Racial Justice :

WESPAC Foundation supports the work of the Anti-Racist Alliance which is the lead group in Westchester that explores the ongoing harm of institutionalized and systemic racism in our country today. We have honest discussions in a mixed group of how white privilege impacts both people of color and white folk in Westchester County in the form of excessive police force, access to quality education, employment and housing and many other areas. We listen to the range of experience that people of color have to endure in a society that continues to disproportionately benefit white people . For more information, visit antiracistalliance.com

The Benefits and Limits of Civilian Review Boards

The Benefits and Limits of Civilian Review Boards

Monday, April 3rd at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in White Plains, NY
6pm to 6:30pm light refreshments and networking
6:30pm panel begins promptly

An interactive panel discussion with law enforcement, members of the Albany and Syracuse Civilian Review Boards, and the President of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement including:

  • Frank L. Fowler, Syracuse Chief of Police
  • Brian Corr, NACOLE President and Director of Cambridge, Mass. Police Review and Advisory Board
  • Ivy Morris, Vice Chair of Albany CPRB (Citizens’ Police Review Board)
  • Zach Garafalo, Albany CPRB
  • Mallory Livingston, Chair, Syracuse CRB
  • Yusuf Abdul Qadir, Director of the Syracuse Chapter of the NYCLU

Panel will be moderated by Law Professor David Dorfman at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.

This forum is organized and sponsored by the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform https://www.facebook.com/WCPRNY/ and is co-sponsored by the Pace Criminal Justice Institute. Seating capacity limited to 90 persons.  RSVPs required at [email protected] at which point room instructions will be given. 

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Criminal Justice, Director's Blog, Frontpage, Movement Building, Racial Justice

Introducing the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform to the Yonkers Community

Introducing the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform to the Yonkers Community

Friday, February 10th at 2pm at the Yonkers Riverfront Library

1 Larkin Plaza in downtown Yonkers

This public forum is an introduction of the work of the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform to the Yonkers Community. Speakers include: co-founder of the coalition Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr., who lost his father in a police killing in the City of White Plains in 2011. Also, speaking will be the convener of the coalition, Rev. Doris Dalton, who is also the Executive Director of the Westchester MLK Institute for Nonviolence; Yonkers Community Organizer Hector Santiago and WCPR steering committee member Nada Khader who will speak about WCPR’s April forum on civilian oversight of local law enforcement.

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Criminal Justice, Director's Blog, Movement Building, Racial Justice

The War in Syria Cannot Be Won. But It Can Be Ended.

 
Phyllis Bennis
October 31, 2016
The Nation
 
The left is profoundly divided over the conflict, but we should at least agree on a set of principles to end it.

 

yrian-Americans demonstrate near the United Nations to demand a cease-fire in Syria, New York, May 1, 2016.,  Sipa via AP Images

 

We need a powerful movement demanding an end to the war in Syria. The United States and to some extent the global antiwar movements remain largely paralyzed. There are some campaigns responding to specific congressional and other war moves, with some particularly good work against US support for Saudi Arabia. But as a movement, we seem unable to sort through the complexity of the multi-layered wars raging across Syria, and unable to respond to our internal divisions to create the kind of powerful movement we need to challenge the escalating conflict. (more…)

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building, Racial Justice

Final Pre-Trial Conference for Kenneth Chamberlain

kenneth

Posted in Blogs, Director's Blog, Racial Justice

The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine

The birth of agro-resistance in Palestine
 
For decades Israel has been driving Palestinian farmers 
off their land by imposing restrictions on agriculture. 
But one company, Canaan Fair Trade, has found an innovative 
way to resist
 
 
Jonathan Cook
The Link (Americans for Middle East Understanding)
September – October 2016
 
Article pdf attached.

  
Jonathan Cook won the 2011 Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. 
His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan 
to Remake the Middle East 
(Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s 
Experiments in Human Despair 
(Zed Books). You can read all of Jonathan’s 
recent reports and commentaries on his website, the View from Nazareth: 
www.Jonathan-Cook.net and on his blog: www.Jonathan-Cook.net/blog/

 
 
Article sources:
Posted in Communities & Focus Areas, Environmental and Food Justice, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Racial Justice

The Freedom to Boycott for Justice and for Human Rights

Freedom to Boycott

Letter to the Westchester Jewish Council from Howard Horowitz:

Dear Elliott, Shabbat Shalom,

I am writing to express my deepest concern and objection to the decision taken by WJC to actively endorse legislation that in its spirit and in its specifics is unconstitutional and an assault on free speech. The call for a legislated ban or boycott of businesses that want to participate in a voluntary boycott of Israel until it ends the occupation and the ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights is hypocritical, and is a blatant effort to silence dissent. You do not even distinguish between boycotting Israel and boycotting settlement enterprises on stolen Palestinian land.  As a respected member of the business community for over 40 years, and as owner of a business for over 30 years, I have the right to participate and have my business participate in a nonviolent movement without fear of recrimination from my own government. The problem here is the Israeli occupation and the settlements, which have been deemed illegal according to international law and which violate the moral code I believe you and I abide by. The occupation and the settlements, which are expanding as I write this, put Israel in grave danger and ultimately will spell a disaster  for the country.  From this perspective, participating in the BDS movement is a more “pro-Israel” stance than is the position you advocate.  Yet, I and others are threatened with legal and financial retribution from our  local and state governments should we see the violence of the occupation and the expanding settlements and want to register dissenting voice against it by participating in nonviolent action to stop it.

