Bay Area Civil Liberties Coalition - Notes from Oct. 19 meeting

Here's what I wrote up from the Bay Area Civil Liberties Coalition meeting last Sunday. The MS Word document in which I typed up the notes is attached, and I've also copied them into the text of this message below.

Love & Liberty,
                                ((( starchild )))

Bay Area Civil Liberties Coalition

MEETING NOTES – Oct. 19, 2014, Omni space, (4799 Shattuck Ave., Oakland) - 6pm

Apologies for the delay in publishing these notes, and for any errors or omissions therein. If anyone has additions or corrections, please send them to me.

Shortly after I arrived (I think the meeting had been going for 15-20 minutes before that) we went around the room and did introductions, with each of us noting the groups with which we are affiliated. Some time after that I volunteered to act as secretary for the meeting.

Tracy brought a printed agenda [hopefully that can be archived on our website along with these notes] and informally acted as chair for the meeting.

- Starchild
RealReform@... / (415) 625-FREE


Tracy Rosenberg (Media Alliance)

Zaki Manian (Restore the Fourth)

Susan Harmon (Oakland Privacy Working Group/Code Pink)

Bob (War Resistors League, Chelsea Manning Support Network, Berkeley Peace & Justice Coalition)

Carl(?) (Restore the Fourth, Electronic Frontier Foundation)

Christina (Restore the Fourth, Electronic Frontier Foundation)

Janet Weil (Code Pink, SF 99% Coalition)

John Weil (guest of Janet)

Mike (Bill of Rights Defense Committee)

Starchild (Libertarian Party of San Francisco/Restore the Fourth)

Zaki – Work is being done on getting ordinances passed by small towns (easier than big cities). The primary struggle in SoCal is that there is lots of grassroots support to stop LAPD spying, but the rest of the community (aside from the RT4 chapter) is too moderate on the larger issues. There is consensus however that the LAPD should not be allowed to operate the drones they got from Seattle (from the Seattle PD?)

Susan – Has been working on Urban Shield issue, wants to focus on “civilizing the police”. There’s an Oakland Privacy Working Group meeting happening Wednesday(?) at The Hub, located at 2323 Telegraph Avenue in Oakland.

Tracy – The Shame on Feinstein Coalition sort of gave birth to this group. Wants to focus on next steps, including making the surveillance fight local and concrete.

Christina – Interested in police ethics; worked with Amnesty International in high school

Tracy – There are 52 people on the listserv. There are 7 “charter member” organizations that make up the BACLC. Suggested “1-2-3” voting process for group decision-making (members can vote to either endorse a decision enthusiastically, accept it and stand aside, or block the decision).

(Various discussion around issues of how new groups can join the coalition, how decisions should get made. Should new groups joining require the approval of each existing group? Should representatives of the different member groups be listed on the website? Each group name its approved representatives?)

Susan – Unlike, say, endorsing a letter, accepting new groups is not time-sensitive; we don’t necessarily need a rapid process.

Tracy – Volunteered to draft a proposed revision of BACLC’s mission statement.

Starchild – Concern that some people incorrectly perceive libertarian groups as right-wing and could want them excluded. Even actual right-wing groups should be okay if they support civil liberties. Example of a group that folks would find unacceptable?

Tracy – Concern about “astro-turf” groups; she has seen this in the telecom sector, with non-profits funded by AT&T, etc. Doesn’t want any part of that kind of situation.

Mike – Groups that do the opposite of what they say.

Bob – Asked which BACLC member groups are presently represented at the meeting? [NOTE: The answer I heard someone give was all but BORDC, however based on the list of affiliations I managed to write down, I’m not sure whether that is correct.]

Susan – BACLC meetings have been happening every 60 days or so and alternating between San Francisco and Oakland

Tracy – Getting back to the agenda, do we want to propose legislation?

(Discussion of possible legislators and politicians who could potentially be approached to carry legislation, etc.)

(Discussion of various possible projects, including “Timeline of Truth” on surveillance. Such timelines have been published by various media outlets.)

Christina – Will research “Timeline of Truth” project (stopped short of formally owning the project).

Janet – Suggested an outing to see “Citizen Four”, the new movie by Laura Poitras about Edward Snowden which is opening Thursday Oct. 23

Starchild – Suggested fliering or doing outreach tables at screenings of the movie, since those who see it are likely to be sympathetic to the civil liberties cause

Zaki – RT4 is talking about this, including getting materials to distribute at the film. It is opening at only one theater in San Francisco (in the Bay Area?) but may be opening in additional theaters the second week.

