SPC in Action

From the May 2012 PNL #814

compiled by Carol Baum

The Peace Walk to Hancock Airbase steps off. Walkers were halted by police two blocks from the base. Photo: Carol Baum. Inset: Medea Benjamin of CodePink spoke at the Stop Drone War Crimes weekend in Syracuse. Photo: Ray Trudell.The Peace Walk to Hancock Airbase steps off. Walkers were halted by police two blocks from the base. Photo: Carol Baum. Inset: Medea Benjamin of CodePink spoke at the Stop Drone War Crimes weekend in Syracuse. Photo: Ray Trudell.Stop Drone War Crimes: Education & Arrests
Over April 21-22, SPC hosted the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars’ weekend of resistance to US war making.

On Saturday, April 21, activists from across Upstate NY attended workshops and a talk by CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin.

The plan for Sunday, April 22, was to walk to Hancock Air Base to present a War Crimes Indictment. What happened was that three people successfully read the Indictment at the base (arriving there independently of the peace walk), while the walkers were greeted by the Sheriff’s Department—two blocks before the base’s entrance. Arrests began without warning; however, after discussion, the police changed their minds about arresting everyone.

Thirty-three people were arrested, most charged with violating a De Witt Town ordinance requiring a permit to march.

How ironic that the real criminals— who plan and perpetrate drones strikes—go free while citizens who are upholding international law are arrested. Contact Carol.

SPC’s Monthly Program

Report Back from El Salvador:
Stories of International Solidarity

Thursday, May 17, 6:30 pm
La Casita Cultural Ctr. (109 Otisco St.)

Central New Yorkers have recently visited El Salvador: Shirley Novak led a group to the sister community of La Estancia and Ursula Rozum observed elections with the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES). Join a special report back from both delegations and help continue the rich history of solidarity between CNY and El Salvador.

Raffle. Refreshments served. Free and open to the public.

War Is Not Green!
SPC participated in a lively Earth Day celebration at Thornden Park on Sunday, April 22. Organized by NYPIRG, the ESF Earth Week Committee and the ESF Green Campus Initiative, it was a fun way to connect with college students and environmentally-minded community members. SPC highlighted the threat of war and militarism to a sustainable future. The Pentagon is the largest consumer of petroleum (and energy in general) on the planet and yet is exempt from all international climate agreements; it produces more hazardous waste than the five largest US chemical companies combined; military bases top the list of US superfund sites; and US overseas wars have contaminated massive areas with land mines, defoliants, and radiological contamination. Despite this damning evidence, little mainstream reporting has been done on the subject, prompting Project Censored to rank this story number two on their list of the top censored stories of 2011.

NOON Goes International
SPC’s Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation project will speak, along with the Doctrine of Discovery Study Group and Onondaga leaders, at an event in conjunction with the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. “Working As Allies to Indigenous Peoples” offers an opportunity for NOON to share our work with an international audience and connect with people from other parts of the country and world. If you’re close to NYC, consider joining us on Wednesday, May 16 at 6:15 at The Church Center for the United Nations, 777 First Ave. Contact Andy


Onondaga Chief Jake Edwards displays a replica of the Two Row Wampum Belt as he shares
its meaning at a Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign meeting in Albany, April 15, 2012.
Photo: Lindsay Speer

Renewing the Two Row
NOON’s Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign continues to actively organize for its major statewide effort in 2013. An initial regional organizing meeting drew 25 people to Albany on April 15. Initial response has been quite positive to a fund appeal mailing sent to individuals (read it at peacecouncil.net/noon/2row/donate. html). In addition to the ongoing work of committees focused on education, outreach, fundraising and enactment planning, additional meetings will be held in coming months at Ganondagan (Victor, NY), with the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, in the Hudson Valley and in New York City. Invitations are out to a variety of well known people to join Oren Lyons, Tonya Gonnella Frichner, Pete Seeger and Nancy Cantor on the campaign’s Honorary Advisory Committee. Contact Andy.

Marking the Continuing Nakba
The Nakba (Catastrophe) refers to the dispossession of 750,000 Palestinians in 1947-48 connected with the creation of the state of Israel. This is the third year that CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel has organized a Central New York commemoration. This year’s focus will be on the continuing nature of the

Over 40 people came out in Dewitt to join the international call of “Justice for Palestine” on March 30. CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel organized the demonstration in conjunction with Palestinian Land Day and the Global March to Jerusalem. Photo: Kristin Mosher

Nakba. Our event, on Sunday, May 20 at 4 pm at ArtRage Gallery, 505 Hawley Ave., will feature a Skype discussion with Palestinian activist and intellectual Mazin Qumsiyeh from Bethlehem, Palestine. Contact Andy.

Radical Reading: The New Jim Crow
After wrapping up discussions on The SWord (did you know that Abraham Lincoln corresponded with Karl Marx?) the Radical Reading group is moving on to The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. Please join us, beginning on May 9 at 7:30 pm. As part of SPC’s commitment to challenging racism, we all need to better understand how the prison-industrial system has devastated communities of color across the country.

