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Community Forum on the Racial Impact of Marijuana Policing
in Westchester County
Thursday, July 26th at 7pm
White Plains Library Auditorium
100 Martine Avenue in White Plains, NY 10601
In a state where racially biased policing is the norm, Westchester County stands out as one of the worst offenders.
Between 2013 and 2017, Black and Latino people were vastly overrepresented among those arrested for marijuana possession relative to their presence in Westchester’s population–despite data showing similar rates of use across populations. While only 14 percent of the County’s residents are Black, Black people comprised over half (52 percent) of those arrested for marijuana possession. Latinx people have also been disproportionately impacted, comprising just 17% of residents, but 34% of arrestees.
This massive increase of Westchester residents involved with the criminal justice system has had significant reverberations. A marijuana arrest creates a permanent criminal record that can easily be found by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies and banks.
This public discussion will examine the long-term costs and consequences of unequal enforcement of marijuana prohibition in Westchester, solutions to address the harms caused to communities, and efforts to legalize marijuana in New York State while creating a diverse and inclusive industry.
Sponsored by: Drug Policy Alliance, WESPAC Foundation, Westchester Coalition for Police Reform, NYCLU, VOCAL-NY, and more
This is huge news coming out of Albany. A big congratulations to Bill Bastuk and all those on the ITCHY team (It Could Happen to You):
State Senate passes prosecutorial misconduct bill
By Bill Mahoney
06/14/2018 03:14 PM EDT
ALBANY — After a lengthy and substantive debate that divided both parties Thursday, the Senate passed a bill to create a commission on prosecutorial misconduct, setting it up to potentially be one of the most significant bills to be passed by the Legislature at the end of this year’s session.
The measure had become the top priority of Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) in his final weeks before retirement. It would create a panel modeled after the State Commission on Judicial Conduct that would be tasked with investigating complaints made against prosecutors.
“When a bad prosecutor does something that results in somebody losing their liberty, there has got to be a remedy,” DeFrancisco said.
“There’s many cases where individuals are convicted of crimes as heinous as murder and spend 10, 20 years in jail, then found later because of DNA evidence that they weren’t the guilty party,” he added. “So then they go to the state of New York, the Court of Claims, and bring a lawsuit. And the state and our taxpayers have to pay millions of dollars for that misconduct — usually, it’s withholding exculpatory information, information that would help the defense.”
The opposition to the bill was led by state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), a former federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York.
“Prosecutors all the time have to make heart-wrenching decisions about what to do in car crashes where people die,” he said. “What will every family do when a decision is made that manslaughter shouldn’t be charged? They’re going to bring a prosecutor in front of this panel and say, ‘This is misconduct, I want this defendant charged for what they did to my family.’ So when you’re a prosecutor now, evaluating what to do, whether to do justice, which is the only directive, you are going to say, ‘Well, I’ve got this panel … so now we’re going to start charging a couple of vehicular manslaughters to keep us safe.'”
He also argued that the panel, which would be appointed by state government officials, might keep prosecutors from investigating these same officials.
“No prosecutor is going to want to bring a political corruption case when they know that a senator or assemblyperson or someone from the executive chamber is going to get hauled in front of a court, and then [take them] in front of a panel of somebody they appointed,” Kaminsky said.
Nine Republicans voted against the measure, which passed 44-12, though they held their tongues.
While some members were silent, the debate was more substantive than most are in Albany, and the partisan bickering that has defined the chamber in recent weeks never really surfaced.
“This has been fantastic,” said Majority Leader John Flanagan in a rare moment in which he spoke on legislation from the floor. “It makes me proud to be in this room and actually deliberate.”
“It’s probably one of the better debates I’ve seen on the floor in this house in the 16 years I’ve been here,” said state Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan).
The bill has yet to pass the Assembly, but Assemblyman Nick Perry (D-Brooklyn), the sponsor in that house, expects that to happen soon.
“I expect it to be taken up shortly,” Perry said. “I don’t think today, but definitely one day next week.”
