Why Popular Assemblies Sweeping the Country Are Building Blocks of the Resistance

An activist holds a sign at day 5 of the No Ban No Wall protest in Chicago, Illinois, on February 1, 2017. (Photo: Sarah Ji)An activist holds a sign at day five of the “No Ban, No Wall” protest in Chicago, Illinois, on February 1, 2017. (Photo: Sarah Ji)

“One thing that is very clear under the Trump administration is that we do not have the luxury of remaining in our silos and organizing around individual issues,” Manzoor Cheema, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based organizer with Muslims for Social Justice and Project South, told AlterNet. “Attacks are happening across the board against immigrants, refugees, Muslims, black communities, workers and Jews.”

Cheema is one of countless organizers across the country working to pull off large popular assemblies to empower and connect the communities caught in the crosshairs of this multi-pronged assault. With roots in the US Black Freedom movement, Latin American encuentro and left formations across the globe, such forums appear to be gaining steam, as growing crowds cram into packed community meetings to plot out strategies for resistance. While the issues and tactics may vary, organizers from across the country emphasized to AlterNet that the aim is to fortify independent social movement infrastructure to enable a broader and more effective fightback — and determine the needs of the most-impacted communities during this harrowing political moment.

In Los Angeles alone, at least 10 popular assemblies since November have drawn crowds ranging from 900 to dozens. “We’ve gotten together to discuss the current political moment and to remind folks that they are not alone, and there are other people who will be working and struggling with them,” Armando Carmona, spokesperson for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, told AlterNet in January. “Out of those assemblies, there have been mobilizations, know your rights workshops and other convenings to discuss neighborhood defense committees.”

These formations are part of a larger ecosystem of resistance to Trumpism that continues to build on a large scale, as millions around the world take to the streets, …

Read more