Newsletter - Dismantling White Supremacy

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. Last weekend, tens of thousands of people marched in Washington, DC in the combined March for Racial Justice and March for Black Women. Native Americans joined black and brown people to lead the march. At the march, Rev. Graylan Hagler said, “White Supremacy has been given aid and comfort by a so-called president and so-called administration, and so-called leaders of that ideology are comforted and feel that they are back as a centerpiece of American political life.” From coast to coast, it is true that white supremacists are active and are being more visible than they have in decades.

Jeff Sessions Is Met With Protest At Georgetown Law

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By Karen Sloan for Law – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions received a frosty reception from some students and faculty at Georgetown University Law Center, where he delivered a talk on free speech Tuesday. In anticipation of his arrival, 30 faculty members on Monday released a letter stating that Sessions was an inappropriate speaker to tackle that subject because he and the Trump administration have repeatedly attacked First Amendment rights. About 130 students claimed on Monday that their tickets to Sessions’ talk were revoked. “It is extraordinarily hypocritical that AG Sessions wants to lecture future attorneys about the importance of free speech on campus while excluding the wider student body from his very own ‘safe space,’” said Daniel Blauser, president of the campus’ chapter of the American Constitution Society. On Tuesday, about 100 protestors gathered in front of the law school, some with duct tape on their mouths and carrying signs critical of Sessions, according to The Washington Post. Sessions’ speech comes as several college campuses have been rocked by free speech controversies. Violent protests or the fear of such have led to the cancellation several planned speeches by conservatives at the University of California, Berkeley. Sessions spoke for about a half hour, referencing recent free speech incidents at UC Berkeley, Virginia Tech, Brown University, and Middlebury College. “Freedom of thought and speech are under attack,” Sessions said. “It is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogeneous thought—a shelter for fragile egos.”

#DescendOnDC To Protect The Internet

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By Eleanor Goldfield for Protect Our Internet. As you know, the FCC is set on killing net neutrality. But Congress is key. They can stop the FCC and block the bigger threat: ISP-backed bills that would end net neutrality forever. So, Fight for the Future is organizing Internet users to meet with members of Congress—in DC, or locally—on September 26th & 27th. And they’re helping to cover travel costs! Here’s What To Do: Go to the action website and sign on & sign up. You can choose whether to come to DC or act locally (But we’re really pushing for people to make it to DC!) Get the scoop on the specific actions via Public Knowledge’s event page. 9/26: Rally & FCC Open Meeting Day – we want to really show up en force! 9/27: Hill Walk – Lobbying Day! (Training Included) Get ready for the days of action!

Ben Cardin, Free Speech, And The Art Of The Dodge

Maryland Senator Ben Cardin responding to criticism of his support for the Israel Anti-Boycott Act during a town hall meeting on August 31, 2017.

By Kim Jensen for Mondoweiss – It’s 4:30 pm, and I’m driving from Baltimore down to Rockville, Maryland to join in a protest at Senator Ben Cardin’s Town Hall meeting on healthcare, but also to report on that protest for Mondoweiss. I turn on the radio. NPR is airing a segment on Hunter S. Thompson, which is entirely fitting, because I have already been planning to engage in a little gonzo journalism myself. In other words, I’ll be covering a story that I’m also part of, without the slightest pretense of neutrality. Unlike Hunter S. Thompson’s, my car isn’t stocked with cannabis, booze, and hallucinogens; I have, however, scored some McDonald’s. It’s a bad look, but believe me this is not for recreational use. I’m driving, digging into a pile of fries and guacamole burger on “artisanal bun,” and thinking about the impending encounter with our long-standing AIPAC representative, Senator Cardin, co-sponsor of the dangerous anti-BDS bill snaking its way through both houses of Congress. Under the current terms of the bipartisan Israel Anti-Boycott Act—which the ACLU forcefully opposes—businesses, organizations, and even individuals who join in the international movement to boycott and divest from the state of Israel can potentially face astronomical fines and even jail time. As might be expected, my stomach begins to churn.

