Blog

Ask Michael Dell to Resign from the Manufacturing Council

***UPDATE August 16, 2017***

Trump shut down the Manufacturing Council after several CEOs quit.

Michael Dell was not among those quitting. (A meeting of the council was scheduled for later in the day, and it was widely expected that the council would disband on its own.)

Michael Dell’s silence is confounding. It doesn’t matter that he is a major Republican donor; many Republicans have issued strong statements condemning hate groups and Trump’s tacit endorsement of those groups.

If Michael Dell wants to continue attracting talent from Austin’s diverse workforce, he needs to condemn the president’s statements, and explain his decision to stick with the council when other CEOs were fleeing. Because no one wants to work for a leader who lacks moral clarity.

***Original post below***

In January, Donald Trump announced the creation of a Manufacturing Council to work with the administration’s efforts on job creation. The council consists of business leaders from a broad range of industries. It’s a largely symbolic council; they seldom meet, and it’s unclear, what, if any jobs have been created as a result. But symbols matter — especially now, when hate groups draw inspiration from Nazism and other dark forces of history.

In the aftermath of the white supremacist domestic terrorism in #Charlottesville and the Trump administration’s inadequate response, a diverse coalition of activists are pressuring the members of the council to resign. Austin-area Indivisible groups will join those pressuring these CEOs.

We have decided to start local with Michael Dell. As CEOs resign, we will move on to others.

This is a campaign that needs social media to be successful! Companies have staff specifically tasked with monitoring social media, watching out for negative tweets and comments about their brand in real time. Join us in creating a tidal wave of demands that Michael Dell denounce this administration’s tolerance for bigotry and hatred, and its cozy relationship with white supremacists and anti-Semites, and resign from the Manufacturing Council.

What you can do:

  1. Tweet @Dell and @MichaelDell, asking Michael Dell to resign from this council. Retweet others who are doing the same. (Suggested hashtags: #QuitTheCouncil #DitchDell.)
  2. Visit the Dell Facebook page and write a post with your concerns, and send them a direct message, too.
  3. Call Dell at 1-800-624-9897 and demand that Michael Dell leave the Manufacturing Council.

Ben Wikler of MoveOn has an insightful Twitter thread about why social media pressure works on brands and companies:

 

 

Stealth Stops and Photo Ops Through Rural TX-10

Guest post by Michele in Smithville, TX

Have you checked out Congressman Michael McCaul’s Twitter feed and Facebook postings this week? Well, he’s on recess and back in Texas meeting with constituents, holding town halls, shaking hands, and kissing babies! Just kidding!! He’s making the rounds, but not with regular, everyday constituents. His stops are all highly orchestrated, under the radar, closed meetings, photo ops, and fundraisers.

Protestors holding a banner that says Repeal and Replace Representative Michael McCaulHe was at the Katy Fire Department on Aug 8th, posing with a nice shiny red fire truck in the back ground. Apparently, Katy is “a recipient of the SAFER Grant!” Yay! Go Katy! There are photos of his visits with the American Jewish Committee Houston Region, an un-named group in Prairie View. A visit to Harris County OHSEM, Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and then a stop in Fayette County to pose with the Sheriff’s Office and K-9 Unit. One photo op that’s missing is his stop in Bastrop.

Thursday August 1oth, McCaul had a visit planned in Smithville to meet with County Judge, Paul Pape, and other local elected officials and city managers. We hear the visit was to discuss recent disaster relief efforts from the fires and floods that have ravaged Bastrop County over the last few years. This meeting was changed at the last minute and moved to the Bastrop County Courthouse Annex in Bastrop and was to take place in the Commissioners Courtroom.

Protestors holding signs including This Nasty Woman VotesWhen we got wind of the venue change we alerted the local newspaper to the planned meeting being hosted by Judge Pape and they called him to confirm the new location and time. The reporter was told this was a private meeting. The public and the press were not invited. The reporter asked if it was legal to hold a closed meeting in the County Commissioner’s Court. Pape’s office said they would check with the local District Attorney. The meeting ended up taking place in Judge Pape’s office. We are told Pape, McCaul, and the mayors and city managers of Smithville and Bastrop were in attendance.

McCaul also had a fundraiser scheduled Thursday evening in Bastrop at the private home of a local business owner. This event was highly insulated and planned by Lilly & Company, an Austin based political consulting, campaign strategist, and fundraising group. Check them out. Pretty impressive clientele. Only select people were emailed an invite. Once you purchased a ticket through the website, you would get the location and details of the event.

