On Saturday morning, across the country and in more than 100 cities, Indivisible groups organized marches and rallies to demand an independent commission to investigate Donald Trump‘s connections to Russia. Here in Rhode Island, on the steps of the Rhode Island State House, Cranston resident and “proud member of Indivisible RI” Shawna Rihani said that Trump “has rolled out the red carpet for Russia.”
Saying “enough is enough” and “we want the truth,” Rihani called for “an independent commission not under the authority of the President, that is properly resourced and pursued free of partisan interests. We want Congress to require Trump to release his taxes and clarify his business interests.”
Further, if a crime is found to have been committed, “it must be prosecuted.”
Andy Accioli, a founder of Indivisible RI, repeated Rihani’s call, saying the public wants “prosecutions, not pardons.”
United States Representative David Cicilline said, “Since the founding of our nation we’ve seen authoritarian leaders seize power in other countries. We’ve wondered, what could drive people to put their faith in a strong man? And we’ve always assumed it could never happen here. We thought our democracy was different, stronger and completely resistant to this… It turns out that we may have been arrogant…”
Cicilline said that it is “on all of us, who care about our democracy, to fight back.”
Rhode Island State Senator Gayle Goldin spoke about a bill she introduced to prevent candidates for president who have not released their tax returns from appearing on the ballot in Rhode Island. Goldin introduced the bill on Trump’s inauguration day.
State Representative Aaron Regunberg spoke about “truth in state government.” We need to go wider and deeper than just Trump, said Regunberg, who called out the entire Republican Party in Washington. If Republicans truly want to provide affordable healthcare to America, there is a path to do that, said Regunberg, single payer. On climate change, Trump has told the world, all of us and our children, that our futures do not matter, said Regunberg. “And for what? Clean energy is not a danger to our economy, it is a boon to our economy.”
Capri Catanzaro, political director of the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats took the battle straight to the Rhode Island General Assembly. Catanzaro pointed out Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello‘s habit of giving tax cuts to the rich while eagerly cutting social services. She quoted the Speaker directly to make her case.
“We’ve got to make the connection between our growing deficits and the income tax cuts to the rich,” said Catanzaro.
Beyond his economic policies, Mattiello (and much of the House and Senate leadership teams) are endorsed by Rhode Island Right to Life. “Opposing a woman’s right to choose is a flagrant disregard for the state and federal party platform,” said Catanzaro. “Politicians who oppose their party values are lying to the people. Party fraud is so rampant in this state that it’s actually considered normal.”
Sam Bell, political advisor to Indivisible Rhode Island, spoke about the corporate control of our local media. In a short, excellent presentation, Bell outlines how the media in Rhode Island is being owned and perhaps influenced by deep pocket billion dollar companies with radical right wing views.
Dr Mark J Ryan of Single Payer Rhode Island spoke about the realistic prospects for getting a health care system that treats health care as a human right and truly cares for all Americans.
Shanna Wells talked about President Trump’s budget proposal and what it means for women. As she said at the start, “The truth may set you free, but it will also piss you off.” The deepest cuts in Trump’s proposal will of course disproportionately affect women.
“Here in Rhode Island, the front line of the resistance is right here, at the State House,” said Jordan Hevenor of the Women Project, formed in the wake of Trump’s election. “Women’s autonomy and women’s rights are vulnerable here in Rhode Island, and the leadership is doing nothing about it.” Hevenor told a story about Speaker Nicholas Mattiello taking female legislators out to dinner to “figure out what they wanted this legislative session.”
“The Speaker obviously wasn’t listening,” said Hevenor, “Because the women want to protect Roe v Wade.”
Music for the event was provided by Steven Belaus, who concluded the show with a great cover of Rockin’ in the Free World in by Neil Young.
You can watch all the video here: