An Independence Day Alternative

How the “enlightened” leaders of the early US disregarded an Independence Day oration and set in motion indigenous peoples’ brutalization. 

Source: An Independence Day Alternative

Cherokee arrive in Oklahoma following the Trail of Tears. Dorothy Sullivan

Sample first page.

Two hundred and twenty-two years ago today (1797) , in a field near what’s now Greenville, Ohio, a preacher named John Rhys delivered an Independence Day address to the United States Army.

The troops in his audience had recently won a decisive victory over the Western Confederacy, an alliance of Native peoples who’d been battling white encroachment in the Midwest for a decade. That victory had brought to an end the first Indian war of the federal era. More than a thousand white Americans had been killed, and perhaps twice that number of Native Americans.

Native leaders expected that defeat would mean a permanent expulsion from their lands. But Reverend Rhys took a different line. “The love of conquest and enlargement of territory should be sacrificed,” he told the troops. “Whites and Indians should move to each other’s towns, get to know each other better, perhaps even fall in love.” When they recognized their mutual humanity, he insisted, they would become “one people, and have but one interest at heart.”

It’s easy to see the relationship between white people and Native Americans in early US history as a zero-sum game: the United States gave national form to a practice of settler colonialism that had marginalized Native people for centuries; the interests of white settlers who pushed forward into Indian country after 1776 were fundamentally opposed to those of Native Americans.

And in their broad outline, these assumptions are correct. From George Washington to Andrew Jackson (and beyond), America’s presidents had little regard for the wellbeing of Native people. But Rhys’s Independence Day oration points to a very different outcome, free of mass murder and terror.

First Hand Account of the Crisis at Our Border

You Are Invited to learn…….

–Why did The Caravan come to our Southern Border?

–What can we do about resolving the humanitarian crisis at the border?

These are questions that inspired Bob Ames and Lew Montemaggi to go to Nogales, Arizona from November 7 -20.

You are invited to their presentation and discussion on Wednesday, December 12, 7:00 PM

First Unitarian Church, 220 S.Winton Road, Rochester.

They will talk about their participation in the School of the Americas Watch/ El Encuentro, which is an annual demonstration with workshops protesting US policies in Latin America and along the US/Mexican border.

Additionally, they participated in humanitarian work with an Arizona group. They went on a water drop and desert search, worked in a soup kitchen, and attended the deportation trials of recently arrested migrants.

While in Arizona, Bob and Lew represented the Veterans for Peace Chapter of Rochester. They are also active in the First Unitarian Honduras Ministry, Rochester Committee on Latin America (ROCLA), Metro Justice and Greenlight Driving Together.

They will share many stories. Be sure they tell you about the “Cowgirl”. See you 12/12 @ 7:00

Memorial on the 50th Anniversary of the Deaths of Echol Cole and Robert Walker

Memorial on the 50th Anniversary of the Deaths
of Echol Cole and Robert Walker, Memphis, TN
Department of Public Works

City of Rochester, NY
February 1, 2017

Remarks of Bruce Popper
Vice-president, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

In the struggles that we have before us, it is important to know the history of our movement. So, I want to acknowledge the decision to hold this memorial and to hold it in a workplace of environmental workers. I want to acknowledge the City of Rochester in its declaration of the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’s birth, and to acknowledge the members of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). It was unions such as AFSCME, the UAW, and Local 1199 who joined Dr. King in opposing the immoral war in Southeast Asia and in organizing low wage workers, regardless of race, thereby uniting the civil rights movement and the labor movement into the strongest voice for justice in that time.

February 1, 1968.

“At the end of a miserable, cold workday, Cole’s and Walker’s soiled, worn-out clothes smelled of garbage. The city did not provide them with gloves, uniforms, or a place to shower. They did hard, heavy work, lifting garbage tubs and carrying them on their shoulders or heads or pushcarts to dump their contents into outmoded trucks. On this particular day, Cole and Walker rode in a precarious, stinking perch between a hydraulic ram used to mash garbage into a small wad and the wall of the truck’s cavernous container. As crew chief Willie Crain drove the loaded garbage packer along Colonial Street to the Shelby Drive dump, he heard the hydraulic ram go into action, perhaps set off by a shovel that had jarred loose and crossed some electrical wires. He pulled the truck over to the curb at 4:20 PM, but the ram already was jamming Cole and Walker back into the compactor.

“One of the men lurched forward and nearly escaped, but the ram snagged his raincoat and dragged him back. ‘He was standing there on the end of the truck, and suddenly it looked like the big thing just swallowed him,’ said a horrified woman.”

[From Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign, by Michael K. Honey]

Echol Cole and Robert Walker died 50 years ago today. Given the fact that literally thousands of workers die every year in work related accidents, there was nothing so remarkable in their deaths than the events that they triggered.

Their deaths exposed worker exploitation. Their deaths exposed racism and moral corruption in the City of Memphis, and indeed in the entire nation. But most importantly, their deaths demonstrated Frederick Douglass’s maxim that:

“The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

For the sanitation workers of Memphis, the limit of their tyrant had been reached. On February 12, 1968, they walked off the job and said, “Enough is Enough.”

Their struggle against the racist white establishment and the bosses who would exploit their labor goes down in history, in part, because it became the most prominent battle in Dr. King’s last campaign: The Poor People’s Campaign, a campaign that embraced the people of all races, and of all persuasions.

On March 18, 1968, Dr. King declared in Memphis:

With Selma and the voting rights bill, one era of our struggle came to a close and a new era came into being. Now our struggle is for genuine equality, which means economic equality. For we know that it isn’t enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t earn enough money to buy a hamburger and a cup of coffee?

In this 50th anniversary of that watershed year 1968, we find ourselves in much the same fight. In places like Rochester, some workers are no longer exploited and discriminated against because of the efforts of unions like AFSCME and Local 1199.

