This weekend, many are remembering Bloody Sunday, the march across the bridge in Selma, AL that was met with police violence. We are reminded that the struggle for justice has a long history and that our work continues. We must stand together in wave after wave of action to build a better world.
Sophia Bracy, who grew up in AL, was among the first to break segregation in schools and whose home was bombed, writes that the struggle for civil rights continues. In some ways it hasn’t changed such as the lack of public investment in education for communities of color, and in other ways it is different, literacy tests and poll taxes have been replaced by the consequences of incarceration and the requirement for identification as barriers to voting. She reminds us that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Racism is rampant in policing and in the judicial system. The Department of Justice’s report on Ferguson released this week shows that this injustice is widespread across the country. A report was also released this week from Obama’s task force on police that outlines some concrete changes which provide a place to start. The proposed reforms will not be sufficient to create necessary changes. Steve Early writes that police training will help, but in reality, the whole system needs to be transformed.
Racial injustice continues. The DOJ decided not to pursue federal charges against Officer Darren Wilson in the murder of Michael Brown, so his family has filed a civil suit. Rev. Pinkney remains in jail far from his home and was denied release while his appeal is pending. Rodney Reed remains on death row in Texas, though his execution was recently stayed, and he still hopes for vindication. In Chicago, torture ‘black sites’ used by local police have been exposed and now the survivors are demanding reparations. And in Tallahassee, FL, students are fighting for justice in the murder of Jeremy “Jed” Lett who was recently killed by police.
It isn’t as overt as being shot by a police officer, but environmental and climate injustice are also deadly. Polluting industries typically set up in lower income areas where the people have neither the political power to fight back nor the financial resources to leave. Indigenous communities are similarly exploited. The government recently went so far as to hand over sacred Apache land to a foreign copper mining corporation.
Federal agencies that are supposed to protect the public, do the bidding of industry instead. One of the worst is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which David Cay Johnston explains is the only federal agency directly funded by industry. Others, like the Environmental Protection Agency, are also heavily influenced by industry.
People are working in solidarity to fight this corruption and injustice and are having some success. Following a global day of action against genetically-engineered trees, campesino women in Brazil led an occupation of an industry meeting that shut it down. Persistence by the Earth Quaker Action Team succeeded recently in forcing PNC bank to stop investing in mountaintop removal for coal. And ten people who were arrested for sitting-in during Flood Wall Street advanced the necessity defense in their trial this week. The judge admitted that it is legitimate to take action to stop the climate crisis.
Here are a few opportunities to take action: 1. The President approved seismic exploration for oil and drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. The exploration alone will harm marine mammals and drilling for oil could create another catastrophic event as happened in the Gulf of Mexico. Protests are being planned at public meetings. The next one is March 9 in Annapolis, MD. And Beyond Extreme Energy returns to Washington, DC in May to take on the FERC again. Click here to register.
Fast Track is a Game Changer
The struggle that we are putting most of our energy towards for the next few months is to stop Congress from giving the president fast track trade promotion authority. This would allow the president for the next seven years to negotiate deals in secret and sign them before they go to Congress for limited review, no amendments and an up-or-down vote. We can’t emphasize enough how dangerous this is!
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which is nearly completed, goes way beyond typical trade deals. Most of the chapters are on issues not related to trade but that would instead enhance corporate rights and power. Although the TPP has been negotiated in secret, it will require that all of our laws, down to the local level, be ‘harmonized’ with the agreement. It would allow multinational corporations to challenge our laws to protect our communities and the planet through an extrajudicial trade tribunal run in part by corporate lawyers. This is called Investor State Dispute Settlement and Sen. Warren wrote about it in the Washington Post.
Corporations are writing laws that enhance their profits even though they harm our health and safety. Alison Rose Levy describes how this affects the food we eat. And leaks of text from the European version, called TTIP, show how the agreement will destroy the National Health System in the UK.
The President is currently putting tremendous pressure on Congress for fast track in order to complete negotiations of and sign the TPP. The administration went so far as to lie about fast track after the day that Sen Warren’s article was published and eight Senators spoke out on the senate floor.
We have been very focused on Sen. Wyden, who is the key person in the Senate, and have been sitting-in at his DC office. Thousands of people are calling his office and jamming his lines and it’s having an effect (His number is 202 224 5244). The President wanted fast track legislation on his desk by the end of March, but it won’t be introduced in the Senate until mid-April. This gives us more time to ramp up the public pressure and we need to do that because the Chamber of Commerce is getting ready to launch a $160 million ad campaign.
Click here for a link to information about how you can get involved. Here are the basics:
1. Join the weekly “Fast Track Resistance” National Calls – starting on Wednesday, March 11 at 9 pm Eastern/6 pm Pacific, we’ll host weekly education and organizing calls to teach about Fast Track and the TPP, provide legislative updates and organize specific actions. We’ll have activists on hand to facilitate break-out groups where you’ll learn how to organize teach-ins, do visibility actions, use social media to have an impact and reach legislators with your message. You must register for the call. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.
2. March 13 is the National Day to ‘Drop in and Hang Out’ – Representatives will be in their home districts on recess so people across the country will hold rolling sit-ins like we’ve been doing for the past 2 weeks in Senator Ron Wyden’s office. It’s easy to do. Just go to your member’s local office during office hours and hold a sign urging them to oppose Fast Track. Bring your friends. Take pictures and share them on social media. Urge those who can’t join you to call in to the office. CLICK HERE TO FIND OR POST AN ACTION.
3. Join the Rapid Response Team – you’ve probably seen some of us ‘dropping in and hanging out’ in Sen. Wyden’s office over the past 2 weeks. It has had an effect but we understand that Sen. Wyden is trying to make a deal with Sen. Hatch to support Fast Track legislation. We’ve got to stop him from from doing that.
We have plans for a larger action and we need you. Please let us know if you can join us in DC on Thursday, March 19. Contact Mackenzie@PopularResistance.org.
We are at a critical juncture in world history. We live in a globalized world. That is the reality. But at present, it is a world that is increasingly dominated by multi-national corporations and big finance capital that controls national policies. The result of this system is exploitation of people and the planet and the use of the security state to oppress those who resist or to gather resources.
William Dalrymple reminds us of the serious consequences that can result from such an arrangement in his article about the East India Company.
It is up to us to rise together and fight back, to resist the expansion of corporate power and to build new systems that are more democratic, just and sustainable. We are with you in this struggle. People power, applied strategically, can succeed.
We also need your financial support to do this work. Please click here to make a tax-deductible donation.