Issue #154, 2020 Week 24

Hey everyone,

We apologize for not sending  out an issue last week. We simply could not get in front of all the changing news. We have given you an extra full newsletter this week. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

Everything is still a giant mess–honestly, Trump planning a rally on Juneteenth in Tulsa feels like a pretty succinct summary of where we are as a country.  But as always, pecan resist, and we keep pushing for a more just world. I’m here if anyone needs anything.

Events to Know

Regulation Free-For-All. We’ve officially reached the point where Trump is doing every garbage regulation change his id desires and claiming it’s necessary for COVID reasons, so this was a hell of a week for proclamations. First up was an order expediting permitting of construction projects, which obviated a lot of environmental review typically done under the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act. Then that was followed by a relaxation of the way the Clean Air Act is implemented, and then that was followed by changes making it harder to dispute credit reports. Then he followed that by allowing commercial fishing at a marine sanctuary.  Continuing the trend, a lot of eyes are on their attempt to undo protections for transgender people and abortion in the ACA, which the administration released on the anniversary of the Pulse Massacre because of course they did. But they also finalized a rule that allows all kinds of egregious hunting practices in Alaska, which I take rather personally as an avid bear fan. And we should all pay attention to the proposed changes to asylum issued, which would effectively cement severe curtailment of asylum claims first constructed during the COVID crisis.

Key links:

  1. The Hill – Trump Signs Order Removing Environmental Review Of Major Projects
  2. New York Times – Trump, Citing Pandemic, Moves To Weaken Two Key Environmental Protections 
  3. Washington Post – Citing An Economic Emergency, Trump Directs Agencies Across Government To Waive Federal Regulations
  4. Bloomberg Law – HHS Moves To Curtail Abortion, Transgender Health Protections
  5. Washington Post – Trump Administration Makes It Easier For Hunters To Kill Bear Cubs And Wolf Pups In Alaska
  6. NPR – Trump Administration Proposes Rules To Sharply Restrict Asylum Claims

Other Election Oddities (Again).  We did see some positive election news this week, but mostly things remain a mess.  A judge in Tennessee ruled that voters must have the option to vote by mail during the pandemic, due to the risk presented by COVID.  Georgia’s primary did not exactly go smoothly, with new voting systems malfunctioning left and right and lines so long it prompted an independent investigation.  The GOP condemned “the current President” because they just straight-up didn’t update their copy from 2016 when rolling out the official 2020 platform, which leaves the talking points as stale as you might expect as they gear up for their convention.  Speaking of RNC news, the latest rumor is that the new destination will be Jacksonville, but that hasn’t been finalized (which feels pretty par for the course, given the rest of this paragraph). And in order to attend the first Trump rally on June 20, supporters have to sign a waiver saying they won’t sue if they get coronavirus there.

Key links:

  1. Chattanooga Times Free Press – Judge: Tennessee Must Allow Vote By Mail For All Amid Coronavirus
  2. Guardian – Georgia primary blighted by long lines and broken voting machines
  3. CBS – Georgia election ‘catastrophe’ in largely minority areas sparks investigation
  4. Politico – Republicans across the spectrum slam RNC’s decision to keep 2016 platform
  5. New York Times – Trump Supporters Must Waive Right to Sue Over Virus to Attend Rally

Flynn Flyover.  It almost feels quaint to discuss governmental malfeasance that doesn’t involve life or death by this point, but we nonetheless have more news on the Flynn trial. More specifically, the briefs to discuss dismissal were due this week, and the guy arguing against dismissal had a lot to say about the idea–one gets the impression that as a former judge, he takes the entire thing rather personally. I think my favorite was the part where he called the Department of Justice’s actions “a gross abuse of prosecutorial power,” but I’m also partial to his observations that they “abdicated . . . responsibility” and “everything about this is irregular.” At this rate, I hope the hearing on July 16 is televised.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Flynn Committed Perjury, And DOJ Request To Toss His Conviction Was ‘Corrupt,’ ‘Politically Motivated,’ Court-appointed Adviser Argues
  2. CNN – Justice Department Dropping Flynn Case Is ‘A Gross Abuse Of Prosecutorial Power,’ Court-appointed Lawyer Says

