IEB Meets With Senator Feinstein’s State Director

Senator Feinstein's State Director Sean Elsbernd

Several IEB members met with Senator Feinstein’s State Director Sean Elsbernd on September 5. Our first question at this first meeting since the Senator failed to hold a Town Hall during the August recess was (surprise!): when will the Senator have a real Town Hall!? Sean’s rationales aside, we heard two things loud & clear: they know this is important to us (thank you IEBers for your calls and emails); and the Senator clearly does not want to hold a Town Hall.

The rest of the meeting was more productive. Sean said using personal stories (instrumental in protecting the ACA) would be effective to resist the GOP’s anti-immigration agenda. He also suggested we send questions for an upcoming hearing at which Donald Trump Jr. will testify, and noted that questions could be submitted for the record which the witness would have to answer in writing.

Given that Feinstein is ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, her positions on judicial nominations and the process are critical. Sean said that the Senator wants above all to preserve the blue slip process, but in order to be heeded on that she can’t unnecessarily slow confirmations.

As evidence that the Senator is listening to us, Sean noted that she mentioned in their morning staff meeting the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to prevent transfer of military equipment to civilian law enforcement. IEB had brought this issue to her attention at the August Commonwealth Club (not-a-town-hall) event.

As to whether Feinstein joins Senator Kamala Harris (and at last count 15 other Dems) in supporting the Sanders Medicare for All Bill, she wants to ensure that subsidies and the mandate remain in place; that both are needed for there to be more than one health insurance carrier in all counties to provide competition to keep costs down. She is not in principle against a single payer bill and would like to see the details of one.

Open questions: Sean wasn’t sure what Senator’s position is on repealing the Authorization for Use of Military Force. He conveyed to her our opinion that it should be repealed. Other issues discussed: the failure of the California legislature’s CA Desert Protection Act (AB 1000); the politicization of scientific research; NAFTA; and GOP bills to split the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Take Back the Vote National Conference

Take Back the Vote national conference

The California Election Integrity Coalition, a non-partisan voting rights organization, will host its Second Annual Take Back The Vote National Conference on October 7-8 in Berkeley, CA at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis Street, corner of Ashby Avenue (near Ashby BART station).

Over 30 nationally recognized election integrity leaders from across the country will convene to discuss the current crises in our elections. Among our speakers or guests are computer scientists, professors, lawyers, journalists and election officials as well as federal, state and local legislators. They’ll present their findings, answer questions, and organize a national effort to restore publicly verified democracy in the United States. 

Speakers include Drs. Barbara Simons and David Jefferson (Verified Voting), John Brakey (AZ), Lulu Friesdat (NY), Jan BenDor (MI), Lu Aptifer (MA), Karen McKim (WI), Dr. Laura Pressley (TX), Jonathan Simon, and more. See a list of speakers and topics here. Co-sponsors include the California Election Integrity Coalition, Voting Rights Task Force, Ballots for Bernie, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, and Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists.

Click here for more information or to register. Conference tickets are $25 per day, or $40 for both days if purchased in advance. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. You can help! The conference is funded entirely by individual contributions and organized by volunteers. Email info@nvrtf.org to find out how to donate or volunteer.

IEB All-Member Meeting September 17

Please join us at Indivisible East Bay’s All-Member Meeting! Our monthly meeting is for members and newcomers interested in opposing the Trump agenda. Meet fellow activists and Indivisible members, find out what IEB is doing and how you can join in. For more information, visit indivisibleeb.org.

WHEN: Sunday September 17, 2017, 2:00 – 4:00 PM

WHEREOakland Public Library, 125 14th Street, Oakland (between Madison & Oak Streets) in the Auditorium. The Library is a quarter mile from the Lake Merritt BART station and a half mile from the 12th Street (Oakland) BART station. View map and register (free) via Eventbrite

The Library and Auditorium are wheelchair accessible. The Library is a scent-free environment – please do not wear perfume or scented products. The Oakland Public Library does not advocate or endorse the viewpoints of meetings or meeting room users.

You May Say I’m a DREAMer, But I’m Not the Only One

Defend DACA poster
Copyright Brandon Shi

On Tuesday, coward-in-Chief Trump sent his toady Attorney General (Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III) to deliver the damning decision rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program through which President Obama, by executive order, had protected more than 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

With DACA, we promised young DREAMers who were brought here as children through no fault of their own that if they came into the light, we could offer them a chance at legal employment and a reprieve from the constant spectre of deportation. Trump’s evil decision to obliterate this promise plays directly to his racist and anti-immigrant base, and serves only to tear apart families, friends, neighbors, and communities.

