Protections for Trans Students Rescinded – Call Your State Reps

Our new affiliate, TX Lege Indivisible, has a writeup on Trump’s overturning of transgender student protections and what you can do about it.

On Wednesday the Trump administration announced that it would be rescinding federal rules that simply allowed transgender students to use the bathroom that they choose.

So what does this announcement mean? It means that the issue is pushed back to the states, squarely into the court of Dan Patrick and Texas leaders at the local level, which is where lawsuits will likely begin.

So what are we going to do? There’s an excellent discussion of the brass-tacks way forward at the local-level here, but to summarize, this is going to require a lot of pressure on local and state lawmakers. In Texas, we can start by calling our state reps and demanding that they oppose #SB6. Aside from being needlessly cruel, there’s just no reason for it.

Read the whole thing here.

Governor Abbott’s Cruelty Will Be His Undoing

Authoritarian regimes succeed only when there are enough lackeys willing to brutalize their fellow citizens on behalf of the autocracy. These lackeys do it without being told, and they do it with zeal.

One such lackey is Gov. Greg Abbott, whose fealty to Trump is painfully evident in the case of a Tarrant County, Texas, woman named Maria Ortega, who was sentenced to eight years in prison for voter fraud.

Ortega, a mother of four who has lived in Texas since infancy, is a U.S permanent resident. In other words, she is here legally, with a Green Card. Although Green Card-holders are prohibited from voting, Ortega voted (for Mitt Romney) in the 2012 election, and has said that she misunderstood the rules for voter registration and voting as a legal permanent resident. When the Tarrant County election office discovered she was not a citizen, and that she had voted in previous elections, they filed charges.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, for whom Ortega also voted, offered to dismiss the charges. In normal times, the charges would have been dismissed, or at worst Ortega would have been sentenced to probation.

But these are not normal times.

Tarrant County Attorney General Sharen Wilson disregarded Paxton’s offer and took the case to trial. A jury convicted Ortega of felony voter fraud and sentenced her to eight years. (It’s confusing, but in this case the jury, not the judge, determined the sentence. See first paragraph about lackeys.)

This injustice would have gone largely unnoticed had Trump not brought voter fraud into the national spotlight, and had Gov. Abbott not amplified it.

Our governor is gloating about separating a mother from her children for eight years. She will be in prison and then deported. There is no planet on which this punishment fits the crime, and our governor seems delighted about it.

Side note: The voting rights of Green Card-holders are not exactly clear. In fact, these are Google’s “instant results” for “Can you vote with a green card?”

This is clear as mud. Ortega voted in a state election, which this definition from Legal Zoom makes seem legal. But it’s not!

Whether or not Ortega knew she was repeatedly breaking the law by voting, eight years is an insane prison sentence.

So what can we do?

For Ortega: Probably not much, although watch this space for any updates.

But we are Indivisible and you know what that means…

If you live in Tarrant County

Call Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson at (817) 884-1400 and ask why she decided to move this case to trial when Ken Paxton offered to dismiss charges. Ask if eight years seems like a fair sentence. Also: The DA in Tarrant County is an elected office and in 2015 Wilson ran unopposed in the general election. (Please do not call if you are not a Tarrant County resident.)

If you live in Texas

Call Gov. Greg Abbott and ask him whether eight years in prison is a reasonable term for a mother of four who simply…voted when she wasn’t supposed to. Ask him if he’s ever made a mistake, and how he’d feel to have his family torn asunder over something so minor. Rapists and murderers do less than eight years. And when it comes time to for you to vote, remember Maria Ortega’s name.

If you live outside of Texas

Consider donating to the Women’s Storybook Project of Texas, which connects incarcerated mothers to their children through literature.

SB4 “Sanctuary Cities” Update

Short version:

This is an URGENT call to action. Call, email, fax, tweet at, and post on Facebook to your state senators, tell them you oppose Senate Bill 4, and urge them to vote against it. The bill aims to eliminate so-called sanctuary cities and counties, where local officials decline to participate in federal immigration enforcement efforts. Essentially, this bill turns local law enforcement into a deportation force. Want to fight Trump’s agenda of hate? In Texas, this is where the fight is.

