SPC in Action

From the November-December 2012 PNL #819

compiled by Jessica Azulay

Plowshares: A Gathering Not to be Missed
A beautiful community of activists, conscientious consumers and fair traders will gather for a weekend of commerce and communing at the Plowshares Craftsfair and Peace Festival. Plowshares is an opportunity to step into the kind of world we’re working so hard to create: a place of justice, of peace, of compassion, of environmental sustainability. Plowshares will feature over 120 diverse craftspeople, live music and entertainment, a silent auction, raffle prizes galore and tasty, healthy food. Please join us this year on Saturday, December 1, 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday, December 2, 11 am – 5 pm. Think about those people in your life that you might introduce to Plowshares this year and ask them to join you. Materials are available on our website, and we’re also on Facebook. Remember that Plowshares is SPC’s largest fundraiser of the year, providing funds that carry us through the long Central New York winter.

Andy Mager Leaves Peace Council for Related Project
After more than ten years on staff at the Peace Council, Andy Mager is bidding us farewell, sort of. Andy is leaving his regular staff position to work full-time for the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign, a project of SPC’s Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON). Andy was instrumental in the revival of the Peace Council when he came on staff as co-coordinator with Carol Baum in 2001, and his tenure has seen rapid growth of organizing work, staff, and resources. He leaves the organization having helped rebuild it into a recognized and respected force for peace and social justice in Syracuse (see more below). While we are sad to see Andy go, we are thrilled for him and the Two Row Campaign, as they take off on organizing efforts to bring NOON’s work  to a statewide level.

Stop the Carnage, Ground the Drones
Max Novack prepares the Drone Country Tour van. Photo: Brandon WeightMax Novack prepares the Drone Country Tour van. Photo: Brandon WeightDrone Country Tour. On October 20 about a dozen anti-drone activists toured local drone country, caravanning to visit Lockheed Martin, Syracuse Research Corporation, and Hancock Airbase. At each site Claire Bach, Ed Kinane and Rae Kramer spoke about the roles of these players in drone attacks. Following the tour we gathered at SPC for wine and cheese.

Civil Resistance at Hancock heats up. The resistance to war crimes being committed at Hancock Airbase continues with two further attempts to deliver a citizens’ indictment to the base personnel. Ten were arrested on October 5 for blocking the main entrance to the base on E. Molloy Rd. On October 25, 17 were arrested as we blocked all three known gates to the base (E. Molloy Rd., Thompson Rd. and Town Line Rd.) for a couple of hours. After being arraigned in DeWitt Town Court, all 17 were served an Order of Protection banning them from contacting Col. Earl A. Evans, Mission Support Group Commander at Hancock (whom none of us had ever met). We see this odd abuse of an Order of Protection as another attempt to quash civilian First Amendment rights.

Do join us for a robust Peace Outreach across the road at the Hancock main gate from 4:15 to 5 pm, Tuesday, December 4. We want Hancock to know that we will continue to exercise our Constitutionally guaranteed rights of assembly and expression, and that we’ll continue to expose its war crimes. Keep an eye out for trial date announcements.

Report back from Pakistan Peace Delegation. In early October several members of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars joined a CodePink delegation to Pakistan. They met with local community leaders and survivors of drone strikes, and participated in an internationally publicized peace march in Waziristan.

On October 24 at ArtRage, over 40 Central New Yorkers heard Judy Bello recount her experience and show slides from the trip. Delegation members are speaking to classes, congregations and community groups around CNY. Contact Amelia to arrange for one of them to speak to your group.

Justice for Onondaga Denied, Again
NOON activists and NYC-area supporters of Onondaga Land Rights vigil after the hearing on the Onondaga Nation Appeal on October 19 in New York City. Photo: Andrew CourtneyNOON activists and NYC-area supporters of Onondaga Land Rights vigil after the hearing on the Onondaga Nation Appeal on October 19 in New York City. Photo: Andrew CourtneyWith remarkable speed for the federal courts, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Onondaga Nation’s appeal of their Land Rights Action on October 19. Just one week after hearing the case, the three judge panel repeated the same denials that we’ve seen from the federal courts for the past seven years: the Onondaga “waited too long” and any remedy would be “too disruptive” or unfair to the larger community. The courts remain unconcerned about the “disruptions” experienced by the Onondaga through the theft of their land and ongoing efforts at cultural genocide. In response to Onondaga Nation General Counsel Joe Heath’s effort to highlight the Nation’s special connection to Onondaga Lake, one judge called the pollution of the lake “development.”

