Long Beach activist group hosts solidarity march in downtown

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Kristen Naeem | Signal Tribune
Demonstrators participating in the “We the People” solidarity march in Long Beach gathered at Harvey Milk park in downtown on Saturday, Sept. 21.

As the City of Long Beach celebrated the grand opening of the Billie Jean King Library in downtown, a progressive Long Beach activist group known as Resister Sisters spearheaded a solidarity march on Sept. 21 to support those participating in a “We the People” march, a political activist group, that simultaneously took in Washington, D.C.

One member of Resister Sisters, Julie Dean, said she was the initial organizer of the “We the People” solidarity march Long Beach but added that fellow members were instrumental in planning the event.

Before the march began, participants gathered in Harvey Milk Park and listened to speeches by six different speakers.

Among the speakers were Naida Tushnet, a member of the Gray Panthers, and Beatriz Valencia, who is running for city council in the city of Orange.

Protesters marched from Harvey Milk Park to the Long Beach Convention Center and back to the park where Dean thanked participants over a megaphone.

The solidarity march did not involve any closures of public streets and those demonstrating waited for cars and used crosswalks.

People walking in the demonstration held signs that expressed concerns about several political and social issues, such as immigrant children who have been detained and separated from their parents at the Mexican border.

One sign read “all children have the right to be safe from abuse from any person/ government” while others compared Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the Gestapo, which was the political police force of Nazi Germany during WWII. ICE has been criticized for its role in the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

Children and adults of varying ethnic backgrounds held signs concerning racial equity, such as “Black Lives Matter” and “Pro-black is not anti-white.”

Demonstrators flashed their signs at passing motorists and some were able to elicit honks of support from them.

The Resister Sisters are a progressive group who work to register Democrats to vote, according to Dean.

Along with having many of its members organize and volunteer at the We the People Solidarity March Long Beach, the Resister Sisters also set up tents in the park where people could register to vote. Pre-registration was also available for 16 and 17-year-olds. When a minor pre-registers they are automatically registered to vote when they turn 18.

The Resister Sisters aligns itself with organizations that promote voter registration. Aside from registering voters during the march, Resister Sisters also participated in the organization Postcards to Voters, which writes postcards to encourage people in and out of state to register to vote.

“We write letters to democrats who are not registered–– the envelope contains a registration form–– and they return it,” Dean told the Signal Tribune.

Along with voter information and registration forms, the postcards also contain personalized messages from volunteers about why they vote, according to Dean.

Within the state, they wanted to register more Democrat voters in Orange County through Postcards to Voters.

“We wanted to help with turning Orange County blue,” Dean said.

Resister Sisters has partnered with Postcards to Voters since August 2018 and has sent voter information to multiple states including Ohio, Alabama and Florida.

Approximately 3,000 postcards containing voter registration forms and information have been sent by Resister Sisters Long Beach members and the group has been praised by voters they have registered and political candidates alike, according to Dean.

“Our vote is our voice, and it is our power, and so many people fought for that right. This is a way to honor them; whether it be the suffragettes or the black vote,” Dean said.