Diverse Protest Groups Unite As 'The Majority,' Aiming for Large-Scale Demonstrations on May 1st

Photo Credit: Movement For Black Lives


A new coalition emerges.

By Sarah Lazare/Alternet | April 1, 2017

On April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “Beyond Vietnam” speech in which he denounced the scourges of “poverty, racism, and militarism.” Exactly one year later, he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, while organizing alongside black sanitation workers and preparing to launch the Poor People’s Campaign.

Now, 50 years after Dr. King’s historic address, a new coalition called “The Majority” is emerging to tackle the triple evils identified by Dr. King and build a “multi-racial, cross-movement fight for justice, freedom and the right to live fully, with dignity and respect,” according to a statement emailed to AlterNet. This 50-organization-strong initiative includes the Black Lives Matter Global Network, Mijente, Fight for $15, Indigenous Environmental Network and many more organizations.

“The goal of the coalition is to create space where we can come out of our silos as people who do social and racial justice work,” said Chelsea Fuller, an organizer with the Movement for Black Lives and a member of The Majority, in an interview with AlterNet. “We want to come together to say that racism, anti-blackness, capitalism and militarism affect all of our communities. They are central to the issues that we are all fighting.”

Marisa Franco, director of Mijente, emphasized in a press statement, “The shared attacks our communities are facing mean that we have a shared fate and shared work to do together. We cannot defend ourselves if we do it alone, and we cannot build sanctuary for some of us without it being something that protects all of us.”

The initiative comes amid uprisings and protest. Trump’s inauguration was greeted with massive demonstrations and direct actions in Washington, D.C., and across the country, and then millions around the world took to the streets as part of the Women’s March. Since then, protesters have flooded airports, staged strikes and coordinated actions across the country, organized popular assemblies and mobilized to defend their neighbors.

Those organizing with The Majority coalition seek to unite front-lines movements and rally behind a vision rooted in historical perspective.

Organizers say they draw inspiration from King’s 1967 speech, but ultimately credit the broader social movement that he was part of. “While we use the date of Dr. King’s historic speech and tragic assassination as a beginning point for our 2017 mobilization, we reject any analysis that would suggest that Dr. King was singularly responsible for the movement,” said the Majority. “That’s why on April 4th, we will also teach and learn about grassroots organizers who were the backbone of the Black Freedom Movement, and other social justice movements in the U.S. and globally.”

The Majority’s new initiative, “Beyond the Moment: Uniting Movements from April 4th to May Day,” is book-ended by another historical marker: International Workers’ Day.

“May 1st or May Day (International Worker’s Day) emerged out of the fight for an eight-hour workday in 1886 in Chicago. On this day, striking workers clashed with police, resulting in several deaths—four of the protesters were later hanged,” writes The Majority. “In the context of a new president using grandiose promises of job creation to mask the fundamentally anti-worker and pro-corporation nature of his policies, it is imperative that we put forth a true, collective vision of economic justice and worker justice, for all people.”

“Between April 4 and May Day, there will be a combination of mass political education and direct actions that will take place across the country,” said Fuller. “Right now, folks are still planning their actions, teach-ins, seminars, protests and mass marches. The organizations taking part have membership and reach to groups all over the country.”

Meanwhile, momentum for a massive May Day strike appears to be growing. Earlier this month, a network of more than 300,000 farmworkers, servers, cooks and food-manufacturers, including a large local chain of the Service Employees International Union, announced that they will join the walkout “to stop the relentless attacks of the Trump administration and its allies in corporate America.” Immigrant justice organizations, including Movimiento Cosecha, or Harvest Movement, have spent months organizing across the country for Un Dia Sin Inmigrantes (A Day Without Immigrants) to win the “permanent protection, dignity, and respect of immigrants.”

“The time has never been more urgent for grassroots communities to fight for our lives and liberation together in a multi-racial and intergenerational movement,” said Cindy Wiesner of It Takes Roots, one of the many organization members of The Majority.

“We’re joining together with the Movement for Black Lives because our two movements have a common bond in fighting the racism that keeps down people of color everywhere,” said Latierika Blair, 23, a worker at McDonald’s in Memphis, earning $7.35 an hour. “McDonald's conspires with police to try to silence us when we speak out for higher pay. Corporations and politicians act to keep workers and black people from getting ahead in America. We should be investing in our people and communities. That's why we have to protest, and that’s why we will keep speaking out together until we win.”

Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.




