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After a Weekend of Protests – Now What, California?

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 12:13pm

Oakland, Calif., was the site of one of the state’s almost 50 “sister marches” to the Women’s March on Washington on Sat., Jan. 21. (Oakland Women’s March)

http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2017-01-23/energy-policy/after-a-weekend-of-protests-now-what-california/a56061-1?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

January 23, 2017

BERKELEY, Calif. — In California alone, there were nearly 50 “sister marches” in tandem with Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington in the nation’s capital.

Rallies included smaller hamlets – like Santa Maria, Santa Paula and Oxnard, up north – as well as marches in the major metropolitan areas. And many Californians went to the march in Washington, D.C. Ahmina Maxey was among them. She said that for her, it was about advocating for clean energy.

Maxey is based in Berkeley and is the U.S. and Canada regional coordinator for the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives – so cleaner air is her priority.

“I have asthma, a lot of my family and friends have asthma,” Maxey said. “We are impacted by these poor decisions that our elected officials and their appointees make.”

The latest poll from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and Bill Lane Center for the American West, said that 55 percent of Californians would like to see tax reform from the Trump administration, but almost as many – 48 percent – think repealing the Affordable Care Act is a bad idea.

The Women’s Marches cast a wide net in terms of social justice causes, with participants citing concerns about workers’ rights and reproductive rights, religious freedoms and environmental protections. To keep the momentum, Maxey said the focus now is on providing positive alternatives.

“Not only are we against these things, but we also are really for solutions that we can demonstrate, and that we stand united in,” she said.

Speakers at many of the events urged people to channel their energy and frustration into working to improve their own communities, including running for office.

The post After a Weekend of Protests – Now What, California? appeared first on It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance.

Environmental Justice Groups Show How to Organize in the Age of Trump

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 12:09pm

Source: Pixabay

https://nexusmedianews.com/environmental-justice-groups-show-how-to-organize-in-the-age-of-trump-715ec510b636?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

“This is going to bring out the best in us.”

By Jeremy Deaton

For most of 2016, Democrats expected to cruise to an easy electoral victory, claiming the White House — and possibly the Senate — as Republicans flailed on the coattails of Donald Trump. But history took another course. Democrats’ loss in November brought a seismic shift to Washington and highlighted weaknesses in the liberal political structure.

In a recent post for Vox, Harvard political scientist Theda Skocpol writes that “liberal groups are fundraising to defend dozens of separate causes or constituencies, playing into conservative plans to fragment their opponents. Conservatives realize that liberalism too often devolves into a weakly coordinated set of interests and causes.”

Skocpol decried a focus on Washington and called for a unified movement committed to grassroots organizing at the state and local level: pressuring elected officials, writing to newspapers, speaking to church groups and talking with friends and neighbors.

But some organizations are already using this approach, and their work could prove instructive to the larger progressive movement.

Intersectionality’s moment

Take environmental justice organizations, local green groups that fight for clean air, safe water and a vibrant economy.

Environmental justice groups operate at the intersection of progressive issues, where liberal constituencies find common cause. Organizers don’t talk about the environment or climate as discrete issues. Rather, they link climate to jobs, health and social justice. They advocate for a just economy, where everyone has the right to be safe and healthy, and everyone has the chance to get ahead. And they work at the grassroots level.

Intersectionality has marked grassroots movements for decades. Cesar Chavez fought for higher wages — and against toxic pesticides on California farms. The United Church of Christ advocated for economic justice — and against a toxic waste landfill in North Carolina. A young Barack Obama worked to bring a jobs center in a depressed community — and to remove asbestos from public housing in Chicago. Today, environmental justice groups are fighting to limit pollution, to build more wind and solar energy — and to create good-paying jobs in their communities.

This could be intersectionality’s moment. The Women’s March on Washington in January was nominally about women — but environmentalists, feminists and social justice warriors marched in lockstep down Constitution Avenue, united by a shared set of values.

Source: UPROSE

Economic justice as a unifier

Progressives, broadly speaking, want to narrow the income gap and build ladders to the middle class. A focus on economic justice can unite progressive groups that have historically found themselves at odds, like environmental organizations and labor unions.

“What role do workers play? What role do community members play in trying to develop an economy that addresses the root causes — not just the symptoms — of economic and environmental inequality,” said Angela Adrar, executive director of the Climate Justice Alliance, a coalition of community environmental groups.

“The economy is a really strong unifier — not only the economy we are trying to move away from, but the one we are trying to build together,” Adrar said.

Critics like to skewer environmentalists for prioritizing conservation over more salient issues, like job growth. More and more, big green groups are talking about economic opportunity, but for environmental justice groups, jobs were always part of the equation.

Elizabeth Yeampierre. Source: UPROSE

“Our communities have to work somewhere. It’s not just enough to have trees and open space,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, head of UPROSE, a Brooklyn-based environmental justice group. “Our communities have to earn a living.”

Yeampierre said that Trump’s allegiance to oil and gas suggests a dated idea of economic development. To beat climate change, she explained, the U.S. will need to invest heavily in wind and solar, a transition that will create middle-class jobs in manufacturing, construction and installation — the kinds of jobs once abundant in U.S. cities.

“We’re talking about an economy that is not extractive, but regenerative — an economy where we have to build for climate adaptation and resilience. If we start building carbon-neutral, that’s new material. Those are blue-collar jobs. That’s infrastructure. That’s wind and solar,” Yeampierre said. “Those are jobs that not only stimulate the local economies where they’re located. Those are also jobs that address the future needs of communities that are going to be mostly impacted by climate change.”

The Women’s March on Washington. Source: Voice of America

Starting at the bottom

In recent years, progressives have focused their time and energy on national politics while left-leaning politicians lost seats in statehouses and city councils around the country. Now, Republicans enjoy historic levels of power, and liberals are looking to regain influence at the local level, largely as a matter of necessity.

“I think it’s time to really focus on organizing locally,” said Luis Garden Acosta, head of El Puente, a community development group based in Brooklyn. “We’ve got to burrow down and organize a strong constituency in this country around climate change policy, and the way to do that is to deal with the issues of the environment at [the local level].”

This is where environmental justice groups are most effective, mobilizing community members around locally relevant issues. They work on environmental challenges at the level where they can be seen and felt, tackling toxic pollution from busy highways and gas-fired power plants that causes heart disease and childhood asthma.

Community members gather at the UPROSE office. Source: UPROSE

Yeampierre explained that progressive donors like to fund larger groups, but she argued that “per dollar, grassroots organizations are always much more effective.” Her group, UPROSE, successfully foughtthe construction of a new gas-fired power plant and secured EPA funds to clean up pollution in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Now, it’s advocating for clean, offshore wind power through public education and local advocacy.

Yeampierre and other environmental organizers said that that big marches and noisy demonstrations are great ways to mobilize people every now and then, but it’s critical to keep community members consistently engaged.

“It’s really important to show up for protests and sit-ins, but we can’t forget about all the work that needs to be done after these are over,” said Brooke Havlik, spokesperson for WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a Harlem-based environmental justice group. “We are really focusing on getting our members to turn out to town halls and political forums.”

Havlik said that organizers need to educate people on the ways that pollution threatens vulnerable groups, like children and the elderly. Organizers need to earn the attention of area news outlets, and they need to urge concerned citizens to speak with their elected officials.

By mobilizing community members around local issues, organizers can build power and gain influence. Eventually, they can work to change federal policy. It was only after years of working at the local level that environmental justice advocates were able to push the EPA to make environmental justice part of its core mission.

“We should continue to shine a spotlight on national policy makers, but we should not depend on that,” said Garden Acosta. “Anything that’s happened in this country in terms of real change has come from the grassroots, and that’s what we have to focus on.”

Leading the resistance

Organizers worry how their communities will fare in the Trump era. Working-class Americans, particularly people of color, are the most likely to breathe polluted air and drink contaminated water, and they are the most vulnerable in the face of a severe storms like Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy. Environmental threats exacerbate inequality, whether in rural Appalachia or the Bronx.

In the face of Trump’s bloated promises to revive coal jobs and his attacks on women and people of color, environmental justice groups plan to lead the resistance to policies that favor the wealthy and disregard the environment.

“We started mobilizing the moment he was elected,” Yeampierre said. “We amped up our mobilizing and our organizing, our base-building and our community education.”

Trump is overwhelmingly appointing wealthy, white men, many of whom are climate change deniers. His cabinet is the richest in history and the first in nearly three decades not to include a Latino. Trump wants to roll back Obama-era environmental protections and slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. And his picks to lead the Justice Department and the EPA are distinct threats to environmental justice.

Source: WE ACT

But, if anything, Trump has catalyzed the movement.

“We’ve been through periods in this country when progressive actions weren’t supported by policy and policymakers, and yet we made great gains,” said Garden Acosta. Adrar echoed his sentiment.

“We’ve never seen a need for civic engagement more than we see it now, and there’s no excuse for anybody not to be engaging with their neighbors, engaging with their community in a way that creates change,” said Adrar. “We have to grow a serious movement from the grassroots in the U.S. that we’ve never seen before.”

Faced with the fight of their lives, organizers feel energized and empowered, ready to take on a hostile administration one battle at a time.

“This is going to bring out the best in us,” said Yeampierre. “This is going to make it possible for us to work more strategically. It’s going to help us build our base. It’s going to help us build a groundswell of climate consciousness. This can either make us or break us, so we are all going to have to be our best selves.”

“You have a government that you could have never imagined,” she said, “but we have to work for a future that we all imagine.”

Jeremy Deaton writes for Nexus Media, a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, policy, art and culture. You can follow him at @deaton_jeremy

 

The post Environmental Justice Groups Show How to Organize in the Age of Trump appeared first on It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance.

