What to do this week of March 15, 2020
174 weeks down, 33 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 equality.
Support the dignity of your rainbow of neighbors from every religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, and ability.
Call: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP], because I’m worried about the added stress that COVID-19 creates for the many people forced to work while contagious because they have no paid sick time. The Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1784/S. 840) would allow seven days’ paid sick leave and provide 14 more days during an emergency like the current pandemic. Can I count on [NAME] to support it?
Call or write: Alex Azar, Health and Human Services Secretary, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201; 202-690-7000.
Script: I’m grateful that the government has already invested significant taxpayer dollars in research that could lead to vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. (Share your reasons for wanting life-saving medicines to be accessible to all.) When they become available, I ask that licenses be granted to multiple manufacturers, to avoid a monopoly that could create high prices. Thank you.
Call: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m calling from [ZIP] to support the Black Maternal Health “Momnibus” Act of 2020. Women of color die of pregnancy-related causes three times more often than white women. Endorsed by more than 90 organizations, the historic Momnibus Act would invest in maternal health outcomes, fund community maternal health organizations, and improve data collection. Can I count on [NAME] to co-sponsor?
Write: Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, 2401 Utah Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98134-1436.
Script: I’m a [CITIZEN OR STARBUCKS CUSTOMER] concerned about recent survey data indicating that workers of color and LGBTQ+ workers in Starbucks’ airport locations run by HMSHost experience discrimination at work, including lower pay in some cases. (Share your personal reasons for valuing diversity and equity.) When Starbucks closed stores for racial bias training in 2018, HMSHost did not participate. I ask that the company uphold its stated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at all Starbucks locations. Thank you.
Call: Your House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I value the essential work of the National Archives and Records Administration to not only preserve history, but also make it useful to citizens. NARA funding has declined over the past decade, and the administration’s FY 2021 budget calls for further cuts to this crucial resource. I’m asking [NAME] to sign the Larson/Young/Pascrell “Dear Colleague” letter of support for NARA funding.
Call: The Laredo Detention Center at (956) 727-4118, and the T. Don Hutto Residential Center at (512) 218-2400, option 3.
Script: Hello, I’m calling from [ZIP] to oppose the retaliation against 47 of the asyum-seeking Cameroonian women for their nonviolent protested against indefinite detention and inadequate medical treatment at the T. Don Hutton Center. They have since been transferred to a more isolated detention center, which could negatively impact their already limited access to counsel. I am calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release these women on humanitarian parole, and restore parole for all aspiring Americans so they can be reunited with their loved ones and communities while their asylum cases continue.
Write or Call: Chad F. Wolf, Acting Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20201; call via the DHS comment line at 202-282-8495.
Script: Hello, I’m from [ZIP] and want to express my concern about the impact of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) presence in public health institutions. As COVID-19 spreads, aspiring Americans currently face a troubling choice: seek treatment and risk ICE deporting them, or go untreated and risk spreading the disease in their homes and communities. This policy puts all Americans at risk, which is why I’m asking you to issue a public statement that healthcare facilities will be immigration enforcement-free zones for the duration of the outbreak.
Matthew T. Albence, Deputy Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 500 12th St. SW, Washington, D.C. 20536
Henry Lucero, Executive Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 500 12th St. SW, Washington, D.C. 20536.
Script: Hello, I’m from [ZIP] and writing to express my concern about the potential spread of COVID-19 in ICE detention centers and ports of entry, especially for at-risk individuals. Containment of this disease is critical to public health, and using proven prevention and management protocols in these close-quarter environments would reduce the risk of infection for those seeking asylum, but all Americans. I would like you to release the elderly and immunocompromised from ICE custody, cease all transfers for the duration of the outbreak, and enact health-screening capabilities and proper hygiene supply protocols at all ICE facilities. Thank you.
Write: Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, H-232, The Capitol, Washington, DC 20515; Kevin McCarthy, Republican Leader of the House of Representatives, H-204, The Capitol, Washington, DC 20515.
Script: Hello, I’m from [ZIP] and I’m writing to express my concern about discrimination against people of Asian descent as the spread of COVID-19 continues. Trends have shown an increase in aggression toward Asian American students, businesses, and community members since the outbreak began, including bullying, boycotts, and assault. I am asking [NAME] to publicly denounce these acts of discrimination against the Asian American community, and call for unity among Americans in these uncertain times. Thank you.
I value democracy.
With respect and collaboration, we work to create a nation that welcomes all people, expands freedoms, and upholds the Constitution. Each citizen must be able to freely and fairly elect those who represent their values.
Action 10: Count yourself in. [h/t The Census Project]
You will receive a U.S. Census invitation in the mail between March 12 and March 20.
According to a UCLA School of Law study, 42% of eligible transgender voters in 45 states do not have accurate ID documents. Trans Lifeline’s Microgrants program offers financial support to change legal names and update IDs that allow people to vote.
Donate: to Trans Lifeline here.
Call: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m a resident of [ZIP] and concerned that fear of COVID-19 will keep Americans from going to the polls on Election Day. The Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act of 2020 would give all Americans the right to vote by mail if 25% of states declare a state of emergency, grant $500 million to help states prepare for election disruptions, and require postage-paid self-sealing envelopes for ballots. Can I count on [NAME] to co-sponsor this important legislation? Thank you.
- Delaware: Register online, by mail, or in-person by April 4 for the April 28 primary election.
- Illinois: Same-day registration (called “grace period registration”) is available at some polling places for the March 17 primary election.
- Indiana: Register online, by mail, or in-person by April 6 for the May 5 primary election. Early voting is available April 7-May 4.
- Maryland: Register online or by mail by April 7 for the April 28 primary election. Early voting is available April 16-23.
