Change the Regime with Ice Cream!

Nothing’s better than eating ice cream with friends! Now’s the time to reach out to that neighbor who’s upset about immigration or climate change and doesn’t know what to do, and bring them to Indivisible East Bay’s All Members Meeting in Dublin on Sunday, September 29, from 1-3 pm! Tell them to bring their charged up phone + laptop or other device because we have the solution to existential dread — taking action!

To get your new resistance friend up to speed on how Indivisible National works with chapters like ours, we’ve invited Dennessa Atiles, Indivisible’s new organizer for Northern California, Alaska and Hawaii to come share her thoughts. She’ll give an update on priorities for 2020 and her goals for organizing. If you ever wondered how Indy staff helps support all the chapters, now’s your chance to find out.

You and your buddy will be inspired by tireless Livermore community organizer extraordinaire, Kyoko Takayama. One of the leads for Tri-Valley Grassroots Organizing (Tri-Valley GO), Kyoko is now certified as an Alameda County Census 2020 Ambassador and will share more about the outreach efforts in Alameda County and what we can do to help out.

Now that you and your ally in (bare) arms (and hey, we’ve got a t-shirt for that!) are ready to go, you’ll have your choice of our favorite resistance flavors — phone banking, postcarding, or registering voters by mail! We also know it’s the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, and our phone calls will end exactly at 3 pm. Oh, and ice cream, too, because hey, it’s Sundae!

RSVP here (not required but it’ll help us plan how much ice cream to bring!)

Ice cream solves everything, photo by Brendan Church

Face to face with Sen. Feinstein’s state director

Our Q&A with Senator Feinstein’s new state director is coming up next Monday, September 23, and we’ve got plenty to talk about!

Since Senator Feinstein was reelected, many of us at Indivisible East Bay who track her see signs that she’s losing touch with her constituents and losing a sense of urgency about resisting the GOP agenda. From distancing herself from bold action to address climate change, to voting to send extra money to the border with no guardrails, to her underwhelming response to the new Kavanaugh evidence, it looks like she’s forgetting what we sent her back to Washington to do.

We know she’s capable of much more, but we need to push her!

Jim Lazarus, Sen. Feinstein’s current state director, wasn’t around in early 2017, or during the health care fight, or the Kavanaugh hearings, or the Blue Wave. He has no idea what the resistance is capable of, and his boss appears to have forgotten.

Let’s show both of them by turning out in force for this meeting, bringing our tough, thoughtful, probing questions, and a powerful call to resistance and action. Join us on Sept. 23 from 5:15 to 7:30 PM, at the Berkeley Public Library Main Branch.

A climate contingent plans to attend with banners, signs, and t-shirts of the organizations they’re representing. They invite others to meet in front of the Library at 5 PM to grab signs and coordinate questions. You can let Leana know at leanarosetti@gmail.com if you want to join them.

You can RSVP here (not required, but helps us plan), and whether or not you can make it, please call Sen. Feinstein today and say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask Senator Feinstein to Defund Hate in this year’s budget by cutting funding for ICE and CBP in the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, prohibiting funding transfers to ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, and including provisions to protect migrants.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

The meeting is free and open to the public. The Berkeley Main Library is at 2090 Kittredge Street (near downtown Berkeley BART, cross street is Shattuck Avenue). The meeting room is upstairs in the third floor administrative wing, and is accessible. Children are welcome.

IEB’s meetings with Members of Congress and their staff are run according to the Indivisible Guide, which tells us to treat our MoCs, their staff, and all event participants with civility and respect. We encourage people to be assertive and express your opinions – even your frustration, if that’s how you feel! – but please remember that these are intended to be venues for thoughtful discussion and community sharing. Tirades, hate speech, violent speech of any kind, and excessive profanity will not be tolerated. In addition, Congressional staff is not permitted to discuss electioneering, and it is our policy not to bring it up or ask questions they can’t answer. Anyone comfortable with this approach is welcome to come.

