David Gonzalez is the Presidente of the Asociacion Goover which is an organization of men sex workers founded in 2006 in the city of Quito, Ecuador. He has been secretary of the Union of Sexual Workers of Quito since 2017 and has worked on the Collective Marcha De Las Putas since 2017. he has been a member of plaperts (platform of people who perform sex work) since 2018, and is the current chairman of the board of directors of PLAPERTS an organization that has been a member of the NSWP (Global Network Of Sex Work Projects) since 2018 and of the ILGA world (the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, And Intersex Association) since 2020. David is a member of the council of sexogeneric diversities, and has advocated for more than 18 years in sexual and reproductive rights, integral HIV health, and currently on COVID, themes of human mobility, gender, transfeminist feminism, & labor rights.
Milcah Halili is the Director of Engineering at Chani Nicholas Incorporated. They are a writer, software engineer, and activist. Milcah is currently working on an app for sex workers that mixes design elements of Instagram and OnlyFans and plans on integrating cryptocurrency as a core feature of the platform.
Naomi Lauren has been in leadership at Whose Corner Is It Anyway since its founding in Oct 2017. Her areas of responsibilities at WCIIA include bookkeeping, logistics, and leadership development. She sits on too many subcommittees. Naomi has spoken at Harvard Law School, Mt Holyoke College and the Massetchusetts state chapter of NOW. She is a research consultant at Hacking/Hustling where she contributed to Erased- The Impact of FOSTA SESTA and The Removal of Backpage. Naomi is also a founding member of DecrimMA- a grassroots coalition of sex workers fighting for liberation and genuine
Transcript – Sex Worker Activism: Barriers, Exclusion, and Organising
Today’s panel is called Sex Worker Activism: Barriers, Exclusion, and Organizing. It will feature a 45 minutes of talking with our speakers followed by a Q&A if we have time for that. You’re welcome to put any questions you might have in Q&A or chat features on Zoom throughout the panel, we’ll see if we can get to some of them at the end. Today we have joining us, Milcah, Naomi, and David.
However just speaking of tech barriers David is unable to be with us today, or at least hasn’t joined us yet. I do know David has some Wi-Fi access issues, we are hoping he will join us during this panel at some point, however we do not have him with us now. I will read his bio anyway in case he joins.
So David Gonzales the president of the Association Goover founded in 2006 of the city of Quito, Ecuador. He has been the secretary of the union of sex workers of Quito, and his work on the Marcha de las Putas since 2017. He’s been a member of Marcha de las Putas one since 2018 and is the current chairman of the Board of Directors of PLAPERTS and of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association since 2020. David is a member of the Council of sexogeneric diversities and has advocated for more than 18 years in sexual and reproductive rights, integral HIV health, and currently on COVID, themes of human mobility, gender, transfeminist feminism, & labor rights. If David is not able to join us today I hope you will all follow his work.
Milcah Halili is with us as well as the director of engineering at Chani Nicholas Incorporated. They are a writer, software engineer, and activist. Milcah is working on an app for sex workers that mixes design elements of Instagram and Only Fans and plans on integrating crypto currency as a core feature of the platform.
We also have with us today Naomi Lauren who has been with leadership at Whose Corner Is It Anyway since its founding in October 2017. Her areas of responsibilities include bookkeeping, logistics, and leadership development. She sits on too many subcommittees which I happen to know personally. Naomi has spoken at Harvard Law school, Mount Holyoke College, and Massachusetts state chapter of NOW. She is a research consultant at Hacking//Hustling where she contributed to Erased- The Impact of FOSTA SESTA and the removal of Backpage. Naomi is also a founding member of Decrim Massachusetts.
Welcome everyone, just to get started I would love if each of the panelists would tell me a little bit more about your organizing around sex work and tech. I know you both have done different forms of organizing and activism, I would love to hear a little bit more about the relationship between your advocacy and organizing and technology. I should call on you to make it a little easier, we will have Milcah go first.
