Event: Seeing Through the Lens of The New Jim Crow to Dr. King’s Beloved Community
Date:  Monday, Jan. 19, 2015
Time:  12:30 PM (registration) to 3:00 PM
Place: Juanita Sanchez Education Complex Cafetorium, 182 Thurbers Ave, Providence.

This event is free.

Join the Rhode Island Civil Rights Roundtable (organized by Rhode Island for Community & Justice) and Serve Rhode Island for inspiration, education, refreshments and conversation on how history and issues illuminated in “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness” play out in Rhode Island.

Cierra Putman, Reporter for WJAR TV and past Vice President of the Southern NE Black Journalists Association will Emcee the event.  She will lead a panel of community leaders, and the audience, in discussing how Alexander’s renowned book related to our state, and most importantly, what we can do this year together, to work toward solutions.  Panelists are:

*    Roline Burgison, DARE (housing)
*    Denise Carpenter, Providence Public Schools (education)
*    Sal Monteiro, Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence (employment)
*    Commissioner Steven Pare, City of Providence (public safety)
*    Jordan Seaberry, ULMAC and Coalition Against Racial Profiling (disparities in justice)

For information, please contact:

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Notes of January 3, 2015 meeting

Posted: January 10, 2015 in Meetings

RI  COALITION  TO  DEFEND  HUMAN  AND  CIVIL  RIGHTS
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

January 3th — Monthly Meeting

Posted: January 2, 2015 in Meetings

The RI Coalition to Defend Human & Civil Rights will be meeting at 2pm Saturday in the lower level  of Rochambeau Library, 708 Hope St., Providence.

Agenda items include: racial profiling, bills we can work on, and other topics.

Snacks will be served.

Our next meeting is Saturday at 1pm in the basement of the Rochambeau Public Library, 708 Hope St., Providence.

Notes from meeting — Nov. 15, 2014

Posted: November 20, 2014 in Meetings

Notes from Sat. Nov. 15, 2014 meeting, RI Coalition to Defend Human and Civil Rights

1PM, Rochambeau Library
Present: Randall Rose, Patricia Raub, Terry Cummings, Patricia Fontes, Cathy Orloff ; also Marcus Pagnozzi for latter part of meeting.

