SPC in Action

From the January/February 2016 PNL #848

compiled by Amelia Lefevre

Stop Repressive NYS Legislation

In the NYS legislature, bills have been introduced to punish people, companies and non-profit organizations that support boycotting Israel for attacks on the Palestinian people. For instance, a church, mosque or synagogue participating in a rally advocating for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) (a campaign led by Palestinian civil society that challenges Israel’s impunity in committing human rights abuses) could potentially lose state funding for its homeless shelter or its community food bank program. Accused individuals or groups could get off the list by signing a statement repudiating a boycott of Israel. This parallels the notorious 1950s McCarthyite policing of people’s political beliefs.

The Justice for Palestine committee and the Syracuse Peace Council signed onto a coalition letter opposing this reactionary anti-BDS bill. Read excerpts of the bill and the opposition letter at
www.peacecouncil.net/BDS. It’s urgent that SPC members call their state legislators and urge them to oppose this repressive legislation.

The Justice for Palestine committee meets monthly and works to educate and organize in our community in support of human rights in Palestine. We are developing local BDS campaigns to expose how companies with a presence in Syracuse profit from the occupation of Palestine. To find out more, contact Ursula.

 


On December 30, dozens of people gathered to mourn and rage that
another police officer got off without charges after killing an unarmed
black person, this time 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland. Photo:
Minnie Bruce Pratt

 

 

Membership

For many years, SPC membership has been informal. If you considered yourself a member because you donate, pledge, subscribe to the Peace Newsletter or participate in SPC’s work in an ongoing way, you were a member. For the past few years, the Steering Committee has been developing a more formalized membership structure. The structure we designed seeks to continue to be inclusive and to strengthen the empowerment of the grassroots activists involved in our ongoing work, while helping more people identify more strongly with SPC.

Moving forward, you will be considered a Peace Council member if you agree with our Statement of Purpose (find it on page 2) and contribute time or money. Being an SPC member gets you a PNL subscription and makes you eligible to participate in Steering Committee selection. For more information, go to peacecouncil.net/membership.

To launch membership, we assessed who already met these criteria and contacted those people with an option to opt out of membership. Please contact us if you would like to opt out, or if you think you should be considered a member but have not heard from us. We are planning a membership meeting for the spring where SPC members can learn and share updates about how SPC functions, including the budget and Steering Committee selection. Questions? Contact Ursula.

Bowlathon Coming!

Start thinking about your clever team name and costume for the silliest Peace Council FUNdraiser of the year: the Bowlathon is coming! This year we’ll be at Lakeview Bowling Center (715 Old Liverpool Rd., Liverpool, NY) on Sunday, March 20, session times TBA. You can start recruiting your team members and pledgers for now, and check for details as they are finalized at www.peacecouncil.net/bowl.

Winter Film Series

The Peace Council will present a film related to each of our major issue areas from early February through early April. Films will address nuclear disarmament, indigenous rights, resisting racism in the US, solidarity with Palestine, and drones.

Details are being finalized as we are going to print. Please look for a flier in your newsletter if you are a PNL subscriber, or go to www.peacecouncil.net/films for the full slate of films to be presented.

Kickoff 2016 with a Donation to SPC!

To fund our local work for peace and justice, the Peace Council depends overwhelmingly on the generosity of individuals who believe in the power of collective action for social change. This winter, when you donate $50 or more to SPC, we will send you a copy of Angela Davis’ newest book, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement, published by Haymarket press.

Dr. Cornel West had this to say about Freedom Is a Constant Struggle:

In a clear and concise manner, Angela Davis embodies and enacts “intersectionality” – a structural, intellectual and political response to the dynamics of violence, White Supremacy, patriarchy, state power, capitalist markets, and imperial policies.

We hope you’ll appreciate this opportunity to reflect as a community on Angela Davis’ insights into today’s social movements, while supporting the Peace Council’s work!

Protesting Drones in Our Skies

December saw two major events in local anti-drone organizing.

First, the bad news: On December 16, the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing conducted their first MQ-9 Reaper flying operation from local Hancock Field Air National Guard Base and Syracuse Hancock International Airport. Members of the media were invited to view it, but no one else – but we were there protesting outside the Base’s main entrance. The base commander said, “Starting today, we’ll have daily operations from here on.”

