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Month of Momentum is Now! Defend Immigrants

After 30 days of daily protests outside ICE to close the camps, hosting organizations invite EVERYONE to attend a culminating protest on Saturday, August 31 at Noon.

Meet up at El Cerrito Plaza and Del Norte BART stations at 11:00 am. ECP will have two banners: Abolish ICE and Close the Camps. Let’s travel together to 630 Sansome St., SF – ICE Headquarters.

Music by:
•Emma’s Revolution – https://emmasrevolution.com
•Diana Gameros – https://www.dianagameros.com
•Betsy Rose & Bonnie Lockhart – https://www.betsyrosemusic.org
•La Peña Chorus (with Lichi Fuentes) – https://www.lapenachorus.org

Speakers:
•Maria Xiomara Dorsey, Idle No More
•Sandy Valenciano, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance
•Frankie Free Ramos, Bay Area Boricuas
•Others TBA

And food

**Sponsoring hosts will be raising funds that day for Freedom for Immigrants Bond Fund. Bring some money to donate!
https://www.freedomforimmigrants.org/national-bond-fund

Featured

EL CERRITO CLIMATE EMERGENCY ACTION ALERT

 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

7:00 pm

El Cerrito City Hall, City Council Chambers

10890 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito

The El Cerrito City Council will be voting on a Resolution to Declare a Climate Emergency and to endorse emergency mobilization efforts to restore a safe climate.   The core elements of the proposed Resolution include:

– citywide climate emergency education and actions that can be taken to transition to zero greenhouse gas emissions;

-reduction of city greenhouse gas emissions to zero as quickly as possible within the forthcoming Climate Action Plan Update; and

– support for climate emergency mobilization and collaboration efforts to reverse global warming at the City, regional, state, national and global levels.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported last fall that we had 12 years to maintain the global temperature increase below 1.5C, and that to do this we needed to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.  Governor Brown issued an Executive Order in September 2018 to achieve Carbon Neutrality no later than 2045. We must ACT NOW to address the Climate Emergency!

Support the city council members in joining the 9 other Bay Area cities* and over 900 jurisdictions across the globe that are providing leadership and taking action to address climate change as the global threat that it is. Come to the meeting or write the Mayor and City Council members about why this issue is important to you and encourage the city to follow-up with actions as rapidly as possible:  Mayor Pardue-Okimoto rpardueokimoto@ci.el-cerrito.ca, and city councilmembers jabelson@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us;gquinto@ci.el-cerrito.ca.uspfadelli@ci.el-cerrito.ca.usglyman@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us.   If you would like your letter to be part of the public record, cc it to the city clerk atcityclerk@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us.

The link to the city agenda materials can be found here.

Toward a safe and sustainable climate for all,

The Environmental Justice Committee of the El Cerrito Progressives

*Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, San Francisco, Hayward, Fairfax, Petaluma, Cupertino and Richmond.  (Other CA jurisdictions include Santa Cruz and Mendocino Counties and the cities of Chico, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles.)

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.

Repeated Pipeline Leaks – Take Action

When El Cerrito Progressives first started meeting, the Dakota pipeline was one of our first environmental justice campaigns outside El Cerrito. Although much of our work focuses on local issues, everything and everyone is connected, whether it’s coal being transported from Utah through neighboring Richmond, plastic being used to serve our food, or pipelines 1000s of miles north and east of us. We wrote letters to the CEOs of the banks that invested in the pipeline and sent letters in solidarity with people whose lives would be affected by the XL.

Reading the Reuters article about the permit that was issued to allow extra pressure beyond the standard in the Dakota pipeline leads me think the Keystone Pipeline permit should be investigated, especially because of the major spill reported on October 31 in the NY Times.

During my visit to Alaska in August, a friend took me to see the above-ground pipe in Fairbanks. I am not an engineer. Although I marveled at how the design and construction could support the pressure and flow rate over 1000 gallons per day, I could see how leaks could occur because of land movement and other acts (e.g., vandalism, which has been reported). There have been leaks along this pipeline, and it is being considered for pipelines coming from the Arctic Refuge after it is opened to drilling.