This meeting is scheduled in the evening, and in the East Bay rather than San Francisco, to make it more accessible for working people and families. We really hope to see you there!

Read our article about IEB’s most recent meeting with Sen. Feinstein’s staff in June 2019, and our article about the last Q&A discussion we had in Oakland with Sen. Feinstein’s former state director and field representative, in August 2018.

If you have questions, please email us at info@indivisibleeb.org

 

Join the Global Climate Strike

Starting September 20

To those of you who watched the full CNN climate town hall, congratulations, take a break; for the other 99.9% of you who genuinely care and understand the dire need to save the planet but have a normal life that works better with trending highlights and firing retweets than with a seven hour binge-watch, it’s time to step up and join allies across the world in the Global Climate Strike, September 20-27. Luckily for us, there’s a whole week’s worth of events already lined up at the Bay Area Week of Climate Actionget on out there because, no pressure, but the future of humanity is literally depending on you. 

With the Despoiler-in-Chief calling the shots for the United States, we already know there’s cause for worry. But there’s also hope, because millions of people are raising their voices, and even better: youth are leading the way, striking internationally to demand action to address the climate crisis for the week of actions including marches, rallies, and more. Here’s how you can join them and help make all our voices heard:

What you can do:

Events:

Want to help? Find more info about these groups at their websites:

Photo, SF Bay Area Youth and Allies Climate Strike

2019 National Election Integrity Conference

The National Voting Rights Task Force, a non-partisan voting rights organization, will host its third National Election Integrity Conference on October 5-6, from 10 am to 6 pm in Berkeley, at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis Street, corner of Ashby Avenue, near the Ashby BART station.

Entitled The Coming 2020 Election Crisis: In Paper We Trust, the conference features more than 20 nationally-recognized leaders in the election integrity movement, covering crucial issues, sharing ideas, solving problems, and creating a strategy for the future of our elections system. The focus is still mainly on cybersecurity, voting machines, and election audits, but it has expanded to include open source election system software and the wider issues of both voter suppression (registration problems, gerrymandering, purging of voter registration rolls, hindrances to getting out the vote), and voter misdirection (deceptive election day announcements, fraudulent Facebook ads, and the organized campaigns like that of Cambridge Analytica). Election activists are investigating and uncovering these problems, fighting them by publicizing, litigating, organizing, and explaining what we all need to know and can do to help everyone be able to vote, have all the valid votes counted as cast, and verify that the real winners are the ones reported by the election systems in all the states.

Conference speakers include:

Click here to register. Conference tickets are $30 per day, or $50 for both days if purchased in advance, with discounts for seniors, teachers, students, and educational administrators or staff members. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

For background and an idea of what to expect you can look at the 2017 National Election Integrity Conference, which includes summaries and videos of every presentation. And read our article about the 2017 conference.

If you want to learn more about Indivisible East Bay’s Voter Rights & Election Integrity team, and how you can help, email us at info@IndivisibleEB.org, or join the #voting-issues channel on IEB’s Slack. For an invitation to join Slack, email: info@IndivisibleEB.org

Graphic: National Voting Rights Task Force

Rallies, Rocking & Rainbows!

Yes, we put the East Bay into Indivisible East Bay this past weekend, with events in Hayward, Berkeley and Oakland all in one 48 hour period!

First up, on September 6, Cal State East Bay students and faculty rallied in downtown Hayward to #SaveIsabel. Dozens of students marched from the Hayward campus through the streets to City Hall, singing “Which Side Are You On?” At City Hall, City Councilmember Aisha Wahab emceed the event organized by the CSU East Bay Associated Students Incorporated, Students for Quality Education and political science professor Danvy Le, at which about 100 people gathered to hear stories about what it means to be a Dreamer and the importance of protecting rights for patients such as Isabel.

Rep. Swalwell speaking at Save Isabel rally, photo by Andrea Lum
Rep. Swalwell speaking at Save Isabel rally

CA-15 Representative Eric Swalwell addressed the crowd, expressing his strong support for Rep. Mark DeSaulnier’s private bill HR 4225 requesting rescission of the original order terminating the Bueso family’s stay. The Hayward event followed an earlier rally for Isabel organized by the nurses and doctors of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland.

