Spreading the NO! Everywhere
February 9, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Following is an interview by Sunsara Taylor, a follower of Bob Avakian and writer for Revolution newspaper, with a member of the Revolution Club in New York City who took a lot of initiative this past week to spearhead leading teams of people to spread the NO! in different parts of NYC.
Sunsara Taylor: I want to start by asking what you think is the power of NO! and spreading the NO! and the slogan “In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America!” that RefuseFascism.org is promoting.
Revolution Club Member: Well, the power of the NO! is not only that it’s refusing what’s going on with everything this fascist force headed by Trump is imposing on so many people, but it gives people something to cohere around and is a way to say that to others that we don’t have to accept this. We’re saying NO! No, we don’t accept it on any level.
Sunsara Taylor: What impact do you think that would have on people to see this all over the place?
Revolution Club Member: The impact it would have is that there are millions out there who don’t like what’s going on. But right now, even though some are showing their anger, they’re not yet sold on really what is the depth of what we are dealing with. Trump-Pence are a fascist force. It’s not just a bad dude, nor a collection of problems, but a whole package that is out to annihilate people on levels that we haven’t seen before. But having the NO! out there would empower people who are seeing a little bit to start seeing the whole thing. It’s part of creating and showing that there’s a force that’s not backing down to this and that is actively searching for more people to be a part of it. It also helps people start talking with each other about what’s going on and how they need to stand up against it, and the need for millions to pour into the streets and drive them out.
Sunsara Taylor: So tell me what you have been doing to spread this NO!
Revolution Club Member: We’ve been going to key areas around the city and talking to people, struggling with them. We go into different shops and make the case to the shop owners and also the people in the store—cuz you’re talking to everyone around. We explain Refuse Fascism is out to stop this whole regime because it’s a fascist threat to all of humanity. Then we listen and respond, you know, “What you’re saying about Trump is right,” or, “What you are saying about Trump is wrong,” because not everybody believes that Trump is a problem or a fascist when you’re immediately talking to them, so you are making the case on, one, that he is fascist, and two, what are they going to do about it?
It’s a large argument. By the time they post the NO! up in their window they have gone through a process of confronting what’s going on and taking a stand. Standing with humanity. And then, showing that to others—spreading it.
Sunsara Taylor: Tell us about the kinds of arguments, the kinds of discussions you had.
Revolution Club Member: We went to one place where a lot of young people come from all over, sort of what people call hipsters, and also a lot of students. And there’s a special school with students not only from the suburbs but the projects all coming into the same school and having to learn with each other. And a couple of colleges. And then just a lot of working people who are not exactly catching the hardest hell, but they are also not living where they have no problems either.
Almost every business that we went to took up a sign so that people could see that they were not standing for anything that Trump is saying. The only ones that didn’t were like parts of chains or a franchise.
As we’d be walking, people would come up and help out for maybe 10 minutes, or ask for a couple of stickers, or say, “You need to go down that block. That’s where all the kids are at,” or something like that. We went into a pizza place and one person was like, “You got to talk to my manager!” And then the manager comes out, and they ask for a stack to get to their daughter at their school so they can hear about this, too.
Mainly people were driven by the fact that they hate what Trump is doing fiercely and they want to show their opposition to everything he’s talking about. And this NO! allows them to do it.
Sunsara Taylor: You walk down the street and how many NO!s would you see?
Revolution Club Member: In that area if you walked down like four or five blocks, it was literally a NO! in every single window. Sometimes two NO!s because they wanted to have a bi-lingual thing. We need them in more languages, but definitely having the two languages up there is good so that nobody is excluded from seeing the information.
So, yeah, you’d see a block, block, block, all down the road. And then you’d see it on, like, fences, on like the community center, like down where the kids play at recess you’d see a bunch of NO!s on the tables and all along there, too. Where the skate boarders are at. Seeing some NO!s even in, like, chalk on the sidewalk, too. I think the posters are still up, and people have been seeing them.