But the sad truth is that most workers continue to be exploited, that racism is alive and well in our county, and poverty rampant in our city. While the U.S. Supreme Court is about to deliver another blow against working people’s organizations, the Trump administration spews racist poison to divide working people.

Well, I have some news for the hate mongers and for the exploiters. The limits of tyrants have once again been reached.

Our Mayor Lovely Warren has dedicated her second term to the fight for economic equality, citing Dr. King’s Memphis remarks.

Reverend William Barber, of the Moral Mondays movement, has called for a New Poor People’s Campaign this spring.

We have work to do right here in Rochester: supporting our mayor in raising wages to self-sufficiency and attacking structural racism; and joining the national movement of the New Poor People’s Campaign.

As we mark the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass and the 50th anniversary of those fateful events of 1968, and as we draw inspiration from our history, we must pledge anew to carry on the fight, in 2018, the fight for economic justice for all people, until the battle is won.

Advancement Project “Right to Vote”

When leaders from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) put it all on the line in the fight for voting rights, they did not imagine that in 2016 we would still be fighting the same fight all over again.

In a dramatic new Advancement Project video, SNCC leaders join contemporary racial justice voices to discuss a crucial next step for voting rights: a constitutional right to vote.

In states like Missouri, those looking to silence communities of color are trying to water down the state constitution’s right to vote — yet another attempt to take away voting rights and make it harder for people to have a voice.

Unfortunately, Missouri is hardly alone. The right to vote is under attack all across the country. Given that attacks on the right to vote are widespread and ongoing, organizers and supporters from past and present voting rights struggles are increasingly calling for an explicit right to vote in the U.S. Constitution.

As the SNCC elders say in the video, this is part of a carefully crafted playbook to keep people of color from seizing the political power we deserve. It’s a struggle that our communities have resisted since the origin of our country.

Shuya Ohno

Campaign Director, Right to Vote
  Advancement Project

Being an Ally with #BlackLivesMatter

Many of us were at the #BlackLivesMatter rally on July 8th. The Band of Rebels will continue to support the 74 people arrested in to join in further events organized by the #BlackLivesMatter coalition.

Rochester Contacts

Enough is Enough Rochester   Enough is Enough Facebook

BLACK Facebook   BLACK website (coming soon)

Be a Co-conspirator: (from Advancement Project)

If you are non-Black, you too play a pivotal role as co-conspirators in the struggle to change policing and ensure racial justice. What can you do as a co-conspirator to support the dignity and safety of Black lives? Engage in deep transformative conversations with your friends, your families, your neighbors, and elevate the voices of communities in pain. These are often the most difficult conversations to have. But we must change hearts and minds as we work to transform systems and institutions. Here are templates and examples of letters of support from various communities.

Also, look into Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ).

If you are a white person it is worth while to read this list of things to remember. Note to self: White people taking part in #BlackLivesMatter protests | American Friends Service Committee

Recent Conversations in Rochester

  1. Interfaith Community Conversation  Responding to Hate with Love; Responding to Violence by Making Peace July 19, 2016
  2. The Baobab Cultural Center: Community Dialogue Series: A Community’s Fear     –   also known as Rochester 74 Community Talk Back   B.L.A.C.K. Building Leadership and Community Knowledge  July 22, 2016
  3. Conversation at WDKX “So tonight[July 19] there is a conversation happening at WDKX, about the police and our community. Mind you, this conversation topic was definetly sparked by the events that we know they saw during our BLM Rally. They did not invite us, they invited the mayor, who btw lied on us, Adam McFadden, and Cedric Alexander. When they were asked why we were not invited they had bullshit answers. Lol. FLOOD THEIR PHONE LINES AND ASK THEM WHY WE ARE NOT THERE. 585-222-1039 From Facebook post by Frederick Douglass

Please tell us about other conversations about race.

History

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE WHITE?

Published on Dec 17, 2014
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE WHITE? Author + race studies professor and scholar Dr. Robin DiAngelo describes how race shapes the lives of white people, explains what makes racism so hard for whites to see, and speaks back to popular white narratives that work to deny racism.

“I’m Not Racist…Am I?”

The Rochester community is currently addressing racial and economic injustice with many activities. Among these, during October and November, is the showing of the film “I’m Not Racist…Am I?”

Metro Justice, Downtown United Presbyterian Church and The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester are hosting a screening of this powerful film.

Monday, November 23rd,

6:30pm-8:45 pm

121 North Fitzhugh Street.

Admission to the is free. However, we will be taking up a free will donation to support the project. For further information: Pat Mannix, (585)469-8249 or [email protected]

I'm Not a Racist, am I? PosterImmediately following the documentary film there will be a facilitated conversation on race. Because the film and conversation address sensitive issues and language, screenings are suggested for teens and adults.

The film depicts a group of twelve NYC teens who were engaged in exploring racism over a whole school year. The discussions, with each other, with their families, and with the racism instructors, are revealed very skillfully by the film makers. You can meet the teens and view the trailer at . The goal of the film is to facilitate discussion by young people between themselves and adults exploring the social construct of race, how it functions, and how it results in systematic oppression.

We hope you will encourage your youth groups, youth coordinators, religious educators and adult members to attend the screening, participate in the discussion and carry the conversation back to your homes and faith community as one of many steps on the generational journey to dismantling racism. A flyer is attached and we ask you to publicize the film with your networks.

This project is endorsed by GRCC-Faith in Action Network and sponsored by Facing Race, Embracing Equity (Rochester’s racial equity initiative).

I’m Not a Racist, Am I? Poster PDF

COMMUNITY FORUM (MAKING THE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON-PIPE-LINE VISIBLE)


WHO: Facing Race, Embracing Equity (FR=EE) / Race And Education Action & Change Work Group
WHAT: COMMUNITY FORUM (MAKING THE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON-PIPE-LINE VISIBLE)
WHEN: March 14, 2015 @ 1:00 pm ….. March 14, 2015 @ 1:00 pm
WHERE: Frederick Douglass Resource Center (36 King Street, Rochester, NY)

WHY: To hear from RCSD families who have been victimized by the School-To-Prison-Pipe-Line, and enlist help from the community to bring it to an end. Formal invitations were sent to Rochester Board of Education Commissioners, City and County Officials.

