Issue #192, 2021 Week 17

Hey everyone,

Are you trying to stay on top the news but are finding it difficult?  Let us help. 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’m frustrated that the same intro remains relevant for two weeks in a row, but frankly, this past week was really rough and we’re all really weary.  Suffice to say, we still have so much work to do, and we’ll have suggestions below accordingly.  We’re here if anyone needs anything.
 

Events to Know

New Voting Suppression Laws (cont). This week was a painful mix of white supremacist rhetoric and action, and several forms involved voting. In the House, several problem children founded a new bigot caucus to “promote Anglo-Saxon political traditions” such as–hang on, let me check my notes here–European architecture and Bitcoin. (I swear I kill brain cells every time I read something these people write.) In state news, Arkansas passed comprehensive voter suppression legislation that mirrors Georgia’s in scope. Meanwhile, in January 6 news, a founding member of the Oathkeepers has flipped, and will be cooperating with federal prosecutors in exchange for a lenient sentence.

Key links:

  1. The Hill – Pro-Trump Lawmakers Form Caucus Promoting ‘Anglo-Saxon Political Traditions’
     
  2. Arkansas Times – Giving Snacks, Water To Arkansas Voters Outlawed Under Bill Now Headed For Final Approval
     
  3. Washington Post – Founding Member Of Oath Keepers Enters First Guilty Plea In Jan. 6 Capitol Breach

 

Dismantling the Deportation Machine?  As I mentioned last week, President Biden never finished dismantling the Trump-era 15,000 person refugee cap, which was putting us on track for the lowest number of refugee resettlements in American history. This gained more national attention after inside sources claimed Biden was leaving the cap in place because he didn’t want the political optics of changing it, and Biden doubled down on leaving the cap in place. Finally, after disgust from basically every Democrat and even a few Republicans, the White House walked that back and agreed to raise the cap again, though this has not yet happened. Against this backdrop, it’s hard to get all that excited about his memo to ICE telling them to stop saying the i-word.

 

Key links: 

  1. CNN – Biden Resists Raising Refugee Cap Over Political Optics, Sources Say
     
  2. NBC – White House Says Biden Will Allow More Refugees After Democrats Blasted Announcement Of Sharp Limits
     
  3. Talking Points Memo – Biden Admin Orders Ice, Cbp To Halt Usage Of Immigration Terms Embraced In Trump Era

 

Congressional Updates Again. With Congress back in session, there was a lot of movement this week.  I’ll talk in more detail about a few particularly promising developments below, but there were also a number of other beginnings to track:  1) An increasing number of Congresspeople are calling to create a USPS postal banking pilot program; 2) Progressive Democrats introduced a bill to expand the Supreme Court; and 3) There’s a modest bipartisan effort in the Senate to increase the minimum wage, which doesn’t make it up to the $15 per hour we frankly need but would nonetheless be better than the truly embarrassing $7.25 per hour that we’ve had for over ten years.

 

Key links: 

  1. WGRZ – Sen. Gillibrand Calls On Congress To Initiate A Postal Banking Pilot Program
     
  2. NBC – Democrats To Introduce Bill To Expand Supreme Court From 9 To 13 Justices
     
  3. CBS – Romney And Sinema Teaming Up On Proposal To Raise The Minimum Wage

 

Recent Resilience

Recent Congressional Resilience. We did see some promising movement on several groundbreaking bills. A COVID-19 hate crime bill easily overcame a threat of filibuster with unusually broad bipartisan support, though it’s unclear when a final vote will occur. A bill granting DC statehood has made it out of committee, and will likely have a floor vote relatively soon. And the House has advanced a bill to create a committee to study reparations for descendents of enslaved people. 

 

Key links:

  1. NPR – ‘Enough Is Enough’: Democrats Push For GOP Support On Asian American Hate Crimes Bill
     
  2. Washington Post – House Committee Approves D.C. Statehood, Setting Up Likely Passage In The Full Chamber
     
  3. CBS – House Committees Hold Votes On Bills On D.C. Statehood And Reparations

 

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19. COVID news is still mixed, shocking no one.  The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is officially paused after it was discovered to cause dangerous blood clots in a very small number of cases, and the pause will likely remain in place for most of the week.  This has equity implications, as its single dose and lack of refrigeration made this vaccine easier to distribute in more remote locations.  Hospitalizations are also increasing again nationwide (though that may or may not be related to the pause).  But in more positive news, as of Monday, all adults are eligible for the vaccine and over 50% of adults have received at least one immunization shot.
 

Key links:

  1. STAT – U.S. Urges Pause On Use Of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 Vaccine After Rare Blood Clotting Cases
     
  2. Washington Post – Underserved Communities Bear Brunt Of Paused Johnson & Johnson Rollout
     
  3. Washington Post – Spring Wave Of Coronavirus Crashes Across 38 States As Hospitalizations Increase
     
  4. ABC – Half Of Americans Over 18 Have Received At Least 1 Vaccine Shot: CDC

 

Black Lives Still Matter.   Just like last week, this was a brutal, painful week for violence against Black Americans and gun violence in general.  The officer in Minnesota who fatally shot a Black man last week is being charged with secondary manslaughter, which in my opinion is a lesser charge than the situation deserves.  Meanwhile, in Chicago, a newly-released video shows police fatally shooting an unarmed 13-year-old boy. Understandably, protests are ongoing in Minnesota and Illinois as I type this.  In Austin, an ex-officer shot three people, including his own wife and daughter.  The Chauvin trial also wrapped this week, and the jury returned a guilty verdict on all three charges–including second degree murder–within ten hours.  But even as the verdict was being returned, police killed a sixteen-year-old girl in Columbus, Ohio who called them for help during an altercation with two other girls

