Local anti-racist activists gathered at the Bernie Milton Pavilion Nov. 4 for an informational rally called “Beyond the Ballot Box.”
Speakers from advocacy groups, including Ithaca Tenants Union, Ithaca Pantheras and the Poor People’s Campaign, spoke to a crowd of about 100, recapping recent work and outlining priorities moving forward after the election.
During the event emceed by Prof. Russell Rickford, history, speakers highlighted their missions to battle against capitalism and racism. In the midst of an undecided presidential election, many advocates shared the stance that the election of either candidate has little bearing on the tasks at hand.
“Liberals love elections — they get so excited,” Rickford said in his introduction. “Participating in the ritual election makes them feel like it’s a legitimate system. But electoral voting is the minimum act of democratic participation. We’re looking to pursue real democracy.”
The event opened with 45 minutes of tabling, where interested people could speak with the different groups and hear about opportunities to get involved. Many groups had lists to collect emails and pamphlets with more information. One group had anarchist literature to “provide alternative information to what’s currently accepted,” said Jason Carpenter, who was tabling at the event.
Carpenter saw the past six months, with increased political tensions and the weekly demonstrations in Ithaca, as a “rise in fascism.” The event offered an opportunity to reimagine new alternatives to “the broken system,” Carpenter said.
After Rickford’s introduction, representatives from the several advocacy groups spoke, calling people to action and reminding that work does not end, regardless of who wins. As of Wednesday evening, former Vice President Joe Biden was leading with 264 electoral votes against President Donald Trump’s 214, with five states left to be called.
Ranging from the Ithaca Tenants Union talking about organizing to “overthrow the landlord class” to the Party for Socialism and Liberation decrying capitalism — Rickford said the coalition of groups was in agreement with its “critique of the system.”
“We all share the belief that what we need is not the story of restoration of a democratic border,” Rickford said, “but what we truly need is a basic transformation of our economic, social and political structures and realities.”
After the final speaker, Ellie Pfeffer ’23 from the Ithaca Tenants Union called the attendees to march to City Hall to continue protesting the police, as Common Council met for a final vote on this year’s municipal budget. Around 15 protesters marched to City Hall where for 10 minutes they chanted “defund IPD” and the names of victims of police brutality, before dispersing.
Common Council voted to fund two police officer positions, which will begin in July. The Ithaca Police Department is currently operating with eight vacant officer positions.