A couple nights ago I attended a meeting of the city council on whether to declare my city, Culver City, a sanctuary city. It was already acting as one, but the measure made it actual law.

Culver City is its own city within LA county, with its own police force; I live on the dividing line, which means that if I observe a crime being committed on my side of the street I call Culver City police, but if it's across the street it's a matter for LAPD. Culver City police is the police force I volunteer with. It practices neighborhood policing, in which police are assigned to a specific neighborhood for years and sometimes permanently, so they can get to know who lives there and what's normal and what isn't. They also believe in de-escalating situations rather than charging in with guns blazing, and I have seen this in action. No organization is perfect... but they're really good.

One of my neighbors emailed me to inform me of the sanctuary city vote, and so I showed up. I live in a fourplex, and found at the meeting that all four apartments in my building had at least one representative at the meeting: a 100% building turn-out! I'm in the first row in the black jacket. The guy on my right is my downstairs neighbor.

It was my first city council meeting. There was a huge turn-out consisting of hundreds of Culver City residents and eight or ten non-resident paid Trump agitators. The Trump agitators were next to me, against the wall.

Because of the huge turn-out, the council had other matters go first. I was charmed by the multiple Farmer's Market vendors who spoke to urge the council to re-hire a guy named Emanuel who had been running the market for nine years, all eloquently praising him, often mentioning "despite his youth." When they were done, Emanuel himself spoke. He mentioned being 29, so he started when he was 20! Impressive. He was voted in. I was also intrigued by the several vendors who made references to the previous manager leaving under what were apparently mysterious circumstances ("Emanuel took over after [I forget his name] left... for whatever reason," and "Since [Whover] went... wherever he went," etc).

Then we moved on to the main matter. 79 people spoke, at two minutes each. All but one of the actual Culver City residents were in favor of the sanctuary city resolution, which is pretty amazingly unified. It was cool to hear everyone's stories - immigrants, descendants of Holocaust survivors, lawyers making lawyerly suggestions, teenagers, pastors, veterans, and a hilarious number of parents of exactly two children, many of them attending the same high school. (Culver City has the fourth most diverse school population in America - 25% African-American, Asian American, Latino/a, and White.)

The Trump agitators loudly booed and cat-called Every. Single. Speaker. This despite the council members repeatedly telling them not to. A high school student from an immigrant family made a very moving speech, and started crying when he spoke about his family's struggles; the Trump agitators loudly mocked him. At that, the entire audience got up and gave the student a standing ovation.

The agitators' speeches were clearly meant for some audience other than their actual one; Trumpers on youtube, I think. They threatened and insulted the council members and audience, yelled, "Sessions is coming for you!" invoked strange Biblical conspiracy theories, and said, "They're gonna rape your women!" and "They're gonna kill you all!" Culver City is extremely liberal and this did not go over well.

The meeting started at 7:00 PM, and ended at a quarter to 1:00 AM. By around 11:00, the heckling and booing was getting pretty old. A Muslim speaker who was calling for peace and brotherhood got called a murderer and terrorist. At that point, I snapped, "SHUT UP!" and a council member had the loudest yeller evicted. When he was allowed back in about half an hour later, he brandished and set off a taser. He was then escorted out by the cops and not allowed back in.

The remaining agitators got bored and left before the actual vote. The council members spent about an hour debating the actual provisions of the measure, with input from the chief of police and the city attorney. In the end, the measure passed 3-1 (the dissenter also voted for sanctuary, but as a symbolic measure only without specific provisions), with one provision stricken (providing funds for immigrants' legal defense) and a few others reworded. Victory!

The whole thing got me interested in city politics, which I haven't been involved in previously in that sense. It was also nice to do something as a part of my community, after mostly living under a rock for the last two years.
monanotlisa: Michael Burnham, half-profile, blue-and-silver, in her uniform (Default)

From: [personal profile] monanotlisa

Rachel, This is such a fascinating account! May I signal-boost? It is, like you say, probably skewing on the side of super-heartening, with its diverse and liberal population represented, but maybe that's just what we all need for now.
oracne: turtle (Default)

From: [personal profile] oracne

I am so glad taser guy was escorted out by cops. He probably thought that was a win, but it still satisfies me.

