Friday, August 15, 2014

Justice for Michael Brown, Justice for All


New York City Thursday Night                                                         anonymous@youranonlive- PopularResistance.org
Thousands of Americans took to the streets last night in about 100 cities (including Kingston and Poughkeepsie) for a National Moment of Silence #NMOS14 to demand justice for Michael Brown, the unarmed teen shot and killed last Saturday by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. They also gathered to show their solidarity with the people of Ferguson and to remember all victims of police brutality. Protesters from Times Square to Oakland, held their hands up and chanted, "Hands Up, Don't Shoot". Three eye witnesses say Michael Brown was shot in the back, and when he turned around with his hands up, he was shot multiple times.

Mike Brown was the fifth, unarmed Black male to be killed by police in a month. Most of us have seen the video of Eric Garner,43, being choked to death, and there was: John Crawford, 22, who was shot and killed walking with a BB gun in Walmart that sells BB guns, Ezell Ford, 25 who was lying on the ground complying with orders when he was shot in the back and Dante Parker, 36, who was stopped riding his bike (because a robbery suspect had fled on a bike- Dante had no criminal record) and he was Tased to death. There is no national database of police killings, which is in itself criminal, but you can see the names of just some of the unarmed, black males killed by police at the end of this post. It is not at all complete.


                                                            Students at Howard University

 "Black Lives Matter" DC                                          PopularResistance.org
A Tale of Two Police Models
 Police Forces in Ferguson Wednesday    AP/St Louis Post-Dispatch Robert Cohen
The New Approach of Community Policing on Thursday with Capt Ron Johnson
The initial reports from Ferguson were shockingly disturbing. Although I have written on this blog previously about the militarization of our police force, seeing combat-style SWAT teams in full riot gear, aiming sniper rifles on peaceful protesters was appalling.

Thank goodness cooler heads have prevailed and the Fergusen and St Louis Police Departments have been taken off the case and the Missouri Highway Patrol headed by Captain Ron Johnson is in charge. Thursday night, teargas was replaced by hope. Although the people are still understandably angry and are demanding answers, there was a sea change in the mood of the protests Thursday and they were all peaceful. 

"We're here to serve and protect. We're not here to instill fear." Captain Ron Johnson

What a textbook example of the superiority of a community police model over one that sees citizens as the enemy and the community as a war zone.

Photo: PopularResistance.org
Yesterday, the Ferguson Police Chief's press conference reignited people's ire. They were expecting answers- like how many bullets entered Michael's body, what about the eyewitnesses who describe a scenario that sounds like first degree murder (the local police have so far refused to interview the eye witnesses) and how long did Michael's body lay in the street before an ambulance came? They finally did release the name of the officer who shot Michael; Darren Wilson, but they did not release the two incident reports on the shooting.

The Chief instead focused all his attention on the surveillance video of Michael stealing cigars from a store and shoving the clerk, minutes before his death. The Chief went on to say the police officer stopped Michael for jaywalking and that it had nothing to do with what happened in the store. Michael's friend said the policeman yelled "Get the f--k on the sidewalk." and that is when the confrontation began. The people want to know why no warrant has been issued for the officer for the shooting and why he has not been taken into custody. The incident in the store has no relevance to Michael being killed in cold blood.

There was some minor looting late Friday night. The police used restraint in dealing with it. Also telling is that a group of citizens formed a chain in front of the store and told the young people "You are better than this." It is important to remember that the looters represent less than 1% of all the protesters. The vast majority have legitimate grievances and are expressing themselves nonviolently.

The Pentagon has not only transferred M-16s, grenade launchers and armored personnel carriers to cities and towns across America, they have also transferred a mindset that says you are at war and you need to do whatever you can to defeat the enemy- in this case, the citizens of a community.

That mindset is clearly entrenched in the culture of the Fergusson Police Department. They once arrested an innocent, African-American man and four officers beat him in his jail cell. He suffered a concussion and was bleeding so heavily he had to be sent to the emergency room. The police then charged him with destruction of property for bleeding on their uniforms. The "defendant did then and there unlawfully commit the offense of 'property damage' to wit did transfer blood to the uniform" reads the charge sheet.

