Resist & Rebuild Summit (MyNBC5)


More than 100 people gathered at Montpelier High School Saturday for the Resist and Rebuild Summit.

It was held by the Central Vermont Citizen Action Network to connect Vermonters who want to work for change with various organizations across the state.

"There are organizations focused on Vermont policy and budgets and there are organizations focused on federal action and really the point is that this needs to become a movement for change, a movement to protest our democracy a movement to hold our legislators and our governor accountable," Sue Minter, former gubernatorial candidate and Network member, said.

The summit featured panel discussions and workshops on a broad range of topics, from the environment to criminal justice reform and gender equality.

Everything here had one common theme: how they can work together to create the type of state and democracy that they want.

"It's the coming together of all the different issue to see where we can work together to become more coordinated in our efforts because we are in a time right now where everyone needs to work together," attendee Rick Barstow said.

"It really talks about the intersectionality of all these different issues, that no one movement can work by itself," Karin Waquar, a member of Muslim Girls Making Change, said.

"I think it's important to work together locally during these difficult times. We have a national government that doesn't care about facts, is not interested in science," attendee Eric Bachman said.

The goal was also to capitalize off the momentum from countless nationwide protests drawing record crowds.

"What I know is people are anxious people are scared and I know that the best way to deal with that is to take action," Minter said.

Vermont legislature considers paid family leave act


The Vermont House is considering a bill that would create mandatory paid family leave for employees.

“It was absolutely imperative that I was there for my child,” said Erin Stillson-Wolf, who was working in the food industry when she had her daughter, Lilli, 11 years ago.

“Paid time off, let alone time off to have a child, is just laughable, it's just not something that happens in that industry at all,” she continued.

Stillson-Wolf had to quit and her family lived on a single income.

“That meant $14,000 a year to live, which was a huge sacrifice, but it was either live in extreme poverty or not be there for my child in her first few weeks of life,” Stillson-Wolf said.

Three years ago, she made that same decision when her son was born. Now she's supporting a bill that would create a family leave insurance program to give employees 12 weeks paid family leave.


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BFP - Women's March demonstrators discuss movement's future

Screenshot_2017-01-24_23.40.22.png Police estimated that 15,000 to 20,000 people came to Montpelier to participate in a nation-wide women's march on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, closing two exits on Interstate 89 after traffic backed up for miles as people poured into Vermont's capital. GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS

Katie McCarty, one of the organizers of the Women's March on Montpelier, watched in amazement in the week leading up to the Saturday rally as Facebook responses skyrocketed.

Now the movement's leaders are discussing how to harness that energy going forward.

"The RSVPs flooded in that final week after all the press came out," McCarty said Monday. "It was going up a thousand people a day: four thousand, five thousand, six thousand. On the morning of the march it was seven thousand RSVPs."

McCarty's volunteer web designer sent heran email Friday night saying the site had received 15,000 hits, crashing the website.

"That's when we realized it was going to be huge," said McCarty, development director for the group Rights and Democracy. "There was nothing we could do at that point."

The Vermont Women's March Unity Rally, as the event also was known, drew 15,000 to 20,000 people Saturday, temporarily shutting down three exits on Interstate 89 and filling the lawn, street and steps in front of the Statehouse with a sea of people of all ages and backgrounds. The march was one of dozens nationwide that together attracted millions of people. More rallies took place around the world.



"It was significant on so many levels, particularly just the significance of marching for women's rights but also marching in unity with other communities under increased threat from the policies and rhetoric of the incoming (Trump) administration," McCarty said.

McCarty hopes to turn the response the rally generated into an ongoing movement. She said Rights and Democracy reached out to 180 other organizations across the state working for social and economic justice in the run-up to the march.

"Now we've built this coalition of organizations and individuals doing this work," McCarty said. "That's incredibly powerful, especially in Vermont. We've already talked about the next step, reunifying as a team and building our platform moving forward."

A crowd of several thousand listens to speeches during

A crowd of several thousand listens to speeches during Women's March on Montpelier and Unity Rally at the Statehouse on Saturday, January 21, 2017.  (Photo: GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS)

Ebony Nyoni, co-founder and president of Black Lives Matter VT, was one of the speakers at Saturday's rally.

"It was certainly wonderful to see so many people come out towards a shared cause or causes," Nyoni said Monday. "It was just great energy."

Nyoni said she is trying to build a sustainable base for her organization, with a goal of eventually having 5,000 members across the state. Black Lives Matter VT currently has 400 members.

"Basically we're organized and mobilized to make the experiences of people of color in Vermont more tolerable by addressing issues of racism, whether it be systemic, environmental or on a community level," Nyoni said.

