What to do this week of October 6, 2019

by | Oct 7, 2019 | What To Do This Week | Comments

167 weeks down, 56 weeks to the presidential election.

The AoC Checklist features clear, well-researched actions for Americans who value democracy, equality, voting, and respect. To stay engaged through challenging times, we practice gratitude, self-care, and celebration.

I value democracy.

With respect and collaboration, we work to create a nation that welcomes all people, expands freedoms, and upholds the Constitution.

▢ Action 1: Empower 226 new voters. [h/t Spread the Vote]

Spread the Vote and its Project ID initiative help citizens obtain the IDs they need in order to vote. Thanks to AoCC subscribers who have already donated an incredible $14,963 this year (you rock!), we’re almost two-thirds of the way to our 2019 goal of helping 600 new voters (IDs cost an average of $40 each).

Donate: To Spread the Vote here.

▢ Action 2: Make a plan to vote on November 5.

On November 5, voters in three states (Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi) will be choosing governors, and many local offices and issues will be decided nationwide. Informed voters will make the best choices for their states and communities. Research what’s on your ballot at Vote411.org or BallotPedia.org, and set up email or text-message election reminders for yourself at TurboVote.org.

▢ Action 3: Make it easier to follow the money that pays for political ads. [h/t CA Clean Money]

Call: Your two state legislators (look up).

Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I would like [MY STATE] to follow the lead of California’s Disclose Act in requiring political advertisements to clearly display their top sources of funding. Can I count on [NAME] to advocate for transparency and disclosure for political ads? Thank you.

Bonus if you live in CA: Urge CA Governor Gavin Newsom to sign follow-up legislation requiring funding disclosure for political text messages and petitions.

▢ Action 4: End partisan gerrymandering.

Call: Your one House rep and two senators (look up).

Script: Hi, I’m a constituent from [ZIP], and I believe that election districts should be drawn by independent redistricting commissions, not partisan politicians. I would like [NAME] to cosponsor the Redistricting Reform Act of 2019 (S. 2226/H.R. 3572). Thank you.

I value equality.

Support the dignity of your rainbow of neighbors from every religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, and ability.

▢ Action 5: Protect the rights of whistleblowers. [h/t Whistleblower Aid]

Democracy depends upon the ethical conduct of those who govern. The government employees who reported the administration’s possible  abuse of power and interference with IRS audits face great risks in coming forward. Whistleblower Aid is representing the intelligence officer at no charge.

Donate to Whistleblower Aid here.

▢ Action 6: Advocate for workers’ rights in higher education. [h/t gal debord]

Tell the National Labor Relations Board your opinion of the proposed rule that would deny workers’ rights to graduate students at private universities.

Submit a comment: On the Federal Register by Nov. 22 using these tips: 1) Introduce yourself. 2) State why you oppose the proposal based on your values and, if applicable, 3) Share a story of how you or a loved one are impacted by the economics of graduate education. Review this article to personalize the points below. To be counted, comments must be unique and individual, not scripted.

    • Graduate student workers teach classes, grade exams and assignments, tutor and mentor undergraduates, maintain labs, and perform clerical duties.
    • Some 66,000 graduate employees at over 30 universities are currently represented by unions and protected through collective bargaining agreements in states where public-sector labor laws recognize them as workers.
    • A 2016 National Labor Relations Board decision recognized graduate employees at private universities as workers with collective bargaining rights.The new proposed rule would redefine private university workers as simply “students,” thereby stripping them of their right to unionize to seek better wages, healthcare, grievance procedures, and discrimination protections.

▢ Action 7: Support civil rights for your LGBTQ+ neighbors. [h/t Lambda Legal]

On October 8, the Supreme Court will hear arguments as to whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects trans women from workplace discrimination.

The plaintiff is a woman who was fired for being trans. The administration filed a brief in support of employers who require women to conform to gender-specific norms, which has broad implications for both trans and cis-gendered women if the court affirms the right of employers to require gender-conforming behavior and dress.

Donate: To Lambda Legal, an organization providing legal advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community, or use Charity Navigator to choose another advocacy group.

Bonus: Check in with your LGBTQ+ friends and family to share your concern that they feel safe, loved, and able to thrive during this stressful time.

