Building a Movement for a Better Tennessee

Tri-Cities Weekend of Action – Jan 19-21, 2017

What a heartbreaking and spirit-lifting weekend. Here are the bad (some might say “nasty”) things that happened this weekend:

  • The Civil Rights, LGBT, and Immigrants pages on were replaced with a commitment to more law enforcement and a promise to defend gun rights through all levels of the justice system.
  • The Climate Change page was replaced with a vow to eliminate environmental regulations, extract oil and natural gas from publicly owned lands, and revive the coal industry.
  • An executive order was signed to allow the dismantling the Affordable Care Act.
  • Violence against women grants, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for Humanities were put on the chopping block.
  • The Trump administration lied—repeatedly—about crowd sizes, and even the weather, of all things (and to the CIA, of all people), showing that we cannot take their word for anything—except for the policies they promise to implement, or destroy.

I’m almost afraid for Monday to come and the administration to have their first real day at work.

But there was good this weekend, too—so much good. Trump’s pre-inauguration concert was desolate compared to previous such concerts, his parade & inauguration were virtually deserted, and it was all overshadowed by the massive turnouts in D.C. and across the country both on inauguration day and the day after. We, in fact, had the largest protest in United States history on the 21st, with an estimated 3,000,000 people turning out across the country. They were joined by a million more in the rest of the world. We can stand up to the system. We will continue standing up to the system. And we will not stop at blocking the actions of the Trump administration; we will not stop at returning the country to its previous status quo: We will not stop until we have achieved economic, social, and political justice in this country and beyond.

Right here at home, we tested out our “standing up to the system” capabilities as well, starting Thursday night.

January 19, 2017

Instead of watching Trump’s pre-inauguration concert, people came out to our pre-inauguration benefit show at The Hideaway in Johnson City. Local bands Secret Bleeders, Yog Sothoth, and POVERTYBOMB, as well as a dozen noise musicians, gave their time and some phenomenal performances to help raise money for the Northeast TN People’s movement. The event turned out better than anyone expected, everyone enjoyed themselves, and we are all stoked to do it again.

POVERYBOMB playing to a crowded house on January 19th.

January 20, 2017

We staged an Inauguration Day Shutdown here in Johnson City. Fifty people turned out for our march, rally, and people’s assembly.

Inauguration Day Shutdown People's Assembly

Our People’s Assembly on the steps of City Hall during our Inauguration Day Shutdown event, January 20, 2017.

This was an amazing event, starting at Memorial Park, we all met up and learned some chants. At 11:30, we began our march across the street, around the Municipal Building, and up the steps of City Hall, where we rallied for the next half hour. People who’d never yelled into a megaphone before that day took turns leading chants like pros. At noon, we had a moment of silence…or, well, we tried. Before the second hand could tick all the way around to 12:01, we ended the only silence this administration will get from us and began our People’s Assembly on the steps of City Hall. As a group, we discussed the issues we face here and what we expect—and demand—from our local and state governments. At the end, people shared what the organizations they’re working with are doing and how we can get involved with them. Then we marched back to the park, shared hugs, and left looking forward to seeing many of the same faces the next day in Jonesborough.

January 21, 2017

Jonesborough was the scene of the local Women’s March held in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. The sidewalks and street in front of the courthouse were packed—an estimated 1,000 people attended. Spirits and solidarity were high. People there were hungry for next-steps and ways they could get involved; it was great to see such renewed interest in getting involved. We were there flyering for our February 8th People’s Assembly, and a number of other organizations had representatives there as well. The organizers are putting together a page of local organizations; in the meantime, you can check their Facebook post for a list.

Women’s March in Jonesborough, TN, January 21, 2017 [photo by Whitney Prater]

Going Forward

As we said in the graphic we made for the Inauguration Day Shutdown, this is the start of Four Years of Fight Back. We are committed to working right here in Northeast Tennessee to protect our communities, defend our rights, and change the neoliberal and neoconservative policies that have led us into the situation we have now. We hope you’ll join us.

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