SPC in Action

From the April 2013 PNL #823

compiled by Jessica Azulay

Converge for Peace!

In April, Syracuse will host activists from all over New York, and indeed all over the US, for a weekend of education and antiwar action. You do not want to miss this weekend. The main focus of the convergence will be the military base in our backyard: Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing. In recent years, Hancock has been outfitted to participate in the US government’s controversial drone program, in which pilots remotely fly killer unmanned planes over Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, often bombing civilians and terrorizing communities. From April 26-28, activists will gather to hear speakers and attend workshops. Presenters include ret. Colonel Ann Wright, Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative NonViolence, Bruce Gagnon of Global Network, Kevin Zeese and Dr. Margaret Flowers of Occupy Washington, Joe Lombardo of United National Antiwar Coalition, Debra Sweet of World Can’t Wait and Nick Mottern of Know Drones. Unfortunately, Chris Hedges is unable to make it as planned, so we are looking for a new keynote speaker. Activists are planning a demonstration at Hancock for Sunday afternoon. Find out all the details at www.peacecouncil.net or contact Jessica.


Nonviolent Civil Resistance 101: April 14 12:30 to 6pm

Historically, nonviolence training was used extensively during the civil rights movement, in Gandhi’s campaigns in India against the British. In recent years in the struggles it is used against nuclear technology, oil pipelines and coal plants, against US policy in Central America and Southern Africa, and for the rights of farm workers, women and people with AIDS. The purpose of the training is for participants to form a common understanding of the use of nonviolent political action. For those thinking about participation in nonviolent civil disobedience, civil resistance, or direct action, this is a great opportunity to explore and develop a better understanding of these tactics. Space is limited. Please RSVP to Ursula so we can prepare the space to meet everyone’s needs.


United as One – Oversight Effort Gaining Traction

Representatives from United as One met with county legislators in March to review options for an independent oversight structure at the Justice Center. The recent deaths of Chuniece Patterson and Raul Pinet while in custody at the county jail have galvanized the community to action (including our presence at the last two regular County Legislature sessions). All of the oversight options presented, with one exception, have precedent in Onondaga County. Each includes a different degree of community involvement and power to demand answers and enforce recommendations. Legislators listened intently and we plan to continue the conversation next month. Show your support for independent oversight of the Justice Center by showing up at the monthly Legislature meeting on Tuesday, April 2 (see calendar). Contact Amelia.


Pete Seeger teaches the overflow crowd a Seneca
paddling song at the Two Row Kickoff event in New
York City, March 12, 2013. Photo: Eric Weiss Photo

Two Row on the Road

A standing room only crowd of over 350 came out for the New York City kickoff event for the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign. Following the traditional Thanksgiving Address by Tadodaho Sid Hill, Pete Seeger taught the group an old Seneca paddling song and reminisced about his connections with Oren Lyons, the featured speaker. Oren’s presentation mixed detailed histories of the treaties with personal anecdotes of his decades of activism to protect the Earth and support human rights for indigenous peoples. Held at the National Museum of the American Indian, the presentation also included Tonya Gonnella Frichner and Andy Mager. The evening was a great boost for the visibility and energy of the project downstate. The following evening at SUNY New Paltz, several hundred people heard a similar presentation to boost the Hudson Valley organizing for the campaign. The deadline for applications to participate in the paddling journey from Albany to New York City this summer is April 2. Full details, paddling applications and more can be found at www.honorthetworow.org


Drone-Free Zone

The Ground the Drones, End the Wars committee passed another hurdle in efforts to make Syracuse a Surveillance Drone Free Zone. The group is working with the Syracuse Common Council to pass a resolution banning surveillance drone flights over the city of Syracuse. The wording of the resolution has been approved by the city’s corporate counsel. Stay tuned for information about when we will need supporters to attend the vote. Contact Jessica.


ACTS Dinner - Save the Date

The annual ACTS (Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse) dinner will be held at the Holiday Inn on April 25 with a social hour at 6 and dinner and program from 7-9. Please support this major fundraiser for a powerful and effective coalition of community minded organizations.


Ben Kuebrich walks his ever-present bicycle down E.
Molloy Rd towards Hancock Airbase on April 22, 2012.
Photo: Kim McCoy

Activist Appreciation: Ben Kuebrich

When asked to join the Peace Newsletter editorial committee late last summer, Ben Kuebrich listed about half a dozen other volunteer projects he was already committed to working on before accepting the invitation. And that doesn’t include his doctoral work in Composition & Cultural Rhetoric at SU. Suffice it to say he’s hardworking and committed to social change. Ben first contributed writing to the PNL in October 2011 and was later inspired to join anti-drone activists in action at Hancock Airbase last April. Ben was instrumental in last fall’s “Work-In” protest at the SU ROTC office and he’s also fostered connections between SPC and other groups including the Gifford Street Press and the SU/ESF Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign. The PNL editorial committee enjoys his writing and editing skills. The Steering Committee appreciates his sharp thinking and community connections. All of SPC benefits from his reliability and optimistic, easy-going presence. Thanks, Ben!


