Key Takeaways from August 12 Organizing Call

By: Harry Waisbren

Our latest conference call and online chat was quite productive, as we focused on the tangible ways by which we could help out the BORDC and the effort they are spreaheading towards local ordinances on law enforcement, domestic surveillance, racial and religious profiling and immigration enforcement.

You can read through the call transcript on our meeting page, and can further find some of the key takeaways below:

  • We began the call with a discussion of what Mark described as a “deliberate attempt by the right to distract us” that is sapping the energy from so many different efforts. The group agreed that this is particularly why local efforts at this time, where we can have more of an immediate impact with less resources required, could be that much more powerful amidst a longer term strategy.
  • Shahid explained the significance of the model ordinance effort in Hartford, and updated us on the hearing on the bill next week. The proximity within “Lieberman’s backyard” is but one of the reasons why there is “hope it will lead to further interest elsewhere.” He further emphasized how such bills are vehicles for broad coalitions between Muslims, Arabs, Hispanics, Progressives and Libertarians—which bellies their potential.
  • In terms of how GetFISARight can aid this effort, Shahid cited how our group’s mere existence represents a watermark where we were able to get tens of thousands to pay attention to these issues, and that this is a model we should certainly strive to replicate. Yet, in the meantime, there is many ways that we can further help not only as a group but as individuals, as there is a need for more local points of contact who are able to provide a feel for grassroots groups that could be reached out to. The BORDC could use introductions, and we’ll have more details soon about the best ways to refer them to our points of contact as we reach out on the local level. Yet this is certainly not the only way to help out, in fact, if you are willing to there are all sorts of ways to make a serious impact with their support. If you would like to have a call with a city council person about this bill, the BORDC could have someone on the call as well to help out. You could further be their primary local contact, as opposed to the BORDC being in front even. The goal is to use these reforms as vehicles to build the coalition, and “if anyone wants to be the face of that coalition, [the BORDC] would be happy to help.”
  • Thomas asked a very good question through the chat about the specifics of what was at play in Hartford, which led into a discussion about the model to replicate such a scenario. The Hartford coalition is a diverse mix of allies including the grassroots and direct involvement from a city council member as well. Although having a member of the council might not be easy to copy, Shahid said that the model can similarly be adjusted to different localities—provided that there is the necessitated local support.
  • Sally led a spirited discussion about Arizona and the impact of the evidence of civil liberties disintegrating amidst such racial profiling. She further provided a series of links about current ICE policies that represent how far we are already down the rabbit hole…despite how much further we may have yet to tumble.

Thanks to Shahid, Sally, Mark, Jim, Jon, or joining the call and for Thomas for taking part in the online chat, and please let us know in the comments if you have any questions—or better yet, if you’d like to get started on a local initiative!

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2 Responses to Key Takeaways from August 12 Organizing Call

  1. Sallijane says:

    Hi, just wanted to check in. I contacted Shahid offline and requested a letter that I can forward to my groups to let them know about the BORDC ordinance campaign and find those who have the proper connection to make an introduction; I will let you know how that progresses.
    I got an E-mail today from Standing on the Side of Love (a.k.a. SSL, pronounced “sizzle” [an Internet search will get you to the site]), asking me to send a letter (modifying their text) to President Obama* commending him on his support of the mosque in New York City; they note that the old community center/mosque has been in downtown NY for many years and is looking to move to a larger space. They also point out, as did the ACLU in an E-mail I got from that group, that our very conservative governor in New Jersey, Chris Christie (with whom most grassroots activists are furious because of his recent regressive budget suggestions, making virtually all cuts from the bottom) went against stereotyped expectations in also expressing support for the mosque. Politics makes for strange bedfellows, indeed.
    I also got an E-mail from the Freedom from Religion Foundation pointing out that the mosque is within all zoning codes and that they are getting frivolous requests from extreme right-wingers asking them to intervene in government’s “interference” on behalf of the mosque. The FfRF’s impression seems to be that these requests come from the same people who feel that the government should support the Christian National Day of Prayer (a Hindu organization that specifically asked to be included was rejected), but call foul when the government is not favoring the religion of their choice. It has been an interesting week.

  2. Sallijane says:

    Oops! I hit “submit comment” too soon!
    *The asterisk in the post above was to mention that my modification Pres. Obama to stand with me on the side of love in upholding out constitution, not abuse NSLs, or something to that effect—probably more useful for my venting than expecting that anyone will actually read it, but one never knows—I guess, Like Charlie Brown, I just keep hitting my head against the tree to make it grow faster!
    Please forgive sloppy pronoun use in the above post—I hope context makes clear just what group each pronoun represents, and will try to do better copy-editing next time.
    BTW, the Internet search should be for the whole phrase, not just SSL.

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