Three Quarters of a Million People Showed Up For Women’s March in Los Angeles

Rising Up With Sonali


On today’s show we’ll bring you a special report from the streets of Los Angeles, one of hundreds of cities where mobilizations against Trump’s agenda took place. And, we’ll hear from Angela Adrar, Executive Director of the Our Power Campaign and Climate Justice Alliance. She was one of thousands of people on the streets of Washington DC on inauguration day. She’ll tell us how women of color are on the front lines of the resistance to Trump. Finally, Sarah Van Gelder of Yes! Magazine will join us to discuss her very relevant book, The Revolution Where You Live – it’s a survey of the powerful grassroots organizing that is already happening on a local level around the US, critical for surviving the next 4 years.

Hosted by Sonali Kolhatkar.

People of color are bracing for climate injustice under Trump

‘Our communities are in harm’s way of unmitigated climate disruption.’ Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Elizabeth C Yeampierre

When things are bad for everyone, they are particularly bad for people of color. The Trump administration is about to legitimize injustice in all of our communities. People of color have endured the extraction of our land and labor – and its legacy – since the creation of these United States. Now, we are bracing ourselves for worse things to come.

The environmental and climate justice movement has had substantial successes on both the local and national fronts. We have cleaned up brownfields, stopped the siting of power plants, facilitated community-based planning for climate adaption and resilience, all while developing a framework known as Just Transitions, which rejects the “dig, burn, dump” economy and wants to push it away from an extractive economy to a regenerative one.

Always frontline-led and solutions–oriented, we have been working diligently to operationalize this transition through such initiatives as community-owned solar, offshore wind and local cooperatives that model another way to live without a carbon footprint. Energized by the momentum created by the People’s Climate March and the breadth of knowledge shared by the Climate Justice Alliance’s Our Power Campaign, the last few years have been all about the possibilities.

And then Trump was elected.

The solutions to unresolved environmental justice crises in low-income communities of color that the environmental and climate justice movement and allies have been diligently working to resolve now suddenly appear unattainable.

Over a year ago, Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint, Michigan. While it is vanished from the daily news cycle, very little has changed for the residents of Flint, Michigan. The capital to replace the water service lines has not been secured, and they are still relying on bottled water indefinitely. What is the future of this community under the Trump administration?

The federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice had a modest success in the area of environmental health. However, there was at least a commitment built into the institutions to addressing the needs of communities disparately impacted by environmental burdens.

This commitment provided our communities federal resources to educate and remediate problems locally. Those federal resources will no longer exist. And foundation dollars will start being offered to large organizations to address the needs of the frontline, displacing the local leadership of the grassroots.

The Gulf South is experiencing 1,000-year storms on a regular basis. South Florida experiences floods from sea level rise absent any storm activity. And in Brooklyn, New York, despite Superstorm Sandy, municipal leadership is so beholden to real estate interests that they disregard opportunities to operationalize Just Transitions that will address the region’s climate needs.

This market-driven real estate perspective, now extending from City Hall to the Oval Office, puts our communities in harm’s way of unmitigated climate disruption.

At the center of all this is Standing Rock and Black Lives Matter, symbols and anchors of intersectionality and community power. Environmental and climate justice have always operated at that intersection of racial, social, gender and economic justice.

Our communities across the nation have struggled but survived with administrations that moved slowly. We have never faced an administration that on all underlying tenets of climate justice – including the very existence of climate change – is at best indifferent and at worst actively antagonistic.

The appointments of climate denier Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, fossil fuel-backed Ryan Zinke as head of Department of Interior, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, neo-Confederate Jeff Sessions as attorney general and fast food executive Andrew Puzder as secretary of labor all constitute direct attacks on these tenets and communities of color.

As we face a full-scale assault on our very existence, we are planning, organizing, building, educating and resisting with an understanding of what this means for our communities.

Protesters take to DC streets to slam Trump’s agenda

It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance protesters were out in force on Inauguration Day in Washington, D.C. Friday morning. (TMN Intern)



