The Uprising, June 15, 2018

It crawled out from underneath a rock...

“I do this in part because someday my grandchildren will read about this in the history books and be distraught over the travesty and inhumanity of it and will ask me, ‘Grandma, how could you have let this happen?’ And I want to be able to say that I did everything I could to stop it.”
Terry Schimmel

Welcome to The Uprising, your weekly does of political chaos softened by some tender loving social justice. When people say, “It’s not so bad in Trump’s America” remind them that they’re not a kid from Mexico forcibly separated from her parents and locked in a cage.

Let’s take a look at what’s cooking in Rhode Island:

1a. Unfair and Unbalanced

The quote from Terry Schimmel that opened this piece was given to me at the Vigil to End Family Separation outside United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) offices on Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick Thursday morning.

Over sixty people showed up to demand an end to the policy of separating immigrant parents and children at the border. The Trump policy of “zero tolerance” for crossing the border without mandated documentation has led to a new awareness of the cruelty happening every day at our southern border.

Two people arrived to counterprotest. The man in the picture above hid his face and refused to identify himself to WJAR/Channel 10. This did not stop WJAR reporter Jared Pelletier from centering the counter-protester’s bigoted, anti-human views in his coverage of the event.

“I don’t care about the kids. There are a lot of legal people who have waited 10 to 12 years and paid their dues. If their parents brought them in illegally that’s their problem. I don’t want to pay for their kids.”

Meanwhile, actual human beings, unafraid to be photographed and identified, were expressing concern and outrage. This is the kind of false balance piss poor reporting presents as actual news. The views of one crank are balanced against the concerns of 60 people as if there is some kind of moral or intellectual parity between the two sides.

Channel 10/WJAR is owned by the right-wing, Trump supporting Sinclair Broadcast Group though, so perhaps this kind of thing is to be expected from now on.

1b. Immigration is beautiful

In a piece about how the butterfly became the symbol of immigration, artist and activist Favianna Rodriguez said, “To me, the monarch butterfly represents the dignity and resilience of migrants and the right that all living beings have to move freely.”

Activists hung prints of butterflies on the trees outside the CBP office in Warwick. Governor Gina Raimondo dispatched here community affairs and outreach manager Rico Vota to the rally and he procured a butterfly print for her.

The protest in Warwick made national news, as NBC quoted Gabriela Domenzain, director of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University, as saying, “putting kids or parents in cages is not something we stand for. This is inhumane. International organizations need to get involved.”

1c. Rhode Island Senators Reed and Whitehouse chime in

“The Trump Administration’s policy of systematically separating immigrant families is costly, ineffective, and deliberately cruel,” said Senator Reed. “This approach, which seems to be implemented in an uneven and ad hoc manner, is directly at odds with core American values. It inflicts immeasurable trauma on immigrant children and accomplishes nothing positive. Indeed, according to DHS, the number of immigrants apprehended between ports of entry actually increased last month. Some of these kids who are too young to even speak are being kept away from their parents for months on end. This is an unjust and unsustainable policy. Our bill would help put a stop the Trump Administration’s immoral decision to try and use family separation as a blunt instrument.”

“The Trump administration’s policy of separating even very small children from their parents who come seeking asylum is fundamentally un-American” said Senator Whitehouse. “President Trump should immediately end this policy. As pediatricians point out, this separation is known to inflict trauma on these little children. Instead, we should be working toward bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform.”

1d. Sanctuary

“We will not be a petty and cruel people,” said Reverend Liz Lerner Maclay, minister of the First Unitarian Church of Providence. “We declare ourselves a sanctuary church,” because, “what would be hard would be to do nothing.”

Maclay was speaking before a crowd of around 120 people at a service to dedicate the space within the church campus that is now equipped and available to provide shelter to an individual or family facing deportation from the United States.

The church welcomes help and donations. For more information, contact the host steering committee at firstusanctuary@gmail.com.

1e. Domestic violence

On Monday, June 11th, 2018, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a deeply disappointing decision in an attempt to erode protections for domestic violence survivors and others seeking refuge in the United States.

