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WESPAC promotes Economic Justice through promoting fair trade year round and helping to organize the annual Margaret Eberle Fair Trade Festival in White Plains. We also partner with the Wassaic Community Farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) http://wassaiccommunityfarm.com. WESPAC is an active member of the Hudson Valley Fair Economy Coalition that meets monthly at the Union Hall in Port Chester, and we have taken a lead role in promoting a public bank for the State of New York. To get involved, please contact the office at 914.449.6514 or by email at [email protected]

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: 

Nada Khader, WESPAC – [email protected] (914) 449-6514

Andy Morrison, New Economy Project – [email protected] – (716) 308-2265

GROUPS URGE ALBANY TO PASS “NY PUBLIC BANKING ACT” THIS SESSION

Westchester, NY – Today, racial and economic justice groups from the NYS Community Equity Agenda coalition released a new analysis estimating that banks have exacted more than $1.6 billion in fees from New Yorkers since New York declared a state of emergency last March, and nearly $50 million in Westchester County. They stressed that banks’ overdraft fees, in particular, target low-income and Black and brown New Yorkers and push people out of mainstream banking. Banks exacted $1 billion in overdraft fees alone statewide since the start of the pandemic, according to the groups’ analysis.

“It’s outrageous that we continue to allow these banks that exploit our communities to hold our public dollars. A well functioning public bank is vital for the economic prosperity of our region,” said Nada Khader of WESPAC.  “We need a public banking institution that serves our community’s needs and that uses our public monies to invest in affordable housing, renewable energy and infrastructure development while also moving us towards racial equity and living wages.”

As has been widely reported, predatory overdraft fees disproportionately siphon money from low-income people and people of color, including those hardest hit by COVID-19. Just nine percent of all account holders pay 84 percent of the billions in overdraft fees that banks exact, according to the Center for Responsible Lending. These account holders typically carry low balances—averaging less than $350—and have relatively small monthly deposits.

“As New Yorkers struggled, banks smuggled massive sums in predatory fees out of hard hit communities of color,” said Andy Morrison of New Economy Project. “New York must divest from banks that exploited New Yorkers during the worst public health and economic crisis of our lifetimes, and get serious about public banking. We need Albany to pass the New York Public Banking Act this session.”

Community development credit unions and other local financial institutions across the state have come out in support of local public banks, which they say would partner with them to help grow, expand and diversify their loans and services statewide. These community development financial institutions, advocates said, do not charge overdraft and other fees that advocates say are unfair, extractive and disproportionately impact low-income Black, brown and immigrant communities.

The NY Public Banking Act (S1762A/A5782), a top priority for the Equity Agenda coalition, would pave the way for local governments to create their own publicly-owned financial institution that would hold municipal deposits and reinvest in cooperative and community-led economic development, including permanently-affordable housing, small and worker-owned businesses and other community needs. The legislation has been co-sponsored by 21 State Senators and 44 Assemblymembers, including Westchester’s Shelley Mayer, Jamaal Bailey, Alessandra Biaggi, Chris Burdick, and Sandy Galef.

To assess the amount of bank fees charged in New York, the coalition examined quarterly Consolidated Reports of Condition and Income that banks are required to file by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC). Banks report only the total amount in fees charged to all customers. The coalition estimated the amount of fees charged to New Yorkers based on each bank’s share of deposits in New York, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation‘s Summary of Deposits Annual Survey.   

 

We are receiving fabulous feedback from this very informative panel discussion yesterday regarding “Advancing Restorative Justice in Westchester County.”  You can watch the full recording here: https://youtu.be/MqemoUpdebQ

1.  We need to ask our congressional representatives and New York Senators to urgently make a public statement urging the State Department and the Biden Administration to pressure the Israeli government to stop the bombing of Gaza and end the removal of families from their homes in Sheik Jarrar and Silwan.
 
