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WESPAC supports the work of the Progressive News Network which is a group of people in Westchester County committed to Community-produced independent media for peace and social justice in Westchester County, NY:

Submitted by Anne:

The following report on Thursday’s Pre-emptive Prosecution Panel at NYU was written by attorney Steve Downs, who was one of the panelists. He captures how powerful an evening it was:

Hi Everybody – I just want to report that Lynne Jackson, Kathy Manley and I went to NYU law school last night for a presentation on "Personal Stories of Preemptive Prosecution". The idea for the presentation originated with sense that the Newburgh 4 group had been treated unfairly and needed a forum to express what had happened to them. Then Faisal Hashmi was added to talk about Fahad Hashmi’s plight. Then the Ft. Dix 5 were included. Then they brought us in to talk about Aref-Hossain and also about Project SALAM. Then Noor Elashi (daughter of Ghassan Elashi the founder of the Holy Land Foundation) was added. Each of these groups were given about 20 minutes to make a presentation. We spoke about the Aref-Hossain case, but also about Project SALAM and how it was trying to represent all of the hundred of other cases of premptively prosecuted Muslims who were not prersent that night. Then Mauri Saalakhan summed up the significance all of this tragedy (and urged everyone not to remain silent but to speak out). Then to my surprise three other groups came up to make brief presentations about other defendants I had not even heard of. Then they took questions. The evening went on and on and few of the approximately 100 people seemed to want to leave.

My overall impression was that there was a lot of energy in the room and a lot of emotion. For a skeptic, it might have been possible to dismiss one presntation or another as being the product of Muslims who were in denial about the bad things their loved ones had done, but as more and more similar stories poured out about families ripped apart, Muslims taken off in the night for reasons that made no sense, vicious, untruthful prosecutions, and so on, even the most hardened skeptic would have had to have been moved. At some point you reach a critical mass when the reality is undeniable that something really bad, really illegal is happening on a massive scale. We came close to that critical mass. I think even the event organizeers were stunned at the power of the witnesses who were trying to describe an unfolding tragedy of historical importance.

So it was a great evening. All the speakers helped to get the message out. Lynne and Kathy spoke passionately and were very effective. There was a wonderful moment at the end when all of the "panelists" were asked to come to the front of the room to take questions and so many people had eventually "spoken" that we filled one whole wall of the room. Then Alica McWilliams (Christian mother of one of the Newburght 4) invited Latta Duka (Muslim mother of the Ft. Dix 5) to come up and join the panelists and embraced her, and declared that we were all family now – all of us. And as I looked out at the crowd, I realized that if invited at least half of the crowd would have eagerly come up and joined our "family". Later there will be time to sort out strategy, and make legal arguments and try to make sense of what the government was doing. But part of what happened last night was the establishment of the Preemptive Prosecution Family – the understanding that all of us who have been touched by this tragedy are joined together and we need to help and support one another. We are not alone. Steve Downs

Hello everyone,

At the US Social Forum fundraising committee meeting yesterday, it was suggested that we host a dance workshop with a trained instructor. The instructor would need to donate his/her time and the $10 admission would go to subsidize travel and accommodation costs for students and unemployed to attend the Detroit gathering.

Please e-mail me off list if you have suggestions of instructors who may be willing to donate an hour or so of time for this purpose. Any genre is fine if you think it would be a draw: [email protected]

Submitted by Cira Raciti

Immigrant Voices: Immigrants tell their own stories at public meeting.

Immigration – a process by which people enter another country with the intention of making a better life for themselves and their families. Many move together with their families to a new country where they hope to find peace and/or job opportunities not available to them in their homeland. Immigration into the United States has been ongoing since the early 20th century with various groups of people coming upon our shores to work for the pursuit of a better life. Immigration is an uprooting experience.

Over the years, the immigration system has changed, becoming a broken system consumed by racism, bigatry and discrimination. Maria Valentin, Attorney at Law, believes that the immigration system is broken due to "lack of advocacy for humane and fair immigration laws".