The next morning, members of Indivisible East Bay convened at Berkeley City College, joining over 150 other local activists at the East Bay Rock the Congress conference led by Ogie Strogatz and Kook Huber, both longtime allies of IEB and outstanding activist leaders. RtC gave attendees new ideas and perspectives to consider while doing the hard work of organizing. Aimee Alison, founder of She the People and Democracy in Color, groups dedicated to advancing people of color in politics, delivered an inspiring keynote reminding attendees that there is a path to the White House among voters of color if we do the work to Get Out The Vote (GOTV). Dublin City Councilmember Shawn Kumagai – who readers of this blog may remember from his efforts to get Dublin to fly the rainbow flag for Pride – then facilitated a discussion of issue oriented and electoral focused organizations.

At Rock the Congress: Dublin City Councilmember Shawn Kumagai moderating discussion with activist leaders, photo by Andrea Lum
Shawn Kumagai moderating discussion with activist leaders

After lunch, attendees learned about Census 2020, how young people are leading change, and more. IEB Governance Committee members Nancy and Andrea presented a session on member engagement, otherwise known as “A bunch of randos walk into a protest.” 

Rock the Congress conference, photo by Andrea Lum

Click on the link in the schedule to learn more about the presenters for the jam-packed Rock the Congress conference.

IEB capped off the weekend by having a booth at the September 10 Oakland Pride Festival

Everyone enjoyed the excellent weather, reflected in the good mood and high energy of Pride attendees. Festival participants trickled in at first, but traffic picked up quickly and stayed strong for most of the festival’s duration. IEB’s booth was located on Franklin Street, the main thoroughfare of the festival, so we were able to catch a sizable portion of the crowd as they walked past our table. Our “Resist Trump!” whiteboard proved popular, attracting cheers, donations, and visitors who stopped by the table to see how they could get involved in our work.

IEB table at Oakland Pride, photo by Andrea Lum
IEB table at Oakland Pride,

Many had already heard of Indivisible and were familiar with its work. Some regular newsletter readers stopped by to say hello, along with folks who had attended past events and were looking to get re-engaged. We introduced Indivisible to a few new volunteers looking to get involved in activism for the first time. Many thanks to the IEB volunteers who showed up early and stayed late to spread the good word of resistance to the Pride-goers! 

If any of these activities sound like something you’d like to attend or help out with in the future, just send volunteer coordinator Andrea (andrea@indivisibleeb.org) an email to let her know. What a great weekend of good conversations, new newsletter signups, and high energy!

Photographs by Andrea Lum

Join us for Defund Hate Week!

Immigrant families are under an all-out assault: from caging children and families at the border and refusing them access to basic necessities like showers and toothbrushes, to launching raids that rip people away from homes where they’ve lived for years or even decades. Fueled by racism, hatred, and fear, the Trump administration has continued to pursue these unpopular and harmful policies – and Congress has continued to fund each and every one. As an official member of the Defund Hate Coalition, Indivisible East Bay stands with immigrant families to focus our collective power on defunding hate. 

Now, IEB is collecting creative messages from Bay Area members and allies to put together into a collage which we’ll add to a Border to Border with Love Petition, addressed to Congressional Democrats, as it makes its way down the West Coast to San Diego. There, we’ll get together with Native, Indivisible and local leaders for a rally to #DefundHate. Join us in this project! And keep reading to find out about more activities going on during Defund Hate Week, September 9-13.

What you can do:

Create a message!

Create your own messages to add to our collage! This action is both about defunding hate (specifically Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection) and celebrating and welcoming immigration – feel free to focus your piece on either or both. 

The only requirements are that the piece must be:

  1. six inches or smaller and flat
  2. made of paper or an equally light substance
  3. On-message: pro-immigrant and anti-hate!

