Activists are working for human rights, climate change action and black liberation

Despite this month's chilly weather, activists have been hitting the streets of Columbus to protest injustice.

Workers celebrate International Women's Day by boycotting Wendy's

Members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Fair Food Nation marked International Women's Day with a march from Ohio State University to the Wendy's on High Street.

For more than five years, workers and their consumer allies have demanded protections against sexual violence committed against vulnerable women workers. They're demanding that Wendy's join the Fair Food Program, a model that empowers workers to monitor human rights violations. Until Wendy's agrees, workers and activists are asking consumers to boycott the restaurant, and urging Ohio State to “Boot the Braids” (a reference to the restaurant's logo).

The march on Wendy's followed a sit-in at Ohio State President Michael Drake's office on March 7. President Drake refused to meet or even speak with students, faculty, staff and community members.

While OSU refuses to confront its complicity in Wendy's labor violations, University of Michigan is beating its human rights record. Last month, UM students voted to ban Wendy's from campus until it joined the Fair Food Program.

Buckeyes calling for a boycott are undeterred, though. They gathered with signs saying, “Stop Sexual Violence in the Fields,” and covered the campus with red carnations honoring women farmworkers.

Legendary labor organizer Dolores Huerta will visit campus March 21. If OSU wants to honor her, then it's time to boot Wendy's.

Students demand action on climate change

On March 15, students from all over Ohio gathered at the Statehouse to demand action to stop climate change. The demonstration was a part of a worldwide youth strike, stretching from the South Pacific to the Arctic Circle.

Polling indicates that 55 percent of Ohioans think that climate change is a threat, even in areas dependent on the coal industry. However, young people regard this as a much more urgent issue than adults, including state politicians. Though the reality of climate change is inescapable, state lawmakers have voted to roll back renewable energy requirements.

Remember when the hippies said not to trust anyone over 30? Right now, the people who are leading the way toward a sustainable future are about 13 years old.

Activists demand freedom for Masonique Saunders

On December 7, 2018, Columbus police shot a 16-year-old black youth named Julius Ervin Tate, Jr. In a Kafka-esque, but unsurprising twist, less than a week later, they arrested his girlfriend, Masonique Saunders, and charged her for aggravated robbery and felony murder.

Ohio law says a person can be charged with murder if they caused the death of another. Police seem to be using that law to deflect from their own actions and put another black girl behind bars.

Activists are organizing to support Saunders, her family and the family of Tate. They are sharing information about the case, circulating a petition and raising money for the families in preparation for a national week of action, April 1-7. To get involved, visit freemasonique.home.blog.

Campaigns like these make me proud of our city. See you in the streets!