Movement Building :

Occupy may day

WESPAC connects organizations, people and issues across all divisions, recognizing that we cannot win a better world if we stay divided. WESPAC promotes movement building through regular potlucks that bring people together to share food, knowledge and build relationships. WESPAC has developed a Speakers Bureau that can provide effective speakers on a variety of current social justice issues. WESPAC is an active member of a number of local coalitions including: the Hudson Valley Fair Economy Coalition, the Hudson Valley Community Coalition and the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform.

Made in Palestine – Evening of Comedy, Dance and Music

Online Tickets Available Here for Purchase: https://tickets.tarrytownmusichall.org/eventperformances.asp?evt=2028

Palestinian – what images come to your mind…

A hilarious comic who has been the headliner at shows at both New York’s Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and has performed around the country and internationally to sold-out audiences?

Do you think of  young boys and girls, dressed in elaborate costumes, swirling in precision as they perform the classic Palestinian folk dance of Dabke?

Or maybe, the beautifully intricate and delicate traditional embroidery that has long graced the clothes of Palestinians and has recently become the inspiration for couture and hip fashion alike?

No, this isn’t what immediately pops into your thoughts. We understand. Unfortunately, the long and rich cultural history of Palestine has long been overshadowed by other images portrayed in the media.

We aim to change that and we need your help!

MADE IN PALESTINE, a one- night event planned for Sunday, Nov. 19th at the Tarrytown Music Hall, will showcase the beautiful and light-hearted side of Palestine.

WESPAC Foundation, a leading force for progressive social change in Westchester since 1974, has long advocated for a just and lasting peace to the Israel/Palestine conflict. We are aware that many Americans know little of the multi-faceted cultural heritage of Palestine – the music, the food, the art and the struggle to have their narrative understood. We will highlight aspects of this rich culture and, we hope, leave you hungry to learn more.

We are so excited that comedian and author Amer Zahr will headline MADE IN PALESTINE. Palestinian American Performance Poet Remi Kenazi and a NJ Palestinian folkloric dabke dance troupe will open the show.  Authentic food will be served and fair-trade artisan gifts and products from Palestine will be available for purchase.

We are seeking financial support from the Social Justice and the Arab-Palestinian community and others to underwrite this exciting opportunity.  We hope that you will support this event by choosing one of the sponsorship options listed below. I will call you in a few days to discuss this invitation and share more details about the show and how you might like to become involved.

We hope you will join us in what will surely be a fun and  entertaining evening with important, long-lasting effects.

MADE IN PALESTINE

Sponsorship Opportunities

Benefactor                       $1000

6 VIP tickets and listing in program

Sponsor                            $  500

4 VIP tickets and listing in program

Friend                             $  250

2 VIP tickets and listing in program

Supporter                         $ 100

Listing in Program

PROGRAM Ads

Front inside cover            $ 750

Back outside cover          $ 750

Back inside cover             $ 300

Full-page                            $ 150

Half-page                           $ 100

Quarter-page                   $   75

Business card                   $   50

Name as you would like it to appear in listing:

Please send Black and White Graphic for Ad by November 3rd, 2017

TO:   WESPAC Foundation

     77 Tarrytown Road, 2W

     White Plains, NY 10607

For more information, call the WESPAC office at 914.449.6515 or email [email protected]

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

Report Back from Annual NACOLE Conference

Nada will be presenting a report on Thursday, September 28th at 7pm at WESPAC regarding her participation at the Annual NACOLE Conference on behalf of WCPR.  

On September 10th, hundreds of members of law enforcement, community leaders, elected officials, journalists, academics, students and oversight professionals will gather in Spokane, Washington, for the annual four day NACOLE conference (National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement): http://www.nacole.org/2017_annual_conference .

Conference attendees will be able to choose from 31 different concurrent and plenary sessions on a wide range of topics including Building Community Trust, Trauma Informed Policing, Auditing for Accountability, Evaluating Police Use of Force and much more.  Attendees will be part of a learning and networking event that will provide inspiration, ideas and practical knowledge as we work for a vision of implementing best practices and enhanced police legitimacy in our local communities and around the nation.  

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

WESPAC Community Yoga

Posted in Blogs, Director's Blog, Frontpage, Movement Building

WESPAC Open House!

All are welcome!

WESPAC Open House!

