I've been following a heated conversation on the UUMA ministers' chat about the pros and cons of having General Assembly 08 in Fort Lauderdale, where attendees will be required to show an official ID (more than a GA badge) in order to enter the conference center. Concerns center on the justice issues involved, the potential for our youth to be excluded unfairly at times, and generally the atmosphere that such heightened security involves.
A message came out today from UU leadership about this issue and its concerns, and I've reprinted it below. I've got problems with the scenario myself but am mostly watching it develop because there's no way I am going to be able to attend GA in Ft. Lauderdale, whether I think it's just dandy to be attending a UU event in a locale where suspicion and threat of punishment abound or not.
If you're going to GA, you ought to be aware of the controversy. Some are calling for GA to be cancelled if it can't be scheduled in a friendlier location or, at the very least, for there to be strong opposition shown to the security policies of the Port of Ft. Lauderdale.
Here's the email that went out to the UU-News list:
General Assembly Planning Committee Chair Beth McGregor, President
William G. Sinkford, and Moderator Gini Courter have sent a memorandum
to the UUA Board of Trustees and the General Assembly Planning Committee
regarding security issues at the Fort Lauderdale site of the 2008
General Assembly. The memorandum notes, "Our concerns include the
possibility of an unfriendly environment for youth, particularly youth
of color, and the problems inherent in using a site that is not open to
those not eligible for government-issued identification." The complete
memorandum can be found online at
After studying reports on the Fort Lauderdale conference site and
following meetings held by UUA staff with convention center and law
enforcement officials in Fort Lauderdale, McGregor, Sinkford, and
Courter have concluded that "the conditions in Fort Lauderdale provide
us with an opportunity to shine a light on the issues that concern us
and to use the situation as a teaching moment: What is it that we, as
religious people, are called to say at this time and in this place? What
privilege do we enjoy that is denied to others?" They have recommended
to the Board of Trustees that the Board not take any steps to change the
location of the 2008 General Assembly.
Further information, including the security protocols at Fort Lauderdale
and a report from an onsite visit, can be found at
http://www.uua.org/events/generalassembly/updatesannouncements/60305.shtml (see related content links).
So whaddya think?