A police department that would beat an innocent man (he had a different middle name and social security number than the man they were looking for and the booking officer even said "We have a problem.") and then hold him for days for the crime of bleeding on their uniforms is indicative of how Blacks have been treated by this department for a long time. The NAACP has an ongoing federal complaint against the county police department over racial profiling.

We saw the warrior mindset operating before Captain Johnson took over. The police in Ferguson assaulted and arrested journalists, pulled an alderman and others out of their cars and held them in jail overnight without charges, and shot rubber bullets and lobbed tear gas canisters at nonviolent protesters expressing their anger over another Black male being gunned down by police.

A militarized police has no place in a democracy. Just as many white people are joining in the protests against police violence and for justice for Michael Brown, we all are needed to make sure reforms happen to demilitarize our police and to make community policing the model used across America.

Tell the US Department of Justice and Missouri authorities to investigate the Michael Brown murder and to ensure that all police officers involved in shooting the unarmed youth are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

http://act.credoaction.com/sign/mike_brown_justice?t=1&akid=11423.55536.baFuqi

Sign Democracy for America's petition to stop the flow of military weapons and hardware to local police.

http://act.democracyforamerica.com/sign/demilitarizethepolice/?t=3&akid=5140.1245668.wUkYB6

Stop the systemic police abuse in Ferguson and across this country. Demand an end to racial profiling and the mass incarceration of a generation of young Black men. Stop the war against communities of color. Demand justice for Michael Brown.

Photo: PopularResistance.org

This is the America I know and love                                                                       Photo: PopularResistance.org


Photo: PopularResistance.org

Unarmed Black Men Killed by Police in the US
Michael Brown,18; Eric Garner,43; John Crawford, 22; Ezell Ford, 25; Dante Parker, 36; Amadou Dialo, 23; Manuel Loggins Jr, 31; Sean Bell, 23; Ronald Madison, 40; James Briseete, 17;  Ramarley Graham, 18; Kimani Gray, 16; Kendrec Mc Dade, 19: Timothy Russell,  Ervin Jefferson, 18; Patrick Dorismond, 26; Ousmane Zongo, 43; Timothy Standsbury Jr, 19; Orlando Barlow, 28; Aaron Campbell, 25; Victor Steen, 17; Steven Eugene Washington, 27; Alonzo Ashley, 29; Wendell Allen, 20; Tavares McGill, 16; Oscar Grant, 22; Jonny Gammage; 31. Sources- TheRoot.com, Mother Jones, philly.com The MalcomX Grassroots Movement reports that 136 unarmed African-American men were killed by police, security guards and self-appointed vigilantes in 2012 alone- so this list is just the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned here for ongoing news from Ferguson.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

The War on Children


Palestinian children    avaaz.org
So many of us are heartsick at what is happening in Gaza. "The scale is far, far  greater than previous Gaza wars" (this the third in 5 1/2 years) according to William Booth, foreign correspondent of  the Washington Post. In recent days, a child has been killed every hour according to a UN report and more children than Hamas fighters have been killed.

Gaza Before and After                  @iFalasteen
Hamas is wrong to fire missiles at Israel and Israel is wrong to be bombing civilians who literally have no place to go. Even schools designated as shelters and hospitals (18 medical facilities, including 5 UN health clinics have been hit) are not safe from Israeli bombs. The IDF claims that they are targeting hospitals and schools because Hamas uses them to store missiles, but Israel is the occupier in Gaza and has an obligation to protect the civilians there. Nothing justifies the targeted killing of children and other innocent civilians- nothing. That is a war crime.

The IDF strike on a UN school July 24, the fourth shelling of a school in as many days, killed 15 and wounded 200, most of them children. They were sitting outside waiting to be evacuated (the UN was negotiating with the IDF to give the civilians time to evacuate) when the bombs rained down on them.

According to this report from Johnathon Miller of Channel 4 News in the UK, Israel's military operation in Gaza is looking more and more like a "war on children". http://www.channel4.com/news/gaza-shifa-hospital-israel-hamas-shajaiyah-jonathan-miller

The whole world is rising up to say no to the violence (see photos below). Israel must end its seven year siege of Gaza and the illegal settlements and occupation must end. All people, including the Palestinians, deserve freedom, dignity and opportunity in their lives. 

