Challenging Us to Change the Lens Through Which We View Immigration Activism

By Tyna Ek, Seattle Indivisible

Wednesday night’s unvarnished look at the real, human impact of current U.S. immigration protocols inspired passion, tears, anger, disillusionment, discomfort, hope, and eventual commitments to act as firsthand stories and experiences were shared at Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network’s MIGRATION: An Act of Courage.

Calpulli Mitotilistli Centeotl perform Blessing to the Four Directions

Calpulli Mitotilistli Centeotl perform Blessing to the Four Directions

From the soulful pan-flute music of Sin Fronteras to the high-energy dance and drumbeat of Calpulli Mitotilistli Centeotl in full native Aztec warrior regalia, it was instantly clear to the 150-or-so people gathered at First Church in north Seattle that this was unlike any “progressive” immigration event they’d been to lately. There were no pleas for pity for kids in cages; no myths that any particular candidate, political party or dedicated activist will be migrants’ savior. The focus Wednesday night centered on hardworking families steeped in rich culture and tradition who, despite their historic and on-going mistreatment, courageously refuse to surrender their fate to circumstances beyond their control.

The main takeaway of the evening was that we cannot rely on our elected officials or government institutions to fix our dehumanizing immigration system—we need to do it. Our systems are broken. Our government lost its moral compass when Obama started locking refugee families up in private detention centers, and Trump has escalated these abuses. Refugees can be treated with dignity and respect. We can set up humane immigration systems. But this will only happen when the people of this country collectively reject the propaganda that says refugees are scary and dangerous and need to be locked up.  

What’s really happening at the border. . .

Local activists Palmira Figueroa (WAISN, Social Justice Fund NW) and Alex Fayer (Seattle Indivisible, WAISN) set up the border discussion, explaining why they traveled to El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico in late July. They visited Mexican migrant shelters and U.S. nonprofits; interviewed asylum seekers, attorneys, and activists. They asked them all—What do you need, and how can we help?

Palmira and Alex brought award-winning filmmaker Moema Umann with them. Moema’s short film brought the audience to the border to hear firsthand why families are willing to risk their lives to travel to the United States, and what happens to them when they arrive.

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 “When people say well, how could these women expose their children to danger? They were exposed to danger from the time they took their first breath where they lived in Honduras, Guatemala and San Salvador. . . These women had no other choice but to survive”

We learned from lawyers and activists on the ground that our government has essentially closed our southern border to asylum seekers since implementation of the new Migrant Protection Protocols that allow asylum seekers to be forced back across the Mexican border to wait—indefinitely—to assert their asylum claims.

A scene from Moema Umann’s film showing what the team saw in Juarez, Mexico, where immigrants, in makeshift shelters, wait for months hoping they will be called up to apply for asylum

A scene from Moema Umann’s film showing what the team saw in Juarez, Mexico, where immigrants, in makeshift shelters, wait for months hoping they will be called up to apply for asylum

Ian Philabaum (Innovation Law Lab, Program Director)

Ian Philabaum (Innovation Law Lab, Program Director)

Guest speaker and border activist Ian Philabaum described what he called the “feeding frenzy” that occurs on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande Valley since the new Remain in Mexico protocols took effect. Migrants fleeing violence arrive at the border and the U.S. government buses them back to the Rio Grande Valley, where they are met and picked up by the Mexican cartels that have their own buses.

Facilitator Aneelah Afzali asked Ian to explain how the CARA Pro Bono Project Ian worked with in 2016 was able to achieve such unprecedented success—99% of the women and children detained at Dilley Detention Center who saw a CARA volunteer were released to their

Graphic from Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.,  “One Year of CARA Pro Bono Project, thousands helped.”

Graphic from Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., “One Year of CARA Pro Bono Project, thousands helped.”

loved ones to await their asylum hearings. Ian said a group of people who morally rejected the premise that migrant families should be locked up, banded together and, for an entire year, volunteered massive hours to support refugees, help them fill out forms, get them pro bono representation and help advocate for their release. The success of these efforts proves the power ordinary people have to make real change that lawyers and politicians alone, have been unable or unwilling to make.

Featured guest speaker Allegra Love, an activist/immigration attorney who works on the border, said when she began this work in 2014, she did not think it was possible for the system to be less humane. The Obama administration was locking up migrant families seeking asylum and, Ian interjected, there is a reason immigrants began calling President Obama the Deporter-In-Chief. Two million immigrants were deported while Obama was president. But as a lawyer, Allegra thought justice was to be found in the courts. She learned from experience that the system is broken and immigration laws are “all made up.” Officials just keep making up and revising laws to keep control of black and brown people, she said. There’s a reason Ebony Miranda (Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County) helped frame this event, by explaining that the Black community shares a deep, personal understanding of this country’s use of incarceration to control and keep down people of color.

Allegra Love, immigration attorney and Executive Director of the Santa Fe Dreamers Project.

Allegra Love, immigration attorney and Executive Director of the Santa Fe Dreamers Project.

Allegra Love offered a poignant example of how the system is broken. She was observing immigration court hearings the other day when the case of a two-year-old was called. The toddler, unrepresented by counsel, had to be lifted up by an adult so he could reach the microphone to answer the judge’s questions in his immigration hearing. Yet as a legal observer, and Executive Director of a nonprofit dedicated to providing legal services to immigrants, there was nothing Allegra or her organization could do to intervene and stop this mockery of justice—for everything that happened was “legal” under current immigration policy.


A two-year-old, unrepresented by counsel, had to be lifted up to the microphone to answer the judge’s questions at his immigration hearing—and this was “legal” under current U.S. policy.


Our legal system is not the only U.S. institution failing immigrants. Allegra said the claim that immigrants are receiving proper medical care is untrue. She intervened as an advocate for a woman in detention who stated she had a medical condition for which she required specific medication but ICE ignored her pleas for medical attention and medication—at one point telling her to just take an aspirin. Advocates were able to get the attention of a Senator who sought to intervene, but by the time these wheels were in motion it was too late—the woman died. This isn’t an isolated example, Allegra said. There are some dedicated doctors who want to help, but ICE frequently denies immigrants the medical attention they need.

“This is happening on our watch, on our dime, and in our name.”

—Allegra Love

Institutions are collapsing, Allegra said. Our government, elected officials, the courts—none of them are working. Lawyers and volunteers are “working our asses off,” but we’re failing. It’s like “trying to hold water in your hand.” But there is hope, because if institutions can’t address these problems then you don’t have to be a person with access to politicians or systems of power—you don’t have to be a lawyer or even a Spanish speaker—to work toward a solution. “It’s time for us to all take responsibility--we need to democratize the solutions,” Allegra said to thundering applause.

Mississippi workers arrested in largest ICE raid in U.S. history. . .

WAISN Coordinator and featured speaker Monserrat Padilla returned home to Seattle just two days before this event—she’d returned from leading a team of WAISN volunteers to Mississippi to meet with the families impacted by the largest ICE raids in U.S. history.

Monserrat Padilla, WAISN Coordinator, immigration rights and LGBTQIA activist, co-founder of the Washington Dream Coalition and instrumental in advocating for the Washington State Dream Act.

Monserrat Padilla, WAISN Coordinator, immigration rights and LGBTQIA activist, co-founder of the Washington Dream Coalition and instrumental in advocating for the Washington State Dream Act.

Wait a minute, let’s take a beat and let that sink in. . . 

For all of us exhausted by the chaos of the current administration, who think we just can’t take any more, let’s pause a sec to put this in perspective. Monserrat Padilla, an undocumented, transgender, Latinx woman from Seattle who co-founded the Washington Dream Coalition, coordinates a statewide immigrant rights network and sheroically juggles the busiest activist schedule known to womankind, just went to Mississippi to see if she could help.

 Allegra Love put it best when she said “I don’t look for moral leadership in government” anymore. Then she turned to Monserrat and added—“this woman is moral leadership.”


