SPC in Action

From the March/April 2016

compiled by Carol Baum

Check Out the Peace Council's New Blog

Inspired by having many more articles to share than the new every-other-month PNL publication schedule can print, the PNL editorial committee has embarked on a new project—the SPC Blog. We’re excited to make the PNL more interactive—we’ll be posting PNL print articles as well as special content and look forward to reading the comments and discussions they generate.

Our first post is “US Veteran Welcomed by Afghan Peace Volunteers” by SPC activist Ron Van Norstrand. Here’s a teaser. Read the rest at peacecouncil.net/spcblog.

“Are you crazy?” “Are you out of your mind?” My friends’ concerns were foremost in my mind as I boarded Turkish Air Flight 706 bound for Kabul, Afghanistan. I had recently learned that US Embassy personnel no longer drive the streets of Kabul; they travel by helicopter… Although anxious and apprehensive, I was honored to be invited to join a small delegation arranged by Voices for Creative Nonviolence for a 10-day person-to-person visit with the Afghan Peace Volunteers (APV).

The Name “Justice for Palestine”

SPC’s committee previously known as “Central New Yorkers for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine” officially changed its name to “Justice for Palestine” in November 2015. We began in 2009 as a response to the war in Gaza, to bring our community an understanding of the human costs in what we originally framed as the conflict between Palestine and Israel.

Changing our name was an involved process reflecting the need to have a name accurately identifying the focus of our work. Since our inception, we shared the story of the suffering and resistance of the Palestinian people to Israel’s occupation, and the US role in perpetuating violence in the Middle East. We did not want our name to imply that Palestine and Israel are equivalent in terms of power or military might, or in their abilities to end the violence and occupation. Our name change was intended to more accurately acknowledge our solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Our work is grounded in a commitment to respect human rights and one another. We come from varied backgrounds, faiths/non-faiths, identities, and social justice movements. Our members include those identifying as Jewish, Muslim, Christian, as well as those who approach the issue from a non-religious, humanist perspective. We do not view the “conflict” between Palestine and Israel as a religious conflict, but rather a conflict rooted in the occupation of land, appropriation of resources and an unequal legal system. While for many of us faith may inspire our commitment to the work, our work together is based on human rights and our solidarity agenda.

To see our most recent “10 solidarity points” visit peacecouncil.net/justice-for-palestine.

Life in Occupied Palestine: Personal Accounts

On April 13 from 7 to 9pm at ArtRage (505 Hawley Ave.), the Justice for Palestine committee will sponsor a one-woman drama about life in occupied Palestine and a talk by Palestinian human rights lawyer and artist Ahmed Hmeedat. Refreshments will be served. Contact Ursula.

Stop Repressive NYS Legislation

Bills have been introduced in the NYS Legislature to punish people, companies and non-profit organizations that support boycotting Israel to protest Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people. These bills are unconstitutional and parallel the notorious 1950s McCarthyite policing of people’s political beliefs. In January, members of the Justice for Palestine committee met with Syracuse-area Assembly members to share our opposition to these bills. Please contact your state Assembly members and ask them to oppose this reactionary bill. Read more at peacecouncil.net/BDS. It’s urgent to take action to oppose this repressive legislation.

African-Americans Against the Bomb

Syracuse-born author and political commentator Vincent Intondi, author of the book African-Americans Against the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism, and the Black Freedom Movement, will be in Syracuse in April. SPC’s Nuclear Free World committee will host a book talk and signing at Barnes and Noble (3454 Erie Blvd E.) on Thursday, April 14 at 7pm and a talk at ArtRage Gallery (505 Hawley Ave.) Friday, April 15 at 7pm. Please join us to hear Intondi’s unique historical insights on the contributions of black activists to the peace and nuclear disarmament movements.

Youth Peace Award 2016

Do you know a young person who has been involved in activities working for peace and justice to better our community and world? SPC’s Nuclear-Free World committee recognizes young peace activists and is looking for Onondaga County high school students who have shown a devotion to peace, justice, and protecting the environment. Award winners will be recognized at a special event in the late spring. Applications are due by May 1, 2016. Learn more by contacting Margrit at mdiehl1@twcny.rr.com or peacecouncil.net/youthaward.

