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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.

Lawyers preparing to defend, protect inauguration protesters in D.C.

The National Lawyers Guild is coordinating with the DC NLG Chapter in preparation for mass protests surrounding the 58th presidential inauguration.

Mass demonstrations are planned for Jan. 19-21 in the capital and across the country.

Large numbers of people are expected to converge in the nation’s capital to protest the swearing in of Donald Trump as the 45th U.S. president.

The inauguration is National Special Security Event. So the swearing in and other events will be accompanied by an intense degree of policing coordinated by over three dozen federal intelligence, law enforcement and military agencies, with security costs expected to exceed $100 million.

Such high levels of security and policing at previous national events have led to mass arrests, surveillance of protesters, unconstitutional restrictions of permits and free speech and intimidating shows of force by police, according to a statement from the guild.

“Tens of thousands of people are answering the call to resist the incoming administration at inaugural protests next weekend. As always, the NLG is mobilizing its dedicated team of radical lawyers, legal workers, and law students, to provide the critical legal support infrastructure needed for such large scale demonstrations,” said Maggie-Ellinger Locke, DC NLG Mass Defense Chair.

From the various actions on the day of the inauguration to the Women’s March on Washington planned for Jan. 21, the NLG is organizing a mass defense infrastructure of Legal Observers , jail support and lawyers.

Legal observers will monitor on-site at protests and document any arrests and potential abuses inflicted on demonstrators by law enforcement, according to the guild.

The jail support team will handle hotlines, track arrests and assist people as they are released.

Attorneys who can practice in D.C. will represent arrestees and do jail visits.

In preparation for the inauguration, DC NLG members have been holding trainings in the capital, as well as online trainings for those coming from other parts of the country.

The NLG also recently released an analysis of recent trends in protest policing, based on an updated version of the Field Force Operations training manual for crowd control produced by the Department for Homeland Security and FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness.

Get involved

Lawyers, legal workers and law students interested in assisting with legal support can fill out this form to volunteer.

Resources

  • Website: dcnlg.wordpress.com
  • Legal Support Hotline:  202-670-6866
  • NLG Know Your Rights Booklets in English, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali and Urdu.

Permitting conflict for Women’s March on Washington

Activists planning a Women’s March on Washington want to send a message to the new administration on the day after the inauguration, but officials say they aren’t the only group seeking a National Mall gathering that day.

National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst says seven applications were submitted before organizers applied on Nov. 16 for a permit for the march, which aims to send the message “that women’s rights are human rights.”

Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis and Litterst says organizers likely won’t get approval to march as many as 200,000 people from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House as they requested.

Litterst says another option is to hold the march at a different time and location.

Anti-Trump protest planned for Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park

Demonstrators marched in a number of major U.S. cities Nov. 9 to protest the election of Donald Trump.

A demonstration is set to take place in Milwaukee on Nov. 10, organized by Occupy Milwaukee and the student-led Progressive People of Milwaukee.

The action will take place at 5:30 p.m., with demonstrators meeting up at Red Arrow Park, 920 N. Water St.

The demonstration is an “Emergency March Against Trump.”

An announcement on PPW’s Facebook page said:

“With Trump’s stunning victory, we now have to confront an administration of misogynists, or racists, of homophobes, and of white nationalists.

We do not know the struggles ahead of us but we must fight and unite all working people, all oppressed communities, against the coming Trump agenda.

We’ll be meeting at Red Arrow Park.

We are stronger.”

Pope backs opposition to Mexico’s gay-marriage proposal

Pope Francis recently voiced support for Mexican bishops and citizens opposing the government’s push to legalize same-sex marriage.

At his weekly Sunday blessing, Francis said he willingly joined their protest “in favor of family and life, which in these times require special pastoral and cultural attention around the world.”

Francis has opposed gay marriage and has railed against “gender ideology,” particularly as taught in schools.

But he rarely intervenes publicly in national debates, preferring to let local bishops take the lead.

Over the weekend, tens of thousands of people marched through Mexico City o in opposition to President Enrique Pena Nieto’s push to legalize same-sex marriage.

Organizers of the National Front for the Family estimated at least 215,000 people participated, and while that number could not be immediately confirmed, it was clearly one of the largest protest marches in Mexico in recent years.

Dressed mainly in white and carrying white balloons, the marchers held banners warning against same-sex marriage and demanding parents’ right to control sex education in schools.

