Dear Greylock Together,
We live in an incredibly litigious society. People sue each other constantly over all kinds of nonsense — I mean, last year a Tennessee doctor sued a former patient for $25,000 because she left him a bad Yelp review. But astonishingly, you usually can’t sue the police. They’re protected by qualified immunity, so you can only sue police officers (or any agent of the state) when they violate your rights if that right has been “clearly established” beforehand (ie. if a court has previously ruled on that exact scenario).
So this past May, for example, when Fresno police robbed Micah Jessop and Brittan Ashjian at gunpoint of $225,000 during a search, their lawsuit was dismissed because (as the court said): “There was no clearly established law holding that officers violate the Fourth or Fourteenth Amendment when they steal property seized pursuant to a warrant”. Seriously.
If a roofer steals from you while putting up your roof, you can sue them. If a doctor empties your wallet while removing your appendix, you can sue them. But if a cop steals from you while searching your car… well, you can file a complaint.
We must end qualified immunity. There’s a bill that just passed the state senate which would sharply limit it to cover only when “no reasonable defendant could have had reason to believe that such conduct would violate the law,” which seems like it will work. Now it’s hit the House of Delegates and it’s open for public comment until Friday. Email your testimony about why this is important to Testimony.HWMJudiciary@mahouse.gov
Find out more about qualified immunity at NPR’s MarketWatch or this Washington Post column.
Voting. The state primary is September 1 and the general election is November 3. Everyone is eligible to vote by mail, however. If you didn’t get an application to vote by mail, you can download one here. It can be sent in by mail, email, or fax to your local election official (town or city clerk). Applications must reach your local election office by August 26 for the primary and October 28 for the general. IF YOU NEED ANY HELP, JUST REPLY TO THIS EMAIL AND ASK!
Hunger Stories. If you are experiencing food insecurity due to the pandemic, your story deserves to be heard. Share your experiences so The Food Bank of Western Mass. can better address hunger in our communities. Anyone who fills out the survey will be entered into a drawing to receive one of two $50.00 grocery store cards. Anonymity will be upheld. Learn more here.
NAACP Day of Action. Save July 25th in your calendar to attend the Day of Action at Common Park in Pittsfield from noon to three. Stay socially distanced and wear a mask as you show up to this day of action!
- Musical protest in honor of Elijah McClain – PHS orchestra members
- Voter Registration
- NAACP Membership Drive
We will be tabling at this event and will NEED VOLUNTEERS, since our contribution will be to sell BLM signs (all proceeds going to NAACP). Contact Liza B if you can help.
RCV on the Ballot! Thank you to everyone who signed the petitions — ranked choice voting has been certified for the ballot! Now we just need to tell everyone we know to vote YES on RCV!
Williamstown and North Adams Racial Equity Committees. The Williamstown committee has been tasked with a purpose, and the members appointed (listed here). The North Adams working group purpose is here. The first meeting of the North Adams working group will be next Thursday (23rd); details about the agenda and a link to watch are here.
Let’s pause to recognize that while it’s great that this work is beginning, it is work. These are people — most of them Black and Brown — who are not only dealing with the same difficulties as everyone else, plus the systemic racism of our times, but now they’re also going to be volunteering their time and energy to try to change their communities. Thank you, heroes!
Housing Stabilization Bill. Let’s ask the rest of the Berkshire delegation, esp. Senator Adam Hinds and Rep. John Barrett, to join Tricia Farley-Bouvier in cosponsoring HD5166/SD2992, An Act to Guarantee Housing Stability during the Covid-19 Emergency and Recovery. Prevent evictions and homelessness among vulnerable communities in our state!
Markey. Vote for him. Tell other folks to vote for him. Volunteer if you can.
BLM Vigil Every Friday in Williamstown. The vigils continue every Friday from 5:00 to 5:30 pm in Williamstown. Facebook event here.
Planning Board Meeting Williamstown. They’re holding a hearing on Wednesday (the 22nd) at 7:00 pm on allowing weddings and other events on farms, marijuana cultivation, and nonconforming dwelling rules. Zoom link here.
HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST RESOURCES FROM JESS
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, Austin Channing Brown
- Chokehold: Policing Black Men, Prof. Paul Butler
- James Baldwin Was Right All Along, 7/3/20, The Atlantic
- When Denouncing Racism Isn’t Enough – With Friends Like These Podcast,6/12/20
- What is a Karen? Codeswitch, 7/15/20
- Brene with Ibram X Kendi on How to Be an Antiracist – Unlocking Us Podcast 6/3/20
“Using interviews and rare archival footage, John Lewis: Good Trouble chronicles Lewis’ 60-plus years of social activism and legislative action on civil rights, voting rights, gun control, health-care reform and immigration. Using present-day interviews with Lewis, now 79 years old, Porter explores his childhood experiences, his inspiring family and his fateful meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957. In addition to her interviews with Lewis and his family, Porter’s primarily cinéma verité film also includes interviews with political leaders, Congressional colleagues, and other people who figure prominently in his life.”
FOLLOW & SHARE
- SURJ – @showing up for racial justice
LEADERS TO FOLLOW
RAISING ANTIRACIST KIDS
GT Book Group via Zoom
July 16 @ 7:00 pm
How to Be an Antiracist
NAACP Day of Action
Common Park, Pittsfield
July 25 @ 12:00 to 3:00 pm
Greylock Together Meeting via Zoom
August 9 @ 3:00 – 4:30 pm