Tag Archives: rally

Women’s March goes global, 200,000 expected in D.C.

Organizers of today’s Women’s March on Washington expect more than 200,000 people to attend their gathering, a number that could exceed Trump’s swearing-in ceremony.

“In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore,” the statement says from the march organizers.

Women and other groups were demonstrating across the nation and as far abroad as Myanmar and Australia.

In Sydney, thousands of Australians marched in solidarity in the city’s central Hyde Park. One organizer said hatred, bigotry and racism are not only America’s problems.

The Washington gathering, which features a morning rally and afternoon march, comes a day after protesters set fires and hurled bricks in a series of clashes that led to more than 200 arrests. Police used pepper spray and stun grenades to prevent the chaos from spilling into Trump’s formal procession and evening balls.

About a mile from the National Mall, police gave chase to a group of about 100 protesters who smashed the windows of downtown businesses including a Starbucks, a Bank of America and a McDonald’s as they denounced capitalism and Trump.

“They began to destroy property, throw objects at people, through windows. A large percentage of this small group was armed with crowbars and hammers,” said the city’s interim police chief, Peter Newsham.

Six officers suffered minor injuries, he said.

The confrontation began an hour before Trump took the oath of office and escalated several hours later as the crowd of protesters swelled to more than 1,000, some wearing gas masks and with arms chained together inside PVC pipe. One said the demonstrators were “bringing in the cavalry.”

When some crossed police lines, taunting, “Put the pigs in the ground,” police charged with batons and pepper spray, as well as stun grenades, which are used to shock and disperse crowds. Booms echoed through the streets about six blocks from where Trump would soon hold his inaugural parade.

Some protesters picked up bricks and concrete from the sidewalk and hurled them at police lines. Some rolled large, metal trash cans at police. Later, they set fire to a limousine on the perimeter of the secured zone, sending black smoke billowing into the sky during Trump’s procession.

As night fell, protesters set a bonfire blocks from the White House and frightened well-dressed Trump supporters as they ventured to the new president’s inaugural balls. Police briefly ordered ball goers to remain inside their hotel as they worked to contain advancing protesters.

Police said they charged 217 people with rioting, said Newsham, noting that the group caused “significant damage” along a number of blocks.

Before Inauguration Day, the DisruptJ20 coalition, named after the date of the inauguration, had promised that people participating in its actions in Washington would attempt to shut down the celebrations, risking arrest when necessary.

It was unclear whether the groups will be active on Saturday.

The Women’s March on Washington features a morning rally with a speaking lineup that includes a series of celebrities, Scarlett Johansson, America Ferrara, Amy Schumer, Frances McDormand and Zendaya, among them.

Christopher Geldart, the District of Columbia’s homeland security director, said he expects the march to draw more than 200,000. He said 1,800 buses have registered to park in the city on Jan. 21, which would mean nearly 100,000 people coming in just by bus.

Friday’s protests spread across the nation, including to Milwaukee and Chicago.

In San Francisco, thousands formed a human chain on the Golden Gate Bridge and chanted “Love Trumps hate.” In the city’s financial district, a few hundred protesters blocked traffic outside an office building partly owned by Trump.

In Atlanta, protests converged at City Hall and a few hundred people chanted and waved signs protesting Trump, denouncing racism and police brutality and expressing support for immigrants, Muslims and the Black Lives Matter movement.

In Nashville, half a dozen protesters chained themselves to the doors of the Tennessee Capitol. Hundreds also sat in a 10-minute silent protest at a park while Trump took the oath of office. Organizers led a prayer, sang patriotic songs and read the Declaration of Independence aloud.

In the Pacific Northwest, demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, burned U.S. flags and students at Portland State University walked out of classes. About 200 protesters gathered on the Capitol steps in Olympia, Washington, carrying signs that included the messages “Resist Trump” and “Not My Problem.”

