September 14, 2022

Eight Organizations Plan “Save Our Democracy” Rally for September 17

By Donald Gilpin

Responding to threats to democracy from election deniers, recent Supreme Court decisions, and climate change, a Save Our Democracy rally sponsored by eight different organizations will take place at  2 p.m. on Saturday, September 17 at Hinds Plaza next to the Princeton Public Library.

“Understanding that our democracy is fragile and that it’s now not working the way it should, I wanted to inspire people to get out and make sure that they elect legislators who are going to protect what they believe is important to them, as well as to highlight the statewide organizations that are doing the work on the ground defending these things that we care about,” said rally organizer Laura Zurfluh, who is the founder and leader of Indivisible Cranbury.

Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA), NJ Citizen Action, Planned Parenthood, NJ Institute for Social Justice, Moms Demand Action, the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice (BRCSJ), and Clean Water Action, as well as Indivisible Cranbury, are co-sponsoring the rally. There will be a speaker from each organization and tables providing information for attendees to take more direct action on a number of fronts.

“We are co-sponsoring this rally to counter the grave and continuing threat to democracy represented by election deniers and violent insurrectionists threatening the cornerstones of our democracy: free and fair elections, and the peaceful transition of power,” said CFPA Executive Director the Rev. Robert Moore.   

Opposition to the Supreme Court’s rulings reversing the Roe vs. Wade decision that protected legal access to abortion and the ruling allowing prayer in public school settings will be additional focal points of the rally, which will also protest new federal gun laws and Republican resistance to funding combating climate change.

Zurfluh described her reaction to a string of Supreme Court decisions “that were painful for me, and I felt that I didn’t understand how, when you’re in a democracy where everyone’s voice is heard, all these decisions could be made when it’s really only a minority of people who believe these are correct decisions.”

She decided to channel her concern

into organizing this Save Our Democracy rally. “I wanted people to have the opportunity to get involved and stand up for what they believe in,” she said. “So I invited Planned Parenthood, Mothers Demand Action, and all of the organizations that are doing the work on the ground to protect us against these attacks on our beliefs.”

Each organization will talk about the work they are doing and how to get involved, with an emphasis throughout on the importance of voting. “Voting is our super power, and it’s something that we really have to exercise every time we have the opportunity,” said Zurfluh. “I hope that people are starting to see the urgency, and maybe they will turn out in November to vote and fight against the decisions that threaten us all.”

Moore emphasized the danger of the current threats to democracy. “This is unprecedented,” he said. “Nothing like this has ever happened before in my lifetime. The peaceful transfer of power is being directly undermined by Trump and his sycophants, and  unfortunately the majority of the Republican party is in that latter category.”

He continued, “I can have respectful disagreements with Republicans, and I have for many years, but I can’t have respectful dialogue with somebody who is trying to destroy the democracy that this country is built on.”

Criticizing the suggestion that state legislatures should decide election outcomes regardless of vote tallies, Moore warned, “That’s turning democracy on its head. That’s what autocrats do. They manipulate elections to keep themselves in power. The heart of democracy is being challenged, and that’s what troubles me the most.

“That’s why we’re having the rally. We need people to get out there and raise these issues and vote. But not only vote. They need to lobby and stay involved on an ongoing basis.  I believe that people power is the real solution to this, non-violent people power. I know that citizen involvement and actively using the classic means of democracy works. I’ve seen it work over and over in my 45 years as a peace organizer.”

Rustin Center Minister of Queer Liberation Alia Shinbrough also weighed in on Saturday’s event. “Our Center is co-sponsoring this rally for democracy because we are nonviolent coalition builders at heart,” said Shinbrough. “BRCSJ is founded on the principle of inclusion and we will fight to protect our multiracial and multireligious democracy from any who would seek to strip the power to self-govern from We the People.”

They continued, “No bigoted rhetoric, dishonest conduct, or threats of political violence will shake us from our convictions that our democracy is big enough for all of us, and it should represent each person and include all our fabulously diverse communities fairly.”

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