Three protestors with signs including "Michael McCaul - Why Are you hiding? Meet with your constituents"We patiently waited until the Courthouse closed for the day and they turned the lights out on us. They may as well have yelled out, “Last call for alcohol! You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!” It’s a shame our Congressman is so scared to meet with a handful of citizens that he had to slip out the back door of the courthouse to avoid us. Sad!

What’s even more shameful, is our local elected officials were in on it.

Charlottesville Solidarity Vigils (will be updated as events unfold)

We’ve included vigils taking place in the Congressional districts that include Austin, though some locations are far afield. If you know of other vigils, please let us know! You can comment on this post directly and we’ll get a message. These vigils have been organized by different groups. We’ve included a link to an event page where applicable.

Sunday, August 13

Bastrop
7:30 p.m.
Bastrop County Courthouse Gazebo, 804 Pecan Street, Bastrop, TX 78602

Brenham
8 p.m.
Brenham Courthouse, 100 E Main St # 304, Brenham, TX 77833

La Grange/Fayette County
8 p.m.
Fayette County Courthouse, 151 N. Washington St., Rm. 102. La Grange, Texas 78945

San Antonio
8 p.m.
Travis Park, 311 E Travis St, San Antonio, TX 78205

Austin
9 p.m.
City Hall, 301 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

Wednesday, August 16

Round Rock
7 p.m.
St. Paul AME Church
407 N. Sheppard St., Round Rock, Texas 78664

Saturday, August 19

Wimberley
8 p.m.
Blue Hole Regional Park
100 Blue Hole Ln, Wimberley, Texas 78676

 

 

Statements from Our Lawmakers on the White Supremacist Violence in Charlottesville

These are in chronological order.

The offensive behavior displayed in Charlottesville is an attack on our American values. Racism and violence have no…

Posted by John Carter on Saturday, August 12, 2017

 

 

 

 

Security Planning for Events: Tips and lessons from past actions

Cross-posted, with permission, from Susan Schorn’s blog

I’m fortunate to live in Austin, Texas, with a rich history of activism and ready access to elected officials. Since the election of November 2016, I’ve protested racists and Neo-NazisIslamophobiamisogynytax fraudracism, and climate change denial; I’ve helped with safety on marchesrallies, lobbying events, and townhalls; I’ve used tactical non-violence skills on campuses, at City Hall, the state Capitol, and the offices of Congressmen. I’ve learned a lot about crowd management, dealing with DPS troopers, and how to use a walkie-talkie. I’ve also learned a great deal about my own strengths and weaknesses in the high-energy, sometimes high-conflict setting of civic activism. I’ve learned that anyone can do this work, but it’s a lot easier if we pool our knowledge. So here, in no specific order, are some tips for others interested in, or already doing, work to keep civic protest as safe and free of violence as possible.

Planning:

If you agree to be the “security person” for an event, connect early and often with the lead organizers. Questions to ask:

  • Is this a march or rally or both? (a planned march may have to become a rally if march permits can’t be secured). You’ll need to plan a little differently for static versus moving phases of an event.
  • If it’s a march, what is the route? Will streets be blocked, and will there be a police escort?
  • Do we have approval from city or other authorities as needed? Verify that venue reservation and permitting processes are on track and will be complete well in advance of the event.
  • Is there any codified information about use of the venue? Ask especially for documents that say, “You cannot block these areas. Pedicabs can’t go here. Buses should avoid these streets. Pedestrians must stay out of these areas.” Etc. Maps of any areas with special restrictions are awesome. If the venue doesn’t provide one, you can sketch one out and ask their people if you have the restricted zones accurately marked.
  • Basically, any time anyone tells you, “You CANNOT . . .” or “You MUST . . . ,” try to get that statement in writing (email is fine).
  • If we are protesting without permits, how do we expect authorities to react?
  • Which agencies (law enforcement, venue, and other) will we be interacting with, and who is the contact person/info for each? For each contact person, know that person’s position in the chain of command for their agency. Know how agencies work together. At the Texas State Capitol, for example, many decisions are made by the State Preservation Board representative. They may ask DPS Troopers to remove people or stop behaviors they deem inappropriate, whereas direct requests from event organizers to DPS for such actions are usually ignored.
  • Do we have legal observers lined up (ACLU, Lawyers Guild, other)? Is there a number for people to call if they are arrested?
  • Have the expectations for non-violence been made plain to all participants? (MoveOn, for example, typically includes a statement about this on their event RSVP pages.)
  • How will event volunteers be identified (armbands, ribbons, hats, shirts)? I like to give the safety team their own armband or bandana in a special color so they can identify each other and so others can locate them when needed.
  • Who is the first aid team? Where will they be located?
  • Who is bringing water? Where will it be available?
  • Do we have a communications system for security? (If your group doesn’t have walkie-talkies, consider buying a set. They are relatively inexpensive on Amazon. Or, connect with other groups to co-purchase or share communications equipment)
  • If using walkie-talkies, have we clarified with other security personnel at the event which channels are clear to use?
  • Do we expect counter-protest or disruption? Who is tracking this? Who is communicating with law enforcement about it?
  • Is this a strictly local event, or is it connected to a national effort?
  • How is fundraising being handled, and what will funds be used for (most often, it’s for permits, renting port-a-potties, and first aid supplies/water)?
  • What is the “run of show”? Usually the list of speakers for an event will be sketchy until just beforehand, but organizers should have a schedule laid out indicating when the crowd will assemble, who will serve as MC, how long is anticipated for music, pledge/anthem, speakers, etc.
  • Amplification: what is the policy or law, who will enforce it?

Procuring and training safety volunteers:

I only handle event security if the lead organizers provide a list of volunteers who are committed to show up in advance for training and stay for the duration of the event. It’s fine if you can call in some people you already know and have worked with, but organizers should treat security as an integral part of their event, not something that can be outsourced. Every attendee at the event will ultimately be responsible for helping to keep the event safe.

Virtually anyone who is mature enough to act responsibly under pressure can be an effective peacekeeper at an action, but people should have some basic training in emotional grounding and other simple tactics. Diversity in your volunteer pool is a strength; adults of all ages, genders, sizes, strengths, and abilities can be effective peacekeepers and de-escalators.

The Protest Safety Training Handbook contains a complete short workshop plan for training volunteers.

I also provide a day-of handout for volunteers. I ask them to meet early at the event site, so we can explain the plan for the day and review skills. I provide the same handout to law enforcement, before and at the event, so they have some understanding of what our volunteers will be doing (I have been detained and lectured by law enforcement for de-escalating attendees at a rally who were yelling at a counter-protester–the officer interpreted our intervention as “interfering with his [the counter-protester’s] First Amendment rights”). Here’s a sample day-of handout.

At the event:

Have a plan for deploying your volunteers. You might want some volunteers in static positions (stationed at every intersection on a march route, for example) and some mingling with the crowd. In a large space, I’ll often set up zones and assign people to cover specific areas. You want volunteers to be present throughout your event space, but you also need them to be free to move to where the problems are. For a march, it often works well to have safety volunteers walk along the sides of the marching bloc, so they can intervene between marchers and bystanders should the bystanders prove hostile.

Handling disruptive counter-protesters will be covered in more detail in a subsequent post. Generally, however, friction develops at certain boundaries: near the edge of a stage area, or along the sides of a march as marchers draw the attention of people on the sidewalk.

I have my volunteers check in 30-60 minutes early, either at the main volunteer area or just with me, but I keep my own check-in list of names. This helps me introduce volunteers to one another. We have a brief orientation where we

  • Hand out walkie-talkies and bandanas
  • Assign people to their zones or areas
  • Go over the day of handout
  • Go through the “run of show”
  • Point out where first aid, water, and restrooms are
  • Go over any last-minute details on expected counter-protest, law enforcement communication, etc.
  • Review grounding and de-escalation skills
  • Establish a debriefing location where we will meet up after the event if there is any violence or other problems. Usually we do this in a nearby bar, and I buy everyone a beer. It allows us to talk over our experiences and also provides a safer way to disperse if there is any concern about being followed by hostile counter-protesters.

Finally, I encourage friendly, or at least respectful, interaction with law enforcement. Get to know specific LE officers and develop working relationships as is appropriate, but keep in mind LE often uses information gained informally to target innocent and vulnerable people. Don’t be too trusting. I’m also working on a more detailed post about interacting with law enforcement.

