WHAT? Security Checks at General Assembly

Its hitting the UUwire that all GA attendees will have to undergo security checkpoints in order to participate.  Heard it from Rob Eller-Isaacs, UUMA President and Manish Mishra, DRUUMM President who both posted letters today.  (UUMA letter, DRUUMM letter).

Both are thoughtful responses to an awful situation.  In fact, as the partner of an immigrant, who has been subject to security holds before at airports because of the common name and roots in a country with a civil war, it is infuriating and damaging.

Yes a contract was signed.  I’m serious about the accountability here.  From a justice standpoint.  Were the security check points in place at the time the contract was signed?  If not, is this change in circumstance enough to get out of the contract?  Is this a case where anti-racism analysis and accountability with people of color communities in Unitarian Universalism would have revealed the oppression in this site? 

This is a situation where people of color will be disproportionately impacted.  Yet again.  It is disappointing.  Who is responsible?  What will we do to prevent this in the future?  Has the GA Planning Committee continued to engage with the anti-racism theological and spiritual work called of them and our congregations by the 1997 GA Resolution?

Is it not possible to arrange for another group to take this on? 

(total side note – this is also a great opportunity for us to move to GA to a biannual or triennial schedule.)

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5 responses to “WHAT? Security Checks at General Assembly

  1. Joseph, you’re late to the party — but welcome! (And congrats on your ordination.) For UU World coverage of this issue, including links to letters from Bill Sinkford, Gini Courter, and Beth McGregor and a very thorough FAQ about the checkpoints in Florida, see “Security at 2008 General Assembly concerns UUA board” (11/2/2007) and “UUA leaders respond to General Assembly security concerns” (12/14/2007). (Blog coverage here and here.)

  2. Were the security check points in place at the time the contract was signed?

    Yes, but the GA planning folks had been given verbal assurances that they would be gone by 2008.

    If not, is this change in circumstance enough to get out of the contract?

    N/A

    Is this a case where anti-racism analysis and accountability with people of color communities in Unitarian Universalism would have revealed the oppression in this site?

    Dunno what that would have constituted. The GA planning group knew that the ID checks were in place when they signed the contract and they knew they would be a problem, but they had gotten verbal assurances that the problem would be fixed by the building of an additional access road that would allow people to enter the Convention Center without using the road the convention center shares with the port. Road isn’t done yet.

    Who is responsible?

    The Department of Homeland security (for making the rules), the GA planning committee (for not getting the promise that the checkpoints would be gone in time for GA in writing), the Ft. Lauderdale City Council (for not building the access road the Convention Center needs to not check ID fast enough,) smugglers and terrorists (for creating the necessity in the first place.)

    What will we do to prevent this in the future?

    Probably get future promises in writing.

    Has the GA Planning Committee continued to engage with the anti-racism theological and spiritual work called of them and our congregations by the 1997 GA Resolution?

    You are in a much better position to answer that than a lot of people. What have you heard?

    I’ve certainly seen workshops that looked like good faith efforts.

    Is it not possible to arrange for another group to take this on?

    Take on GA planning? Or take on anti-racism work?

    CC

  3. I realize this has been discussed internally, particularly on the ministers list for awhile. I just finally saw it in a public form with some more details yesterday Chris.

    I heard that there was still some speculation about whether security checks would actually be required.

    Thanks CC for the detailed answers. Honestly as a non-UUA employee now, I’m not in the loop. And the Anti-Racism work within the UUA has been somewhat compartmentalized so I don’t know the answer about GA PC. I do know that a group of UU People of Color were upset to hear that the negotiatied agreement about Witness to the Native American relations in the area of GA has been diminished or even eliminated. Maybe this is a question for other UUA watchers of this blog.

  4. There was a similar situation at the US Social Forum in Atlanta last year: Although the ID requirement was not a government issued photo ID, there was a requirement to wear a badge. Read about it here: http://brownfemipower.com/?p=1637

    During the plenary on migration/immigration, a native american panelist called the process out as, for the sake of “security” or “compliance” we are instantly oblivious and willing to sacrifice accessibility. there are some demographic groups which will be questioned or whose presence is suspect because they look different. having ID requirments lets what is usually reserved for whispers and subdued looks become physically manifest.

    A friend who is the director of the national day labor organizing network had an experience at a conference in DC put on by the ford foundation. he was in the foyer of the conference area and hotel staff were asking him to leave. he was asked to leave based on presentation: he was wearing a tshirt and jeans and happened to look like a day laborer. . .though I doubt white hipsters in tshirts and jeans are confused with day laborers.

    it’s hard enough being POC in what continues to be white space (UU space). . .why not make it harder by having gatekeepers? of course, the question remains, what to do about it now. . .though, at the end of the day, the question really is, as an entity which seeks to be inclusive, how did we miss this?!?

  5. REV. Joseph!

    I have been trying to track you down since all my numbers and email for you are bad…

    Email me your info please!
    Blessings,
    Tamara

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