Recent Resilience

Recent Regulatory Resilience.  Many officials are discussing ways to defund, dissolve, or regulate police forces better in the wake of the last few weeks.  Most notably, the Minneapolis city council announced its intent to disband the police department and replace it with citizen patrols, a decision which came only a few days after they agreed to ban chokeholds and neck restraints Seattle is considering defunding its force as well.  Meanwhile, Democrats introduced sweeping police reform legislation in both the Senate and the House, and the House held a hearing on police violence, accepting testimony from George Floyd’s brother. People are increasingly losing their patience for racist symbols, with NASCAR banning the confederate flag at all events and the Senate proving receptive to renaming military bases. (Several monuments have been removed as well, by officials or otherwise.) Public opinion has also created pushback in other ways: an Ohio legislator was fired for his racist remarks; a top general apologized for appearing in the Lafayette Square photo op; more companies are refusing to let police use their facial recognition software; and over a thousand former DoJ employees have called for an investigation into Barr related to his clearing protesters with teargas.

Key links:

  1. The Guardian – Minneapolis Lawmakers Vow To Disband Police Department In Historic Move
  2. NPR- Minneapolis Agrees To Ban Chokeholds And Neck Restraints By Police
  3. Washington Post – Seattle Politicians Consider Defunding Police Department Amid Outbreak Of Violence At Protest
  4. Politico – ‘Black Americans Want To Stop Being Killed’: Democrats Unveil Sweeping Police Reform Bill

Recent Court Resilience.  SCOTUS dropped a lot of promising orders this week, though some of them were baffling. They declined to hear a case challenging California protections for immigrants, which leaves those protections in place contrary to this administration’s aims. They also declined to hear cases challenging gun legislation based on the Second Amendment. But the biggest piece of news of the day was a 6-3 decision written by Justice Gorsuch, of all people, that concludes Title VII protects workers from being fired, disciplined, or denied opportunities due to sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a huge win for the LGBTQ+ movement, and it may have a number of other implications as well.

Key links:

  1. Los Angeles Times – California ‘Sanctuary’ Rules Stay In Place After Supreme Court Rejects Trump’s Challenge
  2. The Hill – Supreme Court Sidesteps New Cases On Gun Rights, Police Protections
  3. Reuters – U.S. Supreme Court Rules Workers Cannot Be Fired For Being LGBT+
  4. Slate – The Supreme Court Just Tanked Trump’s Anti-Trans Agenda

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.   COVID news continues to get worse on the national stage.  Hospitalization rates are rising in several states, as are other signs of increased communal transmission–and three states have their highest-ever rates right now.  Florida gained 1,300 more cases in one day on Friday, bringing its total over 60,000; Texas experienced a surge as well, with Dallas county reporting record highs; and overall, experts report that 23 states have seen an increase in the rolling seven-day average over the last week. Several research publications are now writing about the efficacy of masks, presumably to get more people wearing them.  On the economy front, the Dow dropped precipitously on Thursday as the Fed left interest rates low and people worried about a COVID resurgence.  There were also about 1.5 million new unemployment claims, suggesting some people are still being pushed out of the workplace even with states reopening.  Numbers are also increasing internationally, particularly in South America, But nonetheless most states are opening back up, including New York.  Meanwhile, Lancet is in the news for retracting the study that raised safety concerns about hydroxychloroquine, apparently due to inability to audit the data. Nonetheless, the FDA has ended emergency authorization to use hydroxychloroquine, probably because other trials concluded the same thing.  
Key links:

  1. CNBC – U.S. Coronavirus Cases Have Been Slowly Ticking Up Since Memorial Day
  2. New York Times – Coronavirus Cases Spike Across Sun Belt As Economy Lurches Into Motion
  3. Politico – FDA Ends Emergency Use Of Hydroxychloroquine For Coronavirus
  4. Washington Post – Spate Of New Research Supports Wearing Masks To Control Coronavirus Spread
  5. NPR – Federal Reserve Vows To Help Economy Weather The Pandemic Recession
  6. Politico – Unemployment Claims Climbed By 1.5 Million Last Week, Despite Jobs Gains In May

Documenting Police Brutality.  Needless to say, one of the biggest stories we need to keep tracking is the civil unrest which continued for another week.  There are many, many things to track here, so I’m beginning with stories that involve police forces directly.  On the one hand, there were several stories this week about police facing consequences for bad behavior, particularly when it was documented with cameras:  1) Six Atlanta officers face assault charges for dragging two college kids out of their car and stunning them during a protest; 2) All four cops involved in George Floyd’s death are now charged with murder; 3) The ACLU is suing the Minnesota police for their portion of over 149 documented police attacks on members of the press; 4) A Philadelphia officer faces assault charges after beating a Temple student with a baton without provocation; and 5) two officers in Buffalo were suspended for shoving an elderly man on camera.  But for each of these stories, there are seemingly even more new stories about violent police culture without consequences: 6) Officers who shot and killed Breanna Taylor in her own home still have not been charged, although there is now an FBI investigation pending; 7) 57 officers in Buffalo resigned in protest because the videoed assault mentioned above resulted in suspension; 8) Evidence of another asphyxiation-related homicide of a man in custody arose in Tacoma, Washington, with no charges filed; 9) Officers in Chicago assaulted their own police board president, again without any charges filed (though he did file an official complaint); 10) Officers in Asheville destroyed medical equipment and otherwise trashed a medic tent during a protest; and 11) Police in Vallejo fatally shot an unarmed man outside a Walgreens.  An attorney in North Carolina has documented over 300 violent incidents on camera since protests began two weeks ago, which is as disturbing as it is unsustainable.  And the Washington Post reports there have been nineteen documented instances of people driving cars into protest crowds, normalizing what was a shocking action only three years ago in Charlottesville.
Key links:

  1. NBC – Atlanta Officers Charged With Assault After Video Of Them Using Stun Guns On Black Students
  2. Washington Post – Murder Charges Filed Against All Four Officers In George Floyd’s Death As Protests Against Biased Policing Continue
  3. Time – Watchdogs Say Assaults On Journalists Covering Protests Is On A ‘Scale That We Have Not Seen Before’
  4. Philadelphia Inquirer – Philadelphia Police Inspector Joseph Bologna Will Face Assault Charges In The Beating Of A Temple Student At A Protest
  5. New York Times – Buffalo Police Officers Suspended After Shoving 75-year-old Protester
  6. ABC – FBI Opens An Investigation Into The Death Of Breonna Taylor
  7. Washington Post – 57 Buffalo Officers Resign From Special Squad Over Suspension Of Two Who Shoved 75-year-old
  8. New York Times – Another Man Who Said ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Died In Custody. An Autopsy Calls It Homicide.
  9. WTTW – Police Board President: Officers Struck Me 5 Times With Their Batons During Protest
  10. Des Moines Register – Fact Check: Police Did Destroy A Medic Area During Protests In Asheville, North Carolina
  11. NBC – Police In Vallejo, Calif., Fatally Shoot Man With A Hammer Kneeling Outside A Walgreens

Other Societal Response.  Needless to say, all of the above has prompted a lot of responses all over the country–many of which are worth tracking continually.  A memorial was held for George Floyd, which resulted in thousands of people gathering in cities all over the country, and protests continued all over the world as well.  The New York Times had a giant fight about publishing a fascist op-ed from Tom Cotton about the Insurrection Act, which ultimately culminated in the op-ed editor resigning after admitting he hadn’t even read the piece.  The NFL Commissioner admitted they were wrong to side against players who kneeled during the anthem, apparently prompted by an appeal from the players released by video.  A judge in Georgia has advanced the murder trial for three men charged with Ahmaud Aubrey’s death. Twitter found itself discussing the Third Amendment for probably the first time ever after the mayor of D.C. tried to remove troops stationed in hotels there.  And Kpop fans made the news for spamming police apps and hashtags to make it harder for police to identify protesters.
Key links:

  1. NBC – George Floyd Memorial: Loved Ones Say Goodbye To Man Whose Death Ignited National Conversation On Racism
  2. New York Times – James Bennet Resigns As New York Times Opinion Editor
  3. ESPN – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Says Nfl Was ‘wrong’ Not To Listen To Its Players About Racism
  4. CBS – Judge Advances Murder Case Against 3 Men In Ahmaud Arbery’s Death
  5. Business Insider – Trump And The Threat Of The Military In Us Cities Has Made The Third Amendment Suddenly Relevant. Here’s What It Means.
  6. Newsweek – Kpop Fans Spam Grand Rapids Police Department With Fancams After Crashing Dallas Police App

Actions for Everyone

BLM: As we reach the third week of national on-going protests after the murder carried out by the police of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, George Floyd, I’d like to re-share these very useful links for anyone who is protesting on the streets or wants to support the Black Lives Matter movement. We have sadly seen another black man die in the hands of the police in Atlanta, Rayshard Brooks, who’s killer has been charged with felony murder.

Ways To Help – Official Black Lives Matter website on ways to support the movement

National Resource Spreadsheet – A document with national resources from bail funds to protesting guidelines

As protests go on around the nation, the demand for defunding the police has harnessed great support. But what does the call for “defund the police” look like? I found these words by representative Alexandra Ocasio Cortez explain is perfectly:

“It looks like a suburb. Affluent white communities already live in a world where they choose to fund youth, health, housing etc more than they fund police. When a teenager or preteen does something harmful in a suburb (I say teen bc this is often where lifelong carceral cycles begin for Black and Brown communities), White communities bend over backwards to find alternatives to incarceration for their loved ones to ‘protect their future,’ like community service or rehab or restorative measures. Why don’t we treat Black and Brown people the same way?”

You can find more on her perspective in this Marie Claire article.  What else can you do to help #DefundThePolice?

  • Call your local government and find out how funding works for your community. And ask your representatives what they are doing in order to allocate funds towards at risk youth, health, education and alternatives to incarceration.
  • Sign the BLM initiated petition 
  • Read this Tool Kit by the The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Go protest!
  • Donate to entities like the ACLU who are frontrunners in these topics
  • You can find more options in this article by Refinery29 

Given the state of the world, you’ve probably found yourself lately talking to friends and family about systemic racism, politics, police and other heavy topics. I’ve seen many posts on social media about fights with family over these topics and even I have found myself discussing these uncomfortable but necessary topics with loved ones. Like today, for example, I found myself discussing the racist history of Aunt Jemima, the pancake and syrup brand that has decided to change their image. 

How can you talk to your loved ones about these topics? It’s important we do so, even if it isn’t fun.

Here are some good sources to help you lead that conversation.

Want to have better conversations about racism with your parents? Here’s how

How to talk about racism with your white parents

How to talk to your non-black family members about race, according to therapists

On-going series of Trump Hates The Environment: These past weeks we’ve seen two major rules that protect animals being attacked.

First, Trump wants to roll back on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which leaves more than 1,000 species of birds unprotected against industry. We still have a 45 days period for the government to hear public comments so please call your representatives.

Then, they are finalizing a rule that will allow hunters to kill wolf, coyote and bear cubs in their dens in Alaska. Mention this to your representatives while you call them to ask for police defunding!

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

An underground plant exchange where white folks send plants to black folks

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 activism@patrothfuss.com and hopefully we can use your stories to help encourage and educate others!

Best,
The Activism Team

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