Misconceptions about DACA abound, not to mention the vicious lies that Trump and other GOPers spout, many of which Sessions repeated when he told DREAMers they were being shown the door. Eligibility is complicated, stringent, and expensive ($495 every 2 years) – and meeting them did not guarantee approval, let alone review in a timely manner. The basics:

  • Under 31 years old on 6/15/12 and entered US before 16 years old
  • Resided continuously in US since 6/5/07 and physically present on 6/15/12
  • No lawful status on 6/15/12
  • In school or graduated, or honorably discharged military veteran
  • No conviction for felony, significant misdemeanor, 3 or more other misdemeanors, and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety

United We Dream and the National Immigration Law Center list the top 5 things for DACA recipients to know about the announcement:

  • Your DACA is valid until its expiration date
  • No new DACA applications will be accepted
  • DACA issuances and work permits that expire between now and 3/5/18 must be submitted for renewal by 10/5/17
  • Advance parole to travel abroad is no longer available
  • We are united in this fight

DACA recipients and applicants should consult a qualified immigration attorney as soon as possible to figure out your rights, responsibilities, and options. You can find much information on the internet, but please make sure that the source is trustworthy. The Department of Homeland Security published a list of FAQs about the rescission.

There are many groups and organizations who work with the immigrant community. “What Do I Need to Know About the End of DACA?” is the Immigrant Legal Resource Center’s very helpful community advisory, including links to several good sources of information:

DACA Rally SF
Photo by L Perkins

And for all of us — we must support our DREAMers! This is the Indivisible Guide’s three-pronged approach:

  • Tell your MoC to defend the DACAmented
  • Search for or register an event in your area
  • Use these resources to stand up for immigrant rights

Huffington Post lists several actions, with suggested scripts and links:

  • Let the White House know how you feel
  • Contact your MoC
  • Get the word out on social media
  • And… repeat

Also be aware that a big part of helping includes doing no harm! Written months ago, the 18 precautions in “Don’t Get Your Undocumented Friends in Trouble: A How-to” are even more critical now.

President Obama, who has been generally silent as Trump blasts through and overturns so many of the advances made during his presidency, issued a statement on Facebook in which he said that Trump’s decision is ultimately about basic decency. That is obviously a concept which is wholly foreign to the current occupant of the White House.

Versión en español aquí

Spanish version for distribution

A New DA in Town … Soon

Three months after Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson pled no contest to felony perjury and resigned, the Board of Supervisors is set to appoint an interim replacement.

The Board will interview the 5 finalist applicants at its September 12 public meeting, and could make the appointment that day or at its September 19 meeting. The Board will accept electronically submitted public comments about the DA replacement through September 6.

Two community forums held on Saturday September 9 will give us a chance to hear from and about the finalists.

District Attorney Forum

First, at the Antioch Church Family, 55 E. 18th Street, Antioch, the East County Branch of the NAACP will host candidate interviews conducted by the East County faith community from 10 am to noon. 

District Attorney Town HallThen from 1 to 3 pm the same day, several community groups will hold a District Attorney Town Hall at Miracle Temple, 2425 Cutting Blvd, Richmond CA. Supervisor John Gioia is the keynote speaker, and four of the final applicants are listed on the program (finalist Judge Danielle Douglas is not included on the flyer). Both events are free.

Although the Board’s deadline to submit public comments for the DA selection is September 6, you can always give input to your Supervisor by email, phone, or online. Board meetings are held at the County Administration Building, 651 Pine Street, Martinez, and are streamed and broadcast on Contra Costa Television.

Don’t take them from their homes

This cold-hearted administration has been unfailingly cruel to the immigrant families who bestow their work, their hard-earned money, their very lives upon this country they’ve chosen to be their home. But nothing, not the refugee and Muslim ban; not the ICE raids detaining and deporting thousands, leaving millions behind to live in fear—skip school, doctor’s appointments, court dates; not the discretionary deportation of a cancer nurse with four children. Nothing comes close to the absolute viciousness of ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. We all know the story: brought here as children, grow up in our communities, stand poised to achieve and contribute so much more. Our country promised to protect them and instead the GOP is threatening to toss them out like garbage.

Our representatives in Washington are doing what they can to pass the DREAM Act and take away the president’s terrifying power over these young people’s lives. But that’s not enough. We also have to act locally to keep these Californians—some of the best and brightest—here at home. The state legislature must pass a robust version of the California Values Act (SB 54). ICE may not coordinate with any state or local agency. Please find your assembly person and ask that they not buckle under pressure from the California State Sheriffs’ association, but instead support a strong SB 54.

