Tag Archives: civil disobedience

Milwaukee County Transit honors Rosa Parks with open seat

The Milwaukee County Transit System is keeping a seat open and the headlights shining on its entire fleet on Dec. 1  to honor the life of Rosa Parks and her contribution to equal rights.

Parks was arrested after refusing to give up her seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, on Dec. 1, 1955.

Her act of civil disobedience led to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that outlawed segregation on public transportation.

“This country was changed for the better that day Rosa Parks refused to give into racism and oppression,” County Executive Chris Abele stated in a release. “While we can never truly thank her for her bravery, we mark the occasion to remember and honor her courage.”

Every bus in the MCTS fleet has a seat reserved in honor of Rosa Parks. The signs feature a picture of Parks on the bus and one of her famous quotes: “My only concern was to get home after a hard day’s work.”

On the Web

Learn about Rosa Parks.

Anti-government militants acquitted on conspiracy charges

A federal court jury delivered a surprise verdict on Oct. 27, acquitting anti-government militant leader Ammon Bundy and six followers of conspiracy charges stemming from their role in the armed takeover of a wildlife center in Oregon earlier this year.

The outcome marked a stinging defeat for federal prosecutors and law enforcement in a trial the defendants sought to turn into a pulpit for airing their opposition to government control over millions of acres of public lands in the West.

Bundy and others, including his brother and co-defendant Ryan Bundy, cast the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as a patriotic act of civil disobedience. Prosecutors called it a lawless scheme to seize federal property by force.

Jubilant supporters of the Bundys thronged the courthouse after the verdict, hailing the trial’s outcome as vindication of a political ideology that is profoundly distrustful of federal authority and challenges its legitimacy.

“We’re so grateful to the jurors who weren’t swayed by the nonsense that was going on,” defendant Shawna Cox told reporters. “God said we weren’t guilty. We weren’t guilty of anything.”

As the seven-week-long trial in the U.S. District Court in Portland climaxed, U.S. marshals wrestled to the floor Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, Marcus Mumford, as he argued heatedly with the judge over the terms of his client’s continued detention.

The Bundys still face assault, conspiracy and other charges from a separate armed standoff in 2014 at the Nevada ranch of their father, Cliven Bundy, triggered when federal agents seized his cattle for his failure to pay grazing fees for his use of public land.

The outcome of the Oregon trial clearly shocked many in the packed courtroom. Attorneys exchanged looks of astonishment with the defendants, then hugged their clients as the not-guilty verdicts were read amid gasps from spectators.

Outside the courthouse, supporters celebrated by shouting “Hallelujah” and reading passages from the U.S. Constitution. One man rode his horse, named Lady Liberty, in front of the courthouse carrying an American flag.

The verdict came after four days of deliberations. One juror, a former federal employee, was dismissed over questions of bias on Wednesday and replaced by a substitute.

The 12-member panel found all seven defendants — six men and a woman — not guilty of the most serious charge, conspiracy to impede federal officers through intimidation, threats or force. That charge alone carried a maximum penalty of six years in prison.

The defendants also were acquitted of illegal possession of firearms in a federal facility and theft of government property, except in the case of Ryan Bundy, for whom jurors were deadlocked on the charge of theft.

The takeover of the wildlife refuge was initially sparked by outrage over the plight of two imprisoned Oregon ranchers the occupiers believed had been unfairly treated in an arson case. But the militants said they were also protesting larger grievances at what they saw as government tyranny.

The standoff led to the shooting death of one protester, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, by police shortly after the Bundy brothers were arrested, and left parts of the refuge badly damaged.

More than two dozen people, in all, have been criminally charged in the occupation, and a second group of defendants is due to stand trial in February.

 

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.

Fast-food workers strike in Fight for $15

Fast-food worker Tim Roach has been doing some arithmetic and the numbers don’t add up to fairness.

Roach works at a Wendy’s in West Allis for $7.45 and gets 40 hours a week if he’s lucky.

That is not a living wage for the 21-year-old man, who travels to work from his residence on the North Side of Milwaukee to the restaurant via bus, a commute that can take four hours round-trip.

So on Sept. 4, Roach joined other fast-food workers in the Fight for $15 day of action. He was a first-time striker, walking off the job for fair wages and the right to unionize without fear of retaliation.

Fast-food workers with Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, Hardee’s and more demonstrated in more than 150 U.S. cities, including Wausau, Madison and the Milwaukee area.

In some cases, workers, with support from labor leaders, clergy, community activists and elected officials, staged civil disobedience demonstrations that resulted in arrests. U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, was among the two dozen protesters arrested in the Fight for $15 sit-in outside a West Milwaukee McDonald’s.