Catch the PeaceSongs Vibe
Don’t miss the PeaceSongs CNY CD release party on Sunday, May 6, from 5-8 pm at Metro Lounge, 505 Westcott St. This family-friendly musical celebration of peace and social justice will celebrate the conclusion of the final part of our 75th anniversary. Many of the 19 musicians on the CD will perform their selections, including Brown Fox Fabric, Van Cleary-Hammarstedt, Dan Cleveland, Gavan Duffy, Kanjira, Colleen Kattau, Jamie Notarthomas, One Black Voice, Dave Robertson, Chuck Schiele, Sophistafunk, Laura Sue (Wilansky) the Silver Nightingale and Jane Zell. Entrance is $5-10 sliding scale. CDs will be available for only $10 at the show and afterward at SPC’s office. They’re also available as a thank you gift for donations of $60 or more in response to our spring fund appeal.

Ground the Drones Committee Out and About
The Ground the Drones Committee has been doing local and regional outreach. Recently we have been at two conferences—the United National Antiwar Coalition meeting in Connecticut, where we presented a workshop on organizing against the drones, and most recently the “Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remote Control” organized by CodePink in DC. Closer to home, we presented a staged reading of the play “The Predator” at Pebble Hill Church and will perform it again at Syracuse University’s Conference on Activism, Rhetoric and Research in early May.

Weekly Peace Outreach

Want to spur conversations and let thousands know you oppose war and the reaper drone? Please join us! Bring a sign or use one of ours.

Note: To avoid conflicts with May Day activities, Tues., May 1 Outreach is
moved to May 2 (Hancock Air Base)

Tuesdays: 4:15-5 pm

May 8

E. Genesee & Erie Blvd. (Dewitt).

May 15

Hancock Air Base Entrance (E. Molloy Rd., b/w Thompson & townline Rd.)

May 22

E. Genesee & Erie Blvd. (Dewitt).

May 29

E. Genesee & Erie Blvd. (Dewitt).

June 5

Hancock Air Base Entrance

Saturdays 9-10 am on Park St. across from the Regional Market main entrance.

Contact Ed or Ann, 315-478-4571.

If you would like a presentation of “The Predator” or a speaker for your group, contact Carol.

Orientations, Trainings and Outreach!
Summer is prime time for SPC to reach new people and grow our local peace movement – and we could use more help! Our Spring Activist Orientation is May 9, 6 pm. Come learn specific ways to get involved with the Peace Council’s organizing and outreach this spring and summer. If you’d like to sharpen your outreach skills, come to our special Outreach Training on May 30, 6 pm. Consider joining SPC’s Tabling Team and attend this summer’s big outreach events. Contact Ursula.

Bike fixing started early for Bikes4Peace this year, with Bike Kitchens on the Center’s ground floor in April. We’ll continue these bike repair skillshares and learning sessions on May 8. Then, on May 29 from 6-7 pm, also at the Center, we’ll have an orientation for people who want to volunteer at our summer bike repair clinics. To get involved or support our work with a donation of bicycles, please contact Jessica.

Youth Outreach: SPC in the Schools
SPC continued its presence in high schools this spring thanks to help from Jack Brown, Amber Coon, Chris Jamison, Arny Steiber and Greg Wright, along with SPC staffers Jessica Maxwell and Andy Mager. Dozens of Syracuse youth got connected to SPC and learned about social justice careers as alternatives to military service. In addition to informational flyers and brochures, we distributed hundreds of peace buttons and stickers. As the school year comes to a close, SPC is ramping up our summer bike program and will restock our high school outreach materials in preparation for fall tabling. To get involved, contact Jessica.

Jim Weidman (far left) marching in the Hiroshima Day Procession, 2006.Photo: SPC Archives

Activist Appreciation: Jim Weidman
If you’ve ever helped at a Peace Newsletter mailing party, then you’ve probably met Jim. A retired high school English teacher, Jim has a knack for keeping the conversation flowing, and he always makes the extra effort to help new volunteers feel welcome. Whether it’s helping at events, staffing outreach tables, marching in the streets, or lending a hand in the office, Jim helps keeps the Peace Council moving forward. Thank you, Jim, for your kind spirit, dedication and humor.

Freeze Our Fukushimas
Through our membership in the Alliance for a Green Economy, SPC has continued to support efforts to close US Mark I Boiling Water Reactors. Their design flaws were dramatically demonstrated by the Fukushima nuclear tragedy, which saw containment failures and full meltdowns of all three Mark I’s at that site. Two of the three Oswego reactors are Mark I’s, and Oswego’s Fitzpatrick reactor is the only Mark I in the US operating without the additional venting system recommended by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

We have little faith in the regulatory capacity of the NRC, as they have continuously failed to shut down dangerous reactors or adequately hold operators accountable for repeated safety violations. The expected NRC dismissal of our petitions will provide more evidence that the NRC is abdicating its responsibility to protect public safety. With NYS already challenging the NRC over the relicensing of the Indian Point reactors downstate, we hope to push for expanding the state’s role in regulating the nuclear reactors in our communities. To learn more, visit allianceforagreeneconomy.org.

