Democracy in the Time of COVID-19

In these unprecedented times, much is at risk, including our democracy. The Colorado Legislative Session has been put on hold until March 30, and will likely meet again next week only long enough to vote to extend the break. Although all sides agree that lawmaking must be put on hold for the sake of public safety, there is disagreement on how the session will continue. Will the session be resumed later on to ensure 120 consecutive days of lawmaking? Or will a special session be called, limiting the issues that can be addressed during the session? No matter what the outcome, Citizens Project will continue to monitor the legislature to make sure our democracy is upheld and protected during this state of emergency. Once the session resumes, we will continue keeping everyone updated on bills that impact equity and inclusion so that you can make your voice heard to your leaders. 
 
There is much to be concerned about for our democracy: What will happen with primaries? What will happen with the legislative session? Can we get an accurate Census count to ensure fair representation at the federal level and accurate district-drawing? Although much is up in the air, people are continually fighting to protect our democracy and protect each other. We are continually winning and achieving together. We want to highlight some of those efforts. 
 
A few weeks ago, Citizens Project and other Colorado Springs organizers met with Amaya Coppins, award winner of International Women of Courage 2020. Amaya is from Nicaragua, and has fought tirelessly for democracy and justice in her country. All International Women of Courage recipients visit U.S. cities to talk with local organizers and share experiences in order to connect our common goals of protecting human dignity and freedom, despite our different circumstances. Amaya visited with several groups in the Pikes Peak region to learn about local grassroots movements involved with government accountability and democracy. We were privileged to have the opportunity share and learn with her. 
 
Amaya was a leader of the April 19th Student Movement in Nicaragua, which participated in protests against the Sandinista government and the subsequent violent tactics used to repress dissenters. In 2018, she was arrested for her peaceful resistance and was held until June of the following year. Despite the government’s attempts to silence her and others, she continued to speak out against injustice, and was imprisoned again in November for attempting to bring water to mothers of political prisoners on hunger strike. We spoke with her about the constant tension we must be in with our governments: how we hold them accountable, how some groups are punished more harshly than others for their work, and how we can show international solidarity. Amaya emphasized the need for everyone to remain educated about international struggles, as they are inherently interconnected with our own. We must understand how our country impacts others through intervention and imperialism, and we must continue to educate each other so we can pressure our government to do what is right. 
 
Amaya, and all the International Women of Courage recipients, demonstrate that no matter the circumstances, we continue to fight and protect each other. During these times when many are suffering in our own community, we must work even more to help our neighbors. We are all we have. You can join the Colorado Springs Mutual Aid Network to stay informed of the needs of your neighbors, and also keep in touch with Citizens Project: we will continually send updates throughout the COVID-19 crisis on ways you can help others and be helped. 
 
We are remaining vigilant in our community to protect our neighbors and our democracy, whether that be through partnering with direct service organizations to help people fill out the Census, continuing to monitor elections to ensure they remain fair and accessible during this crisis, or developing strategies to ensure people have access to resources long-term. 
 
Now more than ever, we invite you to join us in our work. Thank you for everything you all do in our community. You all make us stronger.

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