To both celebrate a month of victories and to plan for the future, well over 800 people filled the cafeteria of Hope High School as Resist Hate RI convened their fourth meeting, and their first meeting since Donald Trump‘s inauguration. From the number of hands that went up when organizer Aaron Regunberg asked, it seems that more than a quarter of those in attendance were first timers. Regunberg is also the State Representative for District 4 in Providence. He opened the meeting explaining that Resist Hate RI was formed to support existing community organizing efforts and catalyze resistance to the Trump Agenda.
Georgia Hollister-Isman, state director of the Working Families Party ran through the number of events and actions that took place since the last meeting. It was a long and impressive list, placing Rhode Island at the leading edge of the resistance.
- “Hundreds of students walked out of High School on inauguration day.
- “7000 people gathered for the RI Women’s March, joining millions world wide.
- “2000 people rallied against the travel ban in less than 24 hours.” (see here and here)
- “1000 people showed up to confront Senator [Sheldon] Whitehouse about his vote for Mike Pompeo and you ask for and get his bolder leadership on the other nominations. And you may or may not know this but video of that event went viral nationally, and in the national media and just the other day was in the New York Times cited as a reason why the entire National Democratic Party has made its stance more bold in Washington.
- “Activists who have never been to the State House before have showed up again and again to kick off efforts to support reproductive rights, to ban conversion therapy (here and here), pass paid sick days, for brand new environmental policies and many other.
- “Dozens of activists have showed up every single Tuesday to visit their federal delegation as part of Resist Trump Tuesdays.” (See: here, here and here)
- “Last Sunday more than 1000 people showed up in a snowstorm to call for resistance from their federal delegation.”
“Donald Trump is still president,” said Hollister-Isman, “But it is so clear that the resistance is alive and well in Rhode Island.”
John McDaid, science fiction writer and RI Future contributor wowed the crowd his “Seegeresque” anti-Trump folk song “That’s Trump.”
Travis Escobar, president of the Millennial Professional Group of Rhode Island (MPGRI) spoke about RI Governor Gina Raimondo’s free college proposal. Escobar recalled two friends, undocumented, who could not go to college because of their status and their financial situation. “They were just as American as you, or myself,” said Escobar.
Students at CCRI, RIC and URI stay in the state, said Escobar. The money spent is an investment in Rhode Island’s future workforce. This keeps the money invested right here in Rhode Island so these students can buy a home, save for their retirement and help their parents.
Jose Batista, an attorney in Providence, spoke against House Bill 5093, what he calls the “anti-Sanctuary” bill. This bill would force state and municipal level law enforcement agencies to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents (ICE) in rounding up the undocumented for detention and deportation.
This bill, as well as supporting Trump’s racist agenda, makes us all less safe, as the undocumented, fearing the police, let crimes go unreported.
Laufton Ascencao, an organizer with the Working Families Party, said that every single weekend, until Trump is out of office, there will be a door knocking campaign in Rhode Island.
Antonio and Charlie are on the outreach committee to people of color. Antonio said that there has been a lot of distrust of white organizing in communities of color. One idea would be to hold the next meeting in South Providence, or somewhere not on the East Side. There is also work being done to create an inclusive mission statement.
“We are planning a restaurant weekend,” said Charlie, “whereby we are all, hopefully every single person in this room, going to go out to a restaurant that is owned by a person of color, or a Muslim resident, or an immigrant family, and we are going to show them that they have our support.
“We are working with the RI Center for Justice to get together a consolidated list of all the different pieces of legislation that are at work in our town and in our state. There are a lot of issues that go through the legislative process, a lot of them are little issues that can make a big deal.
“We are working to make a more direct pipeline between the different organizations in the state.” This will allow volunteers to be mobilized, donations to be collected and protests to be organized at a moment’s notice, for any allied group in the state.
Jennifer Boylan, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America invited people to next Saturday’s Women Empowering Women: A Community Forum on Violence Prevention. There will also be a lobby day on March 15.
Justin Boyan is a Resist Hate RI volunteer. Sunday March 5 at 11am there will be Resist Hate RI leadership team meeting at 118 Gano St.