2. We need to ask our electeds to co-sponsor  Betty McCollum’s bill HR 2590, Defending The Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation.  This bill would prohibit Israel from using U.S. taxpayer dollars on the military detention, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention; to support the seizure and destruction of Palestinian property and homes in violation of international humanitarian law; or on any support or assistance for Israel’s unilateral annexation of Palestinian territory in violation of international humanitarian law. (In the case of Jamaal Bowman in district 16, please call his office and thank him for co-sponsoring.)
 
3. Call House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks and demand that he place a hold on weapons to Israel at (202) 225-5021.

Invitation to Rally for the New York Public Banking Act (S.1762-A/A.5782) 

RALLY! Fight Back Against Wall Street, Fight Forward for a Just Recovery!

Dear friends and supporters of WESPAC, 

Across New York, communities are calling for local public banks to help lead a just recovery. 

Join us on Tuesday, April 13th, 2021 at 1 p.m on Facebook live to rally in support of the New York Public Banking Act (S.1762-A (Sanders) / A.5782 (Pichardo)), a transformative bill that would create a framework for the creation of local public banks dedicated to advancing racial and economic justice. 

Through public banking, communities can divest public money from predatory Wall Street banks that harm New Yorkers and New York communities, and invest in cooperative and community-led economic development, including permanently affordable housing, small and worker-owned businesses, community-controlled renewable energy, and more. 

When: Tuesday, April 13th 2021 at 1 p.m.

Where: Facebook livestream

Who: Co-sponsored by the NYS Community Equity Agenda, Public Bank NYC, and the Rochester Public Banking Coalition

Speakers: NYS Senator James Sanders, Jr.; NYS Assemblymember Victor M. Pichardo; Hae-Lin Choi, Communications Workers of America; Stanley Fritz, Citizen Action of New York; Sarah Ludwig, New Economy Project; Melissa Marquez, Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union; Brendan Martin, The Working World; and others.

In Solidarity, 

 

Nada for WESPAC

 

Dear all,

 
I have been in touch with Pastor Jeff Geary here at the White Plains Presbyterian Church.  We need a team of medical volunteers who will help people who are going on hunger strike as an act of desperation to pressure our electeds to create a Fund for Excluded Workers.  Over 1.1 million New Yorkers have not qualified for any stimulus package or unemployment compensation since the start of this pandemic a year ago and have reached breaking point and complete desperation.  Some of them will be starting a hunger strike on March 15th.  Please sign up if you can serve as a member of a medical volunteer team to monitor their health.  Details below and thank you in advance:
 
Medical Volunteer Team
Street Vendors, Domestic Workers, Laundry Workers, Sex Workers, Construction Workers, Delivery Workers & more need your medical expertise and support!

Excluded and essential workers are the lifeline of our country and they’ve been left out of all forms of financial relief during the pandemic. This includes undocumented and recently incarcerated people, and cash economy workers. In fact, 1.2 million New Yorkers are excluded from receiving a single cent of state unemployment benefit or stimulus relief. For over 350 days, our community members continue to face financial peril, hunger, and pending eviction.

Starting March 15th until April 1st, essential and excluded workers, and others, will put their bodies on the line by launching a hunger strike across the greater NYC area. These workers are calling for an Excluded Worker Fund providing direct cash assistance to thousands in need to be included in the NYS budget on April 1st, 2021.

We need YOU to help us pull this off by medically supporting our strikers remotely or in-person during the strike! We especially need medical professionals (doctors, nurses, physicians, medical students) to support the strikers in Westchester, specifically at White Plains Presbyterian church. This means monitoring or supervising the health of a group of strikers. By signing up, you’ll be introduced to our medical volunteer team leaders who will brief you on your responsibilities and schedule you for shifts between March 15 – April 1st based on your availability. 

Please fill out the medical volunteer form and someone from the Fund Excluded Workers (FEW) campaign will be in touch with you to coordinate additional details.

Thank you for your support!

