The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida will hold a town hall-style event on Saturday to discuss the recent policies of President Donald Trump, including the travel ban of citizens from Muslim-majority countries, immigration raids and removal of protections for transgender students.
The town hall, which will be live-streamed, will take place 4:30 p.m. at the University of Miami Watsco Center.
Baylor Johnson of the ACLU said the event came on the heels of the revelation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had contact with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, despite his denial of such interactions at his confirmation hearing.
Johnson said the ACLU specifically chose South Florida for the town hall, and that the ACLU views South Florida as a “critical point in the pushback against the Trump administration.”
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“South Florida is made up of a diverse community of people, including LGBT members and immigrants,” Johnson said. “These same people are targets of the Trump administration. The ACLU wants to continue to lead the fight to protect their rights.”
On Feb. 24, Churchill’s Pub in Little Haiti partnered with the ACLU to hold a “Resist” benefit concert to raise money for the ACLU. The bar had a $5 cover charge and all proceeds collected from admission went to the civil liberties group.
Johnson said the event was initiated by Churchill’s in response to some of the policies of the Trump administration.
“What’s great about spontaneous fundraisers is people can come together around a common purpose,” Johnson said.
Ian Michael, who books the bands for Churchill’s and plays in Mere Quantum Noise, one of the bands that performed that night, said Churchill’s often holds events for different causes, including ones in the past for “Free Tibet” and “Bands for Bernie.”
Eight bands took the stage throughout the night, including SVNSET, Viceroii, JAIALAI, Modernage, Viniloversus, Mere Quantum Noise, Pavlov's Bell and Abstract.
JAIALAI singer Oscar Sardinas said he believes events like this one are necessary because of the divisiveness throughout the country.
“I feel like in this political climate, lines are drawn and you got to choose sides,” Sardinas said.
Modernage singer Mario Giancarlo echoed Sardinas’ statement, saying these events are “mandatory.”
“Let’s set up the next one and the next one and the next one,” Giancarlo said. “We need to check the administration.”
One of the first events Giancarlo played with his band at Churchill’s was a John Kerry fundraiser in 2004. Giancarlo said it was “heartbreaking” watching the election results for that year, but “nothing compares to this last November.”
Giancarlo said he and Michael came up with the idea to raise money for the ACLU. He said he went to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., the day after the Jan. 20 inauguration and found the experience therapeutic, which was the inspiration for the concert last Friday.
“It was two-fold,” Giancarlo said. “Like let’s get some money out and also let’s feel better about this together.”
He said he was most concerned by the immigration ban and Trump’s recent attacks on the media.
“Making an enemy of the press is the beginning of dismantling the press,” Giancarlo said.
At the event on Saturday, ACLU speakers will educate the public on their legal rights, according to a press release from the ACLU.
“The ACLU will promote ideas for action to defend sanctuary cities, resist deportation raids, oppose the Muslim Ban, maintain Planned Parenthood funding and support other organizational priorities,” according to the release.
The statement also said the ACLU will “help train volunteers to resist President Trump’s unlawful policies across the country.”
If you go
▪ What: ACLU of Florida town hall
▪ Where: University of Miami Watsco Center, 1245 Dauer Dr. Coral Gables
▪ When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 3:30 p.m.; program begins 5 p.m.
▪ For more information, visit https://go.peoplepower.org/event/attend/27.