In terms of where my organizing and tech intersect, obviously I am a software engineer, so through my software engineering work I started off doing freelancing for sex worker clients primarily. I have worked with a couple of sex workers here in the United States to help them either update their websites, or to create a website or platform that is hosted by sex worker friendly hosts which are often hard to find with FOSTA and SESTA so I make sure any technology I use whether it is platform hosting or the technologies themselves they are open source. They are easy to use for people who are worried about whether their content will be taken down because they do not actually own the rights to that platform or to the software because it is not open source, a lot of my work is directly tied to tech and through technology itself. I also make it a goal of mine to teach software engineering or coding to anybody who’s willing to listen to me. I permanently focus on sex workers, people of color, queer people, marginalized people who do not feel like coding is accessible to them. I’m working with Hacking//Hustling today so that folks can come to me with any technology questions or learn about coding itself. I want to do introductory lessons on how to code in basic coding linkages.
Amazing, also I wanted to mention you have also done doxxing prevention training. The doxx prevention training video is still up on Hacking//Hustling. You want to mention that a little bit or did I already explain it?
Sure, for those of you all do not know what is or any of that, actually I forget the term now which means it is too early for me. Lorelei maybe you can explain what it means. The goal is to have users be safe when organizing or protesting, it is removing any information that will identify the user outside of that social platform.
For anybody who hasn’t heard the term before is when your personal information is intentionally shared often times on the Internet, it is a particular harm that sex workers worry about. Often people target sex workers in his specific way of trying to expose our home addresses, legal names, etc. This is something we have a fear about especially when we are doing organizing and activism. Naomi, would you like to talk a little bit about your work?
I would. I love talking. Lorelei mentioned I do too many projects. Lorelei mentioned Decrim Mass, she also mentioned Whose Corner Is It Anyway. Whose Corner Is It Anyway is a mutual aid, harm reduction, political education group in western Massachusetts led by stigmatized and opioid using, low income, survival, street based, or housing insecure sex workers.
I want to talk about two technology things I have done, sort of in response to tech barriers, and I will define tech barriers in the second question because I see that is the spot for that.
The projects I want to talk about our bad date lists in our tech mentorship program at Decrim Mass. I will start with tech mentorship, Decrim Mass has a rigid team of seven people, four of whom, well five of whom are Whose Corner Is It Anyway members so low income sex workers, four of whom are women of color who are street based sex workers, I am the fifth one. So Whose Corner Is It Anyway because it is a legislative project is the meat and butter. We have a standing Zoom call every week, Zoom calls aren’t something Whose Corner members have typically done. In many ways when it was started it was founded as an anti-digital project in response to the ways I personally felt not great about sex worker advocacy spaces that were online centered and wanting community with low income sex workers. Our thesis at the beginning of the project was to only use technology to communicate with each other about when we want to meet in real life. We don’t have substantial conversations or content that is digital for a bunch of reasons I’ll get back to later. Decrim Mass needed to be a primarily digital project for a bunch of different reasons. One of which is we are having COVID so there is no such thing as in person meetings, legislative work is a little more digital inherently than harm reduction or mutual aid.
One of the things we did to make Decrim Mass happen was instituted a tech mentorship program which started off before we had any meetings. I told Mike I needed two weeks to get everybody up to speed and schedule one on one 3 to 5 hour meetings, with each of the four other Whose Corner members, in my house where they brought their phone, and I physically downloaded Zoom, Cash App, Google Docs, if I forgot anything you post any chat? We also had a conversation at that time about Internet privacy stuff where I strongly recommended that people come up with a third name that they use neither for sex work nor for their legal name that they use as their activist name. Many Whose Corner members do sex work under their legal name that I can get back to later, the idea of using pseudonyms is not really common for us. For some people it is not a default in the way it is in other sex work spaces. Or even just dumb things like email, we had a whole conversation — make sure you have an email address that you use to sign up for things that has a password you remember that you are not sharing with anyone else that you can get into all the time because email is not something our members use. So a lot of times when we have to sign-up for something with an email they’ll us a fake ass email address that we cannot get into. We also have a hard time remembering passwords for a bunch of reasons.
A critical component of Decrim Mass was the launch of the tech mentorship program and after that Ivonne who is in the chat, I’m trying to embarrass her as much as possible, after my initial launch is now the tech tour and our outreach coordinator at Whose Corner is it Anyway and it has two components. She both coordinates mutual aid and resource distribution to our most vulnerable members, but also does tech support for people in leadership which if you want marginalized people in your org you have to put in for structure in place to assist them with technology. Mostly people want phone calls, they do not want text messages or emails. We have to account for if we want people to get on webinars as a participant, which we do, we have to call them, make an audio call to them, say “hi, there’s a woman are coming, I think you should watch it” and stay on the phone with them while they register. That is something you need to do. We also, all of us in leadership support each other about if something is confusing in terms of logging in we have an active text thread.
