Statement from Showing Up for Racial Justice’s Executive Director, Erin Heaney, on the State of Georgia’s suppression of free speech and protest, recent charges against Stop Cop City activists and organizers

For Immediate Release: September 5th, 2023

Contact: Grover Wehman-Brown,

“The right to protest and organize are fundamental to democracy. The State of Georgia’s most recent RICO charges against more than 60 protesters and organizers are a clear attempt to suppress dissent and chill the successful organizing to Stop Cop City. The broad application of these charges against everyday protected public speech – for distributing fliers, attending mass public demonstrations, or organizing a Solidarity Fund –  signal very clearly that their intent is to stifle any organized political resistance against powerful figures in Atlanta. 


Atlanta residents and community leaders working to Stop Cop City are working to stop the further militarization of police against Atlanta residents, which is linked to movements to stop the expansion of militarized police forces across the country and the globe. This is a fight for working people to move freely through their communities without violence and intimidation by police. This is a fight for public lands and public funds to be spent on homes and healthcare, not military training. 


The Georgia Attorney General’s charges today raise the alarm volume about the threats of rising authoritarianism. We have a right and a duty to organize for racial and economic justice – that includes the right to assemble, to talk with our neighbors, to protest, and to organize ballot initiatives and to make demands of our elected leaders.” 


Erin Heaney, Executive Director, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)

Statement from Erin Heaney on the white supremacist murders in Jacksonville, FL

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. August 28, 10:14am [Buffalo, NY] “White supremacist violence is never the product of a ‘lone shooter’. The white man who murdered AJ Laguerre Jr., Jerrald De’Shaun Gallon, and Angela Michelle Carr in Jacksonville this weekend acted as part of white supremacist culture and white nationalist networks that are further emboldened by anti-Black rhetoric and policies like those pushed by Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida.

“White people have a responsibility to actively engage other white people where they’re at and invite them into other ways of being together besides racism. We must do this BEFORE they are organized by violent, racist networks to harm our Black and brown neighbors. That means, to end white supremacist violence in this country, we need millions more white people to join us in organizing white people away from racism and into multiracial fights for justice.”

— Erin Heaney, Executive Director, Showing Up for Racial Justice


About SURJ and their Our in Florida:

In May, SURJ took action with the Dream Defenders, Florida Rising, Hope Community Center, Florida Immigrant Coalition and others to blockade Governor DeSantis’ office, protesting the multiple vicious attacks on marginalized communities in the state.

SURJ FL leaders are pushing back against this dangerous rhetoric and fighting for school systems where all students can learn in safe, supportive environments. Along with SURJ members across the country, they are taking on local school boards as a part of our national campaign, “All In For All Students.”

SURJ is part of a thriving ecosystem of racial justice organizations in Florida who are building power and fighting back against DeSantis and his policies. SURJ partner organizations like Florida Rising organize in low-income Black and brown communities to keep people safe, in homes, and with the resources they need.

Please, be in touch if you’d like to talk with Erin Heaney, SURJ’s executive director, or other team members about white people’s role in organizing to stop white supremacist violence.

Contact: Grover Wehman-Brown, Deputy Director of Communications, Showing Up for Racial Justice:

May 15, 2023: Release | Showing Up for Racial Justice launches three-year plan to stop rising authoritarianism

Monday, May 15th, 2023. [10:55 am] Louisville, Kentucky.

Today, Showing Up for Racial Justice launches our 3-year plan to organize white people to stop rising authoritarianism and expand the multiracial, antiracist movement for justice in the United States. 

“These next two years will either be the time our generation seized the opportunity to align millions of white people in solidarity with people of color to block rising authoritarianism and expand a multi-racial, anti-racist movement in the U.S. and abroad, or a missed opportunity that will have drastic consequences for generations to come for people and the planet.” says Erin Heaney, Executive Director, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)

We’re taking on school boards, moving key slices of the white electorate in key swing states to prevent authoritarian leaders from taking hold of the Federal government in 2024 and Governorship in Kentucky in 2023, training our members in strategic nonviolent direct action, and bringing tens of thousands of rural, working people into our movement across the rural South and Appalachia.