Protest for Peace in the Middle East

The CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel committee continues its monthly protests against Israeli’s plan to expand illegal settlements in the West Bank in Occupied Palestine. From 12:30-1:30 on  April 20, we will protest on the corner of Erie Blvd. and East Genesee St. Bring a sign or use one of ours. We are also planning our annual Nakba Commemoration for May 19, so save the date. The Nakba (Catastrophe) refers to the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes that resulted from the manner in which the Israeli state was created. Visit the Peace Council website for updates or contact Jessica.


Drone Resisters Face Possible Jail Time

Activists faced the Dewitt Court again on March 20 for blocking the main entrance to Hancock Air Base on October 5, 2012. The protesters have been offered a plea deal if they are willing to plead guilty to trespassing and accept a one-year conditional discharge. They would not be fined, but would have to pay court costs. No one accepted the deal as of press time. A trial has been set for 5 pm, Thursday, April 18. If the civil resisters are found guilty, they will likely be jailed that evening. Please support the civil resisters by attending the trial. Contact Carol.


Bowlathon: Fun to Spare!

Despite expecting fewer teams than in previous years the Strike for Peace! Bowlathon was successful both in fun and fundraising, with 39 teams and 182 total participants. Best team name awards went to Two Row or Not Two Row and The Bowlshevik Revolution; best team costume went to Drones Down the Drain and Bluegrass Alley Strikers; and the Alley Cats and More Sound won the team spirit award. Many thanks to everyone who collected pledges and to teams who joined the Team Pledging Hall of Fame. Special thanks to team CNY-NOW for raising over $200 in pledges! And many thanks to the organizing committee (Wendy Yost, Rae Kramer, Leahann Lynagh, Claire Bach) and the rest of the volunteers who helped put on another successful Bowlathon!


CLAC in Action

CLAC (Caribbean / Latin American Coalition), a group that has been part of the Peace Council in some form for thirty years, is still working! CLAC is planning its bi-annual meeting this spring and looking forward to participating in the bowlathon again this year. CLAC also recently signed on to the CNY Coalition for Immigration Reform (see below). Follow CLAC on Facebook. Contact Ursula.


Good Friends Garden

The Peace Council continues to work in friendship and solidarity with the Onondaga Nation on issues of common concern. Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation activists will continue the tradition of gardening alongside Onondaga gardeners to grow food for Onondaga Nation seniors. If you’d like to visit the garden, there will be a work day in late April to clear English Cocklebur. To inquire about details, contact Ursula.


Justice in the Americas

Vieques: The Environmental Costs of US Militarism.  The US Army used Vieques, a small island off the coast of Puerto Rico, for bombing practice. A series of protests led to the Navy’s departure in 2003. Thanks to the work of SPC intern Gaby Ramirez, on April 5 at 6pm there will be an event to mark the tenth anniversary of the success of the Vieques movement, along with discussion about the environmental costs of US militarism.

Prospects for Peace in Colombia. CNY Colombia Support Network will host Dana Brown, director of the US Office on Colombia, in April to discuss the current Colombian peace negotiations. See pg. 10.


Immigrants’ Rights Now

SPC is now a member of the newly formed Central New York Coalition for Immigration Reform (CNY-CIR) which introduced itself to the community on  Monday, March 11 at Plymouth Congregational Church. The CNY-CIR is a coalition of community members who are concerned that the current debate on immigration reform is fear-based. We are advocating for immigration reform which is focused on family unity, creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and re-introducing due process in immigration law. For more information about our principles and how to join as either a community member or an organization, please contact Aly Wane at aly@peacecouncil.net. Our first community event will be a showing of the documentary After I Pick the Fruit on the lives of immigrant farmworker women. It will be shown on April 21 at 2pm at Plymouth Congregational Church at 232. E. Onondaga Street.


Entergy Financial Woes

The company that operates one of the nuclear reactors in Central New York is having money troubles. Entergy, which operates the FitzPatrick reactor near Oswego, has seen its stock downgraded from “neutral” to “sell” by the financial services firm UBS Securities. UBS found that Entergy is losing money on FitzPatrick and some other nuclear plants and has suggested that closing these plants could improve the company’s financial outlook. In response, Alliance for a Green Economy (of which the Peace Council is a founding member) has filed a petition to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) challenging Entergy’s “financial qualifications” to safely operate FitzPatrick. The petition points to an above average number of emergency shutdowns and equipment problems at FitzPatrick in recent months as cause for concern that Entergy may be foregoing expensive but needed maintenance at the plant in order to save money.