Actions 8/21

We're taking this week off to rethink, recover, and prepare for Congress to come back from recess. You might appreciate a week's break, too.

If you're amped to keep at it, take a look at Indivisible Guide's excellent action list, Are Your Members of Congress Doing Enough to Respond to White Supremacy? A Massachusetts note on the first action item: only 3 Mass Reps—Moulton, Lynch, and McGovern—have co-sponsored H.Con.Res 77, a resolution to condemn hate groups and demand that Trump fire staff members who support white nationalism. You can find your representative here.

As always, if something critical arises, we'll post again this week. Otherwise, we'll see you next Monday.

The Good News

Believe it or not, we've got a record quantity of Good News this week—more, even, than the week after Trump abandoned Paris. We definitely know how to fight back!


Go, Boston! 40,000 of us took over the Common, and the few dozen attending the alt-right “Free Speech” rally quit the bandstand after less than an hour.


Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, said she would refuse any communication with Trump after he suggested a moral equivalence between the racists, Nazis, and white supremacists in Charlottesville and those protesting them.


The top officers of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and National Guard have issued statements denouncing racism and extremism in the days since Charlottesville.


Former President Obama’s response to Charlottesville, a quote from Nelson Mandela, is the most liked tweet in Twitter’s history.


Former Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush denounced racism in the wake of Charlottesville.


Protesters in Durham, N.C., toppled a monument to a Civil War soldier inscribed “The Confederate States of America.” North Carolina forbids local government from removing monuments on public property. Three days later, more than 100 activists lined up to turn themselves in as an act of solidarity with those charged for pulling down the statue.


Alabama also has a law prohibiting local governments from removing historical monuments on public property—so Birmingham covered up its Confederate monument with plywood.


Baltimore removed its four Confederate monuments Tuesday night after the City Council voted unanimously to take them down following the violence in Charlottesville. And a statue in front of the Maryland state house of Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney, the man who penned the Dred Scott decision, was dismantled when the Republican governor reversed his position and authorized its removal.


The Lexington, Kentucky, city council voted unanimously to move forward with a proposal to remove 2 Confederate statues outside the former Fayette County courthouse.


We couldn't cover all the monuments coming down, so here’s a comprehensive list.


Tech companies are (finally) stepping up. GoDaddy cut ties with the white-supremacist website Daily Stormer following a campaign by, among others, activist Amy Siskind. They went to Google next, were promptly evicted, and landed on a Russian server, which soon dropped them in response to the country’s media watchdog's objections. Then India-based Zoho said that the Daily Stormer’s access to their productivity services has been terminated, and website security company CloudFlare and email newsletter service SendGrid also dropped the website. There have been further ups and downs, but at this moment the Daily Stormer site is available only through the dark web.


Twitter suspended the 2 Daily Stormer accounts and those of other extremist groups, and Facebook deleted links to the site. Spotify and other streaming services have begun removing white supremacist content from their platforms.


Another white supremacist group, Vanguard America, was yanked offline by WordPress after its members rallied in Charlottesville. Squarespace dropped members of the white supremacist movement, including Richard Spencer, president of the white nationalist think tank the National Policy Institute.


Discord, the alt-right's favorite chat app, finally cracked down after the Charlottesville marches became violent. The servers for The Daily Stormer, AltRight.com, and other groups no longer work.


GoFundMe, PayPal, and Apple Pay are removing campaigns and accounts offering financial support to users associated with far-right ideologies, including white nationalists and white supremacists. Visa and Discover have stopped allowing websites run by violent hate groups to use their cards to accept payments.


Uber executives personally thanked and honored a driver who kicked 3 far-right celebrities out of her vehicle before the rally, accusing them of racist comments


“I haven't seen them take this much action on all these platforms, ever,” said Keegan Hankes of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has long accused tech companies of tolerating hate speech. Revulsion at the violence in Charlottesville undoubtedly motivated some of these actions. But many also stemmed from the efforts of groups like Color of Change, Sleeping Giants, Dangerous Speech, and the #BackersofHate campaign; individuals like Amy Siskind and her followers; and the many of us who've long worked to identify corporate support for white supremacists and pressure companies to change their policies.


We pressured corporate executives, too, especially those serving on Trump's business councils.

When Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier resigned from the president's American Manufacturing Council, Trump immediately trashed him on Twitter—and 2 more CEOs resigned. By the time Trump disbanded his two business councils, a total of 9 CEOs had already resigned.


Tiki Brands and the National Hockey League immediately denounced the use of their brands by white nationalists and other hate groups in Charlottesville.


