SPC in Action

SPC’s Birthday Dinner Postponed

SPC’s Steering Committee in conjunction with the Birthday Dinner Committee decided to cancel SPC’s 84th Birthday Dinner, originally scheduled for March 28, due to Covid-19. The current likely scenario is that we will postpone it until the fall.

Dr. Ira Helfand, a leader in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (both Nobel Prize-winning organiza-
tions), was to have been our speaker. He was coming to promote the Back from Brink Campaign: A Call to Prevent Nuclear War (www.preventnuclearwar.org). The planned talk had been “Fighting the Growing Threats of Nuclear War and Climate Collapse.” He is an excellent speaker, and we recommend that you check out some of his videos. The Nuclear Free World Committee is actively seeking endorsements for the campaign; please contact Diane at drswords@gmail.com to participate. They are also hoping to set up virtual meetings between Ira and local political candidates, as well as with potential and current local endorsers of the campaign, and local physicians. If you would like to be part of the virtual meeting, contact drswords@gmail.com.

The Birthday Dinner is not only a celebration and an opportunity for organizing. It is also our spring fundraising event. Please consider making a special donation to help make up for the loss of the Birthday Dinner. You may donate online at peacecouncil.net/donate.

An anonymous donor has generously volunteered to match Birthday dinner-related donations dollar for dollar up to $2000 through May 1. To make sure your donation gets matched, please note it is for the Birthday Dinner.

Many people have already contributed much time in organizing the event. Special thanks to the Committee: Diane Swords, Margrit Diehl, Liz Spence, Wendy Yost, Donna Mühs-McCarten, Michaela Czerkies and Carol Baum. Thanks also to Elaine Denton, Simon Morrin, Latoya Ricks, Gloria Ricks, Amelia Lefevre and University United Methodist Church. We also thank those who had alreadypromised to volunteer that day: the table hosts, cooks and musicians.

– Carol Baum

Covid-19 and SPC’s Plans  

As of March 13, SPC is moving ahead with the plans listed in these pages in one way or another. Some of these plans may involve very small groups where social distance can easily be maintained (note that cleanliness is a priority). Some plans are evolving into webinars or conference calls. Some are scheduled for the more distant future, and we will have to see how things evolve. Some can be handled via email and phone. Like other activists, we are thinking about how to continue organizing in this environment, for the safety of everyone.

Our plans can change quickly, as the situation changes. Our plans might even have changed by the time you read this. (This has been a challenging PNL; articles and SPC in Action pieces have changed many times in the last few days). We want everyone to be safe and take care of themselves—and you know best how to do that for yourself. And we need to be sure to take care of each other too.

So do what makes sense for you to do, given the situation. We will all do our best to be responsible community members, as we continue our activism. Information will be disseminated via SPC announcements (our listserv), our website (the homepage is broken; look at the event section) and Facebook page. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the office by phone or email.

– Carol Baum

Building Support for Indigenous Peoples Day

Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation is stepping up our efforts to get the City of Syracuse to commemorate Indigenous Peoples Day rather than Columbus Day. We are re-circulating our petition for individuals and seeking organizational support for the campaign and welcome your assistance. Talk to your workplace, union, community organization or faith community about signing on. You can download the petition at www.peacecouncil.net/noon. Contact andy.mager@gmail.com.

Our plan is to turn in over 1,000 petition signatures to Mayor  
Walsh at the end of April.

– Andy Mager

Onondaga Lake Deserves Better

Lindsay Speer speaking at a presss conference immediatelybefore the final beach fesasibiity study. Photo: Julio Urrutia

A Better Future for Onondaga Lake (BFOL) supports public  education and engagement, environmental justice and the stewardship values of the Onondaga Nation. Onondaga Lake  and the living beings who relate to the lake deserve to live in peace, health and harmony.

Onondaga County’s swimming beach proposal for Willow Bay is disrespectful of the Onondaga Nation and of the lake. We as a community must take responsibility for the harm caused by colonization and industrialization and continue to promote the healing of the lake instead of rushing to cover the still-polluted lakeshore with yet another recreational facility and partying on top of the destruction of cultures and our environment.

To that end BFOL rallied the public and organized a press conference at the final beach feasibility study meeting on February 29, when over 60 allies gathered to oppose the beach. Watch the video and read the related coverage at www.facebook.com/betterfutureforonondagalake. Then write letters to Onondaga County legislators and to the Office of the Environment. We need many letters and comments opposing the beach! The deadline for letters is April 1.

