Constitution in Crisis :: BORDC/DDF March 2016 Newsletter

Brian Hofer
Oakland Privacy Activist Brian Hofer Receives March 2016 Patriot Award
March 1, 2016
Black Lives Matter Protest
Recap: What We’ve Learned About Surveillance of Black Lives Matter
March 7, 2016
Brian Hofer
Oakland Privacy Activist Brian Hofer Receives March 2016 Patriot Award
March 1, 2016
Black Lives Matter Protest
Recap: What We’ve Learned About Surveillance of Black Lives Matter
March 7, 2016

On February 20 we asked you to write to your Members of Congress to ask them to stand up for strong encryption in the face of the FBI’s court order that Apple create an effective backdoor into the iPhone. After you sent 1,000s of letters we are seeing the results.

Yesterday FBI Director James Comey was called to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, whose members – from both sides of the aisle – grilled him on the FBI’s unprecedented attempt to weaken the encryption that keeps us all safe. During the 5-hour hearing, many Committee members referenced concerns raised by their constituents, and a leading House Democrat – Rep. John Conyers – suggested, as we strongly believe to be the case, that the FBI is exploiting still fresh, public fear of terrorism to set a new precedent for weakened encryption through the courts when this vital issue should be addressed by Congress.

Director Comey was also forced to backtrack on many previous statements, including acknowledging that this case would indeed set a valuable precedent, to allow the FBI to get into more than just one iPhone .

This issue is not going away. In the coming weeks it is essential that we maintain pressure on Congress to oppose the FBI’s efforts to circumvent the legislative branch in weakening encryption. If you didn’t write to your Members of Congress yet, now is the time to do so. Click here to send an email using our simple online tool.

We also need your financial support to maintain the pressure on Congress protect our privacy. Every donation, whether $5 or $500, helps ensure our message reaches those that need to hear it.

Now keep reading to meet this month’s Patriot Award winner and get updates from our grassroots partners across the country.

Grassroots Updates

BORDC/DDF supports grassroots activism to protect and advance Constitutional rights. Join the movement! Please reach us at Here are some organizing highlights from around the country:

Oakland Privacy Activist Brian Hofer Receives March 2016 Patriot Award
With the Oakland Privacy Working Group, Brian Hofer has made Oakland, California, a model for all cities seeking to gain control of the amount and type of information the government collects about their citizens.

Democracy Means More Than Voting! BORDC/DDF National Field Organizer Tells Thousands in North Carolina
It was 14 degrees at 7:30 Saturday morning, February 14, as folks began gathering for the 10th Annual Moral March on Raleigh, know as the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ). Despite the cold, 15,000 social justice activists gathered, filling the streets around Shaw University with signs and banners to highlight issues ranging from Medicare Expansion, Education Equity, Criminal Justice Reform, and Voting Rights.

Marylanders Travel Across State to Advocate for Free Speech
Activists from Freedom2Boycott celebrated a successful Lobby Day in Maryland, opposing a proposed anti-boycott bill that would infringe upon the constitutionally-protected right to boycott.

FBI is Shamelessly Exploiting Islamophobia and Fear of Terrorism To Gain Encryption Backdoor
Hundreds of people attended rallies at Apple stores across the country to protest the FBI’s campaign for a back door into encrypted devices. In Washington, people gathered at FBI headquarters.

Rally At SF Apple Store Slams FBI
Dozens of people, ranging from privacy advocates to casual iPhone users, rallied in front of Apple’s flagship store in San Francisco this evening to protest the U.S. government’s unlawful attempt to force the company to help the FBI hack into an iPhone, which would set a dangerous precedent and threaten the safety and security of millions of iPhone users worldwide.

Partial Victory for Rasmea Odeh in Sixth Circuit: What the Ruling Means
On February 25, 2016, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals remanded past Patriot Award winner Rasmea Odeh’s case back to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing about whether an expert witness’s testimony is admissible at trial. Depending on the outcome of this hearing, Rasmea could be granted a new trial.

Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition Rallies and Lobbies for Police Reform in Maryland
MCCRC’s Thomas Nephew and over a hundred other advocates of police reform descended on Annapolis on Tuesday to press their case for real police reform and against measures like “Recommendation 23” — packing brutality hearing boards with members favorable to the accused — that would set back that cause.

Lookout Cleveland!* Organizers Ready to Rock the RNC
We’re not sure if official Cleveland is ready for the Republican National Convention on July 18-21, but activists are laying the groundwork for marches, neighborhood tours and an alternative convention.


Advocacy and Agitation

BORDC/DDF is your voice in the Nation’s Capitol. We advocate and agitate in Congress and with the Executive branch. Here are just a few of the issues we raised last month:

FBI Order to Apple: Exploiting Fear of Terrorism to Weaken Encryption
The FBI has once again demonstrated its willingness to exploit terror attacks to weaken encryption and electronic privacy. On Tuesday, the FBI served Apple with a court order demanding that the company write code to bypass key security features on an iPhone 5C belonging to one of the San Bernardino terror attackers.

Groups Ask Obama to Remove Discriminatory Travel Ban
A diverse coalition of over 45 civil rights, immigrant rights, interfaith, and humanitarian organizations urged the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Jeh Johnson, to use his authority under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act (“VWP Act”) to remove the dual nationality prohibitions and legitimate travel bans.

CVE Programs Want Teachers, Health Care Providers and Social Workers To Be Informants
To effectively confront terrorism, the US government needs to reject approaches, like those that comprise the Countering Violent Extremism program, that rely on debunked theories, force neighbors to spy on their neighbors, or interfere with the ability of Americans to exercise their constitutional rights.

News and Analysis

FBI’s “Don’t Be a Puppet” Website Illustrates Why the Countering Violent Extremism Program is Such a Problem. Example 1: The Goat.
The FBI’s new interactive, “Don’t Be A Puppet” website is a hodge-podge of pop-psychology, jumbled history, and off-kilter social analysis that teaches kids to beware of people passionate about politics or religion, or who just might be going through teen angst.

What’s Up With Anti-BDS Legislation?
In the past several months, BORDC/DDF has mobilized supporters against state legislation that targets the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement. In this article we address some frequently asked questions about the constitutionally-protected right to boycott, and why anti-BDS legislation is relevant to activists working on a broad range of issues.

How Fear Leads to Fascism: The Japanese-American Internment in WWII
Seventy-four years ago, on February 19, 1942, then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. With five paragraphs, he changed the lives of approximately 120,000 people—men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry living in the United States of America who were forced to relocate to internment camps.