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

September 10 – October 1, 2020

At this pivotal moment in our nation’s history, advocates, policymakers, law enforcement, and community leaders around the country have raised concerns about policing and public safety.
 
People want change. They want America to be better. That call for change is unmistakable, but the path forward remains unclear. It’s time to reimagine 21st century public safety and redefine the role of police in creating safe communities, together.
 
This September, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice are partnering to convene a series of six livestream conversations to reimagine the future of public safety and redefine the role of policing in America today.
 
These sessions will culminate in the release of a public report that will include substantive and innovative conclusions for communities to consider as they reimagine the future of public safety. The report will serve as a roadmap for local communities to follow as they work toward committing to policing practices that ensure equal justice for everyone. We must collaborate and create a blueprint for the future of public safety—and what that means for policing—together. (See press release.)
 

RSVP today to receive reminders ahead of each conversation! 
Each event will be streamed live on our Facebook and YouTube pages. 

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/

“Children in Detention, an introduction to the No Way to Treat a Child Campaign” was originally recorded on June 16, 2020.

58 minutes
https://www.classwars.org/NoWayTreatChild.mp3

Panelists: Kwame Holmes, PhD, Scholar in Residence, Human Rights Program, Bard College, AND Shaina Low, U.S. Advocacy Officer at Defense for Children International, Palestine.

Permission to air this program has been granted by the four sponsoring groups, Jewish Voice For Peace – Hudson Valley, Mideast Crisis Response, Veterans For Peace, and Women in Black – New Paltz.

Here is the recording of an important webinar with South Dakota State Senator Red Dawn Foster on the work of Return to the Heart Foundation, an Indigenous-led grantmaking organization that empowers women-led initiatives throughout Indian Country. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=594420184612151 For Native Americans, Covid-19 has hit hard, from the growing number of infections in Navaho and Hopi Nations to the racism that the Lakota continue to face in protecting their borders. South Dakota State Senator Red Dawn goes into detail about how Native nations are staying resilient and how mutual aid can support their efforts.

 

What a magnificent awards gathering the WESPAC Community had last night!  Between the awardees and our keynote speaker, we were all transported to the realm of possibility and the world that we can make happen together!  Take a listen: https://www.facebook.com/WESPACFOUNDATION/videos/747136596090336/?vh=e

WESPAC 2020 Dinner Journal Final

The Antiracist Alliance, WCPR, the local chapter of NYCLU as well as WESPAC have worked together to put together this letter. We are asking for additional organizations, groups and congregations to please add your names if you support our list of specific reforms outlined in the letter. Now is the moment. If you agree, please sign on here June 5, 2020

A Call to Police Leaders

Communities across the country, including our own, are angered and appalled as we witness an unending stream of callous, disrespectful, and often deadly encounters between police and civilians. While many of these events occur elsewhere, both individual experience and published research reports tell us that there is not a community in Westchester County that is not afflicted by disturbing police-civilian encounters, racially biased policing practices, and a problematic lack of transparency by its law enforcement agencies. 

This is a call for you to make a firm and public commitment to transparency, accountability, and a zero-tolerance approach to police misconduct. 

While we are wary after decades of refusals to reform, we remain willing to partner with our law enforcement leaders who embrace the tenets of accountability, transparency, equal justice, and respect for all human life. 

Below you will find a list of specific reforms that we wish to see implemented immediately here in Westchester. Achieving these recommendations will send a strong message to all members of our community that our leaders are committed to fundamentally redefining the relationship between our police department and our community. This is tough work, but if we commit to it, we can build a stronger community: one that is rooted in the fundamental ideals of liberty and justice for all.

