Archive for April, 2014

RI Coalition to Defend Human and Civil Rights Notes from meeting – April 19, 2014, Rochambeau Library
  • Present: Randall Rose, Gregory Morse, Lia Medeiros, Peter Nightingale, Terry Cummings, Robert Malin, Kathy Milby, Paul Hubbard, Nick Schmader, and Cathy Orloff
  • UPCOMING RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGNS – Langevin’s website now features “leadership.” Suggestion to research his quotes re: domestic spying, etc. and publicize his actual positions, which are “extremist pro-military.” We attended several of his town meetings last summer and Nick and others visited him in his office, where he said he would consider other viewpoints, but did not get specific. He has a weak opponent, will almost surely win again. Suggestion that we contact him one last time before the campaign starts, he will know we are watching. (Also noted that government people say the problem is corporate spying, copyrights, etc. and corp. people say the problem is government spying!)
  • Several said they would try to attend whatever town meetings L. holds this year. Also Reed is up for re-election, has also been mentioned for Secty. of Defense! Also RI Atty. General’s race – Kilmartin will prob. run again. Opponent Dawson Hodgson not bad (altho does not like Occupy) Suggestion to draw up a list of questions on civil rights and send to candidates (senators, congresspeople, governor, attorney general) Then publish a “report card” based on their answers.
  • Might get good publicity for our group? Several showed interest in working on this: Lia, Nick, Robert, Randall, Cathy, and Kathy (later.) The full list should also be invited to participate.
  • Also the suggestion of holding a public forum for the AG candidates, since they take positions on civil liberties? Maybe partner with another group – the Phoenix? To get better attendance, etc. Question of whether Kilmartin would attend? Some said no, and has there ever been a debate just for AG candidates? Consensus to first draw up the list of questions and recipients; then we may have a better idea re: next step, forum, etc.
  • BRIEF DISCUSSION re: corruption re: former LGBT director at URI. Bullied. Complaints went nowhere. Example of widespread RI corruption.  Terry may ask him to come speak at a future mtg. of our group.
  • REPORT ON MARCH 29 RIGHTS CONFERENCE IN CT. – Not bad turnout, about 100 total, 15 from RI, good percentage. We added 4-5 names to our email list. Great keynote from Chris Hedges! Good to see many young people there. It’s on Youtube. There will be a follow-up meeting this Sunday, April 27 in CT. Focus on Surveillance. Randall may attend, altho it’s prob. mostly for CT people. They have a lot of groups, but not all linked in one email list.
  • OUR WEBSITE AND MEDIA TOPICS – Peter maintains the website. We have links to EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), Demand Progress, The Intercept. Peter’s email is nigh.at.pobox.com. Send him stuff ! Terry also asked people to post to our Facebook site.
  • STATE LEGISLATION PENDING – Some of us testified at House Judiciary Committee. New Chair: Cale Keable. Seems to take us seriously. Randall tries to position us as expert on computer surveillance issues. Not much happening in Senate, except Voter ID. Randall and Pia testified re: repealing it. Discussion of racial politics involved: African-American vs. Hispanic. Civil Rights Roundtable is divided over Voter ID. They will have a panel on it. Randall may try to get a panelist for them.
  • FEDERAL BILLS – Brief comparison of USA Freedom Act (going nowhere. We’re neutral) with Obama’s proposals, which are weaker. One by Mike Rogers, no court order needed to get access to personal info. Feinstein bill, bad. Maybe incorporate some of this (with more detail!) into our questionnaire?) Suggestion that our position should only be NO surveillance!? Add this concept to our questionnaire?
  • OTHER GROUPS – EFF – Randall is on their email list. ( He said something else about it, sorry I missed that.) WebWeWant – an attempt to organize email users, to vote on how to use it.
  • Encryption – Jake will speak on this at our May meeting.
  • UPCOMING EVENTS – This Thursday April 24 Bruce Schneier is speaking twice at Brown -noon at Computer Science Bldg, 4th Flr. on how to avoid surveillance; 3PM on the political aspects of surveillance at the Watson Institute on Thayer St. BUT same day at 4PM Chomsky will debate a US diplomat on Should the US support Israel? at Salmon. Problem to attend all…
  • May 1 May Day rally – start at DARE 4PM or so, go to State House around 5:30.
  • Another program: What’s Left for RI? Also good.
  • May 9 – Demonstration at ICE office in Warwick 10:30 AM. Contact Peter for details.
  • Lia offered to speak to us re: the work she does on human and civil rights. Maybe at June mtg.?
  • We plan to meet through the summer.
  • VERY BRIEF DISCUSSION OF PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION FOR RI One person asked can a convention get rid of Brown U.’s tax-free status? May discuss pros and cons of a convention more later.
  • We have extra funds for our coalition, just $5 (which Randall is currently holding for us).
  • Our next meeting Saturday May 10 1PM Rochambeau. Brief business meeting and presentation by Jake on surveillance.

Notes by Cathy Orloff

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Next meeting is Saturday, April 19, 2014 at 1pm at the conference room of Rochambeau Library, 708 Hope St., Providence.

Some suggested topics:

  • RI bills on civil liberties
  • Federal surveillance update
  • Larger campaigns: EFF, WebWeWant
  • Encryption
  • Any other suggested topics
  • Connecticut conference from last month