Monserrat began her talk by calling out the names of people she met in Mississippi, saying she wanted to “shine a light” on these courageous immigrants who had left a lasting impression. She reminded us that on August 7, 2019, 680 workers were arrested in the largest ICE raid in U.S. history. These arrests immediately impacted 1500+ children as families were separated, traumatized and pushed into economic crisis.

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Some of those arrested have been criminally charged. Many are in detention centers and are moved daily, creating additional chaos and further confusing and frustrating lawyers trying to help. 

Monserrat shared the story of a mother and daughter she met in Mississippi. She saw her younger self in the 12-year-old girl translating for her mother, trying to navigate a very complicated process, and not really being able to process her own trauma. After listening to the girl, Monserrat said “I see you” and asked if she could give her a hug—the girl’s face just lit up.

Many immigrants the team met in Mississippi were originally from Guatemala and did not speak English or Spanish when they arrived. They spoke local dialects. These families, traumatized by separation and loss of income, now are forced to find a way to feed their family while navigating an extremely complex legal process with little or no help.

The owners and managers of the poultry processing plants who built their businesses on the backs of immigrant workers, did nothing to assist their employees following these raids. We learned these employers had a history of wage theft and abusive employment practices. Some of the workers had tried to unionize; they’d made a recent unfair labor complaint and won. While these employers have not been held accountable, the employees were targeted by ICE, arrested, and separated from their families who suddenly found themselves hungry with no means of support. Monserrat stressed the critical importance of supporting local Mississippi food banks.

Q & A session made some uncomfortable—but that’s OK. . .

After the feature presentations, Allegra Love, Ian Philabaum and Monserrat Padilla participated in a panel discussion, responding to questions facilitated by Aneelah Afzali, Executive Director of MAPS-AMEN.

Left to Right: Aneelah Afzali, Monserrat Padilla, Allegra Love and Ian Philabaum

Left to Right: Aneelah Afzali, Monserrat Padilla, Allegra Love and Ian Philabaum

Multiple questions asked panelists to compare how refugees are treated now, to how they were treated during the Obama administration. Some audience members seemed surprised, and others uncomfortable, with the answers they received.

Allegra Love, Executive Director of the  Santa Fe Dreamers Project ; Ian Philabaum, Program Director of  Innovation Law Lab  Centers of Excellence and manager of BorderX

Allegra Love, Executive Director of the Santa Fe Dreamers Project; Ian Philabaum, Program Director of Innovation Law Lab Centers of Excellence and manager of BorderX

 Allegra and Ian started working on the border in 2014, and both explained through words, examples, and finally an awkward attempt at a sports metaphor, how inhumanely they saw immigrants treated under the Obama administration. The dehumanizing treatment they witness every day will not go away if Trump loses the 2020 election, Allegra cautioned. Obama established the policies of locking up migrant families in private, for-profit detention centers, and unprecedented mass deportations.

Yes, it’s all worse under Trump they both acknowledged. But it’s as if Obama ran the football down to the 20 yard line, then Trump picked up the ball and ran it to goal.

Allegra is not impressed by immigration positions coming from Democratic presidential candidates either. Ask whichever candidate you support to commit to a specific plan to stop locking up migrants who come to our southern border in search of refuge, she suggested. If they don’t give you that commitment, then tell them you won’t vote for them—even if that means another four years of Trump. At that point the discomfort in the room was palpable, as one woman from the audience called out: “I disagree with that.”


Monserrat interjected patiently, saying she understands why many people felt comfortable while Obama was president and uncomfortable now. Monserrat initially felt comfortable too, even hopeful, when Obama was elected president. For she believed the “hope and change” message of his campaign, and she believed Obama when he said he’d pass the Dream Act during his first 100 days in office. Looking back, she realizes that as a young Dreamer attracted to the hopeful future Obama promised, she too enjoyed some privilege that initially obscured her recognition of the harm Obama was causing her community. Monserrat described her startled disillusionment, and the discomfort that set in, when none of those promises materialized. But that’s OK, Monserrat said. It’s OK to feel uncomfortable, and to realize we’re not as amazing as we thought we were. “Unlearning things is a journey.” Discomfort can be a good thing. For those of us just feeling uncomfortable now, after Trump’s election, Monserrat said, simply, “Welcome!”

So what can we do, how can we help?

So, are you ready to work on immigrant rights? Good, because it will take all of us, exercising our collective power, to reject the injustices woven into our current network of immigration systems. We must reject the premise that migrant families seeking refuge should be locked up. We should reject the assumption that U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE)—an agency that did not exist until 2003—or the Dept. of Homeland Security (est. 2002) must be funded or all hell will break loose.  As Allegra Love said: “I don’t know why we continue to bet on an agency that kills children.”

 So how can you help?

  •  Connect to trusted resources so you have accurate information

  • Volunteer your time to protect and support immigrants

  •   Advocate to policy makers

  •   Protest and participate in direction action

  •   Donate: All presenters suggested giving to local organizations advocating, organizing and directly supporting immigrants in our communities.

Specific recommendations and suggested resources for these five ways to help were handed out at the event and can be found here.

Allegra Love also challenged us to expand our idea of what it means to work on immigrant rights. We’re not all lawyers, we don’t all speak Spanish, and even if we all were able to drop everything and relocate to the border—not everyone we need in this fight would fit in El Paso, Allegra said. So go to School Board meetings, stay on top of City Hall, and work for local affordable housing—for all this directly impacts immigrant communities.

The evening ended with paired off discussions, then written commitments, about what each attendee planned to do next, followed by the lighting of candles for the hope and love we all share for our immigrant brothers and sisters.


Seattle Indivisible Joins Coalition Urging Congress to Pass NO BAN Act

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384 Organizations Urge Congress to Pass #NoBanAct

New Civil Rights Bill to End Muslim Ban and Religious Discrimination in Immigration,

Groups Release 100+ Muslim Ban Stories

 WASHINGTON, DC — Today, a diverse coalition of close to 400 civil rights, faith, national security and community organizations announced their support for the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act (“NO BAN Act”), a historic civil rights bill that would end the Muslim Ban and prevent faith-based discrimination in immigration. The organizations sent a joint letter to Congress endorsing the bill ahead of its bicameral introduction on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, by Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA).  The members will host a press conference to announce the bill that will take place at the Senate Swamp on Wednesday, April 10 at 9:15 am featuring impacted individuals, faith leaders and members of Congress. 

  • Click here to read the letter from 384 organizations.

  • Click here for over 100 Muslim Ban impact stories.

The organizations endorsing the legislation include leading civil rights groups like the NAACP, UnidosUS and Human Rights Campaign; faith denominations like the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the Union for Reform Judaism; and impacted American Muslim communities.

“We urge you to support this important legislation because your leadership on this issue is critical to ensuring that Congress sends a strong message to the American people that how someone prays should not dictate whether the government can ban them from coming to the United States,” wrote the groups. “Families should not be separated simply based on their faith. These are our shared values. It is time for Congress to act to overturn the Muslim Ban and stand against religious discrimination.”

In addition to the nearly 400 groups listed in the letter, supporters of the bill include original co-sponsors Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), as well as Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA), Andre Carson (D-IN), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

Since Trump first announced this horrific policy just over two years ago, the Muslim Ban has cruelly torn families apart; preventing children from being with their parents and grandparents and forced people to miss the births, deaths, weddings and funerals of loved ones. The NO BAN Act will end this discriminatory policy and amend the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, ensuring that no president will ever again be able to ban an entire community without accountability.


Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.



Vote Tuesday Nov. 6, 2018 As If Your Life Depends On It--Because It Does

Seattle Indivisible is an effective, progressive, inclusive and persistent grassroots organization inspired by the nationwide Indivisible Movement. Our purpose is to defend our democracy and the progress we have fought so hard to achieve, and to take direct action to effectively move this nation forward. We empower people who care about our values and work closely with communities most harmed by the current administration’s regressive policies. To achieve our goals, we need leaders who share our values and will effectively advocate for them.