– Andra Leimanis

Webinar on Combating Antisemitism

On April 1, Rabbi Brian Walt of Congregation Tikkun v’Or (Ithaca Reform Temple), will offer our community a webinar on combating antisemitism from a progressive perspective. Rabbi Brian, who was born in Cape Town, South Africa, during the Apartheid era, has many years of experience as a Jewish teacher, counselor and public speaker, and over 25 years experience as a congregational rabbi. He was also the founding executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights—North America. Rabbi Brian is a spiritual activist dedicated to racial and economic justice in the US and to justice and peace for all in Israel/Palestine. At a time when antisemitism remains a very real and painful force of oppression and persecution, those of us at SPC who are not Jewish are committed to continuously learn how to act in solidarity with Jewish members, friends and neighbors, as well as people affected by other forms of oppression. If you are interested in participating, contact michaela@peacecouncil.net.  

– Michaela Czerkies

Justice for Palestine

In February, the Justice for Palestine Committee continued its film screenings with The Wanted 18, a 2014 film about nonviolent direct action used by Palestinians under occupation during the First Intifada. It is a clever telling of the true story about how the  
townspeople boycotted Israeli milk products by buying their own  
cows from a kibbutz and creating their own dairy cooperative. The committee is now focusing on strategies for the continuing No Way to Treat a Child Campaign, educating the public about HR 2407, a proposed human rights bill in the US House, and gaining support for it through local faith communities and social justice organizatioons.

– Julia Ganson

Street Heat Steps Up Even More

Starting in April, there are even more opportunities to be out in the streets to stand up for peace and social justice. Please join us—bring a sign or use one of ours. Contact Ann Tiffany or Ed Kinane at 315-478-4571.

Tuesdays: 4:15-5pm
April 7 – Hancock Air Base (6000 E. Molloy Rd.)
April 14 – Adams & Almond (Rt. 81 underpass)
April 21 – Hancock Air Base
April 28 – Adams & Almond (Rt. 81 underpass)
May 5 – Hancock Air Base
May 12 – E. Genesee St. and Erie Blvd. East

Saturdays April-November: 9-9:45am
Regional Market main entrance (Park St.)

Attendees at the United National Antiwar Coalition’s (UNAC) national conferenence in New York City in February demo demonstrating in front of the Post Authority Bus Terminal to demand that ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) get off the buses. UNAC’s tradition is to have a weekend of panels and workshops followed by those attending participating in a demonstration. Three SPC activists, Ann Tiffany, Carol Baum and Ed Kinane, also attended this event. Photo: Carol Baum

Exciting Accessibility  
Updates at the Center
For thirteen years, The Syracuse Center for Peace and Social Justice (SCPSJ) has provided a home to many of Syracuse’s progressive social justice organizations, offering rents well below market value, and encouraging collaboration among these groups. Since its inception, the SCPSJ board of directors has held two major goals for our property: 1) to make the building fully accessible, and 2) to make the building as environmentally sustainable as possible.

Recently, a very generous and anonymous friend of the Syracuse Peace Council came to SCPSJ with the proposal of adding and fully funding an elevator.  Construction begins in May. The addition will house an energy-efficient elevator and a lobby space, both of which will extend to all three floors of the building. In addition, SCPSJ was awarded a grant from CNY Community Foundation to sustainably renovate all the restrooms in our building, allowing us to offer full accessibility on all three floors.

SCPSJ is grateful to the anonymous donor, CNY Community Foundation and Virginia Leasure, Esq., who donated many hours reviewing the required contracts. Many thanks also go to Fred Miller, our building manager who is overseeing the project.

-Caroline Sheffield and Shirley Novak

Barb Kirkpatrick,  

Photo: Ray Trudell.

Barb Kirkpartick was involved in many forms of activism, including the CNY and NYS Chapters of the National Organization of Women and SPC. Even during her illness, she was often at protests and rallies, and was a “regular” at Street Heat. She is pictured here at a rally against weaponized drones at Hancock Air Base in April, 2011. She passed away in August, 2019.  

Support Citizen-Led Non-partisan Redistricting in Onondaga County

The CNY Solidarity Coalition State/Local Action Team is working on several local issues of significance. One immediate issue of critical long-term importance is fair redistricting for the County Legislature. Voting districts in the County have been gerrymandered to favor the majority Republican Party.  Giving politicians control of the redistricting process is an invitation to corruption—it makes it easy for a majority party to increase and aintain their power, regardless of the will  
of the people.  