Both sides also need to stop calling for the destruction of the other! Most know that calling for the destruction of Israel is part of Hamas's charter, but might be surprised to know how many Israeli's are also calling for the extermination of the Palestinian people. The deputy speaker of Israel's parliament said "Gaza will become part of sovereign Israel and be populated by Jews. This will also serve to ease the housing crisis in Israel." Another member posted on FB that all Palestinians should be killed "including its elderly, women, its cities and its villages." It got 5,000 "likes".  Major Gilad Sharon, son of Ariel Sharon said "flatten all of Gaza" like "Hiroshima". Another member of the Knesset said, "There are no innocents in Gaza...mow them down." A rabbi said Palestinian children should be "hung from trees." Of course, there are many Israelis who would denounce such hate speech, but an extreme right wing faction advocating even greater violence is growing. Even Prime Minister Netanyahu in a speech in Hebrew that did not get much attention here- said there would never be a sovereign Palestine.

John Kerry warned the Israelis that failure to reach peace would cause a growth in the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement. For stating a reality, many nationalist Israelis are calling him anti-Semitic. Surely, world pressure in the form of BDS will ratchet up as more see the suffering this slaughter is creating.

This war is showing in tragic relief that women, children and innocent civilians are at the epicenter of modern warfare. Read this account of a Norwegian doctor helping in Gaza to get a sense of the horror. As Americans we are all complicit. This too is a sad reality.

On the day Obama called for peace, the US gave Israel $544 million for missiles to hit ground targets. We give over $3 billion a year, and this has allowed Israel over the years to buy 226 F-16 fighter jets, 700 M-60 tanks, 6,000 armored personnel carriers, attack helicopters, bombs and missiles.

"Militarism is like a lethal virus that takes as its first victim both historical memory and any sense of moral and social responsibility" says Henry Giroux in an excellent article, "Killing Machines and the Madness of Militarism: From Gaza to Afghanistan".

Over 100 million were killed in wars in the last century. As time goes on and with each passing war,  the percentage of civilians killed versus military killed continues to surge. In the 21st century, all wars are wars on women and children. For our very survival, physically and morally, we must find nonviolent solutions to conflict. We must end war before it ends us.

Local Protests Planned
     NP Women in Black Saturday, July 26        

Please join New Paltz Women in Black any Saturday on Main Street, in front of the Elting Library, from 12:45- 1:30 to stand in our 12 year old vigil for peace.

 We will make this current war our focus until it is ended. We stand for a safe and secure Israel and a free and safe Palestine.



There are also two demonstrations in front of Congressman Gibson's local offices this week on Tuesday and Wednesday.

PROTEST ISRAEL'S ATTACK ON GAZA
Tuesday, July 29, 3:30-5:30
at
Congressman Chris Gibson’s office
721 Broadway, Kingston
Make a sign to carry

Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid tax dollars which it uses to purchase weapons systems that are used against Palestinians, to build illegal settlements in Palestine and to make Palestinian lives as miserable as possible so that they will leave their country.

We are protesting to
Stop US funding of Israel
End the Violence in Gaza
End the Occupation of Palestine
 Contact: jrs@hvan.org

And on Wednesday, 4-5 End Attack on Gaza- Time for a Just Peace In front of Rep. Chris Gibson's Hyde Park district office on Rt. 9 (4328 Albany Post Road: 12538), NY Sign up https://www.facebook.com/events/509311795878899/?notif_t=plan_user_invited

Death toll as of July 26- 851 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians, 36 Israelis dead, most of them soldiers (3 Israeli civilians dead).

Update-  As of July 28, the UN reports that a  total of 1,030 Palestinians and 43 Israelis have been killed and more than 6,000 Palestinians injured.

