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The Uprising, November 17



Hello all and welcome to The Uprising for November 17…

Roy Moore is a monster, Al Franken asked the Senate ethics panel to investigate him and Donald Trump Jr was Twitter friends with Wikileaks. But that hasn’t stopped House Republicans from passing a tax bill that seems designed to gut the poor and middle class.


Let’s look locally…

1. Last week’s police shooting of Joey Santos sparked a protest in his honor that marched from the Providence Place Mall to the Providence Public Safety Complex. The shooting prompted the ACLU of Rhode Island to issue a letter asking questions about the use of deadly force, the initiation of high speed chases and the use of police body cameras. I wrote about the limits of body cameras here.

2a. Siham Byah is still in United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody in Massachusetts. Her lawyer, Matthew Cameron called Byah, “a political prisoner of the United States.” Meanwhile, Byah’s eight-year old son Naseem is in the care of Massachusetts Department of Children & Families (DCF). Byah has no idea of what conditions her son is living under.

2b. 16 United States Senators want answers from Homeland Security, which oversees both ICE and United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) about immigration detentions taking place at sensitive places like hospitals, schools and churches. United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat, Rhode Island) signed onto the letter, Senator Jack Reed (Democrat, Rhode Island)’s name was absent.

3a. Noting the whiteness of those she was speaking to, community activist Justice Gaines said to the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), “When you look at this council and you look at who’s here representing National Grid, I think you can notice something. I think we all can see…”

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“Can you keep your comments relevant to the application…” interrupted CRMC Board Chair Jennifer Cervenka, to the outrage of the audience.

At issue is National Grid’s proposed liquefaction facility to be built in the Port of Providence close to low-income communities of color. This is textbook environmental racism.

“I’m sorry, this is extremely relevant,” replied Gaines. ”That’s exactly my point. The fact that you think that race is not relevant to this is extremely [wild?] to me, because race is so relevant to the building of this facility. This facility will affect people of color and is a part of racism. I need you to understand that this is not some wild thought…”

The CRMC meets again on November 28.

3b. Jennifer Cervenka is fairly new at her job as CRMC board chair, but she knows something about environmental racism. In an interview on the CRMC website here, Cervenka talks about developing “a passion and interest in environmental law during her third year of law school at the University of Hawaii, where she took part in the Phillip C Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition… The competition is a simulation of a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations.

“’I represented a fictional third-world nation against a first-world nation because one was allegedly polluting the other, and I loved doing that,’ she said.”

4. Memorial Hospital is shutting down its intensive care unit, in what’s playing out as a slow motion tragedy. This this what happens when you allow local area hospitals to be bought up by out-of-state, for-profit concerns, I guess.

5a. Gordon van Welie, the CEO of ISO New England, was the keynote speaker at a “Special Invitation Only” event organized by two front groups for oil and natural gas interests, writes Dave Anderson of the Energy and Policy Institute.

ISO New England is a non-profit that oversees our energy prices and sources three years in advance. The ISO is supposed to be neutral on energy matters, so van Welie’s participation in a fossil fuel lobby event is seen by many as problematic. One energy insider told me off the record that van Wylie’s participation is “outrageous.”

5b. I tried to get in to the event, but was informed that only non-partisan/non-activist outlets like the ProJo and RIPR would be allowed access.  In other words, Invenergy and other fossil fuel energy companies don’t like the coverage I give them.

5c. So I stayed outside the fossil fuel event with a number of protesters letting those attending the event know that this kind of influence peddling doesn’t go unnoticed in Rhode Island. Steve Dodge, executive director of the Massachusetts Petroleum Council, which is a subsidiary organization of the American Petroleum Institute, came outside and told everyone that Invenergy wasn’t funding the event. Which wasn’t true.

6. Know anyone who has been having trouble getting SNAP benefits (food stamps) through UHIP? The ACLU of Rhode Island has reopened their hotline:


7. Over at RI Future, my alma mater, Bob Plain has been doing terrific work on the town council situation in East Greenwich. Plain’s profile of Republican Senate candidate Bob Flanders and the story of Flanders’ big pay day while he work Central Falls through bankruptcy should put to rest the idea that the former judge is someone a common person would want to have a beer with.

8. Also at RI Future, Steve Rackett has a piece on Justine Caldwell, who is challenging Republican incumbent Anthony Giarrusso in House District 30. Unlike Giarrusso, Caldwell has no problem calling out the problems with the current East Greenwich Town Council.

9. I can’t get through an Uprising without linking over to The Woman Project and their great interviews. This week it’s Stephanie Olarte, who says,

“Many young Latinx, African Americans, LGBTQ, Asian Americans are progressives, and they are becoming active, voicing out their concerns, getting civically involved. Which is amazing and a great time to be active. However, these groups have felt like the more powerful progressive movements are diminishing or silencing their efforts instead of wanting to work with them…”

10. Here’s some thoughts I had on the train to Boston and shared on Facebook this week:

“I was born in a country built by genocide and slavery. I was baptized in deep pools of white supremacy and misogyny. My heroes and role models all held high ideals, which they all failed to uphold.

“I’m not looking for pity. A lifetime of privilege is cold recompense for the sins of my fellow white, cisgender, het men, but it is recompense nonetheless.

“All I can do is strive to be better and call the bad shit out when I can. I want to be a kind and good and noble person, but I’ll never really know if I am.

“I’ll never know what I might have been in a truly free and egalitarian world. But I’ll do everything I can, every day, to make that world possible.

“All I can aspire to be is a benevolent, flawed monster, who, despite my monstrousness, tried to do a little good.

“You don’t get to live in the world you make.”

11. The Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) has scheduled a hearing for Monday, November 27, 2017, beginning at 10:00 AM in Hearing Room A of the Public Utilities Commission office building, 89 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick.

There are a number of motions to be dealt with, including motions that may put the EFSB in the position of deciding on Narragansett Indian Tribal politics.

That will be interesting.

12. Will city and state tax credits be used to exploit vulnerable workers at the 78 Fountain St project? The New England Regional Council of Carpenters says Callahan Construction Managers has a long history of hiring subcontractors that have engaged in some seriously shady behaviors, like wage theft.

13. Want a primer on Medicare for All, aka single payer health care? UpriseRI has you covered, courtesy of Dr J Mark Ryan, MD, head of the Rhode Island affiliate of Physicians for National Health Plan (PNHP).

14. Circling back to the top of the page and the GOP tax attack, here’s Senators Reed and Whitehouse with their take.

15. State Senator Gayle Goldin in Glamour: Why Speaking Out Against Sexual Harassment Backfires for Women in Office:

“When I was first elected to the state senate, a strong woman leader who had been in office for decades gave me a piece of advice that made my stomach turn: Smile more; it’ll make some of the men more comfortable. A male colleague once stopped me in the middle of a policy discussion with another senator to tell me I looked pregnant. Work-related events involve alcohol served by women in low-cut shirts and plenty of ‘locker room talk.’ Colleagues interrupt me and tell me to stop asking questions, to calm down, to be helpful. I am often one of the only women in the room.”

16. Picture of the week:

That’s it for this week. Seeing the new Justice League this weekend, I hope.

I know, I know, it won’t be any good…

About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.