Use this tool to find out who represents you in each district

Longer version:

On February 2, despite 16 hours of overwhelming public testimony against the bill, the Texas Senate State Affairs committee provisionally approved the bill in a 7-2 party line vote, sending it to the full Senate for a vote next week.

Of course, Trump exploited a myth of “immigrant criminals” to fire up his base, and this is key to the GOP’s narrative. More Mexicans are leaving the U.S. than coming.

Abbott is trying to sell this bill as being “in the interest of keeping Texans safe.” This is absurd.

Sanctuary cities that may choose to house refugees are not providing safe haven for Trump’s imaginary criminals. These are women and children fleeing abusive relationships who want a better life for their children. These are college students. 

Essentially, what this bill does, is turn local law enforcement into a deportation force, and it will affect folks who just want to meaningfully contribute.

From the Statesman:

“Under the bill, police chiefs and sheriffs would be prohibited from discouraging officers from inquiring about subjects’ immigration status, county jails would be forced to cooperate with federal requests to extend the detention of inmates suspected of immigration violations, victims of crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants in sanctuary jurisdictions could sue local governments, and the state would withhold grant money from local jurisdictions that don’t comply with the bill.”

Senate Bill 4 is Governor Greg Abbott’s way of trying to stir up his base, by riding the wave of anti-immigrant, racist xenophobia Donald Trump has made central to his brand of hateful, cowardly fear-mongering.  Essentially, it is an attempt to punish any city for failing to cooperate in mass deportations. The bill cuts state criminal justice grants, money that funds services for veterans, parents struggling with drug addiction and victims of family violence.

Aside from being wrong-headed and needless, the kind of aggressive deportation Abbott proposes would absolutely wreck the state economy. Agriculture, construction and biotech, all crucial to the state economy, rely on immigrant labor.

In Texas, it’s crucial that we bring the fight against hatred into our local and state government races. Together we can turn the tide.

Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick are trying to jam this measure through, so we have to act, NOW.

If you’re not sure who represents you, use this tool.

Get your state senator’s info. Call, fax, Facebook, and Tweet at them to oppose Senate Bill 4. If you call their office and they oppose Senate Bill 4, then voice your support. They need to hear from you as well.

Use social media over the weekend. These are the hashtags to target: #SB4Bad4TX, #stopSB4, #noSB4, #txlege and #NoBanNoWall.

The senators listed below are those who have publicly voiced their support for this bill.

Senate District 5, Charles Schwertner

(512) 463-0105
(512) 863-8456 

Senate District 28, Charles Perry (rep who introduced the bill)

(512) 463-0128
(806) 783-9934
 
Senate District 24, Dawn Buckingham

(512) 463-0124

Senate District 67, Jeff Leach

(512) 463-0544
(972)424-1419

Senate District 1, Bryan Hughes

(903) 753-8137

Texas Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick 
512-463-0001

Texas Committee on State Affairs
(512) 463-0380

I’m sure you’re aware of the concept of sanctuary cities, but in case you need some more background info on how this is playing out here, here you go.

So here’s what we’re going to do:

Call their district and Austin offices and voice your opposition to Senate Bill 4. Demand that he do the same. Tell everyone in your group to do this. It’s critical that these representatives hear that their constituents do not want this bill to pass.

If it’s helpful, I’ve included a script you can use here:

“Hi, my name is _________ and I’m calling to urge _________ to go on the record and reject Senate Bill 4. This bill will only increase mistrust in law enforcement, and will do nothing to actually keep us safe. The research shows that legislation like State Bill 4 only drives undocumented crime victims and witnesses into the shadows. Governor Abbott’s introduction of this bill in the legislature at this moment is a cowardly, overt attempt at capitalizing on the wave of anti-immigrant sentiment that Donald Trump exploited during his campaign. But that doesn’t have any place in Texas. We, the voters, won’t forget ______ position on this matter, and urge him to get on the right side of history, or we will be voting him out of office when he seeks re-election in 2019.”

Hammer these representatives on their social media channels, Facebook and Twitter. Be unrelenting. Remind them that their support of this bill cuts funding for veterans, that there’s no data to support the claim that it makes us “safer” (in fact it may be the opposite), and that women, children and college students will be affected, not blood-thirsty criminals. Feel free to link to the articles in this post. Get the message out there. Many of these GOP Senators claim to be Christians. I can’t think of anything more uncharitable than using a militarized police force to deport hard-working families. Remind them of that.