Invoking a rarely utilized power, Sessions reversed the Board of Immigration Appeals’ grant of asylum to a Salvadoran domestic violence survivor in a case known as Matter of A-B. In ruling against the case of Ms A-B on Monday, Sessions overturned the 2014 Board of Immigration Appeals decision (Matter of A-R-C-G), which ruled that domestic violence survivors fleeing in search of refuge qualify for asylum in the United States.

Sojourner House, a domestic violence agency in Providence, Rhode Island that provides a statewide immigration assistance program, is deeply concerned about this ruling.

“Sessions’ decision takes us back to an era when the United States did not recognize women’s rights as human rights and sends a message that victims of domestic abuse are unworthy of protection,” said Vanessa Volz, Executive Director of Sojourner House. “This heartbreaking decision puts already vulnerable victims of domestic violence and their children further at risk.”

2a. Election: 2018!

Lot’s of election news to report, as candidates position themselves for the September primary and November general elections.

The biggest news? It has to be Progressive Democrat Paul Roselli dropping out of the Governor’s race and endorsing Matt Brown.

“Let me be clear,” wrote Roselli, “Governor Gina Raimondo cannot win in November. If Governor Raimondo is the nominee the only outcome will be a Republican win and she could also have a negative impact on down-ballot races for the general assembly. It is therefore imperative that the Democrats put forward an alternative candidate and in the interests of the party I am stepping aside from this race to give Matt Brown the best possible chance of winning the primary and thus giving the party the best chance of a win in the General Election.”

Roselli’s departure leaves the Democratic primary between Raimondo, Brown and Spencer Dickinson.

Roselli has announced his intention to run for the now open Senate District 23 seat in Burrillville/Glocester. Democrat Paul Fogarty has held that seat for two decades, but recently announced he will not be seeking re-election.

2b. Deya Garcia announces for Providence City Council, Ward 8

2c. Aaron Jaehnig announces for Providence City Council, Ward 5

2d. John Carnevale

In the wake of the #metoo movement, can a politician with a history like former District 13 Representative John Carnevale stage a comeback? Take a look at Carnevale’s Wikipedia page:

In October 2011, Carnevale was indicted by a grand jury on charges of first- and second-degree sexual assault, as well as one count of assault with the intent to commit sexual assault. His alleged victim claimed Carnevale arrived at her house intoxicated, pulled her down on a mattress and attempted to rape her, resulting in a struggle, and that when she resisted, Carnevale masturbated in front of her and forced her face up to his genitalia. She also alleged that after he finished, Carnevale threw a $20 bill down and told her to “take her kid out to eat.” DNA evidence collected from the victim’s pajamas matched a sample provided by Carnevale, according to the Johnston Police Department. Carnevale pled not guilty to the charges, and refused calls to resign.

On January 1, 2012, his accuser, a 46-year-old mother of two and ex-wife of another Providence police officer, died of a pulmonary embolism, according to an autopsy by the state medical examiner. The charges were later dropped by attorney general Peter Kilmartin, citing an inability to proceed without the woman’s testimony.

Carnevale’s ex-wife has sought restraining orders against him several times with allegations of physical abuse, according to court records from 1998, 1999 and 2004. In the affidavits she alleged that Carnevale, divorced since 2000, had been arrested three times by North Kingstown, Rhode Island police, and that he had choked and punched her, struck her with a cord, pinned her against a wall, slapped her, and dragged her by the wrist out of her house in separate incidents.

None of this had anything to do with Carnevale losing his seat in the House, or his position on Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s leadership team. But that was over two years ago, before the fall of Cosby and Weinstein and the rise of #metoo and Representative Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown)’s revelations and subsequent House commission on sexual harassment.

Can a candidate like Carnevale, with his history, reclaim his seat?

“I will be walking about our neighborhood in the near future and hope to speak with you about the issues that impact you,” writes Carnevale in a letter (on House stationary? Is that appropriate?) to his old constituents.

I wonder what he will hear from them?

2e. Indivisible Rhode Island

Indivisible Rhode Island held a forum for candidates throughout Rhode Island to express their views and take questions.

Indivisible RI’s Better Know a Candidate: Mel Dupont

DuPont delivered one of the best progressive political speeches I’ve ever heard. Here it is:

Indivisible RI’s Better Know a Candidate: Kobi Dennis

Dennis is running to unseat Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. “…if you’re not into politics what you’re telling me, in an indirect way, is that you’re not into better child care. You’re not into better communities. You’re not into fixing those roads. You’re not into fixing those schools. That’s what you’re saying, because the only way we can effect change, and get that to happen, is to get out and vote.”