Possible messages might include how immigration enforcement affects you personally, or our demands for Congressional action. For example:

  • Cut funding for ICE and CBP
  • Vote NO on any Department of Homeland Security funding bill that doesn’t prohibit funding transfers to ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (see our article)
  • Vote NO on any DHS funding bill that doesn’t cut ICE and CBP funding to fiscal year 16 levels
  • Require the DHS Inspector General to monitor detention and enforcement spending and report to Congress 
  • Support alternatives to detention: close the camps and end immigration detention 
  • End the “remain in Mexico” policy and dangerous “safe third country” agreements

For more complete guidelines and talking points, look here and here

Spread the word:

Better yet, do this with your friends and families! Create cards with like-minded coworkers during lunch, or bring some paper and markers to your book club or your kid’s soccer game. Be sure to collect contributors’ email addresses on a separate sheet so we can send everyone a photo of the final product!

Drop off pieces for the collage:

  • Any time (during open hours) before noon on Tuesday 9/10, leave your pieces in our drop box at the Rockridge branch of 1951 Coffee at 6021 College Ave, Oakland.
  • Any time (during open hours) before noon on Tuesday 9/10, leave your pieces in our drop box at Sports Basement Berkeley, 2727 Milvia St, Berkeley
  • Bring them to our special event on September 10 in Oakland (see below)!

Defund Hate Week Events:

  • Come to our main event: Tuesday, September 10, 5:30-7:30 PM at IFPTE Local 21, 1440 Broadway, Suite 610, Oakland, CA – we’ll be assembling the collage, writing postcards, and learning about other actions we can take. RSVP appreciated, but not required; we’d love to have you help out at the event, too!
  • Find us at Oakland Pride on Sunday, Sept. 8 (details and RSVP). 
  • Call your Member of Congress on the Defund Hate Call-In Day, September 9. Call script and details here.
  • Participate in Indivisible SF’s Defund Hate National Week of Action event, Friday September 13 in the plaza near the Ferry Building in SF.

Defund Hate

And also… 

  • Want to help us get this project to its destination? Please consider chipping in a few dollars toward priority shipping costs. You can donate cash at any of our events, or use our secure ActBlue online donation site.
  • A huge thank you to our partners and the organizations helping us make this project happen:
    • 1951 Coffee, founded in 2015, is a non-profit specialty coffee organization that promotes the well-being of the refugee community in the United States by providing job training and employment to refugees, asylees, and special immigrant visa holders while educating the surrounding community about refugee life and issues. You can support them by buying a cup of coffee in their cafes, buying or gifting their merchandise and whole bean coffees online, donating to support their services like the Barista Training Program, or volunteering at one of their open houses.
    • Sports Basement, Berkeley is hosting one of our drop boxes, and has hosted so many of our other meetings. If you shop there, please mention IEB and thank them!
    • And thank you to the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Local 21 for letting us use their space to assemble our collage.

Fiona Woods, Ann Daniels and Amelia Cass contributed to this article

Day of Action to Secure our Elections

Update November 7, 2019: The event described in this article has a more recent and up-to-date action. Please go to Election Security Day of Action, Plus John Oliver.


Deadline: 9/17 Day of Action –

We’ve spoken before of the threat to our elections from foreign interference and the need to provide funding for our state and local governments to defend the foundation of our democracy. We aren’t the only ones deeply concerned: Several major pro-democracy organizations collaborated on a webinar and call to action to ensure we get that funding. They explained the problems, spoke to election security experts in both research and in government, and provided a concrete set of actions we can take in the next weeks, building up to a day of action on September 17.

Keep reading for a selection of actions you can take; and below that, info about what the webinar covered, with links to videos and other resources.

