Educate, Agitate, Organize: SPC IN ACTION

From the June 2014 PNL #835

compiled by Carol Baum

Cornel West Brings the House Down

On Sunday, April 27, renowned activist and scholar Dr. Cornel West spoke on “Connecting the Dots: Racism, Poverty and Drones” to a crowd of about 600 people at Tucker Missionary Baptist Church. We also were treated to a piece by Buffalo revolutionary hip hop artist Quadir Lateef and viewed a slideshow prepared by Ithaca Catholic Workers.
After the talk, about 200 people rallied near Hancock Air Base (where Reaper drones are piloted) and marched to the main entrance. The theme was “People’s Orders of Protection Against Drone Terror,” which alludes to the needs of people around the world to be protected from drone attacks, as well as to the Orders of Protection served to many activists who have participated in nonviolent civil resistance at the base.
The day’s events were organized by the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars and the Syracuse Peace Council, and co-sponsored by 50 groups.

Cornel West speaking on “Connecting the
Dots: Racism, Poverty and Drones” in
Syracuse on April 27. Photo: Ursula Rozum

Anti-Drone Initiatives

In our initiative to educate Syracusans about drone warfare, events were recently held at Syracuse University and Le Moyne College. Ed Kinane opened the programs by addressing the devaluing of human life, militarism, and the Reaper drone that is piloted from Hancock National Guard Air Base by the 174th Attack Wing. We then screened Dirty Wars, a documentary film that exposes extrajudicial atrocities committed by JSOC (the Joint Special Operations Command)—including drone strikes—across the globe. After the film, powerful discussions were held at both campuses.

We also displayed the Drones Quilt, whose squares commemorate the victims of drone attacks. Later we held a quilting party to create additional squares. The Syracuse Community Choir is making squares as well. If you’re interested in expressing your creativity though square-making, please email Brianna Shetler at

On Monday, June 9 at 7 pm at SPC, please join us as we make our summer plans. Contact Carol.

– Brianna Shetler

Bikes Rule

It’s time for Bikes4Peace, SPC’s summer youth bike repair project. This year, we’re starting early with an open “Bike Kitchen” training for people who want to volunteer as bike mechanics. The training will occur on Wednesday, June 11, from 5-7 pm on the ground floor of the Syracuse Center for Peace and Social Justice (2013 E. Genesee St.—enter in rear). This will be a time to learn, practice and share bicycle repair skills on your own or a donated Bikes4Peace bike. Summer repair clinics for youth will begin on Wednesday, June 25 at 5 pm at the Northeast Community Center (716 Hawley Ave.).

On Sunday, June 22, from 1-3 pm, support Bikes4Peace by heading to Chipotle on Marshall St. Tell them you’re a Bikes4Peace supporter and we’ll receive 50% of the sale.  Want to have lots of fun fixing bikes this summer? Contact Ursula.

Move to Amend

Move to Amend (MTA), the campaign to get big money out of politics, is making progress. As part of the New York for Democracy Coalition, our local group sent five people to Albany to lobby for New York to become the seventeenth state to call for a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s recent decisions that unleashed a tidal wave of cash into our elections. We expect a majority of assembly and senate members to sign a letter to Congress calling for an amendment that will affirm that artificial entities (such as corporations) are not entitled to the inherent rights of persons and that spending money in elections is not the same thing as political free speech and can be regulated.  Locally, the Syracuse Common Council is discussing our proposed city resolution in support of an amendment. 

MTA national spokesperson David Cobb will appear in Syracuse on Monday, June 2, at 7 pm at Plymouth Congregational Church (232 E. Onondaga St.), with an opening by the D.R.E.A.M. Freedom Revival. After a barnstorming tour of New York, David will return to Syracuse on Saturday, June 7 for MTA’s first statewide meeting. Contact Michael at 663-5640 or Lynn at 415-9534.