On March 16, 2010 at the White Plains High School, White Plains, NY, a diverse group of adults somberly sat waiting to listen to the personal stories of immigrants – stories of people that could be living next door to you – and immigration reform.

Linda Berns , Director of the Lower Hudson Valley Chapter of the New York, opened up the meeting followed by Maria. Maria spoke about this country’s broken immigration system and the five legislative goals the New York City Liberties Union wishes to accomplish. The goals toward immigration reform are:

1. Provide a realistic pathway to citizenship
2. Respect immigrants’ constitutional rights
3. Treat immigrants in detention centers humanely
4. Reject backdoor attempts to establish a national ID card
5. End local enforcement of immigration laws.

Gisella Marroquin, an attractive young woman from Guatamala, told of her experience when, at the age of eight, she and her mom entered the United States. She quickly realized that since no one in her class spoke her language it was to her interest to learn their language – English. Gisella went on to explain her difficulty in nagivating through the scholastic system on her own for there were too many students in the ESL class. Yet, regardless of the large population of Latinos in school, Gisella was made to feel that she was "different". Years later, and through hard work, Gisella is presently working with a social service agency as a Director. She attributes her ability to help immigrants to her own experience and finds pleasure in giving assistance.

William Kaung, member of the Organization of Chinese Americans, an advocacy group for the rights of Asian-Pacific Islanders in the U.S., expressed the need for the U.S. government to become involved in immigration reform.


Zoila Tazi, currently a principal in a pre-school with 650 children and a published author, very animatedly told an amusing story of her family discovering popcorn in the U.S. Her mother placed the popcorn kernels in a pan with about 2 inches of oil and plenty of salt while commenting on the enginuity of Americans coming up with such a great snack. When the popcorn was all popped, it was spooned in individual bowls, then milk was poured over the popcorn. Zoila’s mother thought it was cereal!

Zoila when on to say that during the late 60’s Head Start was launched to support families in need of providing comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families. Bilingual education was introduced as a right in New York. Back then the immigration laws were more merciful than they are today.

Zoila feels that immigrants represent a double dose of isms. They look different and sound different. People turn to civil liberties unions asking for support and looking for justice in their life. She states it is important to pay attention to language. Another ism – languagism: insidious messages that immigrants receive about belonging, about their intellectual capacity. Language is linked with being identified, therefore, Zoila feels it belongs on the agenda of groups defending civil rights thinking that if you can control how people speak you might control what they say.

Dr. Michelin, Chief of Staff and Director of Business Development at Health & Hospitals Corporation, accredits the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other civil rights movements for being able to speak to the group as a physician, who got to where he is through the struggles of others, regardless of how good his grades were.

The final speaker, Tom, born in the U.S., has been devastatingly impacted by the current immigration system. Tom left New York to live in Europe after he found out how impossible it was for his partner to come to NY legally due to juggling visas, from J1 to H1, and legal fees. Tom and his partner were eventually successful in obtaining a visa and possible green card. Tom’s voice trembled as he spoke of the possibilty of having to leave their home, friends, family and everything they knew in order to stay with the person he loved. Being "forced to choose between the person you love and your country, between your heart and your home." It was a nightmare.

Tom went on to say that Family Unification is a cornerstone in a long standing goal of American immigration policy. American citizens who fall in love with someone from another country are allowed to sponsor their fiance or spouse for immigration benefits and eventually adjust their status to a green card. There are many nations that allow gay and lesbian citizens to sponsor their partner for immigration. The United States does not. There is a bill pending before Congress called the Uniting Family’s Act that would change that. It would allow gay and lesbian Americans to sponsor their partner or spouse using the same process and procedures as applied to straight married couples including the same penalty for fraud. It is their hope that when Congress considers Comprehensive Immigration Reform to make sure it is truly comprehensive including gay and lesbian families.

During the Q&A a young woman, Virginia Noriega, introduced herself as a District Representative working for Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey. Virginia was sent to the meeting by Congresswoman Lowey, who lobbies for immigration reform, to represent her and to hear the concerns of her constituents.