 Here are Seattle Indivisible’s endorsements for the Nov. 6, 2018 midterm election:


Seattle Indivisible endorses U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) for reelection.

U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07)

U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07)

Pramila Jayapal was the first congressional leader to effectively highlight the family separation crisis and has shown a willingness to put herself personally on the line for equity causes that fundamentally define the character of our nation. She consistently votes our values and makes herself readily available to her constituents through frequent Town Halls and meetings. She has opened her door to Seattle Indivisible and many other progressive advocacy groups and shows up with a powerful voice to support the causes we care about. But more than that, Pramila Jayapal is a movement leader. She was a progressive grassroots organizer before she was elected to Congress, and her organizer approach is exactly what is needed in Congress at this critical juncture in our political history.

Seattle Indivisible endorses U.S. Representative Adam Smith (WA-09) for reelection.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09)

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09)

Adam Smith has a strong voting record on a number of progressive equity issues we care about such as healthcare access, immigrant rights/protections, women’s reproductive rights and progressive taxation, and he was an early endorser of SeaTac’s groundbreaking $15 minimum wage. He is consistently accessible and responsive to his constituents; proactively scheduling Town Hall meetings, promptly and meaningfully responding to constituent inquiries. He has met to discuss issues with Seattle Indivisible every time we have asked and we believe he is well situated to make additional changes we want to see due to his leadership position in Congress. Adam Smith knows his district, stays in close contact with those he represents and has earned reelection.

Seattle Indivisible endorses U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell for reelection.

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell

Maria Cantwell has been out front on important issues such as the environment and natural resources, net neutrality, women’s issues, Medicaid expansion and access to rural healthcare. We admire her intellect and deep understanding of the issues. Over the past two years she has responded to Seattle Indivisible urging her to be more open and accessible to her constituents by holding her first Town Hall meetings—five of them. She has met with Seattle Indivisible and has dedicated staff to deeply engage with us in weekly meetings open to the public while she is in Washington DC.  We want to see Sen. Cantwell continue making herself more publicly available and visible, and we urge her to take bold public positions on critical issues earlier so that her strong leadership can influence other members of congress. At this critical juncture—more than any other in modern history—we need bold fearless leaders to stand up to this administration and help create a movement of change. For progressives, there is no contest between Sen. Cantwell and her opponent—we want Senator Maria Cantwell to be our bold voice.


Seattle Indivisible believes in empowering ordinary people to take a strong role in their own governance. In that vein, Seattle Indivisible endorses the following ballot measures that began as citizen initiatives:

I-940 (De-Escalate Washington) - We believe I-940 is long overdue and will save lives. The number of fatal shootings by police is increasing in Washington State, and those being shot are disproportionately people of color and the mentally ill.  This ballot measure addresses critical gaps in law enforcement training and accountability. I-940 would ensure every law enforcement officer in this state is trained in de-escalation techniques, including how to recognize and safely interact with people suffering from mental illness so use of deadly force becomes the last resort. This law would also eliminate the requirement that prosecutors prove an officer acted with “malice” before s/he can be held accountable for a bad shooting—a virtually impossible standard that in this state has prevented prosecutors from seeking to hold police accountable regardless of how egregious the circumstances. By addressing both training and accountability, we believe I-940 will save lives. For more information, see Seattle Indivisible’s original endorsement: https://www.seattleindivisible.com/blog/2017/9/22/seattle-indivisible-endorses-i-940

I-1631 (Clean Air Clean Energy WA) –Finally, the broadest of coalitions has come together to forge a serious, thoughtful plan to curb carbon emissions and blunt inevitable impacts of climate change in an equitable manner that incentivizes an inclusive new clean-jobs economy. Funds collected from carbon fees charged to large emitters will be spent on clean air, clean water and healthy forest projects and infrastructure. But what makes this ballot measure unique is its recognition that indigenous peoples, low income communities and vulnerable populations are often most impacted by the pollution we generate and are often the first ones to lose their jobs or be displaced when solutions are discussed. This ballot measure brought all these impacted groups to the table, along with environmental groups, labor and hundreds of stakeholders who together, intentionally designed a plan to make sure that vulnerable populations play a vital role in Washington State’s transition from carbon to clean energy. This ballot measure isn’t just an initiative to save our environment, it’s a plan for progressive environmental justice and Seattle Indivisible is fully on board.

Ballots for the midterm election will be mailed on October 17, 2018, and must be returned by November 6, 2018. We hope our endorsements help, and that all of us will continue to listen, read and discuss the critical choices that will shape the future of our nation and our daily lives.  The most important thing you can do to make a difference this year is vote in this midterm election and make sure everyone who shares our values votes too. Vote as if your life depended on it—because for many, it does!


Seattle Indivisible 

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Show Us What You Stand For Dems--Go All In For Dreamers

January 26, 2018

A January 24th Seattle Times column by Danny Westneat frets that Seattle Indivisible and other ‘resistance’ activists are turning towards the crash-and-burn tactics of the far-right. In fact, we advocate the opposite: all we want is for Senators Cantwell and Murray to stand up to President Trump’s bullying, prevent a humanitarian crisis, and pass a wildly popular bipartisan piece of legislation - The DREAM Act.

Every day that passes without a solution, 700,000 DREAMers are cruelly forced to live in fear and uncertainty as the March 5 deadline looms. Brought here as young children, these teens and young adults have families and deep community ties here. They voluntarily reported to the government where they live and attend school and agreed to background checks every two years—trusting our promise that if they did everything we asked, they could go to school and work without fear of being ripped from their lives and families and deported to a country they have never known. 

President Trump created this crisis by reneging on the promise America made to these DREAMers and abruptly cancelling the DACA program without an alternative solution. Republican leadership has perpetuated the crisis, refusing to vote on the Dream Act even though 80% of Americans and 60% of Republicans support legal protections for DREAMers. Despite this consensus, Mr. Westneat argues Democrats have a “weak hand” so they should not go “all in” for the Dreamers. He says they were “fortunate to wriggle out” this week saving the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). But young DREAMers and children in need of healthcare are not poker chips. Congress should have voted on both the Dream Act and CHIP reauthorization months ago. Commentators such as Mr. Westneat should be condemning President Trump and the Republican Congress for treating this like a game in which Democrats must be prepared to “give up” one vulnerable population for another just to get Congress to vote on legislation America overwhelmingly supports.

What do we expect of our Democratic senators in the face of Trump’s chaos and Republican congressional dysfunction? We expect moral clarity that we the people can stand behind. In this year of national crisis, as the Trump administration has targeted immigrants and people of color with authoritarian consistency, we expect our Senators to act with the urgency of the times and stand firm against the deportation of an entire generation of immigrant Americans. Senators Cantwell and Murray took a firm stand when they voted against a continuing resolution without a DACA fix on Dec. 21st and again voted ‘no’ last Friday. We don’t understand what was different on Monday.

Our job as Americans is to hold our Members of Congress accountable. 5,800 grassroots Indivisible organizations throughout the country are helping people do that. When we express our disappointment in Senators Murray and Cantwell’s vote to re-open the government without DREAMer protections, we aren’t “bludgeoning our own,” we are asking them to do better. We are sending a clear message that their constituents want them to use every tool available to the minority party to protect the DREAMers.

We need to keep our focus on the hundreds of thousands of young people at risk of deportation.  They are not “leverage,” they are our neighbors. Our Senators claim they are champions of the DREAMers, and are horrified by what is happening to them. If so, they should do what DREAMers are asking and hold out for a real solution, not another empty promise to continue talking.  We cannot wait to act until the midterm elections – Dreamers may be subject to deportation on March 5 if Congress does not pass a DACA fix. Meanwhile, DREAMers and their families live in constant fear as President Trump and Congress treat this like a game. Take a stand Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell, and don’t back down.  For years, people have been complaining they don’t know what the Democratic Party really stands for—now is the time to show them.

Iga Kozlowska

President and Co-founder

Seattle Indivisible

Download and Print Betsy DeVos Counter-Rally Posters!

