.

Brazil: Activists rallied for a ban on fracking May 6 and marched on a coal power plant in Pecem, Ceara, May 14.

Canada: On May 14, activists demonstrated on land and on water against the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline.

• Germany: Activists demonstrated May 14 in the Lusatia region against one of Europe’s largest open-pit lignite mines.

Indonesia: Thousands assembled outside the presidential palace May 11 to resist coal projects and demand the government move from a reliance on coal to embrace renewable energy.

Nigeria: Demonstrators on the Atlantic coast protested against Exxon’s offshore wells, which frequently leak, impacting fisheries and polluting the coastline.

Philippines: Thousands of people marched in Batangas City, where JG Summit Holdings wants to build a coal-fired power plant, just one of 28 proposed in the Philippines.

South Africa: Demonstrators gathered May 12 in Emalahleni, one of the most polluted towns in the world, to speak out on the effects of climate change.

Turkey: A mass action in Aliaga May 15 focused on a coal waste site plan for four fossil fuel projects in the area.

United Kingdom: The Reclaim the Power network brought together demonstrators at the U.K.’s largest opencast coal mine in South Wales. Earlier this spring, the Welsh Assembly voted for a moratorium on opencast coal mining.

Break free, day-to-day

Break Free was a mass movement held in May, with protesters demonstrating around the world against continued reliance on fossil fuels.

Following are some ideas on how to break free of fossil fuels so that future generations might be born free from reliance on them:

• Conserve energy by turning off lights and replacing bulbs with longer-lasting fluorescent bulbs, running the air-conditioner less and using Energy Star appliances.

• Recycle. About 75 percent of U.S. waste is recyclable and can be donated instead of trashed. Even threadbare clothing can be donated — for re-use as rags, mattress filling and other purposes.

• Avoid non-biodegradable products. Single-use foam cups and trays biodegrade very slowly and the styrene they’re made of is a possible carcinogen. Plastic grocery bags are made from petrochemicals and also biodegrade very slowly.

• Live green. Consume only food and energy needed to survive, promote renewable and clean energy services and walk more than drive.

— L.N.


PHOTO: Break Free 2016  On May 8 in Australia, more than 2,000 people shut down the world’s largest coal port. For six hours, no coal went in or out of the Port of Newcastle. Sixty people blocked the only coal transport train line into the port. Also, hundreds of kayakers blocked the harbor’s entrance to any entering or exiting coal ships. 
On May 8 in Australia, more than 2,000 people shut down the world’s largest coal port. For six hours, no coal went in or out of the Port of Newcastle. Sixty people blocked the only coal transport train line into the port. Also, hundreds of kayakers blocked the harbor’s entrance to any entering or exiting coal ships. — PHOTO: Break Free 2016



Democracy Spring leads to Awakening

Thousands of activists are mobilizing for Democracy Spring, a 10-day march to the U.S. Capitol followed by a series of civil disobedience actions.

Democracy Spring, set for April 2-16, will give rise to Democracy Awakening, a series of teach-ins, concerts and massive rally set for April 16-18.

Activist Elizabeth Lindquist is among the thousands of participants who pledged to join the protest.

“I’ve been volunteering in the democracy movement for several years,” she said. “So, as soon as I got the Democracy Spring announcement email, I signed up to participate.”

Lindquist, who lives in Roscoe, Illinois, near the northern border with Wisconsin, is serving as a coordinator for Wisconsin.

“At this point, I am guessing we’ll have at least 20 people from Wisconsin and at least 20 people from Illinois,” she estimated. “Since it is such a long event, with a wide variety of options as to when to come and go, coordinating travel from the Midwest is difficult.”

A map at democracyspring.org shows much of the effort to mobilize activists is taking place in the eastern part of the country.

A call to action from organizers stated the goal: To demand Congress take immediate action to end the corruption of big money in politics and ensure free and fair elections.

Organizers also have stated support for congressional reform bills to implement small-dollar citizen-funded elections, combat voter suppression, empower citizens with universal suffrage and introduce a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that corporations are people for political purposes.