Many motivations driving women to DC for inauguration protest

Call them rebels with a cause. Women from around the nation will converge on Washington for a march on the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. They will arrive driven by a multitude of motivations.

Gay rights, gun control, immigrant rights, equal pay, reproductive freedom, racial justice, worker rights, climate change, support for vaccinations: They all make the list of progressive causes that are attracting people to the Women’s March on Washington and its sister marches across the country and the world this coming Saturday.

“We are not going to give the next president that much focus,” says Linda Sarsour, a national march organizer and executive director of the Arab American Association of New York. “What we want from him is to see us in focus.”

But while Trump’s name may not literally appear in the march’s “mission and vision” statement, the common denominator uniting the marchers appears to be a loathing for the president-elect and dismay that so much of the country voted for him.

“This march feels like a chance to be part of something that isn’t pity, isn’t powerlessness,” says Leslie Rutkowski, an American living in Norway who plans to fly back for the march. “I hope it is unifying. I hope it flies in the face of Trump’s platform of hate and divisiveness.”

Adds Kelsey Wadman, a new mom in California who’s helping to organize a parallel march in San Diego: “It’s not just about Donald Trump the person. It’s about what he evoked out of the country.”

The march in Washington is set to start with a program near the Capitol and then move toward the White House. It probably will be the largest of a number of inauguration-related protests.

Christopher Geldart, the District of Columbia’s homeland security director, said he expected the march to draw more than the 200,000 people organizers are planning for, based on bus registrations and train bookings.

The focus of the march has been a work in progress since the idea of a Washington mobilization first bubbled up from a number of women’s social media posts in the hours after Trump’s election.

The group’s November application for a march permit summed up its purpose as to “come together in solidarity to express to the new administration & Congress that women’s rights are human rights and our power cannot be ignored.”

That phrasing rankled some who thought it was tied too closely to Hillary Clinton, the defeated Democratic nominee, whose famous Beijing speech as first lady declared that “women’s rights are human rights.” The fact that the initial march organizers were mostly white women also generated grumbling, this time from minorities. Gradually, the march’s leadership and its mission statements have become more all-inclusive.

Recent releases from march organizers state the event “intends to send a bold message to the incoming presidential administration on their first day in office, to leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and to the world, that we stand together in solidarity and expect elected leaders to act to protect the rights of women, their families and their communities.”

America Ferrera, leading the celebrity contingent for the march, rolled out a long list of concerns in a statement announcing her role.

“Immigrant rights, worker rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, racial justice and environmental rights are not special interests, they affect us all and should be every American’s concerns,” she wrote.

Other prominent names involved with the march have put a spotlight on one concern — or another.

Actress Scarlett Johansson, who plans to participate, put her focus on the incoming administration’s intentions of “reducing the availability of women’s health care and attacking her reproductive rights.'”

Actress Debra Messing, listed as a supporter of the march, wrote of the need to protect Planned Parenthood.

Expect thousands of the marchers to turn up wearing hand-knitted pink “pussyhats” — sending a message of female empowerment and pushing back against Trump’s demeaning comments about women.

Scan #WhyIMarch posts on social media, and you’ll find a wide-ranging list of reasons. A sampling: equal pay for women veterans, fighting chauvinism, empowering daughters, renouncing racism, higher pay for women who are college presidents.

Wadman, the California mom, tweeted a (hash)WhyIMarch photo with her 4-month-old son and this note: “Because when my son asks me about this era of American history I don’t want to tell him that I did nothing.”

Rutkowski, the American living in Norway, emailed that she’s “not completely satisfied” with the mixed messages attached to the march.

“I also don’t like — from what I’ve seen in the news and on Facebook _ the proclivity for infighting,” she wrote. “But I believe that a quarter of a million female bodies — hopefully more, hopefully men, as well — will make the incoming administration and new Congress aware that we are watching, we are listening and we will resist.”

Carmen Perez, one of the march’s national organizers, sees beauty in the many messages attached to the march: “Women don’t live single-issue lives and we are thrilled to be joined by women who understand and reflect the intersecting issues for which we stand.”