What you can do – Actions to Secure Our Elections

Whether you want to do something with other people, or make calls, or write letters, there’s an action for you among the actions to Secure Our Elections. And to make it easy, all the action links take you to easy-to-use forms that walk you through the process:

  1. Sign up to host or participate in a Secure Our Vote Day of Action on September 17. The goal is to reach out to Senators voting on election security funding in as many states as possible. If there’s a day of action near you, RSVP to join it. If not, they can help you organize one: click the red Click to Host button to find out how.
  2. Call your elected officials about election security funding, starting NOW, to build up pressure on them before September 17.
    • To call your Senators, use the hotline at 833-413-5906 – it walks you through all the steps and makes it very easy.
    • Call governors and state legislators to ask if they’ve used the money provided to their states for election security. They’re ultimately responsible for how the money is spent; and since they’re rarely held to account for this, enough calls will make them sit up and notice.
  3. Write a letter to the editor. Election security doesn’t get enough press, and when it does it gets lost in the noise. If the press believes this issue is gaining traction they will cover it more intensely before the deadline. Enter your zip code into the link, and the super-helpful tool will not only identify the newspapers in your area, it provides a template to write your letter!

And last but definitely not least: Pass this information onThese actions, like the problem they’re addressing, are national. Even deep red states have officials who care about their elections. Even deep blue states have officials who need to hear how important the issue is. The above tools are intended to make it as easy as possible for people to carry them out in any state. Let your family, friends, and contacts in other states know that they can participate and why they should and what they can do.

More info: the webinar and resources

The Election Security Movement webinar was organized by Public Citizen in collaboration with Mueller Book Club, People For The American Way, Stand Up America, Clean Elections Texas, Democracy 21, New American Leaders and Stand Up! For Democracy in DC.

The speakers:

  • Aquene Freechild of Public Citizen and Secure Our Vote led the call. She asked questions of the other speakers and summarized both the current security issues and the actions we can take.
    • Short video summarizing issues
    • video summarizing actions (relevant portion starts at 01:07:15; length, 1 minute)
  • Christine Wood of Public Citizen explained the Day of Action.
    • video (relevant portion:starts at 00:28:44; length, 16 ½ minutes)
  • Liz Wally of Clean Elections Texas spoke on how to contact Senators. Yes, even in Texas!
  • Harri Hursti, co-founder of the DEFCON Voting Village (which allows participants to try to hack into voting systems), spoke about actual vulnerabilities in voting systems. His messages were technical but very approachable.
    • video (relevant portion starts at 00:08:12; length, 23 minutes)
  • Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a longtime leader in calling for election security, explained how serious the threat is, and how to make our actions count. He emphasized that public officials respond to public pressure! Calling Senators is valuable whether they strongly agree, strongly disagree, or are neutral. He also stressed that election officials need about a year to get a new system in place, so the next few months will decide whether the 2020 elections are secure.
    • video (relevant portion starts at 00:51:10; length, 16 ½ minutes)


If you want to learn more about IEB’s Voter Rights & Election Integrity team, and how you can help, email us at info@IndivisibleEB.org, or join the #voting-issues channel on IEB’s Slack. For an invitation to join Slack, email: info@IndivisibleEB.org

Come Rock the Congress With Us!

Deadline: register now for the Sept. 7 conference –

“Strength in Diversity, Power in Unity” — that’s the theme for the East Bay Rock the Congress conference, Saturday, September 7 at Berkeley City College, 2050 Center Street, Berkeley.

Join hundreds of local progressives, including Indivisible East Bay members — new and experienced, of all backgrounds and ages — for a day of thoughtful, challenging presentations and discussion about 2020’s crucial elections. IEB’s Nancy and Andrea will present a workshop to share lessons learned from the IEB Governance Committee June retreat — all are welcome!

