President Trump and Andy Barr rally in Richmond, Kentuckians respond

President Donald Trump made a trip to Eastern Kentucky University on October 13, where he rallied supporters for Representative Andy Barr in the 6th district congressional race.

Approximately 6,500 people flooded the university’s Alumni Coliseum in support of the president and his policies, filling it to capacity. Others from across the Commonwealth of Kentucky came together across the street to take action, display signs, sing chants and express themselves in the view of the country’s chief executive.

The event turned out to be an experiment in developing democratic dialogue and practice. An estimated 1,500 people lined up by 8 a.m. to attend, as many more came to EKU throughout the day. The doors to the coliseum would not open until 4 p.m., and the president’s appearance was not slated to start until 7 that evening.

Estimates indicate that more than 400 people gathered in the designated protest area, including members of KFTC, the Kentucky Dream Coalition, the Bluegrass Activist Alliance, EKU and Berea College students, as well as many others from across Kentucky. Many more were able to participate digitally through social media platforms, such as Facebook’s live video function. (To watch some clips from the day, check out KFTC's facebook page.)

Many Kentuckians took a variety of actions to lift up a vision for our communities and build grassroots power. KFTC members across the state plugged into community canvases to discuss the upcoming November elections with folks at their front doors.

For folks who were unable to attend the demonstration in Richmond or go canvassing door-to-door, KFTC hosted a Democracy Blitz Phone Bank. Folks who joined the virtual phone banks from their homes heard a report from Richmond, developed a shared understanding of what hangs in the balance in this moment, and made calls to new voters in Kentucky to discuss how folks can advance a vision for Kentucky through the electoral process.

This Saturday highlighted multiple ways KFTC members took action to insist that Kentuckians deserve leaders who respect us all, and when those who don’t come into our Commonwealth, we work to build new power.

Damien Hammons, a member from the Cumberland chapter of KFTC who attended the action in Richmond, spoke on live video, addressing the common view that, “We often feel like one vote doesn’t make a difference.” He continued to explain his own robust participation in democracy, saying, “There’s so many different times you can give a candidate one more vote – give them a little bit more leverage in our government, so our government will represent us and will represent who we should be. I’m super excited for November 6. Make sure to go out and vote everybody.”

Madison County KFTC member Kris Tina Anderson attended the action in Richmond as well. When discussing what motivated them to take action, Kris Tina noted that the event presented “a really great opportunity to inspire people to go and vote come November. I want to challenge people’s ideas about what Donald Trump’s policies have done in terms of the climate. I am very passionate about the climate. I want to see a statewide Fairness Ordinance, as well as renewable energy.”

Kris Tina spoke to the depth and range of issues that motivated Kentuckians to take action during the president’s appearance. Many in the crowd lifted up racial justice, immigrants' rights, clean energy, women’s rights and the variety of ways that Rep. Andy Barr and President Donald Trump have gotten the country further away from meaningful action to address these concerns.

Although protesters attended the event with a variety of concerns and grievances, the demonstration powerfully lifted up a vision for thriving communities as well. Members of the Kentucky Dream Coalition led the crowd in chants of “I believe that we will win.”

While many found themselves on the ground on Saturday at the event, many others were able to participate, observe and express themselves in a multitude of other ways, especially through social media videos. For the diverse and expansive Commonwealth of Kentucky, this is what democracy truly looks like. Kentuckians came together to take action rooted in solidarity and to build grassroots power.

As we look toward building a better, beloved community of people, KFTC members are utilizing many different tactics and strategies. As we advance our goals, our membership is more than willing to take advantage of all the tools available to improve our democracy, our community and our lives.

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