For more information about the campaign, visit: https://fundexcludedworkers.org/

#FundExcludedWorkers Coalition 
 
 

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: March 10, 2021
 

100+ COMMUNITY AND LABOR GROUPS BACK GROUNDBREAKING BILL TO
MAKE PUBLIC BANKING A REALITY IN NEW YORK

Campaign to enact the “NY Public Banking Act” heats up, as communities pursue bold strategy for racial equity and a just recovery

Today, more than 100 community, labor, and cooperative groups and community development financial institutions from across New York State delivered a letter to state legislative leaders, urging swift passage of the “New York Public Banking Act” (S1762A/A5782) as an urgent strategy to advance racial equity and ensure a just recovery for all New Yorkers.

The move follows last week’s introduction of the bill by Assemblymember Victor M. Pichardo, Chair of the NYS Assembly Banks Committee. Senator James Sanders, Jr., Chair of the NYS Senate Banks Committee, is the lead sponsor in the NYS Senate. The bill would create a regulatory framework for New York cities, counties, and regions seeking to establish local public banks.

“The coronavirus pandemic has devastated our economy. Public banks offer a way to rebuild and prevent businesses, especially small businesses, from closing. Public banks also benefit underserved communities who have been, and continue to be, denied financial resources due to redlining. Local public banks would give long-suffering communities the chance to thrive and gain relief from crippling debt,” said NYS Senator James Sanders, Jr. “The New York Public Banking Act would create the structural framework for municipalities to create public banks within their jurisdictions and allow the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to issue special-purpose public bank charters. It is time to serve the interest of the community, not just shareholders. It is time to advocate for a new normal that includes public banking.”

“COVID-19 has completely devastated poor and underserved communities, and the New York Public Banking Act is no longer just necessary, it’s absolutely critical to our recovery. I cannot stress enough the impact that the Public Banking bill will have on all New Yorkers, and I urge my colleagues to join us as we demand swift passage of this act in both houses,” said NYS Assemblymember Victor M. Pichardo. “I want to thank the New Economy Project, the many impassioned activists, organizations, and my colleague in the Banks committee, State Senator James Sanders, Jr. New York State needs public banks now.”

A growing number of state legislators have endorsed the bill, throwing their support behind a broad-based, statewide movement to establish local public banks–financial institutions created by cities and counties, and accountable to the people. Through public banking, local governments can leverage public deposits to support community-controlled economic development, including affordable housing, green jobs, equitable financial services, renewable energy, and more.

“For far too long, hardworking people of color were locked out of traditional banking methods. Now, when so many are struggling, it’s more critical than ever to open those doors,” said Henry Garrido, Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME. “We must put hardworking New Yorkers at the center of New York City’s recovery – and a public bank is a great way to invest in communities that need it the most. Thank you Senator Sanders and Assemblyman Pichardo for prioritizing racial, economic and environmental justice through legislation that would allow for the creation of public banks. I hope to see this bill move through the legislature swiftly.”

The public banking movement continues to build momentum in New York, with active campaigns from Rochester to New York City and beyond. A similar effort succeeded in California in 2019, and several cities, including San Francisco, are now in the early stages of establishing municipal banks. As local governments in New York seek new ways to promote economic resilience and opportunity–particularly in communities hardest-hit by COVID-19–pressure is mounting on the state to deliver needed support and consistent statewide guidance for public banking.

“It’s high time New York stop depositing our public money in banks that are actively harming New Yorkers and New York communities. For starters, New York must divest from Wall Street banks that have systematically redlined Black and brown neighborhoods for decades, and that continue to extract wealth from New Yorkers and New York communities of color. Many banks that hold our money, including JPMorgan Chase and Citibank, finance destructive industries, from fossil fuels to the city’s worst landlords. The list goes on,” said Sarah Ludwig, Founder and Co-Director of New Economy Project. “The New York Public Banking Act paves the way for local jurisdictions to establish public banks that will accountably hold our public funds, with a clear public purpose and mandate to advance racial and economic justice.”

