Isn’t that Illegal? and Donald Trump sparks discussion

By Josie Norris, editor-in-chief.
Isn’t that Illegal? and Donald Trump sparks discussion
SAGINAW– Following the election results, there have been several controversial proposals and promises made by President-elect Donald Trump, leaving individuals questioning the possibility of the announced plans coming to fruition.

The latest installment of Isn’t that Illegal? at Counter Culter in Saginaw Jan. 10 was a departure from the normal format of free legal training on specific issues such as worker’s rights and dealing with police officers. The evening was formatted as a dialogue between experts and audience members.

Detroit based attorney Jack Schulz has received questions from individuals regarding Trump’s upcoming term and proposals. He organized the event to provide a space for “voicing and organizing different opinions and trying to reason with each other about the more controversial topics brought up by incoming President-elect,” said Schulz.

Schulz was joined by speakers Kathleen Garbacz, a Detroit based civil rights attorney, and Cornelius Phelps, a community organizer with the New Ezekiel Project in Saginaw.

The trio sat onstage in front of small crowd of people, leading the discussion regarding cabinet appointees, the media, the proposed Muslim registry, healthcare, student debt, education, and what people can do in response.

Kale Shafer of Saginaw has never attended an Isn’t that Illegal? event before, but liked the open format and wished that more people from “the other side of the aisle” had come to add differing perspectives to the discussion.

“It’d be great if more people cared this much to come out and even hear other people’s opinion,” Shafer said.

Schulz sees hope for mitigating potentially damaging policy of the incoming Trump administration.

“If pressure’s coming from everywhere, whether it’s his own party, the media, or the opposite (side), I think there’s hope through organizing,” Schulz said.

Garbacz believes that the public should take action by getting involved in the future of their communities, state and the nation though protesting, calling local elected officials, and being aware.

“Pay attention to what’s happening locally because that’s something we can change right now is what’s going on in your community and you can change what’s going on in your state. These things don’t happen overnight,” Said Garbacz.

Garbacz went on to say that First Amendment protects the ability to protest, which can’t be taken away based on the content of the message but rather the conduct. She encourages potential protestors to go through the proper channels for large events and procure the proper permits.

Once at the protest, she explained that the police can’t do much.

“You got the right to be there,” Garbacz said.

However, she recommends complying with the police’s requests and worry about fighting it later, unless civil disobedience is planned.

Phelps chimed in and described the option of civil disobedience as “the final battle plan.”

“Unless the issue that you’re addressing is one of extreme consciousness in the hearts and minds of people all over the place, then civil disobedience is only going to get you: one, locked up, two, further disadvantaged and three, a pariah, because it’s very easy to spin up people… into radicals,” Phelps explained.

As moderator, Schulz explained that he doesn’t have all the answers to all the questions facing Americans as the President-elect takes office.

“I’m just one man and that’s the beauty of democracy,” said Schulz. “We all got to figure this stuff out together ‘cause we’re all in it together.”

 

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