‘We Have to Stand Up for Ourselves’: Women’s March Mobilizes Latinas

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 11:46am

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/we-have-stand-ourselves-women-s-march-mobilizes-latinas-n709861?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

Latinas participated in massive marches across the country Saturday to usher in a new fight for civil and gender rights, environmental protections, access to reproductive health services and immigrant rights. The diversity of these women marching demonstrated that these issues cross personal boundaries and physical borders.

Women’s marches and rallies were held in cities all over the United States – as well as around the world – and the crowds far surpassed the numbers that were expected. Over half a million people attended the largest march, in Washington D.C., originally the crowd was expected to be about 200,000.

Actress and activist America Ferrera kicked off the rally in the nation’s capital. “It’s been a heartwrenching time to be a woman and an activist in this country,” said Ferrera. “The platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday,” she said. “But the president is not America, his cabinet is not America, Congress is not America – we are America!”

A view of the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Lyanne Alfaro

Latinas across the country who organized and went to the marches and events told NBC Latino why they rallied.

“It’s important through this march that we understand the role women have played throughout history: To be part of this march, is to carry on their legacy; Berta Cáceres, the indigenous woman who fought for water and was murdered. All of our moms, grandmothers and sisters,” said Angela Adrar, 41, the executive director of Climate Justice Alliance in Washington D.C.

“This march is a visual representation of our power,” said Adrar, who is Colombian American. She crossed the border with her mother at the age of five.

Jasmine Flanagan, 23, is at #womensmarch from California bc she wants kids she works with to know they have a voice pic.twitter.com/9sSxoooQaZ

— Lyanne Alfaro (@LyanneAlfaro) January 21, 2017

Latinas participated in massive marches across the country Saturday to usher in a new fight for civil and gender rights, environmental protections, access to reproductive health services and immigrant rights. The diversity of these women marching demonstrated that these issues cross personal boundaries and physical borders.

Play America Ferrera Kicks Off Women’s March: ‘The President is Not America’ 1:52

Women’s marches and rallies were held in cities all over the United States – as well as around the world – and the crowds far surpassed the numbers that were expected. Over half a million people attended the largest march, in Washington D.C., originally the crowd was expected to be about 200,000.

Actress and activist America Ferrera kicked off the rally in the nation’s capital. “It’s been a heartwrenching time to be a woman and an activist in this country,” said Ferrera. “The platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday,” she said. “But the president is not America, his cabinet is not America, Congress is not America – we are America!”

A view of the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Lyanne Alfaro

Latinas across the country who organized and went to the marches and events told NBC Latino why they rallied.

“It’s important through this march that we understand the role women have played throughout history: To be part of this march, is to carry on their legacy; Berta Cáceres, the indigenous woman who fought for water and was murdered. All of our moms, grandmothers and sisters,” said Angela Adrar, 41, the executive director of Climate Justice Alliance in Washington D.C.

“This march is a visual representation of our power,” said Adrar, who is Colombian American. She crossed the border with her mother at the age of five.

Lyanne Alfaro

@LyanneAlfaro

Jasmine Flanagan, 23, is at from California bc she wants kids she works with to know they have a voice

7:18 AM – 21 Jan 2017 · Washington, DC

Melissa Montero Padilla, 35, of Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian descent, traveled from Queens, New York to attend the D.C. march. “I’m marching for my niece, our families, all of the single mothers, immigrant women and our elders; I march because our lives depend on it.”

Cindy Wiesner, 45, came from Miami to Washington, D.C. to participate in the march.

Lots of security but marchers thanking the soldiers on duty and taking selfies with Humvee. pic.twitter.com/thobOvtI59

— Suzanne Gamboa (@SuzGamboa) January 21, 2017

“As a daughter of a domestic worker, as a lesbian and as a feminist, I think that this march is really important, because the Trump and Pence administration, in a lot of ways, is going to target me, my community and the people that I love – who are very similar to me,” said Wiesner, who is the executive director of Grassroot Global Justice Alliance.

“I think it is important to try and come out with thousands of other people – people who are coming out from all over the world,” she said.

Have you heard that @AmericaFerrera is set to chair an Artists’ Committee for the upcoming @womensmarch?!! #WMW https://t.co/NVxpOpFmo3?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

— Women's March on WA (@WomensMarchonWA) January 7, 2017

Latinas participated in massive marches across the country Saturday to usher in a new fight for civil and gender rights, environmental protections, access to reproductive health services and immigrant rights. The diversity of these women marching demonstrated that these issues cross personal boundaries and physical borders.

Play America Ferrera Kicks Off Women’s March: ‘The President is Not America’ 1:52

Women’s marches and rallies were held in cities all over the United States – as well as around the world – and the crowds far surpassed the numbers that were expected. Over half a million people attended the largest march, in Washington D.C., originally the crowd was expected to be about 200,000.

Actress and activist America Ferrera kicked off the rally in the nation’s capital. “It’s been a heartwrenching time to be a woman and an activist in this country,” said Ferrera. “The platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday,” she said. “But the president is not America, his cabinet is not America, Congress is not America – we are America!”

A view of the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Lyanne Alfaro

Latinas across the country who organized and went to the marches and events told NBC Latino why they rallied.

“It’s important through this march that we understand the role women have played throughout history: To be part of this march, is to carry on their legacy; Berta Cáceres, the indigenous woman who fought for water and was murdered. All of our moms, grandmothers and sisters,” said Angela Adrar, 41, the executive director of Climate Justice Alliance in Washington D.C.

“This march is a visual representation of our power,” said Adrar, who is Colombian American. She crossed the border with her mother at the age of five.

Lyanne Alfaro

@LyanneAlfaro

Jasmine Flanagan, 23, is at from California bc she wants kids she works with to know they have a voice

7:18 AM – 21 Jan 2017 · Washington, DC

Melissa Montero Padilla, 35, of Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian descent, traveled from Queens, New York to attend the D.C. march. “I’m marching for my niece, our families, all of the single mothers, immigrant women and our elders; I march because our lives depend on it.”

Cindy Wiesner, 45, came from Miami to Washington, D.C. to participate in the march.

Suzanne Gamboa

@SuzGamboa

Lots of security but marchers thanking the soldiers on duty and taking selfies with Humvee.

8:21 AM – 21 Jan 2017 · Washington, DC

“As a daughter of a domestic worker, as a lesbian and as a feminist, I think that this march is really important, because the Trump and Pence administration, in a lot of ways, is going to target me, my community and the people that I love – who are very similar to me,” said Wiesner, who is the executive director of Grassroot Global Justice Alliance.

“I think it is important to try and come out with thousands of other people – people who are coming out from all over the world,” she said.

Women’s March on WA @WomensMarchonWA

Have you heard that @AmericaFerrera is set to chair an Artists’ Committee for the upcoming @womensmarch?!! http://www.?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rsshuffingtonpost.com/entry/america-ferrera-to-chair-committee-for-womens-march-on-washington_us_586fb4dae4b099cdb0fcbe81 …

7:23 PM – 6 Jan 2017 America Ferrera To Chair Committee For Women’s March On Washington

She’ll help Gloria Steinem, among others, organize the march.

huffingtonpost.com

Apart from América Ferrera, other big celebrities, such as Madonna, Alicia Keys, Amy Schumer, Scarlett Johansson, and Zendaya, were among the high-profile participants in the D.C. march.

Sonia Manzano, known to millions for her groundbreaking and decades-long role of “Maria” in “Sesame Street,” traveled from NYC to D.C. to participate in Saturday’s demonstration with a group of schoolgirls from New York City public schools.

“Hopefully they get involved and pay attention, and realize that they have a huge impact. If you don’t participate, you matter even less,” said Manzano. She told NBC Latino she hopes her participation will be example of the need to get involved.

MT: Rina Gandhi, immig atty: calls from fearful immigs. spiked on Inauguration Day. W/ sister Mona and husband Juan Moreno @ Women's March pic.twitter.com/yivfGo00UN

— Suzanne Gamboa (@SuzGamboa) January 21, 2017

Latinas participated in massive marches across the country Saturday to usher in a new fight for civil and gender rights, environmental protections, access to reproductive health services and immigrant rights. The diversity of these women marching demonstrated that these issues cross personal boundaries and physical borders.

Play America Ferrera Kicks Off Women’s March: ‘The President is Not America’ 1:52

Women’s marches and rallies were held in cities all over the United States – as well as around the world – and the crowds far surpassed the numbers that were expected. Over half a million people attended the largest march, in Washington D.C., originally the crowd was expected to be about 200,000.

Actress and activist America Ferrera kicked off the rally in the nation’s capital. “It’s been a heartwrenching time to be a woman and an activist in this country,” said Ferrera. “The platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday,” she said. “But the president is not America, his cabinet is not America, Congress is not America – we are America!”

A view of the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Lyanne Alfaro

Latinas across the country who organized and went to the marches and events told NBC Latino why they rallied.

“It’s important through this march that we understand the role women have played throughout history: To be part of this march, is to carry on their legacy; Berta Cáceres, the indigenous woman who fought for water and was murdered. All of our moms, grandmothers and sisters,” said Angela Adrar, 41, the executive director of Climate Justice Alliance in Washington D.C.

“This march is a visual representation of our power,” said Adrar, who is Colombian American. She crossed the border with her mother at the age of five.

Lyanne Alfaro

@LyanneAlfaro

Jasmine Flanagan, 23, is at from California bc she wants kids she works with to know they have a voice

7:18 AM – 21 Jan 2017 · Washington, DC

Melissa Montero Padilla, 35, of Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian descent, traveled from Queens, New York to attend the D.C. march. “I’m marching for my niece, our families, all of the single mothers, immigrant women and our elders; I march because our lives depend on it.”

Cindy Wiesner, 45, came from Miami to Washington, D.C. to participate in the march.

