Yes, ol’ fashioned racism can and does get to me. Those racial slurs as I ride my bicycle, being the only one followed by the security guard, or the never-really-random airport search, but most days, if I had to choose my direct racist experience, I’d rather any of the above over encounters with a Good White Person.
If you’re a POC, you probably know at least one of these Good White People! If you’re white and reading my blog, maybe you are one; a well intentioned whitey. You’re ‘on my side’, right? You figured out racism is ‘bad’ so now you’ve joined the fight against racism! Maybe you work in a social enterprise, for a charity, with refugees, or Indigenous people, or in the multi-cultural arts. You’re proud of yourself for your many years of human rights work. You’ve claimed your anti-racist identity, you have friends and maybe even lovers…
Kalamazoo Federal Building, corner Michigan and Park downtown Kalamazoo
The violence against civilians in Gaza has reached truly horrific proportions. Please join us again this Thursday. Thursday is a a national day of action on Gaza. Make your own signs or we will have some available. Also, please consider emailing or calling Representative Upton, Senators Stabenow and Levin, and President Obama and urge a cut off of military aid to Israel. Please consider writing a letter to the editor expressing your own viewpoint on the issue.
Below is a letter to the editor sent to the Kalamazoo Gazette from KNOW:
As we watch the mounting casualty figures stemming from the bloodshed in Gaza, we realize each life is precious and represents another loved one taken away. We must take action.
The attacks on Gaza by Israel’s armed forces, by one of the most advanced military machines in the world, is causing indiscriminate slaughter. The population of Gaza has no army, no navy, no air force, no missile defense systems, or air raid shelters. We condemn the rockets fired at Israel by Hamas. However, compare these to 1,000 pound fragmentation bombs dropped in large numbers on crowded Palestinian neighborhoods, missiles falling on hospitals, children killed while playing soccer by shells from ships off the shore of Gaza, neighborhoods blasted with tanks and artillery, and with more than 425 reported dead as of this writing. The UN estimated that 80% of the people killed in Gaza have been civilians, including many children.
We call for an immediate ceasefire and arms embargo on all sides. At the same time we realize that true peace will mean a long-term agreement, which will provide justice for the Palestinian people, an end to the blockade and siege of Gaza, an end to the Israeli occupation and illegal settlements, freedom of movement and guaranteed security for all in the region.
In the U.S., those who want peace must work for imposition of an arms embargo on Israel; this is especially important for Americans because weapons systems and attack aircraft provided by the U.S. are being used to carry out the assault. We call upon President Obama, Representative Upton, and Senators Stabenow and Levin to work to immediately cutoff of the $3.1 billion in overt military aid that the U.S. gives to Israel each year, and ask all constituents to contact them to urge them to do the same.
Daniel Smith, Communications Chairperson
Kalamazoo Nonviolent Opponents of War (KNOW) www.kzoo4peace.org
On July 10, grandmother of three, Mary Anne Grady Flores was sentenced to one year in prison for being found guilty of violating an order of protection. A packed courtroom of over 100 supporters was stunned as she was led away, and vowed to continue the resistance.
These orders of protection, typically used in domestic violence situations or to protect a victim or witness to a crime, have been issued to people participating in nonviolent resistance actions at Hancock Air Base since late 2012. The base, near Syracuse NY, pilots unmanned Reaper drones over Afghanistan, and trains drone pilots, sensor operators and maintenance technicians. The orders had been issued to “protect” Colonel Earl Evans, Hancock’s mission support commander, who wanted to keep protesters “out of his driveway.”
Mary Anne began her sentencing statement with, “Your honor, a series of judicial perversions brings me here before you tonight.” She concluded that the “final perversion is the reversal of who is the real victim here: the commander of a military base whose drones kill innocent people halfway around the world, or those innocent people themselves who are the real ones in need of protection from the terror of US drone attacks?”
The orders of protection are being challenged on many legal grounds.
Mary Anne had been issued a temporary order in 2012. The next year, she photographed a nonviolent witness at the base, not participating herself because she did not want to violate the order. The irony is that those who actually participated in the action were acquitted, while Mary Anne was charged with violating the order.
Even though the pre-sentencing report recommended no jail time, Judge Gideon sentenced Mary Anne to the maximum of a year in prison. As he imposed his sentence, the judge referred to his previous Hancock decision. He had stated then and insinuated now, “This has got to stop.”
In addition, Mary Anne was fined $1000 plus a $205 court surcharge and a $50 fee to have her DNA collected.
Her verdict is being appealed.
For information on how to support Mary Anne, contact Ellen Grady at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would like to let everyone know that Marius Jacob Mason will no longer be using the name Marie, and will be using male pronouns. We hope that you will all join us in supporting Marius through this transition, which will no doubt be extra challenging within the prison system. Until his name is legally changed, any mail sent to Marius in prison will still need to be addressed to ‘Marie Mason’ on the envelope. This goes for donations also. Please write to Marius at this time! Receiving supportive and friendly mail makes a world of difference. Below is a statement read out by Moira Meltzer-Cohen, one of Marius’ legal representatives, at a solidarity event organized by New York City ABC recently.
