Issue #159, 2020 Week 29

Hey everyone,

Things are a bit scary and unsure right now.  We are here by your side. 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

I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I’m finding our current heat wave and current news cycle to be a match that wasn’t exactly made in heaven. It’s rough right now, but I’m here if anyone needs anything–albeit from at least six feet away and in front of an air conditioner.

Events to Know

Messed Up Trump Response: COVID Edition. Of course, we also had a lot of Trump-flavored COVID news this week (and let me tell you, that is not a quality product). In addition to the smear campaign against Fauci, which I think we talked about last week, hospitals were ordered to give COVID data to the Department of Health and Human Services instead of the CDC, which had been previously keeping track.  This was promptly followed by the disappearance of said data, which did eventually reappear after considerable complaint but will not be updated further by the CDC.  It also coincided with news that the CDC was prevented from testifying before Congress, and as other countries get their outbreaks under control, it becomes more and more starkly apparent just how badly the United States has handled this crisis.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Trump Administration Strips C.D.C. Of Control Of Coronavirus Data
  2. CNN – US Health Department Directs CDC To Add Hospital Data Back To Its Website
  3. Politico – House Education Democrats Say CDC Director Blocked From Appearing Before Congress
  4. Washington Post – Unlike The United States, More And More Countries Are Making Masks Mandatory

Election Oddities (Again).  There was a fair amount of unusual election news this week.  Jeff Sessions lost his primary in Alabama, which feels fitting but does illustrate the strange times we live in.  After considerable back-and-forth the RNC will be scaled back when it’s held in Jacksonville next month (but more on the COVID news that prompted this below).  Perhaps the oddest news, though, is that Trump has already replaced his campaign manager, which reflects his unusually low polls as well as his high turnover rate in general.

Key links:

  1. The Hill – Jeff Sessions Loses Comeback Bid In Alabama Runoff
  2. Washington Post – Republican Convention In Jacksonville Will Be Scaled Back Next Month
  3. NBC – Trump Shakes Up Campaign Staff, Demotes Top Manager Brad Parscale, As Polls Show Him Behind Biden

Confounding Shooting.  The household of the judge assigned to an Epstein-related Deutsche Bank civil case was attacked this week when a shooter showed up at their door dressed like a FedEx employee.  Judge Salas’s son was killed in the attack, and her husband remains in critical condition.  Confusing things further, the believed assailant was found dead this morning, about two hours away from the site of the shooting, and appearing to have shot himself.  Said assailant was a self-described “antifeminist” who had brought a case in front of her last year, but hadn’t had any contact with her since–and the shooting occurred the day after Judge Salas was assigned the Deutsche case, with no recent threats issued against her.  I’m sure you don’t need me to point out how incredibly sketchy this entire story is, but uh… this entire story is incredibly sketchy and disturbing, no matter what was motivating the shooter.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Husband And Son Of A Federal Judge Are Shot In New Jersey
  2. CBS – Investigators Believe Federal Judge Was “Intended Target” Of Attack That Killed Her Son And Wounded Her Husband, Source Says
  3. Bloomberg Law – Deutsche Bank Investors Sue Over Epstein Ties, Stock Drops

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  In Missouri news, the gun-toting married couple that brandished weapons at protesters in St Louis a few weeks ago are now facing criminal charges.  That said, it’s likely their case is being diverted to a civil court, so they’re unlikely to actually experience said criminal charges at all.  Still, it’s closer to actual sound public policy than it could have been, so for now I’ll take it.

Key links:

  1. NPR – St. Louis Prosecutor Charges White Couple With Threatening Protesters With Guns

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19. COVID news remains a mess on both national and state levels.  We continue to break records about daily infection rates, and death rates are rising again as well. Unemployment rates are still rising too, with over a million new claims filed for the seventeenth week in a row.  Despite this news, a lot of workers are about to run out of benefits, because this is the last week of the extra $600 created by federal legislation. The Senate is expected to debate and/or vote on some version of the Heroes Act this week to respond, but current drafts include horrorshow provisions about forcing schools to reopen and shielding businesses from consequences if they make workers sick.  And though more and more franchises are requiring that their customers wear masks, Georgia’s governor has forbidden municipalities from requiring them, and is even suing Atlanta for ignoring his utterly bananas decree and requiring masks in public anyway.
Key links:

  1. Reuters – U.S. Shatters Coronavirus Record With Over 77,000 Cases In A Day
  2. ABC – Another 1.3 Million Workers Filed For Unemployment Insurance
  3. CNN – This Is The Last Week Of $600 Unemployment Benefits
  4. AP – GOP Leaders, Trump To Discuss Virus Aid As Crisis Deepens
  5. Washington Post – Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Sues Atlanta Over Mask Requirement As Coronavirus Surges In The State