In addition to calling, Facebooking, and tweeting, we are going to FAX their offices our opposition, using Faxzero.com or Freefax.com.

Whether or not you’re in Travis County, voice your support for Sheriff Sally Hernandez for standing up for what’s right. She’s on Twitter @SallyTCSheriff.

The same goes for  Judge Sarah Eckhardt. She’s taking a public stand against Greg Abbott. She’s on Twitter @JudgeEckhardt.

I’m going out on a limb here, and this may be the hardest part. Speak with 4 people you see in your daily life *in person* about this. This can be delicate, awkward, and uncomfortable.But it’s important that these issues are brought out into the open. Politely skirting the issue of institutional racism (which is what this Bill is) and hoping that people put it together on their own will only strengthens our opponents, who will capitalize on their base’s ignorance of the facts.

This can be especially hard in places like rural areas like Senate District 5, which comprises Limestone, Robertson, Milam, Grimes and Walker counties–places where access to education and healthcare is scarce, places where economic opportunities are dwindling, and because of that, Trump’s populist message hit home.

My dad is from Limestone county–the tiny, one-stoplight Groesbeck–and I’ve spent time there my whole life. As tough as it might seem to fight to change how these people vote, the reality is that they are, for the most part, hard-working, decent people, who just want what everyone wants: what they perceive as a better life.

Trump promised them the moon. He’s now showing us what the actual substance of that promise really looks like: tax cuts for millionaires, tax increase for the middle class, no healthcare, and a kleptocracy on a scale unseen in our time, where corrupt billionaires will grow incalculably richer. The perversity of all of this, of course, is that Trump’s propaganda machine exists to convince these voters to vote against their own self-interest.

Making matters worse, America’s democratic institutions are under constant attack, by a white supremacist heading up the NSC in Stephen Bannon, a conspiracy-minded National Security advisor in Mike Flynn, a racist in Stephen Miller–this is less a presidential administration and more like an autocratic, 3rd-world, white-supremacist regime.

Amazingly, their work is made easier by buildings full of Internet trolls, waves of fake Twitter accounts the GOP uses to amplify their message, fake news opportunists who learned how to generate click-ad revenue, and a few highly visible “fashionably racist” alt-right celebrities using their platforms to spread fear and encourage open bigotry. The official state news channel of the Trump administration, Fox News, is how many of the people in this district are going to be getting their info.

But the inauguration drove a crucial concept home: bots don’t fill bleachers. The Women’s March, where millions of people flooded the streets after a volunteer started a Facebook group, only made this all the more clear. We have the mandate.

So talk to people in person. See what they have to say. If you’re discussing sanctuary cities, let them know that huge amounts of research have gone into this, and that in fact sanctuary cities are safer than comparable non-sanctuary cities. This bill, frankly, is unnecessary. It’s political grandstanding. Let’s do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t pass the State Senate next week.

This is a key moment in history. People who hide from this fight will be remembered as cowards. The people who are now actively embracing Trump’s brand of racist fear-mongering will be remembered as much, much worse.

Thank you for standing up for what’s right.

M.O.

P.S. I’m not on Facebook, so there are many Indivisible Groups whom I can’t reach directly. Please help me get the message out to them.

Use the Indivisible guide’s map tool to find other groups and let’s put up a united front.

Additional info here:

http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/01/29/512002076/why-sanctuary-cities-are-safer

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/sanctuary-cities-public-safety-kate-steinle-san-francisco

http://www.citylab.com/crime/2017/01/sanctuary-cities-are-safer-and-more-productive/514508/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/01/27/trump-says-sanctuary-cities-are-hotbeds-of-crime-data-say-the-opposite/?utm_term=.244664116ffb

http://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/Gov-Abbott-cuts-criminal-justice-grants-to-10901849.php

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/we-cannot-afford-to-make-our-community-less-safe-by-driving-people-into-the-shadows/2017/02/02/f14ed2d6-e5ac-11e6-ba11-63c4b4fb5a63_story.html?utm_term=.c71df9dbbd15

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/texas-governor-pulls-millions-in-state-grant-money-from-sanctuary-county/

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/will-ban-sanctuary-cities-make-texas-safer/JEE1OafJRmrb3swwH8ktcI/

How to Help: Active Immigrations and Custom Enforcement Ops in Travis County

Through attorneys in the Austin immigrant rights community, we’ve learned that there appears to be an active ICE operation in Travis County right now. According to our sources, ICE is lodging detainers for any foreign-born person in a county jail. We understand that those with criminal warrants and outstanding orders for removal are being specifically targeted.

