Issue #153, 2020 Week 22

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The Activism Team

Somehow, this week managed to be even worse than the last one, because we’re all fielding multiple serious crises at once. I think one Twitter user put it pretty well: “I’m at the global pandemic. I’m at the civil unrest.  I’m at the combination global pandemic/civil unrest.”  (These are strange and difficult times, but as always, we’ll have suggestions for actions below.)

Events to Know

Government COVID Response. Before all eyes were on civil unrest, we did manage to see some really messed up COVID news. Trump kicked things off by banning noncitizen travel to and from Brazil, because as we all know the virus definitely cares whether you’re a U.S. citizen. He also started taking concrete steps to force the United States to leave the World Health Organization, though it’s unclear if he legally can.  Meanwhile, the WHO is pausing a global trial on hydroxychloroquine, both because prescription is contraindicated and because it doesn’t improve outcomes in people who test positive for COVID.  Meanwhile, Justice Roberts joined with his liberal colleagues on the Supreme Court to refuse to force governors to open churches during the pandemic, noting in his 5-4 opinion that it “seems quite improbable” that the situation merits the extraordinary remedy of injunctive relief. (Kavanaugh, in contrast, wrote a tinfoil hat dissent literally claiming it was discrimination to close churches at all.) I’m glad the court came down on the correct side, just barely, but I find it unsettling that four justices wanted to force a governor to walk back restrictions on indoor gatherings during a pandemic.

Key links:

  1. CNN – White House Announces New Travel Restrictions On Brazil
  2. Vox – Trump Announced US Withdrawal From The WHO. It’s Unclear If He Can Do That.
  3. Politico – World Health Organization Pauses Study of Hydroxychloroquine in Global Trial
  4. New York Times – Supreme Court, In 5-4 Decision, Rejects Church’s Challenge To Shutdown Order

The Shifting Position of the Press. Historically, established press members have always been able to cover protests, and even riots, as necessary information sources for what is unfolding–press covered the Stonewall Riots in the 1960s, for example, and the Los Angeles riot of the early 1990s. Given this backdrop, it’s understandable that the sudden arrest of a CNN team in Minneapolis on Friday startled even the journalism team–in the associated video, the reporter can be heard asking “Why am I under arrest?” as he’s being cuffed mid-report in broad daylight. This was escalated dramatically and violently over the weekend, as police action against the press began to seem intentional and systemic. At the time that I type this, outlets have identified over two dozen incidents around the country: a reporter in Louisville lost her eye when police shot her in the face with a rubber bullet; journalism teams in Denver reported paint balls and tear gas used against them; a team in Detroit took pepper spray to the face while holding up their badges; a team in D.C. report physical assault; several teams in Minneapolis report police threw them to the ground or fired rubber bullets at them; teams in the larger LA area report rubber bullets and tear gas used as well. Many of these incidents occurred after the press had identified themselves, and many of them also have accompanying video. Though violence is part of the landscape right now, we need to pay particular attention to any state action that involves knowingly committing violence against the press, because it has major First Amendment implications.

Key links:

  1. CNN – Journalists Covering Protests Face Assault And Arrest
  2. Vox – “Directly At Us”: Louisville Law Enforcement Shoots Reporters With Pepper Bullets
  3. Reuters – Reuters Camera Crew Hit By Rubber Bullets As More Journalists Attacked At U.S. Protests
  4. Washington Post – ‘The Norms Have Broken Down’: Shock As Journalists Are Arrested, Injured By Police While Trying To Cover The Story

Other Election Oddities (Again).  It didn’t quite rise to the level of the other stories, but there was a lot of strange election news this week.  Joe Biden was in the news for saying Black voters who consider voting for Trump “ain’t Black,” which he of course later had to apologize for saying (though he apparently acquitted himself well in public appearances after the weekend’s riots).  Trump kept threatening to pull the RNC from Charlotte because they wanted literally any safety precautions, and then finally did pull the plug on that this week.  Several states and D.C. held freighted primaries in the middle of the week’s mess, with some curfews starting before polling places closed.  And Trump was also in the news for trying to register in Florida despite living in D.C., which is against Florida’s voting rules.