War is a Lie Author to Speak

Organizer and blogger David Swanson will speak in Syracuse on Monday, April 25 at 7pm at ArtRage Gallery to celebrate the publication of the second edition of his book, War Is a Lie. His goal is to abolish the institution of war.

David is an extraordinarily energetic and engaging speaker. He is the host of Talk Nation Radio (having recently interviewed Hancock drone resister Mary Anne Grady Flores from jail), the author of three other books on ending war, the campaign coordinator of Roots Action (rootsaction.org), and is on the coordinating committee of World Beyond War (worldbeyondwar.org). Check out his blogs at davidswanson.org and warisacrime.org.

Fighting Militarism in CNY

SPC has signed on to a statewide campaign spearheaded by the War Resisters League to shut down the New York Tactical Officers Association Conference scheduled for April 26–28 in Verona, NY.

NYTOAC plays on a growing culture of fear and hate by featuring as its keynote speaker Ryan Mauro of Clarion Project, which defends the profiling and surveillance of Muslim-Americans and provided the NYPD with its notoriously Islamophobic “training” film The Third Jihad. NYTOAC’s weapons expo features over 150 vendors showcasing their latest products, with companies from around the world hawking the military-grade equipment used during the 100+ SWAT deployments each day across the US. Sign the petition to shut down the NYTOAC conference by visiting peacecouncil.net.

Work for Peace at Your Day Job!

A grassroots organization like SPC can only thrive with a grassroots base of support. If you’re fortunate enough to have gainful employment in today’s difficult economy or another source of consistent income, join our “Work for Peace at Your Day Job” campaign. Pledge an hour’s wage to the Peace Council each month, and for that hour, wherever you are, you’ll be working for an end to oil wars, an end to drone strikes, and for a world where violence and exploitation no longer exist…you’ll be working for peace at your day job! Peace Council pledgers are a lifeline for our organization. Visit peacecouncil.net/dayjob or contact Ursula to join the campaign today.

Police Oversight Need: Save the CRB

Nationally, awareness of police brutality is at an all-time high. Yet in Syracuse, some city councilors are trying to weaken the independent entity tasked with investigating allegations of police brutality, the Citizen Review Board (CRB). At the time of writing, Councilor Steve Thompson, a former police chief, had introduced an amendment to curb the CRB’s legal ability to subpoena for evidence. The CRB is responsible for validating or invalidating complaints against police officers and presenting disciplinary recommendations to the chief. The board frequently uses its subpoena power to complete investigations and occasionally must go to court. SPC is working with allies from many community groups to prevent any measures that would weaken the CRB. Visit peacecouncil.net for more information.

Rita Gabaccia Presenté

Years ago Rita Gabaccia moved to Syracuse after the death of her partner in marriage, stepping out of some long-held roles and beginning a new season in her life. She joined a socially-minded church and participated in the resettlement of Haitian refugees seeking asylum in Syracuse. She moved from helper to advocate to friend of that community which lasted until the day she died. This experience opened a door to a deeper understanding of social justice in the world. Both her interests and her friendships expanded to address injustices in Mexico and Latin America. She became a friend of the Syracuse Peace Council and an ally of many people working for peace and justice in Central New York.

Rita engaged with some of the great social issues of our time—she travelled to Chiapas, Mexico with Witness for Peace and worked vigorously with the CNY Caribbean-Latin American Coalition and the Syracuse Abolitionists to close the School of the Americas (WHINSIC). She wrote plays that she hoped would bring these issues to a wider audience.

There were no ego-drama issues with Rita. Instead, she had a hungry openness to new possibilities for witness, a deep willingness to collaborate, recognizing that relationship-building and social justice go hand in hand. We at SPC miss her deeply and celebrate her life.

Weaponized Drone Resistance Strong

Mary Anne Grady Flores released from jail. After completing 49 days in the Jamesville jail, Hancock drone resister Mary Anne Grady Flores was released on March 7 pending the NYS Court of Appeals decision on whether it will consider her case. Her case hinges on the validity of the order of protection granted to Colonel Evans of Hancock Air Base. Orders of protection are generally issued to protect vulnerable people from domestic violence; she had been arrested for ostensibly violating this order while standing in the road outside the base and photographing peaceful drone protesters. She had been sentenced to six months.