In Europe, Hate Speech Laws Are Often Used To Suppress And Punish Left-Wing Viewpoints

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By Glenn Greenwald for The Intercept – TERRORIST ATTACKS, and the emotions they spawn, almost always prompt calls for fundamental legal rights to be curtailed in the name of preventing future attacks. The formula by now is routine: The victims of the horrific violence are held up as proof that there must be restrictions on advocating whatever ideology motivated the killer to act. In 2006, after a series of attacks carried out by Muslims, Republican Newt Gingrich called for “a serious debate about the First Amendment” so that “those who would fight outside the rules of law, those who would use weapons of mass destruction, and those who would target civilians are, in fact, subject to a totally different set of rules.” Of Islamic radicals, the former U.S. speaker of the House argued that they do not believe in the Constitution or free speech, and the U.S. should thus “use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the Internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech, and to go after people who want to kill us to stop them from recruiting people.” In an essay defending his remarks, Gingrich argued that “free speech should not be an acceptable cover for people who are planning to kill other people who have inalienable rights of their own,” adding that “the fact is not all speech is permitted under the Constitution.”

EFF Urges Stronger Oversight Of DOJ’s Digital Search Of J20 Protestor Website

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By Stephanie Lacambra for EFF – District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Robert Morin ruled today that DreamHost must comply with federal prosecutors’ narrowed warrant seeking communications and records about an Inauguration Day protest website: disruptj20.org; but they will have to present the court with a “minimization plan” that includes the names of all government investigators who will have access to the data and a list of all the methods that they will be using to search the evidence. This is an important step in ensuring judicial oversight of the government’s digital search. While we are glad to see that the judge is taking steps to oversee the government’s “narrowed” search, EFF has long warned against the problems with the two-step approach of overseizure of digital information followed by a search of the information for evidence responsive to the warrant. Because of the vast troves of data that the government has access to in these cases, it risks executing a general search, the very danger that the Fourth Amendment is meant to guard against. As the en banc 9th Circuit warned in 2010:“The process of segregating electronic data that is seizable from that which is not must not become a vehicle for the government to gain access to data which it has no probable cause to collect.”

“Free Speech” Bills Could Chill Campus Activism Nationwide

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By Brad Poling for Occupy – Universities across the country may be on the precipice of a new era in activism, politics and – in the most basic sense – expression. Motivated in part by recent high-profile protests against controversial speakers, at least 10 states are currently considering some variation of a bill proposed by the conservative Goldwater Institute that would implement punitive measures for students involved in protests on campuses. The bill also curtails public universities’ ability to take a stand on “controversial” issues – without providing a lot of guidance about what exactly these controversies may include. The states proposing the bill – California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and North Carolina – have introduced slight variations of the original into their statehouses. But each bill is marked by gray areas and vague uncertainties that pose a serious threat to the very thing they seek to defend: free speech. For example, take Wisconsin’s bill, the Campus Free Speech Act. Considering how smoothly the legislation progressed through the state’s Republican-dominated Assembly, it has generated a fair amount of confusion as to how exactly the law would work.

Comply Or Die: The Police State’s Answer To Free Speech Is Brute Force

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By John W. Whitehead for Counter Punch – Unfortunately, this is how the government at all levels—federal, state and local—now responds to those who choose to exercise their First Amendment right to peacefully assemble in public and challenge the status quo. This police overkill isn’t just happening in troubled hot spots such as Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, Md., where police brutality gave rise to civil unrest, which was met with a militarized show of force that caused the whole stew of discontent to bubble over into violence. A decade earlier, the NYPD engaged in mass arrests of peaceful protesters, bystanders, legal observers and journalists who had gathered for the 2004 Republican National Convention. The protesters were subjected to blanket fingerprinting and detained for more than 24 hours at a “filthy, toxic pier that had been a bus depot.” That particular exercise in police intimidation tactics cost New York City taxpayers nearly $18 million for what would become the largest protest settlement in history. Demonstrators, journalists and legal observers who had gathered in North Dakota to peacefully protest the Dakota Access Pipeline reported being pepper sprayed, beaten with batons, and strip searched by police.