“We are not against anybody’s (sexual) identity,” said Abraham Ledesma, an evangelical pastor who traveled from the border city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas, to participate in Saturday’s march. “What we are against is the government imposition … of trying to impose gender ideology in education. As religious leaders, we don’t want to be forced to marry same-sex couples and call it marriage.”

Others carried signs saying “an adopted child deserves a mother and a father.”

On the other side of a police barricade separating the two sides at Mexico’s Independence Monument, a far smaller crowd of same-sex marriage supporters — perhaps a couple hundred — listened to music and speeches.

“They may be the majority,” said Felipe Quiroz, a gay activist and school teacher. “But just because they are the majority, doesn’t mean they can take rights away from minorities. That would lead us to a dark period, to fundamentalism.”

Many saw the massive march as the Roman Catholic church flexing its political muscle in a country where about 80 percent of people identify as nominally Catholic.

In May, Pena Nieto proposed legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

It is currently legal only in some places such as Mexico City, the northern state of Coahuila and Quintana Roo state on the Caribbean coast.

But in June, Pena Nieto’s party suffered unprecedented losses in midterm governorship elections, and his party has since put the proposal on the back burner in Congress.

Activists say opposition to same-sex marriage played a role.

 

10,000 demonstrate against fracking on eve of DNC

About 10,000 activists marched for  a “Clean Energy Revolution” in Philadelphia on the eve of the Democratic National Convention in the city.

Convened by Americans Against Fracking, march was endorsed by more than 900 environmental, health, labor, political, faith, justice, indigenous and student organizations from every state.

The message: ban fracking now, keep fossil fuels in the ground, stop dirty energy, transition to 100 percent renewable energy and ensure environmental justice for all.

“Today, after listening to the science, more Americans are opposed to fracking than support it. Our elected leaders must listen to the people, which is why over a thousand groups from all 50 states endorsed the March for a Clean Energy Revolution and called for the need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and focus on renewable energy options that will create jobs, not destroy lives,” stated Wenonah Hauter, founder and executive director of Food & Water Watch.

The most recent Gallup poll, from March, shows that Americans oppose fracking 51 percent-36 percent.

“I am honored to welcome the march to our great city and to join the urgent call to free our country from its addiction to fossil fuels,” said Philadelphia City Councilmember Helen Gym said before the demonstration began. “Cities and elected officials cannot sleepwalk their way through a climate crisis that threatens not only our future but also our current way of life. We have a responsibility and opportunity to rebuild cities like Philadelphia through clean, just, and sustainable energy solutions.”

Alesha Vega, assistant director of Coalition for Peace Action joined in the demonstration. She said, “Climate change is already causing conflicts and crises around the world, from Louisiana to Syria. That’s why the peace and justice community marched today with our allies in the climate and environmental justice movement. We need to make giant leaps towards a clean energy economy and put an end to the viscous cycle of dirty wars, climate refugees, and reliance on dirty energy.”

Karuna Jaggar talked about the planet’s health and public health policy.

“We are marching to demand an end to fracking and other dangerous drilling practices that rely on toxic chemicals and are linked to an array of deadly diseases and disorders,” said Jaggar, executive director of Breast Cancer Action. “As health professionals, public health experts and people concerned with protecting health, we are gravely concerned about the mounting scientific evidence showing that these chemicals are regularly contaminating the water, the air and ultimately our bodies.”

Krystal Rain Two Bulls represented the Oglala Lakota/Northern Cheyenne at the march: “For far too long indigenous peoples’ voices have been silenced and erased. Most especially when it comes to extreme extraction practices such as fracking. No longer will I stand by and watch that happen.”

Drew Hudson, director of Environmental Action, said, “We’ve just wrapped up a Republican National Convention filled with climate denial and extreme energy talking points. Tomorrow we start the Democratic Convention and the question to all these leaders and politicians is: Are you willing to take the action that science demands or are you just another kind of climate denier? …I’m  marching today to tell all elected officials, if you’re not down to KeepItInTheGround, you’re just another climate denier.”

The protest was the first of many taking place as Democrats are gathering in Philadelphia to nominate their presidential and vice presidential candidates.

Demonstrators chanted “This is what democracy looks like.”

 

 

 

 

Peace and healing march planned in Kenosha

Congregations United to Serve Humanity will hold a peace and healing march July 21 in Kenosha.

An announcement from CUSH said people are invited to gather on the east lawn of the Kenosha Public Museum at 7 pm.

