Nobody Is Above the Law

Update 5/1/18:  On April 26, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senate bill 2644 , the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, which would protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation. Senator Grassley, chair of the committee, asked for a prompt vote by the full Senate. Majority Leader McConnell has previously said he would not bring a bill to protect the Mueller investigation to the Senate floor for a vote, however if 51 senators want to receive a vote, they can force one over McConnell’s obstruction. Please call your Senators to urge that they demand a floor vote on S. 2644.

Use Stand Up America’s resource to plan a visit to your Senator’s office, to speak to them or their staff in person.

Indivisible Guide is on high alert, and has prepared this updated page to guide us through what we need to do if Trump fires Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. As they explain, “By firing Rosenstein—Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s boss, the person overseeing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election—Trump is obstructing justice. This means we are facing a full-on threat to our democracy and a constitutional crisis.”

MoveOn, Indivisible, and many other groups are using these basic “red lines,” which would trigger mass protest if Trump crosses one:

  • If Trump fires Mueller
  • If Trump issues pardons of key witnesses
  • If Trump takes another action that would prevent the investigation from being conducted freely, such as replacing Mueller’s current supervisor, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, or repealing the regulations establishing the office

What you can do now:

  • Read the Indivisible Guide toolkit
  • See MoveOn’s Mueller’s Firing Rapid Response – The Plan. It includes the general plan, and also addresses something that we’re all wondering — what happens AFTER we hit the streets?
  • Find and RSVP to attend a Nobody Is Above the Law rapid response rally near you (800 events as of April 10, 2018)
  • No local rally? Sign up to host one
  • Spread the word by sending the link to everyone who’d be interested
  • Call your Members of Congress, and urge them to do all they can to protect the Special Counsel.
    • Updated 4/30/18: call your Senators to ask them to demand a vote on and support the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act (S. 2644) to protect Mueller and the Russia investigation.
    • This is a historical overview of the bills introduced to protect the investigation, none of which have progressed:
      • As of April 11, 2018, the Senate Judiciary Committee moved forward with legislation to limit Trump‘s ability to fire Mueller. The bill merged S. 1735 and S. 1741 (see below). 
      • Senate: S. 1735 led by Senators Graham and Booker
      • Senate: S. 1741 led by Senators Coons and Tillis
      • House: H.R. 3654, led by Representative Jackson Lee –thank Reps Lee, DeSaulnier and Swalwell for co-sponsoring,
      • House: H.R. 4669, Discharge Petition to Require Speaker to Call a Vote on Special Counsel Integrity Act. Info here.
  • See Indivisible’s earlier article with info and a great call script.
  • See the Wall of Us action
  • Read background info at our original article, and our updated article
  • Read the Lawyers for Good Government 33-year timeline of Trump-Russia connections here

And prepare if we need to hit the streets:

  • Read the ACLU’s article Know Your Rights: Free Speech, Protests & Demonstrations
  • Download the ACLU’s Mobile Justice app to record police activity and send it immediately to the ACLU affiliate nearest you. Get the California app, MobileJusticeCA
  • Put the National Lawyers Guild hotline numbers into your phone, and write them on your arm in ink:
    • to call from local jails ONLY: 415-285-1011
    • outside of jail calls, call NLG hotline volunteers: 415-909-4NLG (4654)
    • if no answer, send an email to the NLG Demonstrations Committee at nlgsfhotline@protonmail.com
  • Prepare a go-bag with:
    • charged cell phone and portable power if you have
    • water bottle and energy bars or other portable food
    • layers of clothing to add if it gets cold
    • a sign with your message

Resistance go bag

Here’s some background: John Oliver dubbed it “Stupid Watergate,” but many believe the lies and smear campaigns Trump and many Republicans are flinging to discredit the FBI and derail investigations by Special Counsel Mueller and Congressional committees into Trump/Russia have already done more damage to our democracy than the GOP’s bungled break-in, attempted cover-up, and Saturday Night Massacre did back in 1973.

