Educate, Agitate, Organize: SPC IN ACTION

From the March/April 2015 PNL #841

compiled by Carol Baum

No to Endless War

On Feb. 11, President Obama sent Congress a proposed joint resolution to Authorize the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which would authorize and extend military action against ISIS for the next three years. The Syracuse Peace Council calls on Congress to reject this new AUMF, rescind the 2001 AUMF, and stop an “endless” war on the people of the Middle East.

As we go to press, Peace Council activists are encouraging community members to call on our Congressional representatives to vote “no” on Obama’s AUMF and to support diplomatic, non-military solutions to address the crisis in the Middle East. Read SPC’s statement opposing the AUMF and outlining a nonviolent effort to address the threat posed by ISIS, at www.peacecouncil.net. On March 19, we held an anti-war rally on the 12th anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq to speak out against the US escalation of war in the Middle East. Check the SPC website for details or contact Ursula in the office to find out how you can help!

Benefit for Children in Gaza  

About 100 people braved the snowy February weather to attend a benefit dinner hosted by SPC’s CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel. The event raised $3,000 for aid to children and families in Gaza. Winter’s cold has led to the deaths of young children from freezing conditions and lack of basic medical care. Palestinians in Gaza have had a hard winter, particularly due to the devastation of infrastructure by the Israeli assault last summer which left over 2000 dead. For many, heat, clean water, and electricity are intermittent at best.  Thank you to Ariel Gold for presenting about family’s  recent visit to the West Bank and to May Memorial’s Green Sanctuary/Social Action Committee for co-sponsoring. Upcoming events include the annual commemoration of the Nakba (the 1948 removal of Palestinians from their homes), continued work on a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) campaign, and further speakers and films, including an event with Palestinian peace activist Iyad Burnat on April 19.


Activist Appreciation: Aziza Zahran
(middle), pictured with her son and Carole
Resnick, led the effort to host the
February 21 benefit for humanitarian
relief to Gaza. Photo: Ursula Rozum.

Activist Appreciation

Last summer, Aziza Zahran leapt out of her car to join the Gaza protest on the corner of Erie Blvd and Genesse St., and, upon discovering a group devoted to peace in Palestine/Israel, she jumped in with two feet. Aziza is herself a Palestinian-American who grew up on Syracuse’s North Side. She is the mother of a five-year-old boy and a student in Human Services at Cazenovia College. Very quickly, Aziza became a strong and passionate member of Central New York Working for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel. Most recently, she initiated and took extensive leadership in organizing a highly successful benefit for children in Gaza. Aziza did everything from cooking makluba to creating table decorations. The Syracuse peace community is lucky that Aziza discovered us and is so willing to share her caring heart, her incredible energy and her competent advocacy skills.

United as One

SPC and the United as One Coalition are celebrating a step forward in our work to address violence in the criminal ‘justice” system. After years of organizing following the tragic deaths of Chuniece Patterson and Raul Pine in the county jail, the Onondaga County Legislature has finally approved the creation of a jail oversight committee and the reinstatement of the county’s Human Rights Commission. Onondaga County is seeking individuals to serve these committees. If you are interested, contact Barbara, (315) 440-9341 behumphrey@gmail.com for more information and to get involved.

Stop Solitary Confinement

To expose and end the inhumane practice, the Peace Council is teaming up with the ACTS Criminal Justice Task Force and the Campaign for Alternative to Isolated Confinement to host  discussion and performance around the play Mariposa & the Saint.  Co-written by a women held in solitary confinement, Mariposa will be performed on Sunday March 22, 2pm at Temple Concord Social Hall, 910 Madison St., Syracuse. For more information, contact Zachary, (315) 472-5478.

Stop the Bailout of the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant: Tell the PSC, "Close this nuclear power plant!"