Women of Color March on Washington


Amid controversy and concerns about inclusivity, marchers of color call for continued resistance to all forms of oppression
CROWDS: (cheering) ... We will not support a Trump Supreme Court...DHARNA NOOR: The Women's March on Washington is being called one of the largest demonstrations in U.S. history. The Real News is here to catch up with some demonstrators about the issues that they think will face women, and specifically women of color, with the coming Trump administration.Hundreds of thousands of people took to the street in opposition to President Donald Trump's policy proposals and rhetoric. A crowd so massive, that organizers decided to call off the planned march to the White House. Marchers expressed a number of concerns about what Trump's administration will mean for women in the U.S.WOMAN: If 50% of Congress could, like, have children, or were women, then we wouldn't be arguing about half of the stuff we are, especially reproductive rights.WOMAN: Equal pay, affordable healthcare, women's rights.WOMAN: Well, I'm worried about healthcare and reproductive rights, of course, and abortion access.WOMAN: Black people won't have rights, women won't have rights, he's taking away healthcare from children. This is outrageous.CROWD: (indistinct chanting)DHARNA NOOR: Many were also disturbed by Trump's attitude towards communities of color.WOMAN: He wants to deport all the immigrant, undocumented people.WOMAN: If Trump thinks he runs this town, ... will shut it down...DHARNA NOOR: So, lead organizers of color from across the nation came to D.C. to ensure that their voices were heard. Melissa Miles, an organizer with the Ironbound Community Corporation, in Newark, New Jersey, said Trump doesn't represent the interests of her city.MELISSA MILES: So, how can you have a cabinet full of millionaires, except for at the expense and on the backs of others? So, women, children, immigrants, poor people –- we are on the front lines, and we have been, in this country, all along.DHARNA NOOR: Some were concerned about the role of women of color in the demonstration. Initially, almost all of its main organizers were white. The march was originally called the Million Women March, a name borrowed from the massive 1997 demonstration, organized by and for black women. Ashley and Colby, two D.C. residents grappled with these controversies when deciding whether or not to attend.ASHLEY: We went back and forth about it, because we had some conflicted feelings about how this march started. The lack of inclusivity, the lack of intersectionality, and so we were a little bit... We went to dinner last night and talked about it and we were, like, eh... But we woke up this morning and we felt inspired. We felt like, you know, we can talk about it and blog about it, and write on the Internet about it all day, but it matters when you come out and show up and speak up, and so that's why we're here.COLBY: I think there's support in numbers, there's strength in numbers. You need black women as part of any revolution, so we're here, and we're here to be part of that. There aren't a ton of us, but we're happy to be out here with everyone.DHARNA NOOR: Ashley says though at times it's difficult, having conversations that address these issues is critical in building successful women's movements.ASHLEY: I think that a lot of women –- white women –- get very defensive about it, and don't really know how to respond, because they feel like they've put so much into it, and how dare anybody, you know, we're all women, we should come together. We're sisters, how dare you try to undermine what we're doing? And it's not... that's not what I'm trying to do at all. I'm not trying to undermine it at all. I'm just trying to make it better for next time.DHARNA NOOR: Miles and others expressed the need for resistance beyond the Women's March, resistance that fights for all women and all people of marginalized communities.MELISSA MILES: We're here to march. You know, that is largely made up of white women, you know, probably mainstream, which is wonderful. I'm glad Trump pissed them off. But, you know, when black and brown communities come under attack, when immigrant communities come under attack, when Muslims come under attack, I hope they'll come out in the same force.-------------------------END



After a Weekend of Protests – Now What, California?

Oakland, Calif., was the site of one of the state's almost 50 "sister marches" to the Women's March on Washington on Sat., Jan. 21. (Oakland Women's March)


January 23, 2017

BERKELEY, Calif. — In California alone, there were nearly 50 "sister marches" in tandem with Saturday's Women's March on Washington in the nation's capital.

Rallies included smaller hamlets - like Santa Maria, Santa Paula and Oxnard, up north - as well as marches in the major metropolitan areas. And many Californians went to the march in Washington, D.C. Ahmina Maxey was among them. She said that for her, it was about advocating for clean energy.

Maxey is based in Berkeley and is the U.S. and Canada regional coordinator for the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives - so cleaner air is her priority.

"I have asthma, a lot of my family and friends have asthma,” Maxey said. "We are impacted by these poor decisions that our elected officials and their appointees make."

The latest poll from Stanford University's Hoover Institution and Bill Lane Center for the American West, said that 55 percent of Californians would like to see tax reform from the Trump administration, but almost as many - 48 percent - think repealing the Affordable Care Act is a bad idea.

The Women's Marches cast a wide net in terms of social justice causes, with participants citing concerns about workers' rights and reproductive rights, religious freedoms and environmental protections. To keep the momentum, Maxey said the focus now is on providing positive alternatives.

"Not only are we against these things, but we also are really for solutions that we can demonstrate, and that we stand united in,” she said.

Speakers at many of the events urged people to channel their energy and frustration into working to improve their own communities, including running for office.