▢ Action 8: Support the construction of decent, affordable housing for farm workers and their families in America. [h/t United Farm Workers]

Call: California Governor Gavin Newsom at (916) 445-2841.

Script: Hello, I’m an American citizen and I’m calling to express my support for the Farmworker Housing Act of 2019. Many agricultural workers in California, including permanent U.S. residents and their families, are living in severely overcrowded and inadequate temporary housing, despite the fact that farms often have surplus land available for the development of secure and affordable housing for the workers. I would like Governor Newsom to support a streamlined process for providing farmworkers with dignified, family-friendly housing and sign AB-1783 into law.

▢ Action 9: Demand access to medical treatment and sanitary living conditions for children being held in concentration camps.  [h/t AILA]

Write: The DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, the DHS Inspector General, and the FBI:

Officer Cameron Quinn, Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC 20528

Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari, Office of the Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC 20528

Christopher A. Wray, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC 20535

Script: Hello, I’m writing from [ZIP] to express my disgust over Customs and Border Protection’s flagrant disregard for their own standards for safeguarding and providing medical care to those in their custody. The CBP is detaining children in appalling, unsanitary conditions, guarded by personnel who are not appropriately trained to identify the signs of sickness or injury. The combination of these horrific conditions and a lack of trained medical professionals with child welfare expertise has led to outbreaks of the flu, serious illnesses, and multiple deaths. I am joining the American Immigration Council, American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. in demanding adequate medical care and basic sanitary conditions for children and individuals in CBP custody.

▢ Action 10: Advocate against our country’s discriminatory and unfair treatment of Muslims. [h/t Director of Project South]

Call: Your two senators (look up).

Script: Hello, I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling to express my support for the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act. For years, the current administration has callously separated families, stranded individuals seeking medical care, prevented students with the proper documentation from attending their schools, and forced American citizens to leave the country for war-torn areas in order to stay with their families⁠—all in a targeted effort to prevent citizens from Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. This blatant racism has no place in our country, which is why I would like [NAME] to take a stand against discrimination and co-sponsor S.1123.

Acts of Gratitude

Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.

Thank the Ames, Iowa City Council for solidarity and inclusive embrace of all Ames residents in the face of attempted federal overreach. [Share why you appreciate municipal rights and the creation of safe and welcoming communities.]

Address:  PO Box 811, 515 Clark Avenue, Ames, IA 50010

Thank Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for supporting laws that protect whistleblowers without regard to subject matter. [Share why you appreciate abiding by the rule of law, especially in times of deep partisan divide.]

Address: 721 Federal Building, 210 Walnut Street, Des Moines, IA 50309

Thank Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for protecting election security. [Share why you appreciate recognizing and acting against fundamental threats to American democracy.]

Address: 601 W. Broadway, Room 630, Louisville, KY 40202

Good news

Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look. #GoodNews

National

  • A federal court blocks the administration from enacting its plan to detain children indefinitely.
  • A federal court issues a preliminary injunction blocking the administration’s “expedited removal” (the practice of deporting certain individuals without an immigration hearing) of aspiring Americans.
  • A federal court issues a permanent injunction barring ICE from making unconstitutional arrests based on the error-ridden “Secure Communities” database.
  • Senate votes to end the president’s emergency declaration that would siphon military funding toward building a structural barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Senate passes a unanimous resolution to turn a whistleblower complaint regarding the president’s conduct during a phone call with the Ukrainian president over to congressional intelligence committees.
  • Senate agrees to allocate $250 million for election security measures ahead of November 2020.
  • House passes the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act, which would create a task force within the Department of Homeland Security to prevent opioids from entering the United States.
  • House passes the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act, which would ban forced arbitration clauses in employee contracts and enable workers to sue their bosses for harassment, discrimination, and other unlawful behavior.
  • House initiates a formal presidential impeachment inquiry to investigate potential illegal activity that poses a threat to democracy.
  • Department of Homeland Security adds white supremacist violence to its list of priority threats.

State

  • CA legislature passes the Tenant Protection Act, which limits rent increases and protects tenants against unjust evictions.
  • GA: A federal court temporarily blocks a state abortion law that would effectively ban the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy.
  • NJ’s Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issues the Immigrant Trust Directive, which blocks ICE from deputizing local law enforcement to perform federal immigration enforcement activities.
  • VA: The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement will no longer seek space in the state for a permanent children’s detention center following opposition from state leaders.
  • WV Supreme Court rules in favor of residents who sued a natural gas company for trespassing.

