As Donald Trump takes the highest office in our country, thousands of community members in more than a dozen cities will take to the streets. In many of the largest and most significant cities in America, including Los Angeles, New York, Denver, Atlanta and beyond, protesters will declare their cities to be points of resistance — free from mass deportations and raids, registries, attacks on working people and corporate giveaways of public goods.
While in recent years both sides of the political spectrum seem to have abandoned our cities, urban America will play an increasingly important role under the new administration. Conservatives, by and large, ceded cities to the left. At times, conservative political candidates have even openly mocked and degraded “New York values” in an attempt to pit rural America against urban America. Meanwhile, progressives have all too often taken urban votes for granted, while failing to focus on bottom-up organizing and action at the local level.
Even so, cities have been beacons of progress, pluralism and respect for others. Our movements in cities have not only shown how people from very different backgrounds can live peacefully side-by-side, but have also blazed important paths toward progress by increasing the minimum wage, lowering carbon emissions, and pushing to end police brutality.
While the incoming administration has shown itself to be hostile to freedom of speech, threatened the ability of communities to freely practice their religion without fear and sought to block cities’ ability to innovate and solve problems locally, cities reject these threats. Nearly eighty percent of the population resides in urban areas, yet cities overwhelmingly did not support the president elect. In fact, the American values inherent in cities are often at odds with the vision advanced by the incoming administration.
In our cities, as in the rest of our country, we value freedom. Freedom is the right to live without hunger, to be who you are and say what you believe, to love who you love, to feel safe in your skin, to live without fear of deportation, to be able to participate in the political process and to be able to see a doctor when you’re sick. In order to protect our most fundamental freedoms and continue to advance our society, we must act whenever they are threatened.
As we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let’s also remember his words and take action: “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. … Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
Cities are already leading this charge as more-and-more become sanctuaries for our immigrant neighbors and friends. But that alone will not be enough. In the era of Trump, our cities are essential to resisting regressive policies and attacks on our freedom from fear and want, while continuing to move toward the free country all Americans dream of and certainly deserve.
You can learn more about our Cities vs. Trump protests here: http://bit.ly/citiesvtrump