Contact: Co-chairs of the Race And Education Action & Change Work Group:

Reverend Judy Davis @ (585) 261-1180 or email

Mr. Fred Tanksley @ (585) 764-1213  or   email

 

Ten Things You Should Know About Selma Before You See the Film

There is a sanitized, “pop” version of history which emphasizes a top-down narrative and isolated events, reinforces the master narrative that civil rights activists describe as “Rosa sat down, Martin stood up, and the white folks came south to save the day.” But there is a “people’s history” of Selma that we all can learn from—one that is needed especially now.

Go to the story.

Emilye Crosby is professor of history and coordinator of Black Studies at SUNY Geneseo. She is author of A Little Taste of Freedom (University of North Carolina Press, 2005) and editor of Civil Rights History from the Ground Up (University of Georgia Press, 2011). She is currently a fellow at the National Humanities Center where she is working on a history of women and gender in SNCC.

A longer version of this article can be found on the Teaching for Change website.

No Justice, No Peace Rally at UofR

Join a coalition of social and racial justice groups this afternoon:

What: No Justice, No Peace Rally at UofR
When: TODAY at 4pm (arrive early for instructions)
Where: University of Rochester, entrance on Wilson Blvd and Elmwood.

We are devastated by the grand jury’s decision to deny Mike Brown and his loved ones justice. We stand with the people of Ferguson and hope for their safety.

In the months since Mike Brown was murdered, we’ve seen protesters – from those on-site to those online – tirelessly demanding justice and lasting change. We’ve seen discussions that have been going on for decades gain urgency and long overdue attention. Though there is absolutely nothing that could dull the pain surrounding this tragedy and every tragedy like it, we commend all those working and calling for help. We are committed to standing with and among them.

Today, we need to stand in solidarity with our protesters in Ferguson.  We want to invite you to join with B.L.A.C.K. as we protest, rally, and march for Mike Brown and the countless others who have lost their lives to police violence.

We hope you can join in this Community Rally.

What: No Justice, No Peace Rally at UofR
When: TODAY at 4pm (arrive early for instructions)
Where: University of Rochester, entrance on Wilson Blvd and Elmwood.

Rosemary Rivera’s Final Message from Ferguson, MO

According to Wikipedia, the official Missouri state motto is “Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto”, Latin for “Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law.  This is ironic after the week I spent in what some call the “Bible Belt” and others call “Brick City” due to all the beautiful brick homes.  With more than 80% of the population being White and only about 11% of the population being African American, I guess that motto is only meant for the majority of the residents of Missouri.

Missouri is a beautiful state.  The brick homes are beautiful and the city and surrounding areas seem pretty clean to me.  Yet despite these facades, there is a sense of desperation witnessed in most poor communities.  You witness this predominantly in the counties as the mix of people in terms of socio-economic backgrounds and race covers the desperation.

The “Bible belt” is an apt name as the most tough and rough still seem to have a strong faith that allows them to feel that no matter what, everything will be all right.  I personally feel conflicted about that.  The lull of the promise of a future in the after life while also thinking that everything is “meant to be” kind of a pre-determined destiny because that is the way “He” wants it.  I am not knocking faith, I think it is beautiful, but I have subscribed to the mantra that faith without action is dead.  Yet in Missouri, what I felt is that monumental action is necessary.

Missouri is a state with 91 counties, according to the political establishment I spoke with (Wikipedia says there are 114).  Each county has its own police, government, etc.  Ferguson itself is a really small community.  It made me think that consolidation might need to happen here.  It is also a purple state.  It has a Democratic Governor and a Republican Lt. Governor.  The state legislature is dominated by Republicans and it seems that most Dems can sell out in a moment’s notice.  One particular billionaire, Rex Sinquefield has ties to almost every politician.  Rex

is a man who wants local control of the police.  He is someone who supports the charter school movement, and also someone who a lot of people, including the Democratic politicians, work for directly.  That has led to some distrust from the people. Some of the residents expressed to me that the Democrats have sold them out with a stroke of a pen due to the big money interests and ties to the wealthy like Rex Sinquefield.

Democratic Governor Nixon has not handled the situation of the killing of Mike Brown and the racial tension in his state very well.  Missouri is a state that uses capital punishment. On September 10th, they are putting another man to death and yet, the Governor stays strong in his support of capital punishment and his lack of support for those who suffer first hand from police aggression. They have executed 9 men, one a month, in the last nine months. First of all, Nixon is termed out so he is apparently not trying to make too many waves.  On top of that he pulled a fast one.

The Don’t Shoot Coalition is the local coalition working on the issues arising out of the Mike Brown case.  (The national coalition is called Hands Up United).  Anyway, this coalition called a press conference to ask that the prosecutor, Bob McCulloch step down and an independent special investigator be assigned to the case in order for there to be a chance for justice.  Although he had the power, through executive order, to remove him, he rescinded this power in order to now say, his hands are tied.  Overall, the Governor is not doing very well in handling racism in his state.  He is, and should be, a constant target for those working on this.

The progressive organizations of Missouri seem to be a lot like the ones we are all comfortable and aware of.  The only one that seems really different to me is Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE).  I sat down with Jeff Ordower, the Director of MORE and what they have is actually an organizational experiment in the making.  They are helping to set up more progressive organizations, have steered away from the constraints of being worried about themselves, and are very clear on what the risks are, but figure something different needs to be done.  I was impressed with Jeff from MORE.  I was also impressed with the chair of the Organization for Black Struggle, Montegue.  Montegue is someone who is in high demand, remains humble, and keeps at it because the established organizations know that he is in a good position to be the lead in this moment.  Although OBS has been around a while, it seems that they have been more of a club than anything else…that is until now. Things changed when Mike Brown was killed and OBS was propelled into the spotlight as an organization that deals with Black people and its struggles. They were the authentic voice although had not gotten much traction prior to this.  MORE was able to raise enough money so that they now have a full time organizer.  More also has been able to provide stipends to some of the leadership they have seen rise from this crisis.  We have a lot to see happen with OBS and I look forward to it.  They are strategic, their youth are ready for the fight, and I think they are well respected.