As the meeting is approaching its conclusion, Maria declares that no longer allowed are the ignorant voices dominating the conversation. Education is needed. A dialog is needed to immigration reform. The group was earnestly asked to contact their Senator to move along the immigration bill towards immigration reform.

New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), is one of the nation’s foremost defenders of civil liberties and civil rights was founded in 1951 as the New York affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union. NYCLU is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization with eight chapters and regional offices with approximately 50,000 members throughout the State of New York.


Are you one of the tens of thousands of unemployed and underemployed people living in Westchester County?

Your Voice and Experience are needed at this Meeting

Let’s discuss, share resources and plan effective action to
• Join together for mutual inspiration and support.
• Create jobs in cooperation with others in New York State.
• Expand public and private employment
• Establish opportunities in new energy & technology industries.
• Improve wages

And more…..what is it YOU want to talk about?

Wednesday, April 14 from 12noon to 2pm
WESPAC Foundation Office,
255 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard – 2nd Floor
White Plains, NY 10601


FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL: Nick Mottern – (914) 806-6179
To learn more about WESPAC visit



We are sending this message to 1) update you on the status of the Cortlandt Diversity Task Force as it existed last year, 2) let you know about local anti-racism and anti-discrimination initiatives, and 3) invite your participation in a collective learning process that we can translate into constructive social action.


All members of the Cortlandt Diversity Task Force have declined reappointment to that body. The Journal News carried a short piece about this in yesterday’s paper . After working for over eighteen months – meeting often twice a month – we lost confidence in the Town’s good faith effort to implement the recommendations of the Task Force. Their behaviors have not been commensurate with their words, the results reflecting a lack of awareness and action that we consider intolerable. This loss of confidence is further based on a lack of response from the Town while the Task Force was active and our inability to gain approval to be in direct contact with the community.


We recognize that for elected Town officials priorities are often directed toward promoting and supporting events that help foster a positive Town image. We were not interested in promoting "feel good" events, rather, we see the need for deeper and sustained approaches.


Over two years ago we had a cross burning in our community. People who understand the implications and ramifications of that act are not ready to simply feel good about this community; work must be done to help prevent something like this from happening again.


Former members of the Diversity Task Force are joining with other individuals and organizations to redirect our efforts and begin again. We invite you to join us and hope to create a broad collaboration toward a common goal. We will work without external constraints, limited only by our own abilities and resources.


Our critical starting point will be to educate ourselves about the roots and dynamics of racism, and all of our roles in it. Then, to understand how the roots of racism set the stage for other forms of discrimination and intolerance in our communities, and keep us from effectively working together. We hope to open up a dialogue that can help us understand where we come from, articulate what sort of community we want to be, and collaborate on what our new choices might be so we can help create it.


We plan to attend the March "Undoing Racism/Community Organizing" workshop offered by the Anti-Racist Alliance and The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. The workshop flyer is attached and we invite you to join us. This will be an important opportunity for our education and for building a common base of understanding from which we can constructively move forward. We will also work with recommendations outlined in the attached report.


We have started building relationships for this collaboration with:

~ PAPA, the Peekskill Area Pastors Association (;

~ WESPAC Foundation (;

~ The Anti-Racist Alliance (; and

~ The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (


We thank these organizations and Rev. David Billings for their guidance and support, and we invite you to join us, as an individual or organization working on anti-racism and issues of social equity.


If you are interested in this work, please let us know by replying with your contact information. Also, please indicate if you would like to participate in leading and coordinating activities. We will call a meeting of leaders soon to discuss how to proceed.


We hope you will join us.


Clarissa Beyah-Taylor

Tracy Breneman

Rev. Michael Champion

Jim Edler

Garrison Jackson



Cortlandt Diversity Task Force report

"Undoing Racism/Community Organizing" workshop flyer


Cortlandt Peekskill Anti-Racism
in collaboration with:
~ PAPA, the Peekskill Area Pastors Association (
~ WESPAC Foundation (
~ The Anti-Racist Alliance (
~ The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (
~ (hoping to add other organizations)

If you received this message as a forward and would like to receive future messages from this group, send us your contact information and we will add you to the list. If you received a message directly from [email protected] and prefer not to receive messages from this group, let us know and we will remove your address.