Standing Up for Public Lands

Public Lands rally
Photo by Center for Biological Diversity

On Thursday August 24, over 60 activists gathered in San Francisco for a rapid response rally to defend our public lands. The lunchtime rally, which took place in front of the Department of Interior’s regional offices in downtown San Francisco, was called in response to the close of the Trump Administration’s review of 27 national monuments, and breaking news that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had recommended the reduction of numerous national monuments.

Co-sponsored by the Sierra Club (national Our Wild America Campaign and San Francisco Bay Chapter), Center for Biological Diversity, and Natural Resources Defense Council, the rally also included speakers from the Trust for Public Land, 350.org and The Wilderness Society. Supporters from many  other local progressive organizations including Audubon California and Golden Gate Audubon, Rainforest Action Network, CREDO, and more, also turned out.

Representatives of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Barbara Lee were there, and we read a statement of support from Congressman John Garamendi, a champion for the Bay Area’s closest national monument at-risk, Berryessa Snow Mountain.

Public lands rally
Photo by Center for Biological Diversity

The crowd was energetic, chanting “Hey Zinke, show us you care – Protect our land, our water, our air!” and “When our public lands are under attack – what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”

Public Lands rally

You can resist the administration’s attempts to roll back environmental, workplace, and safety protections. Bookmark and check our page every week for current info and links where you can register public comments on protections and regulations being reviewed.

First hand account of the Berkeley rally

Many of us are still thinking about Charlottesville and its aftermath in our own communities. As local grassroots activists, we need to remind ourselves of the local lived experience and not lose that perspective amidst the wider national media narrative.

I was at the August 27 Bay Area Rally Against Hate in Berkeley, and I want to share my experience as a contrast to the few incidents of violence that have gotten so much attention in the media and by word of mouth. I was surrounded by hundreds of people who I believe had similar experiences to mine, which were totally different from the impressions the public is being given.

The Rally was supposed to be held on the Crescent Lawn, UC Berkeley campus, but police barricaded the lawn the night before, leaving only one small entrance/exit. For reasons including safety and accessibility, people moved instead onto the street below the Lawn.

The Rally was organized in part by SEIU, and many Union members in orange vests did a great job of guiding participants safely and directing the traffic we were interrupting. As we started filling in the intersection, a police officer on a motorcycle got in the middle and started riding in a circle. Some people started chanting that the police were unwanted, while others chanted thank you to the police. The officer left, and things progressed peacefully.

More people arrived, including people passing out socialist and Marxist materials, teachers representing their schools or subjects, union members, families, people from various faiths — a lot of diversity, very Berkeley. Since the right-wing event had been advertised as anti-Marxist, many people had Groucho Marx glasses on.

Berkeley Rally Against Hate

There were speakers: representatives from the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, a Berkeley Synagogue, an organizer from Boston, Idle No More, and others. They each had their own perspectives, but overall the message was that all of us from different backgrounds and with different priorities stand united against the growing threat of extremism and racist hatred, and that while we want to keep hateful and violent individuals out of our cities, the root of these ideologies is in our culture and our politics, and we must do more than just driving them into silence to eradicate these home-grown ideas.

After the speeches, the organizers escorted anyone who wanted to leave to BART. The rest of us marched, without incident, toward Martin Luther King Jr Civic Center Park, where the “No to Marxism” rally and counter-protest were happening. The area around the Park was pretty crowded; I and those with me were not close enough to see the Park. Eventually, organizers led the marchers south on Milvia toward BART—we couldn’t figure out what was going on, so we followed. After several blocks, the head of the march stopped and started directing people either to BART or back to the Park. My group rested for a while and then, walking back toward downtown, we saw another march that appeared to be primarily faith and religious groups heading toward the park. They were joyful, peaceful, and singing hymns.

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We checked social media and learned there had been some fights between protesters, and some tear gas and smoke bombs released by the police. We hadn’t seen any of this and wouldn’t have known from being there.

White Supremacists, In Berkeley? Noooooo!!

As mentioned in last week’s newsletter and blog post, Indivisible East Bay decided to endorse the Bay Area Rally Against Hate, scheduled for Sunday August 27 from 10:30-12:30 pm at the UC Berkeley Crescent Lawn, near Addison and Oxford. The Rally was planned as a peaceful counter-protest to a white nationalist group’s posting on social media about an event called “No To Marxism,” scheduled for Sunday at MLK Civic Center Park in Berkeley from 1:00-5:00 pm. “No To Marxism” did not seek a permit, and none has been granted.

