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Downtown Las Vegas Protest Part Of New Spirit Of Activism

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AP Photo/John Locher
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Women wearing pink hats at the Women's March in downtown Las Vegas, Jan. 21, 2017.

The election of Donald Trump as president ignited a spirit of activism in the country — and Nevada.

From the Women’s March to protests against the travel ban to packing congressional town halls to oppose the Republican health care plan, issue advocates have demonstrated energy on behalf of their causes.

With successes under their belts, the protesters want to keep commitment levels high by continued events and outreach to fellow supporters, many of whom are new to the world of activism.

In Las Vegas, Amy Vilela worked through the grief of losing her daughter by becoming an advocate for expanded health care coverage.

She is leading a protest Saturday in downtown Las Vegas, part of National Day of Action to Protect and Expand Healthcare.

“The message I want to send is that the fight for health care is not over,” Vilela said.

Vilela's daughter died at the age of 22 from an untreated blood clot. She had sought treatment, but she didn't have insurance so the hospital turned her away. She died a few days later.

“Her passing, her gift to me was that I got in touch again with my empathy and compassion for my fellow humans,” Vilela said.

She is now pushing to not have the Affordable Care Act repealed, which despite the defeat of that effort a few weeks ago some Republicans have vowed to revisit, but to expand Medicare to everyone, creating a single-payer system like Canada or the United Kingdom.

“We are going to want to move forward not backward with the ACA. We want to move forward to Medicare for all and ensure that there are no citizens that are left behind without any health insurance”

It wasn't health care reform that activated northern Nevadan Ashley Graham. She told KNPR's State of Nevada that President Trump’s election prompted her to quit her job and start a political action committee.

“I couldn’t go back to the normal anymore," Graham said, "I couldn’t sit at a desk. I couldn’t pretend nothing was happening and people weren’t going to be in danger”

She now spends her time working on behalf of progressive causes.

Graham said she's seeing lots of new faces at political organizing meetings and at party functions. She believes even if the fervor wanes a little over the coming months, they'll have information from a lot of new people to be able to organize them for 2018 mid-term elections. 

 

 

Amy Vilela, healthcare activist; Ashley Graham, started progressive PAC

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With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.