On Sept 12 it was reported that the Trump Administration cleared a legal hurdle about drilling in the Arctic Refuge, claiming negligible negative impact on the environment. A day later Congress voted to block drilling

Given the multiple leaks and negative environmental impacts of pipelines and drilling along the Alaska pipeline, Dakota pipeline, and elsewhere, the administration’s claim has no foundation.

Take a stand against the pillaging of our natural resources for monetary gain and stand in favor of social and environmental wellbeing, whether it’s writing a letter write letters to elected officials, organizations like EarthJustice, NRDC, Sierra Club, and the Audubon Society , donating money, or going to sites to protest.

Adelante,

Barbara Chan
Convener, Environmental Justice Committee
El Cerrito Progressives
Progressive Civic Engagement
https://elcerritoprogressives.com/category/environmental-justice/’

PBS Frontline: In the Age of AI

AI image - for ECP

Image courtesy of the Department of Energy

El Cerrito Progressives encourage you to watch this PBS Frontline episode. While ECP is addressing the use of drones in El Cerrito (see our recent post) this investigation addresses the deep and wide issues posed by Artificial Intelligence.

“FRONTLINE investigates the promise and perils of artificial intelligence, from fears about work and privacy to rivalry between the U.S. and China. The documentary traces a new industrial revolution that will reshape and disrupt our lives, our jobs and our world, and allow the emergence of the surveillance society.”

1 hour, 54 minutes

Frontline: In the Age of AI

Cookies Not Cages Local Effort Raises $12,000 to help reunite families

When the dialogue on El Cerrito Next Door landed a suggestion for a bake sale to raise money for detainees at West County Detention Center, members of ECP agreed to get involved. Although some thought it was a long shot or at least an effort that might not yield much money, In the end, we raised $10,000 for bonds to support Freedom for Immigrants in 2018. 

This year we wanted to do something again. We sought out an organization doing immigration work locally with a solid reputation. We were deeply affected by the pictures of the young children in cages so we decided to support East Bay Sanctuary Covenant and specifically help the organization fulfill a need for additional legal services for unaccompanied minors in our community. We met them at their offices to discuss our fundraiser and were so impressed by their work and what they were able to do with such limited space and funding. 

They told us that since 2014 EBSC had provided legal assistance to more than 600 unaccompanied children fleeing gang violence, human trafficking, and domestic abuse in their home countries. We also learned that as of January 2019, the apprehensions of unaccompanied minors at the border had increased over 40%. We wanted to help.

The organizers for Baking for Bonds regrouped and recoined the effort: Cookies Not Cages.  We launched our campaign on the 4th of July with a Gofundme followed by monthly bake sales at El Cerrito Plaza and Kensington Farmers Market. Cookies Not Cages set a $10,000 goal. 

Hundreds of cookies, brownies, pies, cakes and breads yielded thousands of dollars!

Once again, we called out the larger community reaching out first to the bakers and sellers that worked with us last year. Immediately we had the bake sales up and running. Almost every sale we sold out! Everything was donation based. We had many generous donors give us $20 and not take a thing. Others used our sale when they were going to a potluck or having visitors over and bought a variety of items. 

The first weekend we made over $1,000 just at the El Cerrito Plaza. And subsequent weekends were just as successful. People really wanted to help.  Our majority-female group raised over $12,000 for EBSC and they were able to increase access to legal services for minors. While we couldn’t change policy, we could make a difference in the lives of those children who are seeking to remain in the community with their family members.

Our brigade of women was from our community (El Cerrito, Kensington, Richmond) and they did us and the community at large proud! And to the men or women who may have been in the kitchen helping out or watching the kids -kudos to you!

We reached out to local businesses and want to give a special shout-out to Ojas Yoga in the EC Plaza. Ojas placed a donation can in their Yoga Studio and helped to spread the word.  And the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley Social Justice Committee hosted a special bake sale that garnered over $500 dollars!

For any of you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed,  think about the ways you can make a difference. The ideas you have can help others that need it now. Then grab some friends and make it happen. We showed that it can work!

El Cerrito PD Unveils Drone Policy, Pushing Back on a Surveillance Ordinance

On October 22nd the El Cerrito Police Department held a public forum on the use of drones by the police department. Sadly it was poorly attended by the public, perhaps because it was advertised as a discussion on Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) operations. Regardless we do appreciate Chief Keith having the public forum because there is nothing to require him to do so.

