Newsletter – Remembering Through Action

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This week, memorials were held to mark the one year anniversary of the murder of Mike Brown which sparked the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The United States has been at war since the founding, both at home and abroad.

Mike Brown memorialBlack Lives Matter is bigger than police brutality

This weekend there are events in Ferguson to mark the anniversary of the deaths of Mike Brown, Kajieme Powell and others. Organizers and activists are reflecting on what the last year has meant. Tef Poe and Kayla Reed were interviewed about it and Pamela Merritt gave her views. Click here to read more about the events and take the action pledge.

It was a year ago that we saw the tweets showing Mike Brown’s body lying in the middle of the street, left there for more than four hours after he was killed by Officer Darren Wilson. The Black Lives Matter movement, which had been percolating for decades, took off with marches in Ferguson that were met with an over-reaction by heavily militarized police leading to the Ferguson Rebellion and solidarity actions across the country.

This was a classic ‘take off’ moment as we described in “Major Social Transformation Is Closer Than You May Think” which was based on Bill Moyer’s “Eight Stages Of Successful Social Movements.” Another classic ‘take off’ was the Occupy Movement in 2011 which brought wealth inequality and political corruption to the public dialog. Now both fronts of struggle, which are part of the movement for social, economic, racial and environmental justice, are continuing to create national consensus around the issues.

The Black Lives Matter movement changed the conversation about racism in the United States and brought White Supremacy, which Herbert Dyer, Jr. describes as an inherent part of the “entire social, political, cultural and economic ‘American’ milieu,” to the forefront. Now we are counting the number of black and brown people who are being killed by police (638 this year at last count). A new poll shows that more than three out of five blacks in the US are either mistreated by police or have a family member who was mistreated. And over the past year, 40 laws have been passed in 24 states to address police behavior.

1lightPeople are joining forces to demand investigations and accountability for police who commit murder. Light Brigades across the country created a petition calling for an investigation into the recent death of Sandra Bland. Bland’s family filed a federal lawsuit demanding accountability. Eric Garner’s daughter, Erica, started a foundation and is currently working to bring attention to the death of Raynette Turner, a mother of eight who died while being detained for allegedly stealing food for her children.

And from its beginning, Black Lives Matter has been about more than police brutality. One of the founders, Opal Tometi, who is also the Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, makes broader connections, saying, “Extreme poverty, wealth and war are linked to extreme policing of bodies and borders.” She is part of a growing transnational movement that also recognizes economic policies such as the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) are issues that the Black Lives Matter movement needs to take on. We see the TPP and other rigged corporate trade agreements as a form of modern colonization that has consistently abused poor communities, usually black and brown communities.

1warThe black struggle in the United States has always been about the fight against all forms of white supremacy including its expressions in imperialism, colonization and neoliberalism. In a recent interview with Chris Hedges, Cornel West says it clearly:

“Lo and behold, the black prophetic tradition says, no, we’re critical of pro-Wall Street policy that generate more capitalist wealth and inequality. When it comes to privatizing, no, we want public life. We want a sense of what we hold in common, including at the workplace vis-à-vis bosses, oftentimes just run amok with corporate greed. And the same would be true in terms of militarize. That’s part of the anti-militarism that you rightly talk about that goes hand-in-hand with anti-imperialism.”

Vincent Intondi writes in the Zinn Education Project that the history textbooks don’t tell us that the civil rights movement has always been deeply entwined with the peace movement.

Act Now to Stop More War

The US and its allies recently negotiated an agreement with Iran concerning its nuclear program. This agreement has been hailed as an historic step for diplomacy rather than war. We cannot say for certain what the intentions are. We are not naïve enough to believe that the US has given up its desires for Iranian oil and agreements can be used as a basis for war if they are broken (either in fact or in fiction).

Peace with IranThat said, the agreement with Iran is under attack by members of Congress who are beholden to AIPAC (the extreme right wing Israeli lobby) and we support actions to lift the sanctions against Iran (a form of ‘humanitarian warfare’ that kills quietly) and to defend the agreement. Senator Schumer, who is next in line for leadership of the Democrats in the Senate, is opposed to the agreement and is being targeted by Democratic groups with a ‘donation strike.’ People are urged to contact their members of Congress over the summer recess and tell them to support the agreement.

Additionally, as we mark the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is time to demand that instead of spending $1 trillion public dollars to ‘modernize’ the US nuclear arsenal, we should eliminate nuclear weapons and focus on modernizing our infrastructure and energy economy with clean sustainable sources instead. Such moves would greatly reduce tensions in the world.

Picture 5To mark the anniversary, Veterans for Peace members resurrected and refurbished the “Golden Rule,” the first environmental and peace boat that was “instrumental in helping develop the first atmospheric test ban treaty back in the early ’60s.” This week it sailed down the Pacific Coast arriving in San Diego for the VFP National Convention.

This week the American Psychological Association decided to no  longer allow psychologists to participate in tortrue. There seemed to be considerable division over the recent findings of the APA’s complicity with torture but in the end six dissidents who urged an end to participation in torutre won  near unanimous decision (with only one dissenter a former Guantanamo psychologist). Stephen Soldz of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology accused the APA’s ‘military faction’ of peddling lies that the APA acts to protect human rights. But, human rights are often used to front for Empire.

This week will be the 100th anniversary of the so-called US’ ‘humanitarian occupation of Haiti.’ Groups like the wrongly-named Institute of Peace, US Agency for International Development and the National Endowment for Democracy appear to be humanitarian but are really fronts for imperialist policies and US hegemony. Russia took the appropriate step of calling out the NED as an ‘undesirable organization’ and requiring Russian organizations that take money from it to register as foreign agents.  Robert Parry writes about the NED’s ties to the CIA and how the Washington Post misled the nation about Russia’s actions.

1warthugsBold steps are needed in these times, as is truth-telling. An artist in DC recently altered a mural of presidents extending from Eisenhower to Obama with red paint balls and a new title for the mural “War Thugs” perhaps partly in response to Obama’s comment about thugs during the Baltimore Uprising.

We would like to highlight and thank Knowledge Ecology International for taking a very bold step to tell the truth. This week they publicly released the text of the Intellectual Property chapter from the TPP. The text is classified and KEI may face repercussions, but the director Jamie Love said, “KEI is publishing the consolidated text … in order to enable the public to understand, analyze, and influence the rules that have been proposed for intellectual property in this important trade negotiation. Over 600 corporate advisors already have access to this text, and this leak, at least temporarily, levels the field somewhat.”

Join the fight to stop the TPP by taking the Action Pledge here.