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We Stand Indivisible Against Hate in Austin

UPDATE: Please scroll to the bottom of this post for an update from Scholz management.

An Indivisible Austin member was targeted for abuse by a group of white supremacists today and their car was vandalized.

Today, neo-Nazis held a hate-filled rally at the State Capitol in Austin to claim that “Tomorrow Belongs to Texas” (a reference to the song from Cabaret and a favorite of prominent racist Richard Spencer, despite the fact that it was written by a gay Jewish progressive). They then headed over to Scholz Garten for an after party. They lied and misrepresented their group’s true nature to the Scholz management. Reports suggest they represented themselves as a veterans’ group, not only hiding their own name, but stealing valor from real veterans.

Indivisible Austin happened to be holding an event at Scholz at the same time. We had a sign posted, and several members were wearing their IATX t-shirts or had bumper stickers on their cars. One of our members, dressed in an IATX shirt, left the meeting a little early, and was verbally attacked with anti-Semitic slurs and videotaped by these people. This person then found that their car, which had progressive bumper stickers, had been vandalized.

We have contacted the Austin Police Department, the Anti-Defamation League, and reached out to Scholz management to understand how and why this happened. We trust that they were deceived by a group with bad intentions.

If you were at Scholz’ around 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, June 17 and you witnessed any part of the assault, please contact us at Board@IndivisibleAustin.com or DM us through Facebook or Twitter.

Scholz Garten is well-known as the home of Texas progressive social gatherings, and Indivisible Austin will not stand by while bigots turn it into a home for hate groups. We have decided to carry on with our previously scheduled happy hour there next Saturday at 5:30 p.m. If you plan on coming, please show your solidarity with an Indivisible or other progressive t-shirt.

From Scholz management:
Hello Scholz Friends,First thank you for bringing yesterday’s incident to our attention, we share the same concerns as yourselves and are saddened that anyone was made to feel unsafe in our establishment.

We were asked, with rather short notice, to accommodate a party to be hosted Sat June 17. The group represented themselves to our staff as “TBT” and that they were a “Veterans group.”  While we searched for information on “TBT Veterans” we found nothing good or bad and confirmed the booking. There was no mention of participating in a march or their actual name. Based on today’s events we now understand they misrepresented themselves and misled our Scholz events team, management and staff. Please rest assured we would never give any group on the side of Hate a platform for any reason.

The question “Does anyone know anything about these Frank- Hot Dogs, Cold Beer people who are now running operations?” was posed.  The new operators have run many local businesses for decades that promote Diversity, Unity, Inclusion, and Love. The owners have spent time on many non-profit and charitable boards and have had a hand in raising awareness and funds for many righteous causes. We have prepared and distributed Thanksgiving meals for hundreds of Austin’s homeless and Safe Place, driven cargo trucks full of supplies to Standing Rock, Raised money for West Texas Fire Relief, Autism Awareness, Cancer Awareness, aGLIFF, Love-a-Bull, Boys and Girls Club of Austin, ACLU and more. We’re not patting ourselves on the back by any means but we do want you to know that we take Austin, Texas, our businesses, our guests, life, love, happiness and equality very seriously.

We will do everything to continue to support the great groups who call Scholz home and can reassure you Hate groups like Tomorrow Belongs to Texas are not welcome in this place of acceptance.

With love, Scholz Owners, Staff & Family

Come on Down to the Indivisible Central Texas Roundup and Town Hall with Ezra Levin!

Please join us on June 24th at the Indivisible Central Texas Roundup and Town Hall with Ezra Levin!

Indivisible groups in Central Texas have become POWERHOUSES of activism. We want to celebrate all that you’ve done, and build for the future. So we’re excited to invite y’all to come on down for the Indivisible Central Texas Roundup with our special guest Ezra Levin, Co-Executive Director of The Indivisible Project!

The Roundup includes an afternoon of learning, networking, and recharging for Indivisible group leaders, super-volunteers, and passionate supporters – folks who are very engaged in their local Indivisible groups and ready to take their activism to the next level. Our learning sessions will be followed by a Town Hall (ticketed and open to the public) with Ezra.

You can order your Central Texas Roundup T-shirt here (women’s and men’s styles available)!

When
Sat, June 24, 2017
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM CDT (Full schedule below)

Roundup location and additional program details will be provided after registration.

Tickets: $20. Please RSVP here.

