Housing Justice Groups Align As National Movement Grows

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By Jess Clarke for Homes for All – Renters across the US are beginning to rise up against the housing affordability crises that is hitting cities, towns, suburbs and even rural regions of the country. Since the mass evictions brought on by the foreclosure crisis, the number of renters has grown. Six million were added when they were pushed out of home ownership by the banks and millions more began to rent as young workers entered the labor market to face a decade of recession. Renters are now more than 50% of the population in the top 100 US cities, and high rents coupled with stagnant wages mean that over 50% of these renter households now pay unaffordable rents.[1] These two tipping points mean renters are poised to emerge as a powerful block in local and national politics. In September of 2017, this rising tide of discontent was mobilized. Over one hundred organizations in two dozen cities and towns staged fifty coordinated demonstrations during a national Renter Week of Action and Assemblies (RWAA) organized by the Homes For All Campaign. They demanded universal rent control and eviction protections, full funding for the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD), an end to subsidies for corporate landlords, the right of all tenants to organize and bargain collectively, and long-term community control of land and housing.

Faces Of Pain, Faces Of Hope

Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – ANDERSON, Ind.—It was close to midnight, and I was sitting at a small campfire with Sybilla and Josh Medlin in back of an old warehouse in an impoverished section of the city. The Medlins paid $20,000 for the warehouse. It came with three lots. They use the lots for gardens. The produce they grow is shared with neighbors and the local homeless shelter. There are three people living in the warehouse, which the Medlins converted into living quarters. That number has been as high as 10. “It was a house of hospitality,” said Josh, 33, who like his wife came out of the Catholic Worker Movement. “We were welcoming people who needed a place to stay, to help them get back on their feet. Or perhaps longer. That kind of didn’t work out as well as we had hoped. We weren’t really prepared to deal with some of the needs that people had. And perhaps not the skills. We were taken advantage of. We weren’t really helping them. We didn’t have the resources to help them.” “For the Catholic Workers, the ratio of community members to people they’re helping is a lot different than what we had here,” Sybilla, 27, said. “We were in for a shock. At the time there were just three community members. Sometimes we had four or five homeless guests here. It got kind of chaotic. Mostly mental illness. A lot of addiction, of course. We don’t know how to deal with hard drugs in our home. It got pretty crazy.”

Campaign Nonviolence Organizes Over 1,600 Events For Week Of Actions

A March for Peace in Wilmington, Delaware on Sept. 23. Organizers in Delaware held over 60 events during Campaign Nonviolence's Week of Actions. (Courtesy of Pace e Bene)

By Maria Benevento for NCR – A grassroots movement to bring nonviolence into the mainstream has been quietly but exponentially growing, resulting in 1,600 nonviolent actions in all 50 U.S. states and 16 other countries during the week of Sept. 16-24. For the fourth year in a row, Pace e Bene, an organization founded by Franciscan Friars in 1989 and dedicated to promoting peace, justice and well-being for all, sponsored the Week of Actions as part of Campaign Nonviolence, a long-term movement to build a culture of peace. “We have started this with the hope to get people to ‘connect the dots’ on issues of violence,” said Fr. John Dear, nonviolence outreach coordinator for Pace e Bene, “but also to promote the vision of a new culture of nonviolence, to try to get the movement moving.” Campaign Nonviolence asked local event organizers to take a holistic approach, drawing attention to the interconnection of four main issues — poverty, racism, war and environmental destruction — as forms of violence and promoting a positive vision of a culture of nonviolence. Common events included vigils, marches, public lectures, teach-ins, nonviolence trainings and prayer services. In Cincinnati, the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center worked with Dear to launch “Nonviolent Cincinnati” as part of the Nonviolent Cities Project.

Single Payer Is On The National Agenda—And It’s Thanks To People’s Movements

Put People First! Pennsylvania rallies on November 3, 2016 in Philadelphia, Penn. (Photo courtesy of Put People First! Pennsylvania)

By Ben Palmquist for In These Times – As Senator Bernie Sanders introduces a bill for universal, publicly financed healthcare on Wednesday, he has growing political momentum behind him. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris are cosponsoring the bill, and even former Senator Max Baucus—who shut down consideration of single payer during the drafting of the Affordable Care Act—is now saying that universal healthcare is “going to happen.” These statements among leading Democratic Senators mark a potentially momentous shifting of the political winds, but most media coverage of the Senators’ statements is misplaced: It ignores the powerful corporate and ideological forces that have long driven both parties’ opposition to universal healthcare. It ignores widespread public frustration with both parties and the tectonic social and economic changes transforming American politics. It ignores how people all over the country are organizing to channel popular anger into people’s movements that are independent of both political parties. And it ignores how these movements are beginning to completely upend the politics of healthcare. Across the United States, communities are organizing for universal healthcare. One of the most innovative and dynamic campaigns is led by Put People First!

