By Larry Pareles
The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton.
Citizens in Western Massachusetts have been very concerned about preserving the integrity of the national elections, and Indivisible Northampton helped organize a local coalition in support of the national Protect the Results campaign. Our coalition made plans to mobilize if necessary. Thankfully, it was not necessary to fully mobilize when it became clear that Biden had won the Presidency, and that Trump could not undermine the elections, despite his attempts to do so.
In the weeks before the election, many of us became seriously concerned that Trump would try to steal the election. In the weeks before the elections, we quickly assembled a group of progressive leaders from about 15 large groups across the 4 counties of Western MA, and built a coalition almost overnight. This coalition started as a temporary team to protect the elections, but since the group has been working so effectively together, we unanimously decided that this progressive coalition in western MA will continue to work to support actions into the future. We hope this is the beginning of a large coalition here in the progressive wild west of western Massachusetts, and that we will have an impactful group going forward together.
Subgroups in each of the 4 counties planned multiple rallies and actions across the western part of the Commonwealth, but only held some of them when Trump’s efforts to undermine the elections failed.
On Wednesday, Nov 4th we held an evening rally in Northampton, with about 200 people, that went well. It was peaceful and affirming. We were hopeful, excited, concerned, uncertain, relieved, and still vigilant. There were some very powerful and uplifting speeches by high school students, community group representatives, and three of our very fine progressive women state legislators.
The next day, on Nov 5 there was a small rally of about 200 in the nearby town of Amherst, that went well, with hopeful and happy people parading around the town green, and making lots of cheerful noise, still carrying our messages to “Protect the results” and “Count every vote.”
On Saturday, Nov 7, we had an interesting experience in Northampton. We planned a march from a nearby park to downtown, and started marching with 100 people with the very serious intention to continue our messaging about the importance of counting every vote. As we walked down Main Street, more people joined the march and a band played patriotic songs along the route. However, about that time on that fateful Saturday afternoon, Joe Biden was declared the official winner by the Associated Press. So when we arrived in the center of Northampton, people were celebrating, and were literally dancing along the streets. Car traffic was stopped, horns were honking, and people were cheering with joy. Our seriously-intentioned marchers melted into the celebrating crowds lining the streets, and it was great. It felt like a great weight of worry and concern was being lifted off the shoulders of the crowd, and the relief and happiness was palpable.
When the national PTR Coalition did not decide to give the activation signal, most other rallies were cancelled or postponed, although the intrepid group in far west Pittsfield also held a noon rally which was a success.
The Western MA PTR Coalition will continue our vigilance and readiness to take action to protect the democratic transfer of power. Once Biden and Harris are sworn in, we will transition our work from protecting the integrity of this specific election, to protecting and expanding all our democratic institutions. Stay tuned.