Indivisible RI’s Better Know a Candidate: Dwayne Keys

Keys is running against Representative Anastasia Williams (Democrat, District 9, Providence). He says he has the support of Providence City Councilmember Mary Kay Harris of Ward 11, who Keys calls his “she-ro.”

Indivisible RI’s Better Know a Candidate: Daniel McKee

McKee doubled down on his support for women’s rights and Roe v Wade, but somehow managed to stop short of supporting the Reproductive Health Care Act (RHCA) which would codify Roe into Rhode Island State Law.

Indivisible RI’s Better Know a Candidate: Paul Roselli

This was Roselli’s last public appearance as a candidate for Governor of Rhode Island, but also, in a way, his first public appearance as a candidate for State Senator from District 23, though that announcement wasn’t public until the next day.

2f. Providence City Council Candidate Forum

The Jewelry District Association (JDA) held a Providence City Council Candidates’ Night moderated by JDA President Sharon Steele. Steele told me she invited every candidate the JDA knew of, including all the incumbents who have announced their intention to run for re-election.

Candidates for Providence City Council Ward 1 Justice Gaines and Seth Yurdin, Ward 2 Helen Anthony, Mark Feinstein and Ryan Holt, Ward 5 Aaron Jaehnig, Ward 8 Deya Garcia, Ward 10 Pedro Espinal, Ward 11 Mary Kay Harris, Ward 13 Mike Araujo and Cyd McKenna attended.

Each candidate was given five minutes to say whatever they wished, and were asked for their up or down opinions on three questions:

  1. Should we sell our water supply to fund pensions?
  2. Should we allow the Fane Group [to] build a 600 foot tower on Parcel 42?
  3. Do we currently have an affordable housing and workforce housing shortage/crisis in Providence?

Full video and all their answers available here.

3. Students, not Targets

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello pretended they weren’t there. But it was hard to miss over sixty kids wearing tee-shirts with targets on their backs and their hands behind their heads, a universal sign showing the vulnerability of students in our schools.

The action was a protest against the lack of action on the part of legislators to pass the Safe Schools Act (H7591/S2289), a bill that would eliminate a Rhode Island loophole that allows anyone (including teachers, janitors, bus drivers, school volunteers, parents, etc) with a concealed carry permit to bring a gun into Kindergarten-12th grade schools and sports events without notifying administration that they are armed with a lethal weapon.

It was near the end of the House session that Representative Aaron Regunberg acknowledged the presence of the students. By that time Mattiello had handed the gavel off to Deputy Speaker Charlene Lima (Democrat, District 14, Cranston) and taken off.

4. Reproductive Rights

I worked hard on this story back in 2015. Governor Gina Raimondo, who ran as a pro-choice candidate with the endorsement of Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List, enacted the first anti-choice legislation passed in Rhode Island in nearly two decades.

I wrote:

“When Governor Gina Raimondo signed the budget on Tuesday, she officially signed into law language that stands as the most extreme anti-abortion language passed in Rhode Island in two decades. And because it was slipped into the budget as part of the language that codifies HealthSource Rhode Island, the state’s highly successful Obamacare insurance exchange, and not submitted as a bill, this new law was passed with no legislative debate and no chance for any input from the public.”

Now the Matt Brown for Governor campaign has released a letter, signed by prominent women’s rights advocate Gloria Steinem, former NARAL Pro-Choice America (NARAL) President Emerita Kate MichelmanBarbara Roberts of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Rhode Island State Senator Jeanine Calkin (Democrat, District 30, Warwick) and others, that puts a spotlight on Governor Gina Raimondo’s anti-choice governing record and the specific actions she took in her first year in office to restrict abortion coverage in Rhode Island.

I spoke to Kate Michelman on the phone. Michelman is a legendary pro-choice figure.

“I don’t think voters in Rhode Island really know what Governor Raimondo’s done that has really violated the reproductive rights of women and threatened their health,” said Michelman. “It’s very dangerous for women, especially low-income women, women of color and working class women.

