It is a question as old as time and almost inevitable as death and taxes: What is the Green Party of Rhode Island doing to impact the Ocean State? How are you involved and active within our communities?
Putting it simply, lots of different ways!
Individual Greens have been active in a variety of coalitions and efforts for years. Longtime members Tony Affigne and Greg Gerritt are members of several important groups in Rhode Island that are helping impact and shape policy every day in Rhode Island. Affigne has been part of several key groups that are protecting Rhode Island's coastlines and fighting for racial justice while having helped create the Latino caucus of the national Green Party. Gerritt has been actively participating in and helping organize Rhode Islanders in opposition to the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in Burrillville and Providence.
The Greens are active in Rhode Island's grassroots movement to end racial profiling and police brutality. When local youth of color organized the National Moment of Silence Providence (NMOS14), Greens were there. We were in the "March for Justice for Mike Brown." When international protest exploded, following the outrage in Ferguson and in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, Greens here joined the December 1 March Against Police Violence. We've been active members of a grassroots justice coalition, working to enact a powerful local law—the Community Safety Act—to end racial profiling by the Providence Police.
We oppose war and militarism. Since the very first U.S. Green parties in the 1980s, resistance to U.S. wars has always been an important part of our platform. The majority of Democratic and Republican politicians have consistently supported U.S. wars, and the massive defense spending that makes those wars possible. We opposed the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan, and joined anti-war protests before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The American people of all political stripes, whether liberals or conservatives, are tired of being the only country on earth that sacrifices so many billions of dollars, blood and treasure, in order to impose our will or protect the interests of our allies—no matter how corrupt and authoritarian those allies happen to be.
Marijuana should be legalized and regulated fairly, and drug use should be decriminalized. The so-called war on drugs has devastated our communities and created a thriving, dangerous underworld, just like Prohibition did so many years ago. The Greens favor complete legalization of marijuana including safety and quality regulation, with tax revenue earmarked for: public education, free addiction programs for both street drugs and prescription drugs, environmental improvements, and Green transportation. Greens would treat serious, addictive drug use as the public health problem it is, by decriminalizing addiction and providing adequate public support and recovery services for all who need them.
Without privacy there can be no democracy, and Greens oppose mass surveillance. In 2013, the Green Party of Rhode Island co-founded an alliance—the Rhode Island Coalition to Defend Human and Civil Rights (RICDHCR)—to build public awareness and resistance to government spying on the American people. Why? Because the staggering problems we face as a nation—including economic and social inequality; perpetual war abroad and violence at home; the skapegoating of immigrants, labor, and students; escalating attacks on women's rights, voting rights, and civil rights; police brutality and racial profiling; inhumane treatment of prisoners; budget cuts that slash human services, education, health care, transportation, and housing; and unprecedented devastation of the natural world—are sparking public outrage and mass protest in many cities. At the same time, Greens are deeply concerned about how local police, the FBI, ICE, Homeland Security, and other agencies will violate human rights, and misuse their vast universal database of phone calls, emails, and Internet activity.
Corporate lobbyists and cash would have threatened rights and progress—but they were stopped in their tracks, by a powerful coalition. The Green Party of Rhode Island was there. We were an active member of Citizens for Responsible Government in 2014, a local alliance of 40 labor, civil rights, environmental justice, and community groups. The coalition successfully lobbied voters to reject referendum Question 3, which would have convened a constitutional convention in Rhode Island. "This was a difficult decision to make, because grassroots democracy is one of the Greens' most important principles," said Nick Schmader, the party's vice chair. "But just as monied interests overwhelm and define our normal political processes, so too could wealth dominate a Constitutional Convention," he said. Judith Dixon, a member of the party's state committee, said convention candidates and elected delegates would face pressure to undermine workers' rights and restrict family planning and reproductive health services. "In other states," Dixon said, "Referenda like this have seen millions of dollars in outside money pour into campaigns, forcing workers' and rights activists to waste time and money defending progress we've already achieved.""Conservative groups across the country have targeted state environmental protections," said Greg Gerritt of Providence, vice chair for ecology and economy. "A constitutional convention, elected using corporate-friendly campaign finance laws, could be hijacked and used to roll back environmental progress."