Seattle Indivisible Endorses I-940


Seattle Indivisible is pleased to announce its endorsement of Washington State Initiative 940 (I-940). The number of fatal shootings by police is increasing in Washington State, and those being shot are disproportionately people of color and the mentally ill. This is unacceptable. Seattle Indivisible agrees that every law enforcement officer in this state should be trained in de-escalation techniques and trained to recognize and safely interact with people suffering from mental illness so that use of deadly force becomes the last resort. If a suspect is shot, police should be trained to render life-saving first aid while waiting for an emergency medical response. Under I-940, every law enforcement officer in Washington would receive this training and would be held accountable for applying this training in the communities they serve. In sum, I-940 will save lives. We can’t think of a better reason for Seattle Indivisible to issue its first formal endorsement. We strongly urge our 8,000+ members to pitch in to help obtain 340,000 signatures in support of I-940 by December.

Too frequently, we read about interactions between the police and the communities they serve ending in tragedy. While national media attention may focus on St. Louis, Chicago or New York, did you know there are more fatal shootings by police in Washington State than in Missouri, Illinois or New York? And did you know that although it is only September, there have already been more fatal shootings by Washington police in 2017 (28 so far) than there were in 2016 (26) or 2015 (16)? It’s true; the problem in Washington State is getting worse, not better. With at least 28 fatal shootings so far in 2017, Washington has one of the highest rates of use of force resulting in death in the nation. Half those killed this year were people of color and at least a quarter were reported to suffer from mental illness.[1]

The problem I-940 seeks to address isn’t adequately explained solely through statistics. Each person shot by police has a life story, and a community of friends and family who will never be the same. So do the police officers who pull the trigger and later learn the person who may have been holding a knife was a Native American wood carver or a pregnant mother of three with a known mental disorder.[2] For the sake of those lives who could be saved by de-escalation, their families and communities, and law enforcement officers unfairly placed in dangerous situations they are not adequately trained to handle, the changes I-940 would bring are long overdue.

I-940 would adopt revised standards for the use of deadly force and would require an independent investigation to make sure these standards are met whenever the use of force results in death or substantial bodily injury. One reason for a deterioration of trust between the police and some of the communities they serve is state law that effectively immunizes police from legal accountability. Current Washington law says officers cannot be held liable if they acted "without malice and with a good faith belief." I-940 removes the word "malice" from the law and provides a legal definition of good faith. When criticized for not bringing charges against police even when a shooting is found to be unjustified, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg explained the extraordinary standard required to hold a police officer accountable in this state as follows:

“What the state would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that the officer was not telling the truth, that he did not really feel like he was in danger and that when he … exited his car to go encounter this individual, he had every intent to kill him no matter what,” Satterberg said, KIROTV reported. [3]

Reform is needed and long overdue. Many in law enforcement agree. For example, King County Sheriff John Urquhart and his challenger Major Mitzi Johanknecht have endorsed I-940, and the King County Council agrees de-escalation training is needed. [4]

The approach taken by De-Escalate WA in this initiative is highly responsible. Rather than petitioning to be placed directly on the ballot, I-940 is a Petition to the Legislature. This means that if sufficient signatures are gathered, I-940 will go before the legislature for action. If the legislature refuses to act, then I-940 will be on the ballot next year. Seattle Indivisible believes in building bridges between constituents and their representatives. I-940 is a bridge worthy of crossing, together.

Please join us in helping De-Escalate I-940 meet its 340,000 signature goal. Contact us or come to our biweekly meetings to pick up petitions, hop on the De-Escalate WA page http://www.deescalatewa.org/ for suggestions, and look for additional events/information from us in coming weeks. This is an opportunity for a grassroots organization like Seattle Indivisible, in partnership with De-Escalate WA and many, many others, to actually save lives.  

We’re all in!

Seattle Indivisible Board of Directors

[1] While several sources report much higher numbers, the statistics used here come from a comprehensive database created and maintained by The Washington Post for the past three years.  You can find the database at https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings-2017/. This database tracks fatal shootings by police nationwide, and breaks down the data by state, race, mental illness and other factors. The Washington Post was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for this work. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/post-series-on-police-shootings-wins-pulitzer-prize-for-national-reporting/2016/04/18/a9eeeda2-055d-11e6-b283-e79d81c63c1b_story.html?utm_term=.6a3ffe7e3b88

[2] Please read about Native American woodcarver John T. Williams http://www.colorlines.com/articles/seattle-cop-resigns-after-native-american-mans-killing-ruled-unjustified and Charleena Lyles, a pregnant mother whose three children were present when she was shot https://www.cbsnews.com/news/seattle-officer-in-pregnant-woman-charleena-lyles-fatal-shooting-i-dont-have-a-taser/  http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/charleena-lyles-loved-her-children-dancing-and-fourth-of-july-says-brother-of-woman-slain-by-seattle-police/

[3] http://www.colorlines.com/articles/seattle-cop-resigns-after-native-american-mans-killing-ruled-unjustified

[4] http://kuow.org/post/king-county-calls-de-escalation-training-all-deputies



Impeachment 101

By T. J. Barker

With the Washington Post reporting that Trump is under investigation for potential attempts to obstruct justice, a lot of people are wondering about impeachment. What does it mean? How would it happen? Will it happen? In this piece, we will answer those questions.


Impeachment is the means by which specific government officials can be removed from office for misconduct.

Removal from office is a two-step process. First, the House of Representatives must vote to impeach. If the House does successfully vote to impeach, then the official must be convicted by the Senate.

It is possible for an official to be impeached by the House but not removed from office, if the House does vote to impeach but the Senate does not convict.  


“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”  – Article II, Section 4 of the United States Constitution


The Constitution states that “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” are grounds for impeachment. However, legal scholars disagree what constitutes “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Many legal scholars believe that grounds for impeachment include only serious criminal actions that indicate a dereliction of duty. These would include only treason, bribery, and other criminal abuses of power.

However, other scholars have argued that any misdemeanor or misdeed would qualify an official for impeachment.

Although this is an issue where clarity would be highly preferable, the definition of the phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” remains open to interpretation.


The House of Representatives brings charges against the official who is to be impeached. A majority vote of the House is all that is required to bring impeachment charges.


The Senate holds a trial to determine if the official is convicted of the charges. A two-thirds vote of the Senate is required to convict and remove the officer. This means 67 out of 100 senators must vote to convict for an official to be removed from office.


A number of impeachment proceedings have been used against judges in the lower federal courts. Impeachment proceedings have been brought against two Presidents, Andrew Johnson (in 1867) and Bill Clinton (in 1999). In both cases, the Senate did not vote to convict, so the president remained in office.

Richard Nixon (in 1974) was nearly impeached, but he resigned while the House was preparing impeachment charges for concealing evidence related to the Watergate break-in.


  • The House of Representatives has to bring impeachment charges, and the House has to pass these charges by a majority vote.  If voting occurs along party lines, impeachment charges would not be passed in today’s majority-GOP House.

  • If the House passed impeachment charges, the Senate would have to vote a two-thirds majority to convict and remove from office.  If voting occurs along party lines, a conviction would not occur in today’s majority-GOP Senate.

  • In 2018, the country will have its midterm elections. During midterms, all House representatives and one-third of senators are up for re-election.

If enough seats are won by the Democrats, the majority in House and Senate could shift from Republicans to Democrats. However, it will not be possible for Democrats to reach the 67 votes necessary for conviction in the Senate without some Republican senators voting to convict.

  • Right now, Democrats in Congress do not agree on impeachment. At this time, only around twenty Democratic representatives and three Democratic senators have called for impeachment. Other Democrats may be waiting to see if Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation produces evidence of wrongdoing.


From a New York Times Op-Ed article by Thomas B. Edsall (May 25, 2017):

“Although Democrats are by no means unified on the issue, much of the activist base of the Democratic Party smells blood. At least 23 House Democrats and three Senators have signaled that they are receptive to impeachment, most prominently Representatives Al Green of Texas and Maxine Waters of California, who have called for the start of formal proceedings. . . .