“Governor Raimondo is not a governor women can depend on to protect and defend their rights and to advance their health and equality and economic security,” continued Michelman. “Raimondo has not been totally honest with the voters of Rhode Island about what she’s done that has harmed women and weakened their rights as to freedom of reproductive choice.”

5. Kristen’s Law

When we ignore reason and compassion, we make bad law.

Case in point: Kristen’s Law, which is soon heading to Governor Gina Raimondo‘s desk, which she has said she’s inclined to sign. The bill (2018-H 7715Aaa) specifies that any person convicted of unlawfully selling illicit substances that result in a person’s death shall be sentenced to up to life in prison.

The Rhode island House of Representatives debated the bill for two hours before passing the bill by a wide margin. The bill, backed by Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, was a sure bet to pass, because few in the General Assembly have the guts to stand up to the powerful Speaker.

That’s too bad, because it’s a bad bill that will not help alleviate the opioid epidemic and will destroy lives and families. “While we understand that the intentions behind the proposed legislation are to address the overdose epidemic that has killed too many people in Rhode Island, we feel that the bill as it currently stands will be counterproductive: It will hurt the same people it claims to help,” said Annajane Yolken, Executive Director of Protect Families First. Simply stated: Revenge is not the answer to this crisis.”

The ACLU of Rhode Island is hoping Governor Gina Raimondo will veto, writing, “We join with the medical and recovery community in lamenting the passage of this legislation. The failed, punitive War on Drugs has for far too long ignored the realities of drug addiction and the stranglehold the disease has on too many people. The vote by the House of Representatives today undermines the life-saving efforts of doctors and recovery counselors to keep people alive long enough to get treatment, and prioritizes incarceration over survival. We call on Governor Gina Raimondo to hear the concerns of the doctors, counselors, and addiction survivors and veto this legislation.”

Raimondo hot line: 222-2080

6. Alex Nunes

An In-Depth Look at the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal and Modernization Program With Weapons Expert Hans Kristensen

7a. Whistleblowers

Rhode Island Rights held a rally Wednesday outside the Federal Building near Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence to support whistleblowers facing jail time, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Terry Albury, who revealed government secrets to protect democracy from governmental overreach.

Randall Rose

7b. Peace

At the same time protesters stood outside the Federal Building in support of Whistleblowers, members of Anti Endless War and Excessive Military Spending stood outside Senator Sheldon Whitehouse‘s downtown offices in support of peace.

David Oppenheimer, in an oped, writes,

“The violations of international law and the war crimes committed by the Saudi coalition with the assistance of the United States in Yemen is foremost in our concerns right now, particularly since there are efforts being made to commit United States’ ground troops to an assault on a densely populated city in a mission whose success could lead to the starvation of millions.”

David Oppenheimer, right

8. The Coastal Resources Management Council and systemic racism

One of the easiest ways to deny people equality and representation is by using process and bureaucracy against them. For example: The Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture structuring the conversation around three Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) reappointments and the restructuring of the CRMC itself in such a way as to minimize or eradicate the public’s ability to have reasonable input into the process.

On Tuesday the Senate confirmed three of Governor Raimondo’s re-appointments to the CRMC, despite a large turnout of people from No LNG in PVD! calling for greater racial and economic diversity on the Council. Members of the Senate Committee expressly said that proper time to reform the nomination process would be at the hearing the next day, when consideration of Senate bill 2955 would be held.

On Wednesday, those in attendance at the meeting learned that they were lied to. Testimony was heard indicating that the proper time to insist on better, more diverse members for the CRMC was at the hearing for the three reappointments the day before. The Senate Committee, rather than do their duty to the people from No LNG in PVD! and other groups who asked for greater racial and socio-economic representation on the council under the “advice and consent” portion of the law, rubber stamped the Governor’s appointments (under the watchful eye of Senate President Dominick Ruggerio), all the while making facile arguments about the difference between systemic and personal racism.

The Senate Committee paid lip service to greater representation on the CRMC, but not only failed in their duty, they structured the conversation to ensure an outcome that maintained a racist status quo.

9. DHLNH Strike in Pawtucket

The DHLNH strike in Pawtucket has been going on for over four weeks now. Driver’s at the company receive around $12-13 an hour and the health care on offer is unaffordable. There are no pension of retirement benefits. DHL drivers doing similar work get $30 per hour with full benefits.

