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Resist: SF says yes to net neutrality, no to bigotry

by Christina A. DiEdoardo

Approximately 200-250 people jammed the sidewalk in front of the Verizon store at 768 Market Street December 7 to protest efforts by the Trump regime to persuade the Federal Communications Commission to end net neutrality.

"Why are we out here in front of Verizon, other than that they're an ISP and they suck?" asked Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of Media Alliance and one of the protest's organizers. "It's because they're Ajit Pai's employer."

Pai, a Republican whom Trump named to be chair of the FCC, worked as an attorney for Verizon from 2001 through 2003.

Since 2015, the FCC has formally required internet service providers to treat all internet traffic equally. This prevents ISPs from charging customers extra to access certain content (e.g. Netflix), charging more for faster speed, or blocking certain sites entirely.

If, as expected, the FCC approves the repeal proposal Thursday (December 14), ISPs like Verizon and Comcast would be able to discriminate against (or in favor of) certain types of traffic so long as they disclosed these policies to the consumer.

However, given the dominance of major providers like Comcast and AT&T in many local markets, net neutrality activists fear simply requiring ISPs to disclose predatory commercial behavior will do little or nothing to restrain or deter that behavior.

Rosenberg said Pai's claim that the Federal Trade Commission, rather than the FCC, could regulate ISPs was deeply flawed, given the progress of a case filed by AT&T (which is now at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals) that challenges the FTC's jurisdiction to act in this area.

"They might win," she said, referring to AT&T's case against the FTC. In that case, said Rosenberg, neither the FCC nor the FTC might be able to rein in the ISPs.

"All we're talking about here is whether anyone gets to tell AT&T and Verizon what to do," she said.

Take back BART
At 6:30 p.m. Friday, December 15, at 2501 International Boulevard in Oakland, Community Ready Corps will host a teach-in on how to intervene effectively as a bystander in the face of fascist and racist violence on the BART system. The first half of the evening is devoted to teaching self-defense and intervention skills to attendees, while the remainder will be focused on organizing and deciding on what steps can be taken to make the system safer for everyone. The Bay Area was recently rocked by a viral video where a white cis man repeatedly yelled racial slurs at an Asian passenger on BART (and made physical contact with him at least once) while several white passengers remained in their seats and did nothing to intervene.

Sanctuary for all
On November 30, after six days of deliberation, a jury acquitted Jose Ines Garcia Zarate of the murder of Kate Steinle. Since nativist bigots - from President Donald Trump to his local foot soldiers - have tried to use the case as a means of inciting hatred against undocumented persons, particularly those who happen to be persons of color like Zarate, it's not surprising they'd redouble up those efforts once he was exonerated.

However, as Judge Benjamin Cardozo pointed out long ago, "danger invites rescue," and the Bay Area is rising to the challenge. Led by Together We Stand, a coalition of community organizations including Justice for Josiah, Resistance SF, the Michael Chapman Foundation, and the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club will assemble at noon Saturday, December 16, in Union Square to respond to fascist demonstrators, who plan to oppose justice for undocumented immigrants in general - and San Francisco's sanctuary city policy in particular.

The action has two objectives: first, to hold Union Square and shut down the fascist event by outnumbering (and out-shouting) the bigots; second, to take the streets through a march. As a result, there's work to be done whether one prefers to march, engage in direct action, or both.

While there's been a considerable amount of fascist chatter about their event, that's usually not a reliable guideline as to how many people they'll manage to get to show up. In addition, the Brown Berets have graciously agreed to take on security duties for the counterdemonstration so there will be a visible deterrent to the bigots getting physically frisky.

That said, I'll be masking up for this event for two reasons. First, I believe there's a higher chance of the fascists indulging their fetish for deploying chemical weapons (like pepper spray) at this event than there is at other actions. Second, while I have the privilege to choose to mask or not, there are a lot of people (like our undocumented comrades) who can be placed in personal jeopardy if they're doxed by bigots at an event like this. The best way I can think of to support them is to help normalize masking by doing so in these situations. For those reasons, I hope you'll join me.

Got a tip? Email me at mailto:christina@diedoardolaw.com.

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