Category Archives: News

ACLU Mysteriously Announces the Deactivation of its Sonoma County Chapter.

To the bafflement and consternation of many North Bay American Civil Liberties Union members and supporters, an announcement was released yesterday at 6:33 pm by Carole Guffanti Notley in the Facebook page for ACLU of Sonoma County that the local affiliate will be deactivating its Sonoma County Chapter and shutting down its Facebook site this weekend.

Here is the message in its entirety: 

“It is with tremendous sorrow that I must announce the decision of the ACLU-NC to deactivate the Sonoma County Chapter. It seems unfathomable that, at this incredibly important time and with such an outpouring of support that we received at last Sunday’s Community Engagement Fair, such a thing would transpire, but it has.”

“Many people have given tremendous amounts of their time to volunteer for the Sonoma County Chapter over the years, and it would be remiss not to thank them for their unyielding support in the area of protection of civil liberties. In particular, I must thank Martin McReynolds for his tireless efforts attending community events, stepping in as past Chair, treasurer, and in producing our marvelous newsletter among many other noteworthy contributions.”

“I have been a board member for the past three years and am proud of the work our Chapter has accomplished in that time.” 

“For those of you who wish to continue the work of the ACLU, I am directed to refer you to the ACLU-NC site in San Francisco. I will be shutting down this Facebook site this weekend. In the meantime, should you wish to stay active locally, please feel free to PM me on my personal FB site: Carole Guffanti Notley.”

“It has been an honor to serve you in the pursuit of justice and civil rights as Administrator of this page, and I hope you will all continue to be engaged in standing up to civil rights violations and to fight the good fight, now more than ever.”

This announcement comes a month after the Sonoma County chapter had announced that their website was being revamped because of an increased interest in the organization since the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. 

The website had stated:

“We look forward to seeing you at the next meeting on January 17th at 7 pm at the PJC, when we hold elections for our board.”

The February 3rd, 2017 announcement of deactivating the chapter is all the more puzzling in light of the closing lines of the last post by the ACLU-NC website:

“Get involved. Channel that anger in a productive way. Join us!”

All that is known, according to reports by the Sonoma County Chapter, is that the decision was made internally and the San Francisco  Chapter had no knowledge of the decision. 

The Sonoma County Chapter reports that:

“We have been directed to close the bank account for the chapter and send all money to the SF Affiliate.”

The San Francisco Affiliate oversees all the chapters in Northern California.

The Sonoma County Chapter has promised that a full explanation is forthcoming and I will update this post when the information becomes available.


Update (5 February 2017 at 10:33 am):

I’ve been contacted by a few people that are involved with the ACLU and my impression is that there are many people working diligently to maintain a solid support system for protecting civil liberties and they will update the public further on the events of the deactivation and also reassure members that there will continue to be an active organization. I’ve also spoken to a friend that was formerly involved and they have nothing but praise for the people that are involved with the ACLU-NC. ~RLR

Update via Facebook (5 January 2917 at 11:22):

Please be advised that effective immediately, the Sonoma County Chapter of the ACLU has been deactivated. 

 For further information, contact:

American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California
39 Drumm Street • San Francisco, California 94111Phone: (415) 621-2493

Fax: (415) 255-1478

TTY: (415) 863-7832

Those seeking legal advice from ACLU of Northern CA may call (415) 621-2488 (Monday to Friday, 10am-12 noon & 1pm-3pm) or fill out a confidential online form.

While it is our understanding that ACLU-NC is amenable to reconstruction of a chapter in Sonoma County, and they are following up with individuals who have submitted applications to join the chapter board and will work to engage them in the ACLU in a timely manner, none of the current board will be considered.

The basis for this deactivation may be up for debate, but the decision by ACLU-NC is final.
We will reach out to our current membership and those who have expressed an interest in activism to offer them possible matches depending on their area of focus. There are many organizations in the Country that would benefit from volunteers and embrace values similar to those of the (now former) Sonoma County Chapter of the ACLU.

~Carole Guffanti Notley, Secretary
Sonoma County Chapter

ACLU of Northern California

Phone: 707-978-9503


Dispatch from the DAPL Protest in San Francisco [via Ramona Lappier]

The assembly is ringed by numerous blue uniforms packing heat as news vans with tall antennas are parked strategically on the streets around the Federal Building. 

Reporters make their way with microphones through an eclectic mix of black, brown, white, old, and young people—referred to as relatives by the speakers—most of whom are women.

A calm but determined crowd of perhaps a thousand people has gathered peacefully in San Francisco To Stand with Standing Rock to protest further construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL.

The ‘vibe’ is one of community but I feel strangely conflicted. I identify as caucasian but family lore suggests there is Ojibwe in our blood—a story wrapped in shadows as if a shameful secret. 

It is my whiteness I felt as shame tonight, though I cannot define it in the moment. I also feel something ancestral, something rising like lava long trapped far below, a heated need for recognition, for respect, for justice long denied. 

The spirit of my ancestors call out for healing to repair the wounds of a people wronged.

To this day I am uncertain what is true about my ancestry, but I wrote this poem when I believed it to be true that I have Ojibwe blood:

Grandma’s Grandma assimilated. 

Her birth name was obliterated. 

Her sacred ground was excavated 

by arrogant others who invaded 

and made sure the ‘natives’ stayed on stated 

reservations, or agreed to be mated 

to ‘good, clean’ Christians with whom they procreated. 

So my eyes are blue and my hair near red, 

but the cheekbones high on my white-woman head 

(and something, I hear it – some thing of spirit) 

remember who my Grandma was, 

even if nothing in history does.

