What to do this week of May 17, 2020

by May 18, 2020What To Do This Week0 comments

183 weeks down, 24 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. Each citizen must be able to freely and fairly elect those who represent their values.

Action 1: Express sincere gratitude to someone.

In person or virtually, spontaneously or planned, this week, tell someone what you appreciate about them. (For more info, read this week’s inspiring message from Jen Hofmann.) If you do more than one, just refresh this page and click again–it will counted–to help us get to our goal of 1,000 thank yous.

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Action 2: An ID today is a vote tomorrow. [h/t Spread the Vote]

Spread the Vote assists people in obtaining IDs in states that require them to vote. In honor of StV’s 3rd birthday, their goal is to raise an additional $5,600. Can you help? 

Donatehttps://www.kindest.com/donate/spread-the-vote
(If you do, mention that you’re from AoCC!)

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Action 3: Support the U.S. Postal Service. [h/t Rock the Vote]

Despite providing a vital service (including ballot delivery), the U.S. Postal Service could be forced to shut down within months, yet the White House has threatened to veto any stimulus package that includes Postal Service funding. While we wait for Congress to act, you can take steps to support the USPS:

  1. Buy stamps.
  2. Ask your local election officials (look up) to use mail balloting for the November 2020 election.
  3. Use the USPS for your business and package deliveries.
  4. Send letters and postcards to friends.
  5. Vote by mail where possible.
  6. Sign this petition urging the White House to stop blocking USPS funding.
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Action 4: Advocate for polling-place safety this November. [h/t Brennan Center]

Email or call: Your state election officials (look up).

Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP], and want to ensure that [STATE]’s polling places are safe this November. Visiting a crowded polling place poses health risks. Will you commit to following the Brennan Center’s recommendations to reconfigure polling places for adequate physical distancing, identify alternate polling locations, inform voters of any changes, and maintain sanitation standards? Thank you.

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Action 5: Keep track of the primary election in your state. [h/t Vote.org]

Check: Voter ID requirements in your state (also available in Spanish). 

Check: To ensure that your normal polling place is open (important due to rapidly changing coronavirus-related closures).

Check: Has your state recently expanded access to voting by mail?

CheckVote411.org/coronavirus for real-time state-by-state updates to primary election dates, mail voting, early voting, and more, published in both English and Spanish.

Check: Ballotpedia’s list of changes to election dates and procedures (updated every weekday).

Vote: If your state’s primary election is still upcoming, make sure to request a mail-in ballot if possible, and vote!

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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 6: Speak up to prevent discrimination. [h/t Talk Poverty]

Email: Your governor (look up).

Script: I’m writing from [ZIP] because I’m concerned about the potential for racial bias in social-distancing enforcement as the pandemic continues. Latinx and African American men in particular are vulnerable to more police action both for wearing a mask and not wearing one. I ask that you create state-level guidance on bias prevention and selective policing during COVID-19. Thank you.

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Action 7: Advocate for the health of people in prisons. [h/t Prison Policy InitiativeBreach Repairers]

Part 1: Email your governor (look up).

Script: Infectious disease spreads easily in the close quarters of a prison, and I’m concerned for everyone who lives or works in these facilities. I’m asking that you exercise your powers to mitigate harm to people by:

    • Commuting sentences and granting clemency to release vulnerable people from incarceration, including those 60 and older and others at high risk. 
    • Releasing nonviolent offenders and those with under two years remaining on their sentences. 
    • Implementing testing of the entire prison population, including correctional officers, staff nurses, and chaplains.

Part 2: Contact your state corrections department (look up). 

Script: Infectious disease spreads easily in the close quarters of a prison, and I’m concerned for everyone who lives or works in these facilities. I’m asking that parole not be revoked for technical violations while we remain in a pandemic.

Part 3: Contact your district attorney district attorney”]  

Script: Infectious disease spreads easily in the close quarters of a prison, and I’m concerned for everyone who lives or works in these facilities. I’m asking that you reduce bail to $0 for all low-level, nonviolent offenses to reduce the number of new people entering the system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Action 8: Support voting rights for people who are incarcerated. [h/t Sentencing Project]

Write or call: Your secretary of state (look up) and county sheriff (search “contact [COUNTY, STATE] sheriff”)

Script: Hi. I’m from [TOWN] and believe in voting access for all. While most people in local jails are incarcerated for less than felony crimes and retain the right to vote, few do so. This disenfranchisement affects more people of color, who comprise nearly one-third of the nation but more than half of those incarcerated. I’m asking state and local officials to implement procedures that actively support ballot access so all eligible incarcerated individuals are able to vote. Thank you.

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Action 9: Advocate for COVID-19 relief for all people in America. [h/t Talk PovertyEnd HomelessnessCAPDisabilityACLUUnited We Dream]

Call: Your two senators (look up).

