TWW Roundup: Young People Lead the Charge for Change
Finally, Support for Gun Reform
Spurred to action by teenagers, this week we saw government officials, major corporations, and celebrities voice their support for reasonable gun control measures. Although President Trump continues to insist that armed teachers would help deter future school shootings, his ally, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, was staunchly opposed to that concept. In the wake of the recent shooting in his state, Scott broke with the typical GOP response to gun reform by calling for a ban on bump stocks, and for measures to keep people under the age of 21, and people with histories of violence and mental illness, from buying and owning guns.
After numerous mass shootings over the last several years, public outcry is finally loud enough that corporations are beginning to cut ties with the National Rifle Association. United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Hertz, Enterprise, Avis, MetLife, and First National Bank of Omaha are among the major names who are ending discount programs for NRA members. On social media, a push to #StopNRATV was aimed at Amazon, Roku, and Apple for continuing to carry the NRA channel.
The long overdue backlash against the NRA came after A-list celebrities threw their clout — and major financial support — behind the March for Our Lives, organized by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. George and Amal Clooney were the first, donating $500,000 to the cause. Oprah later matched the donation, as did Stephen Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, and film executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife, Marilyn. Fashion brand Gucci followed with another $500,000. The March for Our Lives is set for March 14 in Washington, D.C., with local affiliate marches nationwide.
Listen to Black Youth
The young people who’ve organized the March for Our Lives and made emotional, ardent pleas on television and social media have been rightfully lauded for their efforts. As we close out Black History Month, it would be remiss to overlook the many black youth who’ve already protested, marched, and spoken out in support of gun reform. As Lincoln Anthony Blades wrote in his powerful “Do Better” column for Teen Vogue, black teens are the most impacted by gun violence, and they’ve been advocating for better gun control measures for years. The difference is that America hasn’t been listening.
In 2013, after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin, a group of young Dream Defenders demonstrated at the Florida Capitol and partnered with the NAACP to demand action on racial profiling, gun violence, and Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
Trayvon Martin’s death was also a catalyst for Black Youth Project 100, which began as a Twitter hashtag and became a “member-based organization of Black youth activists creating justice and freedom for all Black people.”
After Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were shot by police in 2016, four Chicago teenagers organized a peaceful, silent sit-in at Millennium Park to protest police brutality and gun violence and to highlight the oppression of black people.
In recent years, black Americans, often teens and young adults, have organized, protested, and demanded justice and change. Too often, those protests have been ignored or overlooked. As we support, praise, and join the students from Parkland who are the latest to raise their voices against gun violence, we must also acknowledge and stand with those who’ve been speaking up all along. Who knows what we could’ve accomplished already if we’d listened to them sooner.
Supreme Court Declines to Rule on DACA
UPDATE: The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will not hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that requires the Dept. of Homeland Security to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Justice Department had asked the Court to bypass the appeals process in the lower courts and rule quickly on whether to continue the program. The Supreme Court rarely hears such cases, and today stated it expects the lower courts to rule “expeditiously.” While the case heads to an appeal in federal circuit court, the DHS must continue to accept renewal applications for the so-called “Dreamers.”
The long-term legal status of the Dreamers is still uncertain, but the ruling buys Congress and the Trump Administration more time to reach a deal on how, and to what extent, they should be legally protected. The program was set to expire March 5 unless Congress passed a new agreement to protect thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Though numerous plans have been proposed, Congress has been unable to reach a deal and did not seem likely to do so by the deadline.
Across the nation, Catholics were asked to participate in a “call-in” day for Monday, Feb 26, to reach out to their representatives in support of the 1.8 million people affected by DACA. At the local level, a college student in Columbia, Missouri, organized a “Rally for Dreamers” this weekend to show support for Dreamers in the community and to press for a legislative solution before the program expires.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein Does Not Win State Party Endorsement
The California Democratic Party declined to endorse a Senatorial candidate following this weekend’s convention. Neither incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein, seeking her sixth-term, or her challenger, state Sen. Kevin de León, received the 60 percent of delegate votes needed for an endorsement.
Sen. Feinstein has long been a leader on gun control issues; in 1994, she helped push through a ban on assault weapons, and she has been a vocal gun reform advocate on Twitter, especially in recent weeks. In January, Feinstein, the top Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, went rogue and released the full testimony of the committee’s interview with the founder of Fusion GPS, the firm that researched President Trump during the 2016 election. Republican Committee members had previously refused to make the testimony public.
Her challenger, de León, is a young Latino Democrat, popular with many in the state party for his more progressive, left-leaning views. Despite receiving more delegates’ votes than Feinstein at the convention, he didn’t have enough to earn the party’s endorsement and still faces an uphill battle against Feinstein’s established base and financial backing.
- Continue to celebrate and honor Black History Month by checking out this list of blogs and websites that we encourage you to read and follow, not just this month, but all year long.
- Contact your reps and DEMAND they address gun control legislation. This is especially effective if you’re a registered Republican or gun owner! Then check out this list of 30 Gun Reform Actions You Can Take Now and work to change the norm of mass shootings in this country.
- Let your representatives know they must do everything in their power to guarantee the integrity of the Mueller investigation!
- Verify your voter registration status. As we bring our #PowertothePolls, make sure you’re registered!
- Get out the Vote! Join a group like ACLU People Power to help register voters, fight for election reform, and encourage everyone to vote.
** This post has been updated to reflect the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday, Feb 26 not to consider the DACA appeal.
Justine Hendricks is a writer, editor, and fitness professional. A bookworm and history nerd, she holds an American Studies degree from Washington College (Md.) and believes in liberty and justice for all.