“So far, these arguments have not been persuasive to top Democrats in the House and Senate. Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader, told reporters at her regular press briefing last week:

‘I hope some would curb their enthusiasm until we have all of the facts and have confidence that when the American people understand what is there, whether it’s grounds for impeachment or grounds for disappointment, then they’ll know.’”


“To Impeach or Not to Impeach,” Thomas B. Edsall, New York Times, May 25, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/25/opinion/donald-trump-impeachment.html?_r=0

“Standards for Impeachment” by Stephen B. Presser, Sullivan & Cromwell Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law, http://www.heritage.org/constitution/#!/articles/2/essays/100/standards-for-impeachment

“Impeachment Clauses,” University of Chicago, http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/tocs/a1_2_5.html


By Tyna Ek

Seattle Indivisible was warmly welcomed into a Redmond Mosque this past Sunday where our Muslim neighbors shared their beliefs, dispelled stereotypes, and extended their hands and delicious in-house-made falafel in friendship. 

Our visit on this beautiful sunny afternoon began with a guided tour of the Mosque at the Muslim Assoc. of Puget Sound (MAPS) in Redmond.  The inside of the mosque was much simpler than I had imagined, with plain white walls and ceilings throughout.  A few tapestries and plaques hung on the wall, mostly with revered statements from the Q’uran.  We learned that the Mosque, while primarily a place of worship, is also a center for education and daily life activities.  MAPS has a library, a restaurant (and coffee shop), a clothing store, a salon, and free legal and health clinics.  Their doors are open to anyone who wishes to visit.  They only ask that visitors be respectful, modestly dressed, and observe a few rules of etiquette if they wish to go inside the prayer room. 

The highlight of the evening was an illuminating 30-minute tutorial on Islam by the effervescent Aneelah Afzali.  Aneelah, a psychology major and Harvard Law graduate, practiced law for 10 years before dedicating her life to Islamic outreach.  She is the Exec. Director of MAPS-AMEN (Muslim Assoc. of Puget Sound--American Muslim Empowerment Network).  Aneelah and MAPS-AMEN believe that the best way to counter the fear and stereotypes that drive Islamophobia, is for people to meet Muslims who live in their community so they can discovery for themselves that they are peaceful people whose core beliefs share common roots with Judaism and Christianity.  So armed with nothing but PowerPoint slides, Aneelah gave her 100+ guests a crash course on Islam 101, bursting a slew of myths and stereotypes in the process. 

Aneelah explained that Muslims believe there is only one, almighty God.  While their name for God is Allah, they believe this is the same God Christians and Jews worship.  They do not worship Muhammad, but rather believe Muhammad is the last great prophet sent to share Allah’s teachings.  They believe that over the course of 23 years during the 7th century, God revealed truths and teachings to Muhammad that supplemented the teachings sent before through earlier prophets such as Adam, Moses, Noah and Jesus.  Many of us were surprised to learn that Jesus is mentioned more times in the Q’uran than Muhammad; and that Islam, like Christianity, teaches Jesus was born of Mary through a virgin birth, performed miracles throughout his life, shared the direct word of Allah, and will come again at the approach of Judgment Day.  But they believe Jesus did all of this through the will and power of Allah.  They do not believe Jesus was the son of Allah who, in their belief, has no equals or partners. 


Aneelah explained Muslims’ basic beliefs and practices.  She outlined the five pillars of Islam (creed, prayer, fasting, charity, pilgrimage), and the reason for certain Muslim practices, such as how and why they pray five times per day.  She agreed that stopping everything five times per day to pray and going without food and drink from sunrise to sunset the entire month of Ramadan can be challenging, but explained that this is exactly the point.  These practices teach discipline and restraint, and remind observant Muslims throughout their worldly day that their faith is of preeminent importance. 

Aneelah unmasked one stereotype after another during her presentation and the half hour question and answer session that followed.  For example, did you know that only 20% of Muslims are Arab?  Or that there are three times as many Muslims in Asia-Pacific than there are in the Middle East?   That American Muslim women are the 2nd most educated religious group in the U.S.A.?  Or that the word Islam comes from the root word Salam, meaning peace?   

Aneelah invited us to ask anything we ever wanted to know about Islam or Muslims and we didn’t hold back.  We asked Aneelah to explain the meaning of Jihad, infidels and sharia law, and why some Muslim women wear the hijab (headscarf).  We were even invited to stay and observe a prayer service if we wished.  I did, and learned that the reason Muslims touch their head to the floor during prayer is not only to show submission to Allah, but also so that their heart is above their head.  I also learned that an Imam is not ordained like a priest or minister.  Anyone who leads the prayer is an Imam; in the home, this might even be a child.

After our primer on Islam, our hosts shared a meal from their own restaurant.  We continued to talk and share and ask questions as we enjoyed our delicious falafel sandwiches. 

Three hours flew by, and I left feeling like a curtain of mystery had been lifted to reveal a community with which we had so much more in common than we’d realized when we arrived.  And perhaps more importantly, as famously said in the movie Casablanca, this just could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.    

Thank you for an enlightening afternoon    From Seattle Indivisible

Thank you for an enlightening afternoon

From Seattle Indivisible

The revised CBO score for Trumpcare

Hi All - The CBO just posted their score of the AHCA which will leave 23 million more people without insurance by 2026. Here's what to expect next - many of you have been hearing that the House may have to vote on the AHCA again and there's not a lot of clarity about what that means, especially since the Senate is talking about either writing their own bill, or making major changes to the House bill. This is my understanding of the process, please correct me if I'm wrong: 

The house passed their version of the bill which is what the CBO just scored. This would normally then go to the Senate to be voted on. When bills are sent to the Senate from the House, they are sometimes modified to make it more appealing to the Senate. The bill would then go back to the House after passing the Senate, and the House has to pass the exact same bill as the Senate's bill. Once both the Senate and the House vote on and pass the exact same bill, it then goes to the president to sign.

What's happening right now is that the House knows that the bill they passed would never make it through the Senate, which is considered the "cooling body" of Congress because they tend to be more conservative (both parties) and there are a lot more procedural rules than the House. One of two things might happen at this point: 1) The House may sit on their bill and never send it to the Senate, and instead wait for the Senate to write their own bill and send it to them to vote on; or 2) they'll hold off on sending their bill to the Senate until they write their own bill and pass it, then the House will adjust their bill to reflect the Senate's bill and vote on it in the House, knowing that it'll be an easy pass in Senate if they make it the same, and the new House bill will be sent to the Senate again to get basically rubber-stamped before sending it to the President.

This is the procedure for every bill - the Senate and the House must pass the exact same bill before sending it to the president. It's just that healthcare is SUPER COMPLICATED (who knew???), so any reform often goes back and forth between the houses of Congress several times before it passes something that can be sent to the President. That's what happened with the ACA, too, and why it took almost a year - there were several versions before we landed on the one we have now.

Check out reporting from the New York Times for more.

Find Your Lane

Barb Elliott reporting in on the Find Your Lane Activism Fair.

On Wednesday, March 15th, I attended the Activism Engagement Fair organized by findyourlane.org. The purpose was to gather various activism organizations under one roof where attendees could shop for a group that aligns best with their passion.

The event had representatives from a wide range of groups, from established ones such as the 43rd District Democrats to Alleycat Acres, whose mission is to turn unused urban spaces into farms that can feed volunteers. Lots to choose from! Twenty-seven organizations were there. For a complete list of the groups who had booths see http://findyourlane.org/fyl-organizations/.

The event venue was Metropolis. They donated the space, which was perfect for the situation. The event organizers coordinated people to  serve wine, beer, juice etc., for $5, with money going back into the organizations. The spirit was lively and the event was well attended. I didn't count, but I'd say a couple hundred people were there.

