Thousands across the country tuned in to a live broadcast from the University of Miami’s Watsco Center on Saturday afternoon – not to cheer on the Miami Hurricanes basketball team, but to better prepare themselves for a burgeoning resistance movement.
A town hall-style event hosted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), dubbed “The Resistance Training,” aimed to encourage organized protest and educate attendees on their rights as protesters. In a series of speeches, ACLU leaders and other guests spoke of the importance of resisting policies that threaten the civil liberties of marginalized groups and outlined various ways to take action.
The event marked a distinct strategic shift for the civil liberties group, which has traditionally focused on courtroom litigation. The ACLU’s new campaign, PeoplePower, is the organization’s first grassroots mobilization effort in its nearly 100 years of existence, leaders say, driven by a recent surge in membership and widespread activism efforts across the country in the months since President Trump’s election victory. Since November, group membership has tripled to more than one million, with more than 135,000 people signed up to take part in the PeoplePower campaign as of Saturday.
“Before, our membership was largely older and much smaller,” ACLU executive director Anthony Romero told Reuters. “Our members would provide us with money so we could file the cases and do the advocacy. What’s clear with the Trump election is that our new members are engaged and want to be deployed.”
“It’s completely unprecedented,” he added. “People are wide awake right now and have been since the night of the election.”