In peace and commitment to partnership for the safety of all,

Residents and organizations of Westchester County (list is still in formation):

AntiRacist Alliance 

Black Westchester

Blacks in Law Enforcement

CD17 Indivisible

Indivisible New Rochelle

Indivisible Scarsdale 

Indivisible Westchester Districts 6 & 7

Indivisible White Plains

Indivisible Yorktown Heights

Larchmont/Mamaroneck Indivisible

NYCD16-Indivisible

PISAB/The People’s Institute; for Survival and Beyond NY/Northeast

SURJ Westchester Coordinating Committee

WESPAC

Westchester Black Political Conference

Westchester Coalition Against Islamophobia

Westchester Coalition for Police Reform

Westchester for Change 

Westchester Martin Luther King Jr. Institute for Nonviolence

OUR EXPECTATIONS

We expect you, as leaders with authority and responsibility for law enforcement in Westchester County, to assume full responsibility for meeting the highest possible standard of accountability, transparency and equal protection to all residents and visitors to our county. Our specific expectations are detailed below. 

  • Make publicly available the current policies and patrol guides of all law enforcement agencies under County jurisdiction, including but not limited to policies on: de-escalation tactics, implicit bias, use of force, department diversity, enforcement of low-level offenses, field interviews, search and seizure, use of surveillance technology, and the penalties for violating these policies.

  • Make public the training materials used for police officers: including hours spent training on de-escalation, implicit bias, and use of force. 

  • Commit to collecting comprehensive data on all police stops – including the rationale for the stop and the race, ethnicity, age, and sex of people stopped – and making that data publicly available. 

  • Pass legislation/Require officers making police stops to provide an identification card, state the reason for the interaction, and to state that you may not be searched without your consent without probable cause. 

  • Pass legislation/Require a full, independent investigation into any police-civilian interaction that results in civilian injury or death. 

  • Advocate for legislation that would make the measures outlined above mandatory throughout New York State, including Repeal 50-a, (the law which currently cloaks police officers’ disciplinary records in secrecy), the Right-to-Know Act, which requires officer identification during police stops, and the Police-STAT Act, which requires that police departments collect and report data on police stops so that they can be monitored for patterns of racial profiling.

 We remain committed to working to advance racial justice and hold our police officers accountable, and we invite you to join us in this fight.

Statement of Solidarity on the Anniversary of Kristallnacht

by Howard Horowitz, member of the WESPAC Foundation Board

Tonight, we will commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Great Pogrom, which the Nazis euphemistically dubbed ‘the Night of Crystal’ – Kristallnacht.  This anniversary comes at a moment in history when anti-Semitism is still prevalent, and we are still plagued by evil and hatred (Rabbi Josh Weinberg).

At WESPAC Foundation we remember Kristallnacht and the Holocaust with a message of “solidarity” with all those struggling for justice in these dark times.  Solidarity is uplifting, meaningful and a call to action.  In our thinking about this, let me share with you an excerpt from a post by Robert Herbst of Larchmont, a civil rights lawyer, a peace and justice activist and who identifies as Jewish:

“In the wake of Pittsburgh, there is no Jewish future in turning inward, either physically, spiritually, or politically, here in the United States, or in the Middle East. The insecurities of the nation and world we have made and live in since the Second World War are widely shared by all except those who have accumulated the money and power to escape them. Rather than locking ourselves away, it is to the Others we must turn – white, black and brown, Christian and Muslim, poor, working and middle class – if we are to have any hope of Tikkun Olam.”

There is an urgent and immediate need for a statement of solidarity.  Echoing Charlottesville, there are those among us already muddying the waters claiming “there are bad guys on all sides—left and right.”  We reject anti-Semitism in all its forms and expressions wherever and by whomever it is expressed.  What happened at Tree of Life is Trump-supported, right wing white nationalism, plain and simple.  It has nothing to do with left or anyone else and certainly not anywhere in the struggle for justice in Palestine.

Our struggles are bound up with the many communities facing violence and oppression during these dark times, and we call your attention to just a few of the statements of solidarity that are so needed as we commemorate Kristallnacht.

Out of Our Silos: To Defeat Anti-Semitism, Jews Must Unite With Others Targeted by White Supremacy (Hannah Sassaman, In These Times)

Amy Goodman Interviews Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari of Kol Tzedek synagogue

Palestine Legal Statement on Tree-of-Life-Synagogue

Jewish Voice for Peace:  Together We Heal, United We Fight