Notes from meeting — May 10, 2014

Posted: June 3, 2014 in Meetings, Uncategorized

RI Coalition for Human and Civil Rights
Notes from Meeting, Saturday, May 10, 2014 2PM
Knight Memorial Library, Elmwood Avenue, Providence

(Preceded by an Occupy Providence meeting, same location)

Present: Terry Cummings, Cathy Orloff, Patricia Raub, Randall Rose, Nick Schmader, Wally Sillanpoa. Also Jake, to speak later, and his friend Deming. Facilitator: Terry Cummings

The meeting was to be brief, followed by a presentation on computer security by Jake (sorry I did not get last name, see notes to follow) Agenda: 1) Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); 2) USA Freedom Act; 3) Reset the Net; 4) Extraordinary Rendition Band; 5) Racial Profiling; 6) Announcements; 7) Next Meeting

  1. EFF – Randall reported that they want to expand, especially among campus groups. Thus, Patricia and Randall would probably be more involved. Wally also suggested Marshall Feldman, an active faculty member at URI downtown, Urban Studies. Wally can contact him on this.
  2. USA Freedom Act – A watered-down version passed the House of Reps; it is closer to Obama’s proposal. Question of whether we want to support it as better than nothing, or oppose it? Would it look bad for our group to oppose a bill that on the face of it is limiting government surveillance of US citizens? Is the government privatizing spying on us? Should we support the use of “secret” and “court” in the same sentence? Perhaps we could neither support nor oppose, just say we have “grave reservations” as it stands, because of secret courts, etc.? Or does that look as if we’re afraid to take a position on it? Suggestion to consult National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and get their specific arguments re: this bill. Also, if we make a statement, what would we do with it? It could go on our website, Face Book and a press release. Maybe send to members of Congress also. It’s important to not convey a feeling of hopelessness to the public; they already are too much that way now. We need to make them feel that some positive changes can be made with concerted action. Nick volunteered to contact CCR and Patricia the NLG. Randall also mentioned the Federation of American Scientists. The consensus seemed to be that we will probably oppose it after we have strong arguments in place.
  3. Reset the Net. A movement to limit net surveillance. Happening in early June. Many people put banners on their websites; it is somewhat effective re: passage of bills. Should we put their banner on our website? Their ad would allow people to download privacy tools. Easy to do. Also maybe a street demonstration? Discussion over having street protests attended by very few. Demoralizing? Big turnouts take a lot of prep time and work. What about the CT people whose meeting many of us attended in March? Randall says they are not set up for protests, they do not have a unified email. Our group has had two protests recently, both of which got media coverage and had decent attendance. Possibly combine anti-surveillance with racial profiling for a demonstration? Discussion of how DARE and Olneyville Neighborhood Assn (ONA) have led the way on racial profiling. How can we not upstage them, but rather cooperate effectively? At least contact them and have a dialogue – maybe for some action in May or June, while the legislature is still in session? Police use drones in low-income neighborhoods, so there are some links. Approach them in solidarity.
  4. Extraordinary Rendition Band – Cathy said since Extraordinary Rendition means the US policy of kidnapping suspected terrorists and flying them to countries that use torture to be “interrogated” there, she thinks it is an inappropriate name for a band that entertains. Many people do not know that ER has this horrible meaning. True, it is also a play on words eg the “rendition” of a musical piece. They played at the RISD graduation last year; Cathy’s LTE in opposition was published; the band replied justifying themselves. Comments in favor are that they play for free at many community events; good people, etc. But C. said they never carry signs protesting the kidnapping/torture part, so this has the effect of further desensitizing Americans to some serious crimes by our government. Cathy said she would contact them directly herself, but also wanted the group to take the position that the ER band is helping the US violate human rights, and would they consider changing their name? Motion passed to table it for now, with the possibility of telling the band in the future of these concerns
  5. Randall noted that at our April mtg. we agreed to draw up questions on civil/human rights for candidates, and then decide if we want to have a forum. But no-one spearheaded it, so nothing happened on this. Cathy agreed to get this moving this month.
  6. Announcements:
    • Nick: “Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream” Symposium on Climate Change. Saturday, June 14, Unitarian Church in South County.
    • Terry: First Unitarian in Providence: Reed, Whitehouse and Cicciline will havean open meeting on Climate Change. Friday, May 16, 9:30 AM Benefit and Benovolent St. Terry – Has an activist friend in Occupy who would like t o speak to our group. Probably at next meeting.
  7. Next Meeting: Saturday June 7, 2pm, at same location: Knight Memorial Library.

Notes by Cathy Orloff
This was followed by Jake on computer security.


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