'We Rise' Actions Aim to Challenge Rightwing Takeover of State Governments

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'We Rise' Actions Aim to Challenge Rightwing Takeover of State Governments

Protesters take to the streets and state capitol buildings to declare: 'our statehouses and our cities belong to us'

An effigy of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who supports a $1.5 billion cut from Medicaid and other massive cuts to social services, being marched from the state Capitol Building to the governor's mansion. (Photo: @fancykaitlin/Twitter)

With working families, women, the environment, people of color under attack in state legislatures and city halls around the country, people are stepping up to say: "No more."

To make their message heard by local governments on Wednesday, supporters participated in more than 20 events—including rallies, sit-ins, and acts of civil disobedience—in 16 states as part of the "We Rise" national day of action.

"Politicians working primarily on behalf of big corporations are making it harder and harder for families to get by," said Ana María Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, which helped organize Wednesday's events along with National People's Action and USAction.

She added: "Our families won’t stand for this, and today thousands of workers and families raised our voices in state houses across the country to demand that elected officials join us in leveling the playing field so that each and every family can thrive."

With the right wing currently in control of more state legislatures than at any time since the 1920s, state houses offer "the right wing's best chance to enact the most extreme legislation," wrote Bernie Horn, senior adviser for Progressive Majority Action and the Public Leadership Institute, in an op-ed last month.

"Apparently conservatives believe they have a mandate to give big corporations another free ride on the backs of everyday people," said George Goehl, executive director of National People’s Action. "But they’re wrong. They have no such mandate. Instead, as we can see in the resistance to draconian policy or Chuy Garcia’s campaign to unseat Rahm Emanuel as Mayor of Chicago, there is a new brand of populism taking root in America. People are fed up with politicians doing the bidding of big money. They’re ready for leaders who will work for, not against, people and the planet."

To that end, close to 2,500 people packed the Illinois Capitol Building in Springfield on Wednesday, where some were arrested for acts of civil disobedience and others chanted, "Tax the rich, now!"

Meanwhile, a parade snaked its way through Albany, New York, with about 1,000 marchers calling for increased funding for public education.

And in Topeka, Kansas, approximately 200 activists piled into the office of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback to demand that elected officials put people and the planet before profits and polluters.

Other actions were taking place in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania (seven different events), West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Follow the activity on Twitter under the hashtag #WeRise.

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