Local

  • New York City’s Commission on Human Rights determines that demeaning and threatening language toward people of perceived differing national origin is unlawful discrimination that can incur fines of up to $250,000.
  • Central Falls, RI City Council creates an Affordable Housing Fund, requiring housing developers who receive tax-stabilization benefits to create affordable units within their developments.

Corporate/business

  • The eight banking partners of private prison company GEO Group all officially commit to ending ties with the company due to GEO’s complicity in the inhumane detention of aspiring Americans.
  • Tech company Chef will not renew its contracts with ICE and CBP due to the agencies’ dehumanizing immigration enforcement tactics.
  • Disney adds vegan menu items at all its theme parks.
  • Judge rules that Tesla broke labor laws in its treatment of workers organizing a union and that the company must cease and desist its anti-union tactics.
  • Amazon offers customers without credit or debit accounts the opportunity to pay in cash for online orders.
  • A group of contractors working for Google vote to unionize.
  • The University System of Georgia (the governing body for the state’s 26 public colleges) changes its health care insurance policies to cover gender transition-related care.
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce launches a climate change task force to explore businesses’ relationships to environmental issues.

Groups and organizations

  • The ACLU of Texas and the ACLU Border Rights Project demand an immediate end to the practice of returning pregnant people to Mexico under the administration’s so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols.”
  • More than 100 international, national, state, and local organizations urge the Department of Homeland Security to grant Bahamians displaced by Hurricane Dorian Temporary Protected Status so they may remain safely in the U.S.
  • Citing the unique health and safety needs of detained LGBTQ people and people living with HIV, 14 civil rights organizations demand the immediate release of such individuals from ICE detention.
  • AmeriCorps amends its health screening process to give candidates with disabilities and mental health concerns fair consideration.
  • The New York Foundation for Senior Citizens operates a home-sharing program that matches seniors in need of affordable housing with homeowners who have extra living space.

News with heart

  • Nasir Zakaria, founder of Chicago’s Rohingya Cultural Center, becomes a U.S. citizen.
  • Judge Ashley Tabaddor, President of the National Association of Immigration Judges, speaks out against so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols.”
  • The voting rate of college students doubled between 2016 and 2018, according to the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education.
  • A New York City judge orders a landlord to pay $17,000 in fines and damages for threatening to call ICE on a tenant.
  • Ear Hustle podcast shares the voices of individuals currently incarcerated at San Quentin prison with millions of listeners.
  • Billy Porter of Pose wins an Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama, becoming the first openly gay man to do so.
  • Valeria Luiselli is awarded a $625,000 Genius Grant by the MacArthur Foundation for her translation and advocacy work with aspiring American children.
  • The New American Festival launches BBQ Without Borders, a cross-country celebration of the intersection of food, immigration, and community.
  • The state of Oaxaca, Mexico legalizes abortion.
  • Pope Francis unveils a statue at the Vatican honoring global migration and people seeking refuge.
  • Sixteen young climate activists sue five of the world’s major carbon polluters in an effort to require the United Nations to classify climate change as a children’s rights crisis.
  • Sarah Davis is named Yellowstone National Park’s chief ranger, becoming the first woman to hold the position in the park’s 147-year history.
  • Three years after they found refuge in the U.S., the Akhtarini family’s café, Aleppo Sweets, is nominated for Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant of 2019.
  • Libraries across the country lend out baking equipment and other household tools, enabling patrons to learn new skills without having to purchase materials.
  • Rates of violent crime and property crime decreased between 2017 and 2018, according to a recently released FBI report.
  • Ángela, a grandmother and cook from Mexico, creates a YouTube channel to teach homemade recipes and finds 265,000 subscribers.
  • Young activists from around the world take bold action to address climate change.
  • Artist Jesse Krimes addresses increasing incarceration rates in rural America through creative mediums, such as corn mazes and quilts.
  • Students at Allison Bernard Memorial High School perform The Beatles’ “Blackbird” in their Native Mi’kmaq language.
  • International design firm Carlo Ratti Associati develops a juicing device that creates environmentally friendly disposable cups out of orange peels.
  • See more good news at Women in the WorldSmall VictoriesGood Black News, and What Went Right.

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