A crowd of several thousand listens to speeches duringA crowd of several thousand listens to speeches during Women's March on Montpelier and Unity Rally at the Statehouse on Saturday, January 21, 2017.  (Photo: GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS)

The organization is opening a coffee shop in Winooski on Feb. 11, called Shop 4 Change, that will offer Equal Exchange Coffee and pastries from different cultures.

"It's going to be really cool," Nyoni said. "Everything is organic. Everything is Fair Trade."

Nyoni said 100 percent of the proceeds from the coffee shop will go toward sustaining Black Lives Matter VT.

Rebecca Eun Mi Haslam was another of the speakers at Saturday's event. Haslam is the Burlington School District's K-12 equity and inclusion instructional leader.

"That basically means I get to provide direct support to teachers with regard to equity and inclusion in their instruction," Haslam said.

A crowd of several thousand listens to speeches during

A crowd of several thousand listens to speeches during Women's March on Montpelier and Unity Rally at the Statehouse on Saturday, January 21, 2017.  (Photo: GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS)

Haslam said Monday she was given about three minutes to address the enormous crowd in Montpelier. Toward the end of her speech, she addressed the impact of the presidential election on students and families.

"What I can tell you is every day teachers have to mitigate the results of the election," Haslam said. "Children are hearing hateful rhetoric ... and bring that experience into school conversations."

Haslam sees Saturday's march as a "call to action" to change in the current political and social atmosphere. Katie McCarty agrees.

"These are daunting times, but I've never felt more powerful than right now, living in this state," McCarty said. "As an organizer, we've seen people who have never engaged in activism coming out and saying, 'I have to do something.'"

VTDigger - Women's March Overwhelms Montpelier

JAN. 21, 2017, 11:22 PM BY  

Women's March

Thousands rallied in Montpelier for the march, held in concert with hundreds of other events around the country. Photo by Emily Greenberg/VTDigger

Asea of homemade political placards and pink knitted hats flooded Montpelier Saturday as demonstrators overwhelmed the capital to protest the policies of President Donald Trump. 

The local Women’s March drew an estimated crowd of between 15,000 and 20,000 to Montpelier, according to police, making it possibly the largest demonstration ever in the capital.

More than 500,000 protested in Washington, DC at a national event, and there were similar protests to Vermont attended by tens of thousands in cities across the country and globe.

As Vermonters descended on Montpelier from across the state, traffic backed up for miles, including on Interstate 89, where police closed several exits, including the entrances to Montpelier from both the north and south.

Crowds began gathering at Montpelier High School in the morning, eventually spilling out onto the street. They congregated at the Statehouse, the crowd so large it stretched across the street to the front of the Department of Motor Vehicles and clogged all of State Street, which was closed.

Homemade posters and placards mingled with cloth banners and intricate costumes.

Women's March

Students from Johnson State College at the Women’s March in Montpelier. Photo by Elizabeth Hewitt/VTDigger

Emily Peterson, 20, and Katherine Hirack, 18, classmates at Johnson State College, drove to the capital to support women’s rights.

“I think it’s really important to be involved, and history, herstory I should say, is happening right before our eyes,” Peterson said.

“We’ve progressed so far, there’s no way we can go back now,” Hirack said. She held a hand-painted sign on cardboard that read “I will not go quietly back into the 1950s.”

The march traveled a short distance — roughly two blocks — to the steps of the Statehouse.

Sue Grigg, 75, of Middlebury, stood on the sidewalk on State Street with her daughter and granddaughter. Throngs of marchers surged by, chanting “Love not hate, makes America great” — a play on Trump’s campaign slogan.

Grigg’s granddaughter, Emma Olmstead, 17, of East Montpelier, was also with two of her friends. It was the first time the three high school juniors had been at a protest. All three said they worry about the status of women.

“I see it in everyday lives where things aren’t equal, and there needs to be a change,” one said.

Griggs said she believes that women in the country are faring “better than before.” But she fears that women’s rights could be in peril with the changing political winds in Washington.

“I don’t want to see it slip back,” she said. “I want it to carry forward and I see a time where that’s in danger.”

Women's March

Nicole Nelson, of the band Dwight and Nicole, performs at the Women’s March in Montpelier. Photo by Emily Greenberg/VTDigger

As the tides of marchers arrived on the Statehouse lawn, the band Dwight and Nicole performed from the steps. Muslim Girls Making Change, slam poetry team of four Burlington teenagers, elicited a chorus of snaps, applause and cheers as they performed poems that touched on the experience of wearing a hijab, police brutality and more.

Former Gov. Madeleine Kunin addressed the crowd, saying that the march called for many initiatives, including respect, equal pay, health care and more. In the next four years, she said, “We will be heard.”

In the wake of the election, some people are “discouraged and puzzled,” Kunin said. “The pendulum has swung so fast from Barack Obama to Donald Trump that we’ve got whiplash.”