“My name is Moira Meltzer-Cohen. I’m an attorney working with a person of immense courage and integrity, someone who struggles for liberation and self-determination on behalf of other people…
African asylum seekers from different cities in Israel held a two-day protest outside Holot detention center in the Negev, on February 17-18, 2014. Around 500 African immigrants gathered outside the center to call on Israeli authorities for the release of all people imprisoned under the Prevention of Infiltration Law, and find a comprehensive solution for the asylum seeker community.
The detainees of Holot joined the demonstration from inside the detention center. The protest is just the latest action in the mass struggle of asylum seekers in Israel that began in December 2013 with the “March for Freedom.”
Michigan Residents Hold Vigil and Fast for Victims of Drone Strikes
Battle Creek, MI — Michigan residents fasted and demonstrated for three hours outside of the Kellogg Air National Guard base on Saturday afternoon to express opposition to drone warfare. Drones, which are unmanned armed aircraft operated from behind a computer screen far from the target site, are being operated here locally. Drones have been secretly targeting people overseas, and have led to the deaths of countless innocent women, men, and children.
“Drone warfare isn’t keeping troops safer. Instead of going overseas to fight wars, drone operators are inches from the war. At the end of the work day, spying on and dropping hellfire missiles, they return home to their families.” Jessica Clark, of the Kalamazoo Peace Center said.
Drone warfare is causing a proliferation of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in drone operators. It also creates more terrorism. Foreigners who hold a neutral stance on the United States before a drone attack are filled with hatred for the United States. The United States should lead the way in ethical foreign policy by investing our resources in peace making and diplomacy as opposed to targeted killings.
The residents will hold a fast every Saturday this month, in honor of the start of Ramadan, a Muslim holy month in which Muslims worldwide will abstain from food and drink during daylight hours. Many of the victims of drone violence are themselves Muslim and will be fasting this month.
“We’re demonstrating today in solidarity with victims of drone violence, most of whom are Muslim. We’re fasting in solidarity on the eve of the start of Ramadan, and wish others overseas the peace and tranquility that all people deserve,” said Murtaza Nek, one of the demonstrators. “Our military doesn’t represent us, and as long as this continues, they should expect continued opposition.”
The Air National Guard base in Battle Creek will soon be the work place of 60 drone operators.
The event was sponsored by the Kalamazoo Peace Center, and comes on the heels of a recent 160-mile “March to Ground the Drones” which happened June 3rd-14th, 2014 and which ended with a 100-person demonstration at the Air National Guard Base.
Bob Palmer, a gentleman from Chicago walked the whole way from Chicago to Battle Creek. Jessica, of the Peace Center walked 148 of the 165 miles.
As many of you know, we just returned from participating in the “On the Road to Ground the Drones” walk from Chicago to Battle Creek, MI organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence. About 50 people participated in some part of the 160 mile walk over 12 days, with a dozen or so of us walkingthe whole way.
We started on June 3 at Boeing corporate headquarters in Chicago, where the manufacture of drones and conventional war planes are managed and designed. We finished on June 14, with about 100 people holding an action at the Michigan Air National Guard Facility at the Battle Creek Airport, site of a new drone command center. Along the way, we talked to lots of people, made presentations to local groups and reached out to local media.
There are many reasons to be opposed and/or concerned about the use of armed drones–from their use in assassinations that violate international law to how they create more ill will towards the United States in the communities where they often kill innocent bystanders. Many educational resources are available here.
Perhaps most broadly, when the only risk of killing and injuring people is on “the other side,” it provides yet another rationale for the United States to first look to pursuing military means to resolve our conflicts instead of pursuing nonviolent strategies that are only sustainable way to secure peace for the long-term.
I’m reminded of this as President Obama seems to be evaluating whether to use armed drone strikes in Iraq to address a conflict that primarily seems to be caused by sectarianism that all our years of war making have made worse.
Aside from raising awareness about drone warfare, the walk was also a good experience for conversing with others about all sorts of stuff and experiencing the world in a slow and focused way that is often absent in modern life. We walked along Chicago’s Lakefront path, industrial areas in East Chicago, Marktown, which is threatened with destruction by the Nation’s biggest Tar Sands refinery, (https://www.facebook.com/SaveMarktown) downtown Gary, the Indiana Dunes, upscale vacation communities on Lake Michigan, small towns along the Red Arrow Highway in Michigan and many sorts of other places. A few of us even squeezed in a visit to Bells’ Brewery in Kalamazoo:) Thankfully, it only rained heavily one day!