We heard from several speakers, including longtime city Councilman Nick Licata, who urged attendees to find their group, dive in, and have fun. We also heard from Randy Engstrom, Director of Seattle's Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, who encouraged us to consider local engagement as a lane. He mentioned that Seattle has an unusually vast array of commissions for those of us who want to make a difference here at home. He also pointed out that what we do here can have far-reaching impact. He says Seattle is an excellent place to make a successful program that can then be leveraged by less resource-rich areas.





Last Tuesday Ezra Levin, the co-founder of the Indivisible movement and one of the authors of the Indivisible Guide, stopped by Town Hall in Seattle to meet with local Indivisible groups and the general public. He spoke briefly about the state of the movement, and took a lot of questions from the audience. He had some great insights and recommendations for us Seattlites, and I took notes on some of the things he told us. Here are the highlights:

  • Ezra observed that we need to put in an extra effort to increase diversity and 'pass the mic' to those most affected by Trump's agenda.
  • Indivisible HQ is currently working on building a platform to connect Indivisible groups so that blue districts can help red districts.
  • Indivisible should focus on its core mission of pressuring Congress while also being a partner and ally to all local and progressive advocacy groups. Encourage members to be active locally.
  • Indivisible is not a part of the Democratic Party. This gives us leverage to pressure all parts of government. It also pulls in independents and disaffected republicans.
  • We are focused right now on defensive legislative advocacy, not elections. But our actions will energize the electorate
  • Don't lie about what district you are from. We are already accused of being AstroTurf and paid protesters, and it is not necessary because there are Indivisible groups in every district in the country!
  • On the messaging of Resistance: we are not ‘obstructing,’ we are ‘protecting’ American values and American people.
  • On prioritization: the best way to make an impact is to react directly to whatever is Congress is doing NOW. An attack on one of our issue constituencies is an attack on all.
  • Q: ‘Should Democrats work with Trump on anything?’ Ezra’s answer: That's not even an issue right now, they have made zero overtures to Democrats.
  • On pressuring Murray and Cantwell: A little negative press for our Democratic senators is fine as long as it successfully changes their behavior. Positive feedback is also important.
  • One of the final questioners mentioned Spanish language outreach. Are we doing any of this? The questioner might start a Latino Indivisible group in Seattle.
  • Indivisible HQ sends news and pics to national press that they get from us. We should let them know what we are up to.


On Tuesday, Feb. 28, town hall organizers delivered constituent messages to the offices of Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray.

During the office hours following the Resist Trump Tuesday rally, we gave the senators' staffers close to 800 hand-written comments and questions from constituents who attended the Feb. 25 town hall meeting at Seattle Unity Church.

The messages ranged from concerns about Trump's immigration policies and connections to Russia to questions regarding what the Senators are doing to save the Affordable Care Act and keep Neil Gorsuch off the Supreme Court.

Along with flowers, we also delivered a USB for each senator that contain photographs of the event, the Facebook live stream video and a two-minute highlight reel.

We asked staffers from the senators' offices if the senators would be holding a town hall during the April congressional recess (April 10 - 21). We did not get a definitive "yes" or "no" answer, but the staffers said they are willing to work with us to make a town hall happen in April. Tommy Bauer of Sen. Cantwell's office said she has "not ruled out" a town hall and that they are "still looking into it." Richard Lazaro of Sen. Murray's office acknowledged that she has historically not held town halls but that they may be "switching things up." He added that the constituents' "message is received and clearly understood." "You're doing it right by showing us where the need is," Lazaro said.

So let's keep at it!

Seattle Indivisible
Indivisible North Seattle
Indivisible Coopeville
Edmonds Neighborhood Action Coalition

Photo by Iga Kozlowska

Photo by Iga Kozlowska

Photo by Iga Kozlowska

Photo by Iga Kozlowska

Photo by Aaron Brethorst

Photo by Aaron Brethorst


By Tyna Ek

A group of ordinary citizens did what our Senators haven’t been able to accomplish for years—they held a constituents’ Town Hall. About 650 energized voters showed up Saturday night at Seattle Unity Church in Seattle for a citizens’ town hall with their senators. It’s a shame that Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell weren’t there to hear the praise, questions and deep concerns of these passionate voters. The audience was educated by knowledgeable panelists and riveted by compelling personal stories about how the regressive Trump administration is hurting real people right here in Washington State. The big ask of the evening: “Senators, hold a Town Hall!”

Far from the hostile crowds some politicians are citing as reasons to avoid Town Halls, last night’s Town Hall confirmed that Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell should not fear meeting with their own constituents. Moderator Jonathan Tong (high school teacher by day) began the evening by pausing to acknowledge the Duwamish people “on whose land we are meeting.” He then asked veterans to stand as the room broke out into resounding applause in gratitude for their service in preserving the very freedoms the group came to discuss. The Town Hall then quickly moved into a focused discussion of healthcare and the Affordable Care Act, Immigration policy, Russian interference with the presidential election, and Supreme Court nominee Neil M. Gorsuch.

Since Senators Murray and Cantwell did not attend the town hall, and declined the invitation to send a spokesperson from their staff, the citizen organizers presented five panelists knowledgeable about the four main topic areas. These panelists explained current and proposed government policies, recent Trump administration action, and responded to audience questions.

The panelists were well received by the audience Saturday night, and definitely helped keep the Town Hall focused and accurately informed. But the real stars of the night were the ordinary citizens who shared their passionate stories and questions that they wished their senators were there to hear in person.

One woman from the audience explained that as a young healthy person, “I was just coasting on no insurance” when despite no family history, she was diagnosed with brain cancer. Burdened with the cost of two brain surgeries, expensive hospital stays, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, she said “Obamacare has really saved my life.” Nearly half the room raised their hands in response to the question of how many people had a “preexisting condition,” which can no longer be used by insurers as a reason to exclude coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act (“ACA” a/k/a “Obamacare”) was not the only healthcare concern on people’s minds Saturday night. Panelist David Loud explained GOP proposals to cut back Medicaid and convert it into fixed-dollar block grants. He said that even just eliminating the ACA expansion of Medicaid by repealing the ACA would make 600,000 people in this state lose their coverage and add $3 billion to our annual state budget. Several people shared powerful stories about their reliance on Medicaid, and their fear at threatened cutbacks by the Trump administration. A mother shared that the cost of medications alone for her young daughter with epilepsy cost $1,000 per month; a cost she couldn’t possibly afford without Medicaid.

Pharmaceutical costs, and Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell’s recent vote against a Canadian drug importation bill proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was a hotly debated topic. Some noted that senators voting against that bill cited to a lack of safety measures in the bill to insure the quality of pharmaceuticals coming from outside the country. Panelist Kati Wilkins, MPH pointed out that Canada has its own “strong FDA” as do several other countries. The sentiment of the room seemed to be summed up by a member of the audience who offered: “Last time I checked, I hadn’t heard of mass quantities of Canadians dropping dead [from prescription drugs].”

The Town Hall participants were given paper signs to hold up, showing whether they “agreed” or “disagreed” with various speakers and positions. On healthcare, the overwhelming majority agreed they wanted to preserve and improve the ACA until single-payer healthcare could be implemented.

Several immigrants spoke about the fear they have lived with since President Trump was elected, and the uptick of hatred and bigotry they have personally experienced. The wife of a DACA recipient explained that her husband is the sole support for her and her three-year-old child, and said they will be homeless if he is deported. Since the recent local arrest of Daniel Ramirez Medina by ICE, she said her “whole family is now terrified.” Echoing multiple stories of an upswing of hate and intolerance since President Trump’s election, she said that even speaking out about immigrant rights can now be a risky experience. Responding to one of her Facebook posts, one person threatened to “put a bullet in her head.”

A woman whose family originates from Pakistan said she and her husband have been U.S. citizens for 25 and 30 years respectively. “I have wanted to live in the U.S. since I was . . . a child,” she said. She said she and her husband own two businesses, employ 40 people, and over the last 25 years have “paid millions in taxes.” She wanted to ask her Senators: “When someone tells me to go home, what do I say to them?” “This is my home,” she said.

