I have lots to update you on since our last newsletter, so let’s dig in!
On the surveillance front:
- we had several meetings in October with members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to educate them and demand action on the FBI’s abuse of its counterterrorism authorities to spy on the Muslim community and political activists. We were joined by our allies who have been subject to FBI spying, including the School of the Americas Watch, Council on American Islamic Relations and the Arab American Institute;
- we won a victory against NYPD spying on Muslims and political activists;
- a new report on law enforcement use of face recognition technology shows that it is far more advanced and pervasive than previously understood (but there are opportunities for local organizing and congressional action);
- private companies have found a new profit center in helping law enforcement (secretly) circumvent the Fourth amendment (AT&T, Geofeedia, and Persistent Surveillance Systems).
We have also been active challenging the police repression in North Dakota. You may have joined our call for action earlier this month asking the Governor to respect the First Amendment rights of protesters. He has refused, so we have joined the campaign asking the Department of Justice to send observers to Standing Rock. You can take action here.
Among the other stories: George Friday traveled to Boston to facilite a Challenging Islamophobia training; we noted the 15th anniversary of the Patriot Act (we found a silver lining); Board Member Suraj Sazawal asks “When exactly does something on the web cross the line from being a non-offensive word or picture into a hate-crime? And who gets to decide?“, and we just had to weigh in on Director Comey and the FBI’s unearned reputation for being apolitical…. so enjoy our November newsletter!
Stay Loud, Stay Strong,
Sue Udry, Executive Director
P.P.S. If you are short on cash and can’t support us financially, how about giving us a great review on Great Nonprofits?
Now keep reading for the latest articles from the Dissent NewsWire …
BORDC/DDF supports grassroots activism to protect and advance Constitutional rights. Join the movement! Please reach us at [email protected]. Here are some organizing highlights from around the country:
Building the Movement Against Oppression in Boston
On September 24, dozens of activists, educators, students, and other community members came together for a day long Training of Trainers session to develop skills and knowledge to address interpersonal, institutional, and structural anti-Muslim discrimination and discuss ways to challenge Islamophobia at their schools, houses of worship, and in their communities.
Victory! Judge Rejects Proposed NYPD Spying Settlement, Says NYPD Needs Greater Oversight
On October 28, 2016 U.S. District Judge Charles Haight rejected a proposed settlement pertaining to the New York Police Department’s spying on religious and political activity, saying that the guidelines did not do enough to safeguard civil liberties.
Happy Birthday Patriot Act! For Fifteen Years You Have Done Your Best to Crush Democracy. But You Haven’t Won Yet.
On the bright side: BORDC was formed on the heels of the passage of the PATRIOT Act, so at least there’s that.
Steven Woolfolk Receives October 2016 Patriot Award
Steven Woolfolk is the director of public programming and marketing at the Kansas City Public Library, He was arrested during a library event in May for defending a patron’s First Amendment rights.
Ten Questions to Ask Your Police Department About Face Recognition
Activists and community leaders should press state and local agencies, and the FBI, to be fully transparent about how they use face recognition; if those agencies refuse, advocates should use state and federal Freedom of Information laws to take them to court. Advocates should also press city councils, state legislatures, and law enforcement for laws and use manuals that protect individual liberties and civil rights.
North Dakota Officials Seek to Squash DAPL Dissent By Criminalizing Journalism
Not allowing the government to control the narrative when it comes it the suppression of the dissent is what a free press is supposed to do. The attempted prosecution of Amy Goodman and possible prosecution of Deia Schlosberg is about reestablishing government control of this narrative.
The Police State Strikes Back At Standing Rock
The response by North Dakota and Morton County to the Water Protectors highlights several very serious issues plaguing our country. It brings to the forefront the legacy of colonialism and racism, that has culminated in the disrespecting of the sovereignty of indigenous people, as well as, the use of state violence against those who try to retain their sovereignty. It is part of a larger trend of law enforcement viewing democracy as the enemy and responding to protest with military style gear and tactics. Finally, it demonstrates the willingness of the state to trample on dissent in order to defend corporate profits. “
BORDC/DDF is your voice in the Nation’s Capitol. We advocate and agitate in Congress and with the Executive branch. Here are just a few of the issues we raised last month:
Tell Congress: I Did Not Agree to Participate in a Perpetual Virtual Lineup
Have you been in a police lineup lately?