As Mueller’s investigation into collusion and obstruction of justice allegations closes in on the Current Occupant of the White House, fears of a constitutional crisis mount. Initially, the triggering event for a crisis was seen as Trump firing Mueller, mirroring Nixon’s orders to fire independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox. But in what is more like “Evil Watergate” the strategy has morphed into escalating assaults on the FBI, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and others. The Current Occupant, several GOP toadies, and right-wing media are sowing chaos, pushing fake scandals, and besmirching reputations, in not-even-thinly veiled attempts to divert, curtail, or shut down the investigations.

 

Bay Area Marches for Our Lives

Indivisible East Bay members attended March for Our Lives events in several locations in the East Bay and beyond on March 24; here are some of their impressions.

Richmond

Tom Janci: We attended the March For Our Lives event in Richmond. Organizers estimate almost 1,000 people turned out to show support for the young people who organized such an incredible event. It was incredibly moving to hear their stories. It was also a good reminder that our children are not just our future – they are our NOW. City and county elected officials as well as State Senator Nancy Skinner and Representative Mark DeSaulnier attended the event.

March for our Lives, Richmond, photo by Alice Towey
March for Our Lives, Richmond, photo by Alice Towey

George McRae: I went to the March for Our Lives in Richmond. The March started at the intersection of Nevin and Harbour Way, opposite Kaiser Hospital, which treats its share of gunshot victims, and ended at City Hall Plaza, where government officials and the community work to mitigate gun violence. Along the route, one could look up at the lamp and power poles and see the “shot spotter” equipment … they’re everywhere in Richmond.  I listened to the speakers, those whose lives were directly impacted and those who have been elected to legislate gun violence out of existence. I can say with complete certainty whose reflections impacted me most. The names of Richmond victims were read in between the speakers. The list went on … and on …  I left carrying the memory of people I have lost to gun violence. None of us are immune. According to a study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, as an American,  YOU have a 99.85% chance of knowing someone victimized by gun violence in your lifetime.  These children know they are in the gun sights, and it’s up to all of us to make the elected people do OUR bidding, not the NRA’s. Enough.

March for Our Lives, Richmond, photo by Heidi Rand
March for Our Lives, Richmond, photo by Heidi Rand
Catherine de Neergaard: It was a really sweet march and rally on 3/24 in Richmond, California to stop gun violence. At about 3000 people, it was a more accessible, intimate, and quieter event than the much larger rallies in SF and Oakland. I liked that. There was space to be able to hear and chat with old buddies, neighbors and new people too. About 25 people from Indivisible East Bay met at the beginning of the March. It was wonderful seeing the children and young people some of whom made speeches or read poems.
Sixteen year old Shelton McAdoo opened the rally with a moving speech. Interspersed with the speeches, names of those slain in gun violence were read. Richmond Mayor Tom Butt and Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia both made short, passionate speeches supporting the young people to lead this country to end gun violence. Towards the end, there was an open mike. I made a brief speech about the many new laws we need to control guns and stop gun violence, including the need to permit and fund the national health agency, the CDC, to do research on the health effects of gun violence, and the need for a national database of guns, gun owners, and gun sales. Indivisible East Bay, Rich City RIDES, and Citizens Power Network were doing voter registration. IEB and League of Women Voters had petitions to sign. Thank you organizers! Let us not stop until guns are controlled.

 

Oakland

Ward Kanowsky: On March 24, 2018, over 840 cities around the world participated in the March For Our Lives. With gun violence impacting the Oakland community, it was important for the city to be a host of one of these events. I was one of several members of IEB who staffed a booth during the rally, which included student speakers from local high schools, poetry readings, youth from the Martin Luther King Freedom Center and Bay Area Students for Gun Violence Prevention, and alumni from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, among many others. Following the two-hour rally, there was a brief but rousing march to Lake Merritt, led by four of the student organizers of the event.

You can continue to support the inspiring work of our young people by signing the March For Our Lives petition, which calls for Congress to pass legislation that will protect and save our children from gun violence.

