Top 10 Noteworthy Progressive Milestones of 2013
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2013 was a difficult year to say the least, with the government shutdown, ongoing wars, NSA spying, pervasive police brutality and much more. But there was plenty of pushback, protest and agitation against corruption and abuse of power on the part of progressives to make change and protect people's basic rights.
Here is a list of 10 activist highlights that certainly rocked the boat.
10. Moral Mondays rock North Carolina.
Thanks to funding by the mega-wealthy right-winger Art Pope, North Carolina went very conservative in the 2010 election, with the GOP dominating the entire government. Republicans proceeded to dismantle the state's safety net and pass extreme laws. There were attacks on education, women and the environment that would have been unimaginable even a short time ago. But North Carolinians fought back, raising their voices in an on-going protest called Moral Mondays, led by Rev. William Barber that caught the imagination of people across the country.
For many weeks, roughly 2,500 people from across the state gathered in front of the state capitol in Raleigh to stand up against the extreme legislature. Protesters peacefully entered the legislature building, where several arrests took place. Ultimately, more than 1,000 people were arrested, and later more than 10,000 people rallied in Asheville as the protests moved to different regions throughout the state. There is a sense that the movement might be spreading as a group called Moral Monday Georgia plans its first action in January .
9. Wendy Davis and supporters stop anti-abortion law.
It's rare for one woman—especially a little-known state legislator—to capture the imagination of an entire country. But that is what happened when Texas State Senator Wendy Davis conducted an 11-hour filibuster, refusing to allow the ultra-conservative Republican majority to force a vote on restrictive abortion legislation. She generated huge support in Texas, as thousands gathered and many shouted their support in the state legislature. Across the nation, millions who support women's right to choose cheered her on.
While she stopped the legislature on that momentus day, the right-wing Texas legislature eventually got its way. Now Wendy Davis is fighting an uphill battle to become governor of the state, getting broad support from women all over the country.
8. Outrage against U.S. drone use grows.
Resistance against U.S. drone strikes reached a new level in 2013, led by a powerful documentary and campaign by Brave New Films and Robert Greenwald. Working with Congressman Alan Grayson, Greenwald brought the families of drone strike victims who appeared in the film to a congressional briefing. Rafiq ur Rehman and his two children, ages 9 and 13, spoke about a drone attack that killed Rehman’s 67-year-old mother.
Increasing the pressure, CodePink hosted a drone summit in Washington in November. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released reports on how drone strikes kill civilians in Pakistan and Yemen, and Jeremy Scahill’s Dirty Wars further exposed the civilian causalities of drone attacks overseas. Charlottesville, VA, became the first city to ban domestic drone use in the United States. In Pakistan, thousands have protested drone strikes, even bringing U.S. military cargo shipments to a halt.
7. People around the world say “frack off!”
People around the globe have united against fracking—the removal of natural gas and oil deep in the ground by hydraulic fracturing. In October, anti-fracking activists in 26 countries took part in a Global Frackdown to demand a halt to the dangerous procedure. Locally, these fractivists have worked to ban fracking in their communities: four ballot measures to ban or suspend fracking in Colorado passed in November.
Numerous anti-fracking laws passed throughout the nation, and activists continue to put their bodies on the line to stop the process. From forming human chains to the arrests of high-profile activists like Sandra Steingraber, fractivists have participated in various acts of civil disobedience. Other feats: Josh Fox released Gasland 2, further documenting the hazardous effects of fracking, and the Pope held up an anti-fracking T-shirt alongside activists.