“Genesee Co-op FCU joined the Rochester Public Banking Coalition and supports the New York Public Banking Act because this legislation is good for community based financial institutions, like ours,” said Melissa Marquez, CEO of Genesee Cooperative Federal Credit Union. “A public bank in Rochester can partner with local financial institutions through participation loans that finance important public initiatives. This legislation is forward thinking and will be so important for cities like Rochester, especially as we deploy public funds for the public good to create a just, post-pandemic recovery that ensures all people and neighborhoods prosper.”

“Throughout history, private banks have actively prevented communities of color from building wealth, through redlining and predatory lending practices. Not only must we tax billionaires to close the gap in our state budget, we must also put that money in public banks, where it can be equitably, transparently, and democratically invested communities hardest hit by COVID-19,” said Jonathan Westin, Executive Director of New York Communities for Change. “I urge our legislators to support the New York Public Banking Act and divest from predatory Wall Street banks that perpetuate poverty and racial inequality.”

“The New York Public Banking Act is critical to a just recovery in the months ahead and to equitable economic development in the years to come. Tax revenue is public money that should be deposited in a public entity, one that serves the community by investing in permanently-affordable housing, green energy, public infrastructure, basic financial services for unbanked communities, and a host of other public projects long neglected by commercial banks,” said Deborah Wright, Political Director for UAW Region 9A. “UAW Region 9A proudly supports this effort to make municipal finance democratic and an engine for local economic growth.”

“The COVID-19 crisis has underscored how we desperately need bold policies, like public banking, to address the expanse of disinvestment across New York. In a time of financial instability, to keep our communities whole, public banking is a solution we should invest in,” said Kathryn Franco of the Western New York Law Center. “In a city like Buffalo—one of the nation’s poorest and most segregated—public banking would allow for the use of public funds for the public good, while providing a level of accountability to residents that speaks to community reinvestment needs beyond existing policies like the federal Community Reinvestment Act. We need the New York Public Banking Act.”

“Even though they benefit from our public money, Wall Street failed New Yorkers as the pandemic raged on,” said Tousif Ahsan, Civic Engagement Coordinator for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). “New York State must aid localities in taking back their money, and their power, by passing the New York Public Banking Act.”

“The New York Public Banking Act will lay the foundation for a public bank in New York City and other cities and counties across the State,” said Danny Hanson, Core Team Member of Sane Energy Project. “These public institutions would play a vital role in divesting public funds from fossil-fuel-lending Wall Street while investing in community-led renewable energy and other essential community needs. This type of investment is what our City and State need to recover equitably from Covid-19 and create a racially and economically just future.”

 

On December 15, we will launch the Justice Roadmap 2021 to call for bold legislative change to decarcerate jails, prisons and immigrant detention centers and address the harms of the criminal legal and immigration systems. 

Join us to demand that New York dismantle systems that criminalize, incarcerate and deport our communities and build a world where all of us can thrive

IADL: U.S. sanctions targeting International Criminal Court are an outrage against international justice

See the statement on our website:
https://iadllaw.org/2020/09/iadl-u-s-sanctions-targeting-international-criminal-court-are-an-outrage-against-international-justice/

On 2 September 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the imposition of sanctions on Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and prosecution jurisdiction director for authorizing such an investigation, including war crimes committed by U.S. forces, for which U.S. officials bear responsibility.  These sanctions were based on a declaration by U.S. President Trump of a national emergency on this subject in June of 2020. 

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) rejects as outrageous these sanctions on senior prosecution officials of the International Criminal Court.  IADL will be investigating the best ways to challenge these sanctions.

The United States has for some time claimed that it is exempt from the laws which bind the rest of the world, seeking permanent international impunity for itself.   The United States openly seeks to evade international accountability for its responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the world, not only by refusing to join the Court but by U.S. President Trump declaring that the potential for an ICC investigation into international crimes in the war in Afghanistan is a “national emergency.”

That the International Criminal Court prosecutors are investigating the United States can be declared a “national emergency” makes a mockery of the word “emergency”. 