ACLU-DC Sues D.C. Police For False Arrests, Free Speech Violations

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By Staff of ACLU – WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia today filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia, Metropolitan Police Department officers, and D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham for making unconstitutional arrests, using excessive force, denying arrested people food, water, and access to toilets, and invasive bodily searches of protesters exercising their First Amendment rights on Inauguration Day. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a legal observer, a photojournalist, and two others arrested that day. While the overwhelming majority of Inauguration Day protesters demonstrated peacefully, a small number caused property damage. In response to the vandalism, MPD officers employed a controversial crowd-control tactic known as “kettling,” where officers corralled more than 200 protesters—including many who had broken no laws—by trapping and detaining them for several hours before formally arresting them. Officers also deployed nonlethal crowd-control devices—including pepper spray, tear gas, flash-bang grenades, concussion grenades, and smoke flares—upon protesters and others both on the street and inside the kettle, without warning or threat of harm to officers or other members of the public.

Take Action To Protect Our Internet!

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By Popular Resistance. Tell Ajit Pai to protect net neutrality. In 2014 the people fought the Giant Telecoms to win reclassification of the Internet as a common carrier under the Obama administration. This success gave us Net Neutrality – everyone can go wherever they want on the Internet. Now, under the Trump administration, the new chair of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, a former lawyer for Verizon, is moving quickly to take net neutrality away! He plans to start that process on May 18 unless we stop him. Send him an email now!

Convicted For Protesting Jeff Sessions Is No Laughing Matter

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By Tighe Barry. In the recent past, frivolous charges like these would have been thrown out of court. But, Trump and his cronies in the Justice Department are going out of their way to crackdown on dissent, especially in the form of nonviolent protest. Republican officials are jumping on Trump’s bigoted bandwagon to restrict liberties at the local, state and national level. We see laws being passed in over a dozen states to make protesting a crime, while at the same time, North Dakota has passed a law where running over a protester is not a crime. We see state laws being passed to criminalize campaigns that support Palestinian rights. We see that over 200 people who protested Trump’s inauguration have been prosecuted and charged with ridiculous offenses, such as felony rioting charges. We should see our Justice Department prosecuting real criminals, like those responsible for war, not convicting people for laughing in Congress. Unless we rise up and demand our first amendment right to dissent, then the joke will be on the American people. And that is no laughing matter.

Library Worker Heroically Defends Patron’s Free Speech

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By Chip Gibbons for BORDC – “For someone to be assaulted and then arrested for asking a question, in a public library of all places, is abhorrent. The library should be a place where people of all points of view can feel safe and welcome,” Steve Woolfolk, director of public programing at the Kansas City Public Library told the Dissent NewsWire. But that is exactly what happened during a question and answer session with former Bush Administration official and current Washington Institute for Near East Policy…

National Tax Watchdog Aims To Protect Free Speech

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By Alejandro Vidal for Tax Revolution Institute – Washington, DC — The free-speech rights of nonprofit organizations, such as advocacy groups, educational institutions, labor unions, and business leagues, are under serious threat, and the clock is ticking. In response, the Tax Revolution Institute (TRI) — a Washington-based nonprofit group that promotes “justice and integrity in the tax system” — has launched the First Amendment Alliance: a non-partisan effort to protect the free-speech rights of nonprofits.

Congress’s Move To Delay IRS Muzzle Rule Another Year Is Not All Good News

While the US Congress may have postponed the enforcement of the IRS muzzle rule once again, they missed the opportunity to stop this threat to free speech for good. (Photo: New Statesman)

By Adam DeAngeli for Tax Revolution Center – The draft of the House of Representatives’ financial-services appropriations bill contains language very similar to what was passed last year to defund the IRS from implementing the nonprofit muzzle rule. If enforced, the rule would harm the nonprofit community by curtailing their First Amendment right to speech and creating legal exposure for accidentally violating these new draconian limits. It’s well and good that the IRS will be prohibited another year from carrying out this rule, but unfortunately this bill leaves the door open for the IRS to move forward with their mandate the following year.

6 Year Anniversary Of WikiLeaks Collateral Murder

The video leaked by Chelsea Manning, titled Collateral Murder, depicted the killing of more than a dozen men, including two Reuters staffers, and the wounding of others, including small children. (Photo: Screenshot/Wikileaks)

By Nozomi Hayase for Common Dreams – On April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks published classified military footage of a July 2007 attack by a US Army helicopter gunship in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad. The video titledCollateral Murder depicted the killing of more than a dozen men, including two Reuters staffers. At the time of release, the WikiLeaks website temporarily crashed with a massive influx of visitors, while versions popped up on YouTube, reaching millions.