(Discussion of possible debate with the NSA, FBI, or surveillance supporters. Comments include that this may be more of a national issue.)

Zaki – The chief technologist at the ACLU (Chris Segoyan?) is working on trying to arrange such a debate. This is more of a national issue.

Starchild – A debate could be a win-win for us; if the authorities won’t debate us, we can publicize their refusal to do so.

Zaki – “Crypto Wars 1” occurred in the late ‘90s, with the fight over exporting encryption technology being banned as “munitions”; Phil Zimmerman (inventor of PGP) being threatened with prosecution. We basically won that fight, and the agencies’ strategy then shifted to giving companies compensation to include security loopholes or “back doors” in their products to enable the NSA and others to gain access to data. No software company is obligated under the law to facilitate such interceptions. This is actually a good place to be, and we don’t want to upset the apple cart in a way that would lead to such laws.

Janet – What is the overall goal of our coalition?

Susan – Are we just about surveillance, or also militarization of police?

Tracy – We already decided this, Urban Shield and militarization of police are definitely part of our mission. We don’t need to go back over this.

Christina – Volunteered to help with PR, social media, if we do a debate.

Starchild – Volunteered to take the lead on organizing a debate if the group decides this is something we’d like to do.

Zaki – Starchild convinced me this might be worth pursuing. We could pitch it as “Crypto Wars 2”

Susan – There are three sides, not two (the government, the tech companies, and the public).

Janet – Perhaps our debate could be with those who feel we don’t need to be concerned with government surveillance.

(More discussion about possible debate, mention of Vahid(?) as organizer of NSA comedy nights; he may have stepped back from such work?)

Susan – At our event next Monday [“What’s Next?” Urban Shield follow-up event at Niebyl Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave., Oakland] we can talk further about ideas. One specific suggestion – stop San Leandro city government from acquiring an “armored ambulance”. Maybe we could invite the Richmond police chief to speak? Skype in people from Boston, Texas? People working on the statewide “Silver Guardian”(?) issue?

Janet – There was a presentation at Golden Gate University with the War Resistors League and Arab Resources & Organizing Center(?) (AROC).

Mike – The mayor of Davis [Dan Wolk] sent an armored vehicle back, and wrote an op-ed in the Chronicle about it. [Here’s the link to that op-ed -- ]

Starchild – Thinks the umbrella function of BACLC is very important, that we should try to get lots of groups under that umbrella. It wasn’t the letter to Barbara Lee itself so much that stopped Urban Shield as the fact that we had a coalition behind it. Sees goal as achieving better awareness and cooperation among disparate groups and activists fighting for various civil liberties in the Bay Area, make us all more effective.

Janet – BACLC shouldn’t take on Urban Shield, which isn’t about NSA, drones, or fusion centers.

Tracy – We already decided to include it.

Janet – I just don’t see us taking the lead on it.

Mike – Is our role to give support to other community groups?

Tracy – Since we sent the letter to Lee under the name of the BACLC, we have “skin in the game”. Susan can take the lead on Urban Shield separately from BACLC, use the groups she’s working with as vehicle for that.

Bob – Did other groups working on Urban Shield show up at the Inside Urban Shield event?

Susan – No. They were essentially “done” with it after the Marriott [the Sept. 5 demonstration outside the Marriott Hotel at 1111 Broadway in Oakland where the conference was being held]. There were some “ruffled feathers” in those groups over Code Pink taking credit for something. That was a mistake, we shouldn’t have framed it that way.

(Discussion of what the further role of these ad hoc groups may be, if any.)

Starchild - Suggested that we might approach these groups about joining BACLC.

Starchild – Announced Oct. 21 Airport Commission hearing on items including “airport security” and “free speech” happening in San Francisco City Hall at 9am, in room 400. [I attended this hearing, expecting to be maybe the lone civilian in attendance, and was surprised to find about 100 people present, mostly taxi drivers, there to speak about proposed airport rules for rideshare vehicles. I did make a brief, general public comment in favor of greater civil liberties and relaxed rules for free speech at the airport. I noted that the Commission’s announcement did not make clear the specific nature of any proposed changes. I was given a fat stack of a couple hundred pages worth of paper on stuff related to the hearing, which I’ll try to look through and bring to our next meeting.]

The meeting concluded around 830pm, and some attendees departed, while others stayed to watch a short film brought by Tracy about journalist Josh Wolf and his fight to keep from turning over video he filmed to the FBI and testify as to its contents.

noon8window.pdf (36 Bytes)