Meet Rebecca Burton, this week’s Expose The TPP Featured Activist!
What is your name?
What group are you affiliated with?
Activate CT and Occupy Hartford
How did you first become involved with TPP Action?
Lacey [Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch Sr. Field Organizer] sent me an email (as a member of Occupy Hartford) asking if I knew of anyone who would be interested in attending a meeting in Hartford regarding the TPP, which I hadn’t even heard of yet. I did a little research and was sufficiently horrified to schedule a meeting ASAP. I and three of my fellow Occupy Hartford folks met with Lacey when she came to town and after she was done with her presentation, I was hooked. This was an issue that, now that we knew about it, we simply couldn’t ignore.
What angers you most about the TPP and why?
The secrecy around the negotiations and the fact that the corporate interests are being served to the extent that the trade negotiators themselves are representatives of corporations. Alan Grayson said it best when he said the TPP is “a punch in the face to the middle class.” Just the audacity of the negotiations being kept secret is utterly disrespectful of the American people and despicably unethical.
How have you been engaged in TPP activism your community?
I work together with two other women (Debra Cohen and Shannon Watson) in our newly formed group called Activate CT. We are looking to engage fellow activists and the public through educational events, flyering, in-district meetings with our legislators, and actions calling attention to the TPP and how it will affect everyday life.
What is your favorite organizing story?
I helped to organize a March Against Monsanto in May in Hartford with Debra and Shannon. We were up against several factors: Weather (forecast to be rainy and in the 40s), time (we had five days to organize) and really nasty opposition from another group that was planning a rally and were inexplicably hostile and unwilling to work with us to organize a march. We threw ourselves into planning mode and mustered a tremendous amount of dedication and optimism. The day came and indeed, it was rainy and cold. But as we stood under the bandshell at the park and watched people arriving in twos and threes and fives, with their signs and their rain ponchos and their baby carriages…We realized that people have the power to astound you every day. I felt so much love for our intrepid fellow protesters. We ended up with 250 people marching in the chilly rain - a huge turnout for Hartford even when the weather is fine! I would love to see that energy and focus on the TPP issue and we’re doing our best to make it happen in Hartford.
What advice do you have for other TPP activists?
Connect with other groups. That’s what we’re attempting to do here. There is such power in coalition, whether it’s sending a delegation to meet with your legislators or turning out people for rallies and marches. And the connections you make will be invaluable for future actions and issues. There is power in cooperation and collaboration.
What future TPP actions do you have planned?
We have been trying for weeks to get in-district meetings with our legislators but are getting the runaround. We’ve been basically asked to provide proof that we are worthy to meet with. If we don’t get the meetings, we are set to politely “occupy” their offices and refuse to leave until we’re seen. We’re hoping we will be joined by people from various groups and backgrounds to send the message that we will not be ignored. Later this month, we will be presenting on the TPP at a local Friends meetinghouse. We hope to activate people so that they can take the information we present and share it with others. We’re also hoping to build our base and make connections for whatever future actions we plan. We’re not going away, and ignoring us is just going to make us that much more tenacious. Our message to all of you: Remember, we are unstoppable; another world is possible!