At the office of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, more than 2,500 demonstrators, most wearing white “We Rise” T-shirts, staged a protest against cuts in Medicaid and other social services. In Albany, N.Y., more than 2,000 people marched to the state capitol to protest education funding cuts. In Denver, dozens of activists came out in support of immigration rights measures, including driver’s licenses for undocumented workers.
These are just a few of the dozens of actions that took place in 16 states today as part of “We Rise: National Day of Action to Put People and Planet First.” Local and national progressive organizations mobilized around different aspects of a common agenda that stood in opposition to the right-wing and corporatist policies pushed through state legislatures in these states. The actions were all broadcast under the Twitter hashtag “#WeRise.”
“What we saw today was a stirring of the democratic spirit,” said Fred Azcarate, Executive Director of USAction. “People are upset at elected officials who spend more time working for big corporations and wealthy campaign donors than representing the people they were elected to serve. Today, people rose up to reclaim government and demand that legislators work for them and their families.”
The states where We Rise demonstrations were organized also include Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The events were led by groups affiliated with National People’s Action, Center for Popular Democracy, USAction, and other allies.
“Apparently conservatives believe they have a mandate to give big corporations another free ride on the backs of everyday people,” said George Goehl, Executive Director of National People’s Action. “But they’re wrong. They have no such mandate. Instead, as we can see in the resistance to draconian policy or Chuy Garcia’s campaign to unseat Rahm Emanuel as Mayor of Chicago, there is a new brand of populism taking root in America. People are fed up with politicians doing the bidding of big money. They’re ready for leaders who will work for, not against, people and the planet.”
“Politicians working primarily on behalf of big corporations are making it harder and harder for families to get by,” said Ana María Archila, Co-Executive Director of The Center for Popular Democracy. “Our families won’t stand for this, and today thousands of workers and families raised our voices in state houses across the country to demand that elected officials join us in leveling the playing field so that each and every family can thrive.”
The Campaign for America’s Future is working with two of the organizations behind today’s “We Rise” events, National People’s Action and USAction, in sponsoring the “Populism2015” conference in April, along with the Alliance for a Just Society. One goal of that conference is to build political momentum from today’s events around a populist progressive agenda “for people and the planet.” Register for the April 18-20 conference in Washington through the Populism2015 website.