Suzanne Gamboa

@SuzGamboa

Lots of security but marchers thanking the soldiers on duty and taking selfies with Humvee.

8:21 AM – 21 Jan 2017 · Washington, DC

“As a daughter of a domestic worker, as a lesbian and as a feminist, I think that this march is really important, because the Trump and Pence administration, in a lot of ways, is going to target me, my community and the people that I love – who are very similar to me,” said Wiesner, who is the executive director of Grassroot Global Justice Alliance.

“I think it is important to try and come out with thousands of other people – people who are coming out from all over the world,” she said.

Women’s March on WA @WomensMarchonWA

Have you heard that @AmericaFerrera is set to chair an Artists’ Committee for the upcoming @womensmarch?!! http://www.?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rsshuffingtonpost.com/entry/america-ferrera-to-chair-committee-for-womens-march-on-washington_us_586fb4dae4b099cdb0fcbe81 …

7:23 PM – 6 Jan 2017 America Ferrera To Chair Committee For Women’s March On Washington

She’ll help Gloria Steinem, among others, organize the march.

huffingtonpost.com

Apart from América Ferrera, other big celebrities, such as Madonna, Alicia Keys, Amy Schumer, Scarlett Johansson, and Zendaya, were among the high-profile participants in the D.C. march.

Sonia Manzano, known to millions for her groundbreaking and decades-long role of “Maria” in “Sesame Street,” traveled from NYC to D.C. to participate in Saturday’s demonstration with a group of schoolgirls from New York City public schools.

“Hopefully they get involved and pay attention, and realize that they have a huge impact. If you don’t participate, you matter even less,” said Manzano. She told NBC Latino she hopes her participation will be example of the need to get involved.

View image on Twitter

Suzanne Gamboa

@SuzGamboa

MT: Rina Gandhi, immig atty: calls from fearful immigs. spiked on Inauguration Day. W/ sister Mona and husband Juan Moreno @ Women’s March

9:02 AM – 21 Jan 2017 · Washington, DC

There was a reason this march resonated with so many, but especially women all over the country, says gender politics professor Celeste Montoya.

“Many people were disappointed and angry after the election,” Montoya said. “Issues of gender were front and center with Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate and with Trump’s polarizing sexual assault and discrimination; it caused people to mobilize.”

Montoya believes we are in a social movement era and said she wasn’t shocked to see how quickly the women’s marches gained traction.

“This is what happens in democracy when people are left out, and I expect to see more,” said Montoya, who teaches at the University of Colorado-Boulder. “This is just the beginning.”

In New York City, singer and songwriter Cecilia Villar El Juri said that she got involved because she wanted to make sure that Latinos and immigrants were represented. “The march is meant to promote civil rights for everyone. I felt like I really aligned with that. This is open to everybody – but driven by women,” Villar El Juri said.

Organizers and volunteers for the New York City Women’s March vary in age, are multi-generational, and are made up of women from varied careers, explained Villar El Juri. She and other organizers had spent a lot of time preparing for the march, including in-person and online meetings and dry runs of the event. Organizers of the march also met with the the New York Police Department for permits and to make sure it was a peaceful effort.

Ruby Gonzalez Hernandez, 18, says she has everything to lose. She was born in the US but her family is undocumented #WomensMarch pic.twitter.com/sMJXhmubaO

— Lyanne Alfaro (@LyanneAlfaro) January 21, 2017

In San Francisco, Leila Salazar-Lopez was marching for many reasons, one of those being environmental issues. Salazar-Lopez is the executive director of Amazon Watch, and says that she and her colleagues have worked hard to protect the rain forest for over 20 years, but fears that the incoming administration might disregard that.

“We have an administration that denies climate change,” Salazar Lopez says. “It’s one of the biggest threats our society has ever faced. It’s our job, not only to amplify the voices, but to also promote the protection of mother earth in a positive way.”

Salazar-Lopez says that indigenous communities, black and brown, are the communities most affected by environmental issues. She says there’s no way to have climate justice, unless companies and corporations stop extracting fossil fuels from the ground.

The march was the beginning of something that Salazar-Lopez said she believes needs to keep moving forward.

“If there’s ever a moment for us to do something, it’s now,” said Salazar-Lopez. “We have to stand up for ourselves. Not just to protest, but to put out our visions of what we want in the world.”

Follow NBC News Latino on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The post ‘We Have to Stand Up for Ourselves’: Women’s March Mobilizes Latinas appeared first on It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance.

Washington streets reveal US political divisions on inauguration day

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 11:39am

Trump supporter poses for selfie with cutout board of new president (Ali Harb/ MEE)

Some Americans reject Trump and question his legitimacy, others view him as man to make America great again

Ali Harb Friday 20 January 2017 23:50 UTC Last update: Saturday 21 January 2017 11:18 UTC

WASHINGTON, DC – Three llamas roaming the streets of Washington DC; a preacher yelling anti-Muslim and homophobic slogans; women chanting “pu**y grabs back”; folks exchanging insults; burning trash cans in the middle of the road – inauguration day 2017 has not been ordinary.

Since George Washington handed the White House keys to John Adams in 1797, America has prided itself on the peaceful transfer of power. But when Donald Trump was sworn in as president on Friday to replace Barack Obama, the nation seemed unsettled.

Some Americans reject the new president and question his legitimacy, while others view him as an embodiment of his campaign slogan – the man to make America great again.

https://www.facebook.com/MiddleEastEye/videos/1253163621415690/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

This political and ideological schism was obvious on the streets of the US capital as supporters sang praises of Trump and protesters screamed “Not my president”.

The demonstrators view Trump as more than a president with opposing political views. They see him as an Islamophobic white nationalist who is also a sexual predator and unfit to serve.

But the president’s backers say others’ perception of him is a product of a hostile media. They say he is a successful businessman who puts America first, someone who can translate his personal achievements into prosperity for all Americans. They point to his outsider status to argue that he is not a corrupt politician.

“He is the first president of the US who has neither been in the military or the government beforehand and that gives me confidence he is a true outsider,” Tim Mouring, a student and Trump supporter, told Middle East Eye. “He is not part of any big system, he is truly independent and he wants us all to be independent.”

In November 2015, Trump suggested to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US, shortly after militants conducted an attack in Paris. The proposal caused an uproar among civil rights organisations and earned rebuke even from Trump’s fellow Republicans.

Islamophobia

Asked about the ban, Mouring said the president is not anti-Muslim, but is simply trying to protect Americans, including US Muslims, from radical militants.

In his inaugural speech, Trump vowed to eradicate “radical Islamic terrorism” from the face of the earth.

Ramah Kudaimi, an outreach coordinator for the nonprofit Washington Peace Center, thought Trump’s speech was overtly Islamophobic.

“Muslims are demonised to the point of being seen as nothing but terrorists,” she told MEE. “The Muslims that are ‘accidentaly’ killed in this war against terrorists are just collateral damage and we shouldn’t be concerned with them.”

She added that former presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush had bombed Muslim majority nations but pretended they were not at war with Islam. She thinks that Trump’s intentions are different from the start.

“Muslims are demonised to the point of being seen as nothing but terrorists” – Ramah Kudaimi

“It’s a very scary thought,” Kudaimi said.

Most Trump supporters dismissed accusations of Islamophobia, but a few openly shouted bigoted slogans towards Muslims.

Early in the morning as people were lining up to get to the National Mall to witness the inauguration, a preacher with a handful of followers stood between two queues hurling slurs against Muslims, gays and women on a megaphone.

“We support our president when he says deport those Muslims,” said the preacher, who leads a group called Bible Believers.

The Bible Believers were only booed by the pro-Trump crowd when they said a woman cannot serve as president.

Caroline Spitsel, 19, said the silence among Trump supporters towards anti-Muslim demonstrators means they are complicit in condoning his bigotry.

Asked about Trump’s problematic policy proposals, including the Muslim ban and mass deportation of undocumented immigrants, Spitsel told MEE: “I think he will have a hard time doing it, but it’s definitely a real threat.”

‘It doesn’t look like them’

“The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans,” Trump said as he officially became president.

But not all Americans were convinced.

While Trump was delivering his inaugural speech, protesters gathered near the Lincoln Memorial, chanting, “Pu**y grabs back”, in reference to leaked Trump video where he brags about being able to grab women’s genitals because he is a celebrity.

Protesters also repeated slogans in support of Muslims, African Americans and LGBT individuals. They hugged one another in a show of unity and solidarity.

“White silence is violence,” the demonstrators also chanted – a reference to Trump supporters who may not be bigoted themselves but are willing to overlook his supposed racism for other policies.

Protesters set up a blockage by placing and lighting trashcans on fire (MEE/Ali Harb)

A speaker at the gathering said the protesters “already won” by standing together against the new president from day one.

“If America is going to continue to be what America is, it looks just like this,” he said, in reference to the diverse protesters.

“It doesn’t look like them over there,” he continued, pointing at the inauguration attendees. “We all have something to learn from each other, and if we can’t understand that, then we’re not American anymore.”

As Trump supporters began leaving the National Mall area, some confronted protesters. Insults and name-calling were exchanged between supporters and demonstrators.

“Losers,” one man leaving the national mall told protesters. “You Lost. Go home.”

A Trump supporter called the demonstrators undemocratic. He told MEE that he had disagreed with Obama’s policies but he never protested his two inaugurations out of respect for the election results.

After the inauguration, Trump supporters praised his seemingly reconciliatory approach.

One protester called Trump a “horrible, misogynistic, racist” president. She said he cannot be a president for all Americans because of his previous positions, including mocking a disabled New York Times reporter.

He is “accepting all kinds of support from and for Israel’s right-wing government,” the protester told MEE. “We can bring light to equality and social justice. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter, the people of money have the power. The rest of us are the 99 percent. We don’t matter unless we band together.”

