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In Living Rooms Around The Country, Activists Organize To Oppose Trump

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Opponents of the president have been working to organize, capturing the spontaneous energy of protests against President Trump. Groups of friends and neighbors have been showing up at town hall meetings and letting their members of Congress know how they feel. NPR's Sarah McCammon spent some time with one group who call themselves Indivisible.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Larry Stopper retired in August after decades as a small-business owner. But for the last several weeks, he's been busy.

LARRY STOPPER: I started organizing from my living room, just sending out an email to the people on my list. Forty-one years, I have a lot of contacts in the county.

MCCAMMON: That's Nelson County outside Charlottesville, Va., a county President Obama won twice before Trump turned it red. Stopper leads a local chapter of a group called Invisible, which is organizing protests and other political actions designed to pressure Congress and the Trump administration.

Ann Ashton, a retired teacher who lives in the county, says she had to find an outlet for her concern.

ANN ASHTON: I'm afraid we are going right down the road to a dictatorship. I mean, he's already attacking the free press. I mean, he's been doing that for a long time. And it seems like they are attacking - he and his group are attacking anything that has to do with freedom and free speech.

MCCAMMON: Over the lunch hour yesterday, the Nelson County group joined the Invisible Charlottesville chapter to march a couple of blocks through town to Republican Congressman Tom Garrett's office, where Stopper rallied the group.

STOPPER: And we are Indivisible.

(CHEERING)

MCCAMMON: Activists took turns going inside to talk to Garrett's staff, expressing opposition to Trump's travel restrictions and support for the Affordable Care Act. Across the country, Indivisible groups are reaching out to their members of Congress.

Rebecca Nowacek is an English professor from the Milwaukee area.

REBECCA NOWACEK: I didn't know where my representatives' offices were before. I didn't know the names of the staffers there who I might talk to. So it's not a new strategy, but I think for a lot of people, it's new to them.

MCCAMMON: The approach isn't new, says Ezra Levin, a former Democratic congressional staffer who co-authored the Indivisible Guide, a strategy manual that's available online for free.

EZRA LEVIN: We had been on Capitol Hill during the rise of the Tea Party.

MCCAMMON: Levin says Tea Party Republicans were able to slow down and sometimes stop key components of President Obama's agenda.

LEVIN: And we thought, hey, this can work for us right now.

MCCAMMON: In an interview on Fox, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer described the Tea Party as organic and suggested that anti-Trump protesters are being paid. Activist Larry Stopper mocks that idea, joking to the crowd that if a liberal benefactor is cutting checks, his hasn't arrived.

STOPPER: If anybody out there is in touch with George Soros...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We're not paid.

STOPPER: ...Would they let him know that I'm not getting my paycheck?

MCCAMMON: And to Trump's supporters who say it's time to move on now that Trump is president, Stopper says this is his way of moving on.

STOPPER: We have gotten over it. He is the president. We aren't disagreeing that he in fact is the president. But he has an agenda, and we have an agenda.

MCCAMMON: And Stopper says activists will work just as hard as President Trump to promote their agenda and push back against his.

Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Charlottesville, Va.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE CALM BLUE SEA'S "NOW THOSE ASHES ARE AT THE BOTTOM") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.