Who is keeping us “safe” from Trump?
Our president’s retweet of this now-deleted post – “Democrats are the true enemy of America,” was not a error of judgement, tweeting too quickly at 3:00 in the morning. It a statement of intent. He’s now openly targeting Democrat-led cities with federal law enforcement troops, including ones with no protest events. This is a constitutional crisis, being tested out as a re-election campaign.
The deployment of radicalized, abusive and untrained paramilitary forces against American protesters is just the beginning of Trump’s nationalistic free-for-all. The administration has been consulting with John Yoo, the former government lawyer who wrote the legal justification for waterboarding, on how the president could rule our country by decree, completely skipping over Congress and those pesky checks-and-balances. In a Fox News Sunday interview, Trump declared that the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on immigration allows him to issue decrees on healthcare, immigration and “various other plans” over the coming month. Yesterday morning, he issued a directive instructing the U.S. Census Bureau to not count undocumented immigrants for purposes of apportioning seats in the House of Representatives, targeting states like California, Texas and New York with large communities of residents who lack a legal immigration status. His earlier efforts to add a citizenship question to the census was thrown out of court.
The warning signs of the breakdown of our democracy are accelerating. Yale professor Jason Stanley, whose new book is titled “How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them.” states, “Are there fascist forces in America today that are ascendant and threatening our status as a democracy? Is Trumpism a fascist, social, and political movement? I think it is.”
Our democracy, and those persons who Trump considers to be his enemies, are now in serious trouble.
What can we do now?
Note: Contact information for legislators is at the bottom.
Action #1: Tell your senators to support the Merkley-Wyden Portland bill.
HR.6395 – National Defense Authorization Act of FY2021 has passed in the House.
Tell your senators to vote for S.4220 – “Preventing Authoritarian Policing Tactics on America’s Streets Act, as a stand-alone bill
and as an amendment to S.4049, National Defense Authorization Act, currently under debate in the Senate. This act would block the Trump administration from deploying federal forces as a paramilitary against Americans. The legislation would:
- Require individual and agency identification on uniforms of officers and prevent unmarked vehicles from being used in arrests.
- Limit federal agents’ crowd control activities to federal property and its immediate vicinity, unless their presence is specifically requested by both the mayor and governor.
- Require disclosure on an agency website within 24 hours of deployments specifying the number of personnel and purposes of deployment.
- Make arrests in violation of these rules unlawful.
Minimal Script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Senator [___] to actively support the Merkley-Wyden bill – S.4220, Preventing Authoritarian Policing Tactics on America’s Streets Act.
(It it currently cosigned by Sen. Harris and Feinstein. Call their offices or email them to thank them instead.)
Action #2: Tell your legislators to support H.R.7711- the Norton/AOC bill to require LEO’s to identify themselves.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and District of Columbia Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) will introduce H.R.7711 “To require the display of certain identification for certain law enforcement officers, and for other purposes.”
The anonymity of the military-styled forces has been one of the most disturbing and dangerous aspects of the recent police actions against protesters. Not only does this create an opportunity for mayhem, as dangerous right-wing copycats can buy matching military-style uniforms, rent vans and kidnap targeted protesters off the streets, but it also makes official forces who behave illegally difficult for the victim to identify. That is a mark of a dictatorship.
Irvin McCullough, deputy director of legislation at the Government Accountability Project stated “Citizens deserve to know who’s arresting them—or at least what entity—to report any abuses they suffer or witness,”
“Federal law enforcement officers should have their identifying information displayed while on duty,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “This is basic.”
How did we get here? (nation) “Department of Homeland Security subdivisions have sought increasing secrecy in recent months. Earlier this year, The Nation reported that both Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) quietly acquired a special designation that would allow them to withhold employees’ names from public disclosure. This designation, which applies to all ICE and CBP employees and field agents, shields from disclosure not just their names but also job titles and salary information—typically publicly available for government employees.”
Minimal Script to representatives: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep. [___] to actively support H.R.7711 “To require the display of certain identification for certain law enforcement officers, and for other purposes.”
(Rep-check here. Neither Brownley nor Carbajal are sponsors yet.)
Minimal Script to senators: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Senator [___] to sponsor an identical bill to H.R.7711 “To require the display of certain identification for certain law enforcement officers, and for other purposes.”
Action #3: Email the Department of Homeland Security.
Flood the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties with complaints about the actions of Department of Homeland Security which “more closely resemble those of a gestapo in a despotic state than law enforcement in a democracy with rule of law (Bonnie Watson Coleman).”
What to write?
- You can demand the requirements covered in Action #1.
- You can talk about how seeing peacefully protesting pregnant women and veterans pepper-sprayed affects you.
