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:
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.
If you like the work we do, please consider setting up a small recurring donation to IS. Sustaining donations are what keep us afloat and able to pay for meeting space, web hosting, coffee, poster supplies, etc. You can set one up in less than 2 minutes on our donation page.
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