Based on Gayle Dunkelberger’s successful sketching and water colors at WESPAC, the board would like to continue this type of programming at our social justice center to compliment community forums and planning meetings. Susan Sheppard spent her career with the Greenburgh Central School District as a teacher and has also taught art to teachers at Mercy College. This class will take place once a week for a 90 minute session starting in July. If you are interested, please RSVP to [email protected] by Monday, June 18th and I will then send out a doodle poll to all interested participants so that we can schedule the day and time of the week for this art series based on people’s availability. $20 per class. All contributions to support WESPAC and no one will be turned away for lack of funds:
From Susan: An art journal is a “visual diary.” In addition to (or maybe in place of ) words, the journal keeper uses visual images to portray his/her thoughts and feelings. During these very stressful times an art journal can serve as a little haven in a world of madness.
My vision of this class is having the participants create an art journal over a series of workshops with or without the guidance of prompts combined with a variety of art techniques. For example, for the first class I would like to prepare the first few pages for future work and creating a self-portrait using collage. The prompt would be “The Me Nobody Knows.” The class would occur over several weeks depending on interest. Each participant would have to provide a “journal” (water color pad, composition book, or a hard cover book) , magazines and images that appeal to them, and writing tools of their choice. I would provide other tools and materials.
Some techniques are collage, printing, stenciling, drawing, painting, Zentangle, etc. The prompts can be whole class , personal to the participants, or pulled from a jar.
Here are a few photos. It is hard to see the “moving parts” from photos. The first one is a cover, the others are pages. There are pockets, niches, and pull outs to hold secret thoughts.
At this year’s Summer Solstice, Nathalie “BioDame” Reynoso will lead us in ceremony as we open the space to check in on our milestones. How have our baby-steps added up? What have we mulled over? We’ll press pause and resume for health, happiness, equilibrium, and equity’s sake.
Join us for a healing evening at “Honoring the Summer Solstice through Intercultural Community Ceremony.” The space will facilitate us in honoring our paths and realigning ourselves with what is and is not serving us during this time in which we have the most daylight
..so if you can, allow yourself this time to simply be and charge yourself up with that Community Solstice Sun
(. ❛ ᴗ ❛.)
•Mantra and Manifest Actualization•
Free and Open to the Public
Tuesday June 19, 2018 Led by Local Ceremonialist
6:30pm Nathalie “BioDame” Reynoso
WESPAC Foundation of the Westchester-based
White Plains, NY 10607
On-site Parking Available cer
*Bring items you’d like to add to
‘There is a life behind
The real threat to Israel lies not in acts of
Palestinian violence, but in understanding
that those acts are a response to
occupation and oppression, to injustice
June 4, 2018
Gaza appears sporadically as front-page news in the context of violence and terrorism, as it has with the murder on Friday, 1 June, of Razan Ashraf al-Najjar, a 21-year-old paramedic who was fatally shot by Israeli snipers as she was treating wounded protesters along the fence that separates Gaza from Israel. After a day or two of attention, usually marked by the disproportionate deaths of Palestinians, Gaza recedes from view until the next assault. Israel is part of the story but all too often cast as responding to Hamas aggression, acting in self-defence. Without excusing Hamas for its misdeeds, Gaza’s misery, isolation and hopelessness are primarily a product of Israeli policy. The form of occupation may have changed since Israel’s ‘disengagement’ in 2005, but the fact of occupation has not. One result is the dehumanisation of the men, women and children who live in Gaza, the denial of their innocence and the resultant loss of their rights.
I spoke to a friend in Gaza after Israel killed 60 Palestinians on 14 May. He was uncharacteristically subdued, almost inaudible. There were many silences, unusual for our conversations; some of them seemed interminable but I spoke only when spoken to. I had many questions and most remained unasked. The only time my friend became animate was when he told stories about some of the people who had been killed, people he either distantly knew or who were close friends. ‘There is a life behind every statistic,’ he said. He didn’t want to talk about politics; he only spoke about people.
One of the people killed on 14 May was the father of a boy whose birthday it was. Another was a 14-year-old boy, whose mother had long suffered with infertility and finally became pregnant with him after nine years of trying. The birth of their son seemed miraculous to his parents. My friend did not say so directly, and I did not ask, but he implied and I inferred that the boy was their only child. ‘He was shot in the head and died instantly. The father collapsed on him. Can you imagine these parents now, having lost their precious boy?’
