On Nov. 15, over 300 people gathered for a mass meeting organized by the ANSWER Coalition in Chicago. The meeting was organized to help spark a mass movement to defend immigrants, Muslims, people of color, LGBTQ people, women and all those under attack by the impending Trump administration.
A major focus of the meeting was building the next major anti-Trump march on Nov. 19 in Chicago. We will be meeting at Federal Plaza at 12 noon and marching to Trump Tower. Join the protest on facebook, invite your friends and share.
The meeting was chaired by ANSWER organizers Stefanie Fisher and Laika Kollontai. In her opening statement, Fisher reminded the crowd that we can not and should not look to the Democratic Party to protect us from Trump. “A Trump administration means we need to fight and the Democrats don’t fight for us,” she said. Laika, who is also a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, said that our strategy moving forward must be to defend the most vulnerable and oppressed communities, such as Black Trans women.
The speakers at the meeting included people very new to protest movements and people from many different organizations. People shared their own stories of the hatred and fear which Trump’s rise to power has inspired.
Syed Ali Hasan, from People United Against Oppression, described the wave of fear which has swept through the Muslim community in the wake of the election but also reminded the crowd that for Muslims the election was a choice between Trump’s racist attacks and Clinton’s policy of domestic surveillance and infiltration of the Muslim community. “This system has failed us,” he said.
A group of Morton College students also spoke about how their lives have been effected by the election. Kassandra Suarez was moved to tears: “This is my first time in a space like this, to be supported as a Latina, as a woman … there are no words to say thank you.”
Chanel Jeffries, an ANSWER volunteer, spoke about growing up as a Queer Black woman in the South. She told the crowd that racism, homophobia, and sexism were not new but that she believes the election of Trump has given new courage to the forces of hatred in America and that only by standing firm together and organizing can we fight back. She said that Trump’s victory was not a defeat but an opportunity for struggle.
Yiran Zhang, a graduate student from Loyola University, again urged the crowd to organize and to defend the most oppressed communities who are under the greatest threat from the reactionary wave. She said that Trump’s victory is “the fault of the Democrats” and that their failure is “an opportunity for our victory” if the people unite and organize independently of the major parties.
Lorena, an organizer with ANAKBAYAN, reminded the crowd that her people in the Philippines have been “victims of the US imperialist agenda since the 1890s.” Drawing on the lessons of Filipino resistance, she said that even in dark times the people can win if they organize together to build people power.
Mary Dean from Centro Autonomo, the community center which hosted the mass meeting, spoke about her own experiences traveling to countries devastated by American imperialism. “I have been to Honduras and Guatemala and Afghanistan. I have seen first hand the result of US foreign policy,” she said.
Pat Hunt of CODEPink told the crowd that she was thrilled to see so many young people coming together to join the movement against Trump and urged that we also make a serious effort to organize those unable to easily participate in street protests. She reminded the crowd that with so much at stake everyone has something to contribute to the struggle.
John Beacham, the coordinator of ANSWER Chicago and organizer of the November 9 anti-Trump protest, stated that while Trump and Clinton both serve the interests of the ruling class, the election of a man so manifestly bigoted and semi-fascistic as Trump is an opportunity for those willing to fight for a better society. “Movements start when the powers that be go too far,” he said. Facing a crowd of hundreds of people of all races, sexualities, and genders he said, “This is the future. People coming together to fight back.”
The final speaker was Patrick, a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. He reiterated the point that resistance to Trump and the reactionary wave will not come from the Democrats but from the people organizing themselves to fight. He stressed that Trump is not abnormal because American capitalism was built through genocide, slavery, and exploitation and that legacy haunts us to this day. To make a world without any more Trumps we must create a society of cooperation, sharing and true equality. We must build socialism. In Chicago, people can join a day of socialism classes on Dec. 3.
Other speakers at the meeting included Gregory Lucero from the SPUSA, Joe Iosbaker from the FRSO and Jesus Rodriguez-Espinoza from the Venezuelan Consulate.
As the meeting concluded, thousands of leaflets calling for a mass march in Chicago on November 19 were distributed and people were asked to hand them out across the city in order to keep building momentum for the struggle ahead.