Ann Daniels: I was helping to staff the IEB table in back of the crowd, so I didn’t hear the speakers very well, but I got to interact with a steady stream of people of all ages and races. Some were long-time activists but many were new to activism,or hadn’t been active politically for several years – this cause, this moment, was the “last straw,” as one woman told me. They wanted information about how to be active on more than this one issue, which was wonderful. I also loved seeing how many people felt positive, full of admiration for the young people from Parkland and all over the country who have stood up and become leaders.

March for Our Lives, Oakland, photo by Deirdre Spencer
March for Our Lives, Oakland, photo by Deirdre Spencer

San Francisco

Helen Clifton, Poinsett Indivisible: The San Francisco March for Our Lives was inspiring, rousing, energizing. People of all ages attended, listening to and cheering on this youth movement. Unlike the Washington, D.C. March, there were adult speakers as well as MANY amazing articulate youngsters from around the Bay Area: we heard from Senator Dianne Feinstein, Jennifer Seibel Newsom, London Breed, current SF Mayor Farrell, Grace Slick, and Pastor Michael McBride and Leo Mercer, who work with communities and organizations in Oakland. There was also a woman who survived Columbine, two alumni from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and the father of a student who was killed at the UC Santa Barbara massacre, who works with Everytown for Gun Safety. Dr. Gregory Victorino, M.D., chief of the Trauma Center at San Francisco General Hospital, spoke about the huge gun violence issue in American public health. A leading trauma surgeon, Victorino was involved in treating victims at the Columbine and Aurora Theatre shootings.  

Many speakers addressed the prevalence of gun violence generally in America, as only 4% of gun deaths are from mass shootings. They also pointed to the horror of so many deaths caused by police shooting Black people, most recently Stephon Clark in Sacramento, unarmed, on an iPhone, in his grandmother’s backyard, leaving two little boys without their loving father. They also spoke of women being killed by domestic partners, and Jennifer Seibel Newsom brought up Toxic Masculinity! One teenage girl, a senior in high school, talked about PTSD from when she was 13, walking fourth-grade sisters home from school, and being surrounded by gunfire in their neighborhood, only steps from home, dropping to the ground until bullets stopped. She has grown up with the constant fear of gun violence in the streets. 

Everyone around me was very moved, stood and listened throughout the unusually long rally, then marched forever down Market Street to the Ferry Building. 

March for Our Lives, San Francisco, photo by Helen Clifton
March for Our Lives, San Francisco, photo by Helen Clifton

Did you march? There’s more you can do! Help keep the momentum these young people have built going — contact your Members of Congress to ask them to hold a Town Hall for Our Lives in solidarity with those across the country on Saturday April 7.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661

A Sensitive Subject: Gun Rights from One Perspective

Editor’s note: After the March 24, 2018 March for Our Lives, a member of IEB leadership interviewed an IEB member who is a gun owner and who attended one of the East Bay Marches. What follows is an edited selection of their wide-ranging conversation on guns, gun control legislation, gun ownership, and related subjects. The IEB member has chosen to remain anonymous.

IEB: Why did you want to go to the March for Our Lives? And why did you bring your young son?

Answer: I went to the march (1) to support my fellow IEB members (2) to show young folks that they can lead adults on this issue (3) it was easier just to bring my son due to childcare issues and (4) it’s good for him to see the excitement of older kids on an important issue.

IEB: That doesn’t sound like you felt a particular connection with the subject of the march.

Answer: Not a big connection. I’ve saved my excitement on other issues that Indivisible supports. But being present and showing support was important.

IEB: You’re a gun owner and you’ve told me you support some gun control legislation – do you feel like other gun control supporters do, or could, see you as an ally? Do you think the leaders of the anti-gun violence movement are taking good tactical positions?

Answer: I’m an ally depending on how far they want to go. For example, CA just made it illegal to buy ammunition in the mail. That made me angry. Limiting magazines to 10 rounds is fine. An assault weapons ban is fine. Making it difficult and expensive for lawful gun owners to buy ammo for their legally obtained firearms is not good.

IEB: Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has called for repealing the Second Amendment. What do you think?

Answer: A Constitutional amendment needs two-thirds of both Houses of Congress calling for it, then convening a Constitutional Convention where three-quarters of state legislatures must agree. That’s not going to happen.

