FALMOUTH — In an effort to attract and energize volunteers, the American Civil Liberties Union livestreamed a resistance training video Saturday evening to thousands of groups across the country, showing people how to get involved in fighting the policies and rhetoric coming from President Donald Trump’s office.
The training was also the launch of People Power, a grass-roots effort by the national civil rights group aiming to engage volunteers to “take the fight against Donald Trump’s policies not just into the courts, but into the streets,” according to the ACLU’s website.
“We have seen a huge groundswell of support for the ACLU,” said Matt Allen, a field director at ACLU of Massachusetts.
The event informed people about their rights when protesting or when stopped by the police. “It’s the first step in building longer-term campaigns,” Allen said.
Jonathan Polloni, a Falmouth-based real estate lawyer, organized a viewing of the training session at the Falmouth Public Library. It was one of the handful of People Power events held Saturday on the Cape and Islands.
Polloni said he donated money to the ACLU after the election, and the organization reached out to him to host the event.
“My wife kind of got me to take action,” Polloni said. Policies that have come out of the Trump administration have shocked the attorney and inspired him to get involved. “The genesis really was the Muslim ban.”
More than 50 people gathered in a meeting room in the bottom floor of the library and listened as Anthony Romero, the executive director of the ACLU, opened the event, which was broadcast from Miami.
“These last four months have been certainly challenging for the ACLU,” Romero said.
The group plans to continue fighting Trump in court on his travel ban affecting six majority-Muslim countries and lead the fight to protect civil, First Amendment, LGBT, and reproductive rights, but they need ordinary citizens to also resist, he said.
Faiz Shakir, the national political director of the ACLU, called on the people to set up meetings with their town’s police departments to talk about their policies regarding the local enforcement of federal immigration laws.
One way to fight Trump’s threats against so-called “sanctuary cities” is to make sure local law enforcement are not involved in enforcing federal immigration laws, he said. The ACLU provided a model policy for how state and local police departments should handle immigration laws, and Polloni is planning on reaching out to Falmouth Police Chief Edward Dunne to talk about the issue. Attendees also suggested bringing up the topic at the upcoming “Coffee with a Cop” event.
Other speakers during the training touched on protesters’ rights, what to do if ICE comes to a neighbor’s home, and the importance of contacting federal legislators. Shakir also asked that people write to the ACLU to give them ideas on how to resist Trump’s policies.
Karen Bacigalupi, of Mashpee, said she went to the training because she wanted to see how she could get involved.
“Every single group that Trump has gone after, I have friends in these communities,” she said.
Glenn Rowland, who attended the training with his wife, Marilyn, said he was driven to attend the session after seeing Trump’s actions since he was elected.
“I was really spurred on by what is going on after the election on the national level,” said Rowland, a Falmouth resident. The new administration has created an anti-immigrant and anti-rights atmosphere, he said, and the training provided him with ideas to get publicly active.
“We realized our rights certainly can get trampled on,” he said.
The group plans to meet again on April 8 at the library to continue the momentum of events like the Women’s March and other protests around the country.
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