The Cleveland Clinic, American Red Cross, Susan G. Komen, and 6 (so far) other charities canceled their galas at Mar-A-Lago. Yep, we've been pressuring charities about Mar-a-Lago, too.


The members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities resigned in protest of Trump’s response to Charlottesville. The first letters of each paragraph of their resignation letter spell out the word RESIST.


More than half of the members of the Commerce Department’s 15-person Digital Economy Board of Advisors are known to have resigned.


A member even resigned from Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, citing a conflict in values.


The Illinois Senate adopted a resolution the day after Charlottesville urging law enforcement officials to recognize white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups as terrorist organizations.


The great-great-grandson and great-great-granddaughter of Robert E. Lee issued a written statement condemning the "hateful words and violent actions of white supremacists, the KKK or neo-Nazis."


When Fox News invited two African-American commentators—a Republican strategist and a Johns Hopkins professor with expertise in social justice—to argue about Confederate statues on Wednesday, they both came close to tears as they instead shared their sorrow and disgust over Trump’s news conference.


Wednesday on Fox and Friends, Trump’s favorite show, Shepard Smith said, “Our booking team — and they're good — reached out to Republicans of all stripes across the country today. Let's be honest: Republicans often don't really mind coming on Fox News Channel. We couldn't get anyone to come and defend him.”


The County Fair in Wyoming, New York, stopped selling Confederate flags after residents complained.


The Orange County, North Carolina, school system banned all clothing that depicts the Confederate flag, swastikas or any KKK-related symbols or language, after months of protests from community members.


Texas A&M canceled a September 11 White Lives Matter rally featuring white nationalist leader Richard Spencer. The University of Florida canceled a similar appearance by Spencer.


When Spencer tried to hold a press conference in Washington on Monday, two hotels canceled and he had to settle for his office in Virginia.


Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer blamed the events last weekend on Trump and the White House: “Look at the campaign he ran.”


The Mormon church explicitly condemned white supremacism in a sharply worded statement 3 days after Charlottesville, as a far-right movement within the church's ranks grows increasingly vocal.


James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and chief executive of 20th Century Fox (including Fox News), criticized Trump for not condemning the violence in Charlottesville and donated $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League. Apple CEO Tim Cook also blasted Trump’s response, and he donated $1 million each to the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Foundation.


Rabbi Emeritus Haskel Lookstein, who oversaw Ivanka’s conversion to Judaism, sent a strongly worded letter to Ivanka's synagogue denouncing President Trump after he said both sides were to blame for Charlottesville.


Even a few Republicans spoke out. Jeff Flake wrote an Op-ed in The New York Times titled “We Need Immigrants With Skills. But Working Hard Is a Skill.” On Facebook, Mitt Romney said Trump’s Charlottesville statements “caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn.” Bob Corker criticized Trump for lacking the stability and competence needed to lead.


Chris Cantwell, the swaggering fascist at the center of the HBO/Vice video on Charlottesville, filmed himself near tears at the thought of being arrested. Then OkCupid and Tinder booted him, and his YouTube channel and Facebook and Twitter accounts were deleted.


The ACLU will no longer defend hate groups that protest with firearms.


And, in other news this week…

Steve Bannon is out of the White House.

Six educators and immigrant advocates were arrested Tuesday outside Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office as they protested the attorney general’s call to rescind DACA. And protests and rallies took place across the country in support of DACA that day, the fifth anniversary of its implementation.


Federal judges invalidated 2 Texas congressional districts, ruling that they must be fixed by either the legislature or a federal court. One district, which the court said intentionally deprived Hispanics “of their opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice” is represented by Blake Farenthold, the guy who threatened to settle things “Aaron Burr style” with Republican women who didn’t support Trumpcare.


The Texas bathroom bill died again when the House adjourned and ended its special legislative session without taking it up.


The Trump administration agreed to continue making health care subsidy payments for another month after the CBO reported that cutting off the payments would increase federal spending and cause insurance premiums to rise sharply.


Centene, a low-cost health insurer, will enter the private health-insurance markets in 14 rural Nevada counties that previously had no insurer for 2018.


Protests by anti-racist groups and others led to the dismissal of Carl Palladino from the Buffalo Board of Education months after he made outrageous racist remarks about the Obamas.


Robert Mueller is in talks with the West Wing on interviewing current and former senior administration officials, including Reince Priebus, possibly about the decision to fire James Comey.


Oregon passed a law that requires health insurers to provide birth control and abortion without charging a co-pay and dedicates state funds to provide reproductive health care to noncitizens excluded from Medicaid.