It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance Translocal Toolkit

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ), Climate Justice Alliance (CJA Our Power Campaign), Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), and Right To The City Alliance (RTTC) are teaming up for the It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance Delegation and Translocal Actions in the first 100 days of the Trump administration. Check out this toolkit for information on how to participate translocally and spread the word about #ItTakesRoots:

It Takes Roots to Grow The Resistance - Narrative Toolkit

Women of Color Lead: A Call to Grow the Resistance against Trump, to Converge in Washington D.C. Jan 18-21

January 17, 2017

CONTACT: Isobel White, 510-828-3554
Bernice Shaw, 310-880-1389

Women of Color Lead: A Call to Grow the Resistance against Trump, to Converge in Washington D.C. Jan 18-21
Interviews available upon request with women of color, undocumented & immigrant women, Spanish speakers, Indigenous Peoples, youth and renters

Washington D.C. | January 18, 2017 -- This week, women of color and grassroots leaders from around the U.S. will join forces for the “It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance delegation to Washington D.C. to take action against the incoming Trump administration. The delegation, organized by the Climate Justice Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Right to the City Alliance, will bring together over 100 grassroots leaders from communities most impacted by a wide range of the incoming administration’s proposed policies.

These leaders – from African American, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Indigenous, and poor white communities across the country – are joining together to resist the threat posed by the incoming administration and to build a vision beyond hate and walls.

“We are in a moment in which racial hatred against our communities of color is stronger than ever, in which we have to organize, unite and defend our rights that we have as immigrants, workers and families.  We cannot allow fear to paralyze us. The respect and dignity of and in our communities is our shield to be able to maintain that strength and resistance in our communities.” - Sylvia Lopez, Domestic Workers organizer, Mujeres Unidas y Activas.

These grassroots leaders will join together in workshops to learn from each other’s local struggles and victories and to be trained in community resilience and nonviolent resistance. They will also take part in the direct actions listed below.

It Takes Roots to Grow The Resistance means that grassroots communities hold the power to pushback against the injustice that a Trump presidency will bring.  Grassroots, local, low-income and communities of color are leading the way with solutions right now, such as United Workers shutting down incinerators in Baltimore and the Boston Recycling Coalition pushing their city toward zero waste.” - Ahmina Maxey, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)

“When people in power have tried to divide our communities, told us to hate and fear each other, it is the women who have brought us together. Now more than ever, we need to ensure that the roots of the resistance are strong, so we are coming together to grow and deepen the resistance together.” - Angela Adrar, Climate Justice Alliance

#ItTakesRoots Actions & Events In Washington D.C. January 18 - 21st

    • Friday January 20th at 9:30 AM (1000 Independence Ave SW, Washington D.C);
      • #ItTakesRoots direct action at the U.S. Department of Energy and the office of Housing & Urban Development to oppose Rick Perry’s direct ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the threat to housing security posed by Ben Carson, Steven Mnuchin, and Donald Trump.


  • Friday January 20th at 12:00 PM at Columbus Circle in Union Station:


      • #ItTakesRoots will spearhead a women of color, gender non-conforming folks and allies contingent at the Disrupt J20 March called for by local D.C. communities aiming to disrupt the inauguration.


  • Saturday January 21st at 9:00AM, meeting at Garfield Park (Corner of 3rd and G Street SE, Washington D.C.)


    • #ItTakesRoots will join in with the Women of Color & Allies Contingent for the historic Women’s March on Washington. Thousands are expected to join the contingent including members of the four alliances, the National Domestic Workers Center, 350.org and more. The contingent will feature frontline Women of Color spokespeople as well as bold and large art & banners.

Local Actions Throughout the Nation:

On January 20th, in solidarity with the delegation in D.C., member organizations are spearheading actions in nine cities across the country including: Chicago, Oakland, San Francisco, Nashville, Los Angeles, Boston, San Antonio, Long Beach and Denver. The #ItTakesRoots coalition also plans to escalate a series of translocal actions throughout the first 100 days of the Trump Presidency to build community power.  




It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance



Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ)

Grassroots Global Justice is a national alliance of grassroots organizations building a popular movement for peace, democracy and a sustainable world.  GGJ weaves and bridges together US-based grassroots organizing groups and global social movements working for climate justice, an end to war, and to advance a just transition to a new economy that is better for people and the planet.




Climate Justice Alliance (CJA)

The Climate Justice Alliance is a collaborative of over 35 community-based and movement support organizations uniting frontline communities to forge a scalable, and socio-economically just transition away from unsustainable energy towards local living economies to address the root causes of climate change.  We are rooted in Indigenous, African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, and working-class white communities throughout the U.S. We are applying the power of deep grassroots organizing to win local, regional, statewide, and national shifts.