I am confident you are aware that this legislation emerges out of an organized intimidation campaign developed by the Netanyahu government and its supporters in Israel, and propagated by ZOA and AIPAC. As a citizen of this county and this state, I must conclude that that our local politicians are being held hostage and our legislators and governors have been put in a bind.  Has the state been blackmailed into making dissent illegal?  How many millions of Jews and others—including our immediate forefathers in the 1950s—have been persecuted by this form of McCarthyism? This is the realization of the worst fears of the Jews and of the Reform movement in particular; that is, the fear of Zionist and Israeli meddling in our internal affairs. Jewish history teaches us to beware and to be wary of any effort to silence dissent.  Given our collective history, any organization that claims to represent Jews and their organizations in our community must question not support the wisdom and efficacy of punitive legislation in a free society.

Israel is in the gravest of danger, not from BDS, but from its own actions and policies. There is real danger that Israel will succumb as a result of the ascendancy of the right wing, fundamentalist, religious dominated parties that have no tolerance and no love for the liberal democracy we want and claim Israel to be. This can only spell disaster for the country.   The people we so want to identify with in Israel—the secular, progressive, liberal religious segments of politics and society—need us now more than ever to just say “no” to draconian policies and legislation, including the legislation you have endorsed today. 

By your words and actions, you are also nurturing the ever-growing divide in the Jewish community and the ever-increasing alienation of Jewish youth. I have confidence the Reform movement will not long stand for this kind of undemocratic censorship by the powerful over the powerless.  We cannot be blinded by what we are being told is “kosher” pro-Israel-ism.  We are fed such hateful propaganda  that we refuse to see not only the truth of what is going on in Israel, but the tremendous harm it will bring to Israel and its future.  Do you really believe that to ban BDS strengthens the forces of progress, peace and justice in Israel?  If there is no BDS alternative for bad behavior, what tools do the forces of progress have to influence the behavior of the Israeli government not only toward Palestinians but towards secular, Jewish society in Israel? 

More and more American Jews are coming to understand the situation in Israel as I do.  There will come a day—and I hope it will not be too late—that Jews in the US will say “no” and withdraw support from and take real actions against the fundamentalists (with Netanyahu the false, friendly face of a government that is out of line with our values) who currently dominate the discourse and the policies in Israel. Once that happens, an Israeli government that is in line with our values will thrive and succeed. It is time to rethink what it means to be pro-Israel.  I hope you will understand what is at stake here.

I will close with this: I believe in “never again” and so I will not remain silent within my Temple, in the Jewish community and in the wider community nor refrain from expressing my opposition to this legislation and to the WJC’s endorsement of it. I urge you to convey to the Board of Legislators to let this legislation die quietly.   

Respectfully,

Howard Horowitz

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Frontpage, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building, Racial Justice

Hundreds Come Out in Support of Police Accountability

BLM 2

Hundreds Come Out in Support of Police Accountability 

By A. Surya Peterson

(Photos from this march available on WESPAC’s Facebook Page: Explore WESPAC)

Hundreds of people participated on Thursday, July 14th in a rally and march for justice in downtown White Plains, NY, organized by the White Plains Ministers Fellowship Council.  Reverend Lee Trollinger, the President of the White Plains Ministers Fellowship Council, served as the lead organizer and invited clergy and community leaders from all over Westchester County to participate.

 

The march started at the Calvary Baptist Church at 6:30pm where clergy led the large gathering of people in prayer.  Elected officials were among those present including the City of White Plains Mayor Roach, White Plains City Council members Nadine Hunt-Robinson and Milagros Lecuona, NYS Assembly member David Buchwald and NYS Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins.  People held signs from the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform that read: “Black Lives Matter”; “#ThisStopsToday”; “Stop Police Impunity”.  One large banner read: “White People for Black Lives”.

 

The first stop along the route was 135 South Lexington Avenue where WESPAC Director Nada Khader was invited to re-tell the story of the police killing of Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr, in November 2011.  Rev. Lynn Dunn, Minister for Christian Education and Spiritual Formation at the White Plains Presbyterian Church led the gathering in prayer.  Kenny Lee, a retired White Plains Police Officer, played “Taps” in honor of the loving memory of former marine Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr.

 

The marchers then stopped in front of the White Plains Department of Public Safety to hear from the White Plains Police Chief Anne FitzSimmons who recited the Saint Francis of Assisi prayer for peace and was also followed by Kenny Lee’s “Taps”.  The group then made its way to Court Street where the White Plains Police Department had cordoned off the section of the road and prepared a show mobile for the clergy speakers.

