The ris­ing: Change of sea­son for re­sis­tance ac­tivists

Wisconsin Gazette - - Opinion - By Lisa Neff Staff writer

Rise up.

Move on.

For­ward In­di­vis­i­bles.

Pro­gres­sive ac­tivists chal­leng­ing the poli­cies of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and the GOP agenda are tran­si­tion­ing from a sum­mer cam­paign to a fall ini­tia­tive — and they're re­cruit­ing.

“It was a long, hec­tic sum­mer, but some­thing tells me it's go­ing to get even hot­ter when Congress returns to work,” said Jessie Sanchez, who joined in a La­bor Day protest march in Milwaukee. “We need all the peo­ple we can muster.”

Sanchez said he par­tic­i­pated in protests this sum­mer or­ga­nized by Vo­ces de la Fron­tera, MoveOn and In­di­vis­i­ble chap­ters in Wis­con­sin and Illi­nois.

“In the po­lit­i­cal world, we can make a world of dif­fer­ence,” he said.

In the weeks be­fore La­bor Day, pro­gres­sive ac­tivists in Wis­con­sin and else­where en­gaged in a “re­sis­tance re­cess,” a se­ries of ac­tions fo­cused on reach­ing mem­bers of Congress on re­cess and back home. Pro­test­ers con­verged on dis­trict of­fices, packed town halls, and when rep­re­sen­ta­tives re­fused to hold open fo­rums, ac­tivists staged their own.

Among their goals were hold­ing ac­count­able the law­mak­ers who voted for leg­is­la­tion that would have re­pealed the Af­ford­able Care Act, en­cour­ag­ing sup­port for Medi­care for all, and de­mand­ing cen­sure of the pres­i­dent for fail­ing to de­nounce white supremacy.

DACA DE­MANDS

AND TRUMP’S RE­SPONSE

Over the La­bor Day week­end, grass­roots ac­tivists in Wis­con­sin and else­where staged a se­ries of ac­tions urg­ing the pres­i­dent and Congress to make per­ma­nent the fed­eral De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram. The Obama-era pro­gram shields young im­mi­grants — dubbed “dream­ers” — from de­por­ta­tion and makes it pos­si­ble for them to work legally in the U.S.

Al­most as if in re­sponse, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced Sept. 5 the end of DACA — then chal­lenged Congress to do some­thing.

In Racine, near House Speaker Paul Ryan's dis­trict of­fice, young im­mi­grants went on a hunger strike Sept. 1, de­mand­ing the Repub­li­can leader sup­port leg­is­la­tion to make DACA per­ma­nent with­out fur­ther mil­i­ta­riza­tion of the bor­der.

“If DACA is re­scinded, I and 800,000 oth­ers will be robbed of the abil­ity to con­trib­ute to our com­mu­ni­ties and we will be at im­me­di­ate risk of de­por­ta­tion along with our fam­i­lies,” said Va­le­ria Ruiz, an or­ga­nizer with Vo­ces de la Fron­tera and Youth Em­pow­ered in the Strug­gle. “Ryan must urge the pres­i­dent to keep DACA and he must sup­port leg­is­la­tion to make DACA per­ma­nent with­out giv­ing in to white su­prem­a­cist mass de­por­ta­tion de­mands.”

Ryan, dur­ing a ra­dio in­ter­view Sept. 1, did en­cour­age Trump not to kill the pro­gram be­fore a way for­ward is de­signed: “These are kids who know no other coun­try, who were brought here by their par­ents and don't know an­other home,” he said, adding that he pre­ferred a leg­isla­tive so­lu­tion to the dream­ers' fu­ture.

The dream­ers' hunger strike, co­or­di­nated by Vo­ces de la Fron­tera and Youth Em­pow­ered in the Strug­gle, launched five days of ac­tions in Wis­con­sin, in­clud­ing the oc­cu­pa­tion of Mon­u­ment Square in Racine, a La­bor Day march in Milwaukee and an­other march Sept. 5.

TIME TO FIGHT FOR $15

The marchers also walked in sup­port of the Fight for $15, a na­tional cam­paign for a higher min­i­mum wage. Cooks and cashiers from McDon­ald's, Burger King and other restau­rants walked off their jobs on La­bor Day to join the march in Milwaukee and other ma­jor U.S. cities.

“Ram­pant racism. Wage cuts. At­tacks on unions. It's time to fight back,” read a state­ment from the Fight for $15 cam­paign.

Other groups bring­ing ac­tivists to La­bor Day ac­tions in­cluded the United We Dream im­mi­grant rights ef­fort, MoveOn.org, af­fil­i­ates of the 350.org en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion, and In­di­vis­i­ble chap­ters.

The In­di­vis­i­ble chap­ters formed fol­low­ing Trump's in­au­gu­ra­tion and the re­lease of “In­di­vis­i­ble: A Prac­ti­cal Guide for Re­sist­ing the Trump Agenda,” a Google Doc out­lin­ing how to en­gage po­lit­i­cally.

About 6,000 groups are reg­is­tered as In­di­vis­i­ble af­fil­i­ates, in­clud­ing 112 groups in Wis­con­sin.

For months, In­di­vis­i­ble has pro­vided reg­u­lar “to-dos” to sub­scribers to news­let­ters. A re­cent weekly ad­vi­sory — is­sued un­der the sub­ject “the sun sets on Au­gust re­cess” — in­structed “Dear In­di­vis­i­bles” to de­fend DACA, speak against Trump's ban on trans­gen­der troops join­ing the mil­i­tary, op­pose Trump's war­mon­ger­ing, join in a Face­book Live fo­rum against white supremacy, and sup­port pro­gres­sive groups as­sist­ing Hur­ri­cane Har­vey sur­vivors.

The post-La­bor Day “weekly In­di­vis­i­ble to-dos” en­cour­aged “Dear In­di­vis­i­bles” to show up for dream­ers, re­spond to Har­vey, stay vig­i­lant on ACA, stop Trump's tax scam giv­ing mas­sive tax cuts to the wealthy and cor­po­ra­tions and stop Trump from start­ing war with North Korea.

“To­gether, we will win,” the In­di­vis­i­ble team wrote — in sol­i­dar­ity.

ON THE WEB

For more on lo­cal In­di­vis­i­ble groups, visit in­di­vis­i­bleguide.com/act-lo­cally.

PHOTO: SAM SIN­GLE­TON-FREE­MAN/VO­CES DE LA FRON­TERA

Young im­mi­grants in U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s con­gres­sional dis­trict be­gin a hunger strike Sept. 1, de­mand­ing the House Speaker sup­port leg­is­la­tion to make per­ma­nent the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram. The strike launched five days of ac­tions, in­clud­ing the Sept. 1 oc­cu­pa­tion of the Mon­u­ment Square near the con­gress­man’s of­fice and a march in Racine Sept. 5.

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