The demonstrator, a Jewish American, said Jews have a moral obligation to speak out against Trump.

“Putting Muslims in a registry – that sounds too familiar. And it’s not OK,” she said, making reference to Nazi Germany.

The carnival

Washington looked like a massive political carnival. From non-ideological vendors selling pins and T-shirts to groups with fringe views to funny signs mocking Trump.

One man walked around with three llamas to make a pro-agriculture statement against corporate control.

One man walked around with three llamas to make a pro-agriculture statement (MEE)

Some Trump supporters were dressed in suits depicting the American flag.

Christian activists stood with big signs proclaiming apolitical religious messages.

Pro-cannabis activists passed thousands of marijuana joints and smoked them publicly.

Protesters held humorous signs poking fun at the new president’s alleged ties to Russia, comb-over hairdo and supposedly small hands.

Some clashes were reported between Trump supporters and protesters. More than 90 people were arrested for disorderly conduct. As the night darkened, fears of demonstrations transitioning into riots were heightened.

However, in spite of the chaos, some protesters saw hope.

Bayan Jaber, a Palestinian-American activist with Southwest Org Project, said Trump and his cabinet are a threat to Americans’ civil liberties, especially for women of colour.

However, she added: “We should stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, protect our land, protect our water, protect our lives. One positive thing that might come out of Trump’s presidency is that we will be seeing more solidarity around struggles across the nation.”

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Black activists rally for domestic workers, immigrants — just outside the Women’s March

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 11:33am

Source: Mic

https://mic.com/articles/166255/black-activists-rally-for-domestic-workers-immigrants-just-outside-the-women-s-march#.ieZEmfWsO?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

Published Jan. 21, 2017

by

WASHINGTON — If there was one major concern of some black activists regarding Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, it was that the voices of the most marginalized women of color didn’t have prominent billing.

That’s why a group of women and men representing domestic workers, undocumented immigrants and the working poor met less than a mile from the march’s rallying point to elevate their voices. They supported the march, but wanted to affirm their cause, one day after the inauguration of Donald Trump, who they see as a direct threat.

“This is a march that should highlight our voices, the grassroots,” Melissa Miles, an organizer of the social justice agency Ironbound Community Corporation in Newark, New Jersey, said at a rally in Garfield Park. “That’s why we’re over here.”

In an interview with Mic, Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network and an organizer with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, said it was important that activists not allow their voices to be drowned out in the sea of thousands gathered at the Women’s March.

https://www.facebook.com/TheMovementByMic/videos/372368213121598/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

“I know there’s been a lot of critique about this march, with folks saying, ‘Oh, it’s a white women’s march,” Garza said in the interview. “But look at all these beautiful people. We’re not here to prove our humanity. We’re here to lift ourselves up, to lift each other up and chart a new path towards the democracy we deserve.”

Lydia Scott, a 53-year-old babysitter and NDWA supporter from New York City, said many black immigrant women like her lack the provisions like time off and sick pay that many working women take for granted.

“Half the time, we don’t get the chance to express ourselves,” Scott, an immigrant from Grenada and mother of three adult children, said. “Financially, [domestic workers] can’t leave their jobs to be here. Their bosses wouldn’t tolerate this.”


Lydia Scott
Source: Aaron Morrison/Mic

“I’m here sacrificing so that my own children won’t feel ashamed,” Scott said. When she told her children why she was attending the march, they responded, “Right on mother!”

Well-known facts about the status of women in the U.S., such as the pay disparity compared to men, often don’t cover black female immigrant workers, Toni DaSilva, an NDWA supporter and immigrant from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said in a interview. “Not to have data on them is an atrocity,” she said. “Because you can’t plan for them, they become a phantom group. They go through all sorts of issues that maybe can’t be highlighted because of their status.”

The assembled women had a significant amount of support from men. Timothy Doe, an immigrant from Togo who works as a caregiver for the developmentally disabled, said his rights are inextricably linked to the status of women of color who do the majority of domestic work.

“Men have to be a bigger support for the women, because the woman is the power of our life,” Doe said. “They are our mom, our sisters, our daughters, our wife, our girlfriend. So, the men must stand up and support the women.”

The delegation in Garfield Park rallied for an hour and made a procession to the march, where speakers highlighted issues important to the women of color. Newly elected African-American U.S. Senator Kamala Harris fired up marchers with a speech about equality for women.

You want to talk about women’s issues? That’s fantastic. Let’s talk about health care, education, climate change, and more. #WomensMarch pic.twitter.com/PhNtH7qlNi

— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 21, 2017

“If you want to talk about women’s issues, that’s fantastic, great!” she roared. “Let’s talk about health care. Let’s talk about education. Let’s talk about criminal justice reform. Let’s talk about climate change.”Black female celebrities also had top billing at the march. Singer Alicia Keys stopped the show with a stripped-down rendition of her hit, “Girl on Fire.”But anxious marchers, who had already been listening to speakers and performers for hours, seemed less receptive to singer and actress Janelle Monáe. She invited the Mothers of the Movement — women whose sons Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Jordan Davis and others died by vigilante and police violence — on stage to lead a “say his name” chant. As each mother took their turn shouting their son’s name, some marchers yelled “let us march,” instead.

“Show some respect,” Jibby Ani, a black Washington resident, recalled saying to people around her who were jeering. “I just felt a little marginalized, in that moment.”

Jan. 22, 2017, 7:49 a.m.: This story has been updated.

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Disruption Is Good—Starting with the Inauguration

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 11:27am

Progressive groups across the spectrum faced an influx of calls and interest almost immediately post-election, and—for many—this weekend’s protests will feed into longer-term organizing. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19830/disruption-is-goodstarting-with-the-inauguration?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

This weekend’s protests are just the beginning.

BY KATE ARONOFF,  In These Times

There’s another kind of inauguration happening in Washington D.C. today. There’s no ticket needed to get in or balls commemorating it. As Donald Trump gets sworn in as the United States’ 45th president, those opposed to his agenda—especially those most likely to come under attack—are kicking off his tenure with resistance.

Early this morning, at a series of checkpoints and intersections around the inauguration stage, groups representing everything from the movement for black lives to a feminist future and climate justice are attempting to block people from reaching the inauguration stage or—at the very least—show their distaste for what’s happening. On Saturday, the Women’s March will bring hundreds of thousands of people to the Capitol and thousands more out to satellite demonstrations around the city.

“If people don’t organize and mobilize together, they are vulnerable. And we’ll see the unravelling of what this country was built on: the notion that there are freedoms and liberties that people have risked their lives for to come to this country,” says Día Bùi, co-director of the Washington Peace Center and organizer of one of today’s actions. Leading up to Friday’s protests, she and others gathered for trainings and teach-ins at churches and community spaces around the city.

Bùi helped plan a blockade this morning of “communities under attack,” comprised largely of immigrants, Muslims and Jews. Disrupt J20 more generally, she tells In These Times, was initiated by longtime organizers in Washington, D.C., eager not to have the concerns of the people who live in the city—particularly low-income communities and communities of color—left out of the story told about who’s resisting Trump, especially in his own backyard.

About 140 people marched toward a checkpoint, shouting out chants like, “Say it loud, say it clear. Refugees are welcome here!” Members of Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ) were tasked with interfacing with Trump supporters, though relatively few passed by.

Asked why she’s come to Washington, Melissa Miles, of Newark, New Jersey’s Ironbound Community Corporation, says, “To visibilize us. They want to bury, but we’re seeds. We’re going to sprout and grow. The shit they’re throwing at us is going to be the fertilizer.”

She’ll participate in the Women’s March as part of the It Takes Roots contingent, one of many heading to the march being headed up by grassroots organizers from African-American, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, indigenous and poor white communities around the country. “More than ever, this is a moment to come out of our comfort zone, leave our fears behind and really stand up,” Miles told In These Times.

It’s not just that people are resisting Trump, she says, but how. Progressive groups across the spectrum faced an influx of calls and interest almost immediately post-election, and—for many—this weekend’s protests will feed into longer-term organizing. Both Miles and Bùi hope to capitalize on the momentum generated by Trump’s election and see this weekend’s demonstrations as part of a much larger effort.

Because of the fusion of misogyny and racism that Trump’s Cabinet represents, Miles argues, taking leadership from the people and communities most likely to come under increased threat because of the Trump administration is a move that’s as strategic as it is solidaristic.

The narrative that protests are the domain of well-off, sign-sporting college students is a convenient one for Trump. But the history of protest in the United States—from the labor militancy of the 1930s to the civil rights movement to ACT UP—is one that’s been led most fiercely by the people bearing the brunt of regressive policies. Ignoring that risks muting the fact that there is real resistance to Trump, a president who didn’t win the majority of the popular vote and doesn’t have the majority of the country’s support.

Complimenting history’s big and successful demonstrations, too, has always been the less glamorous work of organizing that’s won major egalitarian and redistributive reforms. The same has been true of the right, which lifted its own traditions of organizing from the left. The “handbook” of the Tea Party, famously, was Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals, inspired partially by communist organizers in the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).

“The protest is a mechanism for us to bring people together,” Bùi says, “and send the message to an administration, which has already shown that it’s not interested in hearing directly from the people.”

Whether he wants to or not, Trump will hear from them today.

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10 Housing Policies to Watch Under President Trump

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 11:21am
Incoming housing secretary Ben Carson gave hints of his policy positions as candidate, but did little to flesh them out at his confirmation hearing. http://citylimits.org/2017/01/19/10-housing-policies-to-watch-under-president-trump/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss By | January 19, 2017

From NYCHA’s $17 billion repair backlog to the deficit of rental assistance in a city with soaring housing costs, New Yorkers have long suffered from the federal government’s reduced spending on housing, which remains far below pre-Reagan era levels. In the country as a whole, the unmet needs are momentous, with only one fourth of eligible low-income households receiving the rental assistance they need to afford a home.