Full Schedule

12:30 Check-in
1:00 Welcome + Icebreaker
1:20 Transition to sessions
1:30 Organizing 101 (this session covers both breakout periods)
1:30 Protest Safety/Verbal Self-Defense Training
1:30 Tech Resources for Organizers
1:30 Q&A: Legal & Financial Concerns for Indivisible Groups
2:25 Break
2:35 Media Training for Organizers
2:35 Tech Resources for Organizers
2:35 Q&A: Legal & Financial Concerns for Indivisible Groups
3:30 Mix & Mingle break, transition to Town Hall
4:00 Town Hall with Ezra Levin, Co-Executive Director, Indivisible Project
5:30 Happy Hour at Scholz Garten (no host, no ticket required)

Training: Indivisible 101 at 6:30 p.m. on July 6, 2017

Instructor: Noah Masterson, Indivisible Austin co-founder and Board Vice President

New to the Indivisible movement? Ready to #Resist Trump but aren’t sure how to get started?

Join this basic training on what Indivisible is all about. You’ll learn:

  • How to adopt Tea Party tactics for progressive change
  • 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.

First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin• 4700 Grover Ave, Austin, TX 78756

Please register here, and feel free to bring guests. 

Statement by the Indivisible Austin Board about the Alexandria Shooting

The community and board of Indivisible Austin were saddened to learn about the shooting of a member of (TX 25) Representative Roger Williams’ staff in Alexandria yesterday. Indivisible supporters interact with congressional staff every day, and we deeply value and respect their work and commitment to our democratic processes.

Indivisible Austin’s Code of Civility specifically calls out the importance of treating staff with respect. Our sympathy goes out to Zach Barth and all the Members of Congress and staff who were affected by the shooting.

So you’re meeting with a staffer. Now what?

During the Cornyn Stakeout last week, I, on impulse, walked into the Chase Bank Building, rode the elevator to the 15th floor, and knocked on the door to Cornyn’s office. Next thing I knew I was sitting face to face with a young staffer. Now what?

I had my talking points about the Senate Intelligence Committee’s–and especially John Cornyn’s–lackluster response to Russian election interference, but it seemed weird to launch into that. When there is a human being sitting a few feet away, the dynamic is very different compared to speaking on the phone or firing off angry tweets.

She may have been more nervous than I was. I’m a tall man in an Indivisible Austin t-shirt and for all she knows I am about to start shrieking at her, or worse. So I explained, calmly, that I was from Indivisible Austin, one of the organizers of the stakeout, and that we aren’t scary. I joked that most of the Indivisible activists look like our moms, and in fact, my mother is an Indivisible activist in rural Texas. (See, we’re not all Austin hippies, either.)

The staffer smiled, and let her guard down a bit. Sure, she was being paid to listen to my concerns, and we might disagree vigorously on many things; but it was clear that a human connection was forming.

I believe these human connections, seeking common ground, will save our Democracy.

Paraphrasing what I said:

On the AHCA

“Getting people to question facts is a hallmark of authoritarianism. When John Cornyn called CBO data ‘fake news,’ that sent a dangerous signal. The CBO score may not be perfect, but it’s the only data we have, and the Congressional Budget Office is as nonpartisan as it gets. For our Democracy to function, we need to have agreed-upon facts. If we can’t agree on facts, our Democracy dies.”

On withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord

“Sen. Cornyn signed a letter encouraging Trump to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. Cornyn and other Republicans like to point out that the treaty is not legally binding. But one thing we have learned from the Trump presidency is that norms and traditions uphold our Democracy far more than laws do. By withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, we send a message that we no longer take seriously the bonds, however symbolic, between the U.S. and our global allies. Additionally, climate change is a nonpartisan issue, affecting everyone. We can disagree about the means with which to solve the problem, but we first need to agree on the basic fact that it is happening.”

On Russian election interference

“The original purpose of the Cornyn Stakeout was to send a message to Sen. Cornyn that Americans take very seriously the issue of a foreign power interfering in our Democratic process. Sen. Cornyn’s seemingly flippant attitude toward his own committee’s investigation is inappropriate. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue. If Russia, or any foreign power, is influencing our elections in any way, that is dangerous to both parties, and to our nation as a whole. We need Sen. Cornyn to take this issue more seriously.”