Democracy Spring will launch from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia on April 2, when activists begin a 10-day, 140-mile march to Washington, D.C.

Actions will begin in the capital on April 11 and culminate on April 16.

Then comes the arrival of Democracy Awakening, which will include a rally for reform on April 17.

“We’re not talking about the nostalgic disenfranchisement of 1965,” said Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP. “Once again, states with the worst histories of discrimination are pushing for new barriers to block the young, the poor, the elderly and minority voters from the ballot in 2016. We must answer the call for action.”

Details are still coming together for both mass mobilizations.

Lindquist said, “We just know it is mass nonviolent sit-ins and legal protests. I’m excited to see what they have in store.”

Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening have endorsements from more than 100 organizations, including unions, student groups, civil rights organizations, social justice associations and more.

In early March, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign executive director Matt Rothschild shared notice of the plans. He wrote to WDC friends, “It could be historic, so I hope you can participate in one way or another.”

Other groups promoting the mobilizations include Common Cause, Food & Water Watch, Greenpeace, People for the American Way, Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG, the Democracy Initiative and Communications Workers of America.

“As long as our government is controlled by corporate interests, we’ll never be able to protect our food, ban fracking or prevent disasters like we’ve seen in Flint,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food $ Water Watch. “Our democracy is broken. And, for the sake of our food, water and climate, it’s time for us to fix it.”


Democracy Spring connections

For more information about Democracy Spring, go online to DemocracySpring.org.

For more about Democracy Awakening, go online to DemocracyAwakening.org.

To connect with regional coordinator Elizabeth Lindquist, email gelindquist@gmail.com.


Democracy Awakening calendar

Democracy Awakening events include:

  • Workshops and training sessions on April 16 All Souls Church and St. Stephen’s Church in Washington, D.C.
  • Rally for Democracy on April 17 on the National Mall, with a march around the Capitol, followed by training in nonviolent civil disobedience.
  • Congress Day of Action on April 18, with direct action and lobbying efforts.

Suit alleges police brutality against Black Lives Matter protesters

Eleven people who were clubbed, teargassed, slammed to the ground, shot with impact munitions or arrested by the police during a December 2014 demonstration sued the city of Berkeley and officials of the California city in federal court.

The plaintiffs include journalists who were covering the demonstration, as well as demonstrators. They are seeking to revamp how Berkeley polices demonstrations, as well as to be compensated for injuries.

The Dec. 6, 2014, protest was a March Against State Violence calling for justice for Michael Brown, Eric Garner and other unarmed black people killed by white police officers.

“The march was largely peaceful,” said civil rights attorney Jim Chanin. “But the Berkeley Police assumed the worst and almost immediately began hitting people in an indiscriminate manner. This was illegal, and unnecessarily exacerbated tension between police and protesters. It showed a complete lack of appreciation for the fact that the demonstrators were exercising their constitutional right to speak out on very serious issues: police racist killings and the failure of our criminal justice system to hold officers accountable.”

The lawsuit follows the revelation that Berkeley Police stop data shows a pattern of racial profiling against black and Latino people, with blacks and Latinos far more likely than whites to be stopped and searched.

The plaintiffs include San Francisco Chronicle photographer Sam Wolson, who was clubbed on the head as he knelt to take a photo. Wolson said, “I was really surprised and disappointed, by the whole situation. If you can’t have media safely holding all parties accountable then the whole system breaks down.”

Cindy Pincus, a minister, was also hit on the head as she bent down to help another woman who had fallen. “The response by police was so disproportionately violent to the peaceful gathering of protesters. We were indiscriminately beaten even as we tried to lawfully retreat.  I suffered once; this is what our brown and black citizens suffer every day.”

Cal student Nisa Dang was clubbed from behind while she was urging other demonstrators to be peaceful.

Later that night, the police forced her and others to march from Berkeley to the Oakland border.

“The officers hit and jabbed us with their batons and shot tear gas canisters at our backs to forcibly make us keep moving south. They didn’t stop their violent tactics until we got to Oakland. Those of us who had been forced into Oakland then had to walk all the way back to Berkeley to return to the safety of our homes.”