Key links:

  1. Business Insider – ‘I Should Not Have Been So Cavalier’: Joe Biden Apologizes For Saying Black Voters Deciding Between Him And Trump ‘Ain’t Black’
  2. Washington Post – Biden begins to map out ‘revolutionary’ agenda, reimagining his presidency amid national upheaval
  3. NPR – Tuesday’s Primaries: Races To Watch And Live Results
  4. New York Times  – Trump Threatens To Pull Republican National Convention From North Carolina

Recent Resilience

Recent Space Resilience.  This week did see the first successful space shuttle launch in nearly a decade, as the private company SpaceX had their first launch and rendezvoused with the International Space Shuttle on Sunday.  As one Twitter user put it, “Congratulations to the Astronauts that left Earth today.  Good choice.”

Key links:

  1. New York Times – SpaceX Lifts NASA Astronauts To Orbit, Launching New Era of Spaceflight

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  We have officially surpassed 100,000 deaths in this country, and over 1.8 million cases have been reported.  Given this news, combined with high rate of asymptomatic infection and a country that is increasingly reopening, an effective method of contact tracing has become extremely important.  It’s particularly alarming that we’re also seeing news of businesses banning masks and government officials hiding COVID-positive test results.    WHO is warning about a second peak, but Disney World is reopening, and so is New York City–or at least, that was the plan before all the riots; I’m not sure if that changes anything.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – Coronavirus In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count
  2. CNN – CDC Estimates That 35% Of Coronavirus Patients Don’t Have Symptoms
  3. Washington Post –  While U.S. Struggles To Roll Out Coronavirus Contact Tracing, Germany Has Been Doing It From The Start
  4. New York Times – New York City, Battered By Outbreak, Finally Moves Toward Reopening

Black Lives Still Matter in Minneapolis.  This was, frankly, a very bad week for civil rights of Black Americans.  The unrest started gaining steam in Minneapolis, where an unarmed man named George Floyd was choked to death by police, with videotape very clearly showing one officer’s knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.  Protests of the death resulted in even more deaths and mass arrests, and there were fatalities from Louisville protests as well.  The situation in Minneapolis continued to devolve as more and more awful details about Floyd’s death came out, police response became more brutal, and protesters began setting fires and damaging property.  The governor of Minnesota mobilized the National Guard, and the Pentagon put military police on standby.  Eventually the officer in question was arrested and charged with murder as we went into the weekend, and the other officers present were charged on Wednesday.
Key links:

  1. CNN – Prosecutors Do Not Announce Charges In George Floyd’s Death But Say ‘Justice Will Be Served’
  2. CBS – George Floyd’s Death Sparks Large Protests, Confrontations With Police
  3. CBS Local Minnesota – Former MPD Officer Derek Chauvin In Custody, Charged With Murder In George Floyd’s Death
  4. Washington Post – All 4 officers in the George Floyd case are now charged

Black Lives Still Matter Everywhere.  In response to news in Minneapolis, protests of all types continued to grow in over 140 cities all around the world.  Increasingly, police escalation and increased violence have been reported, as I noted above–everything from cruisers driving into crowds of protesters to rubber bullets and pepper spray to people being fatally shot.  Many cities now have curfews in place in an attempt to get things back under control, but it’s unclear whether that is working.  All of this was exacerbated by 45’s response, which has oscillated between bravado (inciting state officials to violence and threatening to declare antifa a terrorist organization) and utter cowardice (literally turning all the White House lights off so he could pretend no one is home).  On Monday, Trump indicated he would use military force in DC in a seeming invocation of the Insurrection Act.  He then immediately put his money where his mouth was by having military police use tear gas to disperse a completely peaceful protest, apparently so that he could have a photo op in front of a nearby damaged church.  This behavior was so egregious that his current Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, spoke out against the practice, though he ultimately caved to pressure and will implement the policy.  Another previous Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, spoke out against Trump’s protest militarization in general, rightfully saying, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”
Key links:

