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As activism become increasingly common in response to Trump's policies, ACLU  has sought to recognize the potential of that power. (Photo: ACLU Nationwide/Facebook)

ACLU's People Power Project to Launch With "Cities of Resistance" Effort

'Freedom cities' initiative will help activists pressure local law enforcement to adopt lenient immigration policies

Nadia Prupis

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is launching a new project to harness grassroots resistance to President Donald Trump.

The project, People Power, will officially kick off Saturday. It will commence with a livestreamed resistance training to engage volunteers around the country "and take the fight against Donald Trump’s policies not just into the courts, but into the streets," the organization wrote on its preview website.

Its first effort will be to help cities use their local-level authority to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation and become a network of "freedom cities" capable of withstanding Trump's ongoing immigration crackdown.

The initiative will give activists a set of "ordinances" to help them pressure local law enforcement to use more lenient immigration policies.

"As Donald Trump does what he does, the greatest political power is in the cities and towns across America," Faiz Shakir, ACLU's national political director, told the Guardian on Friday. "Because constitutionally, cities have sovereignty rights unto their own."

The Guardian's Adam Gabbatt writes:

The ordinances resemble a pledge that could be made by local sheriffs or police commissioners. They include a commitment to "require a judicial warrant" before detaining people at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and to not "authorize or engage" in surveillance of a person or group based on their perceived immigration status.

"We will be asking people to arrange a meeting with their sheriff or their police commissioner or their local precinct commander and raise these draft ordinances at that meeting," Shakir said. "And have them discuss what their policies are with respect to immigrants. That would form the basis for follow-up meetings and follow-up policy advocacy."

"Essentially we want people to think of their cities as cities of resistance," Shakir said.

At least 2,300 viewing parties have already been arranged throughout the country to watch the People Power training and kickoff.

The project represents a new venture for the ACLU, which typically focuses on legal cases and has not been historically involved in grassroots organizing. But as activism become increasingly common in response to Trump's policies, and with mayors around the country declaring their support for undocumented immigrants—plus an influx of post-election donations—the group has sought to recognize the potential of that power.

In a memo to the Washington Post, the ACLU said it plans to recruit volunteers to implement "a plan to fight the Trump administration lawfully and systematically, not just by defending each individual as they are detained, harassed, or deported."

Future initiatives will also focus on women's equality, LGBTQ rights, police surveillance, and other similar issues.


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