Associated Press reporters Krysta Fauria and Ben Nuckols contributed to this report.

Trump suggests ‘2nd Amendment people’ might shoot Clinton

Donald Trump suggested on Aug. 9 that “Second Amendment people” might shoot Hillary Clinton if she becomes president.

The GOP nominee was speaking at a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, and falsely claimed that Clinton, the Democratic nominee, wants to “essentially abolish the Second Amendment.”

Trump said, “By the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Clinton’s campaign quickly responded.

“This is simple — what Trump is saying is dangerous,” said Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook. “A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.”

The Trump campaign said the candidate was simply celebrating the “amazing spirit” of Second Amendment supporters and not making any threats.

But the AP reported that Catherine Milhoan, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service, said, “We are aware of his comments.”

A few weeks ago, a Trump campaign adviser on veterans’ issues said, “Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason.”

That comment also caught the attention of the Secret Service, which is investigating.

Twitter lighted up even as Trump was still speaking at the North Carolina rally.

The NRA tweeted: “.@RealDonaldTrump is right. If @HillaryClinton gets to pick her anti-#2A #SCOTUS judges, there’s nothing we can do. #NeverHillary. But there IS something we will do on #ElectionDay: Show up and vote for the #2A! #DefendtheSecond #NeverHillary.”

Bernie King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., tweeted: “As the daughter of a leader who was assassinated, I find #Trump‘s comments distasteful, disturbing, dangerous. His words don’t #LiveUp. #MLK.”

On the web …

An interesting read at The New York Times about the hostility and threats of violence at Trump rallies.

Sanders could endorse Clinton on Tuesday

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is set to throw his support behind fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House on Tuesday during a rally they will hold together in New Hampshire, ending a bitterly fought battle for the presidential nomination that had fractured the party.

An endorsement from Sanders could boost Clinton’s chances against Republican rival Donald Trump in the Nov. 8 election, and comes after she offered Sanders  concessions on policy issues like education, health care and climate change.

At the New Hampshire event, the pair will discuss a shared “commitment to building an America that is stronger together and an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top,” according to statements released Monday by both campaigns.

The rally will be the first of many in which Sanders will “be out there stumping for the Democratic nominee,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said. Weaver would not confirm whether Sanders would formally endorse Clinton on Tuesday.

Sanders had been under pressure for weeks from Democratic Party officials to throw his weight behind Clinton after she locked up the required number of nominating convention delegates last month with a string of wins in state-by-state primary contests.

The former U.S. secretary of state, senator, and first lady needs Sanders’ supporters to boost her chances against Trump in her run for the White House. Only about 40 percent of Sanders’ supporters say they would vote for her, according to recent Reuters/Ipsos polling.

In the past few weeks, both camps have been in regular contact on how to bring Clinton closer to some of Sanders’ progressive stances on issues like wealth inequality, trade, healthcare, education, and the environment in an effort to unify the party, according to Weaver.

Weaver said he and Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook “talk every day, basically, at this point” and said recent shifts in Clinton’s healthcare and education proposals, released last week, were the result of “many, many discussions back and forth about our views.”

Other policy priorities for the senator from Vermont included a $15-an-hour national minimum wage, which was incorporated into the party’s platform at a meeting in Orlando, Florida, this weekend, as well as criminal justice reform and action on climate change.




Religious leaders advocate for transgender rights

They stood for tolerance and kindness.

They stood for inclusion and protection.

They stood for right and against harm.

More than 400 clergy rallied in late May outside St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Charlotte, calling for the repeal of North Carolina’s House Bill 2 and praying for freedom from prejudice.

Clergy members from across the state but also far beyond assembled for the event, protesting the Republican legislation that rolls back LGBT civil rights and prevents transgender people from using public restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

“We stand for love in the way that Jesus expressed it, which means inclusion, which means acceptance, and which means seeing every person as a fearfully and wonderfully made child of God,” said the Rev. Martha Kearse of St. John’s Baptist Church in Charlotte.

