Representatives of the Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center at the Kitsap Builds Bridges, Not Walls vigil Feb. 25. KIAC is an important resource for the local immigrant community. Michelle Beahm / Kitsap News Group

Grassroots ‘resistance’ event March 11 at McClouds

BREMERTON — The American Civil Liberties Union is launching a grassroots mobilization platform called PeoplePower.org on March 11. Across the nation, people in hundreds of locations will be watching the same live stream of a “Resistance Training” town hall meeting.

Jennifer Chamberlin of Bremerton will host one of those People Power events, starting at 12:30 p.m. March 11 at McCloud’s, 2901 Perry Ave. NE, Bremerton.

“We have a lot of different, local community members coming together, and we need to hear each other’s voices,” Chamberlin said. “We have different approaches to social justice and we need to find a consensus. This is going to be an opportunity for us to come together to have some fun, have some lunch, and hopefully get some good directions from the top source in our nation for social justice.”

Chamberlin said the event is open to all ages and is nonpartisan. They’ll start at 12:30 p.m., but the live stream from the ACLU won’t start until 1:30 p.m. and should be done by 2:30 p.m.

She said the great part of grassroots movements like this is each event can be tailored to the community.

“In our community, we saw how we were all able to come together so quickly in action when we came to the bridge,” Chamberlin said, referring to the “Kitsap Builds Bridges, Not Walls” vigil (see KitsapDailyNews.com for coverage of that event). “There are people who want to continue that momentum.”

Chamberlin said immigration issues are one of the highest priorities in the Kitsap County area at the moment, and that will probably dominate a large part of the event on Saturday.

“To be a good ally, we really need to find out, not just assume that we know what our population needs … We need to reach out to those communities,” Chamberlin said. “I know one way to be a good ally is to support the efforts of our local agencies. Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center is one of the really good ones.

“We want to continue showing out in great numbers for our neighbors who are struggling with different kinds of immigration issues, to let them know that we’re here.”

She said the need for legal services for immigration issues is great. If you need assistance, find information about KIAC at kitsapiac.org.

Another large concern of the community, Chamberlin said, is access to healthcare, especially as the threat of defunding Planned Parenthood looms and CHI Franciscan proposes moving Harrison Medical Center out of Bremerton.

“We’re losing our healthcare access in Bremerton,” Chamberlin said. “We don’t have a hospital yet to replace the one that’s leaving.”

She also said that because Harrison Medical Center is owned by CHI Franciscan, a Catholic organization, there are concerns over access to certain women’s healthcare services, including birth control and abortion.

Beyond that, though, is the issue of access to hospitals from Bremerton. Transportation can be an issue for some who will have to travel to the proopsed expanded Harrison Medical Center in Silverdale, as well as having translators available at the remaining Bremerton clinics for those who need them.

“That’s the great thing about grassroots,” she said. “We’re going to be talking about (local) issues and … see what we can do next.”

Ultimately, the event Saturday is a good way to connect with like-minded people in the community, or just find out more information about what’s going on and why it matters.

“If you want to have your questions answered, if you’re curious about direct actions, if you have reservations, this will be a great opportunity to talk to people who have taken part in all different levels (of action),” Chamberlin said. “If you have any questions, this is going to be the opportunity to get together and share.”

To learn more about the ACLU’s PeoplePower.org grassroots movement or find other locations for the live stream, go to PeoplePower.org. To get more information about the event at McCloud’s, go to goo.gl/5EfQPl.

Michelle Beahm is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at mbeahm@soundpublishing.com.

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