And just as we would seem to need it most—with discussions in rezoning neighborhoods often revolving around the question of how much subsidy is available to help low-income households remain in their neighborhoods—many housing and tenant advocates fear that things are about to get a whole lot worse. The president-elect is a real-estate developer with a track record in New York City of discriminating against black tenants and trying to flout affordable housing laws; he has nominated a former Wall Street bank chair for Treasury secretary, and appointed a private equity CEO as a top adviser.

“It’s incredibly concerning to have a developer like Donald Trump that’s going to be in the White House,” says Katie Goldstein, executive director of the statewide organization Tenants and Neighbors. “He was really elected on the idea of going on the aggressive toward poor people, low-income [people] and communities of color.”

Some housing advocates are hoping there may be opportunities to influence the incoming administration in their favor. The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), which includes New York groups like Tenants and Neighbors and Supportive Housing Network of New York, sent a letter to the president-elect urging him to invest in housing as part of his plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure. Some have also expressed hope that Ben Carson, Trump’s nominee for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), might be open to persuasion given his lack of clear policy stances—and seeming desire to please everyone—at last week’s hearing. James Saucedo, a NLIHC organizer, says the coalition will focus its energy on making the case to Republicans that housing affordability and poverty are crucial issues for every district in the country.

“It would be short-sighted and it would be a failure for the people that we care about to not be willing to work with them,” he says.

Others say they expect only complete austerity from the feds, but hope the threat of Trump will galvanize local governments to more seriously address housing issues using their own budgets. In the online journal Metropolitiques, CUNY professor John Krinsky says that for Cuomo and de Blasio to live up to their progressive credentials, they must “[address] themselves seriously to what will happen once the federal government stops supporting public housing and cuts back on vouchers.” To Krinsky, that means ending the 421-a tax break, which the city says promotes rental housing construction but which Krinsky argues could be used to fund more than 100,000 Section 8 rental vouchers. It would also mean using city dollars more effectively, which he says could be done by “breaking with 20-year-old preferences for reliance on private, for-profit developers who have little interest in developing affordable housing for very poor people” and instead working with non-profit developers.

The Right to the City Alliance (RTTC), a national coalition with 10 New York City member organizations including Picture the Homeless, GOLES and FUREE, has a few national demands, but will continue to employ a “trans-local” strategy with the hopes that the threat of Trump will push local policymakers to work more closely with grassroots activists, particularly to implement RTTC’s demands for universal rent control and community control of land through the creation of community land trusts. RTTC organizer Tony Romano is hopeful: Tenant movements are experiencing an upsurge, with several California cities starting or strengthening rent control this November for the first time in decades. Furthermore, the threat of Trump is helping to break silos between different social justice movements, he says. This weekend, Right to the City will be participating in direct actions across the country in alliance with other grassroots groups. Organized under the banner “It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance,” Romano says the new alliance is united in a push for low-income communities of color to control their own fates.

But even if we can hope for progress on a local level, New Yorkers can’t afford to ignore housing problems outside city borders, says Laura Mascuch, director of the Supportive Housing Network of New York. Rural counties—including areas of upstate New York—depend on federal sources for a greater portion of their housing budgets, and their housing problems affect city residents, too: Nationally, homeownership rates are at their lowest in fifty years, which experts say is helping to drive up demand in the rental market, worsening the affordability crisis in cities. One election result analysis shows a correlation between negative home values and support for Trump. In other words, hiding in a progressive bubble while ignoring federal fights is probably not the answer, either.

Here are 10 national housing battles in the hands of Congress and the White House that activists say could be worth following in the months to come.

1. Protecting HUD from the Ax: In recent years, HUD has been repeatedly subject to spending caps. Low-income housing advocates want those caps lifted and HUD’s budget increased to keep apace with rising fair market rents, but the Trump administration has called for an even greater cut to non-defense spending—a cumulative cut of one percent each year, or what would amount to a 30 percent cut to HUD’s budget by 2026, accounting for inflation. Advocates say such cuts would be detrimental to New York’s public-housing capital backlog, the availability of Section 8 vouchers and the provision of project Section 8 contracts. While Carson recognized at his confirmation hearing that rental assistance can be “life saving,” he also said he supports Trump’s annual one percent cut to non-defense spending, and wants to do more research before proposing a HUD budget. “I don’t know what the number is going to be, quite frankly. It might more, it might be less,” he said.

2. Defending Obama’s Progress on Fair Housing: To improve the implementation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which requires that governments work toward reducing barriers to housing and equal opportunity, the Obama administration developed a new rule, along with a set of implementation tools, that would help local governments assess the impacts of their policy decisions on combating housing segregation and discrimination. Republican lawmakers have argued Obama’s efforts are tantamount to social engineering and have introduced bills to outlaw the new program. Carson once called Obama’s fair housing program a “failed socialist experiment,” but at his confirmation hearing emphasized that he was only against “cookie-cutter” government programs, though how this statement applies to Obama’s program is unclear.

3. Growing the National Housing Trust Fund: Created in 2008, this fund finally got its first round of funding after years of delay last year and provides states with block grants to build, preserve, and rehabilitate rental housing, with 75 percent dedicated to extremely low-income families making less than 30 percent of the Area Median Income. It derives its funding from an assessment on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae’s earnings. Low-income housing advocates would like to see the assessment rate increased or a permanent budget allocation to the fund, but Republicans have called investments in the fund a “lump of coal in the stocking of every American taxpayer.”

4. Opposing Work Requirements and Time Limits: In a policy brief released last June, House Republicans said HUD’s rental assistance programs “lack requirements to encourage greater individual self-sufficiency,” and called for work-requirements for work-capable households receiving rental assistance, as well as time-limits to benefits. Carson remained vague at his hearing about these policies, saying he saw the necessity of housing assistance to helping families move out of poverty, but also wanted to place “a little more time and effort developing the potential of our people.” Low-income housing advocates argue that such policy ideas are rooted in poor-shaming, disregard the fact that many people on rental assistance do work or are family caretakers, and argue that attaching such requirements to welfare in the 1990s did not eliminate, and in some cases worsened poverty.

5. Ending Subsidies for Rich Homeowners: Of the $200 billion* the federal government spends each year on housing aid, eight out of ten dollars goes to families earning more than $100,000 and four out of ten to families making more than $200,000. The biggest culprit for this regressive redistribution is the mortgage deduction tax program, which provides large tax breaks to wealthy homeowners. Housing advocates in the United for Homes Campaign seek revisions of the program that they say would shift the benefits of the tax credit to low-income homeowners while creating $241 billion in savings over the next ten years. There are signs that Republican lawmakers may be open to considering these reforms, but whether they will be willing to reinvest the savings in low-income housing programs is another question.

6. Reforming and Bolstering the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program: This program, currently the federal government’s primary funding source for new affordable housing projects, allows local governments to sell tax credits to investors, generating funding for construction. Some low-income housing advocates like NLIHC and the affordable housing industry want to see an expansion of, and reforms to, the LIHTC program. Republicans have been friendly to LIHTC, and have worked with Democrats to introduce legislation that would expand the program. But Trump has also endorsed a House proposal to reduce the corporate tax rate from 30 percent to 15 percent, which could make investors less interested in buying tax credits and undermine the effectiveness of LIHTC.

7. Protecting Homeownership Opportunities: Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are government-backed, for-profit private enterprises that buy mortgages and sell them to investors, which helps ensure a stable and ongoing supply of mortgage money for homeowners. During the mortgage crisis of 2008, the two giant enterprises nearly collapsed and were taken over by the federal government. Republicans, including several of Trump’s cabinet picks, argue that the government’s role in these enterprises places taxpayers at risk, and say that they should again be privatized to give other lenders the opportunity to compete with them. But a Wall Street Journal analysis suggests privatization would benefit Freddie and Fannie’s shareholders more than it would taxpayers, and some low-income housing advocates want to ensure privatization does not have negative impacts on homeowners and on the revenues of the housing trust fund. Carson has once again given mixed message on this front, saying he wants to lessen “government footprint” but also protect homeownership opportunities.

8. Saving At-Risk Homeowners from Private Equity: Following the 2008 mortgage crisis, HUD’s Federal Housing Administration, Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae began selling bundles of at-risk mortgages to hedge funds and private equity companies in an effort to bolster their hard-hit finances. But Right to the City and other advocates say that private buyers drive homeowners into foreclosure, then flip the properties to make a profit. (Private equity representatives dispute these claims, and HUD has made changes to the program in response to concerns.) Right to the City contends that these agencies should instead retain these homes as public assets or transfer them to community land trusts.

9. Bolstering Obama’s Local Hire Work: The Obama administration is in the process of revising the Section 3 rule, which requires local governments that take advantage of HUD funding to ensure 30 percent of workers are residents of HUD housing programs. It will be up to Carson to see through revisions to the rule, which would expand the requirements to more projects.

10. Ending Housing Discrimination Against Those with Convictions: HUD rules restrict people with criminal convictions from living in or even visiting public housing. Yet movements have been underway in many cities, including New York, to remove some of these restrictions. The Obama administration also released a draft rule last spring that forbids private property owners from throwing out a rental housing application simply on the basis of an applicant’s prior conviction. While criminal justice advocates hope to continue eliminating restrictive polices, Republican Speaker Paul Ryan has in the past opposed reform efforts.

Correction: Originally we said the federal government spends $200 million on housing aid. The actual amount is $200 billion.

* * * *
City Limits coverage of housing policy is supported by the New York Community Trust and the Charles H. Revson Foundation.