Organized under the banner of “Faith in Public Life,” the clergy represented Metropolitan Community, Lutheran, Baptist, United Church of Christ, Episcopal, Presbyterian, United Methodist, First Congregation, Unitarian Universalist, and Catholic churches, as well as Buddhist temples, Quaker groups and Jewish synagogues — both reform and conservative.

The faith-based leaders called on North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to seek the counsel of Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who earlier this year vetoed an anti-LGBT bill, citing his Christian faith.

“We affirm that all people are beloved by God and that discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation is wrong,” the clergy members wrote in a letter to McCrory.

Witnesses to the rally said they were inspired, and reminded of the role clergy played in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

“This event might have been lost in all the news over HB 2 and the boycotts, but we’ll remember it when we look back on this time,” said LGBT civil rights activist Kate Eckerd of Asheville, North Carolina. “This was a moment, a real moment, when you look at who was there and where they came from and what they demanded because of their faith, not in spite of their faith.”

The display of faith-based unity against HB 2 and for LGBT equality surprised Eckerd, who said she gets mixed signals at the Catholic church she attends.

“The people are good,” she said. “The message from the priest, not so good.”

The range of religious trans inclusion

An analysis by the Pew Research Center finds that some religious institutions are starting to formally address the participation of transgender people in their congregations and in clergy positions, while others remain steadfastly against inclusion.

The review by Pew found:

• On the negative end of the inclusion spectrum, the Assemblies of God, Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and Southern Baptist Convention have stated barriers to inclusion. The synod instructs ministers on how to counsel transgender people and encourage them to seek mental health treatment while Southern Baptist Convention in 2014 adopted a resolution stating that transgender people can only be members if they repent. The Mormon church, meanwhile, says people considering “elective transsexual operations” cannot be baptized or confirmed.

• In the middle, the Church of God, Presbyterian Church in American, Roman Catholic Church, and African American Episcopal Church have no official position on inclusion and send mixed messages on the issue. The Catholic church says gender is permanently fixed at birth and Pope Francis has said gender theory is a danger to humanity, but the pope has also met with a transgender man.

• The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Methodist Church have a reputation as inclusive but lack an official statement.

• More definitively, the Episcopal Church, Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist Association, and United Church of Christ have official statements regarding the inclusion of transgender people. The Union for Reform Judaism adopted a resolution in 2015 that “encourages Reform congregations, congregants, clergy, camps, institutions and affiliates … to continue to advocate for the rights of people of all gender identities and gender expressions” and “urges the adoption and implementation of legislation and policies that prevent discrimination based on gender identity and expression and that require individuals to be treated equally under the law as the gender by which they identify.”




Kennedy: Religious exemptions can’t trump civil rights

U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy is pushing legislation that would ban religious exemptions from laws that guarantee fundamental civil and legal rights.

The Massachusetts Democrat says the bill is a response to what he calls ongoing attempts to cite religious beliefs as grounds to undermine civil rights protections, limit access to health care and refuse service to minority groups.

The bill would limit the use of such exemptions in cases involving discrimination, child labor and abuse, wages and collective bargaining, public accommodations and social services provided through government contracts.

Kennedy says religious freedom is sacred, but shouldn’t harm others.

Kennedy’s bill would amend the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which he says is used by those seeking to impose their beliefs on others or claim that their faith justifies discrimination.

Alabama drag queen is suspended chief justice’s nightmare (and that’s good)

Wearing big hair, loads of makeup and high heels, small-town drag queen Ambrosia Starling is the new worst nightmare of suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Moore has called out Starling twice by name in recent days while defending himself against allegations of violating judicial canons with his opposition to same-sex marriage.

During a news conference and in a written statement, Moore cited the entertainer as a reason he’s at risk of losing his job for the second time since 2003.