International Declaration Of Solidarity With Popular Movements Of US In Resistance

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By Staff of Alliance for Global Justice – The People’s Human Rights Observatory (Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de los Pueblos) energetically rejects the interventionist, repressive, fascist, and racist policies of the government of Donald Trump that makes attempts against the sovereignty and dignity of the peoples of the world. 1) In its own territory, this government is threatening and violently attacking African Americans, the undocumented, the indigenous, and popular demonstrations. It is alarming that this would be occurring in the so-called “best democracy in the world”. 2) Moreover, this United States government not only tolerates, but encourages right wing and racist paramilitary or para-police forces, which is clearly evidenced in the events in Charlottesville in the State of Virginia in the US, in which groups from the extreme right, White supremacists, and members of the Ku Klux Klan attacked a multitude of anti-racist and leftist demonstrators, leaving at least one woman dead and 34 wounded. The attacks occurred in the presence of the police, who did nothing to prevent them. Equally, law enforcement agencies and the courts have tolerated armed vigilantes that patrol the border, that violently take possession of public land such as occurred in Ruby Ridge, and that kill young Black persons, such as the murder of Trayvon Martin.

You Can’t Have A Progressive Movement Without Peace

A peace mural is painted near the road leading to Planadas, Colombia, where a peasant uprising in 1964 led to the birth of the FARC. | Photo: AFP

By David Swanson for Let’s Try Democracy – Here’s my five-minute case for why you can’t have an effective progressive movement in the United States that doesn’t include working for peace. War and militarism and bases and ships and missiles and sanctions and nuclear threats and hostility make up the filter through which much of the other 96% of humanity experiences this 4%. The U.S. Congress chooses how to spend a great deal of money each year, and chooses to put 54% of it into war and preparations for war. The wars demonstrably increase rather than reduce or eliminate anti-U.S. sentiment and violence. They endanger us rather than protect us. The wars are a top cause of death and injury in the world, and a top cause of famines and disease epidemics and refugee crises that cause massive additional suffering. But war kills most by diverting resources. Small fractions of U.S. military spending could end starvation, provide clean water, end diseases, even end the use of fossil fuels worldwide. Military spending also reduces jobs in comparison to other spending or not taxing working people in the first place. The U.S. military consumes more petroleum than most entire countries and has a bigger budget than most governments and about the size of all other militaries combined.

The Non-Violent Berkeley Movement In The 1960s

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By Julia Stein for Counter Punch – After graduating UC Berkeley in 1968, I returned to Berkeley to visit friends May 1969 when People’s Park was being built. I had gotten arrested for Free Speech in 1964, and had seen for months how the “mainstream” press had attacked our non-violent Free Speech Movement (FSM). For months my boss told me that she believed the Oakland Tribune newspapers that the leaders of the FSM were Communists. For months I said the leaders of FSM were civil rights activists except for one Communist—Bettina Aptheker who was a moderating influence. My months of denials never affected my boss at all. After I got out of jail, I called my parents the next night, telling them I had been arrested in the sit-in. FSM had run orderly sit-in, giving us instructions to stay out of administration’s offices, which we scrupulously followed. My mother asked, “The LA Times said the people in the sit-in went in and broke into somebody’s office.” “No, we didn’t,” I said. Later we heard that a high administration bureaucrat at Berkeley had told that fallacious bit of news to the press who reprinted it until a second high official said, “No, my office was not broken into. I just keep a messy office.”