I spent 15 to 20 minutes sharing my concerns with the staffer, who was very professional and polite, and took notes that she said she would deliver to the senator. It is quite possible that she was seething inwardly, disagreeing with everything I said… but I don’t really think so. Human beings are social creatures and instinctively seek common ground. And it is much easier to find that common ground in person, than on social media or phone calls.

This summer we’ll be kicking off a series of “air-conditioned activism”* events, centered around meetings with congressional staffers. We’re planning a toolkit to make your meetings with staffers as effective as can be, and we would love to hear what has and has not worked for you. We would especially welcome feedback from staffers. Please email vp@indivisibleaustin.com or leave a comment here.


*Many thanks to the Indivisible TX-25 Eanes / West Austin group for coining the term “Air-Conditioned Activism.”

 

 

How to Tell Your Senators to Oppose Trumpcare (Without Accidentally Letting Them Off the Hook!)

Cross-posted, with permission, from Cover Texas Now

Over the next couple weeks, it’s critical that we continue to raise our voices about health care in phone calls and emails to our U.S. Senators, rallies in our communities, social media posts, letters to editor, and any other ways you can think of.

We also need to make sure our message doesn’t let them off the hook.

Many Senators are saying that they won’t support “the House bill.” They say they’re working on “improving” the bill

So if we just ask them to “oppose the House bill,” we run the risk of letting them off the hook.

That’s why we recommend delivering this message to our Senators:

Oppose ANY legislation that:

  • Causes millions of Americans to lose health coverage;
  • Slashes Medicaid for kids, seniors, pregnant women, and people with disabilities;
  • Guts protections for people with pre-existing conditions;
  • Cuts billions in health care funding to pay for billions in tax cuts to large corporations and wealthy individuals.

We also urge you to take a moment to explain why protecting health care is personally important to you.

Here are the phone numbers to contact our Senators:

Thank you for raising your voice!

How Your Voices Made a Difference Last Week: Paris Climate Accord

Courtesy of 5 Minute Activism

When Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris agreement, people immediately mobilized…

  • China and all 28 EU states reaffirmed their commitment to fully implement the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • California, New York, and Washington formed a climate alliance.
  • More than 60 mayors of U.S. cities (including Pittsburgh) committed to adopting and upholding the Paris Climate Agreement goals.
  • Michael Bloomberg is coordinating a group of corporations, colleges, and mayors who are negotiating their own climate plan directly with the U.N.
  • Phoenix, Arizona announced plans to become carbon-neutral by 2050.
  • Protesters held rallies outside the White House and across the country.
  • Even Weather.com got in on the action!
  • Both Paris and Montreal lit their city halls green.

…And pretty much the entire world will continue to take action against climate change:

  • India canceled the creation of huge coal power stations, moving instead toward more affordable solar energy—and announced plans to allow the sale of only electric cars by 2030.
  • South Korea is beginning to shut down coal power plants, in a move to combat pollution.
  • Shareholders approved a proposal for ExxonMobil to report on climate change-related risks, despite management’s recommendation to vote against it.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the grassroots progress forward, and the success of these movements in resisting Donald and the GOP’s regressive agenda, so I hope these positive signs offer some peace to your soul in trying times. Hang in there, warriors. We are our nation and our future’s hope.

Cornyn Stakeout: A Statewide Success

Cross-posted from cornynstakeout.com

The stakeout was amazing, y’all. Thirty-one groups came together from all over the state to hold John Cornyn accountable at each of his Texas offices, all day long, for four days. (See highlights here.)

As an all-volunteer community of citizen activists, this was a big commitment of time and energy, and we definitely got Sen. Cornyn’s attention. (We know because we talked to staff.) What Cornyn chooses to do now that he knows he’s under scrutiny is on him. So far he seems to be doubling down on his fecklessness. That will change, or he will be voted out.

But this is just the beginning. We Texans are stronger together, and won’t let our beautiful, but vast, geography get in the way of organizing. These are the groups that organized the stakeout, to whom we owe a Texas-size thank you.

Austin

TX21 Indivisible

TX25 Indivisible Eanes (West Austin)

Pantsuit Austin

TX-10 Indivisible

Indivisible South ATX

Indivisible TX-17

Women’s Action Group – Cedar Park/Round Rock

Wilco Indivisible

Dallas

Indivisible TX-03

Indivisible Oak Cliff

Indivisible TX-24

Indivisible06

Houston

Neighbors in Action – Indivisible!