Moore, in a statement through her communications director, said, “I take great pride in supporting Milwaukee workers as they risk arrest in pursuit of a brighter tomorrow for their families.”

In Madison, police arrested at least seven people. 

Other arrests took place in Detroit, Chicago, New York City, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Miami.

Organizers said thousands of workers and allies participated in the actions.

“It’s time to raise the pay of fast-food workers and everyone earning a low wage in this country,” said U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, who said he stood in solidarity with the demonstrators. “Companies should pay their workers fair wages and put more money in the hands of consumers to help strengthen our economy. These companies are super-sizing their profits while their workers are struggling to make ends meet.”

Just days before the demonstrations, the Fight for $15 got a boost from President Barack Obama, who spoke at a Labor Day celebration in Milwaukee. He again called for Congress to raise the minimum wage — various measures would increase the base wage from $7.25 an hour, which is what Roach started at about a year ago, to $10–$15.

A minimum-wage worker on the job 40 hours a week can earn about $15,000 a year, and that’s generally without benefits.

“I work hard. I exhaust myself and I don’t get paid enough to live a comfortable life,” said Roach, who handles a range of tasks at the restaurant.

He’d been attending a culinary school until he had to give that up to work as many hours as he could get. “I need 40 hours a week to survive,” he said.

At $15 an hour, Roach said he could pay his bills and maybe further his education.

The fast-food campaign has the support of major unions at the national level, such as the Service Employees International Union, and grassroots groups such as Wisconsin Jobs Now! at the regional level.

The day of action drew the attention of consumers to the situation of the fast-food worker at the counters and in the kitchens.

And the campaign drew the attention of workers to unions, and the possibilities and benefits of organizing.

“It’s a movement that I believe in,” Roach said. “It is a movement to better ourselves economically, to better our situation, but also to better our whole economy. … It’s a movement to make our whole society better.”

On the Web…

Wisconsin Jobs Now: http://wisconsinjobsnow.org

StrikeFastFood: http://strikefastfood.org

Service Employees International Union: http://www.seiu.org

On Twitter

@RaiseUpMke

#StrikeFastFood

By the numbers

In the latest Pew Research Center on jobs and the economy, 56 percent say their family’s incomes are falling behind the cost of living.

• 45 percent have experienced one or more serious hardships in the past year.

• 58 percent say jobs are difficult to find.

• 67 percent say the economy is recovering, but not so strongly.

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strike_for_15_

Fast food workers vow civil disobedience

Comparing their campaign to the civil rights movement, fast food workers from across the country voted Saturday to escalate their efforts for $15-an-hour pay and union membership by using nonviolent civil disobedience.

More than 1,300 workers gathered in a convention in center in suburban Chicago to discuss the future of a campaign that has spread to dozens of cities in less than two years. Wearing T-shirts that said “Fight for $15” and “We Are Worth More,” the workers cheered loudly and said they would win if they stuck together.

“People are just fed up,” said Cindy Enriquez, 20, of Phoenix.

The $8.25 an hour she makes working for McDonald’s is not enough to go to college and become a police officer and barely enough to pay her rent, Enriquez said.

While the vote didn’t list any specific acts of civil disobedience, Enriquez said some workers suggested sit-ins and perhaps blocking businesses. She said they need to keep pressure on owners even if it means sitting in front of restaurants “to make sure they do not sell anything.”

“We’re going to keep on going,” Enriquez said.

The Service Employees International Union has been providing financial and organizational support to the fast-food protests. They began in late 2012 in New York City and have included daylong strikes and a loud but peaceful demonstration outside this year’s McDonald’s Corp. shareholder meeting, where more than 130 protesters were arrested after stepping onto company property.

Saturday’s convention in Villa Park, Illinois, included sessions on civil disobedience and leadership training. Kendall Fells, an organizing director for the campaign and a representative of SEIU, said when and what actions happen next will be up to workers in each city.

The Rev. William Barber II, head of the North Carolina NAACP, said the movement is young but as important as when civil disobedience efforts began during the early years of the civil rights movement.

“People should not work and be willing to work and then be denied living wages and be denied health care because of greed,” Barber said.

“This movement is saying that America is less than she promises to be, morally and constitutionally, by denying living wages,” Barber said. “If you raise wages for workers, you buoy the whole economy.”

The campaign comes as President Barack Obama and many other Democrats across the country have attempted to make a campaign issue out of their call to increase the federal and state minimum wages.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, translating to about $15,000 a year for someone working 40 hours a week, though many fast-food workers get far fewer hours. Obama and others have called for increasing it to $10.10.