Our city government hired some lawyers to investigate Sanctuary City (we already are one) stuff before stuff goes down. (I summarize!)
rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)

From: [personal profile] rydra_wong

He wrote an article claiming that it was an accidental discharge.

... how did you come across this? Did you Google "Culver City taser guy" or something like that? (Please tell me you did, and that this guy will forever be known to the intrawebs as Culver City Taser Guy.)
muccamukk: Natasha lowering her sunglasses to see over the top. She looks alarmed. (Marvel: Shades)

From: [personal profile] muccamukk

Regrettably that doesn't bring it up. Should we google bomb him?

Culver City Sanctuary Vote Taser gets it, though I didn't click through.
recessional: bare-footed person in jeans walks on log (Default)

From: [personal profile] recessional

That is correct! Well done. I am glad to see his grasp of events.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

From: [personal profile] davidgillon

a weapon which had discharged by accident.

Sad, he just couldn't wait to get his gun off.
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

From: [personal profile] asakiyume

I was wondering this too! (And thinking, hells, that was fast)
em_h: (Default)

From: [personal profile] em_h

City politics is my favourite level of politics on which to work! It's immediate, it's relatively direct (I have an actual personal relationship with my city councillor, and with many of his staff members), and some actual on-the-ground change can actually be achieved in a reasonable span of time. Plus it can get a community more involved, get people knowing each other better, and be generally empowering. I mean, I still work on the larger levels of government, but municipal politics does have a particular appeal.
em_h: (Default)

From: [personal profile] em_h

Wow, I also managed to say "actual" twice and "actually" once in the space of a single sentence. I am apparently not a professional writer when I'm on the internet ...
loligo: Scully with blue glasses (Default)

From: [personal profile] loligo

Try small town politics -- one city council member is my back yard neighbor, the mayor lives a block away, and one of the current school board candidates lives 5 houses down the street. Despite that, or maybe BECAUSE of that, I never really got involved last time we lived inside city limits, and I haven't gotten involved yet since moving back. I guess I've always felt like I knew and trusted enough of the people involved, so they probably had things under control without my input. (Some sketchy stuff happened with the former police chief while I wasn't living in town, though, so I guess it's wise to always stay aware…)
muccamukk: Text: Love > Anger, Hope > Fear, Optimism > Despair. (Politics: Canadian Politics)

From: [personal profile] muccamukk

That's very heartening to read. Thanks for writing it up.

We the paid agitators saying they were paid? Or was it just super obvious?
muccamukk: Haymitch staring morosely into his drink. (HG: Drowning Sorrows)

From: [personal profile] muccamukk

Democracy! I wonder if this will lead to a by-law on heckling council meetings.
muccamukk: Jason Mamoa playing the guitar. (SGA: Guitar)

From: [personal profile] muccamukk

Any idea why they didn't? It seems as though it made things very hostile for the actual residents who wanted to speak.
julian: Picture of Julian Street. (Default)

From: [personal profile] julian

My (extensive) experience with (admittedly smaller) town politics would back this up. Any given board or committee will just plain not have experience with needing to toss people out/set hardline boundaries.

Honestly, I'm kind of impressed they got around to it at all, pre-taser. (The taser part would have gotten any board's attention, obviously.)
hederahelix: Mature General Organa and "A woman's place is leading the resistance." (Default)

From: [personal profile] hederahelix

You know, I wonder what venue would be best if the Interwebs wanted to make clear that the Trump agitators are clearly a mob being sent out.

Also, would that be an actually useful thing to do?

Also in slightly less local politics, I was wondering: you know how this administration is about to make it legal for ISPs to sell our data?

Is my understanding of state vs federal politics correct in that if a state were to pass a state law making it illegal for ISPs that do business within the state to do business in that state if the ISPs sell customers' data without customers' consent, a federal law might not be able to challenge the state law, right?

I mean, that's my understanding: state constitutions can grant citizens more rights than the federal one in most cases.

My CA state senator and rep are not on appropriate committees, alas, but I might just email them anyway.
vass: Warning sign of man in water with an octopus (Accidentally)

From: [personal profile] vass

It's possible they're still not getting paid. After all, why pay people when you can exploit them? It's also possible they were told they would be paid but Trump will stiff them on that in due course. And it's probable that even if they do get paid, their donations paid for the recording equipment and training (another shouty guy, this one probably actually getting paid to be there, showing them a PowerPoint presentation with the talking points) and for getting them there (if they didn't have to pay their own travel costs too) etc.

