Vowing to fight civil rights rollbacks they fear could come during President Donald Trump’s term, about 25 objectors formed a circle Friday night at Peace Community Church.
They emphasized protecting the rights of women, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, and people of color.
“I hear a lot of people talking about how there will be a new Congress in a couple of years and a new president in four years,” said the Rev. Steve Hammond, who co-pastors the church with his wife, Mary. “I’m not that sanguine about this. What we need to be realizing is this will be a long-term struggle. There’s lots of things we are going to need to do and not just for the next couple of years.”
The group filled a chalkboard with ideas for how to stay informed with reliable political information and spread their message to others.
Chief among the goals were supporting independent media sources, finding ways to speak with Trump supporters, and avoiding “fake news” when doing research online.
Those in attendance said Trump’s cabinet picks have been contradictory to the populist rhetoric he campaigned on.
“He talked about “We the people” in his inaugural address, but his cabinet is the oligarchy,” said Al Carroll of Community Peace Builders. “They’re all billionaires and multimillionaires. How anyone can think that is representative of the people of the United States is pretty hard to believe.”
“This cabinet seems to be opposed to the very things they’re in charge of,” said Carl Jacobson, former director of Oberlin Shansi. “It’s disturbing. What I’m hoping to find is some sort of direction we can take to respond. We’re very confused at this point on how to deal with it, but it has to be dealt with.”
Hannah Rosenberg, a New York native now living in Oberlin, seconded the notion that too many people think they can “ride out” a Trump presidency without taking direct action.
“Some people feel like we can just hide and wait things out for four years,” she said. “There are just so, so, so many people where that doesn’t apply. Those divisions are really scary. I’m worried about police violence, deportations, and the many other reasons why people can’t just wait.”
Janet Garrett, who unsuccessfully ran in November for the U.S. House of Representatives, helped organize a bus trip for Oberlin residents to the Jan. 21 Women’s March on Washington. Today she leads an anti-Trump group called The Resistance, which will meet at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Oberlin Public Library.
“After the election, my email has blown up every day from different groups and people writing to me personally,” she said. “I spent five hours looking through all of them. They’re looking for ways to resist. I’ve been trying to go to as many local groups’ meetings as possible to try and figure things out. There have been a lot of these meetings. I’m hoping we can pull all of these groups together in Oberlin and then branch out to the county.”
While she does not agree with the Tea Party’s policies, she said a lot can be learned from its acts of civil disobedience in getting a message across to voters.
Ben Wisner, a retired Oberlin College professor, said helping federal employees resist incoming agency heads will be another vital piece of the puzzle.
“There are tens of thousands of very dedicated federal employees,” he said. “They have tremendous knowledge and years and years of experience. Just as the Department of Energy refused to release the names of their staff that attended climate change conferences, the same kind of resistance can be achieved in FEMA, the Department of Education, and other agencies. As citizens, professionals, and retired professionals, we need to find ways to support them despite the kind of know-nothing, anti-science attitudes we’re seeing.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Oberlin News Tribune The Rev. Mary Hammond, co-pastor of Peace Community Church, lists ideas for resisting the Trump administration’s agenda.