More You Can Do

From Avaaz.org
"As a new round of violence kicks off in Israel-Palestine and more children are killed, it's not enough just to call for another ceasefire. It’s time to take definitive non-violent action to end this decades long nightmare"  Join over a million people in signing their petition- https://secure.avaaz.org/en/israel_palestine_this_is_how_it_ends_rb/?bCzJdab&v=42735

This petition is from a man who works at a small NGO in California called Oasis for Peace to promote peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians - a few days ago five members of his family were killed in Gaza including two small children. Lift the economic blockade in Gaza- end the war- http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/tell-whitehouse-johnkerry?source=c.em&r_by=1135580

Stay informed. Much more information at the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter- http://activistnewsletter.blogspot.com/2014/07/07-27-14-gaza-special-issue-2.html

Here is a video of an American Jew speaking out in Israel- what happens next is shocking. I thought Israel was a democracy. (I have since learned this video is from 2 years ago- but it is as relevant as ever.)
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=680935605323935&set=vb.153633174720850&type=2&theater

In Photos: Worldwide protest against Israeli attack on Gaza (and this was from over a week ago- the outrage continues to grow- how many of these protests do you see on American media?

http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/worldwide-protest-israeli.html
Chicago
Chicago
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa
Rabat, Morocco
Rabat, Morocco
London
London
Bethlehem, Palestine
Bethlehem, Palestine
Aukland, New Zealand
Auckland, New Zealand
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Maldives
Maldives
Valparaiso, Chile
Valparaiso, Chile
Amman, Jordan
Amman, Jordan
Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spain
Dublin
Dublin
Tunisia
Tunisia
Philadelphia
Philadelphia
France
Metz, France
Haifa
Haifa
Washington D.C.
Washington D.C.
South Korea
South Korea
San Francisco, USA
San Francisco, USA
Ottawa, Canada
Ottawa, Canada
Santiago, Chile
Santiago, Chile
Sweden
Stockholm, Sweden
Chicago
Chicago,USA
Paris, France
Paris, France
Glasgow, Scotland
Glasgow, Scotland
Lebanon
Lebanon (photo:AP)
Tokyo, ,Japan
Tokyo, ,Japan
London
London
Greece
Greece
Columbus, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio
Norway
Norway
Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland
Iceland
Iceland
Amman, Jordan
Amman, Jordan
Columbus, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio
Milan, Italy
Milan, Italy
Seattle
Seattle
Seattle
Seattle
Tunisia
Tunisia
eattle
Seattle
BuenosAires, Argentina
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Sydney
Sydney, Australia
Spain
Italy
San Francisco
San Francisco
Bogata, Columbia
Bogota, Colombia
Chicago
Chicago, USA
Germany
Germany
Frankfurt, Germany
Frankfurt, Germany
france
France
Houston, Texas
Houston, Texas
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Dublin, Ireland
Dublin, Ireland
Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy
Los Angeles
Los Angeles
Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark
Vienna, Austria
Vienna, Austria
Montreal, Canada. Photo courtesy of Under the Olive Tree which airs on CKUT 90.3 FM every Thursday from 11am – 12 noon. Learn more at http://www.mixcloud.com/UnderTheOliveTree/.
Montreal, Canada. Photo courtesy of Under the Olive Tree which airs on CKUT 90.3 FM every Thursday from 11am – 12 noon. Learn more at http://www.mixcloud.com/UnderTheOliveTree/
New York
New York
Montreal, Canada. Photo courtesy of Under the Olive Tree which airs on CKUT 90.3 FM every Thursday from 11am – 12 noon. Learn more at http://www.mixcloud.com/UnderTheOliveTree/
Montreal, Canada. Photo courtesy of Under the Olive Tree which airs on CKUT 90.3 FM every Thursday from 11am – 12 noon. Learn more at http://www.mixcloud.com/UnderTheOliveTree/

Lastly, here is an article a friend sent me that gives you a better understanding of the humiliation, degradation and destruction Palestinians have been facing on a daily basis. It also offers a nonviolent solution based on the ultimate goodness of our shared humanity. It may seem light years from reality right now- but ultimately, it is the way forward. http://zenpeacemakers.org/2014/07/the-peace-activists-demons-israeli-engaged-dharma-report-summer-2014/

Shalom, Salaam, Peace.