Tag Archives: Activism

My Syllabus: Activism


For one of the most educated communities in the country I was about to learn just how gullible people can be when they focus only on their bank statements. This is a lesson that has been taught and re-taught over time, particularly with recent elections and political stances.

Several years ago I began writing commentary for the local newspaper and an NPR affiliate as a way to increase my activism and voice. This commentary focused primarily on local politics, and I retained the right to repost on the relatively new platforms of Facebook and Twitter, as well as my blog.

I work for the government to pay the bills, which makes being an outspoken, opinionated activist a risky endeavor given the lack of privacy afforded to public sector workers. Activism must always include risk – and recruiting activists to your cause will always mean inviting them to take a risk. I think it is important to be upfront about this fact, not to scare, but to open eyes to mitigation tactics. Let me use two separate actions I have been involved in to illustrate.

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Pro-choice Agitation in Ohio

What began as an off-the-cuff idea I posted to Facebook has turned into a movement getting some serious news coverage. Here in Ohio our legislature has used the last days before the holiday recess to pass some very controversial laws regarding guns as well as women’s health choices. These laws have been previously found unconstitutional and will likely have to be revised or revoked if they take effect; the calculus being that a Trump SCOTUS appointment may overturn Roe v Wade via an attack like this one.

If Gov. John Kasich chooses to sign the legislation into law, or chooses to not take any action before Dec. 17, these bans will become law. So our hope is he will veto the bans, or line item veto them out of the otherwise no controversial parts of the legislation.

After days of calls into his office being ignored it felt as though something more visual and visceral needed doing. My thought was that we use the most gruesome image of the pre-Roe days; the wire hanger as abortion tool. In a similar manner as the pro-life movement parades photos of bloody fetal tissue to shock people into action,  why don’t we shock our Governor into action. Perhaps reminding him of his youth prior to Roe; perhaps reminding him that he has daughters of his own.

More than anything, I wanted to take action for my own daughter’s future.

Since posting the idea to Facebook on Friday afternoon fellow pro-choice agitators gravitated to it. My friend Jess Matthews spread the word and by Saturday we had hundreds of wire hangers adorned with heartfelt messages pleading for the Governor to veto the so called Heartbeat bill.

Wob & organizer Andrew Miller with activist Jess Matthews

Saturday night the hangers were taken but activists quickly replaced them on Sunday as well as marching en mass with the media paying attention. Then again on Sunday night the hangers were once more removed but this time several of the activists reacted with a brilliant plan to order up hundreds of wire hangers to be delivered to the Governors office.

The list of local and national media coverage is growing but the short list below is what I’ve been involved in:

NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/opinion/rolling-back-abortion-rights-after-donald-trumps-election.html

NY Magazine: http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/12/people-are-protesting-ohios-abortion-ban-with-coat-hangers.html

WSYX ABC-6: http://abc6onyourside.com/news/local/protesters-use-wire-coat-hangers-to-protest-heartbeat-bill

A-plus: http://aplus.com/a/ohio-heartbeat-abortion-bill-wire-hanger-protest-veto-john-kasich

ThinkProgress: https://thinkprogress.org/the-coat-hanger-comes-of-age-c592682a987#.z2g46kyp7

This is a link to the original Facebook event page I had setup that included more photos and commentary: https://www.facebook.com/events/357579031278485/?ti=icl