Resist: Dems filibuster Gorsuch
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As the Bay Area Reporter went to press this week, a Democratic filibuster was expected as the Senate considered President Donald Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a run-up to the actual filibuster, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) held the floor throughout the night Tuesday, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) has indicated that he plans to employ the so-called nuclear option to change Senate rules so that the nomination can be approved by a simple majority.
On April 1 about 100 people gathered at Justin Herman Plaza to oppose Gorsuch's nomination, one of a dozen "People's Filibuster" events in cities nationwide. The protests were coordinated by the People's Defense, a coalition of progressive groups â€" including the National LGBTQ Task Force and Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund â€" formed to promote grassroots activism against Trump's agenda and his conservative Supreme Court picks.
As reported last week, on March 30 several hundred activists held a march and rally starting at the AIDS memorial in New York City to commemorate the 30th anniversary of ACT UP. ACT UP/NY held its first action on March 24, 1987, a die-in on Wall Street to protest the high price of AZT (the sole approved AIDS drug) and discrimination against people with AIDS. Chapters soon sprang up across the country, including in San Francisco.
In the lead-up to larger national protests later this month, local activists have focused on organization and movement building.
On April 4 the Movement for Black Lives â€" a large coalition that emerged out of the #BlackLivesMatter movement â€" launched a national "Beyond the Moment" campaign to strengthen long-term multiracial organizing capacity.
Events in Oakland and across the country on April 4 commemorated the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "Beyond Vietnam" speech and his assassination a year later in 1968. The local events kick off a month of organizing leading up to a national day of action May 1. See http://www.beyondthemoment.org for more information.
On May 8 Bay Resist will host an art building party to make flags, posters, and "surprise art" for May Day protests in the Bay Area. The event will take place at the Greenpeace Warehouse, 955 Seventh Street in Oakland ( https://www.facebook.com/events/2225450691013361).
A benefit Sunday, April 9 will raise funds for St. James Infirmary and Planned Parenthood of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The "We Will Not Be Silent" event will feature an auction and live music and poetry from 1 to 5 p.m. in Jack Kerouac Alley in North Beach, and drink specials at Vesuvio Cafe and Specs bar (https://www.facebook.com/events/1806267112972132).
"North Beach has long been a hub of activism and art, and this Sunday two beloved bars are joining forces to raise funds for family planning services under attack by the Trump administration," St. James executive director Stephany Ashley told the B.A.R. "This event will support the work of local sex worker health care clinic the St. James Infirmary as well as the only Planned Parenthood serving the state of Mississippi."
The Bay Area Queer Anti-Fascist Network still has plans in the works for a rally at Oakland City Hall if Trump announces an executive order permitting discrimination against LGBT people under the guise of religious freedom. Last week Trump revoked Barack Obama'sÂ Fair Pay and Safe WorkplacesÂ order, which required federal contractors to comply with federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation. However, he has not yet issued a specific anti-gay executive order as some activists anticipated.
The next big national protest will be the April 15 Tax March, which will demand that Trump release his tax returns. The San Francisco march will start at Civic Center at 1 p.m. (https://www.facebook.com/events/644516582398449). The same day at 10:30 a.m. Brad Newsham is organizing another Ocean Beach event, using bodies to spell out "Show Us Your Taxes." In February thousands of participants spelled out "Resist!!"
"I envision our human banner being a unique contribution to the whole effort," Newsham said in an email alert. "While the message is indeed important, I sometimes wonder if the simple act of bringing so many of us like-minded people together is not perhaps just as important â€" or perhaps more so."