The drums reverberate off tall buildings and voices in chant seem as much from the spirit world as from the earthly bodies gathered here in the middle of Mission Street. 

The scent of sage wafts on the chill night air as a final prayer is spoken.

~ Ramona Lappier (San Francisco, California) 26 January 2017


DAPL Protestors gathered at the San Francisco Federal Building (26 January 2017) Photo by Dave Dyson.

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President Business Signs Executive Order to Construct the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL.

He said it for the first time last month and he meant it: 

President Business not only supports the completion of the Dakota pipeline project, an unsurprising revelation he announced on December 1st, 2016, he put his money where his mouth is and signed an executive order this morning approving the go-ahead to construct both the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL.


President Business never uses his own money for anything—he finds a willing sucker and grabs them by the purse-y.

But that’s another story of a US President rumored to make a bundle for himself and his cronies in the White House when the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline deal is done.

So, who’s going to tell this woman I met at the Sonoma County Stands Together for Women march on Saturday?

I never got her name but she spoke passionately to me a bit about Red Fawn Fallis, a Denver woman that was at the DAPL protest gathering on October 27th last year. Red Fawn allegedly fired three rounds from a gun at officers—missing them completely—while they were taking her down to the ground to arrest her and she’s been imprisoned ever since on attempted murder charges.

Who is going to console the members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe fighting to preserve their drinking water and cultural heritage sites? As if there is any consolation that could be given to those Water Protectors that faced armored vehicles back in October, some armed only with determination while mounted on horseback as they protested the plans to route the pipeline beneath a lake near their reservation and endured environmental hardships for months. Their fight is now beginning again in earnest.

By his actions today in executing the executive order, it appears that President Business does not have the best interests of Americans in North Dakota—nor does he seem to care if the people at Standing Rock have access to clean drinking water. In alternative fact, he is currently diving headfirst into a swimming pool filled with gold coins.

I can picture him now, rising out of the pool and stepping over the skulls of his enemies as he strides over to his iron throne, whispering over his shoulder to his demon muse in the fashion of the notorious 18th century cake boss, Marie Antoinette:

“Business is business. Water can be bought in a plastic bottle. Let them drink the tears of their ancestors.”

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Meryl Streep’s Battle Cry at the Golden Globes Awards Ceremony [video]

Meryl Streep at the DNC in 2016

When Meryl Streep took the stage at the 74th Golden Globe Awards ceremony last night to accept the Cecil B. DeMille award bestowed by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment” she was smiling but visibly holding back a deep emotional intensity. Rather, I should say, she was momentarily holding it back. 

Meryl’s acting skill is supported by a foundation of empathy and emotional vulnerability and she bravely showed us the real strength that resides in both of those powerful human qualities.

Her first words were, “I love you all but you’ll have to forgive me, I’ve lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend.” Clearly, though her voice was weak and blown out, she had not lost the abilitity and the nerve to voice her feelings. “And, I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year, so I have to read.”

Streep thanked the Hollywood Foreign press and identified with them with the words, “You, and all of us in this room really, belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now: Think about it—Hollywood. Foreigners. And the press. But, who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places.”

And, then she called out some of her fellow performers by name and told the audience where they came from. Go ahead, watch the speech before reading further.

It’s a masterful speech by a consummate performer—but Meryl Streep is not performing, she is communicating her message with reason and emotion and naked honesty. She begins by appealing to our ability to look beyond our differences by engaging with our empathy with humanity. And, she does it by tapping into her own sense memory and calling out our national disgrace.

“There was one performance this year that stunned me,” Streep says. “It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good—there was nothing good about it—but it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, in power, and the capacity to fight back.”

Streep is referring to that moment that has spawned a million memes, when Donald Trump—speaking at a South Carolina campaign rally in November 2015—infamously mocked New York Times investigative reporter Serge Kovaleski (who has a congenital condition called arthrogryposis that limits the movements of the joints) by flailing his arms and contorting his face, and saying, “Now, the poor guy, you ought to see this guy. Ahhh…I don’t know what I said, I don’t remember, I don’t remember, maybe that’s what I said.” 

“It…” (and here Meryl’s voice breaks with emotion) “It kind of broke my heart when I saw it—and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.”

Bam! That’s the set up. This is the punchline: 

“We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution.”

And, then Meryl Streep called on all the Hollywood swells in the room to join her and support the Committee to Protect Journalists because “we’re gonna need them going forward and they’re gonna need us to safeguard the truth.”

Of course, and this surprises nobody, Trump—the undisputed Insult King of the Twitterverse—was awake at 3:27…and 3:36…and 3:43 this morning, twittering his indignation at Streep’s audacity to malign his character and denying he meant what he did. 

His first tweet was of the you suck variety for which he’s best known. 

Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a…

Followed nine minutes later by

Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (who would never do that) but simply showed him……. 

Which he concluded seven minutes later with… 

“groveling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!

But, karma’s a bitch. Donald Trump—the Idiocracy version of Don Rickles—has set himself up for mockery by the collective press of anyone with a social media profile. We are all being called out to hold power to account, call out the abusers of power for every outrage, and safeguard the truth.

Streep ended her speech at the edge of tears, her voice cracking with grief, with a quote by Carrie Fisher—whom she portrayed in the cinematic version of Fisher’s autobiographical novel, Postcards from the Edge. 

As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once: 

“Take your broken heart, make it into art.”

Thank you, Meryl, for taking this stand and speaking your truth and your heart. I promise that I will act upon your call to arms.


I tried not to cry—I really tried—but those last words about Carrie Fisher hit me hard. I reckon I’m still grieving, too.

Forgive me if I comfort myself by imagining that this last image is meant for every bully and abuser of power out there.

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