Keeping the Money Coming
Subscribers should receive SPC’s spring fund appeal soon. Please read the appeal for support from Col. Ann Wright (ret.) and respond as generously as you are able. If you don’t receive the mailing, see peacecouncil.net/donate or contact the office for a copy. SPC prides ourselves on making our work and events accessible to all people, regardless of ability to pay. That requires those who are able to contribute more to do so! This appeal is more important now because we’ve learned that SummerCrafts will not happen at JazzFest this year due to complications of finding a new venue. SPC appreciates the past collaboration with JazzFest and looks forward to future opportunities to work together.

An SPC Staffer in Congress?
You may have already heard that SPC staff organizer and Green Party activist Ursula Rozum has announced a run for the 24th Congressional District seat on the Green Party line. Ursula will continue her paid work with SPC during the election season. As an organization, SPC has a long history of not endorsing candidates. We see election year as an opportunity to share our analysis, gain broader attention for the issues on which we work, and strategically apply pressure on candidates to further our issue campaigns (see our statement on elections: peacecouncil.net/statements/SPCelections.htm).

We hope SPC activists will find their own ways to use this election year to further an agenda of peace and social justice.

Corporate Dodge Ball
To focus attention on corporate tax dodgers, SPC joined unions and other community groups in co-sponsoring a public “99% Against the 1% Dodge Ball Game” on April 17 in Clinton Square. Thanks to loopholes such as offshore tax havens, teams of tax experts, and billions of dollars spent on lobbying and campaign contributions, many of the most profitable US corporations paid an effective tax rate that was zero or negative. We delivered the signed game balls as “Corporate Tax Dodger” trophies to local offices of some of the most egregious offenders, including Bank of America and Verizon.

As part of the “We Are NY” coalition, SPC is also co-sponsoring a screening of The Heist on June 21 at the Palace Theatre. A documentary that explores the history of the US economy and how it’s been rigged to serve wealthy corporate interests, the film is a call to action, stating, “There are only two kinds of power in America: organized money and organized people.”


SPC’s Tax Day Penny Poll downtown—members of the 99% make choices about how their tax dollars should be spent. Photo: Ursula Rozum

Tax Day Organizing
SPC intern Elyse Irvins organized a Penny Poll at college campuses to give students a say in where they want their income tax money to go. We teamed up with Syracuse University’s College Democrats and Onondaga Community College students to put the word out on the importance of knowing how the government is spending our money. Students were surprised that 48% of our tax dollars has gone to military funding in past years, and they were more inclined to fund “Health” and “Education.”

On Tax Day itself, SPC presented the Penny Poll in Perseverance Park in downtown Syracuse. Check SPC’s website for the final results of the polls. – Elyse Irvins

Thanks to Spring Interns
Soon we’ll say goodbye to our five spring interns. They have been exceptional, and we’ll miss their energy and enthusiasm. Here’s a sample of what they’ve accomplished in a few short months:

• SU student Elyse Irvins was the primary organizer for the Tax Day Penny Polls during the week of April 16; she also did much of the publicity and outreach for the Hancock 38 final court appearance and speaking engagements, and the April 21-22 Ground the Drones weekend.

PNL readers are likely already familiar with Christina Sterbenz from her frequent contributions during (and even before) her internship. Christina’s significant experience as an editor with SU’s Jerk Magazine enabled her to bring new ideas and insights to the PNL. She also compiled SPC’s weekly e-newsletter.

• Brianna Carrier played a major role in early fundraising efforts for NOON’s Two Row Wampum Campaign. Her presentation about the campaign at a SUNY Buffalo conference led conference organizers to consider focusing next year’s conference on the Two Row!

• ESF student Amelia Marple provided various forms of administrative support to NOON projects.

• Matt Harmer had a campus organizing internship. He staffed information tables at SUNY Oswego weekly and organized a talk by Kathy Kelly there.

We encourage people—of all ages and experience—to apply for SPC internships this summer. Contact Ursula.

Consensus 101
As part of SPC’s series of activist skillshares, we held a consensus training on April 4. We were thrilled to have over 20 people from a variety of SPC committees and community groups, including Occupy Syracuse and Veterans for Peace, attend the training. Thanks to SPC activists Jessica Azulay and Rae Kramer who facilitated. Our discussion was greatly enriched by the participation of five Middle Eastern/North African activists currently in the US as Leaders in Democracy Fellows at SU’s Maxwell School. Their experiences in countries like Tunisia and Libya added a unique element to our discussion on democratic decision making.

From an SPC Intern
Interning with the Syracuse Peace Council has been a remarkable learning experience for me. Working in the office with such a happy and friendly staff, I have been introduced to what seems like a whole new world of activists and organizations from Syracuse to D.C. I think the SPC internship is ideal for young students like myself who care to give back in some way, whether as a career or as a volunteer. Networking, expanding my writing, professional skills, and knowledge about an array of issues that are affecting our communities are all a part of what I have gained, and I am so thankful for this opportunity. – Elyse Irvins