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Category: Austin

A Message From Texas: When The Left Fights Together, We Win!

Posted in Act Out!, Austin, Creative Commons, Journalism, and Video

With all the leftist bickering, in-fighting, both-siding, my anti-war prayers are bigger than yours bullshit, it seemed like a good time to highlight a leftist success story — particularly as it takes place in a bastion of right wingdom and frequent contributor and gonzo journalist Kit O’Connell was there to document it.

So yes — the Lone Star State is perhaps the last place where many of us would expect to see a broad coalition of left leaning groups successfully fight off the hateful Republican agenda. But that’s what just happened during a recent “special session” of the Texas legislature.

Special sessions are a loophole written into the Texas Constitution to allow the state government to conduct emergency business, but in this case the only emergency was that Gov. Greg Abbott had failed to oppress transgender people by passing a version of the so-called “bathroom bill” during the first part of the year. The Governor drew up a 20-point plan of hate for his month-long session, ranging from an attack on public workers’ unions, a pile of new restrictions on abortion, the bathroom bill, and even a bill that undermined the ability of cities to collect taxes to fund social services.

Then, to the surprise of even the people involved in the organizing to resist Abbott, activists working together across issues managed to fight off all but a handful of Abbott’s proposals, in an extraordinary display of the effectiveness of intersectional activism against seemingly insurmountable odds. At a time when some of our fundamental rights are under attack, the success of activists in one of the most politically conservative of states should give us all renewed faith in the power of movement building.

What Are The Antifa Doing After Harvey? (#GonzoNotes)

Posted in Austin, Creative Commons, Gonzo Notes, Journalism, and Occupy Wall Street

Recently I heard from a reporter writing an article for a major mainstream newspaper who wanted to talk with antifascists. After checking out his Twitter, I decided to give him a shot. 

We spent about an hour talking about my work with Oh Shit! What Now? an antifascist anticapitalist educational collective that’s hosted everything from computer security classes to discussions of education reform. I stressed the everyday nature of real antifascist organizing, and emphasized that all of us are involved in other social justice causes. 

When the article came out — actually an opinion piece, it turned out — it was a horrorshow of predictable hot takes about antifa that ignored nearly everything I told him, and most of the other constructive work being done by antifascists around the country. 

‘Beyond Movement Silos’: How Advocates Are Showing Up For Those In The Texas Legislature’s Crosshairs

Posted in Austin, Journalism, and Rewire

The halls of the Texas State Capitol are no strangers to protests, but for organizers witnessing a resurgence of grassroots advocacy and activism, it’s a heartening sign after a series of discouraging years.

Thousands joined the 2013 “people’s filibuster” against HB 2, the omnibus anti-choice bill that eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but then momentum faltered with the defeat of Wendy Davis (and other Democratic candidates) in the 2014 election, followed by more setbacks in the intervening years of elections and Republican-led legislative sessions.

After the 2017 legislative session, Texas Republicans ensured that crucial funding bills remained unpassed, forcing lawmakers to return for a special session that costs taxpayers thousands of dollars per day. The Republicans hope to use this opportunity to build on new restrictions on abortion and a “Show Us Your Papers” anti-immigrants’ rights law, both subject to ongoing lawsuits, while forcing through unpopular and discriminatory legislation that failed to pass during the regular term.

‘An Unjust Law Is No Law At All’: Philadelphia Councilperson Helen Gym On Immigration & Texas Bill SB4

Posted in Austin, Creative Commons, Journalism, and Video

Helen Gym, vice-chair of Local Progress, a nonprofit representing progressive elected officials from around the United States, and a member of the Philadelphia City Council, spoke to a crowd of activists and other elected officials at the Texas Legislature on July 28, 2017. The rally gathered in opposition to SB4, the recently signed law which would overrule local protections on undocumented immigrants and force law enforcement officials to actively participate in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions. It’s been compared to a “supercharged” version of Arizona’s infamous “Show Us Your Papers” law.

Over 150 elected officials signed off on a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott opposing the law.  In her speech, Gym compared SB4 to similar bills that have been introduced in other parts of the country.

Jose Garza Of Workers Defense Project: Immigrants Rights Movement A ‘Powder Keg’ With A Burning Fuse (VIDEO)

Posted in Austin, Creative Commons, Journalism, and Video

On July 28, 2017, activists rallied at the Texas Capitol in opposition to SB4, the “Show Us Your Papers” / anti-sanctuary cities bill passed during the recently completed legislative session, and currently facing a lawsuit backed by the majority of Texas’ major municipalities. The event was organized by Local Progress, a nonprofit representing progressive elected officials from around the United States, and over 150 elected officials have now signed off on a letter opposing the anti-immigrant law. Many of these officials were present during the rally.

In this video, Jose P. Garza, executive director at Workers’ Defense Project, explains how his organization encouraged Austin City Council members and other local officials to come out in opposition to the law, and he issues a warning to Gov. Greg Abbott:

Texas Legislature Special Session, Activism & Respect For Politicians (Black Tower Radio)

Posted in Audio, Austin, Gonzo Notes, and Journalism

On the first Wednesday of every month, I appear on Black Tower Radio to discuss my latest journalism.

Texas Republicans ensured that the legislature would close earlier this year with crucial business unfinished, forcing Gov. Greg Abbott to call for a special session that reopens the door to unpopular issues like new abortion restrictions, attacks on transgender rights, and even new laws restricting unions, Planned Parenthood, and the protection of historic trees.

Also, what respect do we owe politicians and government officials? What kinds of activism are appropriate when human lives and the planet are at stake?

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