SPC Out and About

Now that warm weather is here, opportunities abound to engage new people in our work for peace and social justice. Please consider joining the Peace Council Outreach Team to help staff info tables at community events. We’re also starting regular downtown outreach tabling—the first day will be Tuesday, June 10. Contact Ursula.

Another fun way to spend a summer day is marching with SPC in parades. On Saturday, June 14, join us in the Juneteenth Parade (meet at 11:30 am at MLK School, 416 E. Raynor St.). Then on Saturday, June 21 join the SPC contingent in the Pride Parade (meet at 10:30 am at Belden Ave. near the intersection with W. Genesee St.). Contact Amelia.

Activist Appreciation: Dave Kashmer


Dave Kashmer. Photo: Laura Brown

Peace Council activists first met Dave Kashmer during Occupy Syracuse. Dave is a navy veteran with a heart of gold, always ready to lend a helping hand when asked and ready to take action when he sees a community member facing injustice. This is the second summer Dave will be the primary coordinator for Bikes4Peace repair clinics, acting as a liaison between the Peace Council and the community centers that host our bike clinics for youth. Dave is also a board member of the Workers’ Center of CNY, where he is active in organizing support for farmworkers and low-wage workers.

Latin America Solidarity


This summer, the CNY-Cajibío Sister Community is organizing a tenth anniversary delegation to Colombia. Eight activists from Syracuse, Cortland and Ithaca will meet with the Small Farmers Movement of Cajibío, Colombia to learn about their work to develop a sustainable agricultural economy and resist government policies that promote monoculture, dependency on large agribusiness and export agriculture.
Join CNY-Cajibío for a screening of Colors of the Mountain on Thursday June 12, at 6:30 pm at ArtRage Gallery (505 Hawley Ave.) Through the lens of a young boy, Colors of the Mountain paints the struggle of farming communities whose daily lives are affected by armed military and guerrilla rebels. Delegation participants Emily Bishop and Frank Cetera will also share stories about why they are participating. Donation is $5-15, sliding scale. Contact Ursula.

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 CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel organized a commemoration event. We were joined by Dawud Assad, a survivor of the massacre in the village of Deir Yasin and author of Palestine Rising.  Mr. Assad spoke passionately about his family’s experience and also about the peaceful coexistence of Arabs and Jews in the region before Israel was established as a national entity.  He advocated a one state solution to the ongoing conflict, emphasizing the need for an equally shared democratic government, with equal rights for all people. The event was well attended, and the food was fanstastic! Contact Ursula.

Activist Training: the GROW Strategy Chart

Join us on June 24 at 6:30 pm at the SPC office for an interactive training on how to plan activist campaigns using the Midwest Academy GROW Strategy Chart. Renee Vogelsang of Frack Action will lead this training to help activists think about how to establish goals, build people power and push power holders to make decisions that reflect our values. Renee has worked on energy, water, environmental and human rights issues since 2002. Contact Ursula.

Lunches at SPC

The SPC staff collective eats lunch together every Wednesday at 1 pm and we invite SPC supporters and friends to join us. Bring your lunch or a snack and hear what issues SPC is focusing on, discuss current events and build a greater sense of community. Some weeks we may focus the discussion on a particular topic. Call SPC to let us know you’re coming, 472-5478.

Peace Council Calling!

Expect a phone call from SPC toward the end of the month. Our annual Phonathon is an important fundraiser, raising about $3760 last year. It’s also an opportunity for SPC supporters to share your thoughts about our work. The 2014 Phonathon will be on June 25 and 26, and July 1 from 6-9 pm. We have dinner and then hit the phones! To help with calling or cooking, contact Ursula.

Jail Oversight in Onondaga County

United as One’s major effort, a bill to create a jail oversight structure in Onondaga County, has been stalled once again. Keep your ears perked for an announcement at short notice that the bill will be discussed in the legislature. It will be broadcast through SPC’s website and through the SPC-Announcements listserv. Contact Amelia if you would like a call. 