The company has brought in out-of-state delivery drivers, scabs, to replace the striking workers from Rhode Island. The company is paying for these workers to stay in the La Quinta Inn on Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick, so workers held an informational picket outside.

Striking DHLNH workers are asking people to tell La Quinta Inn not to help DHLNH steal jobs from Rhode Islanders.

“If you care about fair wages and benefits, you can help by asking replacement workers to go home,” say DHLNH workers.

DHLNH: 802-448-7225

DHL: 1-800-225-5345

La Quinta Inn: 401-941-6600

10. Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign A National Call for Moral Revival

Speaking of the DHLNH Strike:

The fifth week of the Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign A National Call for Moral Revival went slightly different from the weeks before. This week’s theme was Everybody’s Got a Right to Live, and the rally was centered upon education, a living wage, jobs, income and housing. What made this week different was the intersection of two stories I have been tracking, the DHLNH Strike in Pawtucket and the Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign itself.

The last week of the six weeks of action in Rhode Island will be at the State house at 2pm on Monday.

In a week from Monday the action shifts to Washington DC, where the Reverend Doctor William Barber II will be holding a large rally in the United States Capitol National Mall.

11. Superdelegates

Here’s Lauren Niedel with a report from the Democratic National Committee’s Executive Branch and Rules and Bylaws Committee (#DNCRBC) in Rhode Island last Friday and Saturday.

12. Fascism in Action

Noel Pasaran reports on a “2nd Amendment Rally” held outside the Massachusetts State House in Boston on June 2. The rally was pretty much a front for racist and fascist groups to get together and sell their ideas to gullible right-wing inclined white youth. A Confederate flag, a Pepe the Frog mask and other fascist iconography littered the rally, which was attended by about thirty people and counter-protested by hundreds.

These forces are out there, and though we should understand what they are and be prepared to counter their ideas with ours.

13. Public Private Partnerships are Privatization schemes on steroids

Privatization is a scheme in which a publicly owned common good is sold or given away to a private company. Think like a reservoir, a police department, or a public park or school. Once it was yours, and you could enjoy the fruits of of your possession by virtue of being a member of society. Now it belongs to a private enterprise and they will charge you to use the park, or the police, or the water, and make a nice profit while they do so.

Privatization has faded in recent years because people are onto the scheme, and because private companies have invented something better, Public Private Partnerships or PPPs. PPPs are better for companies because it allows them to privatize all the profits from the exploitation of a valuable public resource, while socializing the risk.

Take a reservoir, for example. PPPs can be structured so that the public owns the reservoir, but some private company administrates and draws profit from the water. If something were to happen to the water, like massive contamination or a drought, the company can either walk away or insist on their profits anyway. The public has little say in how their property is being maintained and managed.

This is one reason why Mayor Jorge Elorza‘s scheme to monetize the Providence Water Supply Board is so dangerous. If, after some company takes control of the system, they mess it all up, what gets returned to Providence (after potentially millions of dollars in legal fees) may be seriously compromised.

What kind of companies are we talking about? Who knows?

Check out this conversation, during the hearing in House Finance:

“This is really fascinating,” said Representative James McLaughlin (Democrat, District 57, Central Falls), who then asked, “Who are the players? Who wants to buy the…”

Representative Kenneth Marshall (Democrat, District 68, Bristol), who was chairing the House Finance Committee during this hearing, cut McLaughlin off. “That’s not, that’s not, um, that’s not germane to the bill.”

“Well, Mr Chairman,” persisted McLaughlin, “With all due respect, we’ve heard that private entities want to come in and buy the water supply board. Who are these people?”

“It would end up having to go through an RFP process,” offered Marshall. “and it would be a…”

“So you can’t identify them,” said McLaughlin.

“It’s unknown at this time,” said Marshall. “It could be anybody.”

14. Save the Date!July 12, 2018, 5-8 pm @ The Parlour, 1119 North Main Street, Providence, RI. More details to follow.

Want to help? Email: atomicsteve@gmail.com, subject: 2018 muckraker-palooza

15. Picture of the week:

Am I missing something? Yes. But that’s all I have for now, see you next week, I’m off to see Incredibles 2!


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About Steve Ahlquist 578 Articles
Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading. atomicsteve@gmail.com

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