All are welcome to the WESPAC Open House! Come and see our new space in White Plains/Greenburgh, meet old and new friends and hear about plans for this coming year. Wednesday, September 6th from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at 77 Tarrytown Road, Suite 2W in White Plains/Greenburgh, NY 10607. Plenty of free parking on site; drive all the way up to the top parking level behind the building. We look forward to welcoming you then! Light refreshments will be served. Call 914.449.6514 for more information.

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

After Charlottesville: A Conversation with Local Law Enforcement

After Charlottesville: A Conversation with Local Law Enforcement

Thursday, September 7th at 7pm at the new WESPAC Office location
77 Tarrytown Road, Suite 2W
White Plains/Greenburgh, NY 10607

Join the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform as we speak with Detective Keith Olson, President of the Yonkers Police Benevolent Association and Damon Jones, Blacks in Law Enforcement of America’s NY Representative, about policing, community relations and accountability in an era of emboldened white supremacy.  This community forum is free and open to the public and will be facilitated by WESPAC Director Nada Khader.  There is plenty of free parking on site. Take the driveway all the way to the top behind the building.  For more information, call the WESPAC office at 914.449.6514.

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

WESPAC Membership Dues 2017

Dear Members and Friends of WESPAC,

First, we would like to share with you the good news that WESPAC has moved to a new large, spacious location with plenty of free parking on Tarrytown Road in White Plains/Greenburgh, less than half a mile from the White Plains train station. Our open house is scheduled for Wednesday, September 6th from 5:30pm to 7:30pm: 77 Tarrytown Road, Suite 2W in White Plains, NY 10607.

This last year has been extremely challenging for our movements and WESPAC continues to play a crucial role locally and beyond, which is why we ask for your continued financial support. Dues are $100 per person annually, or $50 for students and persons with a fixed income.

Over the past year, we have worked together with the newly formed Westchester Social Justice Community network to stand up for our progressive values, as we experience increased levels of repression from the federal government, as we witness growing threats to the wellbeing of the planet and our communities, as profit is placed over people and land, and corporations, not people, control our democracy. We have worked with community partners to hold “Justice Monday” rallies in downtown White Plains to advocate for public policies that support immigrant rights, public education, worker rights, affordable housing, safe & renewable energy, LGBTQ rights and healthcare for all.

WESPAC was a key part of the organizing team for the recent Westchester Social Forum that took place in May at New Rochelle High School, where hundreds gathered to exchange ideas and information, foster solidarity, and celebrate our work to create a more just and equal society. The current political climate has energized both seasoned and new activists who are working to build alliances to address social justice issues.

We continue to work in coalition to oppose racialized policing, support Black Liberation movements locally and support a transformation of our criminal justice system. WESPAC is also playing a key role in standing up for the civil and constitutional rights of all those who speak out for Palestinian freedom. We have marched and met with elected officials at the local, state and federal level as we witness increasing repression against the non-violent BDS movement for Palestinian human rights.

The only way we can continue our work is with your help. Dues are $100 per person annually, or $50 for students and persons with a fixed income. We are grateful for all levels of support and no one is turned away for lack of funds. Volunteer hours are welcome in lieu of payment and can be arranged with the office. Please make your tax-deductible contribution today via the donate button at wespac.org or by check in the enclosed envelope. We are asking for all dues to be received by September 30th.

We are proud of the role we play as a hub for grassroots organizing with a mission to strengthen movement building in the promotion of human rights and self-determination for all communities. We need your support now more than ever to make this cherished community institution stronger!

For the WESPAC Community,

Teresa Delgado, WESPAC Board Chair and Nada Khader, WESPAC Director

PS. Every tax-deductible donation you make goes directly to our critical work for social justice and peace. Please like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter!

www.wespac.org Facebook: Explore WESPAC Twitter: @WESPAC_NY

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

Rally to Protect Immigrants!

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

Footage from the May 2017 Westchester Social Forum

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

The “adultification” of black girls leads to harsher disciplinary treatment, researchers found

