Arielle Klagsbrun is a leader of the 215 People’s Alliance. She has worked on numerous campaigns around racial, economic and climate justice over the past 10 years in both Philadelphia and St. Louis. Most recently, she has worked with 215 People's Alliance around abolishing the state control of Philadelphia's schools, electing Larry Krasner as District Attorney, and building the Alliance for a Just Philadelphia. She has recently led the campaign to end the 10-year tax abatement.
Arielle Klagsbrun was an organizer with Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment and Rising Tide North America. She was a leader of the "Take Back Saint Louis" campaign to remove tax incentives to corporations profiting from climate change. She is also a 2013 recipient of the Brower Youth Award for a campaign to confront Peabody Coal, the world's largest private-sector coal corporation headquartered in St. Louis.
Kendra Brooks victory
On Tuesday November 5 2019, Kendra Brooks, running on the Working Families Party ticket, won one of two at-large Council seats that Philadelphia’s Home Rule Charter effectively reserves for non-Democrats. Both seats have been held by Republicans for almost 70 years. In January, she will become the first Council member from outside the two major parties in the 100 years since the body adopted a modern legislative structure.
Without the infrastructure of a major party, Brooks and her campaign manager, Arielle Klagsbrun, largely built their operation from scratch. But they could not have won without the efforts of a preexisting network of groups whose members knocked on thousands of doors, held fund-raisers, and posted constantly on social media for Brooks and her fellow Working Families Party candidate Nicolas O'Rourke, who came up short in his Council bid.
Tapping into the organizational strengths of grassroots groups was always part of the plan. Brooks sits on the steering committee of 215 People’s Alliance, and O’Rourke is an organizer with POWER, an interfaith progressive organization. When dozens of groups came together last year to write the People’s Platform for a Just Philadelphia — a manifesto of the city’s left — Brooks and Klagsbrun led the effort.
Increasingly focused on electoral politics, the groups have worked together in recent years to score major victories, including those of District Attorney Larry Krasner, City Councilwoman Helen Gym, and several state representatives. But those candidates ran in Democratic primaries against party-backed opponents. The Working Families Party campaign for Council marked a new level of ambition and coordination for the local progressive movement — and the clearest demonstration yet of its power in city politics.
Most of 215 People’s Alliance members are in Southwest Philadelphia and the western half of South Philadelphia — mirroring the turf led by Williams’ political progeny. Reclaim Philadelphia is strongest in South Philadelphia and the river wards — the historically Irish American neighborhoods long controlled by the trades unions
Reclaim Philadelphia shares an office with 10 other progressive groups on the fifth floor of a building in Chinatown. They call it “the People’s Headquarters.”
Sitting in a room lined with campaign posters and voting precinct maps two weeks before the election, Amanda McIllmurray, Reclaim’s political director, ran through past instances in which her group had worked with Brooks: Krasner’s election, the fight to restore local control of Philadelphia schools, State Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler’s campaign.
“She’s just someone who has always been there and has always shown up,” McIllmurray said.
The activist groups that carried the Working Families Party banner this year didn’t just aid Brooks’ campaign. In many ways, they were the campaign.
“This is our movement. It’s bigger than Nicolas and Kendra,” Brooks said at a rally in Northeast Philadelphia two weeks before the election. ”There’s so many organizations that have supported this campaign, and there’s so many folks that are going to take us all the way.”
July 2019 Philadelphia hosted the Netroots Nation conference, a national gathering of progressives in pursuit of networking, collaboration, and inspiration from grassroots movements. The Reclaim Philadelphia crew made our presence known, participating in several sessions and shaking things up with a direct action, alongside allies Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration, that targeted Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
On Thursday morning, Rick Krajewski, our lead Mass Liberation Organizer, was on a panel alongside our allies (and officemates!), Bryan Mercer, Hannah Jane Sassaman, Arielle Klagsbrun, and Kendra Brooks, who are with Media Mobilizing Project, 215 People's Alliance, and the Our City Our Schools Coalition, to discuss how coalition organizing has taken Philly to the next level, and the unique challenges we've faced in doing it.
Campaigning in Lancaster
Amanda McIllmurray November 4 2018:
LadenPele IL May 17, 2017:
Last night, as the results for Larry Krasner were coming in and it was becoming clear that we had won, the community coalition gathered towards the middle of the election party room.
Together, 215 People's Alliance, Reclaim Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Student Power Network, B.L.O.C. Party, and Neighborhood Networks knocked over 60,000 doors to talk to voters about Larry Krasner for DA and ending ending mass incarceration in Philadelphia.
It's a beautiful beautiful thing when a coalition can come together to try and do something big, like really big, and win like this.
I can't stop smiling about it.
I'm so so grateful to have been a part of this team even if only for the last couple weeks of the campaign. I learned so much from everyone involved and know that this is just the beginning of something really exciting in the city of Philadelphia
Huge thanks James Cersonsky for getting me involved and for all the work you did supporting this campaign along with the million other things you do for students all over the state.
Shout out to Lev Hirschhorn, Amanda Almanac, Nicolas Pastore, Ociele Hawkins, Arielle Klagsbrun, Bryan Mercer, Meghna Chandra and everyone from the coalition who poured their hearts into this campaign. I really learned so much from y'all and am excited to see what comes next.
And finally, to the best student team ever
Pennsylvania Student Power Network. Y'all are a part of history now. We knocked doors day after day for two weeks in Powelton Village and throughout the 24th ward. It was surreal when we reported back on election day, and most people we had talked to had already voted for Krasner or were planning on it. The commitment, passion, and hard work this team put in deserves more praise than I can muster with words. Amazing job Zaire Best, Avy Srinivasan, Tess Kerins, Jaid Munczinski, Shahmar Beasley, Nicky Dulepski, Becky Cave, Eli Cummin, and the whole team!
Now who are we going to elect next? I guess you'll just have to wait and see. 😉
Now What? Defying Trump and the Left's Way Forward
Now What? Defying Trump and the Left's Way Forward was a phone in webinar organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization in the wake of the 2016 election.
- Now what? We’re all asking ourselves that question in the wake of Trump’s victory. We’ve got urgent strategizing and work to do, together. Join Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson of the Movement for Black Lives and Freedom Road, Calvin Cheung-Miaw, Jodeen Olguin-Taylor of Mijente and WFP, Joe Schwartz of the Democratic Socialists of America, and Sendolo Diaminah of Freedom Road for a discussion of what happened, and what we should be doing to build mass defiance. And above all, how do we build the Left in this, which we know is the only solution to the crises we face?
- This event will take place Tuesday November 15, 2016 at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central/6pm Pacific.
Those invited, on Facebook included Arielle Klagsbrun.