If you think the answer is no, you should think again.
Tell President Obama: Send Federal Observers to Standing Rock
Native American Water Protectors and their supporters protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline are being met with police repression and violence. It is time for the Department of Justice to step in and defend their First Amendment rights.
Report: Law Enforcement Face Recognition is Unregulated and In Many Instances Out Of Control. But Here’s What You Can Do About It.
Math isn’t colorblind and algorithms don’t care about free speech, but police and the FBI are treating face recognition technology as if it is divorced from the realities of centuries of repressive policing.
Tell North Dakota’s Governor: Democracy is Not a State of Emergency!
In response to nonviolent protesters, Gov. Jack Dalrymple has imposed a state of emergency: road blocks, militarized policing, surveillance and mass arrests. Take Action! Tell him to restore democracy!
DOJ Proposal Would Outsource Responsibility For Collecting Data on Police Killings to the Internet
DOJ has to go back to the drawing board and come up with some clear rules for law enforcement at all levels to take responsibility for reporting who it is they are killing. As Director Comey said, “It’s ridiculous — it’s embarrassing and ridiculous…”
What is This “Apolitical” FBI you speak of? We Haven’t Heard of Them.
James Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is facing heaps of criticism for sending a vaguely worded letter to members of Congress about new potential evidence in the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
“The 1980s called and wants its bill back.” Outdated Approach Would Expose Drug Sellers to Death Penalty
BORDC/DDF and nearly 100 other groups sent a letter to the sponsor of a bill that would give death penalty or life without parole to sellers of fentanyl or fentanyl-laced heroin if the sale is linked to an overdose fatality.
Fourth Amendment Violations Are Now Lucrative Business Opportunities
Putting aside the irony that law enforcement agencies are using our tax dollars to purchase the most mundane pieces of our own data, the most worrisome aspect of this revelation is that it proves that the buying and selling of metadata in secret is undeniably a lucrative business model. AT&T’s disregard for privacy in the name of profit only becomes more problematic with its recent acquisition of Time Warner and the further consolidation of telecom firms, which leaves even fewer options for customers.
When Exactly Does Something On the Web Cross the Line From Being a Non-Offensive Word Or Picture Into a Hate-Crime? And Who Gets To Decide?
The connections between online speech and future offline crime is hard to draw with certainty and consistency and shouldn’t be the focus of police departments.
Are Police Spying on Your Social Media?
Law enforcement agencies have a long history of surveilling political dissent. But you don’t need to sit by helpless.
Baltimore Police’s Secret Surveillance Comes to Light – Update
In January, the Baltimore Police Department began a months-long partnership with an Ohio-based private company known as Persistent Surveillance Systems. Persistent Surveillance was hired to conduct hundreds of hours of aerial surveillance over the city of Baltimore using specialized cameras mounted to a Cessna that patrolled 32 square miles of the city.
In Powerful Speech to UN General Assembly, Special Rapporteur Warns That Governments Across the World are Cracking Down on Civil Society
“Unless there is renewed commitment from the world’s leaders, away from fear and control of their own people, and toward respecting the dignity of all, the situation will remain precarious for civil society globally,” the UN expert said.
United Nations expert Grand Chief Edward John will visit Standing Rock to gather information on Human Rights Violations Resulting from Pipeline Construction
He will collect information and testimonies on the escalating levels of repression, violence and intimidation against Tribal members and their supporters by state law enforcement, private security and the National Guard which have been widely reported on social and other media.
“Privacy is the Fountainhead of All Other Rights” And That, Ed Snowden Says, Is Why We Need to Protect It.
If we don’t have privacy, what we’re losing is the ability to make mistakes, we’re losing the ability to be ourselves. Privacy is the fountainhead of all other rights. Freedom of speech doesn’t have a lot of meaning if you can’t have a quiet space, a space within yourself, your mind, your community, your friends, your family, to decide what it is you actually want to say.