 
06/27/2017
A new report found that adults view young black girls as less innocent and more adult-like than white girls starting as young as 5 years old. 
Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood,” released on Tuesday by Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality, shows that society’s perception of black girls leads to their “adultification.” The report shows that adults believe that black girls seem older than white girls of the same age, and think that black girls need less nurturing, protection, support and comfort than white girls. It also found that people assume black girls are more independent, know more about adult topics and know more about sex than young white girls.
The report ― which built on information from a 2014 study by Phillip Goff that found that black boys are more likely to be viewed as older and suspected of crimes starting at age 10 ―is the first of its kind to focus on girls. Researchers surveyed 325 adults from racial and ethnic backgrounds in a ratio that mirrors the country’s population. Many of the adults surveyed had a high school diploma or higher. They found the biggest differences in the ways adults view children in the age brackets 5-9 and 10-14. These differences continued to a lesser degree in the 15-19 age bracket.
Rebecca Epstein, lead author and executive director for the center, and Jamilia J. Blake, co-author and an associate professor at Texas A&M University, broke down the relationship adultification has on the ways black girls are disciplined during a press conference call Tuesday
“One reason this might be occurring is because black girls are being held to the same stereotypes we have of black women,” Blake said. “Black women have historically and currently been seen as being aggressive, loud, defiant and oversexualized. And I believe, along with many other researchers, that the stereotypes of black women are being mapped on to black girls.” 
The report stated that “potential implications” for the findings could be research exploring how these perceptions of black girls affect how they are disciplined at school and beyond. Black girls are five times more likely to be suspended as white girls and twice as likely to be suspended as white boys, according to research used in this study. 
And though they make up less than 16 percent of the female school population, black girls account for 28 percent of referrals to law enforcement and 37 percent of arrests. Black girls are also almost three times more likely than white girls to be referred to the juvenile justice system and 20 percent more likely to be charged with a crime.

Georgetown Laws Center on Poverty and Inequality
“The consequences of entering the juvenile justice system can’t be ignored,” Epstein said. “As we know, it can change the course of a girl’s life. But despite these startling statistics, there’s precious little research about why this different treatment happens; why are black girls subjected to more discipline and greater contact with the juvenile justice system? And at the center, we wanted to look at those possible root causes.”
During their research, Epstein recalled talking to a young black girl who said her teacher told her, “You’re just like an angry black woman.”
Blake said these attitudes take away from black girls having a childhood.
“There’s kind of this social stereotype and of course there’s something about being resilient, being independent, but when this stereotype is put on girls at a very young age, it really robs them, whether they realize it or not, of this kind of naiveté of being a child,” she said.
The authors said they hope that researchers and teachers examine the “causal connection between adultification and harsh treatment,” and that policymakers make concerted efforts to counteract this bias. Epstein said Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality will being doing its part by creating an initiative on gender justice and opportunity later in the year. In all future related efforts, Epstein said it’s essential to center those affected the most. 
“In all of this work, voices of black girls themselves should be front and center to the work,” she said. “We encourage black girls to raise their voices about this issue and, of course, for adults to listen to them. All black girls are entitled to and deserve equal treatment, including equal access to the protections that are appropriate for children.”
Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Movement Building, Racial Justice

GERMANS TAKE HISTORIC STANCE AGAINST ARMING DRONES

GERMANS TAKE HISTORIC STANCE AGAINST ARMING DRONES

 

For the first time in history, a national legislative body has taken a position against installing weapons on drones.

 

As reported in the linked Reuters article, German SPD party members have blocked the leasing from Israel of drones that can carry weapons.   http://www.reuters.com/article/germany-defence-drones-idUSB4N1GS015

 

This historic, remarkable decision may be revisited after German elections in September, but for now it stands as a signal victory of concern for human rights and ethics within the German Bundestag and an exemplary position in dramatic contrast to the avoidance of consideration of international human rights law as it applies to drone killing within the United States Congress.

 

The German decision is completely in line with the intent of the linked Roots Action petition that has been circulating since 2013, calling for an international ban on weaponizing drones, and the decision offers hope that other national legislatures will endorse a ban against armed drones.http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6180

 

Here is an article that gives further background on the German developments.https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4980423,00.html

 

A central figure in achieving the German decision is Elsa Rassbach, a German-Anerican anti-war organizer and CODEPINK activist who has over the last several years organized meetings between German politicians and American anti-drone war organizers.

 

Ms. Rassbach asked that the following letters be written to help persuade German parliamentarians to oppose the leasing of droneS that could be armed from Israel:

  1. From Nick Mottern, Coordinator, KnowDrones.com

Dear……….

I understand that there is a proposal before the Bundestag that will lead to the German government leasing from Israel unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, which could be weaponized.

I understand further that Germany may use these drones in Afghanistan.