The news is unnerving, and also frustrating because non-lawyer types are powerless to do much besides share information. But sharing that information can help people make plans and find help before they need it.

The links below have resources in multiple languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Arabic. Please share them with your networks.

From the Austin Commission on Immigrant Affairs:

“It likely that we will see and can expect a change in how immigration enforcement occurs in our communities. Thus more people may find themselves facing enforcement actions. In preparation for that, the following materials should be distributed widely to people who are concerned about increased immigration enforcement.”

Know Your Rights! Protect Yourself Against Immigration Raids- United We Dream

Know Your Rights- National Immigration Law Center

Additional Resources are: 

Linea de Defensa Comunitaria (512-270-1515)
Deportation crisis hotline for Spanish or English speaking clients. We can help people find loved ones in detention centers/county jails, connect to attorneys, find basic needs financial, food, etc. support, engage with a supportive community of others impacted, and access mental health care. Also seeking bilingual crisis hotline volunteers. Training provided.

Family Safety Planning ToolkitFormulario de Planificacion Familiar:

This PDF toolkit, available in English and Spanish, was developed by the Immigrant Services Network of Austin to assist individuals and families with preparing to respond effectively in the event of raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The goals of the toolkit are to educate immigrants about their rights, and to assist individuals and families with an emergency plan for their household.

#KnowYourRights

Jeff Sessions Update

Many of you may be aware that Jeff Sessions—Donald Trump’s pick for Attorney General– displays a willful blindness’ on voting rights , civil rights, conflict of interest laws, and on the fact that a foreign adversary interfered in our democratic elections to get a billionaire con man elected. He should absolutely not have been nominated for Attorney General, and the fact that he may be confirmed by the Senate poses a serious threat to the future of our democracy. With Trump’s pernicious, debunked, racist claim of “massive voter fraud”. Sessions will be directed to suppress votes on a massive scale. It’s that bad.

Most of you are also probably aware that President Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates Monday night for defying the President’s un-Constitutional and ludicrous executive order, entitled “PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES”. The order bans 12% of the world’s Muslims from entering the country, so while many refer to it as “a travel ban”  or an “immigration ban”, I refer to it as a “Muslim ban”, because that’s what it is.

The order was authored by Steve Bannon with no oversight or input from the counterintelligence community, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, or any other regulatory body. Bannon is a white supremacist who has usurped his way to a massively influential role on the National Security Council and provides the philosophical underpinning for this regime. The aim of this executive order is to incite further Islamophobia and discrimination. It’s being sold to the Republican base, unconvincingly, under the guise of “strengthening national security”. This is a farcical lie.

Yates was a holdover from the Obama administration, and while Trump’s ban is morally outrageous and unconstitutional, it’s unsurprising that Trump made this move and installed an acting AG who would sign off on the order.

In this context, it is even more important that all efforts possible be made for the Senate to either a) stop the nomination of Jeff Sessions, or b) call for a delay and that a new confirmation hearing be held in light of this executive order.

The Muslim ban violates the Constitution, and it will be the attorney general’s job to tell the President when he is breaking the law. This is already happening of course, as President Trump is clearly in violation of the Emoluments clause of the Constitution and is using the office of the Presidency for personal enrichment and accepting bribes on a massive scale. It’s the kind of overt corruption we’d expect from a third-world strongman, not the President of the United States, but here we are.

The Attorney General is the highest sitting judge who can sign FISA warrants, which would mean that if Sessions is confirmed the investigation into Russian interference in our election will most likely just go away.

