Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Not My President's Day Rally

On this President's Day, an estimated fifteen thousand people came to the Not My President's Day rally near the Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle in New York. According to the Facebook event for NYC, 47 thousand people marked themselves as planning to go. There were two dozen sister rallies happening around the country. The fact that this president lost the popular vote cannot be denied. "A lot of people are angry because he lost the popular vote and is ruling like somebody who won by a landslide," Lexell said (from a CNN article here).

One month into the presidency, We the People resist the new administration's executive orders that ban refugees and Muslim immigrants, that dismantle Wall Street regulations and environmental protections. We the People resist attacks on women's rights, LGBTQ rights, free speech and free media. We the People are outraged at the endless conflicts of interest, murky dealings with the Russian government and demand an investigation into the Russian interference in the election. We the People are appalled by the constant lies and the lack of moral integrity... The list just goes on, and on, and on... We the People do not accept the 45th president as legitimate. We the People want him impeached.

See more drawings by my fellow artists for democracy on Instagram @ArtistsForDemocracy

"You're Fired!"
Trump International Hotel and Tower surrounded by the protesters chanting "Not My President".

Central Park West packed with people from Columbus Circle to 68th street
Swarms of cops with batons, unleashed to disperse the rally

A faction of Trump supporters showed up after the sunset - way after the rally was over - to chant "USA! USA!" and to yell over the human wall of police separating the opposing sides "Snowflakes" and "Go Home".  They still believe in "Drain the Swamp" campaign promise, apparently. And...they are, somehow, angry, even though their "beloved" is now in the oval office.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Muslim Solidarity Rally in Times Square

Thousands of people gathered in Times Square last Sunday to say "Today I'm a Muslim Too". It was a beautiful event, with speakers of all creeds - Hindu, Jewish, Christian - who denounced the Muslim Ban and the xenophobic rhetoric of the government. The message was one of unity and equality: "Make America for Everyone". Check out @ArtistsForDemocracy on Instagram to see drawings of this event by my fellow artists.

#resist #nobannowall

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

LGBTQ Solidarity Rally NYC: A Liberal Diversity Blizzard

This past Saturday, February 4th 2017, my fellow @ArtistsForDemocracy and I were at yet another rally, this time in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. All minorities feel threatened under the new administration, and the LGBTQ rights are as fragile as ever. Many of the rally speakers talked about being refugees, persecuted in their native countries for having different gender identities. So their confluence of sexual orientations, gender identities, countries of origin and immigration or refugee statuses made them that much more vulnerable in present-day America. However, Senator Chuck Schumer, Comptroller Scott Stringer and other officials, who attended this rally, repeatedly vowed to keep New York a sanctuary city. The mood at the rally was most positive and optimistic.

Director of NYU Islamic Center started his speech with "Our Jewish Brothers and Sisters..." He condemned the president for omitting Jews in his speech on the Holocaust Remembrance Day. He ended with "You don't have to be Jewish to stand for Jewish rights. You don't have to be a woman to stand for women's rights. You don't have to be gay to stand for gay rights. You don't have to be Muslim to stand for Muslim rights."
Openly gay New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, who had swastikas etched on his house after the appointment of Bannon. The Senator called everyone to text the word "TAXES" to the 41411 number, as a way of casting a vote for disclosure of taxes for presidential candidates.

Portraits of more speakers. One of them is a Jewish gay man who fights for Muslim rights. Oliver from Nigeria, who was persecuted for being a gay activist there, found his refuge in America; he pleaded with us not to preach to the choir, but to those who support Trump.  And another speaker, whose name I, sadly, didn't catch, said that being called a liberal snowflake is appropriate, because no two snowflakes are alike, and together we create a diversity blizzard. I loved that metaphor.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Rally and March for Muslims and Allies in Foley Square

"Human Beings Will Never Be Illegal" 

Rally under the Triumph of the Human Spirit Sculpture in Foley Square.
The Rally for Muslims and Allies, organized by a well-spoken 17-year-old Hebh Jamal (below), had a crowd of more than a thousand tonight. One of the rally speakers pointed out that the resistance movement is the present-day civil rights movement of the young generation. The high-school and college contingent in the crowd represented by loudly cheering. It was awe-some to once again feel the energy of the city - people coming together and rising in peaceful protest. Tomorrow, Yemenese-run bodegas, that comprise 90% of the delis in New York, will show their resistance by shutting down 12pm-8pm. So many gatherings and rallies are happening, basically, every day, that I hope we, the people, don't run out of steam. It's only been 2 weeks of the new administration, but it feels like 10 years.

Hebh Jamal under the Triumph of the Human Spirit Sculpture

"Nothing in the world 
is more dangerous 
than sincere ignorance 
and conscientious stupidity."
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Freedom Tower was in attendance as well.
Marching towards the Immigration Court
Chanting crowd on Broadway
26 Federal Plaza building that houses the Immigration Court.

The great thing is that people - especially young people - are getting involved like never before. Women are running for local governments, volunteering in communities is on the rise, donations are pouring in for advocate groups like ACLU. Below, I'm pasting something that circulated on FB the other day, for posterity.

For everyone who did something, small or big, your efforts have been successful. Because of you:
1. Federal hiring freeze is reversed for VA (Veteran Affairs).
2. Court order Partial Stay of the immigration ban for those with valid visas.
3. Green card holders can get back in country.
4. Uber pledges $3M and immigration lawyers for its drivers after #DeleteUber trends on Twitter.
5. Affordable Care Act enrollment ads are still going to air.
6. The ACLU raised $24 million over the weekend (normally $3-4 million/year).
7. HHS, EPA, USDA gag order lifted.
8. EPA climate data no longer scrubbed from website.
9. More people of different career/religious/economic/race backgrounds are considering running for political office than ever before.
10. MOST importantly, since we live in a participatory democracy, the people are engaged.
While more is needed, sometimes you have to celebrate your wins.
Stay vigilant, but also take self care seriously. Activist burnout is a thing. Marathon, don't sprint.