News Out of Portland. News out of Portland, Oregon is pretty extreme, and we need to be talking about it. As is true in many cities, protests there have been ongoing since the George Floyd murder–about fifty days all told, by the time that I write this. Protesters already had a lot of stories about tear gas being abused and police brutality in the city. But this week, they also began reporting that unmarked vans containing military personnel were snatching people off the street to take into custody, in sudden and unpredictable patterns that looked more like abduction than law enforcement. Incredibly, CBP has since confirmed this allegation, and government officials signaled that we can expect this pattern to continue and even spread to other cities. This statement was made despite a pending lawsuit, the obvious hostility of city officials, and mounting evidence that the federal agents have no training. This is all incredibly alarming, and we need to be acting on it immediately.

Key links:

  1. Rolling Stone – RS Reports: Progressive City, Brutal Police
  2. OPB – Federal Law Enforcement Use Unmarked Vehicles To Grab Protesters Off Portland Streets
  3. NPR – DHS Official On Reports Of Federal Officers Detaining Protesters In Portland, Ore.
  4. New York Times – Federal Officers Deployed In Portland Didn’t Have Proper Training, D.H.S. Memo Said

Black Lives Matter News.  We touched on some of the biggest BLM news above, but there were some other things to know as well.  Demonstrators in Louisville were charged with felonies for protesting Breonna Taylor’s murder, though the police that actually murdered her have not been arrested, let alone charged.  A town near Seattle declared writing “Black Lives Matter” in chalk a crime as well.  Meanwhile, the military issued a broad rule apparently intended to remove confederate flags, which was probably so broad to avoid backlash from Trump, who keeps insisting those flags are a point of Southern pride.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – 87 Face Felony Charges After Protesting Breonna Taylor’s Death
  2. Seattle Times – Seeing ‘Black Lives Matter’ Written In Chalk, One Yakima County Town Declares It A Crime
  3. Washington Post – Defense Secretary Effectively Bans Confederate Flags From Military Bases While Rejecting ‘Divisive Symbols’

Actions for Everyone

Watch Portland: I just learned that a George W. Bush staffer called Portland “Little Beirut” because of the protestors he encountered during a visit there. It’s no stranger to protests, but from footage and first hand experiences being shared, it sounds like what’s happening in Portland is closer to a civil war. The ACLU of Oregon filed a lawsuit that prohibited police in Portland from dispersing, arresting, threatening to arrest, or directing physical force against journalists or legal observers, but we know, because of news coming from The white House (intentional lowercase I’m trying out), that Federal police will be sent to quell protests in many cities across America.

Since this involves our First Amendment Rights, I figured it was important to link to Know Your Rights resources. For starters, The National Lawyers Guild has a live hotline for activists and lawyers to report incidents of federal repression, such as FBI “door-knocks” at activists’ homes, grand jury investigations and subpoenas, and any other federal law enforcement efforts to undermine civil rights, including federal grab squads and the use of unidentified federal agents to police protests. The line is live at: 212-679-2811. As always, study the ACLU’s Know Your Rights for Protestors page.

End ICE: Speaking of secret police, ICE has been detaining people from right off the streets for no probable cause other than the color of their skin for years. Let’s end ICE too! The American Friends Service Committee is working on just that, and they could use your support. Check them out, https://www.afsc.org/abolish-ice.

Also, the ACLU has an Immigrant Rights page of resources that you should also check out. Did you know, for example, that the US spends 1.84 billion dollars detaining immigrants?

Create Consent Culture Shifts: This week, Burger Records announced they were shutting down after stories surfaced involving some of their staff and talent being sexual assault and misconduct assailants. In my opinion, these brave souls coming out of the #MeToo movement are making huge waves, and I’m here for it.

It takes a lot of courage to come forward with stories of sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct because we live in a culture that isn’t designed to believe womxn and non-binary folks when they explain their experiences. Burger Records shutting down sends the message that they won’t participate in that culture. These are the culture shifts we need to see. I want to share RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network). After an experience of sexual assault or misconduct, it’s hard to know how to react. I wanted to share RAINN for the resources it has available. Misconduct is a spectrum of actions that can make a person feel unsafe and uncomfortable, which is why it’s so important to build a culture of consent.

Because of COVID 19, right now is a great time to get some great consent building experience by asking questions about your physical proximity to other people – “Can I sit this close to you?” “Are you hugging, elbow bumping, or do you prefer not to be touched?” Think of a question that is appropriate for your co-workers, your family, or quaranteam.

A thing that made me smile this week:

This video of Erykah Badu surprising Marc Rebillet. It’s a 7 minute video that feels like an emotional journey through 2020 put to music.

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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