Near the end of the immigration discussion, one audience member said that the inscription on the Statue of Liberty “doesn’t come with fine print,” and the Town Hall attendees erupted into applause.

When the topic moved to Russia, Panelist Nathan Resick provided a summary of recent news stories related to alleged contacts between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia. He also said the mainstream media sources recently barred from White House briefings were all covering this story. Town Hall participants wanted to thank Senator Murray and senate democrats for calling for an independent investigation into Russia’s interference in the last presidential election and wanted to know how they could help make this happen.

Opinions and concerns expressed about Supreme Court nominee Neil M. Gorsuch varied widely. Most questioners expressed deep concern that his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court would threaten women’s rights to a safe and legal abortion and wanted the senators to filibuster. One male questioner asked what the point of a filibuster would be when it was unlikely to prevent Judge Gorsuch’s ultimate appointment and might cause Republicans to trigger the “nuclear option,” changing the rules to prevent a filibuster of Supreme Court nominees in the future. Panelist Tiffany Hankins said NARAL Pro-Choice Washington was advocating the senators take a two-step approach: Ask tough questions during the confirmation process to force Judge Gorsuch to place his views about women’s legal rights clearly on the record, and then carefully consider whether to filibuster this nomination or save that tool for the next Supreme Court nominee when President Trump may get to replace a more liberal justice than Justice Scalia. In response, Beatrice from the audience passionately exclaimed that if Senators Murray and Cantwell do not “pull out all the stops” to stop Judge Gorsuch’s appointment, if they think a women’s right to choose is a “second or third tier issue,” then “you cannot continue to call yourselves advocates for women.”

Steve from the audience added that there were many reasons to oppose Judge Gorsuch’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court in addition to abortion rights. He cited a recent case before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging public sector unions that he believes would have been lost if Judge Gorsuch had been sitting in Judge Scalia’s empty chair. He fears “we will lose public sector unions if Gorsuch is confirmed.”

The two-hour Town Hall on Saturday night was organized by ordinary local citizens who have recently formed their own grass-roots activist groups modeled after the Indivisible movement sweeping the nation. The organizers were Seattle Indivisible, Indivisible North Seattle, Indivisible Coopeville and Edmonds Neighborhood Action Coalition. They had no outside funding for this event, but rather reached into their own shallow pockets and passionate pools of talent to rent a venue (and a second venue when overwhelming public response outgrew the original location), prepare signs, organize speakers, draft photographers and videographers and social media experts and everything else that must be done to conduct an effective public Town Hall in 2017. Concerned that citizens have an opportunity to participate even if they could not attend in person, the Town Hall was live-streamed on Facebook, and Town Hall questions were taken from Facebook and Twitter. The organizers are arranging to deliver to Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell, video footage and hundreds of handwritten questions from their constituents.

On one issue there appeared to be universal agreement Saturday night; these voters want Town Hall meetings with their senators and congressional representatives. While recognizing that such direct open forums are not the norm for Senator Cantwell and Senator Murray, these are not normal times. The overwhelming response to this Town Hall, organized by ordinary citizens, demonstrates that citizens want more direct contact with their representatives. Many attendees Saturday night praised the efforts of Senator Murray in particular for her recent tireless efforts filibustering and in other ways opposing recent Trump nominees and policies they found objectionable. They want to help.

At the conclusion of the meeting, there was a strong call for Senator Cantwell and Senator Murray to schedule a Town Hall during their next Congressional recess in April. The message was loud and clear: Your constituents want to be heard, and they want to hear from you.

Photo by Emily Menon Bender.

Photo by Emily Menon Bender.

Photo by Emily Menon Bender. Panelists: Tiffany Hankins, Exec. Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington; Nathan Resick speaking on Russian influence in the election and recent Trump administration retaliation against media who persist in covering this story; René Flores, Ph.D., Assist. Professor of Sociology at the Univ. of Washington speaking on immigration policy; Kati Wilkins, MPH who focused on access to healthcare; and David Loud, representing Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action and who spent the last 10 years working for former Congressman Jim McDermott on healthcare and Veteran’s affairs. Moderator: Jonathan Tong.

Photo by Emily Menon Bender. Panelists: Tiffany Hankins, Exec. Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington; Nathan Resick speaking on Russian influence in the election and recent Trump administration retaliation against media who persist in covering this story; René Flores, Ph.D., Assist. Professor of Sociology at the Univ. of Washington speaking on immigration policy; Kati Wilkins, MPH who focused on access to healthcare; and David Loud, representing Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action and who spent the last 10 years working for former Congressman Jim McDermott on healthcare and Veteran’s affairs. Moderator: Jonathan Tong.

Photo by Emily Menon Bender.

Photo by Emily Menon Bender.

This Week in Trump: Week 4 (February 11 - 17, 2017)

Plus a few additions from the week before. Trump continues his attacks on the freedoms guaranteed all American citizens by the Constitution. He is clear that rights deserve protection for the true Americans who "legally" voted for him while he tramples on the rights of immigrants and endangers our environment; All in the name of low paying jobs in dirty extraction and manufacturing. 

Indivisible, ramping up!

Lots of press for the Indivisible movement! Here’s a quick roundup …


National coverage

How the Indivisible Movement is Fueling Resistance Against Trump

Karen Kamp on billmoyers.com: A group of former Hill staffers put a PDF online 2 months ago to help mobilize citizens. To everyone’s surprise it has grown into a genuine movement.

Town Halls Become ‘Indivisible’ Epicenters as Trump Resistance Grows

Nadia Prupis on commondreams.org: Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was confronted by angry crowds at a town hall in Salt Lake City on Thursday, over what they saw as his failure to properly investigate President Donald Trump’s conflicts of interests, in another showing of a growing resistance to the new administration.


Inside the protest movement that has Republicans reeling

Elana Schor and Rachel Bade, politico.com: A group of former House Democratic staffers wanted to channel their post-election grief. They never imagined what would happen next.


Indivisible hopes to be flip side of tea party

Doug Criss on cnn.com: Indivisible is a new progressive political group, modeling itself after the conservative tea party, that is helping citizens show resistance to Trump’s agenda.


In Living Rooms Around The Country, Activists Organize To Oppose Trump

Sarah McCammon on NPR’s Morning edition: “Indivisible” is a loosely-organized network of activists united by a common goal: stopping President Trump’s agenda. Local chapters are guided by a manual that takes its approach from the Tea Party.


The “Indivisible” Movement’s Key Strategy: Focus on Your Own Members of Congress

Karin Kamp on yesmagazine.org: The Indivisible Guide was put online by former congressional staffers to give both Republicans and Democrats an effective way to resist Trump policies. So far, 6,000 local groups have registered.


Right-wingers wringing their hands and blaming it all on George Soros

The Anti-Trump Resistance Movement

frontpagemag.com: The Left’s “Indivisible Team” gathers to wage rebellion and disruption.


‘Indivisible,’ With George Soros Ties, Targets Republicans

Fred Lucas on dailysignal.com: With ties to George Soros and led by former Democrat staffers on Capitol Hill, the group Indivisible aims to “resist” Trump and Republican policy changes.


Local coverage

Salt Lake City: Utah lawmaker: Chaffetz ‘out of touch with reality’ in comments about paid protestors

Katie McKellar on ksl.com: A top Utah Democrat ripped Rep. Jason Chaffetz on Saturday for dismissing Thursday night’s raucous town hall meeting as being fueled by paid protesters from out of state, not representative of his 3rd District constituents.


Cherokee County, Oklahoma: Indivisible Cherokee County meeting draws dozens

Sheri Gourd in the Tahlequah Daily Press: A new group has been growing larger each day in Cherokee County since President Donald Trump took office.


East Tennesee: ‘Indivisible’ group marches on Rep. Duncan’s office

Rachel Ohm in the Knoxville News-Sentinel: Members of Indivisible East Tennessee led the march on U.S. Rep. John Duncan’s office Friday.