Ferguson is in for a real challenge.  It seems that all movements are born from crisis, but this is one crisis that can easily escalate. What is on everyone’s mind is what will happen if the court system comes back without an indictment also called a “no bill”.  I can tell you right now, jail support is going to need a lot of bail money if that is the case.  My only hope is that the violence doesn’t escalate to the point that more lives are lost.  In October, the nation will once again turn it’s attention to Ferguson.  it seems clear that there is energy and a desire for a national convergence on Ferguson.  The grand jury is expected to make a determination by mid-October so in response Ferguson is calling for a mass convergence the weekend of October 11th to keep the pressure on.  They are calling on all organizations to send folks down so if you would like to participate or know an organization willing to do so, please contact me.

While Mike Brown, the unarmed youth whose last words were, “Please don’t shoot” is only one instance.   Many of you haven’t heard of Kajiem Powell.  This was another black man that was killed on August 20th, about four miles from where Michael Brown was murdered.  The police made some proclamations and although the young man did have a knife, a recent video of the killing makes it clear that the police once again mishandled the situation and actually lied..  The guy was shot about 12 times and after seeing that he was dead, turned his body over and tried to handcuff him.  To see the video, please go here (insert later).  Please note that many think that his statements of, “Shoot me now” were in direct response to the activity that was happening with Mike Brown.  I bet he really didn’t think they would actually shoot him.

The reality is that the police in St. Luis with a population that is predominantly white, is out of control.  The race issue is out of control.  I have been involved with countless peaceful protests and have not experienced the kind of hostility I saw there.  Now let me tell share some examples through anecdotes I heard and some that I witnessed:

On Wednesday, the Lost Voices, a group of youth who are keeping the visibility up, did an event called “Shut it down” inviting the community to come sleep in tents with them to help keep the moment alive.  The response was really good and even the Senator, Maria Chappele-Nadal, joined us.  The next day we had group discussions that were really heartfelt and as real as I will ever experience.  During that discussion we found out from the Senator that the youth would be evicted the next day.  The youth had a decision to make.  Do they deal with the police and use it as a strategic move to call more attention to the cause or do they avoid the police and move their location.  The youth decided to move.  They didn’t want to deal with the police.  These youth march every night at 7pm down W. Florissant.  Nothing new.  They have been doing so everyday without cameras, simply because it is the right thing to do.  Now since they decided to move, the police came to the march that night and why did they arrest two of the youth.  One for “Manner of Walking”  something that I hadn’t heard of before.  Of course my response was, “I guess you were walking with too much swag!”  We looked up the charge and you are not supposed to get arrested for it.  You are supposed to get a ticket.  The police were overly aggressive and the woman I stayed with asked, “Is this normal?”  Apparently so.

Here are other examples.

  • Police throwing bananas at residents and telling them to go home when they were protesting.
  • Police tasered a young lady (she is from the new Black Panters) and no one did a thing to stop it when she was simply trying to cross the street with her sign.
  • Community members who refused to serve the youth and pointed to me and said, “If the white lady wants something, she can get it but the rest of you have to go.” (I was there and it still drives me nuts). What happened is that we went to get something to eat. The man at the register quoted a price that seemed to high. Dante, one of the spokespersons of the Lost Voices, took out his calculator and asked the man to give him the price for each item. The man refused. Dante told him it was his constitutional right to know how much he was paying for each item. The man in turn said, “NO, that is 12 items. Why don’t you all leave, but if the white lady wants to buy something, then she can.”
  • Feguson Brew House.  Lost Voices went in to get some drinks.  They asked for Bud Light and were told they didn’t have any.  They asked for other beers and told they didn’t have any. Finally they asked for water and the establishment told them they didn’t have any.  The youth decided to tweet about it and Ferguson Brew House decided to take it upon themselves to bring the youth lunch.  The youth denied it and told them they had wanted to spend their own money and now that they were confronted with their racism they thought they would be bought by lunch?  Yeah. Right.
  • Police responding to a complaint that someone;s house was broken into.  The woman, an African American named Alice, was interrogated and although she was at work, they decided that she must have set this up for insurance money and threatened to arrest her.  Clearly, even when you are in your home and the victim, you are subject to being under suspicion and accused of committing a crime.
  • A pregnant woman was taken to jail when 8 months preganant for assaulting a police officer.  They said she “ran and jumped” on the police officer’s back, when she could barely walk and her stomach was too big to jump on anyone! (we were able to get her a lawyer from the St. Luis University thank goodness)

But for the organizing community, the established organizations, I have one question:  Who are the disenfranchised you say your helping.  At the end of the day, the truly marginalized are going to go back to a very bleak situation and if they, for lack of education, or because of the way they look, cannot change, then they are stuck   Are we a movement of the elite left?  The articulate, the strategists, the ones who know best?  Do we lock out and impose our issues and our thinking of HOW you need to get things done. Some of the long time activists and organizers who understand strategy and what it takes to move the movement, sought to build bridges with groups like the Lost Voices. Groups that do have the directly affected on the frontlines are successful at growing the leadership, and there was some of that going on in Ferguson. There is some ageism, classism, and educational elitism that happens within the progressive left and we aren’t calling it out enough. ‘

This is why I love the organization I work with, Citizen Action of New York. If we lose some of the middle class because they are too uncomfortable with the people we are bringing in from communities of color, well so be it. We are transforming ourselves to do the hard work. We get the people who are really affected to do action.