IEB: Will you teach your son about guns when he gets to be old enough?

Answer: Only after he’s 18 and if he asks about it. I will teach him about gun safety in a few months, like knowing what to do when you see one: Back away. Don’t touch. Go get an adult right away-preferably, their parent. I’m already teaching him the basics of marksmanship through archery. It’s mostly the same muscle memory.

IEB: Do you ask his friends’ parents if they have guns in the home before you let him go play there? And if you do, how do you ask?

Answer: I actually have several dinners and outings with them. I check them out. I mention my background with the military and weapons. If they don’t offer up, I take it that they don’t have weapons, especially if they have kids and have opportunities to speak up. I’ve told my nearest neighbors that I have a pistol and it’s locked up. We have a lot of play dates with those boys.

IEB: Wow, that’s a lot of work. Has anyone ever said they don’t want their kids coming over to your place after finding out you have weapons, locked up?

Answer: Nope.

IEB: You used to be in the armed services. What kind of gun(s) did you use then, and what kind do you own now? And what do you use them for?

Answer: Let’s talk about my Sig Sauer P229K .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol. I purchased it in 2007 to get extra practice for the US Coast Guard’s pistol range. I was leading maritime law enforcement specialists who were weapons experts. I had to be good with the Sig Sauer to credibly lead them. I’ve fired that weapon tens of thousands of times since then. I’m proficient. I use it only for marksmanship practice. The .40 caliber is the diameter of the bullet. It’s .40” wide. It’s an English measurement as compared to a 9 mm round that is more common. That’s 9 mm in diameter. A gun is a machine. No use keeping it unless you have all the parts to make it function properly. And the training—but that can be subjective. I have my training from the military and that’s my foundation that hasn’t changed that much.

IEB: What kinds of semiautomatic weapons can be converted to fully automatic, and what can’t? Or put another way: why can some weapons be converted and others not, or can any semiautomatic weapon be converted to fully automatic given the right equipment?

Answer: I believe it’s the AR-15 type you can easily convert to auto. Go to the internet and google. Anyone can do it. I could if I wanted to. You can ban things but you can’t ban knowledge.

IEB: You can certainly convert those. I believe you can convert others too. One problem, I know, is that if you ban bump stocks, someone will create a different device … something else you can’t ban is ingenuity.

Answer: You know what the rate of fire could be for full auto? In the hundreds of rounds per minute. Magazine size will take care of that. Keep with 10 round magazines. … magazine change has to happen. So 10 round magazine will take care of that.

IEB: There’s no way that a would-be mass shooter can carry it out with that change?

Answer: No, it would be a lot of magazines. It takes a microsecond to go through a 10 round magazine. Then it takes a second to reload. A microsecond later you have to reload another 10 round magazine which takes another second.

IEB: What do you think of the idea of arming teachers?

Answer: No. It’s a dog whistle for the extremists. Without enough training (100 hours a year at least) anyone with a weapon is a danger to themselves and others. I won’t even go into the dynamics of teachers having guns while other things are going on in a classroom. And they don’t get paid enough—we need to pay our teachers more. Then we can ask them to do more—but not guns.

 

CoCo Sheriff Retaliates Against Advocates Helping Detainees

The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, under investigation for mistreatment of ICE detainees, has retaliated against the group that helped the detainees and helped spark the investigation.

On March 6, 2018, the office of Sheriff Livingston terminated the visitation program at the West County Detention Facility (WCDF) that the non-profit advocacy group Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) had operated to assist detainees and their families. Since 2011, CIVIC volunteers have been providing services to the families of detainees and post-release support to those who are released or deported. They are sometimes the only people the detainees can talk to about their cases, or their only contact with the outside world if their family is far away or can’t visit.

The Sheriff claimed that volunteers violated policy, but CIVIC asserts that the revocation was in retaliation for its part in bringing immigrants’ allegations of abuse at the facility to the light of day, which led to investigations by state and federal officials.

