Educate, Agitate, Organize: SPC IN ACTION

From the January/February 2015 PNL #840

compiled by Carol Baum

Black Lives Matter

SPC joined other local groups to voice opposition to the failure of two Grand Juries to indict white police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men in recent months. On November 28 we joined the local chapter of the National Action Network (NAN) and the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse (ACTS) in condemning the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict the white police officer who killed Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man in Ferguson, MO. On December 5 we joined with NAN and the Center for Community Alternatives to again express our anger and disappointment that a Grand Jury failed to indict the white officer responsible for the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man in NYC. At Plowshares we gathered 150 signatures on our “Stop Police Targeting of Black People” petition addressed to Barack Obama and Eric Holder (see for the petition text).

SPC is part of a community of people opposing police violence nationwide and locally, as well as the increased militarization of the police. Please contact the office if you have ideas or would like to be involved. Black lives matter.

Amelia Lefevre speaks at a news conference
on December 5 condemning a Staten Island
Grand Jury’s failure to indict the white officer
responsible for the death of Eric Garner,
an unarmed black man. Walt Dixie of the
National Action Network is pictured at the
right. Photo: Ursula Rozum

The PNL Goes on Maternity Leave

The Peace Council has said a brief farewell (and congratulations!) to staff organizer Amelia Lefevre while she goes on maternity leave. Amelia, the Peace Newsletter’s coordinator, expects to be back at work in mid-March. As a result, readers will see fewer PNL issues this winter. The March-April issue will be out March 12, and our regular schedule will resume with the May issue. Meanwhile, we will make more use of cybermedia for updates and articles.

Just as Amelia begins her leave, we welcome Ursula Rozum back from an extended leave during which she managed the Howie Hawkins for Governor campaign. We are very excited to have Ursula’s high level of energy and organizing expertise back in the office. Welcome back, Ursula!

We’re happy to say that Michael Messina-Yauchzy, who has been Ursula’s leave replacement, will remain on staff while Amelia is on leave.

Plowshares – 44th Year

AND they beat their swords into Plowshares…and fine jewelry, and ceramics, and wooden bowls, baklava, and numerous other wonderful crafts.
For the 44th year, the first weekend in December saw the creation of the joyful, and evanescent “village” of Plowshares Craftsfair and Peace Festival—23 years at Plymouth Congregational Church, 13 years at Southwest Community Center and now eight years at Nottingham High School.
Fortunately the gods of snow and wind were on vacation, allowing people to come in droves to enjoy the food, entertainment, good fellowship and crafts, created by hand from the artisans of our region. Nothing was “Made in China,” and not one battery was required. Approximately 3,000 smiling people passed through the booths of 126 crafters and community groups.

Plowshares has increasingly become a part of the Central New York calendar and is appealing to an increasingly wide audience. The crafters’ use of social media brings people who might not usually intersect with the peace and justice community. They hear different viewpoints in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Plowshares planning and execution is a nearly year round task, coordinated by a committee of eight people, supported by a small army (if I may use that word) of Syracuse Peace Council staff and volunteers. The Craftsfair occurs in the thick of the basketball season and is only possible with the willingness of the Nottingham High School coaches to share their gym for our weekend. We hope they came to the Fair and “scored” some wonderful ChanuKwanzMas gifts for themselves and their families.

The Plowshares Committee wishes one and all a healthy and hopefully more peaceful New Year.

– Lanny Freshman

Editors' note: Very special thanks to the Plowshares Committee: Barbara Floch, Lanny Freshman, Karen Kerney, Rae Kramer, Andy Molloy, Beth Mosley, Marie Summerwood and Mardea Warner.

Learn More and Get Active at SPC Open House

On Thursday, January 22, SPC will hold our Winter Open House from 6-8 pm. Whether you’re new to the Peace Council or an old hand, come and learn about our various committees and initiatives for peace and social justice. We’ll help you find your own best way to become involved and you’ll make new friends who share your values along the way. Light snacks and refreshments will be served. Contact Michael.

Join the Plowshares Committee

As much fun as Plowshares is to attend, imagine how amazing it would be to be part of organizing it! The Plowshares Committee meets all year, much less frequently in the winter and spring, with weekly meetings in the month or two before Plowshares. The committee is known for its sociability and good food, so please give it a try.
It takes a community to create Plowshares. Contact Carol.