There are certain basic elements of organizing that hold true no matter what campaign and what movement, but they don’t all look alike.  So, back to the Lost Voices, let me give a clear example.  Without any “official” training, these kids got 500 flyers printed out and had them all distributed in hours.  They are the ones with the visible voter registration table.  They are the ones who continue to march daily to keep the momentum alive.  They are the ones who figured out how to build a structure, who decided to give roles to their members, and figured out that people were ripping them off.  They trust none of the establishment.  They claim that they only come when the cameras are around (particularly faith leaders despite the fact that they all have such strong faith).  They figure all of this was happening way before Mike Brown was shot and that the established organizations turned a blind eye and allowed things to get to this point while they only enriched themselves and created power for themselves.

Do we benefit when established organizations have a victory that affects us?  Yes.  Are the established organizations needed?  Yes.  Are they creating space for those who don’t look like them, don’t act like them, and are really the directly affected?  Sometimes.

The movements of the past will no longer come again.  We won’t have another civil rights movement the way it looked in the 60’s.  .  That was a tipping point with a different kinds of leaders.  I bet that during that time there were people who doubted them as well, who thought they knew better than the Malcolm X, the Panthers and even Dr. King.  They were probably many who were judgemental of them at the time.  This new movement might be full of tatted up youth busting a sag and hip hop blaring.  Perhaps if we can put aside our own differences and see the value that each organization, person, crew, whatever brings, we might be in a better position to have a united front.  But, we have a long way to go before we sleep…a really long way, and I only hope I have enough stamina to take the journey.

Adams and Rivera Report on Visits to Ferguson, MO

Enough is Enough welcomes Ricardo Adams’ and Rosemary Rivera’s multimedia presentation about their trips to Ferguson, MO!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014
7:30PM – 9:00PM
Flying Squirrel Community Space
285 Clarissa St.
Free and open to the public

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/753368361390269/?ref=22

Enough Is Enough will have a general meeting from 7:00PM to 8:00PM on Tuesday, September 16 as we normally would meet. However, for the second hour of our meeting, Ricardo Adams and now Rosemary Rivera who just got back from Ferguson will present on their trips to Ferguson, MO and talk about the organizing going on around anti-police violence work and the ongoing demonstrations, among other items. This will be a multimedia presentation. If you’d like to come to our regular meeting, you are more than welcome. Please arrive to the meeting promptly so we can get through our business quickly.

Here is a link to a phone report back from Ricardo when he was in Ferguson: http://rochester.indymedia.org/node/103810

And here are links to Rosemary’s dispatches from Ferguson:
Day 1: https://band-of-rebels.com/2014/09/02/rosemary-rivera-message-from-ferguson-mo-day-1/

Day 2: https://band-of-rebels.com/2014/09/03/rosemary-riveras-messages-from-ferguson-mo-day-2/

Day 3: https://band-of-rebels.com/2014/09/05/rosemary-riveras-message-from-ferguson-day-3/

Day 4: https://band-of-rebels.com/2014/09/06/rosemary-riveras-messages-from-ferguson-day-4/

Rosemary Rivera’s messages from Ferguson – Day 4

Day 4:

Tonight in Ferguson, the house was packed.  Organizations, unions, residents…they all came together where the Lost Voices have established themselves and held a very unique meeting.  The dynamics of so many in one place was definitely educational…and interesting.  After a little bit of jockeying for power and respect, the group moved outside.  The youth insisted that despite the horrific hot and humid weather that if people couldn’t feel the heat they should get out of the kitchen.  It is outside, in what seems like 102 degree weather, that these youth make their statement in the struggle.  It is in this sacrifice that they derive their power.

As each of them spoke out today about justice, about education, about a revolution, about the prison industrial complex, and about the need to demilitarize the police, one common denominator showed through.  These kids are firm believers in God.  You can attribute that to this being the “Bible Belt” but their faith attracts all.  Their willingness to share of themselves, their struggle and their commitment to the cause makes these young men a beacon.

The youth were able to get through most of the meeting, but what they really want to do is action.  We, older, much wiser folks, know that we can’t have short term tactics without long term strategy.  However, we followed them, their music, their dancing, their exuberance, and I loved it…and more importantly, the people of Ferguson appreciated it.

We marched down Florissant Avenue, chanting while the cars went nuts beeping their horns, showing respect, allowing us to pass.  I saw children in the back of their parent’s cars and as they passed by they would throw up their hands in mock surrender.  This is a community transformed by their own activism.  They can no longer be the same.  They will be more aware, more active, and more together.

Behind the scenes, you have people who have been in the struggle way before the Day 1 of the Mike Brown shooting.  Although not a laughing matter to the Lost Voices they are very serious in their pride for being out there daily without giving up.  They have been doing this for a few weeks and yes I respect them for being out there from “Day 1” but what do our youth think, that we haven’t been out there from Day 1 which started for us YEARS ago?  How do we relay and transfer that knowledge without coming off as the parents and grandparents we didn’t want to listen to when we were young.   Those fights were important, yes, but that was then and this is now.  The fights of the young do not have to mirror the fights of the past.  We have evolved.  Our youth have evolved, and although we need to impart that valuable knowledge, we certainly shouldn’t expect the fight to be one that we recognize as the same.

Keeping it short tonight, Will make up for it tomorrow

Rosemary Rivera
Citizen Action of New York &
Public Policy and Education Fund of New York
Organizing Director
(585) 520-6542
email

“Power concedes nothing without a demand”

Rosemary Rivera’s Message from Ferguson – Day 3

Hi everyone,

Not sure who I am sending these to  This is not a very strong piece.  I am totally exhausted, but it still has some information

Today is the national strike for fast food workers.  As people across the country were cheering for  Ferguson and mourning Mike Brown, today Ferguson was cheering about the strikes.  There were no strikes in Ferguson.  Those who organized the strikes decided to respect the organizing that is going on and not to mix their message.  Reactions were mixed on this.

Many saw the fact that there was no strike in Ferguson as a missed opportunity.  Yet some in the community viewed it as a distraction from the focus they were trying to maintain.  No matter how you viewed the lack of the strike, it was felt here!  GO NEW YORK!!!

