SURJ Call against Trump, Racism and Hate
March 22, 2016
Thank you to Tim Nafziger and Isaac Lev for sharing their notes.
Dara Silverman, SURJ- Facilitating call
- Now is the time for white people to be showing up in more visible ways. Have 1 on 1s with “moveable middle”- people who aren't already with us but could be moved to see their own self-interest as linked to people of color and other marginalized communities.
- Protesting, organizing with people in our faith communities
- Raising questions, building public capacity for public conversations about racial justice when candidates come into town
- We hear middle class people on the left talking about “supporters of trump are stupid or going against their own interests.” And there are lessons there about classism, and we need to think about and listen to what about Trump people are really responding to including to critique of trade deals and loss of jobs. Need to address the real white suffering and the white rage in poor and working class white communities.
- The movement against Trump would not be possible without the work of Black Lives Matter, #Not1More, Mijente and so many other people of color led movements and struggle. Our work organizing white people for racial justice follows the path they have created, but our focus is on organizing in our white communities.
SURJ folks have done a dozen interventions/ interruptions/ protests at Trump and other Presidential candidate events since last November.
Reports from local groups on their actions and lessons learned.
Ashley Ray, Chicago SURJ
Intervened in Trump rally at University of Illinois Chicago (UIC)
Found out about it a week before. Petitions trying to have the university shut down the event. Connected with students of color at UIC, who had already begun organizing different groups to disrupt inside and protest outside.
Did some Non-Violent Direct Action trainings, understanding what we’d be up against, de-escalation techniques, safety planning, etc.
SURJ had people inside & outside event.
People inside were at a higher risk of arrest, but we thought that we might be escorted out and might experience physical violence on the way out.
Tried to be inconspicuous, but a very multiracial group of UIC students came in and joined us, and at that point folks knew what we were there for
Our plan was to be a silent disruption with white folks on the outside of the circle with messaging on Trump and local issues on tshirts, POC in the middle. But didn’t get to that point. The outside protests shut it down, and then we got attacked by people inside.
Lots of new people want to get involved after this with Chicago SURJ.
- Could have done more contingency planning.
- Understand that the mainstream media is going to tell a very different story than our experience of what happened.
- Have a plan to take control of the narrative
Kari Points -- Triangle SURJ/ NC SONG action
protested at Fayettevile, a military town. We were a small group, just 5 people. And we were specifically gathering as working class white southern queers to protest.
Created a sign: “poor southerners-our mamas raised us better”
We decided we were talking to the media and other people at the event, and trying to connect to them and send a message that might get thru
One person pretended to have a sprained ankle so we could get crutches into the event to be able to hold the sign high.
We sent a press release before and after
Our plan was to lay low. In a 45 minute speech there were 40 interruptions--he was getting interrupted almost every minute.
There were a few incidents of violence, one black protester and one black person who came to attend were attacked
Safety didn’t feel like an issue for white people
We got kicked out really fast, within 60 seconds even though it was a silent protest. Sheriffs escorted us out.
There was a huge group of several hundred, mostly POC protesting outside the building, we joined them for 1.5 hours.
A lot more protestors than i would have expected, including vets protesting
- Wasn’t that effective to be outside protesting in terms of moving people coming out of the rally. (partially cuz cops were behind them)
- Saw the “moveable middle”, people who were there as a spectacle and wanted to see what was happening. Not everyone going to a trump rally has taken a side yet. There was a bunch of potential then, with young people especially to persuade or educate people. Plan for how to engage and interact with people at the rally who are Trump supporters.
- Advantages to being small and nimble -- we decided 2 days beforehand. But if we’d had more lead time and more ability to plug into other groups that were protesting we could have had a more solid media team.
Rebecca Frederick in Louisville SURJ
Did one thing completely offsite “love trump hate”, art spaces and performances, etc. people who wanted to show up but were going to be triggered or unsafe in that environment
Doors opened 4 hours before rally. We ended up standing for 5 hours before disrupting.
We had people outside from 4 hours before rally to 1.5 hours after. Started out as SURJ space that just grew and grew. By the end of the rally it grew into a youth-led space.
Our SURJ chapter sent in a handful of people in support of our local BLM group. We also had a group called FIRE (immigrant rights). We had one group all immigrants, mix of folks documented and not. One group that was Black Lives Matter (BLM) mostly people of color with some allies, and then SURJ as the all white group.
SURJ as an all white group didn’t stand out as protestors. We ended up having a really intense burst of violence, but the people of color groups just stood there getting harrassed and pushed around the whole time. People didn’t want to stand too close to the POC groups. It was easier to kick them out because of that, where we were subsumed in the crowd. We got our banner up. Our goal was to hold the banners toward the media. We ended up with a couple of really great pictures. We didn’t do media ahead of time at the request of the POC they were working with because they wanted to “keep it really grassroots”. Story that got told locally was a white narrative consequently because that’s where the press went without a plan to counter it.
Number one lesson is to get everyone on same page and do media beforehand. And to do a training.
Got 3 1:1 meetings out of it for new SURJ members.
Andrew Willis Garcés in Greensboro talking about action ideas.
Trump has related properties, hotels. We’re working on a list for targets for disruption connected to Trump in places that aren’t just primaries.
Encouraging people to think about longer term planning (1 month in advance or more) to get several dozen people who are willing to get arrested
Hoping there will be a lot of recruitment happening at Trump rallies who are there but not on his team, trying to get more white people involved in SURJ
Anti-trump messaging in other public spaces to help start the conversation and recruit people
Symbolic protest as another option similar to the north carolina--a silent protest outside of trump rallies for example
Hundreds of disruptions not being covered by the media.
These actions are also a good opportunity to build with communities of color on the ground.
SURJ is doing weekend canvass april 30-may 1st and in faith communities on these issues.
Breakout by state 5-10 people. What’s your name and one thought you’re having on what would support you to be taking more action right now.
What actions people are committing to take? (vote by telephone and there will be follow up)
1. Will you engage with at least one other white person through conversations and dialogue
2. Will you be a part of doing outreach to other white people in your neighborhood to find out what draws them to Trump or a local Trump on April 30th-May 1st? (we’re going to do trainings and a video on this)
– This isn’t just about Trump, also Cruz and Clinton, there’s issues for all the candidates
3. If you are part of a faith community, will you bring action in your faith community to take action April 30- May 1 against Trump and against fascism?
4. Will you donate to support this work happening? SURJ is partnering with Mijente and a bunch of other POC groups. So we can send trainers, buy yard signs, transportation needs, childcare needs, help make this work happen. We’re going to split all the donations we get with POC groups.
Thank you and good night!