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.

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.

Greetings to all from WESPAC!

Our Annual WESPAC Awards Gathering is now an online gathering scheduled for Saturday, June 13th from 7pm to 8:30pm.  We truly hope that as many of you as possible will be able to join us as we honor the outstanding work of Sister Jean Fallon (Maryknoll), David Peters (New Rochelle Against Racism) and Noah Wagner and Leah Alper (If Not Now) as they continue to work tirelessly for a more just and peaceful world.
 
Please consider taking out a journal ad in support of our 46th anniversary and annual awards gathering (details for taking out a journal ad attached).  Please make your awards gathering contribution here for either general support, to attend our online gathering or to take out a journal ad.  If you are able to support WESPAC at levels that you have in the past, it would help us enormously as we have lost important revenue from renting out our beautiful office space.  Please help sustain WESPAC through this pandemic!  We are counting on you!  Let us know that you care and that you want WESPAC to keep our lights on and operations running!  Any amount at all will be very much appreciated.
 
We thank all who have already sent in contributions for our annual gathering and are happy to offer refunds upon request since there will be no actual sit down dinner this year.  The WESPAC Board is working hard to make our annual gathering as enjoyable as possible as we all adjust to new working realities.  Details to join the gathering online will be emailed to all registrants closer to the date.
 
We hope that you and your loved ones are safe as we mourn the loss of all those who have passed during this pandemic.
 
The struggle for justice continues,
 
Nada

This is such an amazing offering from our precious local farmers.  Thank you, thank you, thank you: 

This is a community effort of farmers, growers, and non profits organizing to support our community in this time of need, in the Westchester, NY area. Our Mission is to assemble “grow-bags” from our nurtured seedlings and burlap sacks. These grow- bags will be near fruiting stage and will provide you and your family with a bountiful harvest throughout the season, with care. Please see the flyer for full information and fill out the Google Form to request and reserve your vegetable grow-bags and arrange delivery. We will deliver around the Westchester area, starting on 4/29. Please feel free to contact us with any questions! See the flyer for information.

https://forms.gle/oQkHFQC8vg2FxwrK6

Best,

Natalia

Westchester Social Forum POSTPONED! After consultations with the Westchester County authorities, the Westchester Social Forum planning committee is postponing the March 29th social forum.

In addition, all meetings, forums and events that were scheduled for the WESPAC office are being postponed or turned into online meetings through early April. We will re-assess then. We are not yet sure about the WESPAC Dinner scheduled for April 30th and will re-assess in early April.

The more we can abide by social distancing and isolation, the less severe will be the peak of this virus. I encourage all other organizations and institutions to follow suit. Work/stay at home if you can and keep six feet from others for the next several weeks.

We need to figure out ways that service sector workers, hourly wage earners can take care of their families without needing to be forced to go to work. Community health and wellness first. Social distancing is hard. We can check on each other via phone calls, messaging etc.

I will keep you posted as plans develop, and as we are able to re-schedule.

I hope we all work together to minimize the harm of this virus and protect the most vulnerable.

Hoping you stay safe and healthy,

Nada

We had a good group that came together including Martha Elder who has presented at WESPAC before (thanks to Tracy’s introduction).  She is the founder of Second Chance Foods and was recently featured on Channel 12 News: 
 
Here is Martha’s website: https://secondchancefoods.org/  She is doing very important food rescue work in our region and is getting fresh, healthy foods to those who need them most.  She will reach out to WESPAC in the coming weeks at times when she needs additional support.
 
Antoinette has sent in a suggestion about reviewing Westchester County’s mapping of food deserts.  Sonna will do some research to see if we can identify where these food deserts are located and how we can help address this.
 
Dan Wohl has invited the WESPAC Food Justice Committee to convene at his new workplace:  the Greenhouse and Education Center at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park, 679 Riverside Drive, New York, NY.  He is working on developing food security networks between NYC and the Hudson Valley.  Nada reached out to Chloe to see if she would like to bring her youth along for this outing.
 
Doug DeCandia gave us a substantial update about his current work: he is growing herbs and flowers with inmates at Sing Sing and Taconic prisons and is working with the mental health units.  He shared some wonderful photos with Nada of his work that are available upon request.  He and Jalal are exploring the idea of teaching a horticulture and nutrition course at Sing Sing.  He discussed the challenges of working with prison authorities in terms of getting fresh produce from a local CSA into the prison.  They are trying to see if the CSA produce could be added to the commissary list and could arrive in cardboard boxes to alleviate the security concerns of the prison authorities.  It is all a work in progress.  He will be in touch with us in the coming weeks and months at moments when he may need additional support for this important work.  Additionally, this weekend he is offering a workshop on the necessity of building equity in our food system at this soil and nutrition conference in Massachusetts:  https://soilandnutrition.org/
 
We also discussed if, at the county government level, we could get buy in from the county to have any county operated facility commit to purchasing food for their cafeteria from local, small scale Hudson Valley ecological farmers and growers.  This change alone would be transformative for our local economy and would have a serious impact on reducing our carbon footprint and would help with climate change issues along with habitat and farm preservation and the promotion of biodiversity, the health of our precious pollinators and so much more.
 
We also discussed the utility of having a listing of all farms in Westchester County listing what items are grown and where they are made available.  This list may already be available – we need to research.  We would want to include here private property that is being leased to farmers to grow produce, flowers, herbs, raise animals, chickens, bee keeping etc.
 
Our December WESPAC Book Club gathering will take place on Tuesday, December 10th at 7pm with a discussion of “Can We Feed the World without Destroying It” by  Eric Holt Giménez.
 
Respectfully submitted,
 
Nada
 

PANEL DISCUSSION
Police, ICE and Immigrant Safety in Westchester County


Tuesday, October 22nd at 6pm • Yonkers Riverfront Library • 1 Larkin Center in Yonkers, NY 10701

PANELISTS

Joseph Castelli
Police Chief, White Plains Police Department

John J. Mueller
Acting Police Commissioner, Yonkers Police Department

Richard Conway
Chief of Police, Port Chester Village

Jessica Young, Esq.
Westchester Supervising Attorney, Make the Road New York

Diana Sanchez
Yonkers Sanctuary Movement

Vanessa Agudelo (moderator)
Peekskill Trustee & New York Immigration Coalition

For more information, contact:
914-222-3244 • wcprny.org [email protected]