While CIVIC works with the ACLU to contest the revocation, here are several things we can do to help CIVIC and the detainees and their families:

  • Learn more about CIVIC here and sign up here to get updates and alerts from the Friends of CIVIC about how you can help.
  • Read the ACLU’s letter to the Sheriff’s office.
  • Attend events to support the detainees held at WCDF, 5555 Giant Highway, Richmond. The Interfaith Coalition for Human Rights holds a monthly vigil there, usually on the first Saturday of every month – check their calendar for exact date and time. Kehilla Community Synagogue’s Immigration Committee holds a protest at WCDF the second Sunday of each month, from 11 AM to 12 PM.
  • Call the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office at (925) 335-1500 to express your concern about the Sheriff’s current action, and urge them to restore CIVIC’s visitation program.
  • Please sign petitions that Together We Will Contra Costa launched, and which IEB and many other groups have co-sponsored, to ask local Democratic representatives who have endorsed Sheriff Livingston to rescind their endorsements.

Are you a constituent of Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11)? If so, please thank him for his hard work in support of immigrants, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle on March 9:

U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier says it’s time for Contra Costa County to end its relationship with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Democratic congressman from Concord, who recently toured the Richmond jail that the county leases to the federal government for detention of undocumented immigrants, said that the Contra Costa County sheriff’s office’s move this week to ban volunteers from visiting immigrants inside the jail — to check on their well-being — was the last straw.

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095

Read our article about the statement released by the ICE Out of California Coalition, signed by IEB and other groups.

Photograph by Boardhead (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

March For Our Lives & Other Events Against Gun Violence

There are numerous events against gun violence on different dates in different locations. We will add to and edit this list as we learn of new events and/or updates.

March 14: School Walkouts:

Schools and students nationwide will participate in a 17-minute walkout on March 14 at 10 AM (local time), to honor the 17 people killed on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and to protest gun violence. KRON-4 News has put together this comprehensive list of all the participating schools in the entire Bay Area. Some school districts, including Oakland, Alameda, and Piedmont, have issued district-wide policies stating that they will be working with students on various events and activities for that day. Note: IEB is not encouraging students to do anything that could endanger their academic careers, and we don’t know whether specific schools will mark students absent, etc., or whether parental notification will affect the school’s handling of individual cases.

March 24: March For Our Lives

Student organizers and Everytown for Gun Safety are organizing March for Our Lives events on March 24 in locations around the country and around the world, aided by celebrity support and donations. This is the weekend event that families can go to together and kids and teens can attend without missing school. Bay Area locations include:

  • Oakland: 10 AM-1 PM, Frank Ogawa Plaza. Register here. The March is looking for volunteers; email OaklandMarch@gmail.com.
  • Richmond: 11 AM, Downtown Richmond, 1300 Nevin Ave
  • San Leandro: 9-11:30 AM. Gather at Washington Elementary, San Leandro at 9 AM to make signs; march begins at 9:45 AM; rally begins at 10:15 AM with speakers and activities (postcard making, letter writing, and refreshments). This event is suitable for families with young children.
  • Walnut Creek: 11 AM, location downtown Walnut Creek TBD
  • San Francisco: 1 PM, Civic Center Plaza. Interested in volunteering? Reach out here.
  • Search for an event near you here.

April 20: The Anniversary of Columbine

The two students who massacred their fellow students and several teachers at their high school in Columbine, Colorado on April 20, 1999 used explosives and other weapons of mass destruction as well as guns, but Columbine is generally recognized as the mass school shooting that began the modern plague that our nation has suffered from unremittingly in the nearly two decades since. In those days before live internet news, people watched and listened in horror as radio and TV reported what was previously unimaginable. Now, a student who lives near Sandy Hook, site of another previously unimaginable school shooting, has originated a call to mark the date: Friday, April 20 will see school walkouts throughout the country. We’ll list Bay Area events as we learn of them.