A 9-year-old boy has launched a nonprofit, called Kids Speak for Parks, to protect, advocate for, and educate people about national monuments in response to Trump's review of the status of 27 of them.


Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch remained seated during the national anthem last week, the latest pro athlete to protest racism and police brutality.


Public Citizen filed a lawsuit demanding public access to visitor logs for several agencies located in the White House complex and contending the Secret Service is illegally turning those records over to White House officials not subject to FOIA.


Dozens of current and former New York City police officers turned out at a rally in support of getting free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick a job in the National Football League.


California became the first state to sue the Trump administration over its anti-sanctuary-cities policy.


Cadet Simone Askew, the first African-American woman to hold the highest student position at West Point, will be at the forefront of every academy event, set the class agenda, and oversee roughly 4,400 students.


New Orleans DSA is hosting events to fix broken brake lights—one of the most common reasons police pull people over.


Bill Gates donated 64 million Microsoft shares valued at $4.6 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in June.


Taylor Swift won her sexual assault case against the Denver DJ who groped her during a meet-and-greet, in a case that could help other assault victims to stand up.

Get Ready to Fight Supremacy

Members of Indivisible Somerville will be participating in the Fight Supremacy march and rally in Boston on Saturday, August 19. If you would like to join us, we ask that you first carefully read this document.

To begin with, if you come, you are responsible for your own safety. While we will do everything we can to stay safe, there is no guarantee that others will share our commitment to nonviolence. If you are not comfortable with this risk, there is no shame in staying home.

The march organizers have been working closely with the Boston Police Department to coordinate this event, and pledged their commitment to a nonviolent direct action. If you decide to walk with us, we insist that you honor this commitment.

The march begins at Reggie Lewis Track Center in Roxbury at 10am, and proceeds to the Common (1.9 miles) after a very brief speaking program. We have coordinated two meeting places.

  1. We will gather at Sullivan Station at 9am for briefing and planning. We’ll have two way radios so that we can split up and find each other if there’s no cell coverage. From there, we’ll get on the Orange Line to Roxbury Crossing at 9:20, to get there about 15 minutes before the start.

  2. If you’re meeting us in Roxbury, find us across Tremont Street from Roxbury Crossing station, on the bridge near the bus stop:

Dos and Don’ts

DO make sure you get something to eat before or during our ride out to Roxbury. It’s going to be a long day and you will need fuel. Also, bring a bottle of water and a snack.

DON’T bring signs with sticks, weapons, or other provocative materials. Signs should be small and portable.

DO fully charge your cell phone. If you have a smart phone, consider downloading the FireChat app (iPhone / Android) in case the cellular networks get swamped.

DON’T engage the opposition or agitate people on the other side.

DO wear comfortable clothing and shoes (closed toed-no flip flops) for walking, and if you have it, a bandana.

DON’T bring large bags or backpacks. Less is more. If things go badly, you want to be able to move quickly and efficiently without worrying about your stuff. Don’t bring anything you cherish or will miss if lost.

DO be aware that all bags you do bring are subject to police search.

DON’T wear lotion, or even sunscreen if you can avoid it. In the event that tear gas is deployed, these will make it stick to your body more.

DO be alert. Its cliché, but if you see something, say something. Even as you chant, sing, march, and bear witness, always keep an eye on your surroundings.

DON’T lose sight of your fellow members and our group. It is strongly suggested that we buddy up in groups of 2-3. We will have two-way radios to communicate, but keep an eye on your buddy/ies. We want to be sure that at the end of day everyone is accounted for.

DO carry some cash — $40 is the average for a simple assault charge. Again, we are committed to nonviolence but you may have to defend yourself, or get swept up in a chaotic situation.

DO write the name and number of an emergency contact on one arm. This is only a precaution, but it will cover a lot of bases. If you're arrested, the cops will take your cell phone, so you’ll need a number to call. If you are incapacitated, the hospital will know whom to call. Another good number to note down is that of the National Lawyers Guild: 617-431-6626.

If you would like to learn more about de-escalating tactics and preparing for tomorrow click here for a slide show presentation from BLM.

Also, here is a great list of tips tweeted the other day by Boston activist Robin “@caulkthewagon” Jacks.

Actions 8/16

Somerville's "Our Ville Stands with Your Ville: Charlottesville Vigil" is today at 6:00 in Davis Square. We hope to see you there!


Tell the EPA not to gut the Clean Water Rule by commenting here on their plans. The deadline is August 28. Here's a basic script. You can find lots of additional information online about the flaws in the justification for their proposal and its terrible long-term effect, and if you have expertise on this issue or a personal story, including them will strengthen the impact of your comments.