 

Reverend Franklyn Richardson of the historic Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon addressed the crowd.  Rev. Richardson is the Chairman of the National Action Network, an activist group founded by the Reverend Al Sharpton.  He offered some suggestions for addressing the state of racialized policing today.

 

Imam Ali from Yonkers, a religious cleric of the Islamic tradition, shared his vision of a brighter America where we will all live in unity and respect for one another.  He was followed by Reverend Kymberly McNair, the Minister of Community Education and Engagement at the Bedford Presbyterian Church, who shared with us the challenges in confronting institutional racism in our society.  

 

Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr, the son of police slain Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., spoke about the need for police accountability and reform.  He is a co-founder of the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform of which members were very visible in the crowd.  The demands of this coalition include working to:

 

  • Establish independent oversight structures with subpoena power in order to review the policies and practices of law enforcement agencies, investigate cases of police misconduct, and impose sanctions.
  • Implement clear and current protocols within all police departments addressing the use of force continuum, as well as proper handling of emotionally troubled individuals, with an emphasis on deescalating confrontations without resorting to violence.
  • Make the rules and regulations of all police agencies available to the public.
  • Review and reform the training program of the Westchester Police Academy, with particular focus on proper means to deescalate situations through non-violent methods.
  • Centralize in-service police training to encourage sharing of best practices and reduce financial costs.
  • Expand the use of Crisis Intervention Teams throughout Westchester County.
  • Increase police department efforts to recruit from a diverse officer applicant pool, so that departments more accurately reflect the communities they serve. 
  • Reassess police department promotion policies in order to advance more African-American and Latino officers into positions of leadership.

 

State-level Demands:

 

  • Establish a special prosecutor to investigate and discipline police misconduct.
  • Create an independent entity to review the policies and practices of law enforcement agencies throughout the state and propose necessary reforms.
  • Require that all police interrogations be recorded.
  • Prohibit custodial arrests for violations – arrests where an officer has discretion to issue a summons or arrest an individual.
  • Close the loophole that treats possession of small amounts of marijuana differently depending on whether or not it is in public view – a citation versus a misdemeanor.

The next meeting of the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform will take place on Thursday, July 28th at the Thomas H. Slater Center located at 2 Fisher Court in White Plains, NY, at 6:30pm.

 

The Director of the Thomas H. Slater Center, Heather Miller, spoke about the importance of voting and registering to vote.   She explained that the formerly incarcerated are allowed to vote in New York State and that part of making change is participating in the electoral process.

 

The last presentation was from Jirrell Abraham, a local poet and spoken word artist and member of the H.I.P.H.O.P. group  Highly Important People Healing Our Planet.  His performance is available on social media.

 

Several community organizations were present for the march including the Westchester Martin Luther King Institute for Nonviolence (the MLK Institute convenes the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform), the Urban League of Westchester, the Anti Racist Alliance of Westchester, the African American Men Of Westchester, the Theodore Young Community Center, the Loft LGBT Community Center,  Mount Vernon Tenants Association, Westchester Disabled on the Move, WESPAC, Hope’s Door and several more.  Families came out with children on their strollers and members of the Police Guardians Association were with us on motorcycles.  We were just steps from where Westchester County Police accidentally killed Mount Vernon Detective Christopher Ridley in a scuffle outside of 85 Court Street in January of 2008.

The march and gathering represent a significant step towards improving police and community relations with greater accountability and transparency for all.

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Criminal Justice, Director's Blog, Economic and Human Rights, Frontpage, Movement Building, Racial Justice

Protest Governor Cuomo’s Unconstitutional Executive Order

Freedom to Boycott

March to Governor Cuomo’s home in Mount Kisco to demand he rescind unconstitutional executive order that blacklists institutions that support BDS 

Wednesday, July 6th

6:00 PM     Assemble at the Mt. Kisco Metro North Station

6:20 PM     March to Gov. Cuomo’s Home from the train station

The march to Gov. Cuomo’s home will take 20 – 30 minutes.  We will be marching West on Route 133 or Millwood Road.  Please let us know if you are unable to march and need a ride to Gov. Cuomo’s home.  

RSVPs requested, including your name, the name of your organization if any and how many people will be coming with you to [email protected].  The New York State Coalition for the Freedom to Boycott will provide signs, song sheets and chants.  To read more about Governor Cuomo’s order, visit: http://palestinelegal.org/

      Train Schedule for July 6th from Grand Central Station:
Leave Grand Central                     Arrive Mt. Kisco
4:57                                                      5:49
5:04                                                      6:08
5:27                                                      6:19

Leave Mt. Kisco                        Arrive Grand Central
7:40                                                         8:41
8:16                                                         9:22
8:35                                                         9:36

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Frontpage, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building, Racial Justice

Cuomo’s BDS Blacklist is a Clear Violation of First Amendment

 

Andrew Cuomo’s BDS Blacklist Is a Clear Violation of the First Amendment

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building, Racial Justice

Have you no sense of decency, Gov. Cuomo?

http://bordc.org/news/at-long-last-have-you-no-sense-of-decency/

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building, Racial Justice