The good news is that on the same day, charges against five anti-Reaper drone protesters were dismissed, due to woefully inadequate paperwork. They had been arrested on September 21, having blocked Hancock’s main entrance with three large one-word banners reading “Drones Kill Children.”

Coming up January 27–29 is the trial of Cynthia Banas, Mary Loehr and Harry Murray for their nonviolent protest in April, 2013 as part of the Hancock 31. The trial will be in the evenings at the Town of Dewitt Court House – contact Carol for time.

News about Hancock drone resister appeals: Two appeals had been filed, one to overturn the conviction of the Hancock 17 Drone Resisters, another focused on Mary Anne Grady Flores’ conviction and one-year sentence for supposedly violating an order of protection. (Orders of protection, typically given in domestic violence situations, have been used by Hancock Air Base in an attempt to suppress anti-drone protests.) The ruling was supposed to be delivered in open court on January 22; instead it was emailed to Mary Anne’s lawyer January 12. Both appeals were turned down and Mary Anne has been remanded to prison for six months. She plans to appeal to yet a higher court. This happened just as the PNL was being completed; for updates, go to SPC’s website, sign up (on the website) for SPC’s e-newsletter or contact Carol.

Lessons from Palestine

Ava and Pat Carmeli will present a report back and slide show from the Olive Harvest delegation to Palestine they participated in with CODEPINK. They will share what they learned about how the Palestinian people are struggling under Israel’s occupation. Contact Ursula or go to www.peacecouncil.net for date and location.

Stopping Islamophobia

SPC activists have begun a postering campaign to publicly oppose Islamophobia. Postering teams will be going out to put up signs in shop windows and in public places throughout the winter. Contact the SPC office to join the Stop Islamophobia Outreach Team.

Nuclear Free World

The Nuclear Free World committee continues to organize locally about the ongoing threats posed by the US government’s nuclear weapons program. Please save the date on Tuesday, March 22 at 7pm for the screening of the film The Forgotten Bomb with filmmaker Bud Ryan. Ryan takes viewers on a globe-trotting journey through various perspectives on nuclear weapons, from the Peace Museums of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the “Nuclear Science” museums of the United States, to the place that birthed the atomic bomb (and cares for it still): the state of New Mexico where Ryan now lives.

The Nuclear Free World committee is also organizing the 2016 Youth Award, an annual scholarship for high school students who demonstrate a commitment to social action. Applications and nominations will be accepted in the spring. If you would like SPC activists to present a program about peace activism and the Youth Award to your class or youth group, please contact Ursula. The Youth Award is generously supported by John F.X. Mannion and Stephanie Miner.

To get involved, contact Diane, 315-391-4484.

WANTED: Interns and Volunteers

SPC is seeking interns to work with us in a number of project areas, including: Anti-War Organiz­ing, Grassroots Fundraising, E-communications and Social Media, Event Organizing and more (details at www.peacecouncil.net/intern). Intern­ships are flexible and can be from 8–15 hours per week. Internship opportunities are unpaid. We guarantee plenty of practical hands-on experience and opportunities to take on responsibility!

We also welcome volunteers with all sorts of interests and skills, to join an issue committee, an organizational committee (like the Fundraising or Membership Committee), help with a specific task such as distributing PNLs or updating the website, or to sign up for a weekly volunteer shift at the office. The possibilities are endless. Contact Ursula to learn more.

Thanks to Mardea Warner

It Takes a Village to Make the Peace Council Work

Ms. Mardea Warner has been one of those behind-the-curtain, forces of nature whose face and voice are so well known in the Peace Council, Syracuse Community Choir, and Pan-African community of Syracuse and Central New York.

For the last 15 or so years, Mardea has been an integral part of the organizing committee for Plowshares, the largest and oldest fund raiser for the Peace Council. Mardea’s African-inspired art can also be seen on clothing far and wide.

Syracuse and the peace and justice community’s loss will be Oklahoma’s gain, as Ms. Mardea moves to live near her parents.