  1.  U.S. Surveillance – RALLY TOMORROW!!!!! Re: the recent revelation that it’s the U.S. Marshall’s office that participates in the new technology whereby a fake cell-phone-tower appliance is attached to small planes that fly over metro areas and trick every cell phone into registering its present location! Marshals say they need this to track fugitives, but it’s another expansion of government surveillance into our private lives, esp. where we all are at a specific time. Randall said a rally outside the U.S. Marshall’s office will be appropriate b/c they participate in this and the office is located right downtown. Planned for this Thursday, Nov. 20, 11AM. PLEASE SHOW UP IF AT ALL POSSIBLE!! At the rally we will deliver a letter to the Marshall’s office opposing this intrusive surveillance. Questions we may include: By what legal authority are they doing it? What judge authorized it? etc. Terry questioned how useful this would be in tracking fugitives, since it’s well known that criminals use throw-away cell phones.
    PLEASE ATTEND, WE NEED NUMBERS!
  2.  Re: Our group affiliating with Restore the Fourth (RTF): WE TOOK A TENTATIVE VOTE AT THE MEETING TO AFFILIATE WITH RTF. PLEASE EMAIL THE LIST IF YOU DISSENT FROM THIS BY FRIDAY, NOV. 28:
    The earlier problem was RTF’s requiring that to affiliate, we have 5 members who pay their $60 dues annually. They have waived that so that only 1 of us has to pay. Randall agreed to pay and some of us partially reimbursed him. This means we can have our own identity and local issues, but still work consistently with RTF on surveillance. Our vote was 4-0 in favor of affiliating.
  3. An Occupy Providence meeting had preceded ours, It was noted that they will be contacting RI senators asking them to oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Also perhaps going to Washington to lobby them personally? Contact Pat Fontes re: this.
  4. Patricia noted there will be a Black Friday vigil (day after Thanksgiving) at WalMart near Branch Ave. They have an internal strike going on re: wages, benefits, etc.
  5. Snowden movie, Citizen4, at Cable Car. Randall saw it Friday and got about 10 signatures on our petition, Stop Spying on the American People. The theater allows us to talk to people inside the lobby. (Hey, it’s a “lobby!”) Could others cover more showings? Patricia and Cathy agreed to do Saturday and Sunday. (We got about 15 more signatures with email addresses for the ListServe, plus info. re: our December meeting.)
  6. USA Freedom Act – It’s being revised in the Senate, but still too watered-down. Recommend that members call Congress opposing it and demanding something with more teeth. Pat suggested the Progressive Democrats could combine this with the TPP lobbying they’re doing.
  7. Net Neutrality – Obama is now in favor of this. Net Neutrality means being against the idea that internet companies, when they sell you service, could charge more for faster internet service.
    This would seem to mean the end of the internet being equally open to all. Net Neutrality people want Congress to require the FCC to prohibit this discriminatory pricing, but the FCC says that the Internet would first have to be declared a public utility, because that’s what they regulate. A compromise has been proposed whereby the FCC could not discriminate among Internet COMPANIES, but they could when dealing with private individuals. We are against that compromise. Should we have a rally to that effect? David Segal of Demand Progress knows a lot about this. Terry suggested maybe it’s happening because Europe has a more open Internet than the U.S.? Ask Peter Nightengale if he can add this issue to our Blog.
  8. Police Militarization – We would like to get more info. about what weapons, etc.specific RI cities and town are getting. Difficult to get these facts. Randall did note some source that said that RI is getting less than other states…
  9. Our RiseUp ListServe is asking for donations to continue, and we all chipped in something at the meeting. All ListServe readers are asked to help them out. A great organization! https://help.riseup.net/donate
  10. Providence Mayor-Elect Elorza’s community meetings – The website is transitionpvd.com. Should we attend as a group? Ask about police brutality in Prov. And body cameras? Also about the city-level racial profiling bill? Please submit further suggestions/ideas via the listserv.
  11. Providence’s Lobbying Ordinance Hearing this Tuesday evening 11/25 Randall has been in touch with Councilman Seth Yurdin, also John Marion of Common Cause, who helped draft the proposed law, whose purpose is to identify people who are trying to get things passed that will economically benefit themselves or friends. They would have a $20 annual fee and have to file every 3 months. Now a proposed compromise is if you are lobbying for NON-economic reasons, you are exempt, but you still have to register once a year (I think).
  12. Next meeting of RICDHCR: Saturday, December 13, at Rochambeau Library.

Notes by Cathy Orloff, attendees please feel free to correct.

When: Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, at 11:00am
Where: “Post Office” Federal Building opposite Burnside Park, 2 Exchange Street, Providence

A story in the Wall Street Journal revealed that the US Marshals are flying planes with devices that can track the location of large numbers of cellphones on the ground, with no clear and public standards on who gets to see the data or on how the data is used.
SirVeil
The protest is organized by the RI Coalition to Defend Human and Civil Rights.

We will gather outside the US Marshals’ district headquarters — which is at the “Post Office” federal Building in Providence across the street from the federal courthouse (also directly across the street from Burnside Park). We will go to the US Marshals’ office and deliver a letter which demands more information about the program and makes clear we oppose this over-broad surveillance.

Here is the Facebook event.

November 15th — Monthly Meeting

Posted: November 14, 2014 in Meetings

Our next meeting is Saturday at 1pm at the Rochambeau Public Library, 708 Hope St.