The “People’s Order of Protection
Against Drone Terror” March to
Hancock Air Base, 4/27. About
200 participated.
Photo: Kim McCoy.

Town of Dewitt Court News

The good news – John Amidon of Albany was recently acquitted of charges associated with his arrest at an April 2013 demonstration at Hancock Air Base. He had been charged with trespassing —when in reality he was pulled onto base property by a police officer—and loitering, because he wore a mask as part of his Grim Reaper costume. The judge ruled that the mask represented part of his free speech and therefore he could wear it.

The mixed news – On May 8 members of the Hancock 31 (arrested in April, 2013) had their temporary orders of protection extended. Although the Assistant District Attorney resisted it, there was new language in the Orders allowing them to safely participate in legal demonstrations at the base (which had not been the case previously).

The bad news – In the first jury trial having to do with cases arising from civil resistance at Hancock, Mary Anne Grady Flores was found guilty of violating an order of protection as she photographed a nonviolent civil resistance action at Hancock on Ash Wednesday in 2013. She was acquitted of the lesser charge of disorderly conduct. Her sentencing is scheduled for July 10 at 7 pm at the Town of Dewitt Court (5400 Butternut Dr., East Syracuse).

Other news – Trial dates have been set for the Hancock 31. They will be jury trials, and for the most part people will be tried individually. The trials will continue at least through June, 2015. See for dates. Contact Carol for more information.

Land Rights Goes International

NOON welcomed about 40 people to the Westcott Community Center on May 5 for a program titled, “Onondaga Land Rights Action Goes International.” It was an opportunity for the public to learn about the Onondaga Nation’s April 15 filing with the Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States (OAS). We heard from Tadodaho Sid Hill, Clanmother Freida Jacques, Faithkeeper Oren Lyons, Chief Irving Powless and Onondaga Nation General Counsel Joe Heath, about the Onondaga’s history of struggle for Land Rights, the meaning of the petition that was filed, other potential legal actions in the future, and what could be gained from a favorable ruling by the OAS.

Over the next year or two, while we wait for the ruling, NOON will continue to educate about the purpose of and principles behind the OAS petition, as we also work to support a real clean up for Onondaga Lake. Contact Amelia or Carol for more information or to get involved in NOON’s organizing around Onondaga Lake and many other projects.

HALT Solitary Confinement


Sharon Gambocorto, Amelia Lefevre,
Ray Robinson, Brianna Shetler, Ursula Rozum
and Nikeeta Slade lobbied against longterm
solitary confinement in Albany on May 5.
Photo courtesy of friendly stranger.

Six representatives from United as One traveled to Albany on May 5 to lobby our state representatives in support of the HALT (Humane Alternatives to Long-Term) Solitary Confinement Act, which would create alternatives to isolation in NYS prisons and end long term isolation. On May 6 the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement reported that there were already three new sponsors of the bill, though as we go to print none of the Syracuse-area representatives have signed on. Contact your representative to voice your support. Contact Amelia.

Good Friends Garden Work Day


Work on the Good Friends Garden, a collaboration between NOON and members of the Onondaga Nation, is starting up. It’s located on Rte. 11a on the Nation’s territory. Contact Cindy at 315-415-5508 for gardening dates.

Bye-bye, Interns

SPC hosted an energetic group of interns this spring. Thank you for your hard work and positive presence in the office. We look forward to continuing to work with all of you.

Dave Oster helped organize screenings of Dirty Wars on campuses, worked on SPC’s weekly e-newsletter and made phone calls. We were pleased to see Dave travel for demonstrations against fossil fuels. Brian Tackett, a recent addition to our Steering Committee, worked with our database, spending long hours helping plan and implement a culling of our Peace Newsletter mailing list. Brianna Shetler was a tireless organizer against drones, organizing film screenings and an anti-drone quilting party, and helped coordinate ushers for the Cornel West talk. Additionally, Brianna was instrumental in helping with the legislative briefing on NYS energy planning and other activities with Alliance for a Green Economy.