Drones are here: why the City Council should take action

Unidentified Drone spotted at El Cerrito rally in 2019

The ACLU, Oakland Privacy, and El Cerrito Progressives have been requesting the city to adopt an ordinance on police surveillance since 2017. Despite these requests, the police chief has pushed to rely only on internal policies and procedures, which may be changed at any time without public input.

We fully respect many of the policies being offered by Chief Keith; however, an ordinance would provide greater accountability for an issue as important as surveillance in our community.

Sometime in 2019 and without public knowledge, El Cerrito Police acquired a drone. In October the police held a poorly advertised and poorly attended public meeting to hear public comment. Only groups already aware of the situation attended the meeting in addition to one or two concerned community members.  At the meeting, Chief Keith presented the draft Drone Policy, listened to public feedback and informed attendees that the next step for adoption of the policy would include a revised draft presented to City Council. At the meeting, members of the varying organizations advocated for consideration of an Ordinance, to strengthen both accountability and transparency for the acquisition and use of all surveillance technology. Chief Keith and City Manager Karen Pinkos continue to resist this idea, ignoring long-term concerns about the prevalence of surveillance tech. 

We are calling on the City Council to take a long-term view of surveillance policies in our city. We ask the Council to codify their beliefs, practices, and transparency about police surveillance in a city ordinance.

The advantages of an ordinance:

  • Surveillance technology is multiplying rapidly and will grow more extensive and privacy-challenging over time. This is just the beginning.
  • A policy may be changed at any time for any reason. An ordinance is only changed after a public process. Protecting citizen privacy should not rely purely on voluntary acts by unknown future city officials. Making these policies into law ensures that our beliefs and practice will continue in the future, no matter who is in charge.
  • Frequent public discussion slows “surveillance creep” and encourages surveillance to be used only when the benefits outweigh the drawbacks
  • More frequent communication and accountability to the public improves community trust of the police force.

What you can do:

Attend the El Cerrito City Council meeting on Tuesday, January 21st at 7:00 p.m. at El Cerritio  City Hall. Make you voice heard. To make public comment, simply fill out a comment card provided by the City Clerk at the time of the meeting.    

If you cannot come in person, you can view the meeting via the City’s website either live or the next day, and respond via email to the City Manager, Police Chief and City Council Members.  

You can join El Cerrito Progressive’s efforts to continue to advocate for a Surveillance Ordinance. Fill out our Google form here.

California’s New Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)


Daily, user input has been aggregated on the Internet, producing an infinite amount of accessible data, and creating for online companies a multi-trillion dollar industry of information exchange.

No one truly knows how far their online information travels to produce data points for which companies and for what ultimate outcomes. According to the Pew Research Center, up to 8 out of 10 internet users express concern over what companies do with their data, while they increasingly understand that the use of their online input is almost entirely out of their control.

Lock In Privacy

The State of California has moved to counteract the profuse collection of user data that perpetually occurs virtually without permission.

As of January 1, 2020, a legal milestone in California gives consumers the right to view the personal information collected about them and to stop companies from selling it. This law is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Privacy advocates contemplate the likelihood of consumer rights provided by the CCPA extending beyond the state, with California possibly being the leading edge that emboldens other states to legislate consumer privacy and even inspire a national law.

Here are some primary CCPA mandates:

  • Businesses must disclose what information they collect, for what business purpose(s) they collect the information and any third parties with whom they share that data.
  • Businesses will be required to comply with official consumer requests to delete that data.
  • Consumers can opt-out of their data being sold, and businesses can’t retaliate by changing the price or level of service.
  • Businesses can, however, offer “financial incentives” for being allowed to collect data.
  • California authorities are empowered to fine companies for violations.

California’s resolve to protect internet users’ and consumers’ privacy will undoubtedly bring significant changes to the online marketplace. The positive or negative effects of the CCPA on businesses will probably take years to determine. But the CCPA’s positive effect on consumers is expected to be immediate.

You can find more information about the California Consumer Privacy Act on the following sites:

TechCrunch: California’s Privacy Impact Act – What you need to know

USA Today: California Consumer Privacy Act of 2020: What the new privacy law means to you, from which the bulk of this information was derived

TechCrunch: The California Consumer Privacy Act Officially Takes Effect Today, an information contributor


City Council 5-0 on Vote to Support TPS Proclamation

On a chilly November evening residents and immigrant rights activists gathered outside the El Cerrito City Hall for a vigil to support the hundreds of thousands of immigrants at risk of losing their homes, family and work due to Trumps policy to end Temporary Protective Status (TPS). El Cerrito Progressives and the NOR CAL TPS Coalition comprised of labor, church, education and other organizations joined together to rally for the passage of a Proclamation in Support of Protections from Deportation and a path to permanent residency for beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure. The Proclamation passed 5/0. (Readers can find a link to the Proclamation on page 21 of the Agenda Packet here:http://www.el-cerrito.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/5029

During the public meeting, Council members heard from labor organizations including the Contra Costa Central Labor Council and the San Francisco Labor Council, TPS residents with decades of history in our community – describing themselves as workers, homeowners, tax payers and parents. The explained that they came as a result of violence in their own country.