Making matters worse is the fact that  both Ted Cruz and John Cornyn sold their souls for a seat at Trump’s table. We don’t need to rehash that here. These Senators and (their Republican counterparts in the House of Representatives) are happy to parrot their approval for this administration’s policies, no matter how racist, needless and un-American that policy may be. Needless to say, these are not friends of the cause.

I’m going to argue that even though that may be true, we need to DOUBLE DOWN here in Texas. Here’s what I propose:

1. Text your ZIP code to 520-200-2223 and you’ll get a text back with their district and DC office numbers, so you can keep them on speed dial.

2. Focus your energy on calling Senate staffers and voicing your opposition for now, at least until we know what’s happening with the Sessions confirmation vote. Call your senators’ offices and demand that they oppose Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. If it’s busy or they duck calls, keep trying.

3. Remind the Senate staffers millions of American voters will NEVER forget that they took this position, and that history will not judge them kindly.

4. Talk to 4 people a day about what’s happening to our democratic norms. Let those folks know that this is not Republican vs Democrat–this is a fight for the soul of our country.

5. Contact your Representatives. Remind the staffers that the huge majority of American voters did not vote for Donald Trump, and that even more voters than that have now been electrified by the sheer injustice of Donald Trump’s executive orders. Senate and congressional staffers get paid pretty well. If they and their bosses want to keep their jobs and their perks, the only possible remedy for us is to publicly denounce Jeff Sessions as a pick for Attorney General.

6. Show your support for Congressman Lloyd Doggett. He’s in Washington now, participating in active protests and . Let him know we’ve got his back. He needs to hear that we support obstruction and filibuster. Conciliation is over. The goal is to throw sand in the gears of everything at every turn.
7. Reach out to Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s staff. He has intimated that he may challenge Ted Cruz for his seat in 2018. If that’s the case, remain open to ideas for how best to to remove Cruz from office.

8. Use Open Secrets. It’s time for these guys to know that we know how much money they’re getting, and from whom.

These are the Representatives in the house who (thanks to gerrymandering) represent Austin.

10th District: Michael McCaul
https://mccaul.house.gov/contact

17th District: Bill Flores
http://flores.house.gov/contact/

21st District: Lamar Smith
https://lamarsmith.house.gov/contact/offices/austin-district-office

25th District: Roger Williams
https://williams.house.gov/

35th District: Lloyd Doggett
https://doggett.house.gov/contact

Finally, here’s a tool that 538 is using to track how Representatives and Congress members are falling in line with Trump:
https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/congress-trump-score/

Emergency Texas #MuslimBan Actions

This post will be updated as we get more information. Here is what we know so far:

Austin Airport: Protest planned for 2 p.m. Meet downstairs in front of the garage at the arrival terminal.
https://www.facebook.com/events/760757904100266/

Houston Airport: Protests began at 1 p.m. at Discovery Green
https://www.facebook.com/events/386770058353091/

Rally Against Hate at 5 p.m. – Terminal E
https://www.facebook.com/events/1675293846102406/

San Antonio Airport: Protests began at noon today in Terminal A, baggage claim, and are still ongoing.

DFW: Protests began last nigh and continue. People are still detained.

Tuesday is Texas Muslim Capitol Day

***Please see this post to for details on how to be a peaceful supporter for this event on Tuesday***

___

Y’all, I missed a lot of the news yesterday and this morning I was struggling to believe what I was reading.

I don’t know why I was surprised. When an autocrat tells you something, believe him.

Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization. This will happen often: humans seem to have evolved to practice denial when confronted publicly with the unacceptable. – Masha Gessen, Autocracy: Rules for Survival

About 10 days ago Texas state Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R- New Braunfels) sent a letter to Muslim organizations across Texas demanding they fill out a poll about their beliefs. He followed it up with a forum on Thursday at the State Capitol called “Defending Against Radical Islamic Terrorism in Texas,” which featured controversial speakers, some of whom claim that Texas Muslims want to overthrow our government and institute sharia law, and that they have, “a different methodology for the destruction of Western civilization…”

All of this was leading up to Texas Muslim Capitol Day on Tuesday, January 31. It’s a citizen lobby and advocacy day that happens every legislative session, and many religious groups have similar lobby days throughout the session. In recent years the event has drawn nasty and angry protests and reactions from lawmakers.