This latest obstacle will not prevent the Onondaga from moving forward in their centuries-long quest for justice. On November 2, the Onondaga filed a petition seeking a hearing before the full 2nd Circuit. NOON will continue to stand with and support the Onondaga Nation in this work. Despite the dismissal of the case, the judges couldn’t help but notice the strong community backing for the Nation, as nearly 50 supporters left the courtroom after the case was heard. Contact Andy.

Give Thanks...
On Thanksgiving morning, Onondaga people and neighbors gather together each year on the shore of Onondaga Lake to express thanks for the goodness of the Earth and to each other for our ongoing friendship; working side-by-side in peace and hope for healing, justice, and environmental restoration. You are invited to join us at 10 am on Thursday, November 22, at Willow Bay on the north shore of Onondaga Lake. Dress for the weather. We’ll have light refreshments. Contact Jack, 424-1454.

SU Students Protest CIA Recruitment
The CIA is nosing around SU, looking to recruit students, but they aren’t going unchallenged. On November 1, Ben Kuebrich and Brian Tackett (both graduate students at SU who are active with SPC) were joined by SPC staffers Jessica Azulay and Ursula Rozum in a protest outside a CIA recruitment session on campus. Brian was dressed as a CIA prisoner in orange with a hood over his head, kneeling near the door to the session. The rest of the group passed out fliers to participating students outlining the long history of the CIA in assassination, torture and subversion of democracy, in an effort to inform them about what kind of work they might be getting into. Ben also entered the session and raised questions to the recruiters about torture and crimes against humanity. Media coverage in the Post Standard followed.  

Donate to Your Local Peace Movement
You may have received our fall fund appeal in the mail last month, but if it’s still sitting in your to-do pile, this is your friendly reminder to send in that contribution. The Peace Council is people powered in true grassroots fashion, which means that there is no one but us, in our own community, to keep the lights on, the telephones ringing and the staff employed. So please, if you want to see our work continue, give as generously as you can. If you didn’t receive a written appeal from us, we hope you’ll consider donating nonetheless. Send checks to Syracuse Peace Council, 2013 E. Genesee St., Syracuse, NY 13210, or donate online at www.peacecouncil.net/donate.

Partial Victory on FitzPatrick Nuke
In March of this year, the Peace Council joined five other organizations as part of the Alliance for a Green Economy in filing a petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) challenging the operating license of the FitzPatrick nuclear reactor near Oswego, NY. The reactor is the same flawed design as those that exploded in the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, and it is the only reactor in the US without an emergency vent. In a rare move, the NRC Petition Review Board has issued an initial recommendation that the petition be accepted. However, the Board also said it was recommending an indefinite delay on a final ruling, which will allow the reactor to continue operating in its vulnerable state. We are happy that our concerns are being taken seriously, but outraged that NRC is delaying a ruling that could protect New Yorkers from a severe nuclear accident. We are calling on supporters to pressure the NRC to move on the petition by doubling the number of co-signers. Help reach our goal, visit www.agreenewyork.org.

Peace Outreach

Show your opposition to war and the reaper drones! Bring your own sign or use one of ours.

1st Tuesday of the month: 4:15-5 pm

• Dec. 4

Hancock Air Base Entrance (E. Molloy Rd., between Thompson & Townline Rd.)

•Jan. 8

Hancock Air Base Entrance

•Feb. 4

Hancock Air Base Entrance

Contact Ed or Ann, 315-478-4571

Two Row Gaining Steam
We have been busy with a great deal of organizing and outreach for the Two Row Renewal Campaign, the statewide educational and advocacy campaign organized by the Onondaga Nation and Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation. We’ve made presentations at May Memorial, the CNY Social Studies Teachers Conference, Syracuse University, Ithaca College and SUNY New Paltz, with the calendar filling in for the remainder of this year and 2013.

