A protester who identified herself only as “October” held a sign that read “Pussy grabs back!” It was one of the more unusual protest signs against Donald Trump, the president-elect, referencing a crude comment Trump had made several years ago.
She was one of around 150 protesters gathered in Bicentennial Park in downtown Oklahoma City Saturday, Nov. 8, to protest the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency.
But even though some anti-Trump signs could be seen in the crowd, speakers for the event spoke surprisingly few harsh words against Trump. Instead, they pointed toward the future, encouraging greater unity among left-leaning activist groups and promoting activism in voter registration and voting.
There is plenty to upset The Left in Oklahoma. In addition to Trump’s ascent, the election produced a Republican-controlled Congress, and an even bigger super-majority of Republicans in the Oklahoma Legislature.
Hosted by the peace organization Center for Conscience in Action, the rally was originally posted on Facebook with the title “Nonviolent Protest of Trump/Rally for Peace & Love.”
Over 10 speakers representing NAACP, Black Lives Matter-Oklahoma, Freedom Oklahoma, and several other activist groups encouraged the crowd to volunteer for get-out-the-vote efforts.
Flip the Council
One of them was Oklahoma City Councilman Dr. Ed Shadid.
He encouraged participants to be not just discouraged by national elections, but to get involved in their own community and “win the local win-able elections.”
“Big money has just poisoned campaigns and the electoral process, but at the local level, door-to-door elbow grease can overcome that money,” he said receiving some of the strongest applause during the rally.
Shadid said, “There are four seats up this year on the city council. You and your vote can flip the city council.”
“I can make myself very sad, anxious, and ruminate about things over which I have no control,” said Shadid. “I can make myself feel very good getting involved in things that can change the environment around me. And each and every one of us can change government at the city level.”
Shadid’s Ward 2 seat is not up for re-election in 2017, but seats in Wards 1, 3, 4 and 7 are.
The filing period for Oklahoma City Council elections is Dec. 5-7, 2016. The primary election will be Feb. 14, 2017 and the general election for the four seats will be April 4, 2017.
Somewhat of a folk hero on the left, Independent candidate Sean Braddy led a long-shot campaign where he nevertheless received 40,342 votes for the U.S. Senate seat held by incumbent Republican Sen. James Lankford. He and three other candidates were defeated by Lankford.
Braddy said his campaign “had little money” and “depended on word-of-mouth,” and depended solely on each of his supporters.
“We got that 40,000 votes because people like you said, go check out that Sean Braddy,” he said to the cheering crowd. “We didn’t use any kind of TV media advertising because we couldn’t afford it.”
His main point was that ordinary people had to “start sharing more on social media.”
At the end of his speech he showed why he has become so popular to the left. He said, “If you support the LBGT community step forward. If you are going to support the African-American community, please step forward. If you will support women take a step forward. If you are going to support Native Americans take a step forward.” On each challenge, the crowd took a step toward him, eventually standing close to one another and Braddy.
“Now this group is starting to look a whole lot more united,” he said to laughter, applause and cheers.
Before the formal part of the rally started, Free Press visited with one of the organizers of the event, T. Sheri Dickerson (no relation to this reporter), Executive Director of Black Lives Matter, Oklahoma.
She talked about the deeper goals of having the rally and emphasized that it wasn’t just to create immediate excitement.
“One of our main goals is to begin to stress the importance of making this a totally inclusive effort of all of these social justice groups unifying and having a greater impact,” Dickerson said.
She said that they were working now toward “unity among these groups” and for all groups to realize their common mission and goals. “We want to decrease the competition among us and help our citizens to heal.”
Longtime activist Rena-Paulette Guay joined Dickerson in coordinating the event. She encouraged the crowd to get even more involved than they had before, and relayed information about how to contact other groups beyond the rally. Guay runs a website to serve as a hub for liberal activists of all sorts at Oklahoma Activist.com.
During the last few minutes of the rally Free Press talked with Troy Stephenson of Freedom Oklahoma. The group identifies itself as promoting “full equality and legal protections for LGBTQ Oklahomans through public education, advocacy, coalition building and individual empowerment.”
When asked what the key value to a rally like this one might be, he said that after people “have carried their protest signs and put them down and pick up clipboards and the start registering voters” then the true value of the rally would be achieved.
Note: T. Sheri Dickerson cited in this story is not related to Brett Dickerson, the author.