SCRIPT: Before finalizing the Clean Water Rule in 2015, the EPA held more than 400 meetings with stakeholders across the country, received over 1 million comments--more than 80 percent of which were in support of the rule--and published a synthesis of more than 1,200 peer-reviewed scientific publications, which showed that the small streams and wetlands the rule safeguards are vital to larger, downstream waters. Repealing the Clean Water Rule would put many of our waters at risk, including waters that are critical for drinking water supplies, recreation, fish, and wildlife. It would also affect our economy. Consumers spend $887 billion annually in outdoor recreation, and the outdoor recreation economy is responsible for 7.6 million American jobs. Without protections for wetlands and small streams, the outdoor industry will likely suffer. The costs of treating our water also go up when streams and wetlands aren't protected.

Clean water is fundamental to our health and economy, something our nation recognized when it passed the Clean Water Act in 1972. I urge you to reconsider this proposal and leave the Clean Water Rule in place.

Events roundup

It's been a tough week — and this next one promises to be a long one. But you're here and we're here. So we walk on. Welcome to the Events Roundup.

Rallying for Immigrants

On Tuesday the ACLU and Jobs for Justice rallied in support of immigrants on the steps of the State House. Representatives of the ACLU, La Communidad, and the American Friends Service Committee all spoke out against Charlie Baker's unjust legislation.

Perhaps the most damning testimony came from physician Elisabeth Poorman, who spoke from her experience as someone who treats a largely Latino population. Dr. Poorman recalled having to comfort children who feared going home to find their parents taken away. She described seeing patients, terrified of deportation, who would refuse to say how they got injuries that were clearly work related. (Unfortunately, such concerns are reasonable: in one especially egregious case, one of her patients was told by their employer that “it would be cheaper to just call ICE" than to contribute to their care.)

The rally was attended by State Representative Denise Provost (D - 27th Middlesex) and gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren. Neither spoke at the rally, but Mr. Warren stayed afterwards to speak with attendees, including several from Indivisible Somerville. As the Mayor of Newton, a sanctuary city, he is directly opposed to the Governor's legislation, and fully supports the passage of the Safe Communities Act.

On Wednesday, Centro Presente and the Brazilian Worker Center co-sponsored a rally aimed squarely at Charlie Baker. Rep. Provost took to the podium in opposition to the governor's legislation, as did State Representative Mike Connolly (D - 26th Middlesex). Rep. Provost described the governor, and some of her own colleagues, as getting "swept up in the rhetoric" and losing sight of the law. Rep. Connolly described the Lunn decision, which set strong limits on local and state law enforcement's coordination with ICE, as "a real breakthrough for proponents of the SCA." He added, "it is inconceivable and unacceptable that we would backtrack.”

After the rally, a group of about 40 people, including Rep. Connolly, entered the State House and proceeded to Governor Baker's office. Here's a report from that action, from Mystic Valley Lab lead Zayda Ortiz, who was present:

Patricia Montes, executive director of Centro Presente, led us in chants and demanded that Mr. Baker come out and personally hear our concerns. Several staff members responded that he was not available. We were asked to cease and disperse for being too loud and obstructing free clear pathway in and out of the governor's office. Patricia defiantly responded that it was her constitutional right to assemble, and resumed the chanting: “Charlie Baker you can’t hide, we can see your racist side!” State troopers and other State House employees responded by roping off the furniture in the lobby and corralling us protesters in the center. At that point, a State House employee tried to manhandle an elderly woman, whom he felt was obstructing the walkway they created with the ropes. He backed off without incident when the crowd called him out as a bully. Finally, members of Governor Baker’s staff asked Ms. Montes what she wanted him to tell the governor on her behalf, and she read aloud a declaration demanding that his rhetoric and attack against the immigrant community should stop. She then presented them with the declaration and asked them to make sure he read it.


Last week's labs

Energy & Environment met on Wednesday, with an agenda full of specific policy issues at all levels of government. Whatever your areas of interest are, whatever your specific talents, this lab can use you. In this space, we've tended to focus on issues like immigration and health care, but it's important to remember that every single thing we fight for depends on us having a planet we can live on.

Family Lab met for the second time ever on Thursday. Here's a rundown from lab co-lead Karen Shakman:

We had four families attend, for a total of 8 kids and 9 adults. We read a book called Si Se Puede about the LA Janitors Strike and then talked about, first as individual families and then as the whole group, what issues we cared most about and how we choose to practice our activism. We came up with a great list of issues and possible actions, including ideas like "Lemonade Stands across the City" where kids share information about climate change, sell lemonade, and give the proceeds to an organization of their choosing that is concerned about climate change.