The police department talked about why they might use drones such as searching for missing persons, photography for crime scene investigations, and pursuit of a suspect for a violent crime to name a few. We had a good discussion on the current language in the policy about using drones for incidents of civil unrest and how that may be defined. The Chief agreed to look for a more specific definition of what he meant by that.  

Chief Paul Keith Introducing Drone policy to a small gathering of community members on Oct. 22nd, 2019

The difference that stood out is that the Police Department wants to have these guidelines be departmental policy rather than an enforceable ordinance. What this means is 

  1. A departmental policy can be changed at any time for any reason without public notice
  2. If there are violations of the policy the department handles them as a human resource issue.

What El Cerrito Progressives and some local civil liberties organizations such as ACLU and Oakland Privacy are asking for is an ordinance. What this provides is

  1. Annual reporting of the use of the devices to council
  2. Council approval with public input of any new devices
  3. Civil remedies if the policy is violated. The civil remedy is what is called a cure and correct which means the city would be notified that they were in violation and asked to fix the problem. If they did not fix the problem it would then go to a judge. This allows for accountability outside of the system.

Essentially what the ordinance does is ask for transparency and accountability in a formalized manner. The issue of trust came up a lot in the meeting. The Police Department feels like the public does and should trust them to do the right thing. What the privacy advocates said is that there can easily be incidents of abuse no matter how well the intentions of the department. Public accountability deters abuse. Right now the policy when amended may be reasonable and something most people can support. That being said, if a staff change occurs or there is a new surveillance item the city wants they can get it with no transparency or public accountability. Right now we have to trust they will do the right thing. 

Sadly as an institution, police departments have not always been shown to be trustworthy. Oakland, Richmond, and Berkeley police departments all have had significant issues with violations of public trust. In addition, both Alameda and Contra Costa County Sheriffs Departments have used surveillance methods in a way that civil liberties organizations object to. (see link at the bottom of the page) While our department is much smaller it does not mean it could not happen here. It is not a matter of trust to us, it is a matter of solid policy guidelines with accountability. Just because we live in a more liberal area does not mean that such violations could not occur. 

We understand that the public is generally exhausted with general political turmoil right now. But this is one of those slippery slopes where if we allow unregulated drones into our community then easily a next step is facial recognition technology which has been banned in Oakland, San Francisco and has a pending ban in Berkeley. We don’t want the line to be drawn at that point when that technology is already purchased as it is in this circumstance. The police purchased the drone a year ago before a policy had been put in place and before any public or council comment.

So what can you do?

  1. Read the policy here and send any feedback to evera@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us.
  2. As of now, Chief Keith is planning on presenting the policy at the December 17th council meeting. We will continue to keep you apprised of this. Follow us on Facebook for updates also.
  3. Email city council members and let them know your thoughts

Mayor Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto rpardueokimoto@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us

Mayor Pro-Tem Greg Lyman glyman@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us

Councilperson Paul Fadeilli pfadelli@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us

Councilperson Janet Abelson jabelson@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us

Councilperson Gabriel Quinto  gquinto@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us

For more information 

Alameda and Contra Costa County Sheriffs Flew Drones Over Protests

El Cerrito Progressives in depth post on the surveillance ordinance

ECPD EXPLORING USE OF DRONES

There is a growing trend in the United States  towards using surveillance technology to cast a broad net over a community to protect public safety rather than developing methods that are more precise.  As a result, we are all subject to the scrutiny of law enforcement agencies regardless of whether or not our activities are against the law. The potential for abuse with this data is undeniable.  A rigorous ordinance can balance the tension between public safety, privacy, and civil liberties. In fact, El Cerrito’s recent process for a body camera policy provides an example of how use policies can be developed prior to implementation and with ample public input. 

We believe El Cerrito should implement a surveillance technology ordinance before obtaining these technologies so that privacy concerns and potential degradation of our civil liberties can be addressed from day one. Right now we know ICE is actively using these technologies to pursue undocumented immigrants. However, the facial recognition technology they are using is against drivers licenses which means most of our information is exposed to this. (1) San Francisco has just passed a ban on all facial recognition technology and other cities are following. (2)

There are many current types of surveillance technologies such as license plate readers, cameras, drones, cell site simulators, and new technologies are being developed every day. Many community members want to develop a policy that allows for public input before any such technologies are adapted by the city. Such a process was used for the body cameras the police wear and it was a great example of a balance between civil liberties and needs of the police. What do you think?