Graphic: #MarchForOurLives

Wake Up: We Still Need a Clean DREAM Act

This is our world now: the current occupant sells $50 hats with “American Dreamer” emblazoned on the front; ICE threatens repercussions against Oakland’s mayor for warning city residents of incoming raids; Congress has stalled for so long on passing a clean DREAM Act that somehow, unimaginably, the Republicans are starting to take ownership of it. How soon they forget that said current occupant caused this entire … mess … by rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program through which President Obama had protected more than 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

And while they continue their games, hundreds of thousands of lives hang in the balance. DREAMers attend doctors’ appointments, pick their kids up from school, go to job interviews, wait in line at the Post Office – and there behind them, like a thread weaving through every moment, is the American government’s failure to find a way to give back to these people the freedom to live their lives.

It is existential terror. It must stop.

March 5, 2018, was the original date when protection for DREAMers was supposed to end. On February 26, days before the deadline, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case that would have undone the two federal court injunctions that ruled it unconstitutional for the government to deny DACA renewals past that date. This leaves DREAMers in a situation where they can still potentially apply for a renewal of their status past March 5, but like everything related to this issue, that provision is subject to change at virtually any time.

You can help by calling your Members of Congress to demand that they pass a clean DREAM Act! What to say:

Thank you for your strong support of DREAMers. Please continue to work to include a clean DREAM Act in the next spending bill. These young Americans deserve to live without fear of having their families torn apart.

Both Senators Feinstein and Harris are supportive and have staff working on immigration cases, so you can reach out. And if you have any questions about current immigration policy, ICE actions, what is being negotiated in DC, or other issues, please come to our meeting with Senator Feinstein’s state director in Oakland on March 9, 2018.

ISF immigration rally
State Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), at the emergency immigration rally on February 22, 2018. Photo credit Indivisible SF.

 

Public domain image courtesy of StockSnap

Political and Proud: Alameda’s High Schoolers Voice a Call To Action

On February 21, 2018, Indivisible East Bay joined high schoolers, parents, and public officials from the Bay Area for Political and Proud, an evening of speeches and workshops at Alameda’s Encinal High School. The goal of the night was to bring young women, especially young women of color, together with leaders and organizations that could encourage and inform them as they set out on the path to building America’s more perfect union.

Judging by this event, Alameda’s future leaders are an incredibly organized and serious group of young women. They filled their school’s big gymnasium with decorated guest tables and a huge selection of organizing stations. Indivisible East Bay set up next to Alameda4Impeachment, Women’s March Oakland, The League of Women Voters, and more. The atmosphere was very much one of collaboration and community; Encinal High’s student AV technicians, journalists, and organizers did a wonderful job of managing and documenting a complex event.

A long line of impressive public officials gave speeches throughout the evening. Alameda’s mayor, Trish Herrera Spencer, talked about being Latina in law school, and encouraged everyone present to give themselves to as many opportunities as possible, no matter how remote the chance of success might seem. “When you show up, look around. Someone in that room will like you,” she said, to cheering and applause.

She noted, crucially, that more than one million Californian 17 year-olds will be eligible to vote come November 2018. It’s on us to make sure every one of them is registered and excited to participate.

A young woman with a small camera records an older woman speaking into the camera. They're on opposite sides of a table with an Indivisible East Bay banner on the front. A man stands to their left.
Volunteers recording a short interview about Indivisible East Bay with one of Encinal High’s student journalists.

Hydra Mendoza, Deputy Chief of Staff for Education and Equity in the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, spoke clearly to the students, saying: “We are dependent on your ability to educate yourselves.” Mendoza described the challenges she faced as a young woman of color running for public office in San Francisco, and made a brave attempt to explain redlining and the concept of generational wealth to an audience that may never own property unless their parents buy it for them. Hopefully they, unlike Millennials who will rent apartments into their retirement, force a change in this system before they end up trapped in it.

Pamela Price, currently running for District Attorney of Alameda County, gave a rousing speech that detailed her own experience as a litigant in a Title IX sexual harassment case. Price tied her role in this important case to her long career as a civil rights lawyer, and echoed the same themes as the mayor when she exhorted the audience to “fill out the application, okay? You don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Price ended on a resonant point: Alameda County is the most progressive in the country, and its teenagers have been chosen by virtue of their time here to lead the rest of the country to a progressive future that echoes the values they’ve learned in Alameda. What is familiar to them must become familiar to their counterparts in Alabama and Georgia if we’re to keep pushing the country forward. Listening to the speeches and watching the organizers manage it all, it was difficult not to agree with Price – and it was impossible not to feel a deep belief in the capacity of her bright young audience to change America for the better.

