Our last month of Partner News for 2016, we find strength in the fact that our partners are facing the new reality that is Donald Trump’s presidential election with courage, unflappable determination, and resolve. Whether defending sanctuary cities across the country, continuing the fight to keep immigrant families together or launching audacious cultural campaigns such as Blights Out for President, we draw energy and hope from our partners’ continued and new fight for opportunity, equality, inclusion, and common decency to each other, regardless of race, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or ability.
Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Gadsden, Ala. -- and cities across the country -- meant more than the traditional Mexican celebration of the dead this year. Part of the well-coordinated Dia de Muertos National Week of Action (Oct. 26 – Nov. 4), local community members and national human rights advocates gathered outside the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden to participate in a Dia de Muertos procession calling to shut down the jail and drawing attention to the many who have died in immigration detention or after deportation. Communications Institute Fellow and Detention Watch Network Organizing Director Danny Cendejas (CI ’16), a key participant in the Day of the Dead National Actions, told The Gadsden Times that “ICE is allowing people to die in their custody. We demand ICE conduct an investigation into the 10 deaths that have occurred this year and publicly release the findings by Jan. 30.” Danny was also interviewed by Rewire and a number of Spanish-language news outlets. Danny told Rewire that “uplifting the voices of those most affected by the detention system is of prime importance during the Day of the Dead National Actions, which is why people who have been detained are speaking at events across the country.”
Communications Coordinator at La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) John-Michael Torres (CI ’16) responded to Texas House Bill 52 and Senate Bill 4, which aim to eliminate sanctuary cities and deny state funds for any local entity that prohibits the enforcement of immigration laws. In an article published in The Monitor on Nov. 15, Torres said that HB 52 would tear apart families and increase fear of law enforcement. He asked local governments and state leaders to get out of the “deportation business” and expressed support for cities and counties across the country that are taking steps to stop local entities from criminalizing immigrants.
Lynne Lyman (CI ’16), state director of California's Drug Policy Alliance, is in the news again this month with a quote in an NBC article speculating what Trump’s approach to marijuana legalization might be. "We have no idea ... whether a Trump administration will send in the DEA or FBI to shut down California's marijuana industry,” Lyman said. Nine different states voted on marijuana-related ballot initiatives — four considered legal medical marijuana and five chose whether to legalize recreational marijuana. Eight of those initiatives passed, including recreational approval in California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine.
Iminai Jacqueline Brown (CC ’16), co-founder of Blights Out, has announced the coalition’s most recent creative campaign: Blights Out for President, which “calls for an alternative to top-down electoral politics that center talking heads and vague political jargon over the voices and concerns of everyday people.” The Blights Out for President election signage campaign “hijacks the aesthetics of election propaganda to create a crowd-sourced campaign of yard signs and billboards calling for housing justice because civic engagement doesn't begin or end at the ballot.” The yard signs are the culmination of a months-long process that united a diverse group of New Orleans residents through forums, meetings, and story circles to vision and design the future they want for their neighborhoods. Learn more and order your Blights Out for President signs here.
But that’s not all! Iminai has announced that a new iteration of Debtfair, a project of Occupy Museums, will be embedded in the 2017 Whitney Biennial and they are looking for artist participation. All artists who join the platform will be featured digitally in the Biennial, and 30 artists who are in debt to the same institutions will have physical work on display within the Biennial. Debtfair is a means of exposing the hidden layer of debt within the art market and its institutions. By showing how we are interconnected through it, Debtfair mobilizes around the financial relationships that bind us to one another, locating possibilities for solidarity in a global struggle, and leveraging our collective power as debtors. The submission deadline is Dec. 9. Apply here!