I am writing you as the Coordinator of the United States website and organizing center KnowDrones.com to urge the defeat of any measure that would authorize the German government to purchase, lease or develop drones that have the capability of carrying weapons of any kind, for the following reasons:

  1. Drone stalking and assassination, as undertaken most widely in the world by the United States, violates international human rights law because these practices violate privacy and long-held principles of due process.  While Germany might not initially decide to arm its drones, the possession of drones with the capability to be armed will expose Germany to international criticism for being willing to participate in drone killing and will almost inevitably lead to the arming of the drones given the likely pressure by the United States to join it in drone killing.

I say likely pressure because, as you know, the United States is having difficulty keeping drone operators and so is having a hard time meeting the demand for drone attacks in the various theaters in which it has chosen to be at war, now covering at least seven nations.

Even if the German drones do not carry weapons Germany will be under suspicion of drone killing because it will be participating with the United States in drone activities, and the United States is notorious for its failure to tell the truth about its drone operations.

  1.   The United States first started drone killing in 2001 in Afghanistan. Afghanistan appears to have experienced more U.S. drone attacks than any other nation, according to statistics provided by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.  The Bureau reports that, as of the date of this letter, the minimum number of confirmed U.S. drone attacks there was 2,214 with a total death toll of up to 3,551. 

 This is a dramatic underestimate of U.S. drone killing in Afghanistan, however, since the Bureau only began keeping these statistics in January of 2015.  The German television service ZDF estimated in their 2015 Webstory “Drohnen:Tod aus der Luft” that between 2001 and 2013 no less than 13,026 people were killed by drones in Afghanistan (based on data provided by U.S. Central Command, CENTCOM, and the book “Sudden Justice” by Chris Woods). 

  1. The United States is presumably conducting drone killings to suppress opposition to the government it has established in Afghanistan.  However, judging from the announcement yesterday that the United States will be sending thousands of more troops to Afghanistan, it appears that the military effectiveness of the United States drone surveillance and killing campaign in Afghanistan must be reevaluated.  Indeed, it is quite likely that the United States drone attacks have led to an increase in the size of the force opposing it, a concern expressed by the former commander of United States and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. https://www.dawn.com/news/784919/mcchrystal-opposes-drone-strikes

Germany’s use of drones of any kind in Afghanistan will expose it to charges that, rather than simply training Afghan police and troops, it is joining the new United States offensive.

Germany’s use of drones, in and of itself, is likely to increase Afghan anger over German presence and increase risk to German soldiers.

  1.   The United States drone attack campaign, in which Germany will inevitably be seen as participating, is a particularly unsavory part of a larger military campaign to subdue an indigenous force comprised of extremely poor, Muslim people.  I respectfully suggest that the German people may not want to increase their level of participation in this ignominious endeavor.

You will find supporting material for the points above at KnowDrones.com.

Thank you very much for considering this letter. 

Sincerely,

Nick Mottern – Coordinator – KnowDrones.com

 

  1. From Ed Kinane – Counter drone war organizer, Upstate (NY) Drone Action.

Dear……….

I write hoping you will do all you can to stop the plan of the German government to make Germany into a killer-drone nation like the United States. I understand that this plan, to be voted on in the Bundestag by the end of June, includes immediately leasing weaponized drones from Israel…while at the same time developing a European killer drone.

I also hope that you will do all you can within the Bundestag to remove the U.S. military from bases in Germany. My particular concern is with the base at Ramstein. Ramstein plays a key role in facilitating the U.S. drone war on so many peoples to your east, including in Afghanistan.

Admittedly I know little about political practice and reality in Germany (a country I have fond memories of, having lived on the U.S. military Caserne at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the early eighties). But I do know that Germany, thanks to its hospitable spirit has become a beacon to many abroad who have lost their homes and land and livelihood. Like many U.S. citizens I am grateful that the Bundestag has been investigating the U.S. drone program in Germany that fuels the global refugee crisis.

We know that the U.S. weaponized drone program afflicting several Mideast and West Asian countries is leading to many non-combatant fatalities. Further, the MQ9 Reaper drone, triumphantly called “Hunter/Killer” by the Pentagon, terrorizes whole communities in the Islamic oil lands. Surely such terror contributes to the flood of refugees from those nations now desperately pressing on the gates of Germany and other nations near and far.

Further I believe that the U.S. drone war, while tactically clever, is strategically counterproductive. Not only is it leading to what I call “defensive proliferation,” but it almost inevitably must lead to enormous ill will toward the U.S. and to the West generally. That hostility will have consequential reverberations –- blowback — for any nation perceived as a U.S. ally. Surely a German killer drone program would also cause untold non-combatant fatalities and would generate hatred for Germany in the targeted regions.