Images courtesy of Photography by Rex.

El Cerrito Shows Up: Join Us!

El Cerrito Shows Up, a weekly rally held next to a busy intersection where El Cerrito, Richmond, and Albany converge, was sparked by the fury and grief that erupted after a white supremacist murdered Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia. Buoyed by the outpouring of strength and solace many felt from coming together at a candlelight vigil in support of the Charlottesville protestors, several activists started EC Shows Ups to offer a place in the heart of their community where people could “speak out for equality, justice, inclusiveness and more, and to stand against hatred & bigotry.”

Two weeks after Heyer’s murder, the first EC Shows Up protest was held, and people have continued to Show Up every Wednesday since, other than pausing for a few dark winter weeks. The Show Ups started again on Valentine’s Day, chosen for the symbolic impact of showing love for each other and for all whose lives and rights are under attack by the current administration and majority party. Several families, kids and all, are regulars, and local politicians, including Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia and the more progressive El Cerrito city council members, occasionally drop by to show their support. Many passing cars honk to show their support as well, and the group cheers when an AC Transit bus driver pulling up to the nearby bus stop honks! There’s never a shortage of outrages to protest, or of vulnerable groups to support, whether it’s DACA, gun control, the tax scam, impeachment, the environment …. Most people bring their own handmade signs, and there are usually extras to share, as well as some sign-making materials.

El Cerrito Shows Up

You are invited to Show Up, every Wednesday at the west entrance to El Cerrito Plaza, intersection of San Pablo & Carlson, on the sidewalk near Daiso. All are welcome; the only requirement is to agree to assemble lawfully and commit to non-violent and respectful conduct. On March 7, 2018, Show Up from 5:30 to 6:30 PM; then starting March 14, 2018 and ongoing after that, from 6 to 7 PM. Follow the EC Shows Up Facebook page and events listings for updates.

IEB member George, who has attended every EC Shows Up, gives his personal take on the genesis of the rallies, and explains why he keeps showing up:

Last August’s events in Charlottesville shocked, frightened, and angered my wife Heidi and me. We watched the rise of the fascist hydra since before and after Trump’s election. The fascists were emboldened, determined, and most alarmingly, uncovered. No longer afraid to hide in the shadows, they left their bandanas and Klan hoods at home. Then, that weekend in Charlottesville: three people were dead.

George drew connections between Virginia, the nationwide rise in fascist attacks, and locally, the murder of an African American man outside a tavern in El Sobrante by at least three white men wearing MAGA hats.  

We turned our desperate need to respond to the horrors in Charlottesville, and to be with others who felt the same, into action. Nearly 120 people showed up at the candlelight vigil that we called for in our small neighborhood park. We shared our feelings as we stood in a large circle in the dark, with our candles burning.

George recalls talking to many people after the vigil who wanted to gather regularly. He said, “we needed to be present, unafraid and unmasked, with others who shared our outrage at and terror of the Trump administration. We needed a consistent presence to let the government, local and afar, know that WE ARE HERE and WE ARE NOT GOING AWAY!” Within a few days the connections drawn from Charlottesville to a small park in El Cerrito resulted in El Cerrito Shows Up.

Charlottesville candellight circle

And since an army of resisters marches on its stomach, George threw in a final enticement: “the Off The Grid food trucks are a mere block away on Wednesdays! Bring the family and friends, have dinner and exercise your First Amendment rights with other loving committed people.”

Calling BS On Thoughts and Prayers

There aren’t words for what happened in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day. The trauma inflicted on the students and their families is so unimaginably vast that it may alter the course of American history.

Parkland’s students are forging their heartbreak and anger into action. Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, stood in front of the world’s news cameras and spoke her truth to the nominal leader of the free world just days after February 14:

If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy, and how it should never have happened, and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association. But hey, you want to know something? It doesn’t matter, because I already know: $30 million. … To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you!