That’s fine with Starling, who helped lead an anti-Moore rally on the steps of the Alabama Supreme Court building in January. Opponents that day filled out more than 40 complaints against Moore, who already was the subject of other complaints and now faces removal from office if convicted of violating judicial ethics.

“If it takes a drag queen to remind you that liberty and justice is for all, here I am,” Starling said on a recent Tuesday between sips of coffee.

Moore contends the effort to oust him is unfounded and politically motivated.

Starling, born and raised in the southeast Alabama city of Dothan, referred to Moore as a bigot and has encouraged people to submit complaints against Moore to the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission, which accused the Republican Moore of wrongdoing in mid-May, resulting in his suspension.

The complaint filed by the Judicial Inquiry Commission accuses Moore of willfully failing to respect the authority of federal court decisions that cleared the way for gay marriage, which Moore opposes on the basis of faith and the law. He issued an administrative order to state probate judges in January that said state laws against gay marriage remained in place months after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide.

An attorney for Moore, Mat Staver, said Moore issued the order because probate judges were asking questions about how to proceed.

Staver said Moore will file a response within 30 days asking the Alabama Court of the Judiciary to dismiss charges against him.

Moore has been tossed once before from the office of chief justice. Thirteen years ago, Moore refused to abide by a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument Moore had erected in the rotunda of the state judicial building, resulting in judicial ethics charges and his removal by the Court of Judiciary.

During a news conference in May, Moore said Starling and similar people would have been classified as having a “mental disorder” just a few years ago.

He also accused Starling of performing a “mock wedding” in violation of a state court order against same-sex marriage, a claim Starling dismissed as untrue.

Starling doesn’t mind being singled out by Moore.

“I’ll take the hit for the entire LGBT community if it gets the message across,” Starling said.

Hundreds march across New York bridge for stricter gun laws

Hundreds of people carrying photos of loved ones killed by gun violence marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on May 7 to rally for stricter gun laws and chanted demands for action.

The fourth annual march, held on the eve of Mother’s Day, was organized by the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

“We are going to stand up and fight until our last breath because if we lose our children we have nothing left to lose,” said the group’s founder, Shannon Watts.

Natasha Christopher knows that pain all too well. Her son, Akeal Christopher, was shot in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood in June 2012 and died days later, on his 15th birthday.

“Gun violence destroyed my family,” Christopher said. “Nothing will ever be the same. But I’m here today to say that I have turned my pain and anger into action.”

The marchers, who went from Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn to City Hall in lower Manhattan, said they wanted stricter background checks for gun purchases and a ban on assault rifles.

“They keep saying we have good, strong gun laws, but for me, I don’t believe these laws are really that strong,” Christopher said.

Marchers, as they crossed the bridge, shouted, “What do we want? Gun sense!”

Oscar-winning actress Julianne Moore was among the crowd that rallied before the march. She said she was spurred to get involved to advocate for stronger gun laws after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults in December 2012.

“We’re really pushing for more gun safety regulations,” she said. “It is not an anti-gun movement. It is not a partisan movement. It is a safety movement.”

Other speakers at Saturday’s march and rally included Barbara Parker, whose daughter Alison Parker, a broadcast journalist, was shot and killed on live television in August 2015 by a disgruntled former reporter. Parker, whose daughter died alongside video journalist Adam Ward while working for Roanoke, Virginia, TV station WDBJ, said U.S. officials need to do more to enact a policy that background checks be performed for all gun sales.

The National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun rights lobbying group, opposes expanding background checks. The NRA says many people sent to prison because of gun crimes get their guns through theft or the black market and no amount of background checks can stop those criminals.

Under the current system, cashiers at stores selling guns call in to check with the FBI or other designated agencies to ensure customers don’t have criminal backgrounds. Some lawmakers want to expand such checks to sales at gun shows and purchases made through the Internet.

Fossil fuels divestment march set for UW-Madison

A group of University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni is urging divestment from fossil fuels and reinvestment in renewable energy.