Racial Justice Must Be Central To Our Movements

Howard University student Troy Duffie with fellow student Kaylah Clark near the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Va., last week. Some 50 Howard students visited the statue and the site where Heather Heyer was killed while she was protesting a white nationalist rally Aug. 12. (Cliff Owen / AP)

By Sonali Kolhatkar for Truth Dig – If progressives are to learn one lesson about American politics in the period between last November’s election and the recent Charlottesville, Va., clashes, let it be this: To win social progress on many fronts at once, we have to address racism first and foremost. That’s because this nation was founded on the white domination of people of color, and especially African-Americans and Native Americans. Until we collectively face this fact and work for a redress of the impacts of persistent and relentless racism, we will continue to witness the emergence of white populist racists like Donald Trump and the resurgence of white supremacist and Nazi groups. Meanwhile, a minority of wealthy elites will continue to laugh all the way to the bank, smug over having avoided blame for capitalism’s built-in failings once again. There is no better symbolism of our failure to address the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow segregation than the current controversy over Confederate statues. Yohuru Williams, history professor and dean of the University of St. Thomas’ College of Arts and Science, explained to me in an interview that many Confederate statues were not erected before or during the Civil War but soon after, “by groups like the Daughters of the Confederacy, who were doing this to commemorate a lost cause—the idea that the South would rise again.”

What A Revived Poor People’s Campaign Needs To Do In The Trump Era

Demonstrators participating in the Poor People's March at Lafayette Park and on Connecticut Avenue, Washington, D.C., on June 18, 1968. Photo from Library of Congress.

By Amanda Abrams for Yes! Magazine – In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. and his allies started the Poor People’s Campaign, a movement meant to improve the lives of low-income Americans. But King was assassinated a few months before its political actions officially kicked off, and the campaign never reached its full potential. Fifty years later, Rev. William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP, is joining other religious and activist leaders to launch a new Poor People’s Campaign, picking up where King left off. Although King is universally associated with civil rights and the struggles of African Americans, the original Poor People’s Campaign was an inclusive effort to alleviate the poverty of Americans of all races. And today’s organizers say that goal is fundamental to the new campaign as well. In this deeply polarized socio-political climate, the message is an attractive one, emphasizing not left or right, but a collective moral obligation to allow everyone a fair shot at a decent life. Barber’s inclusive language certainly succeeded in North Carolina, where the popular Moral Mondays protests he spearheaded in 2013–14 helped elect a Democratic governor last year. But for the new movement to gain national traction, it will need to appeal not only to African Americans and progressive Whites, who currently make up Barber’s base, but also draw in poor and working-class Whites, too.

Why Joy Is The Perfect Resistance To A Politics Of Fear

Why joy is the perfect resistance to a politics of fear

By Janey Stephenson for Open Democracy – When you hear the words ‘anti fascist rally,’ what do you visualize? An angry crowd with placards, old hippies holding banners with clichés about love, or maybe those rowdy anarchists in black balaclavas? What about young women and non-binary people gleefully dancing to grime music that’s blasting out of portable speakers? Well, that’s precisely what a recent anti-fascist rally in south London looked like. It’s a perfect example of how collective joy can become powerfully subversive. When the far-right “pro-British” South East Alliance came to Croydon in south London to hold an “anti-immigrant, anti-Islam” rally, they were interrupted with an unexpected weapon: joy. A big crowd of young activists, predominantly from direct action groups like Sisters Uncut and Black Lives Matter UK, danced joyfully right in front of them, guarded by a line of police. It might seem like an unexpected tactic, but logically it makes perfect sense, both to the individuals involved and to the political goals of these groups. Where fascism aims to instill fear, joy is the perfect resistance. To laugh in the face of fear is possibly the bravest act, which is why Saffiyah Khan became an instant hero in the United Kingdom when she smiled at fascist thugs from the far-right, racist movement English Defence League — who began harassing Muslim women in her hometown.

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Attorney Talks Of New Movement In Activist’s Case

Mumia Abu-Jamal is serving life for the murder of a police officer. | Photo: Reuters

By Emily Wells for Truth Dig – A new front may be emerging in the fight to free African-American political activist and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted in 1982 of the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. The fatal shooting of Faulkner happened in the early hours of Dec. 9, 1981, during a confrontation, witnessed by Abu-Jamal, between his younger brother, William Cook, and the officer at a traffic stop. Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death and kept in isolation on death row for the next three decades; his death sentence was overturned in 2001, and he remains in prison serving a life sentence without parole. In an interview posted last weekend, Rachel Wolkenstein, a lawyer for Abu-Jamal, tells Consortium News’ Dennis Bernstein about the potential she now sees in pursuing the argument that judicial bias in Abu-Jamal’s case should undermine the legitimacy of his conviction: Well, about a year ago, a very important case was decided by the United States Supreme Court. It involved the fact that one of the justices who became the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Ronald Castille, had been the prosecutor in Philadelphia, following [Ed] Rendell as the chief [district attorney].

