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Jeannette Gabriel for the NJ Civil Rights Defense Committee

. Volunteer to answer a hotline or act as a witness to the FBI/DHS intimidation of immigrants

. Receive free legal training from immigration, criminal and civil rights attorneys on June 7th from 1-4 pm in Room 20 of the Rutgers University Law School Newark

The NJ Statewide Emergency Response System is a project of the NJ

Civil Rights Defense Committee and NJ-CAIR (Council on American- Islamic Relations). For more information contact [email protected]

or call 646-247-3238

NJ Civil Rights Defense Committee

Planning meeting after the March Against Fear

Agenda established

The first topic was to plan a Community Forum (Teach-in) as a follow up from the protest.  The purpose is to educate the public about attacks on civil rights and strategize as a community about how we can respond.  We need to put out more literature giving people information – one proposal was to have fact sheets and know your rights sheets available at the forum.  We discussed specific topics we would not to address and specific speakers to invite who could talk on the topics:

* The detainees – who they are and how the government is justifying their detention and the mass registrations and their impact

* Guantanamo Bay – how the government can justify holding and torturing people from around the world and how that fits into our struggle for civil rights

* Anti-Terrorism Legislation including Patriot Act I and II – limiting civil liberties of all Americans hear at home

The consensus of the group was to try to get space at the Passaic Community College for the forum because they have a big enough room (we are hoping to bring together 200-300 people). Marlena who is a member will ask the Muslim Student Association if they will get the auditorium for the forum.  If that is not successful our fall back plan was William Paterson University.  The date set for the event is Friday April 25th.

Then we moved into a discussion of the proposed Emergency Response System.  The idea is to respond to attacks by the FBI and INS.  We are seeking to link to an existing hotline and have it covered 24/7 with shift volunteers taking calls.  When calls come in we can refer to a list of volunteers and have someone actually go out to the callers house and act as a witness and inform people of their basic civil rights.  This was a very popular idea, both at the meeting and in e-mail correspondence with many different groups prior to the meeting.  We decided to set up a subcommittee of John, Sharin and Jeannette to find a hotline, write a statement about the project and set up a legal training for the volunteers going door-to-door.  Two concerns that were brought up were 1) that people going out as witnesses might be arrested.  We decided this was possible initially and we might need to be prepared to legally defend the witnesses.  2) that there might be language barriers.  We didn’t come up with any solutions to deal with this problem.

We also discussed national interest in this project and that we should be getting in contact with other groups across the country – in particular Dearborn, Ithica and San Francisco.  Eric and Flavia agreed to work together on reaching out to these groups.

The third topic was communication with the detainees in the jails.  It was explained the only way the detainees can talk with us is through collect phone calls from the jail that are very expensive.  We proposed setting up a fund to cover the cost of these calls.  Also we agreed to seek volunteers for people to write letters or visit the detainees.

The fourth topic was having a follow up action to the March Against Fear.  Considering how successful the event was there was a lot of support for holding a similar event in the near future.  The group discussed alternating between community meetings and educationals and actions in the streets.  The date for the next march was proposed as Saturday May 17th which would give us plenty of time to build more support and also put a focus on Mother’s Day.

The fifth topic was setting up an organization called the New Jersey Civil Rights Defense Committee.  The purpose of this is so we don’t have to seek tons of endorsements for every single project.  Instead we can have groups sign up to be part of the Committee and the Committee can call events/actions.  Hani and Nancy volunteered to write the statement for the group.

We closed the meeting by agreeing to hold a conference call of the first formal meeting of the NJ Civil Rights Defense Committee on Monday April 7th at 9 pm (because it’s free at that time for people with cell phones).  All are invited to participate. 

Contact: 646-247-3238