An open letter, signed by more than 250 alumni and friends, will be presented to the UW Foundation on April 29 at 12:30 pm, following a march at the campus. Divestment activists will gather at Union South near Randall Street at noon on April 29 and then march to the UW Foundation, at 1848 University Ave.

There, UW alumni will present a simulated check representing $7,000 in donations diverted from the foundation and invested instead in fossil-free funds through the Multi-School Divestment Fund.

UW alumna Judith Stadler, in a news release from 350 Madison Climate Action Team, said, “We who have signed the letter believe that continued investment in fossil fuels contradicts the University’s mission, which is to ‘…help ensure the survival of this and future generations and improve the quality of life for all.’ Continued investment in fossil fuels accomplishes the very opposite of the mission. It will lead to an increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases above what scientists agree is a safe level for life as we know it.”

“The signatories of this open letter call on the governing board of the UW Foundation to divest from fossil fuels, especially coal and tar sands, ”added John Zinda of Providence, Rhode Island. and a 2013 graduate.

He’s one of many alumni from across the country helping to amplify student and faculty calls for divestment.

He said, “As a first step, we call on the board to meet with concerned alumni and students before their next board meeting to let us know what the UW Foundation has done to consider the issue of fossil fuel divestment and whether the board has reconsidered its stance in light of the steps toward divestment taken by Stanford, Yale and many smaller schools.”

More that 500 institutions representing more than $3.4 trillion in assets have committed to some form of fossil fuel divestment since the movement began in 2011.

In addition to signing the open letter, UW alumni have diverted contributions of more than $7,000 from the UW Foundation to the Multi-School Divestment Fund, a grassroots collaboration connecting donors to campus divestment efforts.

The total value of the fund, which has 30 participating campuses, is currently more than $50,000. Of that, more than $7,000 is earmarked for UW.

All donations have been steered away from universities with fossil fuel investments.

A growing chorus of students, alumni and parents are calling on universities to pull their investments from companies with practices are incompatible with the globally agreed upon 2° C maximum warming target.

UW-Madison will only receive the $7,000 in the UW-subaccount of the Divestment Fund if it divests from fossil fuels.

If a school has not divested from fossil fuels by December 31, 2017, all donations earmarked for that school will be split between schools that have committed to divestment from fossil fuel stocks.

The $7,000 represents diverted donations from more than 50 UW alumni, including actress Leah Garland and TV writer, Jill Soloway, who donated a walk-on role in her TV show, “Transparent,” to the highest bidder at a recent Climate Change auction.

“Oil and gas companies have known about climate change for decades and have buried the truth.” said Garland said. “Today, we know without doubt about the devastating effects of climate change, and we know that this is the moment to prevent the worsening of climate change given feedback loops. We have to do all we can to switch to renewables.”

On the Web…

Learn more about the Multi-School Divestment Fund.

ACLU concern for Milwaukee PD covering name tags

The ACLU of Wisconsin expressed concern that once again the Milwaukee Police are covering up their name tags for no good reason, contrary to department policy and hindering any efforts at increased transparency in the process.

This kind of behavior will do nothing but draw even clearer lines of division between the MPD and the community it purports to serve.

As evidenced by the police show of force on April 3 at UW-Milwaukee, individual police officers and the major incident response team  too often cover up their name tags while deployed in public.  This is a flagrant violation of an MPD policy that is already weak and rarely enforced.

When Milwaukeeans are peacefully exercising their rights to free speech and assembly, the MPD should do everything in its power to refrain from intimidating members of the public from expressing themselves.

By covering up their nametags, the officers communicated an implicit threat that they may engage in practices for which they do not want to be held accountable.

The ACLU of Wisconsin urges the MPD to better train and supervise its officers, including those assigned to demonstrations protected by the First Amendment, to maintain transparency and avoid sending harmful messages to the public.

Chris Ahmuty is the executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin.

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.