The other project I want to talk about is a Whose Corner product which is the bad date list. I hear people passing around, a lot of times something folks with technology expertise will offer sex workers is “hey, can I help you make an app for screening clients and the answer is no for a couple reasons and specifically I hear people wanting to do outreach projects were they tried to get street based sex workers to get online screening tools that already exist. I think that is a terrible idea and very dangerous. I am actually strongly opposed to that. What people outside of our community of street based sex workers understand is a phone in our community is not an individual resource. It is a community resource. Most people share their phones. What is common for our members as they have two or three numbers that they can sometimes be reached at, all of which are shared with a different circle of people. There is not an expectation of privacy around digital communication and user digital communication anyway there is in some more privileged circles. I really don’t care, I like my privacy concern is not someone hacking something I say, it is a person seeing it on the screen after the end user has securely gotten it. We have a bad date list that is analog, it is a paper book in a wooden box that has a lock on it. It is hosted at a couple different places, we have it with us at our meetings, and we physically have it with us at our meetings, and we also have it at a partner nonprofit that is geographically close to the stroll, hosts it. We have a system with them where only like there is a password you have to ask for to access it, only one person can look at it at a time, only women are led to see it.
This brings me to this point that our group is not particularly gender inclusive. We have included trans women from the beginning but our group is specifically defined as not including men. That was voted on, it was asked for by our street based members. Part of that is it is really common for our members to have dudes in their life that they have a relationship with that has somewhat romantic and some transactional elements, there is power coercion dynamics that change. Sometimes people live with a client, sometimes people live with a sugar daddy, sometimes people live with a manager sometimes people live with someone who is none of those things that they’re not out to the fact that they do sex work. Those folks, it’s complicated, those folks feel entitled to information, and our members do not have the leverage to withhold information from those folks. So there was an attempt early on that a couple girls boyfriends said I’m also a sex worker, also we pay people to attend our meetings…
Oh I’m going over…
I’m so sorry, not at all. David is here and I want to make sure he can hear what you are saying. I want to make sure David has the instructions for interpretation, I will hand it over to the interpreters one more time to speak about how to access the interpretation.
So the prompts to access interpretation again if you’re on a cell phone you click on the three dots, you’ll select language interpretation and from there you will select the language you want to listen and participate in and make sure to select “done.”
David, is the interpretation of working for you now? Okay. Perfect. Naomi, did you want to finish your thought?
I went on a long-winded explanation of not prohibiting men in our organizing because I recognize there are problems with that, but suffice to say that is a decision that works for our group. The conclusion is Whose Corner Is It Anyway does an analog based bad date list. We are opposed to digital bad date lists, and attempts to give street based workers access to bad date lists primarily because of the issue of sharing phones. When you give a vulnerable person access to a bad date list that includes a range of information you have given them something of someone else’s that they now need to protect. They cannot even protect themselves, they cannot do that. They do not have leverage in their relationships with people who they might be sharing a phone with to withhold information from them. It exposes all sorts of people to increased danger and violence to attempt openness like this. In general one of our guiding principles is that openness is often dangerous for vulnerable people, it is not a value that we have.
That is a good point. David, we were answering the first question, which is could you talk a little bit about your work and your organizing and how it interacts with technology?
On the theme of connectivity is interpolating me right now where I am. Especially where I am the theme of access is so conflated, especially for us who are activists, people who are more deeply involved in this thing. It is something much more important for us, maybe. Aside from thinking of these topics of gender identity, sexual orientation, class, the space you are in. If you’re in the capital where there is a good Wi-Fi signal, but if you live outside of the capital that is the issue. It is a theme that is very…
So we see that there is a number of social problems and economic problems in this context, even from much before. For those of us who were doing sex work before COVID all of these things worsened but something positive about this is it visiblized a problem that already existed. It is become more public about how difficult access is to technology and to networks, but to begin I’m part of a group in Ecuador of sex workers which I am the president, and I wanted to talk first about the modalities of sex work since I think men have been a part of this movement, but we saw sex work was divided between being on the street in some ways or online, we saw that gender was what distinguished between those two spaces. Men have not been able to access to do this work that is invisible, very stereotyped, there’s a lot of prejudice. Men are not very visible when it comes to sex work masculine sex work is not as well-known, in fact it is not legitimized within the movement. Sex work includes women and trans folks, but not men.