Turning to matters in Ferguson, today I spoke more in depth with the woman I am staying with.   Apparently, the death penalty is in full swing here and they have another black man sentenced to die next Wednesday.  Apparently, there is Klan territory still in Missouri and Ringo, the man accused of killing two, was sentenced by an all white jury, a white judge, in an all white town.  Now activists are turning to Governor Nixon to give a stay of execution.  If Ringo dies, that will be the ninth person in nine months executed.  They are executing faster than you can say “reasonable doubt”

While Mike Brown’s case is the focus, particularly because we had an unarmed black man gunned down by those who are paid to serve and protect, the people here cannot escape the fact that racism is pouring out of the criminal justice system.  And, it is permeating every institution here.  Remember that Jonothan Kozol’s book, Savage Inequalities raised the resource problem within school districts in East Missouri.  The Lost Voices group confirm that the education system in Missouri is atrocious and that there is an excellent education waiting for you here…if you have the money.

Earning the trust of the Lost Voices has been one of my main focuses and I wouldn’t violate that trust.  That is incredibly hard to do when others have come before you and taken advantage of them for their own profit.  PLEASE DO NOT DONATE TO LostVoices14 at this time as the money is NOT reaching them!  They are trying to figure out how to fix this and will inform me when they have a system to collect donations which they so desperately need.  (I really want to think about how to get the secretary a laptop – I did show her some things about keeping a list, discovered that Nationbuilder is only free for 14 days so that won’t work, but showed her Excel and Google Docs. These kids are thirsty for knowledge)

I will relay one story that shook me.  We went to get something to eat.  Dante, one of the spokepersons of the group ordered for us all.  At the end, the man quoted a price that seemed really high.  So, he took out his phone to use the calculator function and asked the man to tell him what each item cost (no menu on the walls).  The man flat out refused to do so and when Dante expressed his right to ask for the price of the items we were buying, the man said, “You can all go, but if the white lady (pointing to me) wants something, I will serve her!”  I don’t need to repeat most of our reaction to such a blatantly racist thing to say in the middle of Ferguson.  But, it shows me that racism is steeped into everything in this city.

Organizing for Black Struggle has been thrown center stage with all the established organizations, (they themselves are established here) like CBTU, ACLU, NAACP, Urban League, SEIU and other unions.  They will get the resources they need.  It is easier for an outsider like me to work with them because they understand the value of coalition building, tapping into organizing potential, and seeing connections between what is happening in Ferguson and what is happening everywhere on economics, health care, education, jobs, etc.

Today, I was honored to work with their lead organizer, Erin Burnett, in pulling together an action. I will not be able to see it through as I leave on Tuesday but I sure will be there with them in spirit as they block of city hall and demand an independent prosecutor in this case so they may have at least a, small chance at justice

Rosemary Rivera
Citizen Action of New York &
Public Policy and Education Fund of New York
Organizing rector
(585) 520-6542
Email

“Power concedes nothing without a deman

Rosemary Rivera’s Messages from Ferguson, MO – Day 2

Day 2 – What do we want?

There are two groups that are doing some of the real organizing in Ferguson, Missouri.  Organizing for Black Struggle and Lost Voices.

This morning, I went to meet the Lost Voices.  They have been camping out since the shooting, Occupy style.  They have continued to protest and march daily when others have gone home  The group is comprised of all black youth ranging in ages from maybe 17 to young adults.  This is the story of how they formed from a young girl in the group when I asked how they came together:

We were marching almost daily when we found ourselves connecting to each other and looking for one another whenever there was a march.  When they had a general assembly, we decided to just stay long after everyone was gone.  That night we spent the entire night just talking.  Getting to know each other and just talking about how messed up this was.  At the end of the night we decided to put together a group and do something about the situation.  That’s when Lost Voices was formed.

These youth are the real deal.  They are street, they are raw and they aren’t conforming to mainstream society’s ideal of how a black youth should come across.  These are the youth who would be dismissed by most adults, and the beauty is to know that they have begun a metamorphosis that is transforming them as they become politicized by the moment they are living in.

But, their challenges are significant.  Resources, need for organizational development, and the need to create a structure while figuring out who they can trust is huge.  One of the group leaders pulled no punches when he said to me, “I think we just got played”  Basically, someone raised money on behalf of Lost Voices, but they are unclear as to where that money went, and if they are Lost Voices, why they don’t have a seat at the decision making table about how to spend the money.  The young man let me know in no uncertain terms that they need help to figure out what they are building.

Now, let’s turn to OBS (Organizing for Black Struggle).  This is a really great group of phenomenal young leaders.  This is definitely a more experienced group who thinks strategically and understand the need to build organizational power.  We held a meeting tonight to decide on an action and did a somewhat abbreviated strategy chart on the tactic.  This group is also struggling with what they are building with the impatience of youth coming through.  Their biggest complaint is that the more time they spend holed up in these meetings, the less time they are with the people themselves.  If you ask me, they make a really good point with that.

The two groups have something in common though: each group is faced with the challenge of articulating to the world what they want.  If we think back to the Occupy movement, this seemed to be their challenge as well.  Although the Occupy movement was able to coin the 99% phrase and change the frame of the debate at the time, the reality was that every person in the Occupy movement would describe what they wanted to achieve differently.  The same is true in Ferguson.

They want the District Attorney, McCullough to step down, they want to end bench warrants for non-violent offenses, they want…what exactly do they want?  Each person is on a different page.  Oh, yes, in general they all want racial equity and justice for Mike Brown, but what each short term step is to get to those broader goals is laced with uncertainty, cynicism, and fear.  If these groups can’t deliver a victory, no matter how small, there is a real threat that the next time someone comes knocking on the door and says, “Together we can change x, y, z, “ they may very well get the door slammed in their face.