Sunsara Taylor: Where else did you go?
Revolution Club Member: It was pretty crazy because another neighborhood was one of the places where a lot of people voted for Trump. At the same time it had a hotbed of people who are completely targeted by the recent banning of immigration, the threats against DACA and all that. But, there is a lot of deep fear. So it was kinda a special area. We went to one of the main hubs in that neighborhood and literally went to every single store and restaurant in that entire area.
The NO! was on every telephone pole down the street. So you could see them as you are driving and as you’re walking, on every single one. See a big old NO!
In shops, a lot of the owners were deeply concerned with what’s going on. Some talked about their families and had participated in the recent strike of Yemeni bodega owners. So they were definitely resonating with the message of the NO! but they were too afraid to actually put it in their windows, for the most part.
But some of them did. One guy was very emboldened. He was like, “Trump’s crazy. I can’t believe what he’s doing!” And he said that “I want a sign, but don’t make it look like I put it there.” But he let us put it on the front of the shop. And the next person who walked in, the owner, was like, “Look at this! How do you like my new sign?” He had a big NO! Stop Trump and Pence on the window. And the customer looked at it and said, “Oh, I like Trump. Some of my best years were under Reagan.” And the owner was like, “Man, get out of my shop!” It was said as a “joke” and both people laughed, but it was obviously more serious. You could hear the thoughts behind the “joke,” the store owner was like, “Man, you’re full of all this hatred for other people. And not only myself but people in this community.” But at the same time, there’s this contradiction of he’s still working so he’s not going to completely kick the guy out of the store.
A lot of people deeply wanted to contribute in some way. So they would take stacks of stickers or fliers if they didn’t feel they could put up the NO! in their windows. Or, people along the streets would kinda watch our backs. They’d come up and say, “That’s awesome. This should be up everywhere!” An older woman tapped us on the shoulder and said, “This is really good, this is really good.” (giggles)
By the end of the day we had the whole place covered in NO!s. It was beautiful! Incredible! But by the next morning, a person drove by, and they said all the NO!s were taken down in that area. So, we have to go back.
The power of the NO! is incredible and needs to be out everywhere. It needs to be seen by everyone. And more people need to be taking it up and putting it on their shirts and getting it out everywhere.
Sunsara Taylor: Even the fact that somebody took the time to tear down all the NO!s overnight shows that they find it to be a very potent message that they can’t tolerate.
The last question I want to ask you gets to the point you just made, that a lot of people need to be taking up the NO! and spreading it. My understanding is that not only you did this yourself, but you organized and led a number of very new people to do this. Could you to comment on that process?
Revolution Club Member: Yeah, definitely. A big part of what is needed is organizing more organizers. So, as we went out, we made a point of going out together with new people. At first when we went into a shop, they would be a little frightened to make the argument because they don’t know these people. But they knew that this was very important. So they would step up and be like, “Hey, I’m a volunteer with Refuse Fascism.” They would go into the importance of the NO! And they would wait for the response. And they would even tackle some of the harder questions. But it’s a lot easier to do when you are with someone else. By the end of the day, they felt like they could go into almost any deli or any shop and do this. It wasn’t so scary any more. And it was kind of demystified that people are not just born into being able to do all these things.
In other instances, you would have a very experienced volunteer, talking to maybe five or six people, making the case to them. But then a newer volunteer would notice more people stopping and being curious and there was no one else to talk to them. And there was this moment of shock, of like, “Oh crap.” And then maybe, “I guess I could.” And then, “Yes, I will.” Because it’s needed. So they go over there and talk to the people and sign them up. And then just feeling so empowered by actually being able to do it. And it’s no longer an unknown. But it’s a process that many more people can definitely go through and take up.
So, it was pretty awesome being able to see it first hand, people stepping into that.
Sunsara Taylor: Well, thank you very much for talking with me about this.
Revolution Club Member: Thank you!
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