Interest in local grassroots groups spikes after overturning of Roe

Cheryl Stephens, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor of Ohio, speaks at a GrassRoots Resistance gathering in a Bay Village backyard on July 8. Photo by Tara Wendell

Requests for membership in two West Side grassroots groups have surged since the overturning of Roe and show no signs of slowing. Interest in GRR (GrassRoots Resistance) and GRAB (GrassRoots Activism Bay) has spiked since the Supreme Court’s ruling last month.

“We are fielding dozens of new membership requests each day as well as requests to our private Facebook group,” said Nora Kelley, a leader of GRR. “More women are coming to us and saying they are furious abortion care is essentialy illegal in Ohio and want to become active, even more so than after the 2016 election when our group was founded.”

Misty Elek, one of the founders of GRAB, (formally the Bay Village Nasty Women) says the group has also seen a similar increase.

“This feels different than 2016,” said Elek. “The attack on our freedom by the Supreme Court, Mike DeWine and the Ohio legislature along with the many recent massacres has elevated our anger as well as our anxiety. Women are looking for productive ways to channel their anger to defend reproductive rights and to keep our communities safe.”

The leaders of both groups say the outrage over the 2016 election allowed them to develop a large grassroots network on the westside. Not only did the groups work to elect Monique Smith (HD-16) to the Ohio House, flipping the only seat for the Democrats in the 2020 cycle by defeating a well-known incumbent seeking a third term, but members in the groups are running for local offices.

“Women who were inspired by Monique’s victory decided they deserved a seat at the table too,” said Heather Tuck-Macalla, a member in both groups. “Women in GRR and GRAB decided to run for seats on school boards, city and town councils, as ward leaders and Central Committee members of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party. They clearly understand the fragility of our democracy.” 

In addition to working on Smith’s campaign, the groups helped fuel grassroots campaigns across the state and county, including: signature gathering for Issue 1 for Fair Districts and CLASH (Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing); leading the efforts of Clevelanders for Public Comment and registering voters over the past six years.

In addition, the groups organized fundraisers for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio and the Ohio Center for Sex Education.

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Volume 14, Issue 14, Posted 11:29 AM, 07.19.2022