As I was saying we have been using the resource pages like grinder, those pages because of COVID the demand increased and forced us to learn this technology, but as I was saying the class has a big impact the economic modalities have impact. So from the public space, sex workers that do sex work there were many campaigns of like stay at home or keep a distance, we were terrified they are going to use this against us to criminalize the sex work that is already criminalized and is stereotyped and made precarious. It is very hard, politics come from a classist theme, a misogynist theme, transphobic theme that has been done from a place of folks that have legalized work as they say, you can say office work, they can survive like so. They have never thought of informal work like sex work, work that migrants do, everyday work you have to do to pay your rent, to get food, to be able to survive. We were excluded from the politics, these campaigns were discriminatory and not constitutional.
I think we may have a tech issue now. Thank you, David. All of that is really important for us to think about, I think everything folks are talking about is exactly the issues I wanted to bring up on this panel.
I think the three of you have already started talking about the barriers that tech can create for sex workers, because of time I’m going to combine the second and third questions. The second question was to talk about how technology has been both a benefit and a barrier in organizing. The third question, which I will just ask both of them and you can answer however you like, the third question is: in my experience tech barriers for sex workers in sex worker organizers can be lumped into two categories. First I think of identity based incrimination and exclusion from tech platforms that is enacted by tech companies, by algorithms, and by laws that encourage sex worker profiling such as the freedom from online sex trafficking act of 2018, also known as FOSTA, the second category is exclusion from public conversations, information, and resources that are inaccessible to people with limited Internet or tech access. I wonder if you could speak about whether those two categories seem to match your experience in a little bit more about what kind of barriers you are dealing with when you’re doing your organizing. We will start with Milcah again.
Sorry, okay. I will start with the second question. In terms of whether there are barriers aside from the two that you listed which was I think inaccessibility due to lack of Internet access or lack of actual bones or laptops, the other one was social stigma and the laws in place to prevent people like us joining those platforms. I mentioned this in my previous answer, also a lack of resources for learning how to build those technologies themselves. I grew up in the Bay area, that is where I did the majority of my sex work, but I’ve also done sex work in other cities like Portland and New York, Brooklyn.
I remember in the Bay area feeling like there were at least in my world, two different groups of people. There were the techies and the sex workers, there was this clear divide. Also in terms of coding when people think of programmers, software engineers, coders, they think of people who got a degree or great at math, only a certain type of people can learn how to code. I’m not a math whiz, I am learning math because I want to learn math now to help me as a software engineer. As Lorelei knows I am a writer, and a creative right brained person and it felt really inaccessible to me until I decided I wanted to learn the languages of the people who essentially pushed me out of my home in the Bay area, made it really inaccessible to live any place I was born and raised. I think a lot of my work is centered around debunking this idea that you need to be super into science and math in order to learn these technologies. If you love language, if you speak more than two languages there are people here in this room English and Spanish, you know, if you have that capacity you also have the capacity to learn how to build software. If you’re a poet you are also a coder, it is just a different language. If you are an astrologist you’re a coder, it is a different format.
Removing all of the myths around what kind of person can learn how to build technology is a barrier that I really want to remove. In terms of how tech itself has helped with my organizing, obviously platforms like Zoom, social media, for people who are not banned from those platforms and people who have access to the hardware and Wi-Fi to use these technologies, those have been helpful for me. There’s Signal, the encrypted text messaging service. I’ve also used keybase which is like slack except it is encrypted, general tools that will encrypt data when you send it to someone and it will be deleted immediately upon closing the window or the app or whatever. Ways in which technology has been a barrier, I have not personally experienced this but I have seen many of my sex worker friends lose their social media accounts. I’ve definitely been shadowbanned when people asked me, “Do you have Venmo?” No I don’t because they hate whores. Do I have Airbnb? No because they hate whores. I have been taken off of platforms because of the work I have done, it’s also because I focused a lot of my work on building technologies that include us.
Thank you so much for that, you want to give a brief definition of shadow banning for anyone who hasn’t heard of that before?