Rosemary Rivera
Citizen Action of New York &
Public Policy and Education Fund of New York
Organizing Director
Email

Rosemary Rivera Message from Ferguson, MO – Day 1

How do we take a moment in time and not let it pass us by, but use it to be the tipping point to begin to dismantle racism? How can we focus on racism and not acknowledge the oppression, the classism, the simple uneven playing field that exists within our society? Plagued with these questions and more, I came to Ferguson,to seek understanding and to support in whatever small way possible, the people who struggle.

When I arrived, St. Louis looked like any other city I had been in. But, entering Ferguson, made me realize what a special community Ferguson really is.

The first place we made a beeline to is the street that Michael Brown was killed.

The first thing we saw was an incredible memorial laid out in the MIDDLE of the street. It has to be about 12 feet long and as we passed, people stood on the side with their arms raised in the air, hands balled in a fist. This simple and time worn symbol has meant power, but in the streets of Ferguson it had an additional meaning: “Hands up…Don’t shoot”

Another memorial on the side of the road stood no less that six feet wide with flowers, a basketball, signs, and all sorts of tributes to Michael Brown.. A huge cross, perhaps six feet high leaned against the building, a memory to a fallen youth that refuses to be forgotten. The cars respected the memorial in the middle of the street, honking their horns as they passed and being careful not to run over any part of the memorial, while at the same time, returning the salute that is additionally a sign of respect.

As we got out and took pictures of the memorials, a woman, walked up to me out of nowhere and simply hugged me. She welcomed me and spoke to me in despair over what had transpired in her community. Angie has been living in the same complex for twenty years. Her daughter is a teacher and they both were home the day Mike Brown was shot. They heard the bullets that ripped into his body and they felt the pain of loss.

Angie is angry. She is not the only one. The people standing in front of this memorial are not a part of any organization. I asked if they were taking “shifts” in manning the memorial. “No, you just come when you feel moved to do so, “ was the response. There seemed to be no real rhyme to their gathering, but they all had plenty of reason. These people are simply tired and expressing that they can’t take it anymore.

As she stood talking to me, two young people holding a sign, came up and sang “A change gonna come,” their beautiful voices touching something deep within me. They thanked me for coming to support them, when all I wanted to do is to thank them for receiving me in such a welcoming manner. Unashamed, they cried, they sang, they stood together gathering strength from one another. I could sense a front porch community that cares about each other and an underlying pride that they are no longer going to sit by the sidelines and take whatever injustice is dished out. When I asked, “What happens now,” The response I received was simple. “They better do something soon to hold that police officer accountable or things are really gonna jump off!”

Today was the first evening we were in Ferguson. Right now there is a moratorium on the protests for the next 14 days. But, the people I was able to talk to are probably not the ones that are part of engineering that moratorium. They were mothers, fathers, young people and old, who live in that community and are waiting and watching. I am glad to be waiting and watching with them….

(Guys we only were out there a little bit. After settling in and figuring out where we were staying, having a HUGE layover as we couldn’t get on the plane we were booked for, we got here a bit too late. No one really was as prepared for us. Actually, I don’t think any organization here was prepared for what happened. They are all going, “Oh, okay this is turning out to be national and all eyes are on us.” The organization, MORE, that used to be ACORN, I must take my hat off to. They seem to not be taking a lead, but identifying people who are the young leaders and actually training them. The woman I am staying with is a Saint. Beautiful home and she shares that what has her excited and opening up the doors to her home is all the youth that this has brought out. I hope this doesn’t become a blip in history because people might give up. When you put your all into something and nothing changes….well, don’t you have less hope that when you started? Anyway, love you all.)

Rosemary Rivera
Citizen Action of New York &
Public Policy and Education Fund of New York
Organizing Director
(585) 520-6542
Email

“Power concedes nothing without a demand”

CCDS Statement on Racist Police Murder of Michael Brown

 From the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

On the Racist Police Murder of Michael Brown Statement of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism August 19, 2014

In a ten day non-stop protest, the people of Ferguson, MO – youth and seniors, Black and white – are standing up for justice, equality and democracy in protest of the police murder of young Michael Brown, a black teenage resident of the majority African American suburb of St. Louis. The people of Ferguson are joined by people around the country who have participated in vigils and street protests of the police cover up and the brutal police repression against peaceful protesters that have followed.

The daily peaceful protests are not only justified, but likely to continue and spread unless radical changes are made. Calling for ‘calm’ and peace’ when injustice is prevailing and rampant doesn’t help much and at worse, is divisive. Broad unity is needed, one that includes angry young people as well as their elders.

Michael Brown is only the latest person of color, mainly African American, to be murdered by police in cities around the country and with impunity. Ten days after Brown’s murder, no charges have been brought against the police officer whose identify was kept secret for over a week.

As Michael Brown lay dead in Ferguson, MO, organizing for a march in NYC had been underway since the police murder of Eric Gardner last month. His so-called “crime” was selling cigarettes on a street corner. Like Brown’s death, Gardner’s killing by police has catapulted community, civil rights organizations, youth groups and unions to join together for a march across the Verazzano Bridge on August 23rd demanding the police involved be held to account.

The rampant police murders and other crimes against Black and Brown people represents a state of national emergency.

CCDS urges all to sign the online petition sponsored by Color of Change and Democracy for America that calls on President Obama to send federal marshals to Ferguson, not the National Guard, “to protect Ferguson residents from an out of control and extremely violent police force.”

colorofchange.org

Beyond this, a political agenda to stop police murder and other crimes should include:

1. Establishing Civilian Police Accountability Councils (CPAC), a campaign spearheaded by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. Only civilian control of police departments can reign in police and hold them accountable for their crimes.

2. Demilitarization of police departments. CCDS joins with the CPUSA and others who call for repeal of the National Defense Authorization Act which has provided local police departments from the largest to the smallest with Pentagon weaponry and paramilitary training. Missouri law enforcement agencies have received $69 million in military weapons. Nationally, more than $4.3 billion in military equipment has gone to police agencies since 1997.