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Rising Up and Shutting it Down: The Trump Inauguration Protests in Images and Quotes

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 10:56am

http://www.alternet.org/rising-and-shutting-it-down-trump-inauguration-protests-images-and-quotes?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

Activists and concerned members of the public put their bodies on the line Friday to resist the 45th president. By Sarah Lazare / AlterNet January 20, 2017

Photo Credit: Mijente

Early Friday morning, social movements from across the country converged in numerous locations across Washington, D.C., including 14 different “security” checkpoints, to shut down, slow and disrupt the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. From Standing Rock Indigenous water protectors to Movement for Black Lives organizers, activists locked down and staged blockades to delegitimize a ceremony for a figure who rose to power on a tide of white nationalism and neo-fascism.

The large numbers took action in step with people across the United States and world.

“We must take to the streets and protest, blockade, disrupt, intervene, sit in, walk out, rise up, and make more noise and good trouble than the establishment can bear,” declared the Washington, D.C.-based Disrupt J20 Collective in a call-to-action released ahead of Thursday. “The parade must be stopped. We must delegitimize Trump and all he represents. It’s time to defend ourselves, our loved ones, and the world that sustains us as if our lives depend on it—because they do.”

(Photo Credit: It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance / Grassroots Global Justice Alliance)

AlterNet asked activists why they decided to put their bodies on the line. “My message is, don’t be afraid,” said Kandi Mossett, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network who traveled from Standing Rock to Washington, D.C. to protest Donald Trump’s inauguration. “Any time we make our voices heard, we’re not guaranteed to win our fight, but we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, if we don’t try we are guaranteed to fail. We are not afraid. We can all stand together and have unity.”

“On this inauguration day, we are making sure that we are visible and are being heard, as we understand the impacts of climate change on the frontlines,” continued Mossett, who is participating in the It Takes Roots delegation of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance. “It is hard to describe being in a frontline community—the social impacts, the destruction that comes with the fossil fuel industry, all the violence. The abuses that go hand-in-hand with mother earth. We experience them firsthand. The Donald Trumps of the world don’t ever have to experience the pain and violence of the fossil fuels industry.”

“They need to hear from grassroots people,” Mossett told AlterNet. “If we have to travel all the way here to meet them where they are more comfortable, we will do that.”

Department of Energy disruption with Indigenous women leaders, veterans, climate and housing activists coming together. (Photo Credit: It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance / Grassroots Global Justice Alliance)

“I am in tears. I am so honored to have co-organized the ‘Communities Under Attack Fight Back’ block to uplift Muslim resistance, immigrant resistance, Jewish resistance,” said Darakshan Raja, founder of the Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum and co-director of the Washington Peace Center.

“For now, a day that I was afraid of is giving me more power than ever,” said Raja.

Groups centering immigrant, Muslim and Jewish resistance came together under the banner of ‘Communities Under Attack Fight Back’ to blockade a checkpoint to the inauguration in the early morning. (Photo credit: Mijente)

“The threats of mass deportation, the dismantling of Obamacare, the registration of Muslims and the criminalization of women’s health, are loud and clear,” said Black Lives Matter DC, Baltimore BLOC, and the Movement for Black Lives in a statement. “Black people and other people of color are being targeted by vigilantes, our places of worship are being burned, our children are being attacked at school and the promise of more ‘law and order’ policing leaves us even more vulnerable to police terror.”

Black Lives Matter DC, Baltimore BLOC, and the Movement for Black Lives shut down a checkpoint. (Photo credit: Disrupt J20)

BREAKING: #BlackLivesMatter block checkpoint at 300 C NW-#bikersForTrump confront them.#McPherson #DisruptJ20 pic.twitter.com/51skWK14WX

— DCMediaGroup (@DCMediaGroup) January 20, 2017

“Trump stands for tyranny, greed, and misogyny,” said the Disrupt J20 Collective. “He is the champion of neo-nazis and white Nationalists, of the police who kill the Black, Brown and poor on a daily basis, of racist border agents and sadistic prison guards, of the FBI and NSA who tap your phone and read your email.”

“If there is going to be a positive change in this society,” the collective continued, “we have to make it ourselves, together, through direct action.”

(Photo credit: Disrupt J20)

Protests will continue to sweep Washington, DC and the United States throughout the weekend. Melissa Miles from It Takes Roots told AlterNet that she will be among those preparing to continue to mobilize in the days and years ahead. “I’m a grassroots feminist because I see the innate dignity in all life,” she said. “Because those who have suffered the most deserve the most to live happy healthy lives, because as long as I live I will fight for justice for those who have been denied it.”

Thuy Nguyen, a member of Iraq Veteran Against the War, told AlterNet that she took part in the disruptions “to stand in solidarity with my fellow brothers and sisters in the growing resistance, to get the conversation started that change needs to happen.”

Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.

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January 2017 It Takes Roots went to Washington DC

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 1:59pm

From January 18-21, 2017 organized the It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance Delegation to Washington DC, plus several Trans-Local Actions happening across the country in the first 100 days of the Trump administration.

The #ItTakesRoots to Grow the Resistance delegation was our response to the broader call to action in the face of the rising attacks under the incoming Trump Administration on the gains that people of color, women, immigrants, LGBTQ communities, and workers have fought for.  This will have implications locally, nationally, and globally for years to come.  Now is the critical time for a resistance movement to be visible and strong, on the defense and the offense.

Click here to watch a recording of the reportback from our January delegation.

The grassroots organizations represented in our Mobilization to DC and our Trans-Local Actions during the first 100 days of the Trump Administration are intergenerational, comprising a mix of youth organizers and veteran community leaders, who hail from Indigenous, African American, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander and rural white communities in the frontlines of movements for economic, racial, gender, and climate justice, including:

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They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.

Thu, 01/26/2017 - 3:36pm

Women of color led the way.  This weekend we all helped to build the largest mobilization against the inauguration of a President in the history of the United States!  From DC to Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, New York, Oakland, to countless cities and towns across the country and around the world, millions of people took to the streets.  While many of the marches drew broad participation from primarily white women of many ages, the majority of these mobilizations were multi-racial, led by women of color and gender non-conforming folks.

#ItTakesRoots to #GrowtheResistance is an effort led by women of color on the frontlines of racial, housing and climate justice across the country, which brought together over 100 grassroots leaders in DC this past week to grow our resistance, and organized translocal actions in 8 cities on inauguration weekend.  It is an outcome of years of organizing and relationship building across the Climate Justice Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network, and Right to the City Alliance.

We came together as four national grassroots alliances immediately after the elections because we heard loud and clear from our membership that our priority in this next period should be to build a visionary opposition to the racist, misogynist and xenophobic politics and practices of Trumpism.  The leadership of frontline communities in the historic mobilizations of this past week are a testament for what is to come.

Within hours of taking office, President Trump signed an executive order to pave the way towards repealing the Affordable Care Act, and reinstated the global gag rule originated by Ronald Reagan in 1984 that prohibits US funding to any international organization that includes education about abortion in their reproductive health and family planning options. Today he signed executive actions to advance the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines–both of which have been the center of some of the largest environmental justice mobilizations in US history.

This President is intent on destroying our bodies, our communities, and Mother Earth. We will not let it happen.  Join us to Grow the Resistance.

Training Labs and Strategy Exchanges
Our delegation to DC spent a day and a half together in training labs and strategy exchanges.  Members shared models of 21st century Sanctuary Cities and rapid response collectives, discussed the connections between climate justice, gender justice, land, and housing fights, strategized around what a Just Transition will look like for our communities in this period, and trained each other on direct action tactics for strengthening our visionary opposition.

J20 Action at DOE and HUD
In the final hours before the inauguration of Donald trump, we led a two-part action starting at the Department of Energy and ending at the Department of Housing and Urban Development calling out the incoming administration’s picks for both departments and demonstrating the kinds of policies we want them to put forth that represent community solutions.

Learn more about the actions in this piece by Yessenia Funes with ColorLines

J20 Marches and the J21 Women’s March
On January 20th and January 21st, the #ItTakesRoots women of color-led contingent was on the frontlines of resistance to Donald Trump’s inauguration at #DisruptJ20 and the historic Women’s March on Washington. The contingent of Black, Latin@, Asian, Arab, and Indigenous women and gender nonconforming people are leading grassroots voices and organizers for climate, housing, gender, racial and indigenous justice.

CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS

Solidarity in Action
The #ItTakesRoots delegation was supported by the Ruckus Society and the Center for Story-Based Strategy.  On Thursday we supported an action by indigenous groups to protest outside a Trump gala with a flash round dance led by indigenous women and youth.  On Saturday, we marched with our sisters from the National Domestic Workers Alliance and other allies to be one of the liveliest contingents with our songs, drums, chants and dance.

Where do we go from here?
You are not alone.  We have your back and we need your support now more than ever.  It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance is our response to this moment.  We are committed over the next 100 days to translocal actions around the country, to continued conversations on longer-term strategy, and to developing our sector to fight together.

Join us to #GrowTheResistance and build a world with liberation and justice for all:

  1. Take the pledge at: www.GrowTheResistance.org?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

  2. Follow Indigenous Environmental Network for updates on how to support the continued fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline, in the wake of Trump’s executive order.

  3. Host an #ItTakesRoots strategy session and rapid response collective action in your city or region to #GrowTheResistance.  Contact Malcolm at  Malcolm@righttothecity.org to get connected.

  4. Support the #ItTakesRoots to #GrowtheResistance Movement.  Click this button to donate online TODAY

Mark your Calendar

  • Join our national call: Lessons and Next Steps from #ItTakesRoots to #GrowtheResistance on Wednesday, February 8th from 1-3pmPT/2-4pmMT/3-5pmCT/4-6pmET.  Click here to RSVP

  • Join us April 29 – People’s Climate Mobilization in Washington DC.

The post They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds. appeared first on It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance.

