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

Leading Lights for Liberty

On July 12, 2019, thousands of people in hundreds of cities across the country gathered to protest the inhumane conditions faced by migrants, as part of Lights for Liberty: A Nationwide Vigil to End Human Detention Camps. Indivisible East Bay proudly joined the wide coalition of groups presenting Lights for Liberty events, and IEB members joined other events where they lived.

Berkeley:

Along with Together We Will-Albany Berkeley and El Cerrito Progressives, IEB co-hosted a large protest on the University Avenue Pedestrian Bridge over I-80 in Berkeley. Here are a few great photographs by Wes Chang, of Pro Bono Photo; you won’t want to miss the rest of his amazing photos at this gallery.

 

Castro Valley:

Lights for liberty vigil, Castro Valley, photo by Andrea Lum
Lights for liberty vigil, Castro Valley, photo by Andrea Lum

The Castro Valley vigil took over all four corners of Redwood Road, with about 100 participants chanting, singing songs and making their voices heard. In addition to acknowledging the tragedy at the border, the event was combined with Transgender Visibility Night Members to raise awareness about human rights. Indivisible East Bay joined members of the Castro Valley Democratic Club, Eden Area Interfaith Council, and representatives from Rep. Swalwell’s office for an energetic and memorable event.

– by Andrea Lum

Richmond:

Many CA-11 team and other IEB members joined the large vigil at Richmond’s Civic Center, organized by former Richmond city council member Ada Recinos, the Latina Center, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia’s office, and others. The crowd chanted, sang, and listened as speakers – including refugees and elected officials – decried the human rights violations by the administration, and called for everyone to resist and take action.

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Photographs by Wes Chang, of Pro Bono Photo, and IEB members Andrea Lum and Heidi Rand

Don’t Expose Protesters to Alt-Right Retaliation

Tell the media they’re putting people in harm’s way

Did you read about how the media put protesters against white supremacists and neo-Nazis in danger of reprisals by the far right? No? Berkeley, we have a problem.

On August 5, 2018, Berkeley witnessed another “Say No to Marxism” rally. This rally built on the momentum of a similar gathering in Portland the day before, for which organizers recruited big names in the far-right. Although Amber Cummings, the Berkeley event’s main organizer, vehemently denied any association with America’s white supremacist movement, she has fought alongside them in the street – and as in Portland, some major white supremacy groups were invited to the rally, including Patriot Prayer, the Proud Boys, and American Guard. Cummings invited alt-right speakers including Bay Area Proud Boy Jeffrey Perrine, who became infamous at an earlier far-right rally where he called for immigrants’ heads to be “smashed against the concrete” and to “separate their kids.” After the event gained negative publicity, the Proud Boys’ leader, Gavin McInnes, pulled his official endorsement, and the American Guard were disinvited; but Perrine and other well-known white supremacists were still photographed at the rally.

On the morning of August 5th, a wide coalition of community groups came together to counter-protest. From the beginning, police arrested counter-protesters for infractions such as wearing masks and carrying sign posts to a political protest. And before we go any further: We understand that some people feel uneasy in the presence of protesters wearing masks, but we ask you to consider these facts:

  • Some of those most vulnerable to alt-right attacks, including people of color and LGBTQIA folk, feel a strong need to conceal their identities from white supremacists. Like other people about whom we read far too often, they can find themselves in trouble for no reason other than simply existing while being black or brown or gay; they may have no intent to do anything to harm anyone, but may rely on masks to protect themselves from being identified and bullied or worse once the protest is over.
  • That’s no idle fear: publicly posting the identities of counter-protestors for harassment and death threats is a common white supremacist tactic.
  • Thus, by arresting those wearing masks, police may be endangering precisely the people who need the most protection from white supremacists.

In light of this, what followed played right into the hands of the alt-right. The Berkeley Police Department tweeted the mugshots, full names, ages, and locations of those they arrested, and news outlets, including NBC Bay Area, CBS and Berkeleyside, reported their full names, ages and towns of residence – leaving vulnerable community members open to future harassment, death threats, and attacks by violent white supremacists.

Regardless of whether or not the protesters committed a crime – and no one had been charged at the time of reporting! – this kind of release of information does not further justice. Rather, it puts those arrested at a serious risk of violence and harassment from the far-right, incites fear, and has a chilling effect on the number of people willing to attend future protests. This matters. We as a community need to be able to show up when our friends, loved ones, and neighbors feel threatened. We need to know that we can show strength and solidarity and stand up to bigotry without fear of being targeted. And we need to know that local publications will not publish our personal information and make it easy for the people who wish us harm to find us.  Tell Berkeleyside, CBS and NBC (for CBS and NBC, please write a comment after the article) that we will not accept this dangerously negligent reporting or public shaming and that they do not represent us in their actions.

What you can say:

My name is ______ and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I am outraged by your decision to publish the names, ages, and hometowns of those arrested at the August 5 rally and march in Berkeley. Alt-right organizations like those participating in this rally have a stated policy of exposing, harassing and threatening those who oppose them; your actions endanger members of our community and further embolden the far right in their tactics of violence and intimidation. I am asking you to remove this information from your article and commit to not repeating this sort of action that directly puts lives in danger.

Tell Your Members of Congress: Oppose H.R. 6054

Meanwhile, on the national front, there’s H.R.6054-Unmasking Antifa Act of 2018. This bill provides:

Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, while in disguise, including while wearing a mask, injures, oppresses, threatens, or intimidates any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both.

Let’s unpack that. It means, you could get put in jail, if you:

  • are exercising your free speech/assembly rights
  • while wearing a mask (what’s a mask? more on that in a minute)
  • and you injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate anyone – whatever that means.

Now you’d think that:

  • you’re not supposed to injure, oppress etc. anyone anyway
  • and that should apply to everyone no matter their political beliefs (the law specifically doesn’t apply to the police, which is a whole other story).

– but, as Vice says, “After all, it’s pretty clear whom something called the ‘Unmasking Antifa Act of 2018’ is meant to target.”

Now, we know that there are folks on all parts of the political spectrum who don’t like Antifa, and many who don’t condone violence under any circumstances. That’s an important discussion, but it isn’t necessary to get into here, and this is why:

  • You might think this law doesn’t appeal to you, but you might be very wrong. I’ve never gone to a protest in a mask but I’ve pulled a scarf across my mouth and nose when stink bombs went off. That counts as a “mask.” And who knows but someone might hear me say something against the Current Occupant of the White House and claim that I intimidated them?
  • And it isn’t much of a stretch to imagine someone calling the police on a group of young people of color who are wearing masks and making a lot of noise – say, on October 31 …
  • Bottom line: Do you really want this government – which calls the media the enemy of the people and prosecutes non-violent people for being journalists or carrying medical supplies at protests – passing laws that by their very name are aimed at jailing protestors on the left?

Please tell your Member of Congress:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____ and I am a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please speak out against HR 6054, Unmasking Antifa Act of 2018. This government should not be passing unnecessary and poorly conceived laws that by their very name are aimed at protestors against white supremacists, at a time when the government is failing to take adequate action against white supremacists and supremacist organizations themselves. Please keep HR 6054 from becoming law.

  • 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

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