None of which is to say that I imagine they spontaneously showed up out of personal interest in municipal government, or that Trump did not pay for them, just that I suspect no money reached the pockets of racist shouty guys Trump's people bused in.

This is what we call "grassroots involvement." /bitter

Edit: and then I read further down in the comments and found your link to the article. *headdesks forever*
Edited Date: 2017-03-31 07:50 am (UTC)
torachan: (Default)

From: [personal profile] torachan

That's really great to hear!

And I didn't know that about the Culver City police, but that's also really good to know.
julian: Picture of Julian Street. (Default)

From: [personal profile] julian

Hm. I wonder if the folks trying to get similar to happen in my suburb have met with the Police Chief yet, because that last sentence is a very useful point. (They may have already done so, but it may happen tomorrow. I shall email one of the organizers. Thank you!)
recessional: bare-footed person in jeans walks on log (Default)

From: [personal profile] recessional

Good police chief, gold star for grasp of civil policing. Gold star.

(This may seem ridiculous, but if you have any extra brain-points I would endorse sending their PR email or whatever a quick note saying that you appreciated that he said this etc etc. As I'm Sure You Know Bob policing is NOT a fun job so I tend to be a firm believer in positive reinforcement when they do the right thing. If nothing else it helps to keep complaints from turning into just part of an Endless Buzz of Negative.)
nenya_kanadka: Wonder Woman poster (kneeling with sword) (Default)

From: [personal profile] nenya_kanadka

if Culver City police were not participating but present when ICE were doing their operations, they could not only function as public protectors but also as witnesses

That is some Sam Vimes-level policing right there. That's what they SHOULD be doing!

Occasionally it's nice to see public servants of good will actually doing what they're supposed to. It's really heartening.
mildred_of_midgard: (Default)

From: [personal profile] mildred_of_midgard

Glad to see a place where I used to live behaving itself!
likeadeuce: (buffysurvive)

From: [personal profile] likeadeuce

I've become a big fan of getting involved in local government, lately, I'm glad this was an energizing experience for you.
laceblade: Toby, Josh, and Donna of The West Wing, talking intensely (WW: 20 Hours in America)

From: [personal profile] laceblade

Paid protesters are SO WEIRD, aren't they? I encountered some during the #wiunion protests back in 2011, just one pocket of the Square and you could easily tell they were not from Wisconsin from the way they dressed, the things they were yelling, their signs, everything. It was shocking even though there were tens of thousands of us there protesting on the "other side." I just want to know like, is this a full-time job? Are they actors? How does this gig work?

It's telling that Trump/others keep accusing Democrats of employing "paid protesters" at things like congressional recess town halls, at airports, etc. It's a tactic that they use, so they expect no less from the other side. For the people on the ground, though, it is immediately clear who's actually from the community and isn't.
nenya_kanadka: Wonder Woman poster (kneeling with sword) (Default)

From: [personal profile] nenya_kanadka

I love this post and your amazing fellow-citizens and I think if you could get to do more stuff like this it would be awesome.

(Tone-deaf Trumpists, though, omg wut.)
em_h: (Default)

From: [personal profile] em_h

Taser Guy has achieved international media fame. An article from the Independent just turned up in my Facebook feed. According to the article, he has also achieved 90 days in jail.
Edited Date: 2017-03-31 01:38 pm (UTC)
em_h: (Default)

From: [personal profile] em_h

Sorry -- I was wrong. Sounded like him from the headline, but when i read the article I realized it was some other dude elsewhere in California, who was in possession of some kind of homemade bomb (which, fortunately, he had not yet taken from the home where he made it before the police came and took it away).
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)

From: [personal profile] oyceter

I love city politics! And ahahaha meetings that go on for six hours... so familiar. The best part is after working adjacent to city government for a while, watching Parks & Rec was doubly hilarious, especially all the scenes of the city council meetings or the public opinion forums. I have been trying to go to more meetings on stuff like transit policy or neighborhood development and etc. and it is always amusing if nothing else to listen to the various complaints and questions.