Gonzalez and her classmates are calling BS on the fiction that tighter regulation doesn’t save lives. It does. Fewer guns means fewer deaths, every time.

They demand that we take action, and we owe it to them and to ourselves to do so. Here’s where you come in. You can:

Support legislation requiring reasonable regulation of firearms:

Let Your MoC Know How You Feel About Their Track Record:

 

  • Outside the East Bay:
    • Explore this NPR chart to see how your Members of Congress have voted on gun bills.
    • Find out whether your representatives are funded by the NRA.
    • If your MoCs support gun safety, thank them! You can be sure the NRA is getting their members to give them grief, and they need to hear from you.
    • If your MoCs oppose reasonable regulation of firearms or are being bought by the NRA, tell them they’re not representing your wishes; tell them you won’t vote for them and will work against them. This fundraising piece from Gabby Giffords has graphics you can print and make into a postcard or tape to a piece of paper. You can use Giffords’ tweets for inspiration for your message too.

Hit the Streets and Support the Students:

Support and Donate to a Gun Safety Organization:

 

CONTACT YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

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

Sen. Kamala Harris (email)
(415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095
Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661
Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065

 

Photograph of Emma Gonzalez copyright CNN

IEB Celebrates UnPresident’s Day Weekend

By Katherine Cameron

On February 17, 2018, IEB members joined with Alameda4Impeachment (A4I) to celebrate UnPresident’s Day Weekend by advocating for impeachment at a town hall held by Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) in Hayward. As a considerable crowd gathered to hear from their member of Congress IEB and A4I held a large impeachment banner nearby, and collected signatures on a letter to Rep. Swalwell. The crowd’s response to the impeachment message was entirely positive, with some people expressing desperation over the current administration.

IEB member John Ota handed out a flyer asking why Rep. Swalwell has not yet co-sponsored H.Res. 621, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)’s resolution to impeach Trump, and why Swalwell voted TWICE against earlier impeachment resolutions by Rep. Al Green (D-TX). The lime green flyer was eagerly received by almost everyone and was very visible in their hands. The crowd was enthusiastic about the “Make America Great Again – Impeach Donald Trump” banner, and thirty-five people signed letters, which we delivered immediately to Swalwell’s staff.

Rep. Swalwell said, as he has before, that he does not support the impeachment resolutions at this time because he wants a fair investigation into impeachable offenses. However, such an investigation won’t happen until there’s a Democratic Congress. Swalwell appears to be worried that an impeachment investigation in Congress could expose information that would impede Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, but he did not provide any specifics to support this position, and many constitutional scholars disagree that Mueller’s and the Congressional inquiries are inextricably linked. An impeachment investigation in Congress would have a far broader scope with different evidentiary standards than the Special Counsel’s investigation. Moreover, impeachment is the only Constitutional way to permanently remove a President from office aside from the 25th Amendment. This White Paper from Free Speech For People provides more information about the legal case for Congress to initiate an impeachment investigation and why a House impeachment investigation doesn’t need to wait for the conclusion of the Mueller investigation.

Despite this, Rep. Swalwell made a point in his remarks to acknowledge our pro-impeachment banner and action table, and he encouraged our groups to keep showing up at his events. We’ll keep you informed of Swalwell’s future events on IEB’s CA-15 Slack channel and in the newsletter, so stay tuned!

What you can do:

Contact your East Bay Member of Congress or attend a town hall. Check out this page for a sample message and contact info, along with more background info. Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13) recently co-sponsored H.Res. 621, after a long period of deliberation: if she is your MoC, please thank her. Representative Mark DeSaulnier has not yet sponsored H.Res. 621 but is a good prospect, because he supported Rep. Green’s Resolutions in the past.

Good news! Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-2, Marin County) just co-sponsored H.Res. 621 – an unexpected and positive development.

Katherine Cameron is a member of Alameda4Impeachment who spent most of her adult years working for Washington State government in human services. She is currently retired, and lives with her husband on Alameda Island, where she writes, gardens, and works to impeach Donald Trump, not necessarily in that order.

Photograph by Katherine Cameron