More resources:

There are tons of other good resources on protest organization out there; here are some I refer to often:

Know Your Rights: Free Speech, Protests & Demonstrations (ACLU)
Search and seizure (EFF)
How to use your smartphone in a protest
Tactical Nonviolence: philosophy & methods (Bruce Hartford)
Crowd psychology and safety
Activist’s Guide to Basic First Aid
Pepper Spray & Tear Gas: Avoiding, Protection, Remedies

As always, I welcome comments and feedback–please share your own tips and advice in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter (@SusanSchorn).

Training: Indivisible 101 – South Austin – Sept. 7, 2017

Location: South Austin — please register to see details.

For new activists and seasoned members of the Resistance alike. Join us for a discussion of the Indivisible movement, which has its roots in Austin.

At this free, one-hour workshop you’ll learn:

  • How Indivisible started, and where we go from here
  • How we use Austin’s six gerrymandered congressional districts to our advantage
  • How we have been successful in blocking the worst of Trump’s policies

There will be a short, 30-minute presentation, followed by 30 minutes (or so) of Q&A.

Location: South Austin — please register to see details.

Register here

Indivisible Austin Statement on the August 26 “Indivisible March”

A California-based group set up Facebook events for an Indivisible March in dozens of cities nationwide for August 26. While we wholeheartedly support the idea of nationwide collective action, we have decided not to participate in this particular event. Others who wish to participate are welcome to contact the organizers.

There are about 6,000 groups that follow the principles outlined in the Indivisible Guide. As a decentralized movement, most of these groups have no formal affiliation with each other, or with the national Indivisible Project.

The group that organized the Indivisible March — Indivisible Suffragists — did not coordinate with Indivisible Austin or other Austin-area district groups, and this event has not been endorsed by the national Indivisible Project. Indivisible Suffragists acknowledge as much on their Facebook event page. As part of our decentralized movement, we respect this group’s autonomy to create, promote, and host resistance events, and we have no reason to think the group is acting in bad faith.

As part of the national Indivisible movement, Indivisible Austin fights to resist authoritarianism and defend our democratic institutions — and basic human rights — against the Trump administration and its allies in Washington and our state legislature. To learn more about our initiatives, such as ProtectOurCare.us, our progressive activist training and our ongoing efforts to pressure our elected officials to stand up for their constituents, visit IndivisibleAustin.com.

Training: Military 101: Understanding Shared Values Across Communities – August 5, 2017

For decades now, conservative Republicans have acted as though they have a lock on the veteran vote. For much of that time, moderates and Democrats have quietly ceded outreach to the other side. Have you ever thought of why? There is a lot of misinformation about the US military and veterans. You may have experienced it yourself.

Have you often wondered how to talk to Bill, your Vietnam veteran uncle? You know he’s on the fence about Trump, but you feel certain that if you can just learn how to “speak his language” you two could find a way to discuss the current environment. What should you say to your neighbor, Deb, who just came back, wounded, from her second tour in Afghanistan? And what the heck does your coworker, Devon, do every summer when he goes away for two weeks with the National Guard?

Wonder no more! Indivisible Austin is teaming up with the Truman Project to help educate the civilian community about military life. Our goal is to help give you the information you need to communicate more effectively with service members, veterans, and military families.

Only 7.3% of living Americans have served in the U.S. military at some point of their lives, leaving most policymakers, advocates, and everyday citizens with a dearth of knowledge about the military’s organization and culture. Taught by military veterans, this training covers everything from high-level questions about the values of those who serve in the military all the way down to details about the differences between the various branches and ranks. Participants will walk away with a better sense of who serves in our military, why they do it and the values of public service and equality they share with the progressive community.

Location is in Central Austin.

RSVP Here

Training: Introduction to Indivisible – August 11, 2017

For new activists and seasoned members of the Resistance alike. Join us for a discussion of the Indivisible movement, which has its roots in Austin.

At this free, one-hour workshop you’ll learn:

  • How Indivisible started, and where we go from here
  • How we use Austin’s six gerrymandered congressional districts to our advantage
  • How we have been successful in blocking the worst of Trump’s policies

There will be a short, 30-minute presentation, followed by 30 minutes (or so) of Q&A.

Location: Wells Branch neighborhood — please register to see details. 