Right to the City Alliance (RTTC)

Right to the City (RTTC) emerged in 2007 as a unified response to gentrification and a call to halt the displacement of low-income people, people of color, marginalized LGBTQ communities, and youths of color from their historic urban neighborhoods. We are a national alliance of racial, economic and environmental justice organizations.




Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN)

Established in 1990 within the United States, IEN was formed by grassroots Indigenous peoples and individuals to address environmental and economic justice issues (EJ). IEN’s activities include building the capacity of Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.



Statement on Paris Agreement Signing - International Alliance of Frontline Communities

* For Immediate Release *
April 20 , 2016

Press Contacts:
Jaron Browne, (415) 727-6687, [email protected]
Dallas Goldtooth, (708) 515-6158, [email protected]

“They don’t even mention Fossil Fuels!”

Three days before world leaders sign the Paris Agreement, an international alliance of frontline and indigenous communities denounce it as a ‘dangerous distraction’

San Francisco, CA - As world leaders prepare to sign the Paris Agreement later this week on Earth Day (April 22) an international alliance of grassroots and Indigenous leaders are calling the historic agreement “dangerous distraction.”

Statement From Cindy Wiesner of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance:

“The Paris Climate agreement doesn’t even mention fossil fuels, the clearest cause of climate change. The agreement is a dangerous distraction that leaves common sense, science, human rights and the rights of communities on the frontlines of climate change on the negotiating table. While world leaders are finally taking action they are heading down the wrong path. Frontline communities and Indigenous Peoples have been calling for a clear path to solve our climate crisis. We can end the privatization of nature, we can stop the use of dirty fossil fuels and we can stop climate change. We know this because we are on the front lines of climate change, we see it, we know it, we live it. The world will not find solutions to climate change without us.”

Statement from Tom Goldtooth, of the Indigenous Environmental Network

“I started attending the UN climate meetings in 1999. Over the last 17 years I’ve witnessed corporate, Wall Street and other financial influence gut any real solutions coming out of the negotiations. As a result, the Paris Agreement goal of stopping global temperature rise by 1.5 degrees C is not real because the pledges each country is making will allow emission levels that will increase global temperature 3 - 4 degrees.  This will be catastrophic to the ecosystem of the world, including the ice culture of the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic. The Paris agreement will result in the cooking of the planet.  We, Indigenous Peoples, are the red line against climate change. We can not be idle, we have never been idle.  Indigenous voices are rising up globally to demand climate justice for humanity -- for human rights and the rights of Mother Earth."

Statement from Nnimmo Bassey, Director, HOME (Health of Mother Earth) Foundation (Nigeria)

“The Paris Agreement locks in fossil fuels and, to underscore corporate capture of the negotiations, the word, fossil, is not as much as mentioned in the document. It is shocking that although the burning of fossil fuels is known to be a major contributor to global warming, climate negotiations engage in platitudes rather than going to the core of the problem. Scientists tell us that burning of fossil fuels would have to end by 2030 if there would be a chance of keeping temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. The signal we get from the silence on the fossils factor is that oil and coal companies can continue to extract profit while burning the planet.”

For more background and detailed criticism of the agreement see We Are Mother Earth’s Red Line  a report released by the It Takes Roots Delegation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 21st Conference of the Parties  (COP21) in Paris.

Also available for comment and media appearance:

  • Cindy Wiesner, National Coordinator, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (USA)
  • Tom Goldtooth and Kandi Mossett, Indigenous Environmental Network (North America)
  • Rossmery Zayas, Communities for a Better Environment, Southeast Los Angeles
  • Elisabeth Sanders, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky
  • Nnimmo Bassey, Director, HOME Foundation (Nigeria)
  • Max Rademacher, Alternatiba (France)
  • Pat Mooney, Executive Director, ETC Group (Canada)
  • Graca Samo, World March of Women (Mozambique)


Democracy Now: Climate Activists Vow to Continue with Protests Ahead of Paris Talks


In the wake of the Paris attacks, climate activists and the French government are at odds over plans for a massive protest march on Nov. 29 ahead of the U.N. climate talks. French authorities are threatening to curtail public demonstrations and marches, but climate activists insist the right to protest and freedom of speech must be upheld even during a state of emergency. We speak to Alix Mazounie, the international policies coordinator at Climate Action Network France.