The Action Lab had a productive meeting on Friday, some of the fruits of which you'll find later in this roundup. But in addition to events you can join in with this week, they're also doing a lot of other great things as a lab, such as lobbying police chiefs to condemn Trump's recent speech to police officers and organizing a training session for activists who want to support immigrants. If you're ever free on Friday morning, you should stop by! (Well, not this Friday morning, which they are taking off.)

Choosing Battles met on Sunday, and worked on refining its pitch to potential partners, and brainstorming possible names for the finished product. Thanks as always to the Blue Shirt Cafe for allowing us to make their table look like this:


Looking ahead

At 6pm Monday, 8/14 (tonight!), the Red State Rising lab has its regular meeting. These are exciting early days for the lab, and while we're not ready to announce anything just yet, we already have new chapters (beyond West Virginia and Oklahoma) reaching out to us. Especially given the horrifying events we just witnessed in Charlottesville, it's more important than ever to show Americans in conservative parts of the country that we have their back.

Tuesday 8/15 is the National Day of Action for DACA and Immigrant Youth. Nearly a million immigrant youths have relied on DACA to go to college, support their families, and build their communities — but right-wing Republicans are pushing to remove it by September 5. Join Jobs with Justice at the State House at 11:45am to rally in support of DACA and Massachusetts immigrants. If you can't join the rally, spread the word online — share our #HereToStay image with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and tell them to call their legislators and demand that we protect DACA.

At 6:30, the Mystic Valley lab will be at its usual haunt, the Chicken & Rice Guys (64 Salem St, Medford, MA). Among other things, they will be celebrating the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School's decision to end its racially discriminatory policy on how students wear their hair. The now-overturned rules had been used to target two sisters who go to the school, which is what initially brought attention to the policy. This is one of the issues that the Mystic Valley lab has worked very hard on, and it's a big win. If you see anyone from this lab this week, give them a high five or a pat on the back. Or better yet - go to their meeting!

Also at 6:30, at Workbar Cambridge (45 Prospect St), there will be a phone bank to promote multiple progressive issues: paid family and medical leave, the Fight for $15 movement, and the Fair Share Amendment (a.k.a. the Millionaires Tax). In addition to Indivisible Somerville, this event is also sponsored by Cambridge Area Stronger Together, Cambridge-Somerville for Change, and Progressive Massachusetts.

At 7pm, the Fund lab meets at 15 Westwood Rd in Somerville. If you're not a numbers person, don't worry about it: they are gearing up for the first big Indivisible Somerville fundraising event, so it's also kind of like party planning! But seriously: for a little baby organization like ours, a little money goes very far indeed, so helping raise and manage funds is a great way to make a big difference.

Also at 7pm, the Outreach lab has its bi-monthly meeting at Diesel Cafe in Davis Square. If groups were people, this group would be the people-person of IS. It's all about making new members feel welcome, building relationships inside and outside the organization, highlighting voices of people at the forefront of this fight, and overall just strengthening the sinew. If that sounds like your jam, come on down!

No lab meetings on Wednesday, but on Thursday 8/17 at 7 pm we're back in style, with the Creative lab. Some topics you can expect to come up: the ongoing website redesign project, helping other groups through the Red State Rising lab, and, of course, swag! Plus, whatever original ideas you bring to the table. Be Creative!

Friday is another without lab meetings… which brings us to Saturday 8/19.

As you may have heard, right wing groups are planning a "Free Speech Rally" in Boston next weekend, one that looks disturbingly similar to the "Unite the Right" rally that sparked mayhem in Charlottesburg. Black Lives Matter is organizing a counterprotest that is likely to dwarf the white nationalist rally to which it is responding. As of this writing, nearly 5,000 people have RSVP'd to this "Fight Supremacy" event on Facebook; another 14,000 have marked that they're interested. While Indivisible Somerville is not an organizer or sponsor of this event, we stand in solidarity with its cause, and many of our members plan to attend. That said, there is obviously a risk of violence breaking out at this event. To quote the Facebook event page:

Q: Will this be safe?

A: As with all public actions there is always a risk of injury and/or state violence. Please exhibit extreme caution and awareness if participating. We can not ensure safety at this event, however we will have visibly identifiable marshals and safety teams on site, as well as legal observers.

Bottom line: we do not endorse this event for anyone who is uncomfortable with the risk it entails.

If you do decide to attend, we hope you'll join the IS members who are there. More information, including a meeting place, will be posted to the Indivisible Somerville home page by Saturday morning.


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