Members of Indivisible Eureka Springs, who are also members of the Ozark Indivisible movement that covers Northwest Arkansas, are taking actions on a daily basis to safeguard civil rights, economic justice and access to healthcare in the U.S. There is evidence they have had an impact.
At a town hall meeting with Sen. Tom Cotton Feb. 24, many people spoke of concerns about Republican plans to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. Eureka Springs had about 35 people attend the town hall meeting that received national news coverage. Suzie Bell was interviewed by MSNBC and talked about how important the ACA is to the ECHO Clinic that provides free healthcare in Eureka Springs.
Now Cotton has emerged as a primary critic of the U.S. House of Representatives rushing through the proposed ACA replacement, the American Health Care Act. Cotton has warned that if Congress forces millions of Americans to lose health care, there could be a severe backlash costing Republican control of the House of Representatives in two years.
“Cotton has warned that if you kick thirty million people off healthcare, those people are going to pay you back by voting against you in the next election,” Bell, a co-founder of ECHO, said. “There aren’t even any estimates yet from the Congressional Budget Office about what this is going to cost. This is going to impact so many people in Arkansas that it’s ridiculous to think they can pull this off without having backlash.”
Bell said she and other members of Ozark Indivisible contact Cotton and other legislators on a daily basis.
“Cotton got an earful with the 2,000 people who attended,” Bell said. “He did have a few supporters in that crowd, but minimal. He’d better listen to constituents if he’s going to head to a higher office.”
Bell is an immigrant who was born in South America.
“This has always been a welcoming, beautiful country,” Bell said. “It breaks my heart to see us turning to be so self-oriented and unwelcoming. As long as we have such an erratic president, I’m in it for the long haul and so is everyone in Indivisible. Of course, my motivation is because I want a better country for my grandchildren.”
Nancy Paddock, one of the organizers of Indivisible in Eureka Springs, said the group is continuing to work on protecting access to health care for Americans.
“This week we are planning to target our congressional office on the ACA again,” Paddock said. “On Thursday and Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. we plan to have a continuous presence at the offices of Sen. Cotton, Sen. John Boozman and Rep. Steve Womack. We want these congressmen to see our presence. Other organizations involved include Move On, Resist, Working Families for America, and the ACLU.”
About 17 members of Ozark Indivisible met this past week with staffer Bootsie Ackerman at Rep. Steve Womack’s office in Bentonville.
“We talked about the fact that Jeff Sessions needs to resign as attorney general for lying under oath during his confirmation hearing,” Paddock said. “We had an hour and a half discussion with his main staff representative. One of our main gripes was they changed the rules at the office and would not allow us to record any conversation. We want to change that. We need to have a record of what we say to our representatives in our representative’s office.”
The Indivisible group is also working in immigrant rights issues, meeting with the Northwest Arkansas Hispanic and Latino organization LUCHA to help disseminate information about how to be prepared to handle encounters with law enforcement.
“We want to provide support to those who are being targeted by the stepped up immigration policies of the Republican administration,” Paddock said. “They have more agents out and are stopping people just to see if they are citizens more often. People need to have paperwork on them to show they are a green card holder or an America citizen. We also want to let them know they do have rights. Law enforcement must have a warrant to come into your home.”
Another Indivisible activity last Saturday attracted eight people despite being in the middle of the only snowstorm this winter. Participants watched a live feed of an ACLU grassroots resistance training event.
“It was seen by 20,000 groups across the country,” Paddock said. “It was organized by the ACLU and training people on what we need to do to protect our civil liberties. It was a broadcast from a group in Miami where there were about 5,000 people present. It helped inspire us for our four-year battle with the current administration. It told us what our rights are to protest, and the best and most effective way to talk to our representatives.”
Paddock said the training, peoplepower.org, is available on the Internet.
“The number of people actively resisting the new Republican oppressive changes to our country is unprecedented,” Paddock said. “The main goal of the Indivisible is to be in constant contact with our representatives and express opinions. We encourage everyone to call and write your representatives daily and let them know your opinion on what is going on in government.”
The Eureka Springs Indivisible group has been meeting weekly since Jan. 29. For more information, go Ozark Indivisible Facebook page, which is an open group, or ask to join the Eureka Springs Indivisible Facebook page, which is a closed group. You can also email Paddock at NLPaddock@gmail.com.
The Indivisible Guide is located at www.indivisibleguide.com.
If you want to make a difference but not join a group, Paddock recommends going to the website dailyaction.org to sign up to get a daily text message suggesting one phone call that can you make to help.
Numbers for congressmen representing Northwest Arkansas:
- Sen. John Boozman (202) 224-4843, Washington; (501) 372-7153, Little Rock
- Sen. Tom Cotton (202) 224-2353, Washington; (479) 751-0879, Springdale
- Rep. Steve Womack (202) 225-4301, Washington; (479) 464-0446, Rogers