PSR Houston

Visible Indivisible

Indivisible Houston

Indivisible Katy Huddle

Liberty County Indivisible

PSR Houston

Indivisible Cypress

Golden Triangle Indivisible

Indivisible TX-02

Indivisible TX-36

Emerson UU Advocates Indivisible Action Team

Lubbock

West Texans Concerned About Vladimir Putin

San Antonio

TX21 Indivisible

Indivisible Seguin

Concerned TX-27 Democrat

TX20 Indivisible

Indivisible NB

Tyler

Indivisible Smith County

Day One: Why We Need the Cornyn Stakeout

Cross-posted from cornynstakeout.com

Today is the first day of the Cornyn Stakeout. Citizen activists are making their concerns known at Sen. Cornyn’s offices all over the state.

Sen. Cornyn himself has reacted, if obliquely. His Houston office has a sign on the door cautioning protestors not to demonstrate on private property.

And there was this tweet:

Put aside that the article Cornyn’s references in the tweet gives clear examples of the mounting evidence that Russian interference tipped the election to Trump. As a member of the Senate Intel and Judiciary committees, it is John Cornyn’s JOB to find and parse that evidence, and above all to take that evidence SERIOUSLY.

This is why we are protesting. This is why, statewide, we are rallying outside Cornyn’s offices. John Cornyn’s fecklessness on Russia and other issues has entered dangerous new territory.

It’s not just Russia. Take this tweet, sent over the weekend:

What John Cornyn calls “fake news” is data from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO)! If this is fake news, then there is no such thing as real news. This is so completely irresponsible of the second-most powerful person in the Senate, and he needs to hear about it, loudly and frequently.

How Your Voices Made a Difference Last Week: We Remember Those Who Fought Before Us

Courtesy of 5 Minute Activism

You marvelous patriotic people are keeping the heat turned up to 11 on Russia–and things are starting to cook:

  • Fired national security director Michael Flynn has taken the Fifth and refused to surrender his personal records regarding his possible collusion with foreign governments to Senate subpoena. Combined with his previous (refused) request for immunity, it’s growing ever clearer that there’s plenty to hide. The Senate Intelligence Committee followed up with two new subpoenas to Flynn’s businesses.
  • The Washington Post has learned that in March, Donald asked the heads of two U.S. intelligence agencies to publicly deny James Comey’s revelations that Donald’s campaign was under criminal investigation by the FBI. “The problem wasn’t so much asking them to issue statements, it was asking them to issue false statements about an ongoing investigation,” a former senior intelligence official said.
  • Oh, and remember that mysterious highly placed White House Trump adviser who was also coming under the FBI’s microscope for possible affiliations with Russia? Yeah…it’s Kushner. To be clear, that doesn’t mean he’s a target, or central focus, of the investigation, but a person of interest who may help shed light on the extent of Russia’s meddling into our last elections.
  • And in another sign that those with vested interests in Donald and his agenda are panicking, conservative blowhard and conspiracy theorist Sean Hannity showed his hand in a tweet this week. In trying without any evidence to connect slain DNC staffer Seth Rich with the hack of the DNC, rather than Russia, as all 17 intelligence agencies have agreed, Hannity openly revealed his endgame: to try to shift blame from and exonerate Donald. Yet another sign that GOP loyalists are feeling the noose tighten around their necks.
  • In other good news, Donald’s unconstitutional, racist Muslim ban was once again frozen by a federal court–this time on appeal–and once again the court cited Donald’s own words about the ban in defending its decision.
  • The White House backed down in the face of unyielding demands from watchdog agency the Office of Government Ethics (and public outcry) and has agreed to provide the ethics waivers the OGE requested for lobbyists lobbying in the fields in which they recently worked, against regulations, which it had previously refused to release.
  • In New Hampshire, voters flipped a reliably Republican house seat blue, and in Long Island (which Donald won by 23 points), voters flipped a state assembly seat Democrat as well.
  • The Supreme Court struck down racially gerrymandered districts in North Carolina this week. Following on the heels of three federal courts doing the same in Texas, this is a positive development for fairer representation in these artificially manipulated districts.
  • Advertisers are fleeing Sean Hannity’s FOX show in response to his dogged perpetuation of a baseless and debunked conspiracy theory about slain DNC staffer Seth Rich (even in the face of direct pleas from Rich’s family). It’s yet another brick in the FOX crypt, amid a flurry of other signs (like its recent third-place drop in ratings) that America may be fed up with the network’s stream of misinformation and propaganda.