Educate, Agitate, Organize: SPC IN ACTION

compiled by Carol Baum

From the October 2014 PNL #838

compiled by Carol Baum

SPC Turns 78 with Cold Case Justice

Join the Peace Council for our annual birthday celebration on Saturday, November 1 at Bellevue Heights United Methodist Church (2112 S. Geddes St., Syracuse). We will host SU Law professors Paula Johnson and Janis McDonald, co-founders of the school’s Cold Case Justice Initiative, which works to bring long-lost justice to the families of victims of racially and politically motivated murders related to the Civil Rights movement (see page 9).

This year’s tableau at the NY State Fair
depicted the repercussions of the US drone
problem – a grieving Muslim mother, dead
family members and friends, and a US drone
pilot suffering from PTSD. Thousands of
leaflets were distributed. Photo: Carol Baum

Enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal, lovingly prepared with excellent quality, locally sourced and seasonal foods,  complete with birthday cake.  After dinner, we will  listen to Janis and Paula’s fascinating presentation. Doors open at 5:30 pm, dinner is served at 6 pm, speakers at 7 pm. Suggested donation $25 (no one turned away); $10 for speakers only. Make your reservation by Friday, October 24. Contact Amelia for information or to volunteer for cooking, logistics, or set up.
Global Action Day Against Drones October 5

Join us Sunday, October 5, at Hancock Air Base for the first Global Action Day Against Weaponized and Surveillance Drones. Gather at Hancock’s main entrance (6001 E. Molloy Rd., Mattydale) at 1 pm (parking is available at OCM BOCES, 6820 Thompson Rd.; also side streets).

Theater, creativity and participation is the spirit of the event. Costumes, props and signs are encouraged! Come alone or with your group (and if you don’t have a group, form one or join one). Group representatives will be offered the opportunity to speak for a few minutes. Just to get your creative juices flowing, consider forming groups like Bicyclists Against Killer Drones, Medical Workers Against Killer Drones, Gardeners…you get the idea!

For help with making signs, contact Paul ( If you’re in a group, let Bonny know so we can promote it ( For general information or to help with organizing, contact Carol at SPC.

To check out actions happening around the world, go to

Say No to the Wastebed Amphitheater

In a clear effort to create the impression that the Onondaga Lake clean-up is “done,” the Wastebed Amphitheater (also known as the “Lakeview Amphitheater”) is proposed to be constructed on top of wastebeds 1-8 on the western shore of the lake. Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON) and other community groups comprising Citizens for a Better Plan (CfBP) have been organizing against its construction since the summer. First, CfBP advocated for (and won) an extension for the public comment period on the 654-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Then on August 26, we brought people out to the only evening Public Hearing on the amphitheater. Several NOON members made statements, and NOON submitted a written comment.

There are a few more opportunities for input into the process:
•    Attend the public meeting on the economics of the amphitheater: Wednesday, October 1 at 6 pm at the Geddes Town Hall (1000 Woods Rd., Solvay).

•     Attend the public hearing on the tentative county budget: Thursday, October 9 at 7 pm at the Legislative Chambers in the County Courthouse (401 Montgomery St., Syracuse).

•     Contact your county legislator about voting no to the Wastebed Amphitheater. Go to for their contact information; you can link to a district map from there.

•     Sign the online petition. Link to it from Download fact sheets there also.

Movement on Jail Oversight in November

The walls of the Onondaga County Legislature’s meeting room were lined with observers during the September 8 Public Safety Committee meeting, many of whom held signs calling for independent review of incidents in the county’s Justice Center and an end to deaths in the jail. Chairman of the Legislature, Ryan McMahon, presented a bill to the committee that would create an independent group with the power to hold the jail accountable in suspected cases of negligence or malpractice by jail staff. We expect the bill to be come up for vote before the legislature on Tuesday, November 4 at 1 pm. (Please confirm close to the date.) Supporters of the bill are welcome to observe the legislative sessions with signs of support, and the public will also have the opportunity to make brief comments. Contact Amelia.

