In November 2016 there was an emergency meeting in Lancaster. The emergency meeting was held in response to Donald Trump getting elected in 2016.
This meeting eventually led to the establishment of Lancaster Stands Up (LSU), an independent grassroots organization in Lancaster county. Zak Gress, a member of LSU, says the organization is all about bringing disenfranchised citizens of Lancaster county into the political process.
“The biggest way that we do this is to speak to the heart of why the system is broken,” Eliza Booth, another member of LSU, says.
Booth says LSU is not aligned to any one political party in America. They prefer to stay independent and if they find a candidate that upholds their values they will do extensive work to help them.
One example of this was the work they did with the Jess King campaign in 2018. LSU made it clear that they worked toward the same goal King and her campaign. However, they did so independently and without coordination.
While LSU is non-partisan, they acknowledge that the Democratic Party is the best option for them to back at this time. At the same time, they believe that the two-party system is broken and they want to see it change.
LSU engages with the community by talking about the issues and not really taking into account what political party the people they talk to are in Gress worked in New Holland and was a working citizen that had issues with the system, but did not really know what to do about his concerns. LSU held a town hall and Gress attended. The meeting influenced him to join the group and he has become more actively involved with them.
Stories like these are incredibly common. Jess King was originally a part of LSU as was current Manheim Township commissioner, Allison Troy. King went door to door while she was in LSU and during her campaign against Lloyd Smucker to talk to people about their concerns and to actively engage with them about the issues.
This ethos guides how LSU conducts itself as an organization.
One of the campaigns that LSU was actively a part of was preventing GeoGroup from being involved in a prison building initiative in Lancaster county. LSU was successful in preventing the for-profit prison group from setting up in Lancaster and they consider that a monumental victory for the community.
GeoGroup, according to LSU, is the same prison company that has internment camps on the southern border. Booth was adamant that LSU had to stop GeoGroup from getting in Lancaster county.
This would be a good spot for a quote from Booth reiterating that idea
The campaign was done by having members of LSU sit-in on commissioner meetings concerning the GeoGroup issue. During some of the meetings, LSU reports there were an estimated 200 residents in attendance. LSU also reported that the commissioners eventually rejected the GeoGroup proposal for prison privatization.
LSU considers this victor to be one of the group’s crowning achievements, but they also consider it a victory for Lancaster county as a whole.
As for the national news of the impeachment inquiry, LSU does not really look at it that much, stating that it is far away and not an immediate concern. This is not to say they do not care, but they cannot do much about it so they are focusing more on issues they can impact in Lancaster.
Some of these issues include the Muslim ban, which they adamantly opposed and the aforementioned GeoGroup. They were involved with the March for our Lives protest that had around 5,000 people in attendance.
As for some current issues, LSU states that they stand with Franklin and Marshall students and all that they are trying to accomplish to get rid of racism in their college.
One last issue that LSU wanted to make clear is that they have a set way that they go about endorsing presidential candidates. They have not made an endorsement as of yet, but they are in the process of debate and will be voting on that.
LSU is based in downtown Lancaster and is willing to take in volunteers. Readers can find them online at their website, https://lancasterstandsup.org/.