Oakland groups take action after a shocking election outcome

At a downtown Oakland protest on November 9, a demonstrator displays a message for future action. Photo by Margaret Katcher.

At a downtown Oakland protest on November 9, a demonstrator displays a message for future action. Photo by Margaret Katcher.

On the night of the presidential election, Corey Abshear was bartending at Bar 355 in downtown Oakland when she saw that Donald Trump would be the next president of the United States. Upset by the results, when she awoke the next morning, Abshear came up with a way to fight back against promises Trump made on the campaign trail to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that she cares about. She convinced her boss to let Bar 355 host a happy hour fundraiser for Planned Parenthood on Friday, November 18.

Ten percent of the sales made from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. will go towards the group. Over 800 people have already signed up on Facebook to attend the event. “I think it’s been really well received, and it’s actually making me feel a lot better this week,” said Abshear.

Bar 355’s fundraiser is just one of many Oakland events created in the wake of Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency, from training teachers and parents to deal with bullying linked to the election to providing free information on civil rights.

Renata Moreira-Bilella, director of Our Family Coalition, a nonprofit that advocates for the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning people, said that reactions from community members have been intense. In the past Donald Trump has said that he’ll appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn the 2015 marriage equality ruling (although he backtracked on that position in a recent 60 Minutes interview), and he supported North Carolina’s HB2 law that removed discrimination protections for transgender individuals.

“It’s been really heartbreaking just to see how scared our community really is,” said Moreira-Bilella.

To respond to members’ fears, Our Family will host a statewide call-in event at noon on December 8 for LGBTQ families and supporters to find legal resources. Moreira-Bilella said that the call will address adoption problems, marriage equality, healthcare concerns and immigration status issues, all of which affect LGBTQ families. The call-in will be a hotline conference call with legal teams who can offer pro bono advice. She said that people can go to Our Family’s website and RSVP to join the call.

The group is also ramping up parent leadership trainings to combat recent episodes of bullying that have cropped up in schools since the election. She said the trainings would teach parents and teachers to respond to conversations kids are having with each other. “As a parent, how do you talk to your children about another child in class that said, ‘Is he really going to build a wall?’ and ‘What does that mean for my family?’” said Moreira-Bilella.

Since November 8, non-profit research group Southern Poverty Law Center has counted more than 400 hate crimes throughout the U.S. Of these attacks, more than one-third were recorded in schools and universities. According to the report, the top targets have been immigrants, African Americans, and members of the LGBT community.

In one incident at San Jose State University, a Muslim girl was physically assaulted by a man who pulled her by her headscarf. Civil rights coordinator for Muslim advocacy group the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Saba Maher said that women who are visibly wearing a headscarf are extremely vulnerable to these kinds of attacks. To support victims of hate crimes, Maher said that CAIR counsels, mediates and advocates on their behalf and gathers data on hate crimes committed against Muslim Americans.

She said that volunteers can support CAIR by joining their growing community outreach program, which informs American Muslims of their civil rights and the legal resources available to them. Anyone can donate or sign up to help, she said: “Our doors are open, we’re welcoming volunteers, we’re welcoming allies.”

Maher said that the election showed Americans how important political engagement is to the safety and health of many communities. “If you want to see a change in your community, you’ve got to be a part of that change,” she said.

Abshear, for her part, said that Bar 355 staff want to continue to host fundraisers on issues like immigrants’ and women’s rights that could be vulnerable under a Trump administration. “I think it’s going to get real personal for people now in the next four years, and I think that it’s better to try and make some change than just sit and be angry,” said Abshear.

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