The Women’s March Continues—Next Stop, The NRA

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Last January, I was proud to join with hundreds of thousands of activists at the Women’s March on Washington, proudly proclaiming at the very outset of the Trump Administration that women’s rights are human rights, and that women's voices will not be stilled by forces of exclusion, discrimination, and injustice. That means, in particular, those most targeted: our sisters of color, Muslim sisters, LGBTQIA siblings, and lower income women, and those with disabilities.

Today, NOW is once again joining with the organizers of the Women’s March to protest another insidious and dangerous promoter of hate speech, the National Rifle Association. We are gathering at the NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, and then marching 17 miles to the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Tomorrow, we’ll be back at DOJ to hold a vigil and rally demanding respect for the civil and human rights of all people. ​

The march against the NRA is a response to a long history of the group’s attacks on people of color, women and everyone who exercises their constitutional right to protest. Women’s March co-chair Tamika Mallory, whose son’s father was fatally shot sixteen years ago, announced the March in response to some vile and inflammatory videos released by the NRA in recent weeks. Have you seen them?

​I almost hesitate to include this link because I don’t want to give oxygen to the NRA’s merchants of hate, but you may have already seen or heard about it. A white woman, conservative talk-show host Dana Loesch, uses the old propaganda ploy of making an unspecified “they” the scapegoat for a litany of false accusations. ​

As Media Matters has observed,

The NRA video narrated by spokesperson Dana Loesch characterized dissent against President Donald Trump as the ‘violence of lies’ and said it should be countered with “the clenched fist of truth.” The video claimed that in their opposition to Trump, left-wing Americans “scream racism, and sexism, and xenophobia, and homophobia [and] smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness.”

​In an open letter to NRA leader Wayne LaPierre following the release of the video, Tamika Mallory said,

​Mr. LaPierre, before the Second Amendment was the First Amendment. ​The advertisement released by the NRA is a direct attack on people of color, progressives and anyone who exercises their First Amendment right to protest. At a time when our nation is seeing a rise in racially charged incidents and violence motivated by hate speech, it is unconscionable for a powerful organization like yours to unashamedly peddle an ‘us versus them’ narrative. You are calling for our grassroots, nonviolent resistance movement to be met with violence.

​Tamika Mallory went on to call out the NRA for its hypocrisy and racism in failing to defend the second amendment rights of Philando Castile, who was shot to death by a police officer seconds after identifying himself as a carrier of a legally permitted concealed firearm. Last month, the officer who killed Philando Castile was acquitted on all charges—and yet the NRA remained silent.

​According to this article in The Trace,

​A day after Castile’s death, the gun group released a vague statement describing the incident as ‘troubling,’ and promised to say more ‘once all the facts are known.’ The group has not publicly addressed the shooting since, despite urging from gun owners. Mallory argues that the NRA, which describes itself as ‘the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights organization,’ failed to live up to that billing when it stayed silent rather than rally for justice at the death of a black gun owner.

​Tamika Mallory’s letter to Wayne LaPierre concludes,

​Your organization claims to stand for the Second Amendment rights of all Americans, but instead of affirming Mr. Castile's rights as well as his responsibilities under the legal license to carry his gun, you released this vicious and incendiary video calling for armed conflict. ​As a black woman, as a mother, as someone directly impacted by gun violence, as an American citizen, I am traumatized and alarmed, and so are my sisters and siblings who are part of the Women's March. It is clear that your organization does not value the legal rights nor the human rights of any of us. Unless the NRA takes immediate action, the Women's March will exercise our First Amendment right by calling for a mass mobilization. We will not be intimidated into silence.

​I’m proud to add my voice to the strength of the Women's March—and the countless supporters across the country who continue to speak out in their own communities. We will not be silent. We will not be stopped. And we will not be intimidated by the likes of the NRA. ​The Women's March continues. I’m proud to raise my voice again today, tomorrow and whenever my sisters gather to speak our truth to power.