“Today we lift up the THRIVE Agenda,” said Terri Hodge, and organizer with Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE). “The THRIVE Agenda stands for Transform, Heal, Renew, Invest, in a Vibrant Economy. T.H.R.I.V.E. .. The time is now to uplift the THRIVE Agenda, to speak to the need of the future of Rhode Island at the state and local level… There’s no political agenda at stake here. This is the People’s Campaign… It’s time to start exercising our human rights for a better world.”
The national THRIVE agenda calls for environmental, economic, housing and racial justice. In Rhode Island, DARE is calling for police and prison abolition too. “We need an immediate end to abusive conditions of confinement in Rhode Island prisons; decarceration and divestment from prisons; an overhaul of a court system set up to repeatedly trap our community members; removal of the many discriminatory barriers to housing and employment access that people with records face; and investment in resources – including reentry support – for our communities! As Behind the Walls member Trent Manning put it, ‘No one’s trying to thrive in jail.'”
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Joel Rosario Tapia, (Chief Tureygua Taino Cay) spoke on the idea that the THRIVE Agenda would recognize the importance and the values of the treaties between the United States government and indigenous people.
“The unions play a big part in Rhode Island. the unions have a big stake in Rhode Island. The unions have no female or minority leadership in Rhode Island and that’s something we have to come together and change,” said Anita Bruno, a member of the Carpenter’s union, labor organizer and founder of NOW Rhode Island Women in the Trades. “We need a seat at the table any time anything is being addressed there should be female and minority representation at the table…
“I’ve been working with the AFL_-CIO. We just created a Coalition of Black Trade Unionists chapter in Rhode Island. We are trying to organize the female trade unionists here in Rhode Island.”
The THRIVE Agenda calls for 40% of the investments to go to communities that have been excluded, oppressed, and harmed by unjust practices, to support job creation, pollution reduction and climate resilience,” said Terri Hodge.
“A year ago grassroots organizations from around New England got together [because] we’re sick of play Whack-a-Mole, we’re sick of having people in silos here and there having the same kind of issues and also we’re sick of working on the environment and not seeing the intersection of housing and jobs,” said Monica Huertas, an environmental activist who leads the People’s Port Authority in Providence. The point of the Renew New England Coalition is to develop regional power to forward the objectives of the THRIVE Agenda, said Huertas.
“It is absolutely necessary that all forms of government – Federal, State and local – use this [post-COVID] recovery period to finally fully invest in our communities that have been disproportionately affected, and that is primarily working class communities and communities of color,” said Representative David Morales (Democrat, District 7, Providence).
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“You cannot THRIVE in a jail cell. You cannot THRIVE in a cage,” said Anusha Ailes, from DARE’s Behind the Walls committee. She read a letter from Zakary Alvarado, man serving a 35 year sentenced at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Rhode Island. “I think he explains, better than anybody, hy prison abolition has to be part of a THRIVE Agenda on a local level and national level.”
To read the letter, see here.
“The THRIVE Agenda is about ensuring that America’s Recovery Act funds are used appropriately and we’re here today to demand that those funds be invested in communities of color,” said Angel Lopez.
Terri Hodge wrapped up by reminding everyone about the importance of supporting the eviction moratorium bill, H5309.