San Diego: Anti-Trump “Indivisible” Movement Explodes Across San Diego and Across the Country

Frank Gormlie in the Ocean Beach Rag:To get a sense of the depth and breadth of the new anti-Trump “Indivisible” movement that has exploded across the country, — consider this just here in San Diego: last Saturday, February 4th, three different networks of Indivisible San Diego


Santa Barbara, CA: Indivisible Santa Barbara

Beth Farnsworth on KEYT: Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


Kane County, Illinois: Residents organize with ‘Indivisible Guide’ to counter Trump policies

Brenda Schory in the Kane County Chronicle: ST. CHARLES — About 20 people gathered in a meeting room at a local coffee shop Feb. 1 to organize under the tenets of “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda.”


Asheville, North Carolina: Indivisible Asheville/WNC meeting draws hundreds

Frank kracher on WLOS: Hundreds of people gathered in Asheville with a mission to resist the Trump administration’s policies and agenda.Indivisible Asheville/WNC, a local group born out of last month’s Women’s March on Washington, met at the Lord Auditorium at Pack Memorial Library.


Davis, California: Taking a page from the tea party, the Indivisible movement grows

Anne Ternus-Bellamy in the Davis Enterprise: Check it out What: Indivisible YOLO public meeting When: 7–8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15


Kansas City, Missouri: ‘Indivisible’ movement takes hold in Kansas City

Brian Abel on KSHB: In the weeks since President Donald Trump took office, multiple organized rallies and protests have occurred across the metro, some were put together by a new grassroots movement called “Indivisible.”

This Week in Trump: Week 3 (February 4-10, 2017)

There's just too much noise generated by the cast of characters that surround Trump, so this week is limited to scary, crazy actions that will impact all of us

On Feb 3 Trump signed an executive order that directs the Treasury Secretary to review the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law, which reshaped financial regulation after the 2008-09 financial crisis

On Feb 4 Released records show that Trump is still tied to his businesses via a trust that is controlled by Donald Trump Jr. 

On Feb 5 Trump’s bid to reinstate travel ban fails. The US federal appeals court has rejected the Trump administration's request to reinstate a travel ban blocked by a federal judge on Friday

On Feb 6 Trump claims that "negative polls are fake news."

On Feb 7 After a contentious battle on the Senate floor, Betsy DeVos was confirmed on a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie to lead the Department of Education

On Feb 7 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell silenced Senator Warren on the Senate floor for reading a letter from Coretta Scott King to the Judiciary Committee from 1986 about Jeff Sessions

On Feb 7 Melania Trump re-files Daily Mail lawsuit over 'lost business opportunities'. US First Lady Melania Trump has re-filed a legal case against UK newspaper Daily Mail, saying it cost her the "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to profit from her brand

On Feb 7 The US president says terror attacks are happening "all over Europe" and in many cases not being reported by the "very, very dishonest press"

On Feb 8 Former Mexico president Vicente Fox: "Go to hell Trump". He said: "He complains about Mexico. Why doesn't he stop drugs circulating in United States?"

On Feb 9 Senate approves Jeff Sessions nomination for Attorney General in a 5On Feb 47 vote. The Senate rejected his nomination in 1987 over allegations that he made racist comments and praised the KKK while criticizing the NAACP and the ACLU

On Feb 9 After Session's swearing in ceremony, Trump immediately instructed Sessions to implement a plan to stop crime. The plan, called Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, includes developing policies that "comprehensively address illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and violent crime. " The White House, as has become habit, didn't put out the text of the orders immediately after he signed them. More than an hour after they were put into effect they still weren't public

On Feb 9 Hidden in a new presidential executive order on Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement Officers is clause c) allowing the executive branch to define new Federal crimes, and increase penalties for existing Federal crimes, in order to prevent violence against Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers

On Feb 9 Trump signed a third executive on Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking, which quotes." The order strengthens the enforcement of Federal law to include "other groups engaged in illicit activities that present a threat to public safety and national security." a clause so broad it could be applied in almost any circumstance

On Feb 9 Trump agrees to honour 'One China' policy despite threats. Backing off the war rhetoric espoused by Steve Bannon: 'We're going to war in the South China Sea ... no doubt'. This call with Xi Jinping is an important first step in appeasing China concerns

On Feb 10 Former Georgia Governor and Obamacare critic, Tom Price, confirmed as US health secretary. faced claims of insider trading over his investments in medical companies while involved in health legislation. Mr. Price has also supported moves to curb abortion, and backs cutting federal funds to Planned Parenthood, a women's healthcare organization that provides abortions as well as many other services, including free birth control

On Feb 10 Trump loses bid to reinstate travel ban. A US court rejects the president's bid to revive his ban on people from seven mainly Muslim countries

This Week in Trump: Week 2 (January 27-February 3 2017)

On Jan 27 Trump signs executive order imposing a 120-day suspension of the refugee program and a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. from citizens of seven terror hot spots: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan, launching concerned citizens across the country into protest

On Jan 28 Trump signs executive order requiring every appointee to take an ethics pledge that they will not engage in lobbying activities with their agency for 5 years

On Jan 28 Trump reshuffled the National Security Council to include his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon. Trump limited the roles of the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

On Jan 30 Trump fires defiant acting Attorney General, Sally Yates

On Jan 31 Trump signs executive order requiring that for every one new regulation, two must be revoked

On Jan 31 White House released a statement announcing that a 2014 order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people would remain in place.The news is now reporting that his daughter and son-in-law pressured him into the move

On Jan 31 Trump Announces Supreme Court choice Colorado Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch. Gorsuch’s nomination won widespread praise from all corners of the GOP

On Feb 1 White House puts Iran ‘on notice,’ won’t rule out military force

On Feb 2 U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Thursday the Trump administration will continue its sanctions on Russia over their occupation of Crimea.

On Feb 2 President Donald Trump on Thursday put new strain on ties with Australia, threatening to undermine an Obama-era agreement with the U.S. ally and publicly mischaracterizing its terms

On Feb 2 The Trump administration relaxed the sanctions that the Obama administration placed on a Russian spy agency in retaliation for its alleged cyberattacks.

On Feb 2 At National Prayer Breakfast Trump promises to make it easier for churches to get involved in politics

On Feb 2 The Senate gave final approval to a measure eliminating a rule to prevent coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby streams

On Feb 2 the House backed a resolution doing away with extended background checks for gun purchases by some Social Security recipients with mental disabilities

On Feb 3 The president signed an executive order Friday that will direct the Treasury secretary to review the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law, which reshaped financial regulation after the 2008-09 financial crisis.

This Week in Trump: Week 1 (January 20-26, 2017)

On Jan 20 Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

On Jan 21 Donald Trump gave a speech at the C.I.A.'s Memorial Wall where he called journalists "among the most dishonest human beings on earth" for accurately depicting the size of his inaugural audience, and received applause from a group of staffers brought along to cheer his speech.

On Jan 22 Members of Trump's senior staff, KellyAnne Conway and Sean Spicer, coin the term "alternative facts."

On Jan 23 Donald Trump resurrects the Mexico City policy or "global gag rule". Trump administration proposes replacing Medicaid with a block grant program, ending the guarantee of medical coverage to low-income Americans.

On Jan 24 Donald Trump's Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, lied about the negative effects on veterans in the Trump administration's hiring freeze. Trump deploys a 'shadow cabinet'—unelected, unconfirmed Trump loyalists—to oversee key parts of the federal government. Tom Price, HHS Secretary nominee, lies about pay for play deals with pharmaceutical companies.

On Jan 25 Donald Trump and Sean Spicer claim widespread voter fraud in November 2016 election, despite no evidence to back up their assertions. Trump appoints attorney who defended North Carolina's discriminatory HB2 'bathroom bill' to head the Department of Justice's Civil Rights division.

On Jan 26 Trump team walks back plan to fund wall with import tax. White House press secretary Sean Spicer suggested a tax on imports could fund the border security measure before backing off the proposal