Of course, such an investigation follows the United States’ illegal invasion and military occupation of Iraq after years of devastating sanctions, torture of prisoners, and devastation of the country that led directly and indirectly to the deaths of millions of Iraqis. The United States continues to illegally occupy Afghanistan, having killed and wounded thousands of Afghans over nearly 20 years of ongoing military attacks, while continuing drone strikes, extrajudicial killings and other war crimes and crimes against humanity around the world.

It must further be noted that this also comes in response to the Prosecutor’s approval of an investigation into Israeli war crimes in Palestine, about which the U.S. and Israel have exerted tremendous pressure on both Palestinian and international actors in an effort to uphold permanent impunity for ongoing Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity. It further follows the submission of a complaint by Middlesex University law professor William Schabas against Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump adviser Jared Kushner before the ICC for their support of illegal Israeli colonial settlement activities in the West Bank of occupied Palestine.

The ICC was established in order to prevent serious crimes against civilians and put an end to impunity when domestic law does not or cannot provide a remedy.  For years, the bulk of ICC actions were directed at African officials, even in relatively weak cases. The US imposed sanctions are an attempt to prevent the ICC from performing a truly international or universal role, since any such court or judicial project must be able to hold the U.S. and its allies accountable for their crimes.

Sixty-seven member countries of the ICC have issued a joint statement expressing their support for the Court as an independent and impartial judicial institution, and 10 members of the UN Security Council have done the same. It is incumbent upon all States Parties to the Rome Statute act to defend the Court and address these latest threats to the international rule of law by the United States. We further call on the UN General Assembly to condemn these U.S. actions.

It must be noted as well that these sanctions come amid the ongoing use of unilateral coercive measures, in violation of international law and the United Nations charter, by the U.S. government; for example, against Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Zimbabwe. These unilateral coercive measures are a form of economic warfare and an attempt to impose regime change upon any country that rejects the dictates of the United States, and the sanctions on individual ICC prosecutors fit precisely into this framework. 

The IADL rejects the US attempt to suppress international justice and any form of accountability for U.S. and Israeli officials through direct economic attack and the threat of criminal prosecution against victims and their advocates simply for pursuing justice.

We affirm that this announcement will not chill our efforts to hold U.S. officials and their allies, including Israeli officials, accountable and to support our members and colleagues working to do so in a variety of forums and venues, especially the International Criminal Court. 

9 September 2020

Beinart:

 “Well I think ultimately the right of a refugee return, not just to the West Bank but also to Israel proper. Now, one of the ways Land for All thinks about that, is through a notion of those Palestinians refugees remaining, being citizens of a Palestinian state based in West Bank and Gaza, even as they live in Israel proper, right? While Israeli settlers stay in the West Bank and retain their Israeli citizenship. Right, so this is where a confederation model could work. But I do think that the way a two-state solution has been conceived by some people, which is essentially to say, virtually no right of refugee Palestinian return to areas inside Israel proper – I have come to the view that I think that would be unlikely to be that effective of a solution. And I also think that we have to really have a conversation about the morality of telling… we are a people who for 2000 years have prayed every morning since the creation of modern liturgy, for a return to this land – how do we tell people who grew up in a place, that they don’t have the right to return to that place? So I think that one of the reasons that I would favor a confederation model over a two-state model, if I had to choose between the two at this point, is that I think it creates more opportunity for meeting people’s legitimate rights to have the option of returning. That does not mean going to someone’s house and kicking them out of their home. And I don’t think it’s the way most Palestinians I know think about it. But it means maybe compensation and it means having the right to return to the city where you were born. I mean again, one of the things that comes across to anyone who spends time with Palestinian writing and learns from the Palestinian experience, is the enormous power and the importance for people of being able to go back to places that were precious to them. And one of the things that I find appealing about the confederation model, even if one doesn’t go fully towards the one-state model, is it provides some way of realizing that. And I am saddened that in our Jewish discourse, that we are people who take so much pride in our ability to remember, to not forget, and to hold sacred memory and to try to fulfil it, are so dismissive of that when it comes to Palestinians”.     Read full article here: https://mondoweiss.net/2020/07/peter-beinart-and-the-palestinian-right-of-return/