Notes of January 3, 2015 meeting

Posted: January 10, 2015 in Meetings

Notes from January 3, 2015 meeting, Rochambeau Library

Present: Terry Cummings, Christopher Curry, Cathy Orloff, Patricia Raub, Randall Rose
Excellent snacks provided by Randall and Patricia!!    Patricia Raub facilitated.

  1. Hacking of Sony over film The Interview —  Cathy said it was disappointing that most of the mainstream media immediately and loudly assumed North Korea was responsible, when the US government had revealed very little factual backup of its accusation, while independent sources on the web quoted security experts by name who gave detailed reasons why NK was an unlikely culprit compared with domestic sources, possibly within Sony.  To fling such charges at a country the US is already at odds with, and say they are backed up by “secret information that cannot be revealed” is irresponsible and brings the world closer to war.  Some in the group had seen the film and said it was largely a question of extreme bad taste.  Others wondered whether, if there is another major hacking in the future, the US might crack down on civil liberties to stem these “cyberterrorism” events??
  2. Update on Ferguson protests — Randall said there is a court hearing this Tuesday AM Jan. 6 involving the 7 people who blocked I-95 traffic as part of that protest.  He plans to attend in support of them, and will sent out a notice as to exact time and place of the hearing. (9AM – RI DISTRICT COURT, DORRANCE ST.) Others said they supported protesting the Ferguson failure to indict the officer who shot Brown,(and similar cases in NYC, etc.) but not blocking traffic on I-95.  Chris Curry said the real problem is the militarization of local police departments, and our group should do more to challenge this.  The idea of Posse Comitatus was noted: that you can’t use US military to enforce State law – it goes way back in our history. ( 1878, after Reconstruction, updated 1981, per Wikipedia, co) Others noted that military take an oath to defend the Constitution “from all enemies, foreign and domestic,” so how does that tie in?  Also suggested that our group publicly ask why Atty.Gen.Kilmartin has not taken a stronger civil rights position on this issue – why has he seemingly been so pro-police as they have become militarized here in RI?
  3. Racial profiling laws in RI — Randall said there were 2 last year, one in Providence and one for RI, both got blocked from passing.  Providence’s was stronger by far: included requirement that police provide translators where needed, and must take people off gang lists where warranted.  Some people from DARE including Atty.Shannah Kurland will be working on this during the coming year.  Randall is interested in working with them.
  4. Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — A secret economic agreement being drawn up that would give corporations more power than sovereign nations to overrule laws they consider negative, e.g. environmental protection laws, etc.  Comment that it sounds like fascism, in that private companies would control the government rather than elected officials required to act in the public interest.  The Progressive Democrats oppose it. Our group should consider a rally against it in the next few months.
  5. Contact with our Congressional Delegation — It was felt that we should have a small group that regularly interacts with them, via visits, phone, email, etc.  Specifically we need to meet with them to urge them to not re-authorize the Patriot Act. Nick Schmader did this well in the past.  See if he can continue, along with others.  Meanwhile  maybe we should write an op-ed publicly calling on our CD to vote against re-authorization of this Act.  Terry brought up the NDAA – it was also an issue with Occupy Prov. – esp. with regard to rendition and disappearings.
  6. New Business — Randall would like to organize a forum on Grand Jury reform, esp. in light of nationwide events this past year re: police shootings of unarmed black citizens.  Mike DeLauro is also interested in this; there has been no progress in the 10 years since he brought it up..  Maybe  hold a forum at Brown?    It was noted that many years ago Grand Juries protected the rights of the accused, but now prosecutors seem to control GJ’s, and most result in indictments (except for police, co)  Forum could be about Are GJ’s a deteriorating institution that should be done away with, OR keep them but give them more of a role to check the proposed charges against the accused?  Potential speakers: Harvey Silverglate from Boston, author of “Three Felonies a Day.”
  7. More New Business — Cathy said the revelations about US use of torture in recent years, followed by official silence  re: prosecuting those responsible, has raised serious questions about the real nature of the US, etc.  It was suggested she draft a possible LTE or oped on this.
  8. Our FaceBook page — Terry said it’s good that we have about 230+ “likes,” but he wishes he were not the only one posting on it!  So all readers of these notes, why not post a FB message about your favorite human/civil rights issue and get a dialogue going?   Also suggested that Steve Ahlquist of RI Future might like to write on it – he does many op/eds on similar topics.

NEXT MEETING   Saturday February 7, 2015, Rochambeau Library, 1PM.  Refreshments!!  Respectfully, Cathy Orloff


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