- New York: Register by mail or in-person by April 3 for the April 28 primary election. Early voting is available April 18-26.
- Rhode Island: Register online, by mail, or in-person by March 29 for the April 28 primary election. Any registered voter can vote by mail if the request is received by April 7 and the ballot is received by April 28.
Bonus: Remind friends in these states with upcoming primaries to vote!
Acts of Gratitude
Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.
Thank Vanita Gupta, at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, for working with Facebook to remove inaccurate ads about the 2020 U.S. Census from the social media site. [Share why ensuring fair and full participation in the Census is important to you.]
Address: Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, 1620 L Street NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036
Address: 1117 Longworth HOB, Washington, DC 20515
Address: 501 I Street, Suite 7-600, Sacramento, CA 95814
Thank Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) for introducing emergency paid sick leave legislation to provide paid sick days immediately to workers in light of COVID-19, and in preparation for future public health emergencies. [Share why this is important to you.]
PM: 2930 Wetmore Avenue, Ste. 9D, Everett, Washington 98201
RD: 59 Elm Street, New Haven, CT 06510
Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look. #GoodNews
- Federal court rules that Ken Cuccinelli was unlawfully installed as the Acting Director of the USCIS and that all policy changes he authorized must be undone.
- Eleventh circuit rules that private contractors operating work programs in immigration detention facilities must adhere to federal law prohibiting forced labor.
- U.S. Court of Appeals rules that employment discrimination against people living with HIV —including those in the armed forces—is never permissible.
- FDA bans the use of electrical stimulation devices on patients undergoing treatment for self-injurious or aggressive behaviors.
- Federal court orders Chelsea Manning’s release from jail.
- DC Circuit Court rules that the DOJ must supply the House Judiciary Committee with grand jury materials from the Mueller investigation.
- Commandant General of the Marines David Berger orders that all Confederate-related items be removed from Marines service bases worldwide.
- CO passes the CROWN Act, which bans natural hair discrimination.
- RI: Gov. Gina Raimondo signs legislation raising the state minimum wage.
- UT legislature votes to create a task force to study the disproportionate violence inflicted against Native women and girls.
- VA: Gov. Ralph Northam signs legislation banning the use of so-called “conversion therapy” on minors.
- VA: Gov. Northam signs a bill establishing transparent policies for how police departments should use body-worn cameras and maintain and store recorded footage.
- VA passes a bill banning discrimination on the basis of hair.
- VA passes legislation requiring the Dept. of Education to implement policies that treat transgender students fairly and respecfully.
- VA passes a bill expanding the definition of hate crimes to include criminal acts against people based on ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identification, and disability.
- WA state passes a bill preventing defendants from citing a victim’s gender identity or sexual orientation to justify a violent assault.
- Voter turnout in 2020’s primary elections is significantly higher compared to 2016 in at least 11 states so far.
- Twenty-one attorneys general file an amicus brief in support of reproductive justice and abortion rights in Ohio.
- New York City developers unable to fill affordable apartments in their buildings via the housing lottery system are required to provide those apartments to people experiencing homelessness.
- San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin’s office will no longer charge people with possession of contraband resulting from pretextual traffic stops, a practice that has led to disproportionate arrests and higher convictions for people of color.
- Chicago’s public schools will observe Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day.
- LA County DA Jackie Lacey dismisses nearly 66,000 cannabis convictions.
- Charlottesville, VA commemorates the end of slavery with a new holiday in place of Jefferson’s birthday.
- Denver Public Schools unveil their first gender neutral student bathroom at Collegiate Prep Academy, following a school board vote to include gender neutral bathrooms in every school.
- Miami Dade police suspend evictions amid public health concerns over COVID-19.
- Voters in LA County’s primary election vote in favor of a ballot initiative to reform the county’s criminal justice system.
- Facebook will remove posts, photos, and other content that mislead users about the U.S. census.
- Hundreds of staff at The Guardian object to the paper’s pattern of publishing transphobic content.
- Trader Joe’s changes its sick leave policy through April 15 to allow workers’ pay to be reimbursed for days they stay home due to illness.
- Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Olive Garden and other chains, announces permanent paid sick leave benefits for hourly workers.
Groups and organizations
- ACLU has reunited more than 2,000 families who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.
- The UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a visionary agenda for women’s rights and empowerment worldwide.
- Open Door Health clinic opens in RI, becoming the state’s first health clinic specializing in care for the LGBTQ+ community.
News with heart
- Adam Castillejo becomes the second person in the world to be cured of HIV.
- Willie Mae Harris is granted clemency by Gov. Asa Hutchinson three decades after acting in self-defense against her abusive husband.
- Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David initiates Coming Home to Faith: A Search for Common Ground, a cross-country interfaith tour to explore and strengthen the relationship between LGBTQ and faith communities.
- Erika H. James is named dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, becoming both the first woman and first black person to hold the position.
- Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara win the Pritzker Architecture Prize, marking the first time the prestigious prize has been awarded to two women.
- Anoushka Talwar creates mini-libraries of children’s books for hospital neonatal intensive care units to fulfill her Girl Scouts service project.
- Thousands of women and girls across Mexico strike in protest of gender-based violence.
- Sara Brewer, 64, rows across the Atlantic, becoming the oldest woman to achieve the feat.
- Thanks to the advocacy of his brother Miguel and their community, DACA recipient Jesus Alberto Lopez reunites with his family after nine months in immigration detention.
- Congressional candidate Qasim Rashid’s generosity toward Oscar Dillon’s medical debt encourages a reassessment of harmful biases.
- Jen’s message: Feel more hopeful in this week’s message from Jen Hofmann.
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