You may well ask: who is this Ed Kinane who presumes to address you? In 2003 I spent five months in Iraq with  Voices in the Wilderness (a mostly-U.S. NGO, now suppressed). I was in Bagdhad before, during and after the several weeks of “Shock and Awe.” I know firsthand the aerial terrorism of the Pentagon’s overseas interventions and invasions.

In 2009 when I learned that Hancock Air Force Base – almost within walking distance of my home in Syracuse, New York – was becoming a hub for the MQ9 Reaper drone attacks in Afghanistan, I was shaken. Along with others here in Upstate New York I felt that if we (who live near this hub for the 174th Attack Wing of the New York National Guard) don’t speak out against this shameful, cowardly, illegal, inhumane way of waging warfare, who else would?

In its public relations efforts to win over the local civilian community, the then Hancock commander bragged in our local daily newspaper (the Syracuse Post-Standard, www.syracuse.com) that Hancock remotely pilots weaponized Reapers over Afghanistan “24/7.” It’s likely that the Hancock Reaper may also attack targets in North Waziristan (if not elsewhere) as well.

In 2010 here in New York State grassroots activists formed the Upstate Drone Action (sometimes also known as Ground the Drones and End the Wars Coalition). We were keenly aware that, according to the post-World War Two Nuremburg Principles, we each – especially those among us who paid federal taxes – bore responsibility for the actions of our government. Hardly being in a position to physically impede the Pentagon’s predations on other countries, we realized that at least here we could help expose those actions to the general public…and help awaken the consciences of Hancock personnel. These personnel typically are very young and live within a military cocoon, cut off from direct communication with us.

Via conventional activist tactics – rallies, leafleting, letter and article writing, street theater, vigiling, lobbying our Congressional representatives, multi-day marches, etc. – Upstate Drone Action has sought to share with the public our distress. Since 2010 a handful of us have vigiled across the road from Hancock’s main entrance at the afternoon shift change on the first and third Tuesday of every month. In the years since 2010 we have also blocked Hancock’s main gate a dozen or so times. Our scrupulously nonviolent blockades have led to my own and roughly 200 other arrests. These have led to many trials and some incarcerations.

Upstate Drone Action has not been the only grassroots group protesting U.S. drone warfare. Similar, mutually inspiring campaigns have been mounted at Beale Airbase in California, Creech Airbase in Nevada, and other bases across the U.S. With a kind of relentless persistence these direct actions keep recurring despite police and judicial attempts to deter us.

Let’s be clear: what we do isn’t civil disobedience, but rather civil resistance. After all, we aren’t disobeying the law; we seek to enforce the law. In many of our direct actions we attempt to present “People’s Indictments” to the base. In these documents we cite not only the Nuremburg Principles, but also the U.N. Charter and other international law and treaties that the U.S. has signed. We also cite Article Six of the U.S. Constitution which declares that these treaties are the highest law of our land. Those among us religiously motivated also cite the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”

Having lived and worked in Islamic lands, I am also motivated by what I perceive is the Islamophobia of U.S. military policy – akin to the racism that so plagues our civilian society. Currently, the primary target of U.S. aerial terrorism is the people and communities and regions identified as Islamic.

 I could cite statistics regarding the untold victims of drone attacks. I could cite the number of those attacks – steeply escalating with each new U.S. president (Bush/Obama/Trump). I could provide estimates of the millions of refugees displaced from not only their communities, but from their nations. Frankly such numbers leave me numbed. I cannot fathom them.

Instead, with apologies for not writing to you in German, let me cite just one text among many (see attached bibliography of English language sources) that have helped shape my understanding of the drone scourge: the Stanford and New York Universities’ 165-page, “Living Under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan” (2012). I encourage you to seek out this deeply human yet rigorously documented report at http://livingunderdrones.org/.

I write to you today, not only with urgency, but with desperation. Too many U.S. people — and their Congressional representatives, regardless of party — see the U.S. drone wars as somehow making the U.S. safer. In fact the opposite is true. My hope is that Germany will not follow the Pentagon’s lead and that Germany will end its current collaboration with that entity’s global war of terror. Any nation, especially a highly nuclearized superpower, possessing the means to assassinate any person and any leader anytime, anywhere only increases global precarity and undermines its own national soul. That nation does not need allies who facilitate its barbarity.

Sincerely,

Ed Kinane

 

 

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