What to do this week of August 30, 2020

by Aug 31, 2020What To Do This Week0 comments

198 weeks down, 9 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 voting as a foundation of a healthy democracy.

The clock is ticking down to the 2020 elections. The actions below ensure three things: that our votes are secure, that every citizen can vote, and that every vote is counted.

Action 1: Advocate for timely processing of mailed ballots. [Source: National Council for State Legislatures]

If you live in AL, CT, DC, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MS, NH, NY, PA, SC, SD, WV, WI, or WY, email or call: Your two state legislators (look up).

Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m concerned because [STATE] does not allow processing of mailed ballots prior to election day. Voters need to be able to trust in accurate election results, and it’s crucial that we are prepared for the massive increase in mail voting expected in November. I’m asking [name] to propose and support legislation to allow processing of mailed ballots prior to election day. Thank you.

All other states: Donate to the National Vote at Home Institute to fund its advocacy for robust mail-voting systems.

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Action 2: Insist on a full and accurate Census count of all Americans. [Source: AoCC]

Call or write: Your two senators and one House rep (look upand 

Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, Steven Dillingham, U.S. (steven.dillingham@census.gov).

Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m writing to object to the Census deadline change from October 31 to September 30. Communities of color are already being significantly undercounted, and the arbitrary shortening of the response deadline threatens federal funding for neighborhoods that need it most. I am asking you to support reinstating the October 31 response deadline or extending it so that all Americans can be counted. Thank you.

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Bonus: Share this message online: Support your community. Complete the 2020 Census online, by mail, or by phone by September 30! https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond.html

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Action 3: Encourage college students to vote. [Sources: Campus Vote Project and ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge]

Contact: Any college students you know!

With so many colleges conducting classes online, and so many students taking gap years for viral or financial reasons (or both), it can be challenging to figure out how, where, and when to register to vote in the November election. ALL IN to Vote’s state-by-state guides and Campus Vote Project’s FAQs for student voters are resources that can help college students plan to vote.

Action: Text these resources to your college-age friends, and post them on social media.

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Action 4: Support voting access for Native Americans. [Source: Four Directions Native Vote]

Native Americans have been systematically disenfranchised throughout the history of the U.S. Four Directions provides legal help and advocacy for Native American voting rights, including ensuring that districts count ballots mailed from reservations.

Donate: to Four Directions here.

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Action 5: Fund voting rights advocacy for Black Americans [Source: Black Voters Matter]

Black Voters Matter works to get out the vote, safeguard voting rights, and increase political involvement in marginalized Black communities. 

Donate: to the Black Voters Matter Fund here.

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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 defend the Arctic Refuge. [Source: Natural Resources Defense Council]

Email: Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt (feedback@ios.doi.gov) and the President (https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/)

Script: I write to oppose the current administration’s move to open the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. Such action will intrude on land sacred to the Gwich’in and other Indigenous Peoples, and destroy wild places essential to numerous imperiled species. I’m joining the Natural Resources Defense Council and other organizations to urge you to halt these plans immediately. 

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BonusDonate to Native American Rights Fund (NARF), which represents three Gwich’in tribes in their efforts to prevent drilling.

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Action 7: Advocate for the rights of Indigenous leaders. [Source: NDN Collective]

Call or email: Mark Vargo, South Dakota State Attorney–Pennington County, (605) 394-2191, (605) 394-6093 (fax), or vargo@pennco.org

Script: I’m [CALLING/WRITING] to urge you to drop all charges against Nick Tilsen and other Land Defenders who were arrested on July 3 who were asserting their inherent rights as Indigenous Peoples to defend the Paha Sapa (Black Hills), their sacred lands. Intimidating people through arrest is unethical and we urge you to drop all charges. Thank you.

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Action 8: Speak up against race-based hair discrimination. [Source: CROWN Coalition]

Call or email: Your two state legislators (look up).

Script: Hi, I’m calling from [ZIP] because I support Black people’s right to their natural hair, free from discrimination. Seven states* have passed the CROWN Act to protect against the denial of employment and educational opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including braids, locs, twists, or bantu knots. In solidarity with the CROWN Coalition, I’m asking [NAME] to introduce this legislation in our state. 

(*In CA, WA, CO, MD, VA, NY, NJ, thank your legislators for passing the CROWN Act.)

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Action 9: Advocate for education as an integral part of America’s reform system. [Source: Vera Institute of Justice]

Call or email: Your two senators (look up).

Script: Hello, I’m [CALLING/WRITING] from [ZIP] to express my support for lifting the ban on Pell Grants to incarcerated people. Pell Grants could help incarcerated Americans pay for college-level education, and are one of the most effective ways we can create opportunities for incarcerated students and their families, and the communities to which they return. When the Department of Defense Appropriations Act comes to the Senate floor, I join justice advocacy groups in asking you to support lifting the longstanding ban on Pell Grants for all people in state and federal prisons. Thank you.

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Action 10: Advocate for the health and safety of detained aspiring Americans. [Source: Free Them All VA Coalition]

Contact

Governor Ralph Northam: Via contact form or (804)786-2211

Senator Mark Warner: Via contact form or (202)224-2023

Senator Tim Kaine: Via contact form or (202)224-4024

Script: Hello, I’m [WRITING/CALLING] from [ZIP] to express my concern about the treatment of aspiring Americans at ICA-Farmville, a Virginia ICE detention facility. Investigations revealed a history of ICA-Farmville’s human rights violations toward detainees, and also currently has the largest COVID-19 outbreak of all U.S. detention centers. I am advocating in solidarity with all people insisting on an immediate inspection of ICA-Farmville by the Virginia Department of Health, demanding that ICE free every detained person before more lives are lost, and defunding ICE and CBP. Thank you.