“I assure you it will swing back again,” she said.

Ebony Nyoni, who founded Black Live Matter Vermont, raised disparities in pay, work opportunities and health care between white women and women of color.

She also pointed out that many white women in the country voted for Trump for president.

“We must not forget that the needs of women are as diverse as they are, and that our elevation, our freedom is tied up together and wrapped in one pretty bow,” Nyoni said.

Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at the Women’s March in Montpelier. Photo by Emily Greenberg/VTDigger

When Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., made an unscheduled appearance at the podium, the crowd erupted. The junior senator, who won more than 86 percent of the vote in the Democratic presidential primary last year, was the subject of more than a few placards at the rally.

“You know, I have been driving down the interstate for many years. But I have never seen traffic backed up the way it is today,” Sanders said. “And I have never seen more people here at the Statehouse than I’ve seen today.”

Sanders pledged resistance to the Trump administration on women’s rights, immigration issues, racial justice and more.

“Mr. Trump I’ve got bad news for you. You are not going to divide us up by gender, by race, by who we love,” Sanders said. “In fact, your bigotry and your ugliness are going to bring us together in a progressive movement.”

Women's March

The crowd reacts to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s surprise appearance at the Women’s March on Montpelier. Photo by Elizabeth Hewitt/VTDigger

A slew of other speakers took the microphone, including Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, Rep. Kiah Morris, D-Bennington, representatives from Planned Parenthood and Migrant Justice, and more.

Montpelier police described the rally as peaceful and said there were no arrests. Though traffic in and around the city was congested in the early afternoon, it cleared up as the demonstration dispersed later on.

According to Cpl. David Kachajian, the department believed the crowd numbered as high as 20,000 — far exceeding the initial estimates of about 1,500 when the rally was first being organized he said.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a group like this,” he said.



ABC Local 22 - Vt. Lt. Gov. Zuckerman Hosts One of At Least 70 Rallies Across the Country to "Save Health Care"

At least 1,000 people met up to rally for health care rights at Burlington High School Sunday.

They joined those in about 70 other rallies around the nation, all focused on the fight to "save health care" in the United States.

A group from Plattsburgh gathered outside of Congresswoman Elise Stefanik's office. The North Country Republican voted this weekend in support of steps towards the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Burlington's event was hosted by Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman.

Representatives on behalf of Congressman Peter Welch and Senator Patrick Leahy also gave remarks, while Senator Bernie Sanders spoke via web stream. All three voted against actions to repeal Obamacare over the weekend.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Sanders addressed thousands at a "Save Health Care" rally in Michigan. Senator Sanders believes this message will resonate with a Republican congress.

"You just cannot throw 20 million people off of health insurance, raise the cost of prescription drugs for seniors, do away with very important patient protection. You just can't do that, unless you have another plan in its place, and I think more and more Republicans are beginning to understand that," said Sanders.

In Vermont., newly sworn in Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman hosted the Burlington rally, organized by Rights and Democracy.

"It's the people in this room, that are going to make sure here in Vermont, we can set the example for a whole country on both organizing, fighting for worker's rights, liveable wages, universal health care," said Zuckerman.


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Opponents of repealing the Affordable Care Act gather Sunday in Burlington as part of a nationwide action led by Sen. Bernie Sanders. Photo by Emily Greenberg/VTDigger

BURLINGTON — About 1,000 Vermonters flooded the auditorium of Burlington High School on Sunday for a rally opposing Republicans’ planned repeal of the Affordable Care Act and pushing for universal health care.

The demonstration was part of a nationwide day of action spearheaded by Sen. Bernie Sanders and others and came just two days after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to initiate the swift repeal of the ACA. Sanders said 70 rallies were held from Maine to California.

“Our job today is to defend the Affordable Care Act, and our job tomorrow is to create a single-payer system,” Sanders said through a live video feed from a rally in Michigan. “We will not stand by and watch Republicans dismantle our health care system, make huge cuts to Medicaid, privatize Medicare and defund Planned Parenthood.”

The Burlington rally was co-sponsored by dozens of organizations. The venue was changed twice to accommodate the number of people who signed up through Sanders’ website to attend. Fourteen speakers addressed the rally, from elected officials to Vermonters at risk of losing their health insurance if the ACA is repealed.

Phil Fiermonte, state director of Sanders’ office, said 35,000 Vermonters will lose their health insurance if that happens, in addition to 13,000 who were made eligible for Medicaid through its expansion under the ACA.

Also, 280,720 Vermonters with pre-existing conditions will see an increase in their costs for health insurance if the law is repealed, Fiermonte said.

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Free Press - Burlington rally opposes repeal of health care law

The auditorium at Burlington High School overflowed with people who turned out Sunday to rally against efforts by Republicans in the U.S. Congress to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law —  actions they said would harm access to health care in the U.S. and put residents' lives at risk.

