by Jason Frerichs
The afternoon session is about to get started. This is the session where Bernie Sanders is speaking. The first speaker of the afternoon session is Misty Rebik. Action Changes Things. She has the crowd on its feet and is talking about how the political revolution works. Misty said that it works by engaging our neighbors. She says that by joining organizations like CCI that is how we take back our government. She shared an anecdote about her mother working at a packing plant for less than a living wage.
The next speaker is Heather Pearson, a well-known water protector. She was recently convicted of trespassing while protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). She is getting the crowd excited by talking about the way DAPL was resisted. Heather is talking about being an example of getting rural activists involved. She empathically stated that grassroots activism is how we take on greedy oil executives and taking back our political future and fighting for a 100% renewable energy Iowa. The entire crowd is chanting “Water is life!!”
Reverand Ryan Arnold is speaking about immigrant rights. He says that it’s a sin that our immigrant neighbors are not welcome in America. He says it’s a sin that our brown immigrant neighbors live in fear of our government. Ryan tells us that by affirming our faith based institutions as sanctuaries help protect immigrants because they cannot arrest us all. “We are turning protest into power.”
Cherie Mortice is now speaking about how we fight against factory farms. She said that she used to take clean water for granted “but not anymore.” Cherie is talking about a large hog farmer 100 miles away from Des Moines how tried to lobby a bill to dismantle the Des Moines Water Works as retribution for the law suit against the drainage pools owned by large CAFOs. Due to help from Rob Hoge and Todd Pritchard, they were able to help defeat that bill. They had 70 people inside and 250 people outside and caused that bill to be DOA. Cherie has applied for the open seat on the Des Moines Board of Waterworks Trustees.
John Noble and Tim Glaza are out there every day talking about Iowa’s water ways. They are the folks who run CCI’s canvassing efforts. They are trying to lobby the grassroots effort against statewide big agriculture’s special interests.
Hugh Espey, the CCI Action Director is the next speaker. Hugh has the crowd chanting that “Big social changes comes from the bottom up. ” He says that Bernie Sanders said that he never went to Washington to solve all our problems and that we cannot put leaders on a pedestal. He says that Bernie wants us to stop and solve these problems. “Not me, us.” He says “Moses did not ask the pharaoh to fund his liberation.” Hugh says that “We need to do the work and fund the work ourselves. We all do better when we all do better and our work is firmly rooted in love.” He says that if we want to be the change we want to see we must run for office. “Governing power looks like us.” Hugh said that we need to raise $120,000 to do the work we need to do. We are raising money right now.
SCC member Phouthasack Keopraseuth is starting his speech and he is introducing Bernie Sanders. He is talking about all the issues that Bernie highlighted and continues to fight for. He is talking about how Bernie changed his life. He is now making a living wage and is a proud union member. Phouthasack is talking about how getting involved with this movement has linked him into a huge progressive network.
Bernie Sanders is about to speak. I will be doing a separate blog post about Bernie’s speech and any answer he gives me if I get the chance to ask him a question.
Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party Progressive Caucus