People’s State of the City, a Long Beach community meeting under an umbrella of social justice provided an outlet for residents and supporters directly affected by recent policy changes both locally and nationally Wednesday night.
First Congregational Church of Long Beach housed the event, a raucous meeting of determined, frustrated residents, youth and community members angry about recent executive orders and official change of policy in Washington, DC.
An array of speakers lambasted the city’s policies and the Trump administration on issues ranging from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, sanctuary cities, climate change, deportations, hate crimes, jobs and affordable housing.
“Climate change is crucial, but people are distracted by worries and concerns of everyday life,” said Arnica Swenson, a member of 350, a grassroots group of ordinary residents fighting daily for climate justice.
The event – part social justice, part revival, part healing – reflected the urgency of the moment, a direct response to recent executive orders.
“More community events like this are needed because we need to invest in free education for all,” said Eli Chilintan, a new resident of Long Beach.
Students marched with placards in the church before and during the speeches. Skits dramatized recent police shootings, police brutality and deportations, and choreographed chanting could be heard between speeches.
“United we are powerful,” said Amber Rose, a social justice advocate. “My father worked two jobs and still, that was not enough to save our home.”
Rose spoke about affordable housing in Long Beach and livable wages. She said she was caught in the justice system at 18 years old and spoke of how it has affected her life with limited job prospects, despite having a Bachelor’s degree.
“People are asking about the political system, making sure it serves them,” Joy Tsuhako, a former Cal State University student and current sociology professor at Long Beach City College, said. “What can we do locally to improve education, wealth inequality and create better programs for the youth.”