  1. NBC – George Floyd Protest Turns Deadly; Minneapolis Mayor Requests National Guard
  2. The Guardian – George Floyd Protests: The US Cities That Became Hotspots Of Unrest
  3. NPR – Grief, Outrage Over George Floyd Spread Further
  4. Politico – Trump Warns Protesters As Unrest Sweeps America
  5. Washington Post – Trump Administration To Significantly Expand Military Response In Washington Amid Unrest
  6. CBS – Esper says he opposes deploying active-duty troops to states to quell protests
  7. Atlantic – James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution

Actions for Everyone

Oh what a week it has been. Nobody envisioned we’d be taking part of the new civil rights movement in the middle of an on-going deadly pandemic while having the worst President in this country’s history, yet here we are. 2020 has been a ride. I hope you are doing fine in the middle of all of this and that you can find peace in the moments where you need it.

Civil Rights Movement 2.0 – The people have taken the streets in an outpouring call to justice after the Minneapolis Police murdered another black man, George Floyd. 10 days later there are protests in every State, the world has joined-in protesting in their streets in support of Black Lives Matter and finally today we heard all 4 policemen have been charged. But these protests are not just about George Floyd, they are about every single black person that has died in the hands of brutal police, about dismantling institutionalized racism and bringing justice to all People of Color. All this is going on while Pride month commences, another movement started by a black trans woman. I hope this is the start of a new era of civil rights, justice and reparations.

What can you do to help the movement?

If you can protest, protest. Remember to wear a mask, bring sanitizer, bring water and snacks, wear comfortable clothing and shoes, bring first aid supplies if you can.

If you can’t protest, you have many options, don’t feel that because you can’t be on the streets you are not valuable to the cause. Especially with Covid-19 outbreak, many people can’t put themselves and their families at risk. What can you do?

  • You can donate or fundraise
  • Offer to do childcare or take care of seniors
  • Cook a meal for protestors
  • Bring or gather supplies like food, water and first aid supplies to protesters
  • Start conversations, specially with your white friends and family members
  • Campaign on social media

Use these links to learn more:

Black Lives Matter “Ways You Can Help”

26 Ways to Be in the Struggle Beyond The Streets

You can also access this document, a National Resource List, that has gathered lots of information on where to donate, legal resources if you or someone you know is arrested, tips for protesting, organizations to support. It has lots of good information to know and share.

Dictator Trump – The President wants to bring the military in to stop the protests. He has pointed to the fact numerous times in tweets and in his last speech in front of St. John’s Church.  He is basically considering attacking the people he is supposed to be serving. He keeps using the word “dominate” and is encouraging state governments to use force on the protesters. Right now, DC looks like a war zone, as shown in this AP article. 

Using the military against civilians is specifically prohibited by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.  I don’t think Trump knows, now you do! So use this knowledge to call your elected officials and let them know that they have to use their power as congresspeople to restrain our wannabe dictator. That is basically why Congress exists in the first place. You can find your representatives here:



And here are some Things That Made Me Smile this week:

Guerrilla Grafters! Grafting fruit trees into city trees. 

The History of Antifa, which Trump designated as a terrorist organization when it’s not even an organization and it’s just a literal ideology against the ideals of Hitler.  I want to write more about this but maybe next week.

We hope this newsletter left you feeling more informed and more energized to go out there and make a difference in whatever way you can.

We’d love to hear from you, not only for tips or suggestions (though they’re always welcome), but also to hear about how the activism has been going. Do you have any success stories? Did anything surprise you that you weren’t expecting? Let us know at and hopefully we can use your stories to help encourage and educate others!

The Activism Team

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