Reposted from Erika Andiola’s Facebook page (hyperlinks and images added by PW):
There is so much to say about today’s POLITICO article about Our Revolution that I have kept to myself for months now. Before I begin, I want to make something very clear. I believe in this organization, its vision, and my incredibly hard-working friends who are still employed there. There is a lot in the article that is way off base. This is also not about Bernie Sanders, the Political Revolution, and what we are trying to accomplish. I am still a hardcore Bernie bro because this movement led by him has changed this country for the better and we are far from done!
As some of you might know, last November I was fired from Our Revolution (OR) by Senator Nina Turner after serving as the Political Director for over a year. I was fired because of the work I was doing around the DREAM Act (I have plenty to prove this was the cause). I must say, it was painful in ways that are hard to describe. I moved to D.C. and worked day and night (you can ask any of my former colleagues about this) to help build this organization after it got off to a very rough start. I tried my hardest to create a good, transparent process for political endorsements, knowing that it was hard to navigate all the politics and dynamics of the movement, especially as a new organization formed from a presidential campaign.
Adding to the complexity of trying to help shift political power, I happen to be a DACA recipient with an undocumented mother in deportation proceedings. I really wish I wasn’t undocumented and that I didn’t have to worry about it when Trump took our DACA away, but I COULD NOT LOOK AWAY. I feel a huge responsibility towards my community and so I asked for support from Senator Turner and an organization that I truly cared about, and I worked so hard for, to fight to replace DACA with the Dream Act. Instead, I was told to stop talking to media, to stop tweeting, to not push Democrats on this issue, etc. When I went to Texas to support Cosecha’s September ’17 direct action to defend DACA, I had to do it on vacation time. When me and another Dreamer went to NYC on the day Trump rescinded DACA to sit in to defend our community, I had to do it on vacation time.
Senator Turner was going to force OR to leave the OurDream coalition we started because we were challenging Democrats as well as Republicans and because we believed our strategy had to include civil disobedience. Finally, I asked for a leave of absence or some way to work this out, but instead I was fired the very next day without any further dialogue. A few days or weeks later (can’t remember) I come across screenshots and videos of Tezlyn Figaro, who was hired by [Senator Turner] right after I left, calling people like me ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, calling for Trump’s wall, backing Trump’s Muslim Ban, etc. (photos in the comments) I became sick to my stomach and could not stop crying all night.
I never said anything public because I didn’t want to hurt OR or Bernie, I didn’t want to detract from the DREAM Act fight, and because I went into deep depression and anxiety even as we continued to fight (even going to jail at risk of deportation and on hunger strike for 6 days), but today I can’t just stand by and not speak my truth. Here are some reflections after reading all this today:
1) I hope and pray that organizations on the left can learn to work with undocumented leaders and others who are being literally attacked by current policy changes. It’s convenient to hire us when you need “Latino and/or immigrant support” and we have a connection to the community, but you also have to support us and follow our lead when sh**t hits the fan on issues that affect us.
2) We need Our Revolution to exist, be strong, and work to not just elect candidates but build an amazing movement for Medicare for All, free education, criminal justice, etc., Despite what the article says, there has been a lot of incredible work done at the grassroots level. But I also hope and pray that the organization doesn’t forget about Latinos and undocumented folks on the left. A good start would be to remove Ms. Figaro from staff, as well as to hold accountable the org leadership for this. I love my Bernie people (I’m still a Bernie bro!), but let’s hold each other accountable to truly represent our values
3) I am still very thankful to Bernie for being one of the first Senators to call for the Dream Act to be part of the spending bill, even if Senator Turner disagreed with me on pushing the rest of the Dems on this using nonviolent direct action (which was essential to winning DACA in the first place and, even though we didn’t win, was clearly effective again). This is not about him or the movement we created.
I’m sorry this is long, but I can’t just sit here and not speak up when others like Lucy Flores (who resigned from the board) and Catalina Velasquez put themselves of the line to raise these important issues. That’s not who I am and I will not be silent while someone with a long record of anti-immigrant beliefs and statements is promoted as a leader in the progressive movement.
Tezlyn Figaro needs to be fired immediately and Senator Turner needs to address the very serious, legitimate concerns that her decisions have raised. If Our Revolution and the broader political revolution are going to succeed, we need to do better than this. I say all this with love and hope that we can truly fight for one another.