- You can talk about the constitutional crises this is causing,
- You can talk about how their methods of anonymous uniforms and unanimous cars will allow right-wing copycats to assault and kill protesters.
Action #4: Hey Congress! Are you waiting for your own Reichstag fire? Demand an investigation!
Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, announced over the weekend that the White House would be forcing federal paramilitary troops into cities nationwide. Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, stated that he doesn’t “need invitations by the state, state mayors or state governors to do our job. We’re going to do that whether they like us there or not.”
We have some questions for Congress.
- Do you have a GOP “constitutional conservative” legislator? Ask them why they are enabling this blatant violation of state authority and unconstitutional suppression of free speech.
- Ask all your legislators – Where are you? Congress is supposed to be the coequal branch of government meant to serve as a check on executive power.
Minimal email script: “Over the past few days, there has been clear video evidence and news reports of men in camouflage in unmarked vehicles forcefully seizing protesters & detaining them without justification. This paramilitary force, operating without accurate identification, are reportedly “Federal officers,” but it appears they have been forcefully restraining citizens who are not on Federal property. Extrajudicial kidnappings of citizens for their political affiliation is not something that happens in a free society. I ask that Congress act to stop the seizing & detaining of people w/out a warrant & denial of due process by Federal agents in violation of the 4th & 5th amendments and to investigate the actions of this “task force” that is terrorizing American citizens.
Or, you can text RESIST to 50409 to personalize your own message and have it sent automatically.
Action #5: Support HR. 7221 – “Prohibiting Law Enforcement Use of Chemical Weapons Act” and S. 4114 – “No Tear Gas or Projectiles Act.”
Why paramilitary units are allowed to throw tear gas at civilians engaged in peaceful protest is confusing and infuriating, especially in a pandemic that affect the repiratory system.
The use of chemical weapons such as tear gas was banned for use against enemy combatants by the 1925 Geneva Protocol, but the US reserved the right to use these substances against “rioting prisoners of war, …where civilian casualties can be avoided… in rescue missions to recover isolated personnel and outside of combat zones to “protect convoys from civil disturbances.”
In 1993, the UN’s Chemical Weapons Convention once again outlawed tear gases use in war, but clarified the exception for law enforcement use: “Article II (9)(d) further states “Riot control agents may not be used as a method of warfare but may be used for certain law enforcement purposes including riot control.”
Time to close this loophole. It should be a crime against humanity to use any weaponry that creates long-term damage to a victim’s lungs, especially during a pandemic. The U.S. military studied the effect of tear gas on 6,000 healthy recruits several years ago and found the recruits had a much higher likelihood of developing a respiratory illness, including the flu. Even Scotland, who manufactures tear gas, rubber bullets and riot gear, has been so appalled by the the harm our police are willing to exact to repress protesters, are cancelling their own exports.
Minimal script to representatives: I’m calling from [zip code] to tell Rep. [___] to support HR. 7221 – “Prohibiting Law Enforcement Use of Chemical Weapons Act.”
(Rep-check here. Neither Brownley, nor Carbajal are cosponsors yet.)
Action #6: Be prepared to fight back. Use your phones, use your computers, and if you can, be there.
“A major American city is being softly Pinochet’ed in broad daylight,”
(To be Pinochet’ed: When a divided democracy is run over by a dictator, leading to citizens getting disappeared into unmarked vans.)
Frankly, we don’t think Trump’s roll-out of authoritarian repression is going as swimmingly as Barr and Wolf had envisioned. The optics have so far been terrible. Let’s keep it that way.
First, the ACLU is suing them over federal agents indiscriminately using tear gas, rubber bullets, and acoustic weapons against protesters, journalists, and legal observers. Their lawsuit aims to block these agents from interfering with journalists or legal observers or their recording equipment in any way.
The, Oregon is suing them: “The Oregon Department of Justice is suing several federal agencies for civil rights abuses, and state prosecutors will potentially pursue criminal charges against a federal officer who seriously injured a protester. The federal lawsuit names the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service, the US Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Protective Service, agencies that have had a role in stepped-up force used against protesters since early July.”
The governor wants them gone: Gov. Kate Brown stated that federal agents “...are not interested in problem solving,” and this has “nothing to do with public safety.” “If they were really interested in helping us, they would have had conversations first, and taken actions later,” Brown said. “Instead it’s Ready, Fire, Aim.” She told acting secretary of homeland security, Chad Wolf, that the presence of federal officers in the streets was making everything worse. ‘We do not want you here, you are exacerbating the situation.’ Wolf refused.
