Activism in the Time of Coronavirus
On this day, it is a wonder to think that we are living through this time where people are choosing to put health over profit. Long the message of activists, and so often derided as unrealistic. This message is the root of #waterislife, it is the intent behind the necessity defense, it is also a fundamental tenet of the peace movement. Whenever activists have stood up, for whatever reason, they are generally demanding changes to protect life and health. In these days, the immediate threat has overwhelmed our other demands, except where there are direct intersections - like an end to incarceration or immigration detention where many are becoming infected due to the impossibility of social distancing, or asking for an end to deportations which have already doubled the coronavirus caseload in Honduras, or demanding that we suspend rent, mortgage, eviction, and other systems that could lead to widespread homelessness in the coming months. Each of these movements is organizing petitions (click links above), calls to local, state and national representatives, and fill-the-voicemail or email campaigns to police, ICE, and other institutions. There are also mutual-aid groups organized on city and district levels, with call-lists for shut ins and forms to request or offer assistance (you can start your own!). There are take-it-to-go soup kitchens and food pantries, walk up clinics. Food drop-offs and the like. We are finding ways to hold space for each other, from 6' away. There are new ways to organize long-distance. Sunrise Movement was perhaps the quickest to move their programming online, advertising zoom organizing meetings and phone banking. And yet, some needs, like access to bathrooms and handwashing, are impossible to fill remotely, all the more urgent with so many establishments and outreach centers closed for the coronavirus.
And yet we don't want to leave you with grim necessity, but with joy and hope. So here's a humorous report of activism in the time of COVID19: a friend was outraged that elected representatives would risk IN-PERSON voting amidst the COVID-19 pandemic ... So on the eve of the primary, she made a sign and picketed all by herself in front of the mayor's home. One of the police officers on security detail ran towards her. She called out ‘6 foot distance!’ and stopped him in his tracks!
If only all civil disobedience were resolved so readily in favor of health and safety!