There is an upcoming proposal to establish an independent County Citizens’ Redistricting Commission to implement a redistricting process that will be citizen led, transparent, non-discriminatory and non-partisan. There is a nationwide movement to implement a fair redistricting process, and there are models for doing so. The Syracuse City Council has passed an ordinance to establish this, and it’s time for the County to do the same. We are working  with local activists in FairMaps CNY. There is a critical opportunity to accomplish this over the next few months. Look Up Fair Maps CNY on Facebook.

– Peter McCarthy

Three Ways to Get Involved with SPC 

Post flyers—SPC committees have events each month, so we have a regular need for people to post flyers promoting these events. We’ll get you a stack of flyers and a list of spots to put them. (Note that public events have been curtailed, but at some point will start up again).

Website updating—SPC is in the process of transitioning to a new WordPress site. We need folks to help us update content on the website, so that anyone visiting it has a clear picture of who we are and what we do.

Help with one of our campaigns—Currently SPC projects are working on four campaigns: Celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, Not Columbus Day (Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation); No Way to Treat a Child Campaign promoting HR 2407, a proposed human rights bill for Palestinian children ( Justice for Palestine); Back from the Brink: A Call to Prevent Nuclear War (Nuclear Free World); and Reclaim Armistice Day, as a day to be dedicated to the cause of peace (Beyond War and Militarism and Veterans for Peace).

To help out, please contact michaela@peacecouncil.net

– Michaela Czerkies

BWAM Activities Continue

The Beyond War and Militarism Committee (BWaM) continues our Alternative Education series at ArtRage Gallery—
although the March event was canceled due to Covid-19.

On Wednesday, April 15 from 4:15-5pm we will hold the second annual “Burma Shave”  Tax Day demo on E. Genesee Street near Westcott, across from the Syracuse Center for Peace and Justice. (2013 E. Genesee St., Syracuse). We’ll stagger signs along the road, all with the message “Taxes for War OR __” (fill in the blank with Medicare for All, Renewable Energy, Fair Housing for All, etc.).  

Then on Sunday, April 19 Pat Hynes, a Professor of Environmental Health, will ask, “Can We Save the Planet Without Taking on the Pentagon?” (spoiler alert—the answer is “No”). Please join us at 2pm at All Saints Catholic Church (1340  
Lancaster Ave., Syracuse). Note that this could be postponed.

In addition, we are planning an action for Memorial Day, and developing a questionnaire focusing on the perils of militarism for completion by the three candidates in the Democratic primary for the 24th Congressional district.

As a joint committee of SPC and the CNY Solidarity Coalition, BWaM continues to provide reports during Coalition  
meetings, emphasizing the connections between the resources taken from us by the War Budget and how those funds could be used at home.

– Ron Van Norstrand

Activist Appreciation: Magda Bayoumi

Magda and Mohamed at SPC’c Birthday Dinner in 2019.
Photo: Julio Urrutia

If there is anyone who is impossible to say “No” to, it’s Magda Bayoumi. Magda is soft-spoken with a powerful voice and  an incomparable ability to motivate people to work together. Originally from Egypt, Magda and her family joined the  Syracuse Peace Council following the September 11, 2001 attacks, knowing that community organizing and education would be needed to counter the rise of Islamophobia and the drive to war that was to come.

Magda was a frequent voice at demonstrations opposing the war with Iraq. She has served on SPC’s Advisory Committee and is an active member of the Justice for Palestine Committee.

With her husband Mohamed, Magda led the effort to establish CNY’s first free health clinic, the Rahma Clinic, which opened its doors in 2011 (“rahma” meaning “mercy” in Arabic). Magda’s homemade stuffed grape leaves are legendary with attendees at Justice for Palestine events and with volunteers at the Rahma Clinic and Rahma Forest Garden.  

Thank you Magda for your kind and generous leadership, and for always showing up for the Peace Council and our community at large.

– Ursula Rozum 

Nuclear Free World Committee—  
Honoring Young Peace Activists

Are you a student or do you know a student who has been involved in activities working for peace and justice to better our world? The Nuclear Free World Committee wants to recognize young peace activists. We are looking for high school students in Onondaga County who have shown a devotion to peace, justice and protecting the environment. The students should have engaged in activities—through school, place of worship or community—that demonstrate their passion to work on the underlying causes of war, violence and injustice. We would like to acknowledge their work—contact margrit.diehl@gmail.com.

 – Margrit Diehl  

Return to PNL Issue: March/April 2020 #871

Comments are closed.