Activist Appreciation: Barbara Humphrey

2014 has been a year of good fortune for SPC: it has seen the addition of powerhouse organizer Barbara Humphrey to both our Steering and Fundraising Committees! Barb has long worked for peace and social justice in Syracuse, with the Peace Council as well as with other groups. Currently she has stepped up as a major organizer of SPC’s Birthday Dinner (see page 9), maximizing SPC’s capacity to meet our fundraising goals this year. An organization couldn’t ask for much more than Barb’s great sense of humor, sharp political insight, strong convictions, clear thinking in group decision-making, and the attention and skill to help design and pull off successful fundraisers! Thank you, Barbara. We are lucky to have your energetic presence among us.

Barb (second from left) demonstrates in
support of the Hancock 17 Drone Resisters.
Photo: Carol Baum

No Justice, No Peace in Palestine and Israel 

CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel has continued to meet twice monthly during this period of high tension in the Middle East. We are currently holding vigils every other Friday afternoon from 4:30-5:30 at the intersection of E. Genesee St. and Erie Blvd., directly across from the Dewitt fire station. The committee is particularly concerned that the public differentiate between ISIS and Palestinian political organizations, such as Hamas.

On Saturday October 18, we are co-sponsoring a production of the one-woman theater piece, “My Name is Rachel Corrie,” based on the journals of the late peace activist who died facing down home demolitions in Palestine. It is at 7 pm at University United Methodist Church (1085 E. Genesee St., Syracuse); admission is $8-15 sliding scale (more if you can afford it, less if you can’t). We are also working to step up our education and organizing on the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) Movement.

People Want Solar

Solarize Syracuse launched an ambitious campaign to bring solar power to Syracuse this summer. We held nine community workshops between July 31 and September 13. Over 600 people attended, and many workshops were standing room only. Over 450 people enrolled for a free site assessment to find out how solar panels could work on their property. As we write, we have 21 signed contracts, all residential projects, for a total of 155 kW of power. With three weeks left for contracts to be finalized, that number could still grow considerably. For a sense of the impact Solarize Syracuse has had, there were 14 residential solar PV projects installed in the same geographic area in all of 2013, for a total of 120 kW of capacity.  

People’s Climate March Huge

Four busloads of Central New Yorkers and two busloads of Onondagas went down for the People’s Climate March on September 21 in New York City. Thanks to the Sierra Club for organizing three of the buses and Divest SU and ESF for organizing the other CNY bus (Divest is a group of Syracuse University and Environmental Science and Forestry students who are working together to persuade their schools’ administrations to divest their endowments from the fossil fuel industry).

The march powerfully threaded many messages together and became a giant (400,000 people) theater piece with sections depicting six themes, each represented by many contingents—Frontlines of Crisis Forefront of Change (people most impacted by climate change), We Can Build the Future (labor, families, students), We Have Solutions (renewable energy, environmental organizations), We Know Who Is Responsible (anti-corporate campaigns, peace and social justice groups), The Debate Is Over (scientists, faith communities) and To Change Everything, We Need Everyone (community groups, neighborhoods, LGBTQ groups, cities).
For more information on local organizing, contact Carol.

Drone Activism and Court: The Continuing Story

We are now into trials for the Hancock 31 (arrested for a nonviolent action at Hancock Air Base in April, 2013). Since these are mostly individual jury trials scheduled about once a month in the Town of DeWitt Court, they will continue into the summer of 2015.

On September 15, Eve Tetaz of NYC, charged with disorderly conduct for reading aloud the Preamble to the UN Charter and the First Amendment of the Constitution, was acquitted. When the police ordered her to stop, she continued. The prosecution’s video showed the arresting officer grabbing those documents from her hands and tossing them aside.

