Online, on-phone, donation action needed: Racial Justice & COVID 19
Phone bank for HJR 14 (restore voting rights for persons with felony convictions) during Legislative Session Suspension
Tuesday 3/31 and Wednesday 4/1 5-7 pm. Saturday 2-4 pm. Phone banking. Sign up with Mike Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org. The legislative session has been suspended until April 15th. Senate Judiciary Committee will have a short window when the legislature reconvenes to pass HJR 14, the constitutional amendment to end lifetime disenfranchisement. It is a multi-year process to get an amendment passed and it is imperative that this amendment is passed during this General Assembly to avoid delaying potentially another two years.
ACLU-Iowa is sponsoring virtual phone banks to constituents of key senators and asking those constituents to communicate their support of the constitutional amendment to their senator. They have scheduled these phone banks for Tuesdays and Wednesdays 5-7pm and Saturdays 2-4pm. At the beginning of each phone bank, there will be a quick Zoom-based training session detailing how to use the call tool, run through the script, and answer any questions. If you’re interested in attending one of these phone banks, or would like to make calls on your own at a different time, please e-mail Mike Hall at email@example.com. You don’t have to live in the state of Iowa to help with this project.
If you don’t want to phone bank, please reach personally to the members of the Senate Judiciary committee to urge them to support HJR 14. Also, reach out to your own senator to ask them to support this bill if it comes to a floor vote and before that to reach out to their colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to support the bill. You can find some talking points in this document.
COVID-19 Advocacy for Incarcerated Persons
Sign up to join the ACLU-Iowa Rapid Response team for urgent information about legislation and policy. You can sign up here: https://secure.everyaction.com/MEhmUJE23E2IU0srBiq7_w2.
DSM SURJ is supporting the work of ACLU-Iowa in their work of holding public officials to account and ensuring that they follow public health guidelines related to COVID-19. Incarcerated persons are some of the most marginalized persons in our society at very high risk of getting sick from the virus. On March 20th, ACLU-Iowa sent a letter to state officials (link to letter) recommending steps they can take to minimize the harm inflicted on people involved in the criminal justice system, including the release of people who are in jail because they can’t afford to post bail. 87 percent of people in Iowa county jails are there because they don’t have enough money to post bail.
You can help by contacting state and local officials to urge them to take action to protect those who are incarcerated. It’s important that government officials know that the communities they serve will hold them accountable. Instructions for doing this can be found here.
Donate now: Provide COVID-19 resources to Central Iowa refugee communities
Please consider a donation to the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa (RACI). Their mission is “To assure a welcoming community for refugees in which they have an equal opportunity to achieve individual growth and prosperity and to fully participate in civic and cultural life and to increase awareness of and access to services, resources and programs so that refugees receive the maximum benefit as they resettle and become participatory citizens in central Iowa.”
They need funds to make videos of updated public health COVID-19 information for non-English speaking and non-literate folks. The cost is about $50 per video and there are many languages spoken by refugees in central Iowa. There are no public health funds to support this work.
They do not have a way to donate online, so you will need to mail a check or contact them directly to ask how to donate:
Stephanie Moris, Director
1401 Center Street
Des Moines, IA 50314
April 1: National webinar in solidarity with local immigration justice work
SURJ will not meet in person April 5, but we invite you to join us in taking action for immigration advocacy.
ONLINE April 1st (note corrected date): Sheriffs, White Supremacy & Organizing for Collective Liberation. Online meeting. Join this conversation about the role of sheriffs in upholding white supremacy and the strategic need to run local campaigns that can hold them accountable, or kick them out of office in our work for collective liberation. Our guest speakers are from Political Research Associates and Sheriffs for Trusting Communities. Register for this online event here.
No meeting due to the need for bodily distancing. Keep social solidarity going by taking another step in your journey to better understand the immigrant detention system in the US. Then, take action! During times of systemic shock like our current circumstances, corporate interests will use the opportunity to strengthen their power and profits. But we have an opportunity to work and advocate for systemic change in the immigration and incarceration systems.
Below is a list of things you can do. SURJ is working with the American Friends Service Committee, Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) and Iowans for Immigrant Freedom (IFIF), an organization based in eastern Iowa that has been working on visitations at the Linn and Hardin county jails. These groups organize to support people detained by ICE in the Polk County jail visitation program for persons detained by ICE. Will you support this work by educating yourself and taking action?
Education resources – choose one or more:
- Watch Brave New Films Immigrant Prison Series.
- Visit the immigrant rights page at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) website.
- Visit the Freedom for Immigrants website to learn about their work. IFIF and DSM SURJ agree to their values and they provide resources to jail visitation programs and persons detained.
- Subscribe to IMM-Print, a publication by and for persons affected by immigrant detention.
- Read Detention-101 from the Detention Watch Network.
- Read the ACLU-Iowa letter to state agencies regarding the coronavirus crisis and it’s impact on prison populations including persons detained by ICE.
- Watch this segment from Democracy Now! On mutual aid to consider new ways of building resilient communities.
- Watch this segment from Common Dreams on how powerful interests such as corporations will use this pandemic to increase their power and how we can frame an alternative narrative.
Financial Support – local organizations need our support
- Support any of the organizations listed above by going to their donation link.
- Support local organizations provided support to persons detained and their families.
Advocacy: Take action
- Become part of ACLU-Iowa’s Rapid Response Team to get updates on state legislation related to immigrant rights that you can use to contact legislators.
- Freedom for Immigrants, Detention Watch Network, and AFSC all have national campaigns you can participate in. Find these on their websites. They provide drafts of letters and talking points.
- Reach out to your state legislators to advocate for immigrants in detention, particularly, as it relates to the issues outlined in the ACLU-Iowa letter.
- Join the DSM SURJ Immigrant Rights or Education working groups. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Contact email@example.com if you might be interested in being involved in the Jail Visitation program either as a visitor volunteer or as a member of our steering committee.
- Volunteer with Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a Des Moines based mutual aid group run by the Central Iowa Democratic Socialists.
- Volunteer with Community Support Des Moines, a bi-lingual (Spanish-English) mutual aid group.
April 19: Education and Immigration working groups (This and every third Sunday). Watch this space for updates. This and ALL third Sundays of the month. Join us to build connections and deepen our commitment to equity in education and immigration justice in Des Moines. Why working groups? Two reasons: 1) We hear from the educational and immigration groups with which we are in relationships of accountability. 2) We set the stage for successful, long-term action as a group. This is your opportunity to plug in deeper with SURJ. Whether you’ve been to many SURJ meetings or this is your first one, you’re invited!
May 3: Details soon.
May 17: Education and Immigration working groups (This and every third Sunday). This and ALL third Sundays of the month. Join us to build connections and deepen our commitment to equity in education and immigration justice in Des Moines. Why working groups? Two reasons: 1) We hear from the educational and immigration groups with which we are in relationships of accountability. 2) We set the stage for successful, long-term action as a group. This is your opportunity to plug in deeper with SURJ. Whether you’ve been to many SURJ meetings or this is your first one, you’re invited!
Join us! Newcomers, returnees and longtime participants always welcome. DSM SURJ meetings are the first and third (working group) Sundays of each month, 6-8 pm at Drake University. Childcare provided. All meetings held at Medbury Honors Lounge at Drake University at 6:00 pm. Park in the Olmsted Center Parking Lot located at 2875 University Avenue.