The signs of rising authoritarianism are alarming: Christian nationalist sit in the halls of Congress and statehouses and have vocal bases of populist support. In 2023, a record number of laws to restrict voting access were introduced by state legislators. The attacks on civil liberties, bodily autonomy, public institutions, and freedom to speak about race and gender in public have been central to the legislative agendas in a majority of states, impacting women and people who can get pregnant, LGBTQ people, students of color, protestors, and educators. High level politicians express support for political violence

We are in a white backlash to the racial justice uprisings of 2020; right wing politicians and the right’s media outlets have stoked fear and resentment, expanding support for strong-man politicians. White people are the largest base for these harmful agendas, and SURJ’s three-year plan will organize tens of thousands more white people to fight for a future rooted in multiracial solidarity, democratic decision making, a fair economy, and communities that stick up for each other, no matter our race, how we love, where we’re from, or how much money we have in our bank account.

Members of the press are welcome to join our webinar and strategy launch to hear more details:

May 18th at 8pm EST RSVP here.

Which Side Are You On? Our Three Year Plan to Organize White People to Stop Authoritarianism 


Grover Wehman-Brown, Deputy Director of Communications, Showing Up for Racial Justice.

Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) organizes white people into fights for racial justice across the US using a framework of shared interest, focusing on what white people stand to gain by joining campaigns for racial and economic justice. We have more than 150 chapters across the US, base building projects in working-class communities in the South, and electoral campaigns in key states.


May 15, 2023 [ 10:15 AM] Sarasota, FL, 

New College of Florida, Sarasota, Flor. – New College students are organizing an impromptu protest as news broke that Gov. Ron DeSantis is using College Hall to sign the far reaching HB999, which would censor educational freedom in Florida. This latest move by the far-right governor prompted students to defend New College of Florida’s campus from the onslaught of attacks on their right to learn. Students and alumni of New College, community residents, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), Dream Defenders, and Black Voters Matter condemn the signing of HB 999 and the surprise visit from Governor Desantis and Mark Rufo at New College during exam week. 

Since the Jan 6, 2023 hostile takeover of New College, the Board of Trustees has brought instability and educational repression to the campus through numerous public terminations of LGBTQIA+ faculty and staff, outcry from the Faculty Union NCUFF, student resistance and community support. 

That Governor Desantis would choose a media circus during our last week of classes, while finals are underway, shows his absolute disdain for educational freedom. His hateful rhetoric is endangering student learning and lives; and today he wants to stomp around campus for a press conference. (Soledad Gonzales, new college student)

Rufo and Desantis together attempt to repress educational freedom and students’ ability to choose classes in which they can learn about our country’s history and issues that affect their lives. By signing HB 999, Rufo and Desantis are codifying their repression into state law, telling students that they are not free to study and read what they choose, which would create a chilling effect on universities across the state. 

HB999 is an attempt to stifle education by the Florida state government. This keeps students, especially those historically marginalized, from knowing their history. This is whitewashing and suppression of education. Fascism comes for education first. This is the beginning of the end for educational freedom in Florida’s higher education. Women’s studies, gender studies, queer history, black history, and critical race theory. These are legitimate classes and students deserve to learn these subjects if they chose to. Funding for supporting marginalized students and their identities will be taken away. Florida is no longer safe to learn in, at any level. (Kacie Bates, new college student)


Ellie Jalbuena-Cook, New College Student, P: (207) 706-6101

Amanda Gilliland, New College Alumni,, (941) 320-1132

Akin Olla, Communications Director, Dream Defenders, , p: (862) 202-5697

Julia Daniel, New College alumni and Assistant Director, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)  p: (919) 949-2038 | e:

Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) organizes white people  into fights for racial justice across the US using a framework of shared interest, focusing on what white people stand to gain by joining campaigns for racial and economic justice. We have more than 150 chapters across the US, base building projects in working-class communities in the South, and electoral campaigns in key states. 

Dream Defenders organizes Black and Brown youth to build power in our communities to advance a new vision we have for the state. We are advancing our vision of safety and security –  away from prisons, deportation, and war – and towards healthcare, housing, jobs and movement for all.

Black Voters Matter works to increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities. We believe that effective voting allows a community to determine its own destiny.

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