We all wish the best to Mardea and her family in this next step in her life

– Lanny Freshman

Retreat with SPC

SPC’s annual retreat is coming up in February, date to be determined. Our agenda is still forming as we go to press, but this year’s retreat agenda is likely to include lots of time to discuss and evaluate SPC’s work through both anti-war and anti-racism lenses. Participants will also hear about our newly launched membership program (see page 3) and get practice talking to others about becoming an SPC member.

People who are active with the Peace Council are encouraged to attend. Please call the office if you are interested in coming, so we know how many people to plan meals for. Contact the staff if you can bring something for lunch either day.

Activist Appreciation: Jonathan Trier


Jonathan Trier (right) with his sweetheart, SPC Steering Committee
member Kim McCoy, in the Rose Garden at Thornden Park.

 

This month we have the pleasure of appreciating Jonathan Trier. Jonathan has made himself invaluable for the past couple of years during Plowshares set up and clean up. Our main ladder man, he has taken charge of hanging decorations from the ceiling in the cafeteria and lends a hand with the SPC Marketplace set up. We are also very excited that Jonathan is considering joining the all-volunteer planning committee for Plowshares. When he’s not working at an SPC event, you might see him around the community at ArtRage or working on a Green Party campaign.

We thank Jonathan for his humble, jump-in-and-get-dirty attitude, his good humor, and his reliability. When he takes on a task, he takes leadership to make sure it gets done right. It’s helping hands like yours, Jonathan, that keep things rolling at SPC. Thank you so much!

Regional Action Opportunities

While SPC activists educate, agitate, and organize primarily in the Syracuse community, we are also part of a worldwide peace and justice movement. In the coming months, our members are participating in a number of regional mobilizations. Contact the SPC office to learn more about how to participate in group transportation and lodging for the following:

2016 Summit on Saudi Arabia: Understanding the Kingdom and Its Global Role. CODEPINK, The Nation Magazine, Institute for Policy Studies, Peace Action, and many other organizations are hosting a two-day summit on US-Saudi ties. March 5–6, Washington, DC.

Protest AIPAC in DC. AIPAC is the organization that lobbies Congress for policies that favor Israel and deny the rights of the Palestinian people. This is a Palestinian-led call to action. March 21–20, Washington DC.

17th Annual White Privilege Conference. This conference examines concepts of privilege and oppression, and offers solutions and team building strategies to work toward a more equitable world. April 14–17, Philadelphia, PA.

Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation

NOON had a very successful 2015 with 10 tabling events and 13 people helping to staff them. We were able to add the four-day Grassroots Festival in Trumansburg thanks to Lindsay Speer taking the lead and friends in Ithaca stepping up. And who can forget the seven days at the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship at Onondaga. We carry a variety of books including our own Nation to Nation plus many informative pamphlets and handouts. If you would like to learn more and get involved, call Paul Eiholzer at 243-4498.

– Sue Eiholzer

 


Sue Eiholzer, Hasmik Djoulakian and Ann Tiffany at Plowshares 2015.

The Warmth of Plowshares

 

This 45th year of the Plowshares Craftsfair was a delightful gathering of performers, artists, shoppers, and old and new friends, put on by a community of people working together over the course of many months. In this issue, Plowshares Committee member Rae Kramer (aka your official SPC raffle agent) begins a series offering a behind-the-scenes look (see page 15) at how Plowshares happens.

Great thanks to all who helped – and especially to the Plowshares Committee, which meets year-round: Barbara Floch, Lanny Freshman, Karen Kerney, Rae Kramer, Andy Molloy, Beth Mosley, Marie Summerwood and Mardea Warner. Please consider joining the committee – come for the great food, camaraderie, and the joy of putting together a marvelous community event which provides major support for SPC’s annual financial needs. Contact Amelia.

New Year’s Eve with SPC

SPC activists rang in the New Year with a New Year’s Eve Vigil for Peace. A small but determined group stood in front of the Christmas tree in downtown Syracuse, receiving honks from cars passing by. After a walk around the skating rink with signs, we adjourned to Ann Tiffany and Ed Kinane’s home for bread, soup and treats. It was a lovely way to spend the evening and a rededication to our work for the upcoming year.

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