In 2015, then-Representative Molly White (R- Belton), who was not re-elected, demanded that any Muslims who came to her office recite an oath of loyalty before her staff would speak to them. She also, weirdly, left an Israeli flag on her desk. Participants in the lobby day, including school kids,  were verbally harassed and spat at.

This year’s lobby day is happening in what is probably the most hostile climate for Texas Muslims since 2001. A couple weeks ago the Islamic Center of Lake Travis’ under-construction mosque burned. Last night the Victoria Islamic Center’s mosque burned.

On Tuesday at 9 a.m. there is an opportunity to show up and stand with Texas Muslims who are engaging in participatory democracy. “Peaceful protectors” will gather to create a buffer zone between the event’s participants during their morning program on the Capitol steps, and the counter protesters. Texas Muslim Capitol Day organizers hope to get at least 200 people as Peace Observers. Representatives organized by Rep. Celia Israel and other faith leaders are expected to join in the protective action.

This is a chance to stand, indivisible, with Texans whose rights are under attack.

CALL TO ACTION: Peaceful Protectors at Texas Muslim Capitol Day

On Tuesday January 31 at 9 a.m. there is an opportunity to show up and stand with Texas Muslims who are engaging in participatory democracy. This call to action is unique–this is not an “Indivisible” action or protest or rally. It’s a call to stand with marginalized members of our community as they engage in our democratic process.

BACKGROUND:

Texas Muslim Capitol Day is a biennial citizen lobby day taking place at the Capitol. This year’s lobby day is happening in what is probably the most hostile climate for Texas Muslims since 2001.

“Peaceful protectors” will gather to create a buffer zone between the event’s participants and the expected counter protesters during their morning program on the Capitol steps. Representatives organized by Rep. Celia Israel and other faith leaders are expected to join in the protective action.

This is a chance to stand, indivisible, with Texans whose rights are under attack.

From the organizers:

Code Of Conduct –

#1 DO NOT ENGAGE PROTESTERS – This is literally and figuratively the #1 rule. We are not there to engage, debate, one-up etc. We are there to form a human chain and act as a barrier. Any communication that might possibly need to happen between Peace Observers and Protesters will be handled by designated liasons.

#2 Remember that you are indirectly representative of the event and the community taking part – We are standing in solidarity with a marginalized community and thus we are not acting as individuals and we must consider the way our behavior could reflect on the people with whom we want to show solidarity.

#3 DO NOT ENGAGE PROTESTERS

#4 Keeping #2 in mind, even amongst each other, please keep language, gestures, etc G-rated.

#5 DO NOT ENGAGE PROTESTERS

#6 Keeping #2 in mind, please wear clothing with only G-rated messages (or no messages, obviously.)

#7 DO NOT ENGAGE PROTESTERS

#8 Do not bring signs, banners, flags, etc. – This is NOT a counter protest.

#9 DO NOT ENGAGE PROTESTERS

FAQ:

Q: What time do we meet up?

A: 9 a.m. in front of the Capitol (south steps). The morning program will end before lunch.

Q: Is there anything else I can do?

A: Nope! Just invite people to help and show up. Keep it simple.

Texas Muslim Capitol Day on Facebook

VIDEO: TX Lege Town Hall Turns Heated Over Bathroom Bill

Well, last night was a first for me.

Coppell Town Hall Turns Heated
Coppell Town Hall Turns Heated

After being allowed to leave work a little early, I decided to meet some fellow Indivisible Group members at a town hall meeting in the city of Coppell, a suburb of Dallas, to hear and talk with some local representatives. The scheduled guests were State Representatives Matt Rinaldi and Ron Simmons, and State Senator Don Huffines. As it turned out, Huffines had a previous commitment and was unable to show.

The reason I wanted to attend was to voice my concern for SB6 (nicknamed the Texas Bathroom Bill). I did this as a citizen of Dallas, Texas who loves his state and not as a paid protester, as some might falsely claim. Before I had a chance to ask my question and give the representatives my views of the bill, several other people had already gone and made solid arguments. My opinion is based on what we have seen happen in North Carolina, that it could easily cost the state hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars annually.

When I had my chance to speak, it became clear that Rinaldi did not share my concerns.