The Mayor wants them gone: Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has demanded that Trump “Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city.” However, it’s Christmas-come-early for the Portland police, who’ve have a history of collusion with far-right groups, and using excessive force on protesters. They are apparently working with the federal agents.
And now, the moms are angry: George Floyd’s last words on this earth was a plea to his mother. There is nothing more unifying across all humanity and in Portland, 40-50 women created a “wall” to shield protesters, chanting “Feds stay clear! Moms are here!” and “Leave our kids alone!” This is a stunning rebuke to Trump’s divisive messaging behind this fascist action – that Black Lives Matter protesters are evil and unAmerican. And even standing peacefully, this group was subjected to flash bang devices and tear gas, and a unresisting Navy veteran was beaten while standing still.
Action #7 – “Walk with us!” vs. “Light ’em up!”- Demilitarize our police!
Yes on H.R. 1714 – Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act and S.3912 – Justice in Policing Act.
In answer to the reckless brutality of militarized police against protesters, bystanders, and press, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to discontinue the 1033 Program that transfers military weaponry to local police departments. UPDATE 7/22: THIS FAILED ON TUESDAY!
Limits to this program exist along with many other reforms in both the House and Senate versions of the “Justice in Policing Act.” The Senate, as usual, is sitting on their version, S.3912. The House has already passed H.R.7120 , which they named in honor of George Floyd. They also have a separate bill just for the 1033 program issue – H.R.1714 – Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act.
Let your legislators know how important it is to stop the police usage of military weaponry against us. This sheriff demonstrates how policing should be done…
Minimal script for representatives: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep. [___] to cosponsor and publicly speak out for the H.R.1714 – Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act.
(Rep.-check here. Neither Brownley, nor Carbajal have signed on.)
Minimal script for senators I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Senator [___] to cosponsor and publicly speak out for the S.3912. – Justice in Policing Act.”
More script if you want it: I specifically want to follow Restrict police departments from:
using federal grant money to purchase military equipment (Ex: Montana law)
deploying armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft, drones, Stingray surveillance equipment, camouflage uniforms, and grenade launchers
using SWAT teams unless there is an emergency situation or imminent threat to life and high-ranking officers have given approval (Ex: Cincinnati PD Policy)
conducting no-knock raids (Ex: Oregon law bans all no-knock raids)
accessing federal grant money or purchasing military equipment if the department has been recently found to demonstrate a “pattern or practice” of discriminatory policing
in addition to these restrictions, wherever possible agencies should seek to return to the federal government the military equipment that has already been received (Ex: San Jose)
Deeper dive into the 1033 program.
Did police always look like soldiers?: While armed white anti-lockdown protesters were able to enter the Michigan statehouse unimpeded, militarized police are being caught on cameras across the nation committing crimes against bystanders, peaceful protesters and clearly marked and cooperative press teams. (Tons of videos here and here) One photographer is now blind in one eye from a rubber bullet, a Louisville man died or a real bullet and legislators found that they were not immune from abusive treatment.
The militarization of our police forces began in 1965 under Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Crime with the Law Enforcement Assistance Act (LEAA) and became more widespread during the blatantly racist War on Drugs, which deliberately targeted African Americans. In 2014, the sight of tanks rolling down the prosaic streets of Ferguson, MO, was the first inkling for most Americans of the profound change in the character of our police forces. Ferguson’s police force, along with towns all over America, were equipped to fight small wars, thanks to the Pentagon’s 1033 program, enacted by Congress in 1997 to rehome surplus military gear from bloated defense industry contracts. The tanks were met with the beginning of the national Movement for Black Lives against police violence
Has it stopped crime? “Police militarization neither reduces rates of violent crime nor changes the number of officers assaulted or killed, according to a study of 9,000 law enforcement agencies in the U.S.” “50 years of research on violence at protests, dating back to the three federal commissions formed between 1967 and 1970. All three concluded that when police escalate force—using weapons, tear gas, mass arrests and other tools to make protesters do what the police want—those efforts can often go wrong, creating the very violence that force was meant to prevent. For example, the Kerner Commission, which was formed in 1967 to specifically investigate urban riots, found that police action was pivotal in starting half of the 24 riots the commission studied in detail. It recommended that police eliminate “abrasive policing tactics” and that cities establish fair ways to address complaints against police.” Following the 2015 Baltimore protests, Obama announced reviews of the use of military equipment, stating “We’ve seen how militarized gear sometimes gives people a feeling like they are an occupying force as opposed to a part of the community there to protect them,” and “Some equipment made for the battlefield is not appropriate for local police departments.”
Rep. Julia Brownley: email, (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: email.(CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
Who is my representative/senator?:https://whoismyrepresentative.com