Here’s what the RTC-EB organizers want to accomplish:

  • Engage new activists in an array of choices to become involved, tailored to individual interests, skills, and experience
  • Recharge seasoned activists, event organizers, and group leaders with opportunities to broaden the movement’s collective impact in 2020
  • Reinforce the importance of activism grounded in the strength of our diversity and the power of our unity

And here’s how they plan to do it:

Keynote presentations, panel discussions, and interactive breakouts featuring recognized leaders in electoral politics and issue-based advocacy; attendees will be able to:

  • Dive into activist groups’ national strategies to achieve victory in 2020
  • Explore regional and local grassroots initiatives: coalition-building to flip districts and protect them, updates on collaborative work in progress, youth activism, the latest technology for organizing, anti-oppression organizing, and more

 

Panelists and presenters from diverse organizations include the following leaders, and many more:

  • Aimee Allison, Founder and President of She the People
  • Kathryn Durham-Hammer, President, Diablo Valley Democratic Club and Lead, Indivisible ReSisters Walnut Creek
  • Demnlus Johnson, Councilmember, City of Richmond, CA
  • Shawn Kumagai, City Council Member, City of Dublin
  • Donald Lathbury, Communications Director and Strategist, Flip the West
  • Mallory Long, Training Director, All On The Line
  • Colleen McCarthy, Northern California Regional Field Director, Swing Left
  • Shawna McKnight, Public Affairs Officer, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte
  • Raquel Ortega, Organizer, ACLU of Northern California
  • Tamisha Walker, Executive Director, Safe Return Project

Interactive breakouts include the following, and more:

  • <30, Leading Change
  • Adventures in Building and Sustaining Grassroots Groups
  • Border Crisis, Immigration Policy, and the 2020 Elections
  • Census 2020: Everyone Counts
  • Centering Community Care in Social and Racial Justice Advocacy
  • Exploring the Relationship between Grassroots Activism and the Democratic Party
  • Keeping Central Valley Blue
  • Out-of-State Electoral Strategies

Register here for the conference. A sliding scale donation of $25-$100 is requested, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. If the ticket fee represents a hardship, you can submit a request for sponsorship here.

Graphic by East Bay Rock the Congress

 

Take action to secure our elections

Deadline: call your MoCs, and register now for 8/20 webinar –

The evidence is clear: in 2016, Russia targeted voting systems in all 50 states and used social media to spread disinformation and disunity among the electorate. The entire national security community agrees that election interference in 2016 was only a preview of what’s to come – unless Congress acts to provide our states and counties with the money they need to secure our voting systems and make our most fundamental right as easy to exercise as possible.

The House rose to the challenge and passed H.R. 3351, a funding bill that would allocate $600 million to states and localities, so that they can protect voter data and replace paperless voting systems with hand-marked paper ballots and scanners. Yet the Senate has failed to move forward at all – thanks to Mitch McConnell, who has refused to allow any election security bills to even come up for a vote.

We have a chance to win that $600+ million to secure our elections by the the last day of September, which is the Congressional funding deadline. We recently wrote about how to address this funding with our own Members of Congress (you can still take that action, see #2, below). Now Public Citizen, in collaboration with the Mueller Book Club and several other elections groups across the country, are organizing much greater efforts to pressure Congress to fund secure elections. Election security is national security and the work to achieve it must be national as well. You can get informed and learn how to help by registering for the election security movement webinar call: “Secure the Vote: Holding Mitch McConnell and his Senate enablers accountable.”

What you can do:

1. Sign up to join the webinar call on Tuesday, August 20 at 5:30 PM, and then join in to take action!

2. Contact your Members of Congress to urge them to treat election security funding as a national security issue.

What to say if your representative is Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) or Barbara Lee (CA-13):

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Rep. _________ for voting for $600 million for election security in the 2020 budget. I’d like them to speak out publicly to persuade the public and their colleagues that election security funding is an issue of national security.

  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661

What to say if your representative is Eric Swalwell (CA-13):

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Rep. Swalwell for his public efforts on election security. I’d like him to use his position on the Intelligence Committee to persuade his colleagues that voting for the $600 million for election security funded by H.R. 3351 is an issue of national security.

  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

What to say to our Senators:

  • To Senator Dianne Feinstein, on the Senate Appropriations and Intelligence Committees (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841:

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. The House Appropriations Committee has authorized $600 million for election security. I’d like the Senator to use her position on the Appropriations Committee to resist any attempts to remove election security money from the final budget, and also work to persuade her Senate colleagues that election security funding is an issue of national security.