In his introduction speech, Rinaldi said he was there to listen to the questions AND concerns of the citizens but instead, brushed them off as nonsense from the get-go if he disagreed with his constituents. One lady whom I had never met was almost brought to tears at one point when talking passionately about how the School Choice bill would affect her children and family.

The representatives seemed to forget that the meeting (which was held in a public space at Coppell City Hall) was open to the public and that there were no time limits or guidelines given for how the open-mic, question-and-answer portion of the evening would be handled. I watched as one-by-one citizens were cut off early or asked to hurry up or to please sit down when it was clear that the representatives there had no good answer for the people who wanted to voice their concerns for their state.

When I got up, I made sure to mention facts. I pulled stats from a 25-page study by the Texas Association of Business (PDF), including that it could easily cost the state 185,000 jobs and cost the state $8.5 billion annually. Rinaldi responded by starting off, “Well, if you actually read the bill…” As far as I am aware, we were both adults trying to have a productive back-and-forth, but his dismissive response made it clear that he didn’t regard me as an adult at all. Which is concerning to say the least.

During my short time at the mic, I also relayed how this will affect a very close friend of mine, something that was met with very mixed reactions from the crowd and most likely gave me the label of “snowflake.” I guess when life hands you snowflakes, make some snowballs.

Before I was able to finish my full statement and respond to Rinaldi’s mischaracterization of the study and the facts supporting it, the mic was aggressively removed from my hand by one of the event organizers.

I find it highly unfortunate that elected officials are so quick to disregard the concerns of the citizens once they find out that those citizens don’t agree with them.

A friend of mine often says:
“Be kind. Be brave.”

I would add:
Be steadfast.

It’s a fine day to resist!

Join IndivisibleATX  TODAY to raise your voice and tell the world that you will not sit down, you will not be silent, you will not stand by while our democracy is destroyed and our people enslaved by poverty, lack of education, and misinformation. 

ONE RESISTANCE INAUGURATION PROTEST MARCH

IndivisibleATX will be joining many other organizations and individuals for a peaceful march on the State Capitol to protest Donald Trump’s politics of fear and hate and to rally for civil rights, immigrants’ rights, reproductive rights, our environment, good jobs, as well as justice and safety in all of our communities. The marchers will gather at Auditorium Shores and march up Congress Ave. to the State Capitol.

WHEN: Friday, January 20, 5 p.m.

WHERE TO MEET:

IndivisibleATX members will gather in front of the box office at the Long Center at 5 p.m., then walk together across the street to Auditorium Shores where we will join the other marchers. Look for signs that say #RESIST and#INDIVISIBLEATX.

WHAT TO WEAR:

  • Good shoes!
  • Layers — this is Texas, so who knows how warm/cool it will be
  • Many will be wearing Indivisible ATX/#RESIST  t-shirts. You can make your own! Black t-shirts are about $3.99 and $.099 for white fabric paint, and a little more for iron-on transfers, at Michael’s … if you’re not crafty, consider wearing black & white to show IATX solidarity. But remember, what you wear isn’t important — BEING THERE is!

WHAT TO BRING:

  • Noisemakers  such musical instruments, percussion instruments (homemade is fine!), kazoos, whistles, bullhorns etc.
  • Signs
  • Fanny pack with water and other necessities
  • Copy of protest song lyrics, which you can find here
  • A flashlight!

CHECKLIST FOR RALLY SAFETY ITEMS:

  • Photo ID
  • Charged cell phone with fingerprint disabled; pass code enabled
  • Sharpie to write important phone numbers on your arms
  • Numbers of National Lawyers’ Guild and someone who is at home & can come to police station/hospital
  • Quarters for public phones
  • Medications you have to have
  • Comfortable clothes you can stay in for a long time (layers, no belts or shoes with laces)

IATX and (hopefully) other Indivisible folks from around the state will meet briefly in front of the box office at the Long Center, right across the street from Auditorium Shores. We will meet-and-greet and learn a couple of protest songs, review some safety tips, then head over to join the main group. We are here to support the cause, but it doesn’t hurt to raise visibility for our group, so let’s march as a group!

IS IT FAMILY FRIENDLY?’

Yes!

CAN I RSVP?

Yes! If you’re on FB, please RSVP to our event here

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Go here.