2/8/17 – RSVP for: “Lessons and Next Steps from #ItTakesRoots to #GrowTheResistance” Call // Inscríbase aquí para llamada de: “Lecciones y Pasos Siguientes sobre Se Necesitan Raices para Cultivar La Resistencia”

Tue, 01/24/2017 - 1:55pm

Join Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Climate Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network and Right To The City Alliance on February 8, 2017 at 4-6 EST / 1-3 PST for our call about historic #ItTakesRoots to #GrowTheResistance mobilization in D.C. and around the country and discuss next steps in the first 100 days to grow the resistance.

Please fill out the form below to RSVP.

Únete a Grassroots Global Justice, La Alianza de Justicia, Indigenous Environmental Network y Right To The City Alliance el 8 de Febrero a las 4-6 EST / 1-3 PST por nuestra llamada sobre la movilización histórica de Se Necesitan Raices para Cultivar La Resistencia en D.C. y en todos partes del país. Discutiremos los pasos siguentes en las primeras 100 días para cultivar la resistencia!

Por favor llena la forma abajo para inscribirse. 

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The post 2/8/17 – RSVP for: “Lessons and Next Steps from #ItTakesRoots to #GrowTheResistance” Call // Inscríbase aquí para llamada de: “Lecciones y Pasos Siguientes sobre Se Necesitan Raices para Cultivar La Resistencia” appeared first on It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance.

Women of Color Lead With United Vision: Resist and Protect Each Other

Fri, 01/20/2017 - 6:29pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 20, 2017

A contingent of immigrants, domestic workers, housing and climate justice leaders join forces at Women’s March

VISUALS:      75-foot banners, beautiful art, colorful signs.

ACTION:         Due to increasing threats on protesters’ safety at the J20 actions, staging details will not be revealed yet.

WHEN:           Saturday, January 21, 9:00 a.m.

WHERE:         Meeting at Garfield Park (corner of 3rd and G Street SE), Washington, D.C.

WHO:             The #ItTakesRoots contingent, led by women from communities most impacted by the new administration’s proposed policies. Thousands of women of color, domestic workers, leaders of immigrant rights and climate justice organizations and allies.

  • Among the organizations participating: Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Climate Justice Alliance, Right to the City Alliance
  • Marching with: hundreds of Domestic workers and women in climate leaders from across the US, representing groups like: 350, Sierra Club, Amazon Watch, National Domestic Workers Alliance.

WHY:              The new administration poses tremendous threats to national parks, sacred land, water, our bodies and homes. Women of color and grassroots leaders are joining together to resist and to lead the way with solutions right now.

CONTACT:     Isobel White, 510-828-3554

Bernice Shaw, 310-880-1389

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It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance

www.growtheresistance.org?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

 

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Women of Color protect the land, water, and housing for all of us.

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 4:33pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2017

Hundreds of Indigenous leaders, veterans, climate and housing activists from across the country join together to stage disruption at Department of Energy and HUD

WHEN:     Friday, January 20
9am at the Department of Energy;
10am at the Department of Housing and Urban Development

WHERE:     Beginning at 1000 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. (Department of Energy)

WHO:     Hundreds of Indigenous peoples, leaders of climate justice movements, veterans, women of color and allies gathering to defend the land, water, bodies, and homes from tremendous threats posed by the incoming administration.

WHY:     The appointments of Rick Perry, Steve Mnuchin, and Ben Carson make clear the Trump administration’s intention to ramp up the exploitation of land for private profit, wreaking devastation for the climate, for our water, and for our homes.

  • Until a week ago, Rick Perry was on the Board of the company driving the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatened the water of 17 million people.
  • Trump has signaled his desire to re-enter an arms race, leading to a greatly intensified risk of nuclear war and to increased health threats in indigenous communities and communities of color where nuclear testing occurs.
  • Mnuchin, Carson, and Trump together will threaten the homes of both homeowners and renters. Mnuchin is known as the “foreclosure king” for the over 36,000 foreclosures he instigated during the financial crisis. With half of all renters facing unaffordable rents and evictions at all-time highs, Carson has stated that he plans to turn public housing over to private interests, which will only worsen the displacement and affordable housing crises faced by communities around the country.

VISUALS:    75-foot banners, Indigenous women from Standing Rock, veterans, street theater to showcase threats posed by the Trump administration and what an alternative could look like – protecting the climate, land, and water for all people.

CONTACT:     Isobel White, 510-828-3554
Bernice Shaw, 310-880-1389

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It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance
www.growtheresistance.org?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

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It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance Translocal Toolkit

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 3:15pm

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ), Climate Justice Alliance (CJA Our Power Campaign), Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), and Right To The City Alliance (RTTC) are teaming up for the It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance Delegation and Translocal Actions in the first 100 days of the Trump administration. Check out this toolkit for information on how to participate translocally and spread the word about #ItTakesRoots:

It Takes Roots to Grow The Resistance – Narrative Toolkit

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Women of Color Lead: A Call to Grow the Resistance against Trump, to Converge in Washington D.C. Jan 18-21

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 5:22pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 17, 2017

CONTACT: Isobel White, 510-828-3554
Bernice Shaw, 310-880-1389

Women of Color Lead: A Call to Grow the Resistance against Trump, to Converge in Washington D.C. Jan 18-21
Interviews available upon request with women of color, undocumented & immigrant women, Spanish speakers, Indigenous Peoples, youth and renters

Washington D.C. | January 18, 2017 — This week, women of color and grassroots leaders from around the U.S. will join forces for the “It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance delegation to Washington D.C. to take action against the incoming Trump administration. The delegation, organized by the Climate Justice Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Right to the City Alliance, will bring together over 100 grassroots leaders from communities most impacted by a wide range of the incoming administration’s proposed policies.

These leaders – from African American, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Indigenous, and poor white communities across the country – are joining together to resist the threat posed by the incoming administration and to build a vision beyond hate and walls.

“We are in a moment in which racial hatred against our communities of color is stronger than ever, in which we have to organize, unite and defend our rights that we have as immigrants, workers and families.  We cannot allow fear to paralyze us. The respect and dignity of and in our communities is our shield to be able to maintain that strength and resistance in our communities.” – Sylvia Lopez, Domestic Workers organizer, Mujeres Unidas y Activas.

These grassroots leaders will join together in workshops to learn from each other’s local struggles and victories and to be trained in community resilience and nonviolent resistance. They will also take part in the direct actions listed below.

It Takes Roots to Grow The Resistance means that grassroots communities hold the power to pushback against the injustice that a Trump presidency will bring.  Grassroots, local, low-income and communities of color are leading the way with solutions right now, such as United Workers shutting down incinerators in Baltimore and the Boston Recycling Coalition pushing their city toward zero waste.” – Ahmina Maxey, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)

“When people in power have tried to divide our communities, told us to hate and fear each other, it is the women who have brought us together. Now more than ever, we need to ensure that the roots of the resistance are strong, so we are coming together to grow and deepen the resistance together.” – Angela Adrar, Climate Justice Alliance

#ItTakesRoots Actions & Events In Washington D.C. January 18 – 21st

    • Friday January 20th at 9:30 AM (1000 Independence Ave SW, Washington D.C);
      • #ItTakesRoots direct action at the U.S. Department of Energy and the office of Housing & Urban Development to oppose Rick Perry’s direct ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the threat to housing security posed by Ben Carson, Steven Mnuchin, and Donald Trump.

 

  • Friday January 20th at 12:00 PM at Columbus Circle in Union Station:

 

      • #ItTakesRoots will spearhead a women of color, gender non-conforming folks and allies contingent at the Disrupt J20 March called for by local D.C. communities aiming to disrupt the inauguration.

 

  • Saturday January 21st at 9:00AM, meeting at Garfield Park (Corner of 3rd and G Street SE, Washington D.C.)

 

    • #ItTakesRoots will join in with the Women of Color & Allies Contingent for the historic Women’s March on Washington. Thousands are expected to join the contingent including members of the four alliances, the National Domestic Workers Center, 350.org and more. The contingent will feature frontline Women of Color spokespeople as well as bold and large art & banners.

Local Actions Throughout the Nation:

On January 20th, in solidarity with the delegation in D.C., member organizations are spearheading actions in nine cities across the country including: Chicago, Oakland, San Francisco, Nashville, Los Angeles, Boston, San Antonio, Long Beach and Denver. The #ItTakesRoots coalition also plans to escalate a series of translocal actions throughout the first 100 days of the Trump Presidency to build community power.  

 

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It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance

www.growtheresistance.org?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

 

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ)

Grassroots Global Justice is a national alliance of grassroots organizations building a popular movement for peace, democracy and a sustainable world.  GGJ weaves and bridges together US-based grassroots organizing groups and global social movements working for climate justice, an end to war, and to advance a just transition to a new economy that is better for people and the planet.

www.ggjalliance.org?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

@ggjalliance

 

Climate Justice Alliance (CJA)

The Climate Justice Alliance is a collaborative of over 35 community-based and movement support organizations uniting frontline communities to forge a scalable, and socio-economically just transition away from unsustainable energy towards local living economies to address the root causes of climate change.  We are rooted in Indigenous, African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, and working-class white communities throughout the U.S. We are applying the power of deep grassroots organizing to win local, regional, statewide, and national shifts.

http://www.ourpowercampaign.org?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

@cjaOurPower

 

Right to the City Alliance (RTTC)

Right to the City (RTTC) emerged in 2007 as a unified response to gentrification and a call to halt the displacement of low-income people, people of color, marginalized LGBTQ communities, and youths of color from their historic urban neighborhoods. We are a national alliance of racial, economic and environmental justice organizations.

http://righttothecity.org/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

@OurCity

 

Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN)

Established in 1990 within the United States, IEN was formed by grassroots Indigenous peoples and individuals to address environmental and economic justice issues (EJ). IEN’s activities include building the capacity of Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.

www.ienearth.org?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

@ienearth

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5 Things you can do to Stand with Standing Rock

Wed, 11/02/2016 - 12:01pm

State violence is escalating against the Indigenous Water Protectors on the frontlines of the struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Join us in responding to the call for national and international solidarity:

  1. GO TO STANDING ROCK and stand with the Indigenous-led water defenders on the frontlines.
  2. DONATE to indigenousrising.org or ocetisakowincamp.org to support the legal team and the ongoing infrastructure needs.
  3. DISRUPT BUSINESS AS USUAL at the Army Core of Engineers Offices in your local community and demand that they deny the permit to bore under the Missouri River. Demand a full Environmental Impact Statement be completed.
  4. ORGANIZE LOCAL ACTIONS targeting the funders of DAPL, including the banks
  5. CALL THE WHITE HOUSE and urge President Obama to step in and reject the DAPL (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414

The Indigenous-led struggle in Standing Rock, North Dakota against the Dakota Access Pipeline is a turning point in the climate justice movement. The proposed $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, if completed, would carry a half a million barrels of oil per day from the Bakken Oil Shale Fields. The route the pipeline would take lays under multiple bodies of water, including the Missouri River that supplies drinking and irrigation water that more than 10 million people depend on.