RSVP Here

Why I Risk Heat Stroke For Healthcare — A Texas Protester’s Story

Guest post by Emily Wolinsky, posted with permission

It’s July in Texas. I’m not sure if those of you who are not from Texas understand just how hot it becomes at this time of year for people living in this state, but this kind of sweltering sweatfuckery is hard to for most non-Texans to comprehend unless you live it. To paint a picture — Just a few days ago, my friend said she woke up on the ground. She was outside working and passed out from the heat. Most people would go to the hospital after passing out like that — Not here and not most Texans. She just picked herself up off the ground, dusted off her jeans, drank a bottle of water, and got back to her yard work.

Emily holds a sign from her power wheelchair that is almost as large as she is. The sign is made from red poster board and states: 1 Year In Nursing Facility = $82,128, Care at Home = $25,254, TrumpCare (the word “care” in quotes) is not fiscally responsible! Vote No! = Save Lives!
Emily holds a sign from her power wheelchair that is almost as large as she is. The sign is made from red poster board and states: 1 Year In Nursing Facility = $82,128, Care at Home = $25,254, TrumpCare (the word “care” in quotes) is not fiscally responsible! Vote No! = Save Lives!

So yesterday, when I arrived at the location of the second pro-healthcare/anti-deathcare rally that I’ve attended in a week in Austin — in July — at the “Peak of Hell Fire” time of day — you probably can imagine that going out into this heat wasn’t my or anyone’s idea of a dream way to kick back after a long day of work. Yet, me and around two hundred “liberal snowflakes” like me grabbed our protest signs, bottles of water, and our bullhorns, and dragged our asses out to the sidewalks surrounding this posh hotel in northwest Austin where Cruz was set to speak that evening. Our purpose — To go and telepathically tell Ted Cruz that he was a piece of shit for the millionth time.

And wowee was it hot yesterday. Heat like this makes one tired, irritable, nauseous, listless, and more adjectives that describe misery. You get to a rally like this, see all the people, and shout the chants, “Kill the bill” and “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Ted Cruz has got to go” the first ten times with plenty of twangy gusto, but each minute the sun bores down, the words get a bit softer, a bit softer, until you feel your lips moving, but no sound is coming out. You start to wonder if just your mere presence is enough. Eventually your protest sign, with the message you spent hours contemplating in craft-mode in your air conditioned office that afternoon, no longer serves as a sign, but a shield that protects you from the torture of the closest star in our galaxy.

After about ninety minutes, you ask yourself — “Why am I here? Does any of this matter? Will any of this change Ted Cruz’s mind and make him a real human man?” You start to feel overcome with doubt and despair and then you take a second and look around.

Emily holds a sign from her power wheelchair that is almost as large as she is. The sign is made from red poster board and states: We fight today for what you will become tomorrow. Hashtag Save Medicaid.
Emily holds a sign from her power wheelchair that is almost as large as she is. The sign is made from red poster board and states: We fight today for what you will become tomorrow. Hashtag Save Medicaid.

You see people of all ages surrounding you. Many of these people are women — young and old. You see people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices to get around. You see people from all sorts of economic backgrounds. You see people with signs that discuss their form of cancer, which was treated thanks the Affordable Care Act. You see people who are obviously still sick and frail under trees, fanning themselves, hanging on for their lives. You see and hear people who are scared — who say they will die without Medicaid. You see people holding signs that say they are veterans and they feel betrayed by our politicians who have sold themselves out to corporations. You see people chanting with their hands using American Sign Language. You listen to thoughtful and intelligent commentary between the chants going on between strangers. You hear people with a sense of humor who try to make a few jokes to lighten this heavy mood. You hear and see one liberal snowflake after another liberal snowflake — And guess what? We aren’t melting. We are hot, but we will not melt.

We won’t melt because there’s a reason for all of this. People matter. Healthcare matters. Our lives and livelihoods have now morphed into budget line items, which are under threat to be crossed out by a man inside the air conditioned hotel holding the red pen. We are fighting for our lives and Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Greg Abbott, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, the G.O.P., cancer, disability, old age, PTSD, blindness, deafness, poorness, and worst of all — the Texas sun will not stop us.

The police are called by the hotel manager. We are getting too close to the large oak trees surrounding the hotel for shade. We need to get further away because we pose a threat. We with our wheelchairs, and our cancer scarves surrounding our scalps, and our orthopedic shoes, and our chants, need to stay out of Ted Cruz’s dark shadow. Ted Cruz is scared…Of Us.

And you know what? He should be.