Also, I don't know if LA does this, but SF livestreams all its city council and Board of Education meetings online for people who can't physically make it.
Edited (Typos) Date: 2017-04-01 08:20 am (UTC)
muccamukk: The silhouette of Sam as the Falcon cutting across other pictures of Sam. (Cap: Falcon)

From: [personal profile] muccamukk

You know I was just thinking there was a shifter fic in this somewhere. The Elk shifter who used to run the farmer's market, and his mysterious disappearance.
dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)

From: [personal profile] dolorosa_12

This was really interesting (and heartening) to read about. I'm particularly impressed by the people telling their own personal stories in the face of yelling, harassment, and, apparently, tasers. Good for you for going along!

From: [identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com

That's awesome. (Well, not the part with the hecklers.) I'm looking for ways to get more involved with my own city's politics.

From: [identity profile] asakiyume.livejournal.com

WOW!! First off, go you, and go your apartment block. My heart's swelling with gratitude and this-is-the-way-it-should-be ... ness.

And those hecklers sound terrifying, frankly :( I'm glad the guy with a taser got taken away by the police, but wow. That's really scary.

Three cheers for non-heckling citizenry of Culver City. You guys are *great*. I'm glad your city's going to be a sanctuary city.
ivy: Two strands of ivy against a red wall (Default)

From: [personal profile] ivy

I too am surprised that they were allowed to continue when they were clearly not contributing to the discussion and just being jerks. I guess they don't do Robert's Rules of Order?

Hooray the rest of you! We're a sanctuary city too. Seattle is all BRING IT about it; I'm so proud to live here.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

My sense was that this had never happened before and the council didn't know how to deal with it. They clearly had the authority to chuck people out, because as soon as they told the police to remove someone, he was removed. I'm guessing there was also nervousness about seeming partisan.

I'd have gone on "Two strikes and you're out," which would have booted the lot of them within the first three minutes.

From: [identity profile] juliansinger.livejournal.com

Go y'all! Huzzah!

Just because I'm curious: How did you know they were paid?

(Also: Wtf taser, dude. Why is that a thing you think is OK?)

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

They weren't local, clearly knew nothing about the area, came together in a group, had identical recording equipment, and had been spotted at other areas doing the exact same schtick. They could have just been enthusiastic Trumpers but that's textbook paid agitator stuff.

From: [identity profile] juliansinger.livejournal.com

OK. Reasonable.

(I'm aware of unpaid agitators who do similar sorts of schtick, but I'm perfectly accepting of the assumption they're paid, too.)
ivy: Two strands of ivy against a red wall (Default)

From: [personal profile] ivy

Y'all need the civic Hell's Angels to their Westboro Baptist Church.

From: [identity profile] sartorias.livejournal.com

That is awesome. I am hoping that our cities around here will follow the example of Santa Ana.
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)

From: [personal profile] sovay

In the end, the measure passed 3-1 (the dissenter also voted for sanctuary, but as a symbolic measure only without specific provisions), with one provision stricken (providing funds for immigrants' legal defense) and a few others reworded. Victory!


Also, I'm glad the guy with the taser was removed.

From: [identity profile] gaudior.livejournal.com

That's so cool! Go, you!

And the agitators sound... unnerving. Did it seem like everyone knew they weren't real residents? Did anyone call them on that?

From: [identity profile] wordsofastory.livejournal.com

Wow, go you! And congratulations on the measure passing!

The agitators sound terrifying and irritating. I'm glad the guy with a taser didn't hurt anyone!
lydamorehouse: (Default)

From: [personal profile] lydamorehouse

Wow. This is nothing like living in ultra-blue Saint Paul. I think I've been heckled exactly once, when I was doing a protest outside Amy Klobuchar's office. Some guy in a pick-up truck yelled, "Get a job!" to all of us (which we all discussed was the opposite of the usual talking point that we are all paid protestors.)
lokifan: black Converse against a black background (Default)

From: [personal profile] lokifan

That's great! Good for you, and for everyone else. I'm VERY impressed by the stamina it must have taken from you all, and the self-restraint necessary to react so calmly to such extreme and long-lasting provocation.

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