Representative Aaron Regunberg hosted nearly 1000 people to discuss strategies “of self-defense and liberation under President Trump.” The event, held in the Hope High School cafeteria in Providence, was packed beyond capacity. Hundreds of people sat on the floor or stood in small groups in sometimes heated but always respectful conversation.
The group has a Facebook presence, ResistHateRI.
The discussions centered on how to build community and finding paths forward for individuals interested in getting involved with activist groups to get the support they need to further their goals and protect their gains under a Trump presidency. Participants in the group discussions were asked to make clear personal commitments to what they hope to do over the next months and years.
Three questions were asked:
- We’ve all felt bad this last week. What is one moment or thought in the past few days that has given you some hope?
- What is an issue you are fearful about under the new political leadership, and what is an action you’re willing to take to resist that feared outcome?
- What is a powerful strength you could bring to that fight?
Though there are no clear and obvious answers to these questions- we don’t know exactly what a Trump presidency will look like or which policies will be pursued first- the contours of the resistance are forming.
“I want to talk a little bit about some of the things we need to do to begin the resistance at the federal level,” said Georgia Hollister Isman, executive director of the RI Working Families Party. Sending around contact information for Rhode Island’s delegation to Washington, Hollister Isman began, before being drowned out by applause, “We want to make sure that they know we are expecting them to be leaders resisting the policies of Donald Trump that threaten to undermine…”
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator Jack Reed, Representative David Cicilline and Representative James Langevin need to hear from their constituents early and often. we don’t need people in office who are collaborating against us, we need strong advocates.
Sophia Wright, of DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality), suggested several ways to get involved on the local level. She suggested white people interested in anti-racism contact the White Noise Collective. Also recommended was the Coalition for Safer Rhodes, which is working to get driver’s licenses for all people, regardless of immigration status. The FANG Collective is a place to look for work concerned with the environment, especially around the NoDAPL fight, as well as the NoLNGinPVD campaign.
Representative Regunberg talked about the help he’ll need at the state level to compel the General Assembly and Governor Gina Raimondo to pass the needed legislation that can protect the rights of the most vulnerable populations in the state. Examples Regunberg mentioned include the possibility that labor protections might be gutted, that a Trump led Environmental Protection Agency or Department of Energy might cripple efforts to avert the worst effects of climate change, that ICE deportations might skyrocket, necessitating the re-invention of Rhode Island as a Sanctuary State, guaranteeing universal health care at the state level and ensuring that reproductive rights are protected. Finally, Regunberg presented the idea that our state may need to raise taxes on on the rich to offset the expected tax cuts they will receive federally.
These ideas are all reactive and defensive. Regunberg also wants help to go on the offense, fighting for a $15 minimum wage, paid sick leave and tuition free state college.
Regunberg asked those in attendance to swamp the General Assembly next session, beginning in January, to fight for these issues.
Finally there was Jorge Elorza‘s short list of ideas for action at the city level. See here for a fuller exploration of Elorza’s presentation.
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