On January 20, the spell of denial that had seemed to hang around American progressives since the election in November finally lifted. The world watched as a small, apricot-hued hand rose to swear in its owner as the 45th President of the United States of America, and Americans from Portland, ME to Portland, OR met to foster a vocal, grassroots resistance to the Trump Administration.
Salem’s response to the inauguration and the slew of executive orders in the week since has demonstrated the richness of the city’s interests and culture of activism. Salem dwellers have sought out organizations to represent their interests, and are founding new groups to address broader issues. To help connect these groups, the Salem Solidarity Network was created.
According to its mission statement, the Salem Solidarity Network is “a coalition of organizations and individuals drawn together to resist bigotry and hate.” At the group’s most recent meeting on January 26, the Network proved itself true to its mission, representing groups from the politically-oriented Progressive Salem to environmental protection groups like 350 Salem.
Although the Network is in its nascent stages — last week’s meeting established an organization committee and laid the groundwork for subcommittees — it is already developing into a hub for Salem residents who want to get involved in resisting bigoted policy here in Salem as well as federally. The group promotes direct action taking place in the Willamette Valley and partners with local groups to organize events, with a specific emphasis on opposing the Trump Administration.
Community member Spencer Bailly reports that he is drawn to the group because of its focus on combatting Trump’s government. Asked why this organization stands out to him, Bailly, 25, said, “Other organizations are focused on other missions, but this is specifically to monitor and respond to Trump’s actions.”
A first-time attendee at a Solidarity Network event, Bailly was inspired to join the organizing committee when he witnessed the wide array of issues being brought forth. “People are genuinely upset,” he said, “and we need a solid organizational core to get people involved in direct action.”
Another attendee remarked upon the importance of such a network to help newcomers to political activism find their niche. “I came tonight because I know I want to do something, but didn’t know what to do,” she said. “Here there are a lot of people all trying to do something together, and that’s big.”
For Salemites who want to get involved, the Network is promoting a variety of events in the upcoming weeks. Perhaps the most prominent of these will be a march held on Feb. 4 in downtown Salem. Organized by environmentalist group 350 Salem, the march will begin at Wells Fargo and proceed to US Bank, Bank of America, and Chase Bank in opposition to these banks’ financial backing of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Other upcoming events sponsored by the Network include anti-racist trainings, political volunteer opportunities, and other ways to get involved in keeping Salem safe for all of its community members. To get involved with the Solidarity Network and its partners, visit Salem Solidarity Network’s Facebook page, or attend the group’s next monthly meeting on February 23 at 1730 Commercial St. SE.