Thanks, Tracy! I did notice one minor issue after hitting send, which is that I used the term "backyard" twice in the letter, spelling it two different ways! Therefore I've made the following edit to reword one of those sentences where the term appears:
We appreciate your good record on war and militarization issues, and hope you will share our desire to make the best use of this synchronicity to send a message to the organizers and hosts of this conference, and to raise the awareness of the Oakland and Bay Area community over what is being held in their backyard the Bay Area over this blatant hawking of military hardware to law enforcement in your district.
Two other minor updates: In the first sentence I also replaced the term "conference" with the term "military hardware trade show", as that term seemed more descriptive for a first mention, and to the list of groups listed as signatories I added Code Pink as well as an additional group added by Zaki to the BACLC website, the Oakland Privacy Working Group.
With regard to our collective numbers, do folks think "hundreds of members" is the best term to use, or should I change it to say "thousands of members"? I have no idea the size of the membership of most of the groups in the Bay Area Civil Liberties Coalition, or whether they even have formal membership lists. It also depends what parameters are used -- the LPSF has a relatively small number of actual dues-paying members, but there are around 2,700 registered Libertarians in San Francisco. One possible consideration is that it could be embarrassing to claim "thousands of members" if only a small handful turn out for our protest.
The edited letter appears immediately below. (For those reading this on the LPSF list, please let me know if there are any issues with the LPSF signing onto the letter, and if not, if one of officers could send me approval ASAP that would be excellent.)
Love & Liberty,
((( starchild )))
August 23, 2014
Congresswoman Barbara Lee
1301 Clay Street, Suite 1000-N,
Oakland, CA 94612
Dear Congresswoman Lee,
We are a coalition of groups writing to you about the upcoming Urban Shield military hardware trade show taking place at the Marriott Hotel on Broadway in Oakland the weekend of September 4.
If that date and the Marriott ring a bell, it’s because you happen to have a fundraising event scheduled there that same day. It is for this reason, as well as you being one of our local representatives, that we are contacting you.
We appreciate your good record on war and militarization issues, and hope you will share our desire to make the best use of this synchronicity to send a message to the organizers and hosts of this conference, and to raise the awareness of Oakland and the Bay Area over this blatant hawking of military hardware to law enforcement in your district.
In the wake of attacks on people in Ferguson, Missouri by police using military equipment similar to the types of armaments being sold and promoted at Urban Shield to perpetrate human rights violations -- including gassing and arresting journalists present to document the suppression of the uprising fueled by the recent killing of Michael Brown -- the issue of police departments in America being armed with military weapons is critical now more than ever.
The militarization of police and the abuses that have accompanied this “warrior cop” mentality in the United States are becoming an international human rights issue. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has spoken out about it , calling on U.S. authorities to ensure that the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are protected, and Amnesty International has dispatched a special delegation of observers to Ferguson, the first time the organization has ever deployed such a team to the United States.
At this critical juncture, we on the local level must strongly condemn and speak out against the Urban Shield conference being held in our own back yard, and the nationwide militarization of law enforcement that events like this represent. Management at the Marriott Hotel need to hear the message that hosting Urban Shield will incur political and economic costs for their business.
We need to know that you as our congressional representative stand with us, with members of our communities, and with the people of Ferguson and victims of police abuse and violence across the country, and that your holding a fundraising event at the Marriott on the day of this conference will not be seen as a tacit endorsement or looking the other way.
The most obvious thing you could do to help would be to cancel your own event at the Marriott and put out a press release letting people know the reason why you are choosing to relocate to a different venue.
You could also send the managers of the Marriott a letter from your office asking them not to host the Urban Shield conference next year and letting them know that continuing to work with the conference will incur economic and political costs to their business.
A third opportunity for constructive action would be for you to join in person the protesters from our groups who will be demonstrating at the Marriott on September 4, and/or invite representatives of the Bay Area Civil Liberties Coaltion to appear at your fundraising event and address attendees on this topic.
We look forward to hearing from you on how you are prepared to use your influence and visibility as a member of Congress to join us in letting the organizers and hosts of this conference promoting the militarization of law enforcement know that Urban Shield is not welcome in Oakland or the Bay Area.
On behalf of hundreds of members of the following organizations making up the Bay Areas Civil Liberties Coalition:
• Bill Of Rights Defense Committee
• Code Pink
• Libertarian Party of San Francisco
• Media Alliance
• Oakland Privacy Working Group
• Restore the Fourth
• San Francisco 99% Coalition
• World Can't Wait