Manuel De la Paz from East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, a local group representing 1,000 TPS holders, told the Council 55,000 TPS holders reside in California and in El Cerrito he identified 10 TPS families with there likely being more. He added that 50% of TPS holders own homes .

A political science professor and a member of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) identified himself as an ex-TPS holder. Now a citizen, married with a son at UC Berkeley, he called the right to TPS a human right. “We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the US policies that committed genocide against Salvadorans” he explained, 100,000 people died during their civil war fueled by U.S. aid.

The final two speakers during public comment included a mother and her daughter fighting to keep their family together. Crista Ramos, 15 years of age, is the main plaintiff in a lawsuit suing Trump for ending TPS. https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-01-11/california-teen-leads-lawsuit-keep-hundreds-thousands-immigrants-us She is one of 10 children from many different countries, suing to maintain TPS to keep her mother from being deported. According to her testimony, without TPS, 250,000 children are in danger of losing their parents. Christina Morales, mother to Crista, came to the US in 1993 when she was 12. She is a homeowner, living now in San Pablo. For the past 10 years, she and her husband volunteer as coaches and manager for two soccer teams in Richmond. She also works as a full time classroom aid for special need students. She told the audience that the law suit is fighting to keep families together. She said, “I don’t want another home. ”

After the testimony, the audience heard Council members respond. Quinto spoke to his own history and said that These people are innocent, they are not criminals.” Ableson stated that she was “proud to see this item on the El Cerrito council agenda and retold her own family immigration story. Council member Lyman concurred with the previous statements. Council member Fadelli said that the proclamation was “easy to pass because its the right thing to do.” Mayor Pardue-Okimoto broke down in tears stating, “….the thought of being separated from my children kills me and I so sympathize with you, and it’s wrong, so wrong. ” In the end she said, “there is always hope…we are going to continue to say we are not going to stand for this kind of hatred. ” (Readers can find a link to the meeting here.https://elcerrito.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=601

Readers who want to support efforts to protect TPS, DACA and DED holders can send letters, emails and calls to both Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris, asking them to enthusiastically work toward the passage of HR 6. known as the Secure Act. The exact language states: This bill cancels and prohibits removal proceedings against certain aliens and provides such aliens with a path toward permanent resident status.https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6

Local Families at Risk for Deportation Without TPS

Join immigrants and their allies in fighting for a pathway to permanent residency for over a million longtime U.S. residents who are at risk of losing their legal status under the Trump administration’s attacks on programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).

The El Cerrito City Council will hear and vote on a proclamation titled “In Support of Protections from Deportation and a Path to Permanent Residency for Beneficiaries of DACA, TPS and DED” at its November 19 meeting in City Council chambers, 10890 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. The meeting begins at 7:00 PM. Read the entire draft proclamation at this pdf link. The City Council’s agenda isn’t available yet, but will appear at this link closer to the date of the meeting, and should include a final draft of the proclamation.

Local community organizations El Cerrito Progressives, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, and NorCal TPS Coalition will hold a rally/vigil outside City Hall before the meeting, from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. Come hear local speakers tell their stories and explain how we can all work to keep families together and our communities intact. El Cerrito Mayor Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto is also slated to speak at the beginning of the rally. Come even if you live outside of El Cerrito! TPS Coalition has been working with several cities on the issue; you can read the Berkeley City Council’s 10/15/19 resolution, “Protect from deportation and a path to permanent residency for beneficiaries of DACA, TPS, and DED,” at this pdf link.  

What you can do now:

Even if you can’t make it to the rally and hearing, both the El Cerrito and Berkeley resolutions include a call to action you can take now!

The resolutions endorse the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6), which the House passed on June 4, 2019, to “provide protections from deportation and offer a well-earned path to permanent residency to hardworking people who have played by the rules for decades.” The Moscow Mitch McConnell-controlled Senate, however, has not acted, so we need to urge Senators Feinstein and Harris to do all they can to get the Senate to pass similar protections and a path to permanent residency, and to take leadership in fighting for protections from deportation and a path to permanent residency.

What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code  is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please do all you can in the Senate to fight for protections from deportation and a path to permanent residency for longtime residents, including pushing for a similar bill to H.R. 6, which the House passed on June 4, 2019. I’m counting on Senator ____ to be a leader in fighting against the Trump administration’s racist anti-immigration policies.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Do you live outside California, or have friends or family in other states? Use this link to find contact info for your Senators: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials. Or call the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121, ask to be transferred to your Senator, and say this:

Hello, my name is ____ and my zip code is _____. Please do all you can in the Senate to fight for protections from deportation and a path to permanent residency for longtime residents, including pushing for a similar bill to H.R. 6, which the House passed on June 4, 2019. I hope Senator ____ will be a leader in fighting against the Trump administration’s racist anti-immigration policies.

Want to learn more? The Berkeley City Council resolution is fully annotated with articles and sources. And for more info about how to get YOUR local city or town government to consider a similar resolution, email Karl Kramer at NorCalTPS@gmail.com 

Originally posted on Indivisible East Bay. Re-posted with permission.