We would like an El Cerrito Ordinance on the use of surveillance technology that includes the following:

  1. Each new surveillance technology shall have a developed policy that is approved by the City Council. This policy shall include a detailed description of what the technology is, how it will be utilized, how, when, why, and with whom data will be shared, and what the data storage policy will be. 
  1. Any surveillance technology used by law enforcement shall be held to a high standard of public accountability.  An annual report of how data is being collected and used shall be shared with the community. This report shall include what equipment was used, how it was used, and how effective it was in preventing or solving a crime. 
  1. Any surveillance data collected shall have stated requirements for how long data can be stored, and how it will be stored.  
  1. El Cerrito Police Department will develop strict guidelines for how information is shared will other law enforcement/government agencies. Information will never be shared with ICE.
  1. No contract for surveillance technology shall be entered into with any agency that shares their data with ICE (such as Vigilant). 
  1. A process shall be established to enable citizens to know if their data has been collected. 

We believe there can be a balance between the use of technology for crime protection and protection of civil liberties. Join us if you would like to see a reasonable policy that protects our privacy.

Links to Articles:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/07/07/fbi-ice-find-state-drivers-license-photos-are-gold-mine-facial-recognition-searches/?utm_term=.4df8b56d0acc

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/14/us/facial-recognition-ban-san-francisco.html

 

ECPD EXPLORING USE OF DRONES

The article below is a reprint of a previous ECP post and relevant to the public meeting being called for by the El Cerrito Police Department.

There is a growing trend in the United States  towards using surveillance technology to cast a broad net over a community to protect public safety rather than developing methods that are more precise.  As a result, we are all subject to the scrutiny of law enforcement agencies regardless of whether or not our activities are against the law. The potential for abuse with this data is undeniable.  A rigorous ordinance can balance the tension between public safety, privacy, and civil liberties. In fact, El Cerrito’s recent process for a body camera policy provides an example of how use policies can be developed prior to implementation and with ample public input. 

We believe El Cerrito should implement a surveillance technology ordinance before obtaining these technologies so that privacy concerns and potential degradation of our civil liberties can be addressed from day one. Right now we know ICE is actively using these technologies to pursue undocumented immigrants. However, the facial recognition technology they are using is against drivers licenses which means most of our information is exposed to this. (1) San Francisco has just passed a ban on all facial recognition technology and other cities are following. (2)

There are many current types of surveillance technologies such as license plate readers, cameras, drones, cell site simulators, and new technologies are being developed every day. Many community members want to develop a policy that allows for public input before any such technologies are adapted by the city. Such a process was used for the body cameras the police wear and it was a great example of a balance between civil liberties and needs of the police. What do you think?

We would like an El Cerrito Ordinance on the use of surveillance technology that includes the following:

  1. Each new surveillance technology shall have a developed policy that is approved by the City Council. This policy shall include a detailed description of what the technology is, how it will be utilized, how, when, why, and with whom data will be shared, and what the data storage policy will be. 
  1. Any surveillance technology used by law enforcement shall be held to a high standard of public accountability.  An annual report of how data is being collected and used shall be shared with the community. This report shall include what equipment was used, how it was used, and how effective it was in preventing or solving a crime. 
  1. Any surveillance data collected shall have stated requirements for how long data can be stored, and how it will be stored.  
  1. El Cerrito Police Department will develop strict guidelines for how information is shared will other law enforcement/government agencies. Information will never be shared with ICE.
  1. No contract for surveillance technology shall be entered into with any agency that shares their data with ICE (such as Vigilant). 
  1. A process shall be established to enable citizens to know if their data has been collected. 

We believe there can be a balance between the use of technology for crime protection and protection of civil liberties. Join us if you would like to see a reasonable policy that protects our privacy.

Links to Articles:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/07/07/fbi-ice-find-state-drivers-license-photos-are-gold-mine-facial-recognition-searches/?utm_term=.4df8b56d0acc

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/14/us/facial-recognition-ban-san-francisco.html