Mary Anne sent two letters from jail. Read them at peacecouncil.net.

Hancock 31 trials are finally over. The last of the Hancock 31 drone resisters have been tried, three years after their nonviolent civil resistance action. Mary Loehr and Cynthia Banas took pleas and Harry Murray went to trial and was found guilty of trespassing. Harry’s sentencing was March 10; he received a conditional discharge and a fine and surcharge totaling $325.

Harry’s powerful sentencing statement is at peacecouncil.net. He challenged the judge to engage in dialogue, and the judge did. The video is a must-watch. We’ll announce via the spcannouncements listserv when it’s up (to sign up for our low-volume listserv, go to peacecouncil.net/stay-in-touch or contact Carol).

Upstate NYers will soon go to Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. At the end of March there will be a major protest at Creech Air Force Base, outside Las Vegas, Nevada. Creech AFB was the first US base to carry out remotely controlled assassinations using the MQ-1 Predator drones and is a major center of drone operations in the US. SPC staff organizer Carol Baum and Upstate Coalition member Peg Gefell will join the protest and represent anti-drone activism in Central New York.

Dani Riposo Presenté

From roughly 1970 to 1975, Dani Riposo coordinated one of SPC’s most successful Viet Nam era programs. The Neighborhood Discussion Program arranged over 200 events in homes across the Syracuse metropolitan area. These discussions usually included a speaker, short film (SPC had 12 films) and literature. Several times these programs led to ongoing, activist neighborhood groups. This was grassroots organizing and education at its best, and Dani managed it while raising a bunch of kids. It was amazing work.

RIP Dani and thank you,

—Dik Cool

Street Heat

At least monthly since 2010 we have been demonstrating outside Hancock Air Base to call for an end to the illegal and immoral killing of human beings by the weaponized Reaper drone. Weekly on Tuesdays and Saturdays we’ve been hitting the streets to call for an end to militarism dominating US foreign policy. We want Hancock base personnel to rethink their role in that killing machine, and we wish to remind the public of all the killing in our name. Please join us as often as you can.

Tuesdays: 4:15–5pm

April 5 – Hancock Air Base entrance

(E. Molloy Rd., btw. Thompson & Townline Rds.)

April 12 – Adams & Almond Streets

April 19 – Hancock Air Base entrance

April 26 – Adams & Almond Streets

Saturdays: 9–10am

Regional Market main entrance (Park St.)

Contact Ed or Ann, 315-478-4571.

Neighbors Of the Onondaga Nation
Works for the Long Haul

Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON) has been educating ourselves and our neighbors for over 15 years. We’ve had moments of high activity such as the two Onondaga Land Rights series, organizing in support of court hearings, and the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign. Other times activity has been less visible, but we trust that our persistent educational work—through our website, e-newsletter, tabling at events and the media—steadily builds solidarity and works toward justice and protecting Mother Earth. We’ve learned from our friends at Onondaga that our work is a marathon, not a sprint, and like them, we’re here for the long-term.

Recently we screened the film The Doctrine of Discovery, Unmasking the Domination Code to a packed house of 70 people. Betty Lyons (American Indian Law Alliance) and Joe Heath (General Counsel for the Onondaga Nation) both spoke afterwards. To arrange a free showing of the film, contact Carol.

Other Voices, Other Choices on Cable

Other Voices, Other Choices, created by Wilton Vought, is a blog, a YouTube channel, and an hour-long cable access TV series promoting non-corporate political, social, economic, and environmental news and commentary. It airs primarily throughout NYS and has recently come to Syracuse under the sponsorship of SPC. Catch it Thursdays at 7:30pm on Time Warner Cable Channel 98. For upcoming programs, see othervoicesotherchoices.blogspot.com/p/broadcast.html.

SPC Joins Urban Jobs Task Force

SPC has recently become a member of the Urban Jobs Task Force. UJTF is a collaboration of groups and citizens dedicated to creating a local economy that provides good jobs and job training for local communities of color and low income families, and more opportunities for local woman- and minority-owned enterprises. Recently UJTF has been focused on the potential development of Syracuse’s Inner Harbor, demanding jobs for city residents and protesting a tax deal made with the developer. We at SPC look forward to working more closely with them.