Script: Hello, I’m from [ZIP] to express my strong support for the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. I’m asking [NAME] to support these provisions:

  • Funds for housing, including $11.5 billion in homelessness assistance, $100 billion for emergency rental assistance, and $10 billion in long-term housing vouchers.
  • Expansion of SNAP, including a 15% expansion in the maximum SNAP benefit and more flexibility around how SNAP benefits can be used.
  • Support for disabled people at home, such as uninterrupted access to critical supplies and comprehensive paid leave to include all caregivers/chosen family, as well as emergency paid sick leave to include all workers even if they need more than two weeks to recover or protect their health. 
  • Release into community supervision people in federal prisons who are at greater risk due to health issues, pregnancy, or age, unless they pose a violent threat to the community. 
  • Free COVID-19 testing and treatment for all people in our nation, including undocumented people.
  • Financial assistance for families with mixed immigration status left out of previous relief packages.
  • Extend employment authorization for DACA and TPS recipients, many of whom are operating as essential workers during this pandemic. 
  • Emergency funding for the USPS.

I value protection for all people during the pandemic. I am counting on [NAME] to vote in favor of the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800) when it comes to the Senate floor. Thank you.

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Action 10: Advocate for the safety of children and families in ICE detention. [h/t Immigrant Justice NetworkNeverAgainActionRAICES]

Email or call: Your one House rep and two senators (look up).

Script: Hello, I’m from [ZIP] to express my concern for people in ICE detention who are dying from COVID-19.  Please use your influence to urge the release of non-dangerous detainees and stop the president’s “binary choice” policy which coerces parents to release their children for potential adoption. We have a responsibility to treat asylum seekers with dignity and decency.

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Action 11: Support the strengthening of America’s healthcare workforce. [h/t AILA]

Email or call: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).

Script: Hello, I’m [CALLING/WRITING] from [ZIP] to express my support for the bipartisan Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act. We’re experiencing a shortage of medical practitioners in the U.S. during this global pandemic, and this bill would temporarily allow qualified international physicians and nurses to fill staffing shortages by granting them access to unused immigrant visas. I am asking [NAME] to co-sponsor and vote yes on [S. 3599/H.R. 6788] as soon as possible. Thank you.

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Action 12: Oppose blocking entry to asylum-seekers. [h/t Human Rights First]

Write or Call: Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20201; call via DHS comment line:  202-282-8495 

Script: Hello, I’m [WRITING/CALLING] from [ZIP] because I strongly oppose the government’s plan to send vulnerable families seeking asylum to Honduras. Our border should be open to all asylum seekers in accordance with U.S. and international law. Honduras is one of the world’s most dangerous countries, so I’m asking you to halt any asylum agreements with Honduras and reopen U.S. borders to asylum seekers.

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Acts of Gratitude

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

Thank Sens. Cory Booker (D–NJ) and Kamala Harris (D–CA) for urging anti-bias training for law enforcement officers during the COVID-19 pandemic. [Share why eliminating bias in law enforcement is important to you.]

AddressCB: 717 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510

      KH: 112 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510

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Thank Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) for publicly opposing the administration’s firing of Inspectors General with apparent bias. [Share why Republicans advocating for democratic norms matter to you.]

Address: B33 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Good news

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

National

  • USDA buys $470 million of unsold produce, meat, dairy, and seafood from farms to distribute to people in need during the pandemic.
  • U.S. Treasury distributes $4.8 billion in pandemic funds to tribal governments.
  • Citing violations of 5th and 8th Amendment rights, Federal court orders ICE to release hundreds of detained aspiring Americans from three Florida detention centers.
  • Federal court requires ICE to disclose efforts taken to release parents, not just children, held at family detention centers amid the coronavirus outbreak.
  • SCOTUS declares the entirety of American law a public resource.
  • Joy Harjo (Muscogee Creek), the nation’s first Native American poet laureate, is appointed to a second term.
  • More than 1,900 former Justice Department employees repeat their call for AG Barr’s resignation, citing his inappropriate interference in Michael Flynn’s case.

State

Local

Corporate/business

Groups and organizations

  • Abortion Access Front and other abortion rights organizations raise money through a celebrity telethon to help independent abortion providers continue to provide care during pandemic. 
  • Al Otro Lado distributes a first round of prepaid cards for purchasing food to asylum-seeking families trapped at the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Seven aspiring Americans in a NJ detention center gain their freedom as a result of a lawsuit brought by Human Rights First.
  • Georgetown University Law Center legal advocates file a constitutional challenge on behalf of children denied $500 coronavirus relief payments because one or both parents lack immigration documentation. 
  • To benefit the Farmworkers COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Fund, activists and celebrities raise money through the Cinco de Mayo Altisimo Live Music and Pop Culture Festival.
  • Immigration and prison abolition activists protest at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office to demand he release detained aspiring Americans and vulnerable populations in New York City’s prisons and jails. 
  • Movimiento Cosecha creates the Undocumented Worker Fund to help aspiring American workers, and so far has helped over 300 families across the country to pay their rent.
  • Act to Change commemorates the second annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Day Against Bullying and Hate with a virtual program, UNITED WE STAND, featuring special celebrity guests and performances.

News with heart

See more good news at Women in the WorldSmall VictoriesGood Black News, and What Went Right.

Housekeeping

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