3.The immediate arrest and indictment against the officer responsible for Michael Brown’s death. As St. Louis writer and activist Jamala Rogers wrote, Black people must have equal protection under the law and those who use the badge to abuse their authority must be held accountable. “Above all, they want transparency,” said Rogers.

4. An end to police “racial profiling,” the practice of racist targeting of Black and Latino people, and an end to “stop and frisk” policies which are nothing more than targeted harassment of mainly Black and Latino youth.

5. Affirmative action for police departments. Programs must be implemented immediately to insure that police forces are representative of the people they serve.

6. An urban agenda for the nation. In the midst of the Ferguson protests, the Rev. Jesse Jackson of Rainbow/PUSH has drawn attention to the pressing need for a new urban agenda for our nation’s cities. We agree. Like other industrial states and central cities deserted by capital’s low-wage, anti-union drive, Missouri has a 22% unemployment rate. Joblessness for Black and Latino youth is twice the rate of white youth whose futures are also in jeopardy. Needed is a political agenda for rebuilding our cities – a just transition to a new economy, one that is good for the environment, good for the country, good for a peaceful foreign policy, and good for young people who are desperate for a future with living wage, full time skilled jobs and training.

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism www.cc-ds.org Email CCDS

Young Black Males: America’s Promise or America’s Problem

The Baobab Cultural Center

728 University Ave Rochester NY 14607
Friday, August 29 7 pm
Special Guest Facilitator: Filmmaker Shabaka Mu Ausar/Utchat Vision

 

This raw and uncompromising film explores the complex stories and sometimes destructive behavior of young black males living in Rochester. This ground-breaking documentary attempts to answer the most complex and difficult question: WHY?
Independent Producer/Director/Writer/Editor Shabaka Mu Ausar is from Rochester and graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in 1999 with an MFA in Film/Video Production. He started UTCHAT VISION in April of 2000, a media production temple that produces films, music videos, commercials, graphics, web design, and more. Creator of MEDIAMOVEMENT.NET MUSIC+VIDEO+FILM+DIGITAL=REVOLUTION.

 

Youth Prison Prevention Conference

Youth Prison Prevention Conference coming to Rochester New York on

Saturday July 26th, 2014 from 1pm – 4pm

Asbury First United Methodist Church – 1040 East Ave. – Rochester, NY 14607

Calling all Community Leaders, Church Leaders, School Administrators, Politicians, Law Enforcement, Court Officials, Parole, Probation, Small Business Owners, and the Media.

This is a no-cost event yet we do appreciate FREE-WILL-DONATIONS and EVENT SPONSORSHIPS

Refreshments will be served!!!

Space for Sponsors, Vendors, and Speakers Available—–CALL ASAP TO RESERVE YOUR PLACE!!!

Contact Mr. Harris at 716-563-5515

Attached is a link to our website and a few PDFs on Zip File

Youth Prison Prevention Project

Time Warner Cable  News coverage of our initial Rochester meeting in Jan. 2014

 

Looking Back to Move Forward

July 64 Community Conversations

Baden Street Settlement
In partnership with
Center for Dispute Settlement
Presents a Restorative Conversation
July ’64
Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 485 N. Clinton Ave.
5 :00-8 :OOpm
Refreshments will be served 5:00-5:30pm

South West Area Neighborhood Association
In partnership with
Center for Dispute Settlement
Presents a Restorative Conversation
July ’64
Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 10 Cady Street
@Montgomery Center, 5:00-8:00pm
Refreshments will be served 5-5:30pm

The Community Place of Greater Rochester
In partnership with
Center for Dispute Settlement
Presents a Restorative Conversation
July ’64
8 Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 145 Parsells Ave.
5:00-8:00pm
Refreshments will be served 5:00-5:30pm

Charles Settlement House
In partnership with
Center for Dispute Settlement
Presents a Restorative Conversation
July ’64
Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 71 Parkway
5:00-8:00pm
Refreshments will be served 5 :00-5 :30pm

 

July 64 Community Conversations

 

Remembering the Race Riot|Rebellion of 1964

Race Rebellion 1964

Tuesday, July 15
Race, Riots and Roller Coasters:
The Struggle for Integrated
Recreation in America
Noon in Kate Gleason Auditorium
A presentation by Victoria W. Wolcott,
author and professor of History at the
University at Buffalo, SUNY.
Monday, July 21
There’s a Riot Going On:
The Current of Race Relations
Since the 1964 Riots
1:30pm in Kate Gleason Auditorium
Rochester native and national author
Bruce A. Jacobs speaks about racial
dynamics since 1964.
Tuesday, July 22
Screening of JULY ‘64 and teen
discussion with Darryl Porter
2 – 4pm in Teen Central
A talk with Darryl Porter, former president
of the Rochester City School Board and
gang leader in his youth.
Wednesday, July 23
Screening of JULY ‘64 and
panel discussion
2 – 4pm in Kate Gleason Auditorium
Producer Chris Christopher and
director Carvin Eison join Christopher
Lindley, Gap Mangione, Darryl Porter
and Tom Proietti to share their
experiences and insights.
Thursday, July 24
The Circles God Draws
Noon in Kate Gleason Auditorium
Ruth Holland Scott, activist, author,
politician and teacher, will discuss civil
rights in Rochester after July 1964.
Friday, July 25
July ’64 Revisited: Rochester
and Race Relations
with Blackstorytelling League
of Rochester
11:30am in Kate Gleason Auditorium
Hear accounts of local storytellers about
what happened in Rochester during the
race riots of 1964.
The Central Library is accessible to people with disabilities. To request specific accommodations, call 585-428-8304 ten days prior to the program. 4632-06CC
www.facebook.com/RocCentralLibrary
Friends & Foundation of the
Rochester Public Library
Also in the Local History & Genealogy Division during July, an exhibit that chronicles the local, national and global impact of the July 1964 riots/rebellion, created by St. John Fisher College students and funded by the New York Council for the Humanities. For more information, contact [email protected] or 428.8350.