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Reclaiming Democracy series ends at CSULB with ‘Collective Action’

Topics covered include Cross Party Communication, Student Activism and Dakota Access Pipeline.

A group of students and faculty gather together to speak about reclaiming democracy in the United States at Speakers Platform.

A group of students and faculty gather together to speak about reclaiming democracy in the United States at Speakers Platform.

Elizabeth Ortiz

Elizabeth Ortiz

A group of students and faculty gather together to speak about reclaiming democracy in the United States at Speakers Platform.

Hasham Nusrat, Staff Writer

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The series of talks inspired by the 2016 election came to an end with over 70 people attending at the last event to discuss collective action on the Speaker’s Platform today.

“The previous three workshops have been about ideas and theory, and ultimately you all know it takes action, organizing and figuring out how to get along with people you don’t get along with, which can be tricky,” said Teri Yamada, Chair of the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies.
Political science students Amanda Mendoza and Kylie Shahar were two of the guest speakers at the event.   

Shahar is the president of the Political Science Association and Mendoza is the president of the Political Science Graduate Association. They both went together to witness the on-ground tensions that happened in North Dakota during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests last November and stayed there for five weeks. Mendoza explained the trip as a “bonding journey and a magical experience.”

“The Dakota Access Pipeline is an important issue,” Mendoza, a graduate student, said. “America has kept its indigenous people down since the country has begun. I believe in people’s struggle, and I want to be a part of it.”

The pipeline is a 1,100 mile underground pipeline project to transport oil in North and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. It was heavily protested by native americans in the area who would be affected by the environmental impact of the pipeline and resulted in solidarity protests nationwide.

“The night we arrived there, I saw law enforcement agencies using water cannons, tear gas on unarmed people for about eight hours,” Shahar, a senior philosophy major, said. “It was disheartening and terrifying to see this amount of human rights violation and police brutality.”

Alicia Morales, lead organizer for the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, was also a speaker at the event.

“It is overwhelming to get involved during this time. We are conducting a ‘Know Your Rights’ campaign in the community, and we are also part of the sanctuary of Long Beach movement,” Morales said.

After the speeches were over, students participated in the group discussion segment for over 30 minutes. “Cross Party Communication,” “Student Activism,” “Organizing Veterans” and “Organizing on Campus Puvungna for dummies” were a few of the topics students talked about in groups.

“I liked attending this teach-in event because it taught me more about the DAPL movement and taught me that you don’t have to be part of a group to join movements necessarily; you can just start by attending anything that’s local and then work your way outward towards anything you’re interested in,” said Isabel Salas, a junior recreation therapy student

The LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach, Democratic Socialists of America, Militaries Families Speak Out and the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy were among the organizations that came to the event.

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