CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Bernie Sanders is not in Cleveland, but the tone of his revolutionary campaign broke from beneath the surface today outside the Republican National Convention.
Peaceful demands for income equality and inclusive policy rang through Public Square early this afternoon from the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, a group of approximately 100 demonstrators bearing signs in Spanish, Arabic and English to share their goals.
A non-partisan organization, members of the Alliance vocally oppose the policies and inflammatory remarks of Donald Trump, but also plan to demonstrate outside the Democratic National Convention next week in Philadelphia. The group draws economic justice advocates concerned with a variety of issues, including mass incarceration, environmental racism, food access and migration.
"We're asking people to take action in their local communities, to take back democracy from the bottom up and to be able to talk about that. Let's not fall victim to the xenophobia, misogyny the racism that we're seeing promoted and that we have been seeing throughout this election cycle," said Cindy Wiesner, the national coordinator of the Alliance.
Launching their "It Takes Roots to Change the System" caravan today, the Alliance will begin efforts to register voters tomorrow in Cleveland.
"Everything is at stake and for Trump-like politics, if either he gets elected as president, we're going to see the devastating effects for decades to come in terms of what's been normalized and what's been awakened," said Wiesner, who is particularly troubled by "the xenophobia, misogyny and racism" of the Trump campaign.
Some members of the Alliance feel as though they haven't found their place among party politics in this year's particularly divisive election. Mauro Barrerera, a 20-year-old who traveled from South Gate, Calif. to demonstrate, said that neither party represents his "goals or values," but wouldn't say whether any primary candidate embodied what he searches for in a leader.
"No matter what candidate is elected, the damage has already been done," said Barrerera. "A lot of hate is out there towards people of color, towards the queer community, and that's what we're trying to counter by taking the streets."
Although the Alliance echoes Bernie Sanders' desires for political revolution and economic justice, the Alliance precedes the Vermont senator's national fame by 10 years. Founded in 2005, the Alliance itself isn't new. What is new is the Alliance's potential impact, their ability to reach a growing population increasingly fed up with the American status quo.
When asked about differences between the Alliance and Occupy Wall Street, a fierce but fleeting movement against the nation's wealthiest, artist and activist Toby Fatszinger doesn't name any.
"It's a continuation of the same philosophy. We're part of a broader movement that's progressive in policy only in that we're all affected by wealth divide," said Fatszinger, representing Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and a community arts center in his home in Bolingbrook.
The Alliance's long-term strategy to promote income equality and inclusivity is twofold: mobilizing voters for November and spurring conversations.
"People should not be seduced by a reality TV show personality that is so hateful," said Wiesner. "What we're really asking is that the state of humanity and the planet is in our hands because not only does the president have impact on our lives here in the United States, but actually around the world."
Donald Trump and his campaign have repeatedly defended the candidate's controversial remarks with claims of honesty or criticism of a "politically correct" culture that Trump argues prevents such honesty.
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