Marchers will go to the lakefront, where community and faith leaders will lead a lantern release — pending DNR approval — representing the officers and people of color who died in recent events.

The event marks a starting point for CUSH to foster dialogue and actions that lead to equity, justice, peace, and healing for our whole community, the news release stated.

CUSH is a non-partisan, interfaith coalition dedicated to “the pursuit of justice through advocacy, education and empowerment.”

For more information about the march or CUSH, call 262-564-8223.

On the Web

Find CUSH on Facebook.

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.

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.

Peace activists march to protest drones

Joy First has been arrested about 35 times.

“I think that many,” says the Mount Horeb resident, who has been active in the peace movement since about 2002 and the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

And she’s willing to risk arrest again in act of civil resistance at Volk Field at Camp Douglas in Wisconsin. Volk is the site of the Tactical Unmanned Aerial System facility, a $4.5-million operation housing the RQ-7B Shadow Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and a platoon of operators, according to base information.

Aug. 18–25, First plans to join other peace activists in a 90-mile march from the Dane County jail in Madison to Volk. The activists plan to walk about 12–16 miles a day and spend their nights at churches, homes or campsites. 

On the eve of the march, a public assembly will be held at Edgewood College in Madison.

The organizing groups are Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence and the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars.

For more than three years, the coalition has been holding monthly vigils at the gates to Volk. The first vigil was held in December 2011.

The Shadow drones at Volk are not armed but, First said, “They are part of the bigger picture of U.S. warfare. Without the Shadow, they wouldn’t be able to use the Predator.”

The RQ-7 Shadow UAV is equipped with a camera and used for reconnaissance and surveillance; the Predator is a larger aircraft with weaponry.

The Shadow is being used by ground troops to support convoy operations, field artillery and troops in contact with enemy forces, according to the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs.

In August 2010, the Wisconsin National Guard at Volk launched the first test of the Shadow, which can reach heights of 15,000 feet and has a range of about 125 kilometers.

In December 2013, military leaders gathered with elected officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Volk to celebrate the construction of the unmanned aircraft facility. The Shadow, the speakers emphasized, would be deployed to help save the lives of U.S. servicemembers.

Activists decided to begin the August march at the jail to make a connection between the violence overseas and the violence committed by militarized U.S. police forces. At a short program at the jail at 10 a.m. on Aug. 18, the marchers will hear from representatives of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We’re really trying to draw the connection by walking from the jail to the field that what the U.S. military is doing to brown people on the other side of the world is connected to what the police are doing to black people in this country,” said First. 

She added, “People are coming from all over the country to participate in this walk. And it really does feel like a family reunion.”

“These drones, we believe, are illegal and criminal,” said First.

“Most of the people who go are involved in a lot of different anti-war activity,” First said. The protesters assemble at about 3:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month.

Occasionally the protesters go beyond the gates. Demonstrators risked arrest to walk on the base with a letter to the commander and risked arrest again to deliver a call to prosecute for war crimes.

“We are handcuffed and arrested. They take us to the station 20 miles away,” she said. “We get bench trials, where we’ve been found guilty.”

She said charges often get downgraded from a misdemeanor to an ordinance violation.

First has participated in other anti-war actions, including at the White House and Pentagon, and she plans to attend another demonstration in Washington, D.C., in September.

First arrived at anti-war activism in her 50s. “This is something that I just feel I’m called to do. I think about my grandchildren and I have to do this.”

She has six grandchildren between the ages of 4 and 16 and she’s spoken with all of them about war and peace.

“We’ve talked about why I’m doing this and why it’s important,” she said. “We’ve talked about war and people dying.”

Wisconsinites float Lanterns for Peace

August brings peace actions around the world. The tradition, in part, commemorates the anniversary of America’s atomic bombings of Japan.

This year marked the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and Nagasaki, on Aug. 9, 1945. The attacks by the United States hastened an end to World War II, with Japan’s surrender days later.

About 200,000 people died in the two blasts.

Each year, Japan’s government marks the anniversaries with a memorial at Budokan hall in Tokyo.

This year in Japan, memorials also were held in peace parks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as concerts, film screenings, art exhibits and seminars.

Memorials also were held across the country, including in Wisconsin, where Lanterns for Peace ceremonies took place at Governor Dodge State Park near Dodgeville on Aug. 2, Tenney Park in Madison on Aug. 6 and Washington Park in Milwaukee on Aug. 8.