Palestine-Israel Committee Moves Forward

On December 11, SPC’s Central NY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel co-sponsored “Reflections on The Separation Wall and Judaizing Palestine,” a discussion led by Rob Shetterly and Julia Ganson, both of whom were in Israel and Palestine this past summer.  On Sunday, January 11, from 4-6 pm at ArtRage Gallery (505 Hawley Ave., Syracuse) we will show the film, Jerusalem…the East Side Story, followed by discussion. In addition, we are continuing our efforts to bring the international movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) to CNY.  Stay tuned for upcoming information about our local campaign. Contact Michael.

Now Is The Time!

Our volunteers and staff work hard year-round to educate, agitate and organize for peace and social justice. Did you know that checks for $50 or more made out to “Syracuse Center for Peace and Social Justice” (rather than directly to SPC) are tax deductible? Just put “Syracuse Peace Council” on the memo line and mail it to us. If pledging works better for you, please contact Michael about a monthly or quarterly pledge (credit cards, checks, cash and automatic transfers all work for us).
There’s no time like the present to make your money count for the things you value.  Any way you do it, your gift makes SPC’s work possible.

ACTS’ New Task Forces

The Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse is a grassroots, interfaith network advocating for peace and social justice. It also includes a few secular organizations like SPC.

ACTS recently held its Issues Assembly, where it selected issues to be addressed by task forces in the upcoming year:
· Community Violence and Youth
· Pre-Kindergarten Expansion
· Criminal Justice

We are looking for people to represent SPC on these task forces. Contact Carol.  

NOON is Bustling

Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation held our traditional Circle of Peace and Justice on Thanksgiving Day at Willow Bay in Onondaga Lake Park. As always, attendance was good and included a couple from the Netherlands, as well as several Onondaga friends.

The Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change Workshop committee is busy developing a plan to offer this participatory workshop locally.The workshop invites participants to experience symbolically the impacts of colonization and conquest on indigenous peoples, and to enter into the story of reconciliation.

Among other issues, NOON continues to look at environmental concerns. NOON supports anti-fracking activities, such as the recent Not One Well rally in Albany at the Governor’s State of the State address on January 7, and expects to have a representative at the hearings on the County Solid Waste Management Plan and the plan to bring Cortland County trash to Rock Cut Road.

NOON’s Steering Committee meetings are held the second Tuesday of the month. If you’d like to come, please contact Carol first for the agenda and background information.
– Sue Eiholzer

Activist Appreciation: Zachary Field

Zachary Field (front, left) chats with another
volunteer at a PNL mailing party.
Photo: Michael Messina-Yauchzy

There’s a new face around SPC quite often these days. Zachary Field contacted us in late summer and offered himself as an intern. Since then, Zach has come in for 8-10 hours each week to help with both office and organizing tasks. Whether it’s stuffing envelopes at a mailing party or talking world politics, Zach is eager and on the spot. In addition, Zach will put in additional hours as an intern with CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel, a special position funded by a bequest from Joan Goldberg. One committee member wrote in a recent e-mail, “Just want to say how impressed I am with our new intern, Zach.  He obviously has a lot of knowledge and interest in our subject and I feel he is a wonderful asset to our group and our work.” Thanks for being here, Zach!

Ground the Drones, End the Wars - Court updates on drone resisters:

· Jack Gilroy (Binghamton) was released from Jamesville Prison the day after Thanksgiving. Thanks to Jack for his work, both in and outside.

· Mark Colville (New Haven, CT) was sentenced to a one year conditional discharge and fines. One of his charges was violating an order of protection, the same charge for which Mary Ann Grady Flores was sentenced to a year this past summer (she is currently out on appeal).

· Julienne Oldfield (Syracuse) was scheduled for trial December 10 but was told December 9 that it was being postponed. Unfortunately, her legal advisor had already made the trip here from NYC.

· Bonny Mahoney (Syracuse) has a jury trial scheduled for January 14-15 for her nonviolent actions in April, 2013 with thirty others.

· Trial dates of Hancock drone resisters can be found at

SPC’s local committee has been helping to provide support for the trials. We also recently performed The Predator play as part of All Saints Church’s advent reflections. We have learned that the reaper drones piloted from Hancock Air Base will now be using the facilities of Hancock International Airport (a civilian airport), and have started to discuss how to respond. Contact Carol.

Departing Interns: Such Sweet Sorrow!

We will miss our fall semester interns, Crystal Lau and Hasmik Djoulakian, who each brought considerable enthusiasm and strengths. Crystal worked on program advertisements for both the Birthday Dinner and Plowshares, as well as the Plowshares Silent Auction. Hasmik helped with both the Ground the Drones campaign and Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation. When THE General Body sat in at Syracuse University (see cover), Hasmik was there doing great work. Both Hasmik and Crystal brought youthful energy and excitement to the office. We have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of them. Good luck to both of you!

If you are interested in learning more about interning, contact Michael.