Curtis Johnson was visiting from Los Angeles and happened on the demonstration. “I had only been with the march for about ten minutes when I was shot in the knee with an impact munition,” he said. “There was no warning.” Mr. Johnson was shot by Hayward officers who were providing mutual aid to Berkeley.

“There have been demonstrations all over the Bay Area as part of the growing nationwide movement for Black Lives and the NLG had legal observers at most of them,” said Rachel Lederman, co-counsel for the plaintiffs and the president of the National Lawyers Guild’s San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. “It was Berkeley who responded in the most brutal and unconstitutional manner. To make matters worse, Berkeley made no effort to control the other agencies who responded to its call for mutual aid.”

News guide: A look at the protests at the University of Missouri

Racially charged incidents at the University of Missouri led to numerous protests, a hunger strike by a graduate student and at least 30 black football players announcing they were on strike. Many students called for the president of the four-campus system to be removed, and he stepped down Monday. Here’s a look at the situation:


University of Missouri system President Tim Wolfe and Columbia campus Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced Monday that they are resigning after months of student anger over the university’s handling of racial issues. A black student’s hunger strike and the weekend announcement by 30 black football players that they wouldn’t be participating in team activities until the Wolfe was removed helped bring the issue to a head.

At a special meeting of the system’s governing board, Wolfe said he takes “full responsibility for the frustration” students had expressed regarding racial issues and that he hopes the school community uses his resignation “to heal and start talking again to make the changes necessary.”

Wolfe’s resignation is effective immediately.

After Wolfe’s announcement, Jonathan Butler, a black graduate student who went on a hunger strike on Nov. 2 and vowed to not eat until Wolfe was gone, tweeted that his strike was over.

Loftin said he’s stepping down at the end of the year and will shift to leading research efforts.


The treatment of minorities has been the focus at the state system’s flagship campus in Columbia, and campus groups, including one called Concerned Student 1950, that have been protesting the way Wolfe has handled matters of race and discrimination. The 35,000-student population is overwhelmingly white.

The football players issued a statement aligning themselves with campus groups, and on Sunday, coach Gary Pinkel expressed solidarity on Twitter by posting a picture of the team and coaches locking arms. His tweet read: “The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players.”

Wolfe responded to the criticism Sunday, saying that it “is clear to all of us that change is needed” and adding that his administration has been “meeting around the clock” to address the issue. The statement, however, made no mention of Wolfe resigning.

The protests began early in the semester after Missouri’s student government president, who is black, said he was called a racial slur by the occupant of a passing pickup truck while walking on campus. Days before the Oct. 10 homecoming parade, members of the Legions of Black Collegians said racial slurs were directed at them by an unidentified person walking by. And a swastika drawn in feces was found recently in a dormitory bathroom.


Wolfe, a former software company executive and 1980 Missouri graduate, began leading the four-campus system in February 2012.

Loftin, former president of Texas A&M University, started as chancellor at the Columbia campus in February 2014.

Concerned Student 1950 draws its name from the year the university accepted its first black student, and has demanded, among other things, that Wolfe “acknowledge his white male privilege” and be removed immediately, and that the school adopt a mandatory racial-awareness program and hire more black faculty and staff members.


The University of Missouri system’s governing body plans to begin several initiatives in the next 90 days aimed at improving the racial atmosphere on the system’s four campuses.

The Board of Curators will appoint the system’s first chief of diversity, inclusion and equity officer. Each campus also will have its own such officer.

The board also promised a full review of all policies related to staff and student conduct, more support for those on campus who have experienced discrimination and the hiring of a more diverse faculty and staff.

Changes planned specifically on the Columbia campus include mandatory diversity, inclusion and equity training for all faculty, staff and future students, as well as a review of student mental health services.

May Day: Demonstrators deliver distress call

Marchers in Milwaukee marked May Day by delivering a distress call — strong and loud — in the voices of thousands raised outside the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

The May Day rally and march, coordinated annually by the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera, took place on May 1, beginning at the nonprofit’s headquarters on South Fifth Street. From there, marchers went to the courthouse.