Read the full transcript on Democracy Now »



Jackson Free Press: From Jackson to Paris to Fight Climate Change

Published by Jackson Free Press  |  Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Six members of Cooperation Jackson, along with several children, a translator and someone to help with child care are headed to Paris, France, to lend their voices and efforts to the global fight against climate change at the United Nation's annual climate conference, referred to as COP21, beginning Nov. 30.

The local contingent will join a larger delegation of nearly 100 people from the United States and Canada organized by the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, or GGJ.

"The goal is half protest and half affirmation," said Kali Akuno, a longtime social-justice advocate and co-founder of Cooperation Jackson who worked in the mayoral administration of the late Chokwe Lumumba. 
 The political leaders and corporations involved in the official discussions about climate change are "playing games with the planet and with our lives," Akuno added.

GGJ is helping pay for four members of the Jackson delegation to make the trip. The group works to connect working-class and oppressed communities from North America with social movements in the southern hemisphere.

Cooperation Jackson is also part of the Climate Justice Alliance's "Our Power Campaign," a parallel effort to end global warming while specifically supporting, connecting and learning from those communities of poor and working people who have directly suffered the effects of climate change.

The protest is important, Akuno said, because at this point the government and industry officials meeting at COP21 "control some of the key levers and institutions which can either save us or drive us further off the cliff." So, he said, Cooperation Jackson is "joining with other communities of struggle throughout the world to send a clear message that this is not sufficient, that they have to do better, and we're demanding that they do better."

Exploring Alternatives at COP21

This year's event comes just weeks after Obama's rejection of TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would have funneled one of the world's largest crude oil reserves from the Alberta Tar Sands to the Gulf of Mexico.

The COP21 website emphasizes that world leaders will, for the first time in more than 20 years of UN climate negotiations, set a "legally binding and universal agreement" that aims to indefinitely keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius. But the Cooperation Jackson delegation will be in Paris as part of a parallel gathering of communities from across the globe converging to challenge the official standards that are set to emerge from COP21.

Sacajawea Hall, of Cooperation Jackson, said that it's critical for communities of protest to send a message and hold leaders accountable, but also to connect with communities across the globe who are already practicing alternatives to the current oil-and-profit based economy that scientists say is threatening the planet.

"So much of it for me is gathering with other communities who are actively asking, 'What do we want for ourselves and our world?' and not just "What do we not want from our governments indiacialis.com?,'" Hall said.

Both Hall and Akuno stress the need for the delegation to learn from the successes and failures of alternative-energy-based movements at COP21, and to bring those lessons home. Hall finds inspiration for her work in "the stories of what people, and women in particular, have been able to do with even less resources than we have here" in Jackson and in the United States as a whole.

First, Be the Change

Citing Mahatma Gandhi's maxim that we must first try to "be the change we wish to see in the world," Aina Gonzalez, another Jackson delegate, said this trip is a chance for Cooperation Jackson to "network, show our presence, make friends and build allies."

Locally, Gonzalez is helping to launch Nubia's Place Cafe and Catering, a food-service cooperative that will run out of the Lumumba Center for Economic Democracy, the group's base of operations at 939 West Capitol St. in Jackson.

The cafe is an example of the integrated, sustainable economic alternatives Cooperation Jackson says it wants to model for the city and state. An urban farming cooperative will source the cafe and catering businesses, whose workers will have a share in ownership and management and receive what organizers call a fair, livable wage.

In turn, the business of sustainably producing and serving food will present the need and opportunity for sustainable waste management, recycling and composting practices. 
 The goal of making Jackson "the most sustainable city in the south" comes out of the "Jackson Rising" statement that former Mayor Chokwe Lumumba's administration released in 2014. Akuno credits Lumumba's administration with laying out the broad vision Jackson needs to incentivize local policies and business practices that are both just and ecologically sustainable.

The work of Cooperation Jackson hones in on one aspect of that broad social vision—the development of worker-owned cooperatives and alternative economic practices. In part due to Mississippi's long history of rural and industrial worker organizations, Akuno says that "the conditions of Jackson are challenging but also ripe for cooperatives as a means of to getting to a solidarity economy." Moving toward an economy that puts people's needs over profit would, he believes, best serve the people who live and work in Jackson.

It Takes An 'Eco-Village'

The ambitious goal of a zero-waste-and-emissions Jackson by 2025 is just one part of "The Jackson Just Transition Plan," a climate-justice vision Cooperation Jackson released this week as part of the international "Our Power Campaign."