Dear, Nada Khandar,

Director of WESPAC Foundation

Acknowledging your commitment and your organization’ s work on environmental issues and climate change, I want to invite you to participate in the Peoples’ World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth’s Rights to be held from 20th to 22nd April 2010 in Cochabamba, Bolivia.This conference is called by Bolivian President Evo Morales, as a response to the faliure on climate change negotiations in Copenhagen with the following objectives:

1) To analyze the structural and systemic causes that drive climate change and to propose radical measures to ensure the well-being of all humanity in harmony with nature

2) To discuss and agree on the project of a Universal Declaration of Mother Earth Rights

3) To agree on proposals for new commitments to the Kyoto Protocol and projects for a COP Decision under the United Nations Framework for Climate Change that will guide future actions in those countries that are engaged with life during climate change negotiations and in all United Nations scenarios, related to:

– Climate debt?
– Climate change migrants-refugees
?-Emission reductions?
-Technology transfer?
-Forest and Climate Change?
-Shared Vision?
-Indigenous Peoples

4) To work on the organization of the Peoples’ World Referendum on Climate Change

5) To analyze and develop an action plan to advance the establishment of a Climate Justice Tribunal

6) To define strategies for action and mobilization to defend life from Climate Change and to defend Mother Earth’s Rights.

visit the website

For aditional information, we would like to encorage you to visit the conference website and make an adhesion to our call in the website [email protected]

Finally, please help us to difuse this call far and wide.

People in the United States interested in participating in this event should contact Carla Esposito, Bolivian Mission to the United Nations, Tel 212 682 8132.

With the highest considerations,
Carla Espósito
Permanent Mission to the Unated Nations
Tel 212 682 8132

Wed 14 Apr 2010
Yesterday, April 13th, cops raided an anarchist collective space in
Brooklyn without a warrant and have detained two folks. It’s hard to tell
right now, but it seems to be related to the upcoming Anarchist Film
, which is held in honor of Brad Will, who was murdered by the
government of Mexico during the Oaxaca teacher’s rebellion in 2006. Has
it already been almost four years? I remember where I was when I found
out he’d been killed. He was an almost painfully earnest fellow, one of
those activists who I ran across everywhere.
The press release, from infoshop:
   From the anarchist 1am collective:
   Today in Brooklyn NY, the NYPD entered without a warrant 13 Thames Art
Space, a Bushwick based art and performance space where members of the
Independent Anarchist Media (I AM) Collective have been organizing the
Fourth Annual NYC Anarchist Film Festival in honor of Brad Will.
   Two plainclothes detectives entered first, followed quickly by a
Lieutenant and vans full of blue shirt officers. After corralling
everyone present in the back room, they searched the space and
detained two members of the collective.
   The I AM collective was preparing for the NYC Anarchist Film Festival,
a showcase of resistance movements and insurrectionary events from
around the world presented from an anarchist and anti-authoritarian
   Our response to the raid: regardless of these attacks, the film
festival will happen as planned on Friday April 16, 2010 at Judson
Memorial Church
. The voice of decentralized creative communities will
not be silenced by police repression. They cannot raid us, because we
are everywhere.
and a one-minute video of the event:

One room in a comfortable house on Van Cortlandt Park Avenue in Yonkers.  $450 a month.  Call Mrs. Banez at 914.969.4852.

Safe, clean, diverse community — large private room, washer/dryer, parking, internet, cable and private yard.  Also minutes from Metro North in Ossining.
Call 914-944-9023 / or email:  [email protected] com

WESPAC Foundation Presents

Belly Dance Lessons with Norma Jean Barnes

Register by June 1st, 2010 at [email protected] or call 914.449.6514

Classes – All Mondays in June from 7pm to 8pm

At the WESPAC Loft in White Plains

255 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., second floor


$15 per class or $50 for the four week session.

No Experience Needed Fun • Fellowship Fitness