They demanded nationwide immigration reform and called on Republican Gov. Scott Walker to withdraw from a 26-state federal suit blocking executive-branch immigration relief.

They demanded fair and equal pay and the right to organize on what has long been celebrated as a worker’s memorial day.

And, with the march taking place just days after rioting in Baltimore following the death a black man in police custody, they demanded an end to police violence and action to address the lack of opportunity in the nation’s poorest neighborhoods.

They marched in solidarity, shouldering banners and sharing causes.

“I’m marching for my family,” said José Flores, a longtime member of Voces de la Frontera. “We are here to tell Gov. Walker to stop blocking executive action on immigration and to let him know that we want immigration reform with a path to citizenship.”

Walker has recently referred to such a path as “amnesty,” which he opposes.

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, now Voces’ executive director, addressed the crowd, rallying the marchers to demand racial and economic justice. “We have seen in Milwaukee and Baltimore and other cities African-Americans and their allies rising up against racist police violence, and we are proud to stand with their struggle. We are proud to stand with Maria Hamilton and Elvira Arellano, two mothers fighting for justice for all families.”

Maria Hamilton is the mother of Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed black man killed by a Milwaukee police officer one year ago in Red Arrow Park. He was shot 14 times, including in the back, during a scuffle that followed a pat down that violated MPD procedure.

Maria Hamilton told the marchers, “It’s so beautiful to see people of so many nationalities here together.”

Arellano, an immigrant rights leader with an international reputation, told marchers, “I want to say thank you to the U.S. citizens who are here with us today fighting deportations.”

May Day tradition

The Milwaukee May Day Solidarity March for Immigrant and Worker Rights coincided with more than 20 other marches on May 1, which is International Workers’ Day and the anniversary of the bloody 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago.

May Day marches have been held for more than a century, but the focus broadened in the mid-2000s to include demands for immigrant rights. In 2006, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators joined in protests across the United States.

This year, with the unrest in Baltimore and solidarity protests in other cities, the marchers broadened the message and the demands still farther.

“Man, it’s all related,” said marcher Deacon Davis of Milwaukee. “We cannot divorce the brutalities of our police department from the brutalities of our governor and Congress and the brutalities of big business.”

In the days before the May Day actions, Wisconsinites held other labor-related tributes, including organizing Workers’ Memorial Day gatherings on April 28 in La Crosse and Madison.

And two days after the May Day marches, another traditional observance took place in Milwaukee commemorating the anniversary of the Bay View Massacre on May 5, 1886. That morning, after four days of massive worker demonstrations for an eight-hour workday, about 1,500 workers marched toward the Bay View Rolling Mills and came upon the State Militia, called out by the governor and armed with guns ready to fire. The marchers were ordered to stop about 200 yards from the mill, and, when they did not, the militia killed seven and wounded others.

The memorial took place on May 3 at the State Historical Marker for the mills at South Superior Street and East Russell Avenue on the lakefront, with historians, labor activists, artists, entertainers and community members remembering those shot by a state militia called out to squash a workers campaign.

The Wisconsin Labor History Society offered a remembrance and the Milwaukee Public Theatre and Milwaukee Mask and Puppet Theatre staged a re-enactment.

Wisconsin Jobs Now also had a presence at the ceremony, where speakers talked about challenges working people face and musicians offered a tribute to the late Larry Penn, a folk singer and longtime Bay View resident who regularly attended the event.

Wisconsin AFL-CIO plans rallies against right-to-work bill

The Wisconsin AFL-CIO plans rallies on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 in Madison to protest a bill that would make Wisconsin a right-to-work state.

Late last week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker backed a surprise move by Republican legislators to quickly vote on the bill, an action the likely 2016 presidential candidate initially said should be delayed to avoid re-igniting massive pro-union protests.

Walker rose to prominence in 2011, when he pushed through a law that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers. That led to protests with as many as 100,000 people and a 2012 recall election that Walker won.

On this bill, there’s a public hearing on Feb. 24 followed by debate starting on Feb. 25.