Park Slope Talks Back to Trump

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A community with progressive ideals seems inclined to organize rather than complain about the election

 

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An organizing meeting at Congregation Beth Elohim (Jill Bosserman/ The Brooklyn Ink)

Park Slope, Brooklyn’s largest stroller-pushing coalition, may be fast becoming an epicenter of political pushback, echoing the resistance New Yorkers have been expressing with greater force as each new appointment in the Trump administration is made.

The neighborhood has already taken steps in protest. One week after the election,  residents gathered for a political organization meeting called by city council member Brad Lander. More than a thousand people filled Congregation Beth Elohim, at the corner of Garfield and Eighth Avenue, for the meeting. The neighborhood has also seen a protest at the nearby Grand Army Plaza, with parents and children gathering for a “Support Love”-themed demonstration. While Park Slope may be one of Brooklyn’s whitest—and wealthiest—neighborhoods, it’s one with no shortage of socially conscious individuals.

The community is good at mobilizing, says Rabbi Rachel Timoner of Congregation Beth Elohim. “It’s the kind of community that springs into action, that gets involved in community activism for social justice,” Timoner said.

One member of Congregation Beth Elohim is Gabrielle Starkman, an attorney who lives in Park Slope with her husband and two young children. She volunteered her services for Election Protection, a nonpartisan voter protection coalition, this past election. She also volunteered with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, as well as with Barack Obama’s in 2008 and 2012. Her roots with Democrats go back far—she even interned for Bill Clinton way back in the day. Starkman stands behind many of the party’s progressive values—especially its support for LGBTQ people, minorities, and women.

“As a member of this congregation, I felt a moral imperative to stand up against Trump—to stand up, as a Jewish person, to fight for other minorities,” Starkman says.

When Adam Yauch Park, a playground in nearby Brooklyn Heights named after the Jewish founder of the Beastie Boys, was defaced with a spray-painted swastika on Friday, locals sprang into action there, too, with a demonstration pushing love over hate. Some 500 people attended. The swastikas were covered over with flowers and hearts.

Meanwhile, across the city, organizations like the New York Immigration Coalition; New York Cares; Planned Parenthood of New York City; and the Trevor Project, which works with LGBTQ youth in crisis, have seen an upsurge in volunteers since November 8, reports DNAInfo. People are especially interested in contributing special skills, like legal expertise, or organizing fundraising events for organizations fighting for rights they believe are threatened by President-elect Trump.

Juliet Milkens, 79, who moved to Park Slope in 1971, is determined to support this citywide movement to support progressive ideals. Milkens said she attended the community meeting last Tuesday because of her fear of “what Trump is going to do to the country.

“There has to be action—you’ve got to have very specific things, like an organized effort—and you’ve got to put pressure on all your elected officials,” Milkens said.

At the meeting, advocates from Planned Parenthood, the New York Immigration Coalition, 350 Brooklyn, and the Brooklyn Movement Center shared their responses to the election. They urged community members to educate their neighbors, volunteer their services and resources to organizations and causes they care about, and resist what they called the normalization of “Trumpism.”

The audience was engaged, responding to comments with frequent cheers and applause. A collective groan filled the room when Brooklyn Movement Center director Mark Griffith reminded people that “we now have Rudy Giuliani being trotted out as a possible candidate for Secretary of State.”

“The government is not going to be our salvation. We are going to be our own salvation,” Griffith said. In response, cheers and applause filled the room, lingering long after he’d finished speaking.

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