Abby Brockman

Indivisible Somerville member and organizer

119 posts

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,, 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.

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.

Actions 8/14 and 8/15

It’s recess! Just the essentials this month.


Charlie Baker wants to know what we think! In a short survey with a space for comments. You know what to do.

For local events in response to Charlottesville, check Indivisible Guide’s searchable Stand in Solidarity with Charlottesville.


Let’s keep up the pressure against Governor Baker’s plan to involve Massachusetts law enforcement in the Trump deportation campaign. He filed a bill, H3870, to allow state and local police to cooperate with ICE in detaining immigrants that pose “a threat to public safety,” defined in a very broad, and very unclear, way. It takes the side of the Trump administration against the decision of our Supreme Judicial Court. Last week we called and emailed the governor. This week, let’s tell our legislators to stand up against Baker’s bill. Below is a version of the script we used last week. If you’d like to come up with your own, there’s a lot of information available now, particularly a memo from MIRA and Mass ACLU outlining the ways in which the proposal is unconstitutional.

SCRIPT: Hi, I’m (NAME) calling from (ZIP) to tell the (SENATOR/REPRESENTATIVE) that I strongly oppose the anti-immigrant bill, H3870, filed by Governor Baker. It undercuts the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision protecting immigrants’ due process rights and supports the Trump administration’s deportation agenda instead. It’s also probably unconstitutional. The governor's bill stands in direct opposition to our deepest values as a state. I urge the (SENATOR/REPRESENTATIVE) to do everything possible to prevent it from becoming law. Thank you.

Defend DACA Day! If you didn't get a chance to call Senators Markey and Warren (or even if you did) when we posted last Thursday, today would be a good time to urge them to cosponsor the Dream Act (S1615), a bipartisan bill that would grant permanent legal status to Dreamers. Here's more info and a script. Scroll down to Thursday.

The Good News

The Mystic Valley Charter School in Malden dropped its ban on hair extensions following last spring’s protests—and we played a part. Here's to the courageous Cook sisters!

There’s nothing good about the hatred and violence in Charlottesville, or about Trump’s response—but at least some Republicans are finally calling out their president. Marco Rubio, for example: "Very important for the nation to hear @potus describe events in #Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by #whitesupremacists."

Senator Chuck Grassley, Judiciary Committee chair, said he no longer expected an imminent Supreme Court vacancy, bolstering the sense that Justice Anthony Kennedy won't retire this year.

Scott Pruitt’s EPA is being sued all over the place, and they’ve already had to back off a bunch of anti-environment moves.

Two LGBTQ rights groups filed the first lawsuit against Trump’s proposed ban on transgender service members, on behalf of 5 trans women now serving openly.

Airbnb canceled a number of accounts and bookings associated with participants in the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

A Washington, D.C., law firm has partnered with the Union of Concerned Scientists to provide at no cost experienced private lawyers with significant government experience to federal scientists looking to protect the independence of their agencies and their scientific findings.

A federal district court struck down a Louisiana state law that required people born abroad to produce a birth certificate before receiving a marriage license, thus denying marriage equality to foreign-born residents.

The Orlando City Commission unanimously approved a resolution to move to 100% clean and renewable energy by 2050. Orlando, the largest city in Florida, is the fortieth city in the U.S. to make such a commitment.

Chicago is suing the Trump administration for threatening to withhold public money from so-called sanctuary cities. "We cannot be forced to violate our residents' constitutional rights," the city’s lawyer said.

Bernalillo County commissioners voted overwhelmingly to retain the county’s immigrant-friendly policy after Jeff Sessions threatened to withhold federal grant money from Albuquerque, the county’s largest city.

FBI agents staged a pre-dawn raid on the home of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, late last month and, using a wide-ranging search warrant, seized documents and other materials.

Mueller’s team has subpoenaed global banks for account information and records of transactions involving Manafort and some of his companies and reached out to Manafort business associates, including his son-in-law and a Ukrainian oligarch.

Democrat Phil Miller comfortably defeated (55% to 45%) his Republican opponent in a special election for the Iowa House, allowing Democrats to hold on to a key rural swing district that Donald Trump won by 22 points.

As part of a settlement in which he sold his gun shop and agreed never to sell firearms again, a Florida gun store owner issued a statement calling on gun dealers to exercise great caution to prevent firearms from getting into the hands of the wrong people. The lawsuit was brought by the Brady Center and family members of victims killed by a gun obtained via straw purchase from the owner’s store.

The super PACs that raised tens of millions of dollars to help elect President Trump have seen their fundraising slow dramatically since the election.

Republicans can’t resist airing their dirty laundry on Obamacare—senators blaming each other, senators blaming Trump, Trump blaming senators, Hannity blaming anybody but Trump, and on and on.

Costa Rica plans to become the world's first country to achieve a comprehensive national strategy to eliminate single-use plastics by 2021.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that the expanding investigation into Russian interference in the election is continuing apace and that the special counsel can investigate any crimes he might discover within the scope of his probe.

The New York Times published a comprehensive draft report on climate change written by scientists from 13 different agencies. The report is still awaiting approval by the administration.

Democrats have already filed to run in 385 House seats out of 435 for 2018 and in 79% of districts with seats held by Republicans, while Republicans have done the same for just 32% of Democratic seats.

A federal judge threw out a lawsuit Texas filed to get its law banning sanctuary cities declared constitutional before its September 1 implementation.

Oregon enacted the country’s first statewide employee scheduling law, requiring big companies in retail, hospitality, and food service to give employees schedules at least a week ahead of time.

Bruno Mars donated 1 million dollars to address Flint's water crisis through the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.

The army returned the remains of 3 Arapaho children who died at an assimilation school in 1883.

Hundreds of people of all faiths, ages, and races came together at the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, to show their support and denounce the destruction wrought from an explosive hurled into an imam’s office last week.

The California Attorney General sued the EPA to compel it to say what steps it's taken to ensure its rule making and procedures remain impartial as it’s led by Scott Pruitt, who opposed the agency in at least a half dozen lawsuits.

Striking a blow for public-use activists in California, the state’s Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a suit challenging a billionaire’s claim that he had the right to block the only access road to a public beach because it was on his property.

Republican members of Congress are facing challenging questions about health care during their break. Even in a Georgia district that Trump won by 15.5 points, the crowds were “angry, wistful, and loaded with progressive activists”—in other words, us.

The federal Bureau of Prisons quietly issued a new policy requiring prisons to provide free tampons and maxi-pads to female inmates. Democratic senators had introduced a bill to do the same thing less than a month before.

The district attorneys of 4 New York City boroughs moved to dismiss 644,000 outstanding arrest warrants for minor offenses issued more than 10 years before in line with the city's discredited theory that petty offenses lead to more serious crime.