Shadow banning is when you try to share something with your social media network, with your community, but nobody is able to see that because your post, your tweets or what have you, your stories, people do not see them on their feed at all. Sometimes if people try to find you on social media by looking up your name you will not get returned in those search results.
I see there is a link to a report by Hacking/Hustling in the chat about shadow banning.
Naomi, do you want to answer the question?
I do, yes. I had all sorts of bullet points listed out or both of these, I will jump around between two questions to make best use of our time. One thing at the end of number three, are there other forms of tech exclusion I’ve left out? Something I would like people to think about which is a huge deal for me and also other people in Whose Corner are the ways we are trying to be trauma informed around technology. A really big barrier for me in use of technology is I have cognitive problems because of trauma. It is just really hard for me to learn how to use any new system, it is better if I don’t have to.
One of the ways that it is really hard for class diverse sex worker conversations to happen is sex workers who are very tech savvy are often early adopters of security and privacy infrastructure, and have really strict protocols about how you need to talk to them. I understand, you are more surveilled than your peers at your class level. Whose Corner members do not use Signal, they barely text. Whose Corner members do not use Protonmail, they barely use Gmail in general. If you insist people can only text you via Signal, you’re not going to be in community with street based sex workers and that is fine, I think it is important to know when we construct advocacy spaces that have really high security and privacy infrastructure, they are hard for us to get into. Even though it might seem easy to you. It might seem like Signal is easy to use, but for me it is not.
I also want to talk a little bit about some of the barriers we face, which are basically in three categories. Technical, cultural, and emotional/cognitive. I hinted at a couple of those but I will mention parts that I haven’t already. Technical is the most obvious, David mentioned a few things like you might not have a good signal. Whose Corner is two hours away by car from our state capital, we have often bad signal, David made a really good point. Our Wi-Fi is often really bad, also we may simply not have a phone. We might be reaching out to people via a borrowed phone or a landline at a social service. Also a broken or glitchy second hand phone. I cannot order DoorDash – on my phone because it is too old, I cannot download the newest version of DoorDash. I’m lucky enough to have a bank account so DoorDash is even an option for me but it hurts me spiritually that I cannot order food from my phone.
It is really common that Whose Corner members are using a phone that has a broken screen. They have to use voice to text, and as the phone gets old and I noticed phones in the last couple years, I’ve always used a phone that is 5 to 6 years old or 4 to 7 years old. Phones that are that same amount old or worse now, bones are getting less durable. They age more poorly, they are much more breakable. I used to be able to throw my phone around a lot more than I am now, a lot of times we technically have a phone that Signal literally might not download onto it. Sometimes apps act wacky on my phone in ways I cannot predict or explain to you. Believe me when I say I can only text you, I do not know why. That is something to consider in terms of access.
Another technical thing is many, many members do not have IDs or bank accounts. A lot of digital infrastructure that doesn’t actually necessarily require money but requires you to sort of register a credit card. As an example, a couple of us were having a hard time getting the free tickets to this panel because for whatever reason the free tickets were sold out, but you can still buy a ticket for one dollar. A couple people bought a ticket for a dollar, but if you don’t have a bank account regardless of if you have a dollar or not, that is not a workaround available to you. I think some of that is pretty easy to understand.
Another thing I like to mention there are cultural reasons that digital spaces are not accessible to low income sex workers. I’m not really a big tent-ist. I don’t think we always need to share space. I’m just not a big tent-ist. I think people can come together in a coalition. Fundamentally sex work is not a monolith, we have different needs. There are cultural reasons that it is hard for street based sex workers to be in class diverse sex working spaces one of which is we have a certain culture around how we talk about illegal things which is that we don’t. I noticed class privileged sex workers are stupid about incrementing themselves in writing all over the place, because they are just not used to the reality that they are being surveilled. I never write anything down anywhere, including texts to my best friends without assuming that a cop is going to read it. I speak in euphemism. Class privileged sex workers are amazingly bad at that, it is often not safe for us to be in spaces that are class diverse with people and incriminating themselves and by extension, me by being sloppy about how they talk. The other thing is, that is a cultural thing and I talked about the expectation that phones are private which is related to that. We do not have that expectation.
