With all that’s been happening in the world since January 20th, so many people have been wondering what can be done to fight back. One option for New York City residents—and Brooklynites in particular—will be this Saturday night, at the ‘No Enemies to the Left’ benefit for the ACLU.
The ACLU—of course standing for the American Civil Liberties Union—you may recall, helped to get a temporary stay against Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration this past weekend. The organization received over $24 million in online donations over the weekend, good for more than six times the amount typically received in a full year. And there’s no such thing as too much— keep it coming. So this weekend, ‘No Enemies to the Left’ will be held at Greenpoint’s Brooklyn Bazaar, and it’ll host all kinds of acts, including music (Wet, Alex Cameron, and Free the Mind are on the bill, among others), along with comedy (Jo Firestone and Sharron Paul are among those scheduled to perform). Ben Wizner, the director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project (and also a person who’s been blocked on Twitter by Trump) and journalist/author Sarah Jaffe are scheduled to speak at the event as well.
It’s a packed bill for what will be a fun night for a great cause. Ahead of Saturday’s festivities, we talked with festival organizer Amber Schaefer about the event, and what went into it.
Flyer by Hamish Smyth
The reasoning behind this benefit is pretty clear, but what was the exact moment you decided to start putting it together?
The day after Trump (I refuse to say President Trump) won, I stayed home in sweatpants and ate an entire pizza. The next day I started organizing and I haven’t stopped. This is the third ACLU charity event I’ve organized since Donald won. Luckily, we live in a country where the kind of tyranny, oppression, and corruption Trump embodies are illegal. That’s what the ACLU is for, defending our civil rights. And as we saw this weekend with the ACLU’s small victory against Trump’s unconstitutional executive order targeting Muslims, the courts can work.
The event is called ‘No Enemies To The Left’. Could you explain a little bit why you settled on that as the name?
We had a divisive election season that largely took place online, through hilarious and dank but ultimately polarizing memes. The Left cannot afford to alienate each other right now—yes, even if you voted for Jill Stein. We need to work together to unite and organize, and we need to do this on the ground, face-to-face. The power of social media to organize and organize quickly is remarkable, but we need to move from Instagram to action if we’re going to build a strong, cohesive Left. And in the wake of Trump’s endless stream of draconian crimes against humanity, we have no choice but to mobilize (and fast).
No Enemies to the Left is a call to action: to love and support each other in our coalition against tyranny, oppression, and corruption.
You’ve got a full bill of musicians, comedians, and speakers for the evening. How did you decide on your lineup?
Good music, art, and comedy can be politically provocative and inspire community around causes, but it can also be radically healing. So I approached some of my favorite musicians, artists, and comedians in New York with the intention of creating an all-star line up—something even I would get out of my sweatpants and leave the house for. Luckily, the artists I approached were as eager as I am to help support the ACLU and build a stronger Left.
More than just a feel-good charity, I’m hoping the fundraiser will help bridge the gap between local politics and the “Brooklyn Creative Class.” So I asked activist and journalist Sarah Jaffe, author of Necessary Trouble, to speak. She connected me with a number of grassroots organizations, including New York Communities for Change, Make the Road NY, and The Doula Project, who will be participating in the event. My goal is to help connect newly invigorated activists (like myself) with tools outside of meme-ing and marching to make a difference.
And to top it off, Ben Wizner, the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project Director, will say a few words about the role of the American Civil Liberties Union in an era where our rights are constantly threatened.
How did you assemble the lineup for the event in such a short period of time?
Fueled by enough rage and caffeine, anything is possible.
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Check out the event page for ‘No Enemies To The Left’ on Facebook. It’ll kick off at the Brooklyn Bazaar on Saturday night at 7:00.