Fast food workers say even that’s not enough because most people working in the industry now are adults with children, rather than teenagers earning pocket money. The restaurant industry has argued that a $15 hourly wage could lead to business closings and job cuts, though the Seattle City Council recently voted to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, phased in over several years.

The National Restaurant Association said last week that increasing wages to $15 will not solve income inequality and that the campaign was an attempt by unions to boost dwindling membership. Scott DeFife, the association’s executive vice president of policy and government affairs, said protesters were “demonizing” an industry that employs workers of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels, when the focus should be on policies that increase education and job training.

But many people now are staying with fast-food restaurants for years, because they’re often the only ones available, workers said.

Latoya Caldwell, a mother of four from Kansas City, Missouri, who earns $7.50 an hour at a Wendy’s restaurant, said she works six days a week to get 40 hours and earn a $435 paycheck.

“I might pay the mortgage, but then not be able to pay the light bill or pay the gas bill. Then I have to wait until the next check and not able to buy shoes or not able to buy diapers,” Caldwell said. “I just want to make sure we are able to live decent.”

Barber said workers such as Caldwell, who’s participated in three strikes, are putting a face on the campaign for better wages.

“This movement is intensifying and it is going to shake the moral consciousness of this country,” he said.

China jails man for 18 months for remembering Tiananmen Square

Amnesty International is calling on Chinese authorities to halt the persecution of people seeking to remember the victims of the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

The international human rights group issued the statement in response to the sentencing of a man to 18 months in jail for a remembrance last year and in anticipation of demonstrations to come as the anniversary of the June 4 massacre approaches.

A court in Changshu, in eastern China, found Gu Yimin guilty of inciting state subversion after he tried to post images of the crackdown online and applied to stage a protest on the 24th anniversary last year, according to Amnesty.

“Gu Yimin should be released immediately and unconditionally. Nearly 25 years on from the Tiananmen Square crackdown the authorities continue to stop at nothing to bury the truth of 1989,” said Anu Kultalahti, China researcher at Amnesty International.

Hundreds if not thousands, of protestors were killed or injured during the military crackdown against student protestors in and around Tiananmen Square in 1989. 

“As the 25th anniversary approaches, this could well mark the start of the annual round-up of activists attempting to remember the tragic events of 1989. Rather than ratchet up such persecution the authorities should acknowledge what really happened and deliver justice for the victims,” said Kultalahti.

The 1989 crackdown remains an official taboo in China. Attempts to commemorate, discuss and demand justice for what happened are forcefully curbed, with no public discussion allowed.

Report: Americans eager to crusade against climate change

The Yale Project on Climate Change reports that millions of Americans are willing to join a campaign to convince elected officials to reduce global warming.

Specifically, in the new report Americans’ Actions to Limit Global Warming, researcher say:

• Three in 10 have joined or would join a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming. Nearly four in 10 have joined or would join a campaign to convince elected officials to pass laws increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy as a way to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels.

• 53 percent of Americans say they would sign a petition about global warming if asked by a person they “like and respect.” About four in 10 say that, if asked, they would sign a pledge to vote only for political candidates that share their views on global warming, attend a neighborhood meeting to discuss global warming and actions people can take and attend a public meeting or presentation about global warming.

• One in four Americans would support an organization engaging in non-violent civil disobedience against corporate or government activities that make global warming worse and about one in six say they would personally engage in such activities.

• The survey also found that many Americans have already or are willing to engage in purposeful consumer activism:

• Three in 10 say that, in the past 12 months, they have rewarded companies that are taking steps to reduce global warming by buying their products.

• About one in four report that in the past 12 months they have punished companies that are opposing steps to reduce global warming by not purchasing their products.

•  About half of Americans say that they intend to engage in consumer activism over the next 12 months — rewarding companies by buying their products and/or punishing companies by not buying their products — based on whether or not companies have taken steps to reduce global warming. 

UPDATED: 104 women arrested in immigration reform protest

UPDATED: More than 100 women, including a young Racine activist and her grandmother, were arrested earlier on Sept. 12 after blockading an intersection outside the U.S. Capitol to protest the House of Representative’s inaction on comprehensive immigration reform.

The House has voted more than 40 times against the already passed Affordable Care Act but has failed to take up comprehensive immigration reform, which passed the U.S. Senate earlier this year.

Organizers described the demonstration on Sept. 12 as a civil disobedience action. Many of the women who participated in the protest are undocumented immigrants.

