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Rising Together to launch ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign in Amherst against Trump administration

  • Rising Together, an Amherst group created in the wake of President Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, will launch the first of eight “Enough is Enough” protests against the administration next Wednesday in Amherst. AP Photo

  • ROB OKUN ROB OKUN



Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 05, 2017

AMHERST — In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, Rob Okun felt he needed a space to share his feelings with others unsure how to respond to the new administration.

“My wife and I felt the need almost to have a time of mourning and a chance to express our feelings and find a way to come together with others,” Okun said.

Days after the election of President Donald Trump, Okun and his wife, Adi Bemak, met with a group of friends at their home in Amherst. From that meeting came the idea for Rising Together, an affinity group that aims to educate and inspire others to protest the administration.

“So many things have gone off the rails in terms of how our democracy works,” Okun said. “It’s being trampled on, and we have to have citizens step forward and speak up against the policies our president is putting forward.”

The group’s latest campaign, “Enough is Enough,” aims to stop the normalization of the Trump administration with weekly protests.

Starting Nov. 29, the 10-member group plans to protest every Wednesday for eight weeks between noon and 1 p.m. at the corner of Main and North Pleasant streets in Amherst. The demonstrations will build momentum for what they hope will be a nationwide march on Jan. 20, the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration.

“Citizens across the country want to publicly hold the president and his administration accountable for violations of the law, of human rights, of our democracy, and of the earth,” Steven Botkin, a lead organizer of the campaign, said in a statement.

Prison reform, health care policy, the 2018 elections, environmental conservation and government transparency are just some of the causes Rising Together works to organize around. The group’s members are involved in an array of organizing activities, from anti-pipeline protests in the Otis State Forest, to the sanctuary city movement and the Leverett Alliance that aims to identify ways local communities can help move the country forward in a positive manner at a time of polarization.

Since last January, Rising Together has sponsored four community organizing events, including two forums on non-violent resistance last winter attended by about 130 people each. Most recently, the group held a demonstration in Amherst on Nov. 8, the one-year anniversary of Election Day, to raise the question of impeachment.

Okun hopes that Rising Together can serve as a model for people to start organizing in their own communities. Organizers shared the Facebook event titled “Enough is Enough Wednesdays” with all their friends, and hope the visibility will inspire similar events.

“We think that there are a lot of people, not just here, but around the country that have the energy and resourcefulness and feelings about the country that are getting sparked … (by) the immoral and probably illegal actions coming out of Washington,” Okun said.

He mentioned organizations like Indivisible and Swing Left as examples of successful national organizing models. Okun also suggests people look to faith communities and local American Civil Liberties Union chapters for organizing opportunities.

All are welcome to participate in the weekly protests, or start their own, and follow the movement on Twitter with the hashtag #EnoughIsEnough.

“We’re about uniting the country, and not dividing the country,” Okun said.

Sarah Robertson can be reached at srobertson@gazettenet.com.