Plans for the Two Row canoe/kayak flotilla down the Hudson from Albany to New York City, July 28-August 9 next year are coming together. The application to participate is available at www.honorthetworow.org, at the new Two Row office, adjacent to SPC’s office, and at various offices at the Onondaga Nation. Applications are being accepted from both Haudenosaunee and other native people, and from allies. The deadline is January 30, 2013. There’s much to do for this ambitious project entitled Honor Native Treaties and Protect the Earth. Contact Andy.

Andy Set the Bar High
When the annals of the early 21st century Peace Council are written, the role of our departing staff activist Andy Mager will loom large. Andy will be remembered, among other reasons, for his pivotal role in reinvigorating SPC on the eve of the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan; for being one of the rotating staff coordinators of the Peace Newsletter; for his engineering SPC’s move from our little house on Burnet Ave. to the roomier, better-located Syracuse Center for Peace and Social Justice on East Genesee St.; for coordinating our local justice in Israel and Palestine coalition; for helping to pilot SPC through its fundraising and consciousness raising 75th anniversary year; and especially relevant now, helping to kick start and sustain SPC’s Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation. NOON has educated so many Central New Yorkers about the Onondagas’ search for justice in the wake of the 18th century grand theft of their land – land which many of us now live on.

Andy Mager at a press conference in 2006. Andy is leaving his staff position to work for NOON’s Two Row Wampum Campaign. Photo: Ray TrudellAndy Mager at a press conference in 2006. Andy is leaving his staff position to work for NOON’s Two Row Wampum Campaign. Photo: Ray TrudellBut since some younger SPC members may know little about SPC activism of decades ago, here I want to especially recall Andy’s 20th century impact on our anti-war work. When Andy first joined us in the early eighties, he was barely 20 years old. He had had a year at Brown University, but had already decided on an activist career. He quickly became a founder of Upstate Resistance, a grassroots group of young folks opposing draft registration.

The New York Times published Andy’s op-ed on why he was refusing to register —for which crime in January 1985 Andy was tried in federal court in Syracuse. So strong and clear were Andy’s anti-war convictions that he went pro se—i.e., in Judge Munson’s court he defended himself without the benefit of an attorney. Andy did not need anyone else to advocate for him. Supporters crowded into the Federal Building lobby, taking their turn to enter the standing room-only courtroom.

After deliberating an hour, the jury found Andy guilty. Andy then spent four and a half months in federal prison. He was the first activist I knew personally who went pro se and the first I knew personally whose activism led to prison. Andy was a model for the rest of us.
As he transitions from SPC staff to more focused work on Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation Two Row Wampum campaign, we have every confidence he’ll continue to inspire us and keep setting the bar high.
– Ed Kinane

A Settler Colonial State?
On October 1, Israeli analyst, writer and activist Jimmy Johnson spoke to the question “Is Israel a colonial settler state?” After his thoughtful presentation, which included comparisons with Australia, South Africa and the United States, it was difficult not to answer “yes.” Johnson distinguished between immigrants who seek to “join” an existing people and culture to at least some degree, and settler colonialists who “import” their own culture and traditions and seek to impose it on their new land, displacing the indigenous culture. The presentation is available at SPC’s YouTube channel. CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel is always looking for people to join our efforts. Next meeting is Thursday, December 6 at 11:30 am at SPC. Contact Jessica.

Happy Birthday SPC
About 100 SPC supporters came out for a lively birthday celebration with great food, and music by Ryan Harvey. We socialized and savored Russian vegetable tart, roasted squash, and rice-lentil pilaf, followed by pumpkin and apple cakes (and ice cream, of course!), prepared by the loving hands of SPC activists. Ryan regaled us with tales of his recent travels and performed original songs jam-packed with insightful radical messages. Missed the dinner? Watch the video on our YouTube channel.

Many thanks to all who worked to put this great event together, including Peg Gefel (menu coordinator and chef); Terry Gavagan and Richard Vallejo (birthday cakes); Kimberley McCoy, Simon Morrin, Julienne Oldfield, Rose Viviano, Carole Resnick, Marie Summerwood, Jason Smith, Terry Eckert and Max Novack (cooks); table hosts and coordinator Shirley Novak; Karl Obine for photography; Gemma Estrella for videography; and all who helped with set up, break down, technical assistance, the written program, and door staffing.