What began with Oceti Sakowin youth running 2000 miles from North Dakota to Washington DC in April of 2016 has now grown into a powerful grassroots movement that is forcing an injunction against one of the largest pipeline projects in North America.

#StandWithStandingRock #NoDAPL #WaterIsLife

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Statement on Paris Agreement Signing – International Alliance of Frontline Communities

Tue, 04/19/2016 - 2:41pm

* For Immediate Release *

April 19, 2016

Press Contacts:

Jaron Browne, (415) 727-6687, jaron@ggjalliance.org

Dallas Goldtooth, (708) 515-6158, goldtoothdallas@gmail.com

“They don’t even mention Fossil Fuels!”

Three days before world leaders sign the Paris Agreement, an international alliance of frontline and indigenous communities denounce it as a ‘dangerous distraction’

 

San Francisco, CA – As world leaders prepare to sign the Paris Agreement later this week on Earth Day (April 22) an international alliance of Indigenous leaders are calling the historic agreement “dangerous distraction.”

 

Statement From Cindy Wiesner of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance:

“The Paris Climate agreement doesn’t even mention fossil fuels, the most agreed on cause of climate change. The agreement is a dangerous distraction that leaves common sense, science, human rights and the rights of Indigenous Peoples on the negotiating table. While world leaders are finally taking action they are heading down the wrong path. Frontline communities and Indigenous Peoples have been calling for a clear path to solve our climate crisis. We can end the privatization of nature, we can stop the use of dirty fossil fuels and we can stop climate change. We know this because we are on the front lines of climate change, we see it, we know it, we live it. The world will not find solutions to climate change without us.”

 

Statement from Tom Goldtooth, of the Indigenous Environmental Network

“We, Indigenous Peoples, are the red line. We have drawn that line with our bodies against the privatization of nature, to dirty fossil fuels and to climate change. We are the defenders of the world’s most biologically and culturally diverse regions. We will protect our sacred lands. Our knowledge has much of the solutions to climate change that humanity seeks. It’s only when they listen to our message that ecosystems of the world will be renewed.”

For more background and detailed criticism of the agreement see We Are Mother Earth’s Red Line (LINK) a report released by the It Takes Roots Delegation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 21st Conference of the Parties  (COP21) in Paris.

 

Also available for comment and media appearance:

  • Cindy Wiesner, National Coordinator, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (USA)
  • Tom Goldtooth and Kandi Mossett, Indigenous Environmental Network (North America)
  • Rossmery Zayas, Communities for a Better Environment, Southeast Los Angeles
  • Elisabeth Sanders, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky
  • Nnimmo Bassey, Director, HOME Foundation (Nigeria)
  • Max Rademacher, Alternatiba (France)
  • Pat Mooney, Executive Director, ETC Group (Canada)
  • Graca Samo, World March of Women (Mozambique)

 

The We Are Mother Earth’s Red line national report coincides with the premier of the highly acclaimed Not Without Us film this week in San Francisco and Washington DC.  Not Without Us follows seven multi-generational, grassroots activists from around the world as they head to the COP21 mobilizations in Paris.

The “It Takes Roots to Weather the Storm” delegation brings together Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ), the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), and the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) organized the delegation.   During the UNFCCC 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) It Takes Roots mobilized more US and Canadian grassroots and Indigenous groups who took to the streets of Paris during the COP21, despite a ban on public protest—and amplified the pressure that Indigenous Peoples, civil society, and grassroots movements have built throughout the 21 years of UN climate talks.

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Storms, Roots, And Seeds: Beyond COP21!

Wed, 12/30/2015 - 4:02am

“What other than injustice could be the reason that the displaced citizens of New Orleans cannot be accommodated by the richest nation in the world?”

— Wynton Marsalis, Jazz musician

The storm hurtled across the land, bringing the sea and everything with it. Trees snapped, houses washed away, vehicles became projectiles into second story windows, coconuts became cannon balls smashing bone and wood beams. My great grandmother’s cashew farm splintered in the salt and the wind. This particular storm was called Typhoon Haiyan and it hit the Philippines in November 2013 – the largest storm on Earth ever to make landfall at that time. The Philippines has still not recovered from the impact of Haiyan —or rather its government and the corporations it is beholden to are trying to militarize and privatize it.

This year I was at work and another storm hit me right in the chest. The LA area Exxonmobil refinery a block away from where I grew up had an explosion that registered 1.7 on the Richter scale. A faulty fluid catalytic converter caused the blast and threw an 80,000 pound piece of equipment a hundred feet. Windows blew out and the sky filled with “ash”. I got on the phone and breathed again when I heard my mom’s uninjured voice, my dad was busy outside with a mask, watering the house down so nothing caught on fire—their vegetable garden ruined as sludge gray water loaded with heavy metals oozed over the front yard.

As it stands, the COP21 agreement is brewing another kind of storm for communities on the frontline. World leaders converged to talk about greenhouse gas emissions in the parts per million, keeping up endless growth through a force of green consumers, and making sure polluters and their false promises can come along for the ride without losing any profits. Without long-term vision, accountability, and concrete steps to de-carbonizing all economies, we’re headed towards destruction that neither we nor this planet deserve.

At the end of these talks much is being heralded about the US actually signing on to an agreement despite internal right wing pressure and climate deniers in Congress. There is a lot of talk about state-by-state innovations—including California Governor Jerry Brown pushing offsets agreements with regional partners. These steps are at best helping climate change become a daily conversation. At worst they are pushing for increased privatization, confiscation of Indigenous People’s lands, loss of cultural and biological diversity, and human rights violations. What we need now post-COP is bold action to keep fossil fuels in the ground, reject the fundamentalist ideology of globalization, a commitment to the well being of people over the profiteering of a few, and infrastructure and resource support for locally owned and controlled renewable energy solutions.

Earlier this month, I traveled to Paris as part of the It Takes Roots delegation to build towards just that: a community rooted deeply in place, connected globally through solidarity, and that has the strength and know-how to weather all the storms that are yet to come. We know our communities have been on the cutting edge of true climate resiliency work for generations. We have always been the ones hit first and worst—and we’re still here and will continue to lead the transformative path towards a regenerative economy and a living planet.

Community by community, we’re linking up to show our own solutions. At the  Asian and Pacific Environmental Network, (APEN) we build leadership and power in the Asian American & Pacific Islander communities for bold action. Our members stand up to the largest stationary polluter in the state of California, educate legislators and neighbors on climate policy in six languages, and are working on building a living model of a just transition through community-owned solar power.

APEN and the groups who are part of the It Takes Roots delegation are just some of the many grassroots organizations in the US doing the work necessary to change the system, build people power, and save our climate. Amazing solutions are happening all over the world too. In the Philippines—a country of over 7,000 islands and 175 languages in a portion of the Pacific known as “Typhoon Alley”—solutions are sorely needed. Salugpongan International is one network that speaks to the core of climate justice: supporting Indigenous People’s local initiatives to protect rights to the land and culture, of knowledge of place, and of education by the people for the people. A global movement—against war, against warming, for community rooted power—is growing.

The indigenous people of the world deserve to thrive. The people of Richmond, California, deserve to thrive. Your community deserves to thrive. The COP21 process closed without real, durable and lasting commitments that bring us any closer to a cleaner, greener world—much less a more just one. But life goes on after the COP and so does grassroots organizing. So let’s feel our roots, keep an eye on where we can sprout and build the world we do deserve.

But there is unspeakable love:
we use our ten thousand tongues
let the tides loose and truths
be storm surge
in this surrender
to our humanity

Of Storms and Tears, Aimee Suzara

 

Shina Robinson is a part of the It Takes Roots Delegation and works with the Asian and Pacific Environmental Network.

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What’s hot and what’s not at Paris COP21: It Takes Roots In New Internationalist’s Hot List!

Mon, 12/14/2015 - 12:26pm

In a provocative feature listing all that was hot and all that was not at the Paris COP21, the New Internationalist highlighted It Takes Roots in its hot list for “serving frontline fierceness inside and outside the COP. Slick production values for some very real people.” Read the full list!

 

 

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Democracy Now! Interviews It Takes Roots Delegates

Mon, 12/14/2015 - 11:28am

In their COP21 spotlight of the Dec 12 march, the widely watched independent news show Democracy Now! took to the streets of Paris and spotlighted a diverse array of activists and groups who came together for the final march to the Eiffel tower. Watch It Takes Roots delegates spotlighted in their COP21 special, including Sarra Tekola, Derek Mathews and Shawna Foster.

 

 

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