  • To Senator Kamala Harris, on the Senate Intelligence Committee (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. The House has voted to authorize $600 million for election security in the 2020 budget. I’d like the Senator to work to persuade her colleagues that election security funding is an issue of national security.

3. Spread the word to people in other states, particularly those whose Senators are on the Senate Appropriations Committee (they will decide if election security funding remains in the budget) or the Senate Intelligence Committee (they’re in the best position to understand the details of foreign interference in 2016 and 2018).

4. Watch for local events calling on the Senate to fund election security on Tuesday. Sept. 17 as part of the nationwide Secure Our Vote Day of Action. Nothing planned near you? Sign up to host one!

5. For more background and information, read our June 27, 2019 article, Election Security IS National Security. If you want to learn more about IEB’s Voter Rights & Election Integrity team, and how you can help, email us at info@IndivisibleEB.org, or join the #voting-issues channel on IEB’s Slack.  For an invitation to join Slack, email: info@IndivisibleEB.org

Heidi Rand contributed to this article

Photograph “Moscow Mitch” by Becker1999 

Rep. Swalwell’s community forum on ending gun violence & domestic terrorism

By Ward Kanowsky

Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) held a standing room only town hall meeting dedicated solely to the issue of gun violence at Hayward City Hall on August 7, 2019. During his opening comments at the “Community Forum on Ending Gun Violence & Domestic Terrorism,” Swalwell said he had just met with the heads of various law enforcement agencies, including local police departments, state operations, and the FBI, to discuss the threat assessment of gun violence primarily from white nationalist organizations, and the readiness of law enforcement. The feedback he received is that the threat level is high; he also has confidence that first responders in the law enforcement community are ready in the event of another shooting.

Notwithstanding this confidence, Swalwell emphasized that Congress needs to respond legislatively, and it needs to do so in the short term. Most importantly, he said that the background checks bill (H.R. 1112), which has passed the House, must be voted on by the Senate now, even if that means calling the entire body back into session from the current recess. (Read our recent article on this issue, with a call to action, here.) In response to a question from the audience about Senator Mitch McConnell blocking any efforts for such a vote, Swalwell called on one of the Senators now running for president to stand up and filibuster for a vote.

Other steps Rep. Swalwell urged to address ongoing gun violence are changes to laws on domestic terrorism and banning and buying back the 15 million assault weapons now in the hands of Americans. He noted that, with the recent tragedies in El Paso and Dayton and the NRA being “on the ropes,” the ban/buyback proposal continues to gain traction among the Democratic presidential candidates: former VP Joe Biden, Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg are all open to or have come out in support of such a program. [Editor’s note: see this August 10 ABC News article for more information about where the 2020 Democratic candidates stand on gun control; and Politico’s web page, currently updated to August 14, with candidates’ views on gun control].

During the hour-plus Q&A session, constituents and others were able to express their views and concerns on the issue of gun violence and offer additional ideas for reducing the number of shootings. A teacher bluntly stated that ”more kids are afraid of dying at school.” Swalwell acknowledged these fears and reiterated the importance of getting guns off the streets, as opposed to proposals like arming teachers that would make a bad situation worse. A student from Baylor University in Texas proposed raising the minimum age to buy guns, while another attendee suggested a federal tax on firearms. Swalwell was open to both of these ideas. In response to one constituent’s proposal that the Second Amendment be repealed, Swalwell disagreed, and said we need to do a better job of interpreting the Amendment.

Addressing gun violence was the signature issue of Swalwell’s brief run for president and it remains a top priority for him as a member of Congress.

If you have questions or want to participate with the CA-15 team, contact Ward on Slack at @ward or by email at wardkanowsky@gmail.com

Ward Kanowsky is co-lead, with LeAnn Kanowsky, of the Indivisible East Bay CA-15 Team.

Photograph of Rep. Swalwell by LeAnn Kanowsky