I cannot imagine enduring the loss of a child, especially in such a monstrous way (because he wasn’t Jewish). But the story also speaks to my parent’s story. My mother had a miscarriage in the ghettos of Poland (because she was Jewish) and spent years after the Holocaust trying to get pregnant. My parents always told me that they survived in order to have me.
Yet for many Israelis there are ‘no innocents in Gaza’, as the defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said in response to the Great March of Return. His colleague Eli Hazan, a spokesman for Netanyahu’s Likud Party, said that all 30,000 men, women and children who gathered at the Gaza border to protest (the overwhelming majority, non-violently) ‘are legitimate targets’. For too many Israelis and Jews, there are no fathers or mothers or children in Gaza; no homes or nursery schools or playgrounds; no hospitals, museums or parks; no restaurants or hotels. Rather, Gaza is where the grass grows wild and must be ‘mown’from time to time, as some Israeli analysts have put it.
How is the rest of the world to think about Gaza, about Palestinians? I ask because the deliberate ruination of Palestine – seen most painfully in Gaza – has been well documented. Yet Israel’s actions have been met, more often than not, with serene indifference and lack of remorse, reflecting, in the historian Gabriel Kolko’s words, the ‘absence of a greater sense of abhorrence’ – or, I would say after 14 May, with little if any abhorrence at all. One need only look at the language used in the American media to describe Palestinians and their deaths. Israeli propaganda dehumanising Palestinians has been enormously successful.
Why are so many among us unmoved by the contamination of a water supply that will soon lead to life-threatening epidemics among a population of nearly two million people; by the shattering of a once functioning economy through closure and blockade, depriving at least 45 per cent of the labour force (and more than 60 per cent of young workers) of the right to work – forcing most of them into dependence on food handouts and desperate young women into prostitution? The deprivation is deliberate. What purpose does Gaza’s suffering serve?
The real threat to Israel lies not in acts of Palestinian violence, but in understanding that those acts are a response to occupation and oppression, to injustice and dehumanisation. As an Israeli friend of mine once said, the threat to Israel lies ‘in making Palestinians intimate, in seeing the world through their eyes’. Why are we so afraid of humanising Palestinians?
The decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem, which was driven by Israel and its supporters, should be understood as an attempt to maintain and enforce what Israel sees as its historical right to deny rights to Palestinians. The right to demand rights, which is, fundamentally, what the Palestinians at the Gaza border were claiming, is more threatening than any particular right because it speaks to the agency that makes Palestinians present and irreducible, which Israel has worked so long to regulate and annul. It is the inability to unthink rightlessness among Palestinians that must be maintained as a form of control. The ascription of rightlessness to the other is – and must remain – uncontestable, a clearly established rule that is not restrained by justice. Declaring Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital not only purges Palestinians from the political equation and disendows them of any claims based on justice, but also ensures their continued absence in Israeli eyes.
In the immediate aftermath of 14 May, with 117 dead (the number has since risen to 123) and more than 13,000 injured, my friend in Gaza told me that shopkeepers went online to invite people to take whatever goods they wanted for free. Banks announced that they would forgive certain loans.
Gaza will not disappear. It will not ‘sink into the sea’, as the late Yitzhak Rabin once wished it would. Gaza is a human rights catastrophe and an ecologic disaster. ‘In a few years,’ Thomas Friedman wrote recently in the New York Times, ‘the next protest from Gaza will not be organised by Hamas, but by mothers because typhoid and cholera will have spread through the fetid water and Gazans will all have had to stop drinking it.’
Will Gaza’s mothers then be shot dead for protesting, or will they simply be allowed to die, together with their children, from typhoid and cholera? Or will their protests be heard? The answer will determine our humanity, not theirs.
Sara M. Roy is an American political economist and scholar. She is a Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. (Wikipedia)
© LRB Limited 2018
Pastor Dr. Gawain de Leeuw is kindly opening up the doors of his church for those of us who would like to take the time to grieve collectively for the dozens of Palestinian lives lost in the Great March of Return. He will lead us in evening prayers and ancient hymns in his tradition, and we will light candles, read the names and ages of the Palestinians who have lost their lives and share what we know of their lived experience and families. For those who are observing fasting this month of Ramadan, we invite folks to bring a dish to share afterwards for a community iftar (breaking of the fast). Please RSVP to Nada at [email protected] if you plan to attend.