There is also emotional reasons, I talked a little bit about trauma. This is embarrassing for me to admit, but it is real. It is emotionally exhausting for me to share space, in particular support space with sex workers whose problems seem like not problems to me. I was in some Facebook groups with sex workers in places that have legal regimes that are awesome, their big problem was their savings account not being big enough. Sorry, have to mute this conversation now, I am jealous and that is exhausting for me to sit with. I’m so glad they have that problem, you know what I mean? I want them to get support about their legitimate emotions about their problems that are legitimate for them, I just cannot be part of that. Similarly I know that for me is like whole areas or pedestrian order is not a big deal would ruin a whole day to hear about. It is also exhausting for me to be in a class diverse space and have to censor myself so I do not trigger people, which costs me getting support that I need in that space. I think class diverse sex workspaces are not always possible, I think that is okay, there is technological reasons for that. Specifically all that stuff, that is why I did not use Facebook sex worker groups even though they are really powerful, and why I think sex workers in general, and I love to talk more or should I stop?
I would like to give some time to David before 1:00 p.m. I think some people will have to hop off, if folks have time to stay for a little bit longer, maybe five minutes or so I would love to talk a little bit more and hear more from our panelists to finish this off. If folks have to leave this is being recorded, so anyone who misses these last few minutes can see it later on the Hacking//Hustling website. David, I would love to hear from you about these barriers that we have been talking about, also I will put the last question out there, which is during COVID I think the barriers that tech can create in the barriers that Naomi has been talking about and Milcah has been talking about also, those barriers have been heightened there has been an urgency for us to try to be able to connect digitally with folks who have not had that kind of access before so I’m wondering about strategies you might have used during this time
Like I was saying, I think the theme of barriers, my companions on the roundtable have already shared a lot about it. I will share a little bit more about what might be positive perhaps around technology and tools, what have we’ve been able to accomplish?
I think something positive has been being able to communicate more with more people who it was not possible with before… Education, seminars, we do not have that kind of tradition that we have now and it has given us the opportunity to be here and to enter into these kinds of scholarships and courses that one way or another have given us the opportunity to be in some forums and conventions internationally, which before we would not have had access to because of economic reasons, but now we are doing it virtually I can do it in a free way in a way with zero cost.
Some other things when it comes to our network are that we have been able to exercise some work on building access to Internet and we also have this practice to care for each other to prevent new infections whether it is around HIV or sexual health, we have been talking a lot more about condoms which male sex workers use a lot so speaking about things like we have this desire to try to open up accounts and different banks, they never give me an account as a sex worker, but we have these aspirations and when we are applying for things sometimes they ask for that credit line and we will be thinking about how to organize for the future around access to those tools, but without a doubt we’ve been trying all of these strategies.
I remember some people saying I’m going to send you a zoom link, send you some good vibes or to do training with each other and we have been trying that more lately, too. And one other positive thing was around financing, there was a lot of paperwork that was needed, and right now things have been becoming a little bit less bureaucratic through the Internet and through video calls. I think that to me feels like it has been easier through these technologies to access more resources, and to be able to help our comrades in vulnerable situations. Also this topic of access to support, like medicine, has been easier through these networks and access to lubricants, you know the bureaucracy has been opening up and becoming easier in some ways, and so we have seen that that has been changing so that prevented us from being able to do certain types of work. I just wanted to say I don’t know if there is another question, I wanted to share that, and thank you.
That is perfect, thank you so much. I think your points about bureaucracy are so important as well. I think this panel we are seeing the barriers that technology has created with the difficulty accessing over Wi-Fi, the difficulties with which we haven’t talked about this but Naomi has her camera covered, the worry about the exposure that technology can provide as it provides access. Unfortunately we do have to end, I want to respect the time of our closed captioners and our interpreters, also thank you to the person in the chat who noticed my nails. Thank you all so much. This has been so powerful, we will close it out if you all want to say goodbye. Thank you. So many kind messages in the chat. We will save the chat for the panelists if you want to read it after the panel to see the messages that the audience has sent to you. Okay, well the live streaming is off and folks are slowly leaving the panel. I wanted to say one last goodbye, and thank you to Naomi, Milcah, and David.
I hope we can keep coming together and talk about these topics. It is a little time we have to talk about everything we have to talk about but I hope you all – – I’ve been grateful to have been able to share and talk about all of these things calling us and bringing us to be together here and I think it is important to meet together and talk about these demands and figure out how we can defend the rights of all of our comrades.