Binghamton activist Jack Gilroy, as the first of the Hancock 31 to be found guilty (of obstruction of governmental administration and trespass), will be sentenced on Wednesday, October 1 at 4:30 at the Town of DeWitt Court (5400 Butternut Dr., East Syracuse). Supporters are welcome. He faces one year in prison.
Meanwhile, trials for other actions at the Base continue. On September 19, Mark Colville of Amistad Catholic Worker in New Haven (Connecticut) was found guilty of five charges after having carried flowers and a People’s Order of Protection to the Base’s front gate. An hour before the trial, Judge Jokl told Mark he will be sentenced to the maximum penalty if he were found guilty by the jury. When Mark asked, “Why?” the judge responded, “Because I think you deserve it.”

This is a difficult process. Real jail time is being faced, along with the prospect of permanent orders of protection. The appeals take money, since all the proceedings must be transcribed. Please consider donating to the legal fund. Send checks made out to Upstate Drone Action to UDA c/o the Syracuse Peace Council, 2013 E. Genesee St., Syracuse, NY 13210.

Also, please consider attending a trial to support the person on trial, show the judge and the jury that people care, and get an amazing education in itself. Contact Carol for details or go to

Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation

In addition to working as part of Citizens for a Better Plan (see page 3), Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON) is busy with its other projects. The Roots of Injustice Workshop went so well over the summer that a committee has formed to support holding more workshops locally. The Good Friends Gardeners have evaluated their summer work and decided to continue in their collaboration with gardeners at the Onondaga Nation, but with some changes next summer. We continue with our information tabling at events, and now that school has started, are eager to find opportunities to speak with students. Also, look for announcements this fall for an event to celebrate the publication of our new booklet, Neighbor to Neighbor, Nation to Nation: Readings About the Relationship of the Onondaga Nation with Central New York, USA.
Contact Amelia or Carol.

Pat Carmeli of CNY Working for
a Just Peace in Palestine & Israel
at the twice monthly Vigil for
Gaza. Photo: Mara Sapon-Shevin

Welcome Fall Interns

The Peace Council has two interns thus far for fall, and they are both off to a solid start. Hasmik Djoulakian is a sophomore at Syracuse University, majoring in Citizenship and Civic Engagement. She brings her organizing experience to NOON and the October 5 anti-drone protest at Hancock Base. Hasmik has previously worked with several environmental organizations and has a strong interest in global women’s issues. Crystal Lau is an International Relations and Hospitality major who has studied abroad in Hong Kong and is involved with LINK (Liberty in North Korea). Crystal is helping with organizing events, focusing on the November 1 Birthday Dinner and Plowshares Craftsfair. We continue to interview new intern applicants and will keep you posted.

Westcott Street Cultural Fair

If you saw a gorilla wearing a red t-shirt covered with buttons for sale on Westcott Street on Sunday, September 21, we hope you stopped by our booth. You also would have seen a hot red bicycle from Mello Velo on display for SPC’s annual bike raffle. We actually had three booths at the Westcott Fair this year—Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel, and a more general SPC booth. Although we were hit by a long torrential rain in the mid-afternoon, resulting in an early closing, many fairgoers earlier came to learn about our latest work and upcoming events. Much appreciation to the many volunteers who made it work, especially Wendy Yost, who spent the entire day at our booth.

Garage Sale Showered with Success

Thanks to all who contributed, made purchases, and especially, to those who organized and worked at the annual SPC Garage Sale over September 13-14. We thank Rae Kramer, who provided so much of the energy and spirit for it (as well as her garage). Thanks also to Dave, Vickie, Barb, Lanny, Ed, Dave, Charlie, Flora, Marie and Renee. Special thanks to Ann, Bonny, Wendy, Teresa, Shirley and Laurie. Although it poured much of Saturday, stalwart volunteers and intrepid shoppers carried on, employing tarps, slickers, and umbrellas. Sunday was clear and easier, but it was quickly decided to re-open the sale the following Saturday as well, to move out the remaining bargains. This year’s garage sale brought in $1,700 to fuel our work for peace and social justice.

Learn About SPC’s Steering Committee

If you’d like to learn more about the inner workings of SPC, sign up for the Steering Committee email listserv. You will receive Steering Committee agendas and minutes and little else. Contact Carol.