 

Key links:

  1. Reuters – Minnesota Officer Faces Manslaughter Charge Over Shooting Of Black Man
     
  2. CNN – Chicago Police Say Bodycam Footage Shows Less Than A Second Passes From When 13-year-old Is Seen Holding A Handgun And Is Shot By Officer
     
  3. Associated Press – Suspect On The Run In Fatal Shooting Of 3 In Texas
     
  4. NBC – Derek Chauvin Guilty Of Murder In George Floyd’s Death
     
  5.  WBNS – Bodycam Footage Shows Fatal Police Shooting Of 16-year-old Girl In Southeast Columbus

Gun Violence Updates.  There were also several more civilian mass shootings in the past week.  In Indianapolis, eight FedEx employees were fatally shot, and several more were wounded; it’s possible this was another hate crime, as several deceased were members of the local Sikh community.  Additionally, there was a bar shooting in Kenosha and a shooting at a gun violence vigil, also in Columbus.  All in all, that brings us to at least fifty mass shootings in the last month, which is a sickening and globally anomalous rate of violence.

 

Key links:

  1. NPR – Indianapolis Sikh Community Mourns 4 Of Its Members Killed In Shooting
     
  2. Washington Post – Person of interest located in Kenosha shooting that left 3 dead, 3 injured
     
  3. CNN – The US Has Reported At Least 50 Mass Shootings Since The Atlanta Spa Shootings
 

Actions for Everyone

I’ve always believed in energy. The bodies of dinosaurs and other organic materials, as well as the sun, creates an electrical grid that brews our coffee, turns the lights on so we can see, powers the alarm clock so we wake up, or if we’re being honest, it charges our cell phones which are now alarm clocks. Apart from the grid, energy exists in the basic elements of human and non-human existence. Water, air, and fire create energy, plants create energy in our bodies, and even our bodies are made of energy that has been recycled for thousands and thousands of years. 

 

Whatever you believe, if you pray, if you give good vibes, if you pay it forward, if you believe in the power of the people, please give your best energy to yourself and others today and everyday until we know Justice. This week, this year has been heavy, but I’m so thankful you’re here so we can do this work together.   

 

Abolish The Police: It took nearly a year of marching, organizing rallies, destruction of buildings and property, hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets, thousands of arrested activists, and lots of civil disobedience to get a guilty charge for Derek Chauvin. I want to uplift the Floyd family, community organizers, and activists right now – it’s been a hard fought win without a doubt. One year of millions of people laboring across the country after George Floyd was murdered so that one person would be held accountable. I also want to be real when I say, we don’t even know what his sentencing will be yet, and even decades in jail won’t turn back time. 

 

We. Must. Abolish. The. Police. If you haven’t read Mariame Kaba’s article in the New York Times from a YEAR ago, do that now. Also learn from Mariame Kaba and other abolitionists. This work is as relevant now as ever before. While the Chauvin verdict was being read in Minneapolis, MN, 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was shot to death by police after calling them to help her in Columbus, OH. 

 

There’s lots of work that needs to be done in order to abolish the police, and I’d like to provide a sliding scale of actions you can take to help make it happen, but it starts with wrapping your head around the fact that it’s necessary. No reform. No reimagining. Abolition. Say it with me, “abolition.” 

 

There are many amazing organizations working to introduce urgent policy solutions, including Campaign Zero. Please visit their website and see how you can get involved. Deray at Campaign Zero needs volunteers to find and code police union contracts. Deray shared his phone number so you can text him at (410) 204-2013, and he’ll tell you how to help him process this data. 

 

Legalize Weed: Someone tell me why marijuana isn’t already legal across the Nation? (It’s rhetorical, no need to answer that. We know the answers are always puritanism, capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy.)  These United States aren’t united on the weed front. It’s ridiculous to me that I can legally buy weed in Illinois and Michigan (my neighboring states), but that marijuana is only decriminalized in my City, and fully illegal in the state of Wisconsin. It’s illogical that people are fined or sent to jail for having THC in their system when anyone could drive to several different states and buy it legally. If weed were legalized, we could finally stop arresting people on possession charges today, AND we could release people with possession charges from past decades. Even as I’m typing this, it’s hard to fathom there are people who have been in jail for decades because of marijuana possession, but there are. In addition to the legal ramifications, legalizing weed would bring in $millions$ in tax revenue to every state, and save $millions$ from going into keeping people in jail.  

 

You know who is stopping weed from being legal in the United States right now? SENATE DEMOCRATS! If we can’t even get democrats on board, our chances with republicans must be low. Call and write to your representatives this week. If you want language to write or a script to read, here are tips from drugpolicy.org on how to contact your electeds

 

 

Earth Week: Today is Earth Day! This week is Earth Week! I’m so happy we’re out of the era of the presidential predecessor, so at least this updates can be celebratory. You know we fold in environmental actions into this newsletter all the time, but there is something special about Earth Day. Read about its history. This weekend, I promise there is a neighborhood trash pick up near you, or invasive species clean up along a river bank, and if there isn’t, here’s how you organize one:

 

  1. Buy gloves or those trash picker-uppers
  2. Get garbage bags
  3. Knock on your neighbors’ doors and tell them to meet you outside or by the river to clean up from Noon-4 pm

 

Perhaps your neighborhood is in pristine environmental shape, and then what can you do? Check out this Earth Day calendar to find an Earth Day celebration near you. Earth Day Live is happening on Thursday 4/22 at 12 PM ET on earthday.org – I’ll be tuning in!

 
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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