The plan lays out a "Sustainable Communities Initiative" that has two primary components. The first is an "Eco-Village" in west Jackson, which will build on emerging cooperatives to develop the infrastructure for west Jackson residents to sustainably live and work in their communities. This part of the plan is predicated upon the creation of a Community Land Trust, controlled by residents, and a network of interconnected cooperatives that will provide affordable housing and jobs that respect workers' rights.
 The plan also contains a "policy reform" agenda that aims to help city government realize the Lumumba administration's vision of making Jackson the most sustainable city in the south.

The strategy articulates "zero waste" and "zero emissions" programs and outlines policies designed to mitigate ecological destruction while incentivizing just and sustainable business practices.

For example, it calls on city government to invest in localized food production and citywide recycling and composting programs, while transitioning to a city fleet and public-transportation system run entirely on renewables.

While "The Jackson Just Transition Plan" would require buy-in from city leaders to achieve policy reform, the plan grounds those policy goals in a political vision that looks to connect the dots between the environmental, economic and racial crises that have long plagued the south.

It is that political vision, as well as the nuts and bolts of what does and doesn't work for communities engaged in similar struggles throughout the world, that the Jackson delegation says it hopes to discover, share, and refine in Paris.

"It's important for the global community to come together to show that we already have the resources and power to create sustainable and just communities," said Cooperation Jackson member Brandon King, a 31-year-old Virginia native with a background in activism and the arts who now lives in Jackson.

See Cooperation Jackson's website at cooperationjackson.org. Email ideas to business reporting fellow Scott Prather at [email protected].

The Guardian: COP21 climate marches in Paris not authorised following attacks

French government says demonstrations in closed spaces can go ahead but not those in public places

Published by The Guardian  |  By Ben Quinn

Major marches which had been planned to coincide with the COP21 international climate talks in Paris will not be authorised for security reasons, the French government has said.

Environmental activists – who had expected attract hundreds of thousands people on 29 November and 12 December – said that they accepted Wednesday’s decision with regret, but were now considering “new and imaginative” ways of making their voices heard.

Following the recent terror attacks in Paris, French authorities said a statement that all demonstrations organised in closed spaces or in places where security can easily be ensured could go ahead.

“However, in order to avoid additional risks, the government has decided not to authorise climate marches planned in public places in Paris and other French cities,” it said.

Environmental activists had hoped the marches would attract large numbers to put pressure on governments to cut greenhouse gas emissions. A range of groups have been involved in planning actions during the summit and the position of every one of them was not immediately clear on Wednesday.

Some of those involved say though that more than 2,000 protests in around 150 countries during the talks have taken on a greater significance. They include the campaign group Avaaz, which released a promotional video for the marches it is involved in organising around the world.


Emma Ruby-Sachs, deputy director of Avaaz, said: “The police have just informed us that the tragic attacks in Paris have made the march there impossible.

“Now it’s even more important for people everywhere to march on the weekend of 29 November on behalf of those who can’t, and show that we are more determined than ever to meet the challenges facing humanity with hope, not fear.”

Jean-François Juilliard, Greenpeace France executive director, said that it was a source of huge regret that the French authorities said that they cannot guarantee safety the safety of marchers but the decision must be respected.

He added: “Huge numbers were expected in Paris, but those people will not be silenced. We will find new, imaginative ways to ensure our voices are heard in the UN conference centre and beyond.

“In hundreds of towns and cities across the world people will still march for the climate, for Paris and for our shared humanity. We stand for a vision of human cooperation that the murderers sought to extinguish. They will not succeed.”

Talks between the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, and campaigners over the fate of a huge march before the forthcoming Paris climate summit ended without agreement earlier this week.

Fabius expressed fears on Tuesday about the risk of another terror attack and of the sort of crowd panic seen in Paris’s Place de République on 15 November, when hundreds of people fled a solidarity vigil after firecrackers were let off.

As well as the marches, other protest actions which had been planned include a “people’s summit”, a “climate action zone” involving schools and community groups and a day of civil disobedience at the summit’s end.

Coalition Climat 21, an alliance of civil society groups that had been centrally involved in the Paris protests, had pledged earlier this week to try to continue with public demonstrations within the city in close consultation with the police.

It said in a statement on Wednesday that it would try to find an “alternative form of citizen mobilisation” to demonstrate that COP21 would not just be left to the negotiators.

The organisation said that the climate summit, which was due to be held on 5 and 6 December in the eastern suburb of Montreuil and another event from 7 to 11 December in the centre of Paris should be maintained.

Ahead of Paris, Grassroots Activists Demand Real Change: “President Obama: Listen To The People, Not Polluters!”