A report from the activist group GetEQUAL said those arrested traveled to D.C. from 20 states, including Wisconsin, to draw attention to the fact that women and children make up about three-quarters of immigrants to the United States and “disproportionately bear the burden of the failed immigration system.”

Among those arrested were Luz Maria Hernandez, 75, and granddaughter Cecilia Anguiano, 25, who reside in U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s district in Racine. Anguiano is an organizer with the Wisconsin-based civil rights group Voces de la Frontera.

Voces de la Frontera’s Facebook page, which contained reports from the demonstration, said the two women had traveled from Wisconsin “to stand up for our state’s immigrant families.”

Anguiano, in a news release from Voces de la Frontera, said, “The only thing that separated my parents from those that live in the shadows was timing. Our family in Mexico has been waiting 17 years for their visas to be approved.”  

She added, “Now we’ve changed – from the quiet family that comments around the dinner table, to the family that you can now find rallying and marching – to be reunited with our loved ones, and for fairer legalization‬ process for all.”

About 200 other demonstrators who did not risk arrest rallied in support of the women.

“Immigration reform is not a policy issue or a political issue – there are millions of immigrants in this country who bear the brunt every day of an unjust, inhumane, and broken immigration system” said Heather Cronk of GetEQUAL. She was one of the demonstrators who was arrested. “While Speaker Boehner sits idly by, families are being torn apart and people in this country are suffering – progress on immigration reform rests squarely at the Speaker’s feet, and he is directly responsible for each life destroyed as deportations rise and suffering increases.”

Rea Carey, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, also was arrested.

Carey said, “Immigration reform is not just good for women and their families — its good for our democracy, good for our economy and good for America. Our broken system has a clear fix that most Americans — and women voters — want action on now. As women we know all too well that life at times demands us to do several important things at the same time. Now we need this House of Representative to follow our lead — to pass fair, inclusive and comprehensive immigration reform while doing other important things simultaneously.”

Before the demonstration, activists held a press conference outside the Capitol, where U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, ranking minority member on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, spoke. Pramila Jayapal of We Belong Together, Bertha Lewis of the Black Institute, Terry O’Neill of NOW and Rocio Inclan of National Education Association also spoke, along with three immigrants.

“Each one of us here today understands what incredibly high stakes we are talking about – immigration reform is not just a piece of legislation but the ability for us to take care of our families,” said Jayapal. “Women contribute every day to our families, our economy and our country. Immigration reform is about being able to live, breathe free, and remember the values that brought us all here in the first place: democracy, freedom and justice.”

The protesters were demanding House action on immigration reform, and calling for legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“We cannot build a strong country when children and families do not even know what tomorrow will bring,” said Inclan. “The time is now for fair immigration reform that treats women, children and families fairly.”

Carey said, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. The House must act now and do the right thing for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, over a quarter of a million of whom are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. These people need a real pathway to citizenship and the American Dream now — not the nightmare of gridlock.”

PHOTO: Luz Maria Hernandez, 75, and granddaughter Cecilia Anguiano, 25, an organizer with Voces de la Frontera, are outside U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s office in Washington, D.C. The Racine residents went to D.C. to demand House action on immigration reform.

Dallas men face fines, jail time for marriage protest

Two men arrested after they were denied a marriage license by the Dallas County clerk and launched a protest face $2,000 fines and 180 days in jail.

Mark Jiminez and Beau Chandler say they were protesting Texas’ ban on gay marriage, passed in 2005. The two men went to the clerk’s office on July 5 to file for a marriage license they knew they wouldn’t receive.

When they were denied, Jiminez and Chandler sat down and handcuffed their arms together.

They were eventually led out by Dallas sheriff’s deputies.

The two are charged with criminal trespassing, which is a class B misdemeanor and can result in $2,000 fines and 180 days in jail. Similar arrests typically are prosecuted – if they are prosecuted at all – as class C misdemeanors punishable by a $250 fine.

“We are each now facing a $2,000 fine and a jail sentence of 180 days,” said Jimenez. “But I stand before each and every one of you and tell you that I would spend 181 days in jail as an unjust penalty for trying to marry the man I love, and as soon as I got out I would start the process over again. We will be married.”

Chandler said, “We will continue to demand our marriage licenses until the answer is yes. We owe it to ourselves to do what our hearts tell us is right.”

A court hearing is set for Aug. 2 at the Frank Crowley Courthouse in Dallas.

Activists with the GetEqual protest group are encouraging people to attend a rally in support of the two men at 8 a.m. that day.

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