Speakers at the rally said the negative effects would include depriving millions of Americans of health care (including thousands of Vermonters), privatizing Medicaid, making cuts to Medicare and defunding Planned Parenthood. More than 1,000 people attended the event organized by Rights & Democracy Vermont, the Vermont Workers' Center, Vermont Health Care For All, Our Revolution, Black Lives Matter, and other groups.

Lawmakers and health care advocates spoke during the event, which also featured a live-stream of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaking at a rally in Michigan on the same topic. More than 70 health care rallies were held across the country on Sunday as part of a "Save Our Health Care National Day of Action." About 400 people also gathered in Manchester to watch Sanders' rally as well, Vermont Lt. Gov. Dave Zuckerman told the crowd.

"It's the people in this room who are going to work to make sure people here in Vermont can set the example for the whole country on organizing and fighting for workers' rights, livable wages, universal health care, but while fighting for these things, being respectful," Zuckerman said at the rally. "Right now, it's really tenuous out there and everybody's angry. It's okay to be angry, but it's not okay to have hate. ... We have to build ourselves up together."


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NBC 5 - 'Save Health Care' rally moved to Burlington High School because of expected crowd


Because of such a huge amount of support, Rights and Democracy has moved the "Our First Stand: Save Health Care National Day of Action Rally" to Burlington High School on Sunday. It's part of a national day of action led by Sen. Bernie Sanders to "save health care."

The rally will feature Sanders via live stream, Lt Gov. David Zuckerman and other community leaders in opposition to the Republican budget resolution, which organizers say would take away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans, privatize Medicare, make massive cuts to Medicaid and defund Planned Parenthood, among other things.

One volunteer organizer, Jessica Early, is a nurse and she said she works with patients who will be directly impacted.

"I think other folks throughout the state have a similar investment in this issue and it's bringing them out," Early said. "They know this could impact their neighbors and their parents and their grandparents and their children, and so people are really making an effort to take a stand and take a stand together."

VT DIGGER: Sanders Swing Through Bennington Draws 700+

BENNINGTON — Bernie Sanders demonstrated Saturday that his political rock star status hasn’t faded. Nearly 700 people attended a rally in Bennington for Democrats seeking statewide offices and local House seats in the Nov. 8 election.

The Vermont senator may have lost the Democratic nomination for president to Hillary Clinton, but his leadership role in a surging American progressive movement was evident from the moment he was spotted entering the event at Mount Anthony Union Middle School.

His presence prompted a spontaneous roar and applause from the crowd and an instant swarm of beaming supporters, seemingly propelled forward from their seats.

Attendees said the still hot enthusiasm Sanders has generated will fuel the progressive movement past Election Day.

“I think one of the things we’ve seen the most coming away from Bernie Sanders’ run is that he was speaking to issues and solving our country’s problems in a way that resonated with a lot of people,” said Rep. Kiah Morris, D-Bennington.

“And there is an expectation when people are running for office that they will try to uphold that,” she said, “because that is what the people wanted … I think the momentum was there, but I think he gave a platform and a voice for people to say, this is what I want to have happen, this is what I have been looking for.”

Mary Gerisch, of Rights and Democracy (RAD), which organized the event, said, “People really do have power when they stand together to make change. And that, of course, is what RAD is all about, people standing together to make change."

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Pre-election rally by Rights and Democracy draws over 700 to MAU Middle School

Bennington Banner:

BENNINGTON — Acknowledging that the country's economy "is nowhere where it needs to be," the growth in the number of jobs and cuts to the national deficit show progress, Bernie Sanders told attendees of a pre-election rally this weekend.

"Eight years ago today, the world's financial system was on the verge of collapse, as the result of greed and reckless and illegal behavior on Wall Street," the U.S. Senator told a crowd of hundreds at Mount Anthony Union Middle School on Saturday afternoon.

Republicans, Sanders said, talk about how only 200,000 jobs are created each month. "But before Obama took office... we were loosing 800,000 jobs a month," he said.

But he said there's still a "grotesque and unfair level of income and wealth inequality."

"Something is profoundly wrong when... people in Bennington, Burlington and all over the country aren't working one job to make things meeting, they're working two or three," Sanders said.

Millions face issues like lack of access to healthcare, education, and quality childcare, he said.

Sanders, who served as an independent before seeking the Democratic nomination for president, described that party's slate of candidates running for the Nov. 8 election as "thoughtful people trying to do the best." He said those candidates, with the help of voters, will shape the country in a critical time.

"We cannot go further unless we have courage to look truth in the eye," he said.

It was one of three pre-election rallies organized by Rights and Democracy for Democrats seeking statewide offices and local House seats in the Nov. 8 election. A rally in Vergennes was held that morning and in Rutland that night.

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