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Tag: human rights

Activists Beat Texas GOP With Social Media & Old-School Resistance Tactics

Posted in Austin, Creative Commons, Journalism, and Yes! Magazine

Who could resist images of smiling children gathered under an ancient oak tree on the grounds of the Texas Capitol, transfixed by Democrat and Republican lawmakers doing a tag-team recitation of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax?

Apparently not the good folks of Texas.

A broad coalition of environmental activists employed just such a strategy during a special session of the Texas Legislature this summer as a way of stealing the spotlight and defeating a bill meant to strip municipalities of their power to protect historic trees.

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.

‘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.

Do We Owe Politicians Our Respect? (Respect Is Earned #GonzoNotes)

Posted in Creative Commons, Gonzo Notes, and Journalism

If they won’t let us dream, we won’t let them sleep

Time and again, one of the resounding criticisms of activist movements from the right and from the center-left is our lack of decorum.

While we sometimes acknowledge that acts of resistance can be effective, we’ve sanded all the rough edges off of our memories of these moments. Frequently cited are the successes of the Black Civil Rights movement, but in the popular imagination their victories were won by respectful, soft-spoken men and women dressed in suits, calmly advocating for their rights.

Using Able-Bodied Privilege To Defend Healthcare & Human Rights

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

They’re loud, they’re fierce, and they’d rather risk death than see their — and your — health care get cut.

You’ve probably seen stories about protesters torn from their wheelchairs as they shut down Senators’ offices, resisting the devastating new Republican “health care” plan that would push even more people into ill health, bankruptcy and death.

To give you a rough idea of how many — there are currently about 29 million people uninsured under the ACA — although many who are insured still suffer from the economic burdens of trying to stay alive. That number may drop a bit by 2026 but under the proposed AHCA, revised or not, more than 50 million people would be uninsured. And we’ll get to what third option would leave no one insured but first, let’s circle back to these protests.

Organized under the hashtag #ADAPTandResist, they have spread across the U.S., from Capitol Hill to legislator’s offices around the country. We’ve all been justifiably horrified to see people defending their right to health care literally dragged to jail, and sometimes bloodied in the process. But as with anyone who places their body squarely in the path of the powers that be, these protesters don’t want our pity, they want our solidarity — because this is a struggle we should all take part in.

They also aren’t new to this struggle either — actually, disability rights advocates from groups like ADAPT are some of the fiercest, and most effective activists around, and they’ve literally transformed the world you live in, to everyone’s benefit.

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