We have an opportunity to help close Ginna nuclear power plant near Rochester. Exelon, the owner of Ginna, is asking the Public Service Commission to raise the bills of customers of the local utility in order to keep this unsafe and uneconomical nuclear facility afloat. Without this subsidy, there is a good chance Ginna will close because it has become unprofitable. You can learn more and sign a letter by going to www.allianceforagreeneconomy.org/ginna.
-by Linda Destefano

Thousands Weigh in on New York’s Energy Future

As the New York’s policymakers pursue a dramatic overhaul of the state’s utility regulations and clean energy programs, thousands of New Yorkers have spoken out at public hearings across the state or submitted written comments. The process is called Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) and will be ongoing throughout 2015. Through our participation in the Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE), SPC has joined the fray to help get the word out and to pressure state leaders to pursue policies that put more control and ownership of our energy resources in the hands of local communities and individuals, rather than large multi-national utility companies. We are also advocating strong greenhouse gas reduction goals, consumer protections, and energy affordability for low-income people. Join the movement for energy democracy or find out more at www.allianceforagreeneconomy.org/rev.

No Drones, No Wars

SPCs’ Ground the Drones, End the Wars committee works locally and as part of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars. The focus of both groups is Hancock Air Base, just outside Syracuse, where drones which fly over Afghanistan are piloted. Hancock is also a training site for drone pilots, sensor operators and maintenance technicians.

● In early February, as part of a statewide effort, we spoke with Senator Gillibrand’s regional director about drones. You can find the excellent materials created for the visits on SPC’s website.    
● Two activists went to Nevada to participate in a national mobilization to shut down Creech Air Force Base from March 4-6. In 2005, Creech became the first U.S. base to carry out drone assassinations.    
● On March 9, we hosted the powerful play Grounded, a one-woman play about a fighter pilot who is reassigned to operate drones. Thanks to the May Memorial Green Sanctuary Committee for co-sponsoring.
● On Saturday, April 18 at 2 pm we will present a staged reading of the play The Predator in the Dewitt Community Library in Shoppingtown. It’s free and all     are welcome.

To get involved, contact Carol. Our next meeting is Monday, April 13, from 5-6:30 pm at SPC.

Drone Resisters in Court

Trials continue about once a month at the Town of Dewitt Courthouse related to a nonviolent civil resistance action at Hancock Air Base. In the most recent trial, Bonny Mahoney of Syracuse was convicted of trespassing,  and received a fine, an order of protection and a conditional discharge. Bonny brought to the witness stand her experiences in Pakistan, where she met with families of drone victims. Jack Gilroy, who was found guilty in the fall and sentenced to three months in jail (which he served), three years probation, a fine, an order of protection and 1500 hours of community service, was resentenced in February. After pressure from Jack’s lawyers, the judge admitted that part of the sentence was illegal. He dropped Jack’s probation and community service.
We encourage people to come to court in support. Because court dates can change at the last moment, check www.upstatedroneaction.org or contact Carol.
              
Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation

To stay up to date with Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation’s (NOON) activities and how to get involved,  join NOON Announcements, a low volume listserv with 2700 subscribers. This way you can get the monthly e-newsletter, a terrific compilation of information, resources, upcoming events and ways to get involved. View a sample e-newsletter, at www.peacecouncil.net/noon/e-newsletter/february-2015, and to sign up for the listserv, go to www.peacecouncil.net/stay-in-touch.

We’re very excited to report that since our 80-page booklet was published, we have distributed almost 4,000 copies of Neighbor to Neighbor, Nation to Nation: Readings About the Relationship of the Onondaga Nation with Central New York, USA. If you would like to help with distribution or receive a copy yourself, contact Carol.

SPC Steering Committee

SPC extends a hearty thank-you to outgoing steering committee members Carole Resnick, Jim Weidman, and Wendy Yost. Their participation in SPC’s decision making is much appreciated. Welcome to new steering committee members Diane Swords, Michael Messina-Yauchzy, Rachel Cary, Simone Richmond, and Vani Kannan. The steering committee meets monthly to address broad policy and operational issues of the Peace Council, as well as to review and set direction for activist initiatives.


Meet the SPC interns, pictured by the
SPC table at the Rally to Stop Fast Track
for the TPP: (from left to right) Henry,
Lindsay, Brian and Zach. SPC cosponsored
the March 5 rally at the Westcott Theater
hosted by the Communications Workers of
America (CWA). Photo: Ursula Rozum.

