Carol Stoddart of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota said she and her coworkers were “diving into taking action” within hours on the morning after Republican Donald Trump was elected president.
Stoddart’s office wasn’t alone.
Across the Twin Cities, progressive nonprofits have reported surges in donations, volunteer interest and social media followers in the weeks since the election. Nonprofit leaders say people are feeling a sense of urgency in combating Trump’s platform on issues such as abortion and immigration as well as the rhetoric surrounding his campaign.
“People are really concerned about what’s going to happen under our president-elect,” Stoddart said. “They’re really understanding the challenges to the Constitution that many of his campaign promises pose.”
Stoddart said her organization raised $87,000 from more than 1,000 donors on the annual Give to the Max Day, well above its goal in the $30,000 range. She said the organization had about 85 requests from people who wanted to volunteer in the two weeks after the election. It receives maybe two requests in a typical month, she said.
Stoddart said she anticipates there may be some effort to limit voting in Minnesota, where the GOP gained a majority in both the House and Senate. She also said her organization is prepared for the issue of voter ID to resurface.
She added that she’s concerned about the rights of immigrants, noting that a colleague based in southern Minnesota was subjected to xenophobic and hostile language while volunteering on Election Day.
“For the first time in his life, he was fearful because of his ethnicity,” Stoddart said.
Patti Walsh, development and outreach coordinator of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, also expressed concern that Trump’s election has emboldened people to use more hateful rhetoric.
CAIR-MN called for increased protection of Muslim students after a student allegedly threatened to shoot a Muslim Somali-American student in the Stillwater school district. The organization also reported two cases where Muslim girls allegedly had their hijabs pulled by other students.
Walsh told a story about talking on the phone to a Somali woman who asked if she would have to go on a Muslim registry or to an interment camp. She said she worries Islamophobia will flourish under the Trump administration, noting that she is concerned about civil rights.
“These people are already marginalized,” she said. “It’ll just be more so.”
Gifts in Mike Pence’s name
Emily Shaftel of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota said in an email that her organization received 500 new volunteer applications in the week after the election compared with the 10 it receives in a typical week. She wrote that the organization has received an “outpouring” of local donations and gift in the name of vice president-elect Mike Pence, a staunch abortion opponent.
In addition, she wrote that local community members have planned fundraisers for Planned Parenthood such as dance parties, art shows, comedy shows and yoga classes.
Margaret Levin of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter said her chapter has seen an increase in gifts since the election and a “huge increase” in people contacting it. Levin said about 40 people had filled out the organization’s online volunteer form in the two weeks after the election, compared to the five to 10 people who fill it out in a typical month.
“It’s encouraging and not surprising that folks realize the gravity of our situation,” she said, noting concerns about the incoming administration rolling back environmental safeguards and halting progress on climate change.
John Keller of the Immigration Law Center of Minnesota said his organization probably tripled its typical Give to the Max Day donation total this year. The center provides immigrants with legal services and also does immigration advocacy and education.
Trump has promised to end President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides relief for undocumented immigrants between the ages of 15 and 31 who arrived in the U.S. as children, provided they meet certain requirements.
The Obama administration has granted about 6,000 young people in Minnesota DACA status since the program’s inception in 2012, Keller said. A report from his organization concluded that DACA has encouraged young immigrants to stay in school, enabled them to get drivers’ licenses and expanded their job opportunities.
Work becomes timelier and more necessary
Kathleen Cole of the organization Showing up for Racial Justice-Minnesota said Trump’s election makes her organization’s work timelier and more necessary. SURJ-MN focuses on organizing white people to end white supremacy, educating people about white supremacy and following and supporting people of color-led organizations.
Cole said her organization is concerned about Islamophobia, police accountability and supporting the movement for black lives.
“Trump doesn’t seem to have a lot of respect for limits on police actions,” she said.
Cole said between 850 and 900 people showed up at SURJ-MN’s November general meeting, far above its typical attendance of 120. She said the organization is still figuring out how to harness that interest but that the mood at the meeting was hopeful and resilient.
“You have to constantly be working for more justice,” she said. “The election of Donald Trump made people realize, ‘Oh my gosh, this isn’t inevitable.'”