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Bonus: Take further action with the Free Them All VA Action Guide

Donate: To the #FreeThemAllVA fund to help support folx detained in Virginia in getting access to basic needs, as well as those recently released as they reconnect with their communities.

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Acts of Gratitude

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

Thank George Hill and Sterling Brown, Milwaukee Bucks NBA players, for demanding an end to police violence against Black peoples in the wake of the attempted murder of Jacob Blake and inspiring others to do likewise. [Share why you appreciate using one’s professional platform to speak truth to power.]

Address: c/o Milwaukee Bucks, 1543 North 2nd Street, 6th Floor, Milwaukee, WI 53212

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Thank Pam Elam, president of Monumental Women, for honoring in public places where women fought for women’s suffrage. [Share why you appreciate visibility and celebration of human rights struggles in America.] 

Address: P.O. Box 150-074, Van Brunt Station, Brooklyn, NY 11215

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Bonus: Donate here to further the work of Monumental Women.

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Good news

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

National

  • Congress passes and the president signs the Great American Outdoors Act, which will expand and fund nature conservation efforts.
  • House votes with bipartisan support to block and reverse operational changes to the USPS that are delaying mail delivery.
  • Federal court orders the administration to answer questions and turn over evidence about USPS policy changes.
  • 9th Circuit overturns lower court decisions denying asylum to women seeking refuge from domestic violence in Latin American countries.
  • Government Accountability Office finds that the Acting DHS Secretary and Acting Deputy Secretary are ineligible for their positions based on improper appointment.
  • Federal court once again rules that the president must hand over his tax returns to the Manhattan DA.
  • SCOTUS determines that RI voters can cast mail-in ballots during the pandemic without witnesses or notarization.
  • Federal court blocks the administration from ending healthcare protections for transgender individuals.
  • DOJ Inspector General launches probe into law enforcement actions in Portland and Washington, D.C.

State

  • CA will mail ballots to all active registered voters and will count all ballots postmarked by election day, so long as they arrive up to 17 days after November 3.
  • IA residents with felony convictions can now vote, following an executive order from Gov. Kim Reynolds restoring their voting rights.
  • IN: Court blocks a law that would have allowed county election officials to purge voters from rolls immediately without notice.
  • MA extends a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures to mid-October in light of the ongoing pandemic.
  • NJ will send ballots to all active registered voters for the November election.
  • NV: Gov. Steve Sisolak signs a bill to mail every active registered voter a mail-in ballot for the November 3 election.
  • NY: Steve Bannon is charged with wire-fraud and money-laundering for defrauding hundreds of thousands of people through a fundraising scam.
  • OR agricultural workers will get financial relief from lost wages due to COVID-19. 
  • OR sues federal police agencies over unlawful use of force against protesters.
  • PA extends its general election ballot receipt deadline to November 6.
  • TX: Gov. Greg Abbott extends early voting for the November election.
  • 20 states and multiple cities sue the administration over an executive action that would illegally exclude aspiring Americans from being counted in the 2020 census.

Local

  • Mayors from around the country call for a congressional investigation into the administration’s unconstitutional deployment of unidentifiable federal troops to sites of protest. 
  • New Orleans City Council passes a resolution discouraging judges from imposing fines and fees on people passing through the legal system.
  • Broward County postal workers ensure 1,225 primary ballots arrive in time to be counted.
  • Felony charges are filed against St. Louis couple who pointed weapons at protesters.
  • Circuit court orders the Flint City Clerk’s office to process over 1,000 absentee ballot applications in time for primary elections.
  • More than 80 cities and counties declare racism a public health crisis.
  • Portland bans local police forces from cooperating with unidentifiable federal troops who illegally interfere with protests. 
  • Social workers from the Community Assistance Liaison’s division within the St. Petersburg, FL Police Dept. will respond to social service calls instead of police officers.

Corporate/business

  • Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility initiates steps toward ending its contract with ICE.
  • More than 600 companies give their employees the day off to vote on November 3.
  • Court issues a preliminary injunction against GEO Group, temporarily blocking the expansion of the Mesa Verde detention center.
  • Facebook removes thousands of pages, accounts, ads, and groups promoting violent rhetoric and dangerous conspiracy theories.
  • Snapchat adds new features to facilitate voting. 
  • O magazine features Breonna Taylor on its cover, as well as calls to action towards police accountability and justice for her death.

Groups and organizations

News with heart

  • VP candidate Kamala Harris becomes the first Black woman and first Indian-American individual on a major-party presidential ticket.
  • Teams in the NBA, WNBA, MLB, MLS, and tennis player Naomi Osaka refuse to partake in games in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake by police.
  • Aspiring Americans in Brooklyn find various avenues of support from pastor Juan Carlos Ruiz.
  • Postal workers in Washington State reinstall mail-sorting machines despite controversial orders not to.  
  • LGBTQ civil rights leader Marsha P. Johnson is honored with the renaming of a New York state park in her name. 
  • COVID-19 cases drop 46% in SC areas with mask mandates compared to areas without.
  • Food truck owners Victor Guzman, Leo Oblea, and Miguel Escobedo provide food and other support to aspiring American farmworkers.
  • A record number of Black women are running for Congress.
  • All four Native candidates running for office in Kansas (Christina Haswood—Diné, Sharice Davids—Ho-Chunk, Stephanie Byers—Chickasaw, and Ponka-We Victors—Tohono O’odham and Ponca) win their primary elections.
  • Voter mobilization efforts result in participation increases among young voters and voters of color.
  • A new monument featuring famous women’s rights activists from history is revealed in Central Park to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
  • Neighbors support Manette Sharick’s Black Lives Matter chalk drawings with additional encouraging messages.
  • Musicians in Richmond, VA play “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in honor of Elijah McClain and his love for the violin.

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

Housekeeping

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