Local activists form Golden Triangle Indivisible

Published 8:21 am Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Although the presidential election was months ago, tempers are still high as Democrats and progressive regroup to figure out the best path forward.

Locally, organizers have joined a national movement dubbed Indivisible.

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The movement made its debut after the election when a group of former congressional staffer published a document that illustrated methods for organizing and creating political change. The document was downloaded over a million times (according to the Indivisible website) and within days, local groups mushroomed up across the country, including in this area.

Shelby Smith, one of the organizers with Golden Triangle United, said the local movement is growing at a rapid pace and she is hopeful others in the area will jump on board. Smith said the local chapter began organically as a result of the Women’s March in January in Beaumont, which itself was a protest to the inauguration of Donald Trump.

“We had expected to get maybe 20 or 30 people to march with us,” she said. “We ended up with over 300. We were blown away at how many people attended and as I spoke with people, it was very obvious to me that everyone was saying this was the first time they’d felt safe in a long time and they didn’t know there were this many people who felt like them.”

So far, the group has marched, held a candlelight vigil for immigrants after the brief travel ban and last week the group organized town halls for Rep. Brian Babin and Rep. Randy Weber last week, when Congress was out of session.

At town halls across the U.S. Republican lawmakers met with harsh criticism at town halls, and neither Weber nor Babin showed up for the town halls organized by Golden Triangle Indivisible.
Still, Smith said that wasn’t really the point and they had a backup plan, namely to share their concerns with each other.

“We had people come up and give testimony why the ACA was important to them,” she said, referring to the Affordable Care Act. That act, also known as Obamacare, is under threat by the GOP leadership, although no replacement has been announced and it is not clear when or if the ACA will be repealed.

Smith said Weber told the group he had another engagement, but Babin provided no response at all to multiple invitations.

“We faxed, we emailed, I took a handwritten invitation to him,” she said. “We used every form of communication I could think of to let him know we had a meeting and we got no response.”

Instead, the group posted photos of the men and talked to the pictures. If it sounds therapeutic, that’s partly the point.

“We have spent a lot of time talking about how we need to take care of each other and take care of ourselves,” she said.

Smith said the Golden Triangle group has attracted a wide variety of people.

“Regardless of what they say, none of us are paid protesters,” she said. “I’m a retired teacher and we have ministers and nurse practitioners and we had a plumber speak at the town hall meeting last week. We don’t have the expertise. We are just following what the Indivisible guide is saying. … We’re all trying to figure out what were going to do next.”

Smith said this week the group plans to meet in Beaumont to get some of that sorted.

“We’re going to be doing the nitty-gritty of trying to figure out what we’re doing and what direction we’re taking,” she said.

So far, Smith said the group has not held any meetings or events in Port Arthur. However, she said she hopes someone will organize something—though that will depend on whether someone in Port Arthur will get involved.

“That’s what we need. That’s exactly what we need,” she said. “Anyone can organize an event.”

The only rule? Civility.

“Were not going to be shouters or name callers. That’s not where we’re coming from,” she said. “All we want is some civil discourse. The town hall meetings last week were the epitome of civil discourse and heart breaking as well, to hear people talk about how the ACA is affecting them.”

To find out more, check out the Golden Triangle Indivisible’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/goldentriangleindivisible/ or check out the general Indivisible website to find out about the national movement or to download their guide for political action at www.indivisibleguide.com/.