How Movements Can Succeed In The Face Of Government Repression

Christian JSger

By Molly Wallace for Waging Nonviolence – A greater number of resistance movements are choosing to adopt nonviolent forms of struggle as the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance becomes more widely known. At the same time, however, the success rate of these nonviolent movements is decreasing. What accounts for this lower rate of success, just as the effectiveness of nonviolent strategies is catching on? In “Trends in nonviolent resistance and state response,” in Global Responsibility to Protect, Erica Chenoweth suggests that part of the answer lies in target governments becoming increasingly savvy in their responses to nonviolent movements, now that such movements are recognized to pose a real threat to their power. In light of this possibility, how can nonviolent resistance persist and succeed in repressive contexts? Chenoweth begins by reviewing data on major episodes of nonviolent and violent contention over the 20th and early 21st centuries to discuss changes in the adoption and effectiveness of nonviolent resistance. She finds that, over the last several decades, there has been a substantial rise in the adoption of nonviolent resistance and a corresponding drop in violent resistance in cases of anti-regime or self-determination struggles.

A Global Movement To Confront Drone Warfare

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By Medea Benjamin for Code Pink – The $600 billion annual cost of the US military budget eats up 54% of all federal discretionary funds. It’s no wonder we don’t have money to address the crisis of global warming, build effective public transportation systems, institute a Medicare-for-All health system, or provide the free college education that all our youth deserve. You would think it would be easy to form a united front with activists from different movements who want to redirect our tax dollars. Students fighting for free education should understand that stopping just one weapons system, the expensive and unnecessary Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, would fund the education of all college students for the next two decades. Nurses fighting for universal health care should understand that if we cut the bloated military budget, we’d have plenty of money for a national healthcare system like the Europeans have. Environmentalists paddling their kayaks to block oil-digging ships should understand that if we dramatically cut our military spending, we’d have hundreds of billions of dollars to propel us into the era of green, sustainable energy. Unions should recognize that the military is one of the worst creators of jobs in relation to money spent.

Building A Mass Movement To Stop Mass Killing

Dennis K. at Code Pink/Shutterstock

By Medea Benjamin for AlterNet – The $600 billion annual cost of the US military budget eats up 54% of all federal discretionary funds. It’s no wonder we don’t have money to address the crisis of global warming, build effective public transportation systems, institute a Medicare-for-All health system, or provide the free college education that all our youth deserve. You would think it would be easy to form a united front with activists from different movements who want to redirect our tax dollars. Students fighting for free education should understand that stopping just one weapons system, the expensive and unnecessary Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, would fund the education of all college students for the next two decades. Nurses fighting for universal health care should understand that if we cut the bloated military budget, we’d have plenty of money for a national health- care system like the Europeans have. Environmentalists paddling their kayaks to block oil-digging ships should understand that if we dramatically cut our military spending, we’d have hun- dreds of billions of dollars to propel us into the era of green, sustainable energy. Unions should recognize that the military is one of the worst creators of jobs in relation to money spent. It was easier to connect with other movements when the peace movement was strong while trying to stop George W. Bush’s Iraq war.

How Did Berniecrats Claim the Jackson Mississippi Movement?

From blackagendareport.com

By Bruce A. Dixon for Black Agenda Report – When Jackson’s mayor-elect Chokwe Antar Lumumba stepped to the podium at the cynically misnamed “Peoples Summit”, the annual June pilgrimage of Berniecrats, he carried with him the credibility of a half century’s organizing and struggle in Mississippi and around the country. He put this clout behind Our Revolution and the Berniecrats, who are fundamentally allergic to even the mention of global empire, Israeli apartheid, regime change, drone wars and the disastrous impact of the warfare state. Is that what the Jackson movement wanted? When Chokwe Antar Lumumba stepped to the podium at the Peoples Summit in early June this year it was no small matter. The young mayor-elect of Jackson Mississippi carried with him the moral and political heft of almost half a century’s organizing work in that state and around the country. His father arrived in Mississippi with the Republic of New Afrika in 1971. The RNA was a target of COINTELPRO, so federal and local authorities promptly provoked an August 1971 shootout at RNA’s headquarters which took the life of a police lieutenant and wounded an FBI agent. 11 RNA members were charged and some served long terms in prison. Chokwe Lumumba assisted in their legal defense and after graduating law school in 1975 he settled permanently in Jackson Mississippi.