Proposed agenda

    • Tabling at Snowden movie
    • USA Freedom Act being revived
    • Net neutrality
    • New surveillance issues, protesting US Marshals?
    • Police militarization, keeping police accountable
    • Affiliating with Restore the Fourth
    • Donating money to Riseup for hosting our lists
    • Peace Alliance and criminal justice reform
    • Elorza’s community meetings
    • Providence lobbying ordinance
    • Recruiting on-campus

This is how Tom Englehardt starts his starts his interview with Laura Poitras, after he saw her “engrossing new film on Edward Snowden,” at the New York Film Festival.

poitras_snowden_ap_ss_img

Here’s a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! stat from our new age of national security. How many Americans have security clearances? The answer: 5.1 million, a figure that reflects the explosive growth of the national security state in the post-9/11 era. Imagine the kind of system needed just to vet that many people for access to our secret world (to the tune of billions of dollars). We’re talking here about the total population of Norway and significantly more people than you can find in Costa Rica, Ireland, or New Zealand. And yet it’s only about 1.6% of the American population, while on ever more matters, the unvetted 98.4% of us are meant to be left in the dark.

Here are couple more links and review of this film:

  1. Citizenfour review – Poitras’ victorious film shows Snowden vindicated
  2. The Holder of Secrets
  3. Snowden Film Tests Hollywood Obama Backers
  4. PopPolitics: Laura Poitras on Edward Snowden’s Reaction to ‘Citizenfour’ (Listen)

Notes from RI Rights meeting, Saturday Oct. 18, 2014, Knight Memorial Library, Elmwood Ave.

Present: Randall Rose, Terry Cummings, Patricia Raub and Cathy Orloff,( who did the notes.)

We talked about Ferguson, MO, and the ongoing protest. Some local people are there: Pia Ward and Nick Katkevich. Terry got no feedback, but will try to contact them.

Also Servio Gomez’ group: End Brutality PVD. Has a blog and FaceBook page. Had an event at RIC.

USA Freedom Act — We signed the letter in September. But the bill is not moving forward, b/c many in Congress think it goes too far, whereas we did not think it went far enough, but was better than nothing.

Encrypting Phones — it only affects information that stays on the phone itself, not info transmitted on the phone. Maybe just a marketing tool by web companies that know people are concerned about privacy? See https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/10/09/police-act-furious-encrypted-phones-still-love-heres/ for more info.

Snowden film “Citizenfour” in NYC, supposedly great, probably coming to the Cable Car? If yes we can set up a table outside it. Cathy will call and see if they’ll tell her if it’s coming.

Restore the Fourth organization, headquarters near Boston. They are looking for local chapters, but we had some concerns re: they want members to pay dues to the national organization. Randall will find out the amount of the dues. We could become a local chapter that overlaps our Rights organization. Or sponsor just one member. Or just cooperate on actions. Or ignore them. Tabled for now. Noted that Electronic Frontier Foundation EFF does not take local chapters.

Discussion of fact that a lot of local police departments are getting military equipment, U.S. feds are giving away stuff. Are fire departments also getting militarized?

RI Rights Facebook site — Terry said it seems to be just himself and about 36 users. Whereas the Occupy site is about 8000 – RI and other states. Peter does the Rights blog and puts up our meeting notes. Could we send him links from the NY Times, etc.? And/or send out a request to the FB list to encourage others to participate? Should we have both FB and the blog? Feeling was generally yes for now. Patricia will try to send Terry some articles for FB.

Net Neutrality  — Are we interested? Yes. Should we have an event with a speaker? Maybe Chris Hedges, Naomi Klein, Bruce Schneider, or the head of Restore the Fourth? Maybe in January? Would take some organizing. Try to draw from the Boston area. Ask for suggestions on the list.

Constitutional Convention was briefly discussed. Cathy was concerned it might be used to lower/weaken local property taxes (which many wealthy and business groups speak against) in the name of “equitable state-wide school funding.” Would be a regressive tax shift. Meanwhile a CC still being debated on the op-ed pages, on our elist and in pre-election RI.

Patricia distributed “Vote yes on 6″ cards, related to the transportation bond issue.

Patricia will check calendar re: date for November meeting.

The next RI Rights meeting is at 1pm Sat., October 18th, 2014, at the Knight Memorial Library (275 Elmwood Ave, Providence) in the downstairs auditorium.

Some things to discuss:

  • the upcoming Snowden film
  • our letter against the USA Freedom Act
  • net neutrality, other federal and state bills
  • talk about new laws to enable tapping cellphones
  • affiliating with Restore the Fourth?