Stop the TPP!

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a massive “free trade” agreement that you’ve probably currently being pushed by big corporations and negotiated behind closed doors by officials from the U.S. and 11 other countries (see this PNL’s cover story!)  The Peace Council is coordinating TPP Tuesdays, a weekly call-in day to Congress urging representatives to oppose Fast Track. Contact CNY Congressmener John Katko at (202) 225-4042. Learn more at www.peacecouncil/stopthetpp
 
We the People, Move To Amend!

Nine activists with Move To Amend (MTA) of Syracuse and Central New York traveled to Albany on January 21 for a statewide rally to mark the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, the decision that eliminated limits on election spending by corporations. SPC staff organizer and local MTA coordinator Michael Messina-Yauchzy emceed a rally and press event with over 80 people. As part of the New York for Democracy Coalition, coordinated by Syracuse resident Jonah Minkoff-Zern of Public Citizen, MTA is working toward making New York the 17th state to call for a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United.     

Syracuse MTA is planning local rallies and events in April and May and stepping up efforts for a resolution of support by the Syracuse Common Council. MTA meets the third Thursday of each month at the Center for Peace and Social Justice. Contact Michael.

Meet the Interns!

SPC has several new interns working at our office. Zachary Field, of Fayetteville, continues working with CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel. Lindsay DeMay, from New Mexico, is a junior Food Studies major at Syracuse University. Lindsay is working on the spring Bowlathon fundraiser and GMO labeling (ask her about the April 28 rally in Albany!). Brian Escobar, from Liverpool, graduated from SUNY Binghamton in Anthropology and was active in Occupy Wall Street. When he isn’t helping with office technology, Brian is organizing to stop Fast Track of the TPP. Henry Nelson, from the Boston area, has been active with THE General Body movement for transparency and diversity at Syracuse University. Henry plans to work on corporate power issues. Thank you for sharing your time and talents with SPC!

The Landscape of Fracking: What’s Changed, What Hasn’t?

Many are under the impression that New York is safe from fracking now that high-volume horizontal drilling will be banned. But the reality is that industry is on the attack with multiple proposals for pipelines, compressor stations, storage caverns, waste dumping and export facilities. Find out what’s happening near the Syracuse area via an online mapping tool that demonstrates that New York is in fact being fracked in every way except the drilling. See the map at www.YouAreHereNYmap.org/

On February 28, SPC hosted a panel featuring local activists organizing on the front lines to protect our communities from the spread of dangerous gas infrastructure. The event was a collaboration between SPC, Shaleshock CNY, and SANE Energy Project. Mary Menapace, of Shaleshock CNY, shared her research on Northern NY injection wells, wells that accept “brine” from fracking operations (“brine” refers to the toxic liquids that are used to drill oil and gas wells). Suzy Winkler of Concerned Citizens of Burlington spoke about the Dominion New Market Pipeline. Doug Couchon spoke about the We Are Seneca Lake campaign to protect Seneca Lake from a proposed liquefied petroleum gas storage facility. The Texas-based company Crestwood is actively constructing infrastructure for the storage of two billion cubic feet of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), with the blessing of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Over 200 activists have been arrested in a nonviolent direct action campaign to obstruct the construction of the Crestwood project. Learn more about how we can protect Seneca Lake, the drinking source for 100,000 people, at WeAreSenecaLake.org.

Goodbye to Michael, Welcome Back to Amelia

With sadness we say goodbye to Michael Messina-Yauchzy who joined the staff collective as Ursula’s leave replacement in 2014. Michael’s time was extended to mid-March, as he filled in while Amelia Lefevre was on maternity leave.

Michael worked on fundraising, volunteer and intern development; with the CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel Committee; and on the myriad office tasks that fall to staff. Michael is an extremely kind and committed activist, always willing to lend a hand and be the welcoming face in the Peace Council office. We are grateful that Michael has joined SPC’s Steering Committee!

Amelia gave birth in January to a beautiful baby girl, Asa. She plans to bring Asa to work at the SPC office in March. We’ll have fun holding her, as we are continually reminded of why we work for peace and social justice.

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