Contact: Preeti Shekar at 510-219-4193, [email protected]
Release Date: Friday, November 13, 2015

Ahead of Paris, Grassroots Activists Demand Real Change:
“President Obama: Listen To The People, Not Polluters!”

The Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) is excited to announce a delegation of 100 leaders and organizers from US and Canadian grassroots and indigenous communities headed to the upcoming UNCOP21 in Paris later this month. The delegation, titled It Takes Roots to Weather the Storm joins together three powerful alliances of grassroots activists and frontline communities’ leaders: Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), and the Climate Justice Alliance.

As the effects of climate change continue to hit peak levels of catastrophe, global leaders have been promising a new climate agreement through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP). This year, the COP21 will take place in Paris, France, from November 30-December 11, 2015. Thousands of climate justice movements from around the world will converge on the streets of Paris to demand global action to stop the fossil fuel industry’s continued burning of the planet. The It Takes Roots delegation represents cutting edge leadership of communities who have alternative sustainable solutions to the current failed fossil fuel economies that are destroying the planet.

“Everything we are seeing shows that the negotiating text on table right now for the COP21 falls far short of the action needed to avoid global catastrophe. Our communities are already being hit the hardest -- from droughts on one coast to floods on the other. The time has come for the US to break with the fossil fuel industry and refuse to accept false solutions and market strategies,” noted Cindy Wiesner, national coordinator of GGJ.

More About the It Takes Roots Delegation

It Takes Roots is a broad, powerful delegation including indigenous communities in North America and Canada, and a wide array of regional grassroots groups tackling environmental and health impacts of fracking, extraction, oil refineries and other hallmarks of a toxic fossil fuel dependant economy.

The delegates and the groups they represent are intergenerational, comprising a mix of youth organizers and veteran community leaders, who hail from working class African American, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander and rural white communities, as this cross-section shows:

Frontline communities mobilizing to Paris comes on the heels of the historic victory last week when President Obama cancelled the Keystone Pipeline project, in direct response to the enormous activism and leadership of several groups that are a part of the It Takes Roots delegation.

"Years of organizing and mounting pressure led by Indigenous communities from North America led to the rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Now frontline Indigenous communities are heading to Paris prepared to use our bodies to draw a red line of resistance to stop extractive industries and fight for a just transition into renewable energies. The question remains -- Will President Obama listen to the polluters or to the people?" asks Kandi Mossett, a climate campaign organizer with the IEN.

“From Hurricane Katrina to Superstorm Sandy, recurrent extreme climate change disasters hit our communities first and worst. These storms are the legacy of decision makers lacking the courage to make bold decisions. The time to act is now. We need to stop fossil fuel dependency and look to alternative, sustainable solutions as the only way forward. The KXL pipeline cancellation was a good start, but only the beginning," notes Elizabeth Yeampierre, a frontline community organizer with Uprose, a New York-based community organization.

In addition to participating in various civil society formations at COP21, the It Takes Roots delegation will be organizing creative and peaceful actions on the streets of Paris, participating in rallies, solidarity marches, leading workshops, and making local and global connections with frontline communities resisting climate change. With art and music, colorful banners and people chanting slogans, the It Takes Roots delegation will be a forceful voice of dissent, calling out on the deep hypocrisies of state leaders, between their rhetoric and actions, and presenting the real, alternative solutions.

Bios of Quoted Delegates:

Cindy Wiesner is the National Coordinator of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) and Co-Chair of the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), and has been active in the grassroots social justice movement, working on the intersections of labor organizing, environmental justice, ending gender-based violence, queer organizing, and migrant rights for over 20 years.

Kandi Mossett is a leading voice in the Indigenous environmental movement in North America. In her most current role as Native Energy and Climate Campaign Organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), and through speaking at UN forums, and by testifying in front of the US Congress, she has played a crucial role in making visible nationally and internationally, the devastating impacts of climate change on Indigenous communities and tribal lands.

Elizabeth Yeampierre is the Executive Director of Uprose, Brooklyn, New York’s oldest Latino community organization. Her organizing prioritizes just transitions, sustainable development, environmental justice, and building community-led climate adaptation and resiliency. A dynamic public speaker, she has presented at the first White House forum on Environmental Justice, and more recently, spoke at the open climate rally for Pope Francis.

Contact: Preeti Shekar, GGJ Media Strategist at 510-219-4193 or [email protected] for more information, to interview delegates, for quotes for articles/profiles, to discuss pitches, and other media inquiries.