Many of us watched the special Berkeley City Council meeting last Friday, at which the Council and public aired concerns regarding the planned white nationalist event and counter protests. The Council passed an ordinance giving the City Manager power to issue temporary regulations of unpermitted protests.  While Saturday’s massive counter-protest in Boston shows that counter-demos can be effective and peaceful, the City of Berkeley is encouraging people to “stay away from conflict” and it’s uncertain how many people will turn out on Sunday.

Many of you have been asking us about IEB’s participation in Sunday’s events. After much discussion among ourselves, and considering what other groups and organizations are planning, we’re offering our members the following information.

At the time of this post, individual members of several local Indivisible groups, including Indivisible East Bay, Indivisible El Sobrante, Poinsett Indivisible, and ReSisterhood do not feel they can “stay away” when white supremacists and Nazis invade our town. Many of us plan to attend the Rally Against Hate, which we note has been endorsed by more than a hundred groups and organizations.

Crescent Lawn UCB

We invite Indivisible East Bay members to join us; however, each individual must consider what level of risk they can tolerate, as it’s possible there could be violence or aggression even at the counter-protest. If you do want to gather with us, we’ll meet at 10:15 am at the top of the “crescent” of the Crescent Lawn, near the concrete walls. Once the counter-rally ends at 12:30, IEB’s participation for the afternoon will be over. While some groups are planning to march to the white nationalist rally, the IEB group is not doing so although obviously each member will make their own decision.

And if you’d like to join us on Sunday, here are some suggestions:

  • Wear your IEB or Resist shirts!
  • Make handheld signs  or use cardboard tubes as poles
  • Come with a buddy, or make new friends there to hang out with. Watch their back and they’ll watch yours. Share phone numbers
  • Engage with other Indivisibles, resistance groups and allies
  • Bring sunscreen, water, and energy bars
  • Consider whether to bring children and pets
  • Establish an exit route and/or emergency meeting area north of campus
  • Be aware of conditions around you and understand that the situation is unpredictable and safety cannot be guaranteed

Again, we all have different comfort levels and there’s no guilt if you decide to stay away. Some IEB members are choosing other ways to protest:

  • Download and read the Southern Poverty Law Center’s excellent guide: Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide
  • Attend a Day of Service and Solidarity with Urban Tilth at the North Richmond Farm on August 26 from 10 am to 1 pm
  • Create Resist signs for windows
  • Amplify our voice by retweeting and/or sharing on Facebook any IEB social media posts that day. Follow our public FB page and our twitter account, and help us push out our postings, including those with hashtags #IEBUnitedAgainstH8 or #IEBResists
  • Finally, the local interfaith community has taken a leading role in organizing to counter the alt-right, white supremacist and anti-Semitic gathering. Several different faith groups and congregations are planning to participate in various actions. Many of them will gather on Sunday at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way, between 12:15 and 13:30 pm. See details here if you’re interested in joining with them

As the situation will likely change leading up to Sunday morning, please email info@indivisibleeb.org with “Resisting” in the subject line to stay updated on IEB’s plans.

On the Rally Against Hate

On August 27, a demonstration called “No to Marxism in America” is scheduled in Berkeley as part of a weekend of white supremacist events in the Bay Area. This event appears to be planned by many of the same people that planned similar events earlier this year in Berkeley, including white nationalist and white supremacist groups like Identity Evropa. Especially in light of the events in Charlottesville on August 12, Indivisible East Bay believes it is important to alert our membership to this upcoming rally.

An organization called Unite for Freedom from Right Wing Violence in the Bay Area has planned a peaceful counter-protest for the same day. This counter-protest will take place several blocks from the right-wing rally, and the organizers have assured us that keeping the event peaceful and safe are their top priorities. As such, we have endorsed the event. We believe it is important to oppose ideologies of white supremacy in our community, and are proud to stand indivisible with Unite and the others endorsing this event.

However, we recognize that despite all best efforts and intentions there is still a real possibility of violence. The events in Charlottesville made clear what we already knew: Trump supporters and white nationalists and supremacists can be deadly violent. We also note the possibility of violence from counter-protesters; we don’t equate these individuals or groups in any way with any neo-Nazi, KKK, white supremacist, etc. groups or individuals, but any use of violence is incompatible with IEB’s Code of Conduct. This danger isn’t just limited to those who attend the counter-protest: Trump supporters at previous rallies this year marched around the Berkeley Downtown area and antagonized bystanders as they went about their regular business. And so we want to warn all of our members of the danger that this “No to Marxism in America” brings to Berkeley, especially if they choose to attend the counter-protest.

Take caution when in the Downtown Berkeley area on August 27.

 

In solidarity,

Indivisible East Bay