editor's note: Rochester Indymedia does not endorse political candidates. We wanted to share Emily's critical look at police and her plans for sheriff. This is a great, in-depth interview with the Sheriff for Good conducted by Rochester Accent--a new blog in town. Check them out at RochesterAccent.com.
PHOTO COURTESY ROCHESTER ACCENT
Emily Good announced her candidacy for Monroe County Sheriff on Monday. The release also invited media to a press conference to be held this morning at 10:30 a.m. in front of the Monroe County Jail on S. Plymouth Ave.
Good’s unlawful arrest for recording an on-duty Rochester police officer in 2011 hit international news and became part of a heated debate about the civic right and responsibility to police the police. We spoke with the activist to learn more about her platform and goals as the Green Party candidate for Sheriff.
Rochester Accent: What led you to run for Monroe County Sheriff?
Emily Good: In the fall of last year I began visiting a political prisoner in Attica. The process of entering the prison often includes bearing heartbreaking witness to families being denied visitation for petty, irregular reasons that are also frequently racist and sexist. The prison brought up deep feelings of injustice and suffering that I felt called to explore further, so I started reading more about the criminal justice system and alternative models.
Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow really spurred me to take action, as did the letters I received from prisoners across the state responding to my unlawful arrest two years ago. The more I learned about the so-called correctional system, the more I saw its shattering impacts around me.
I spend some time at the local Catholic Worker house, part of a movement founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, whose mission to build a society in which it is easier for people to be good to each other resonates strongly with me. Visits to our county jail and state prison clearly demonstrate that we are not doing the best we can to build that society, so I decided to make an effort to change the way we approach law enforcement and incarceration.
You have chosen to run for Sheriff as the Green Party candidate. What does Green Party philosophy specifically bring to the table with regards to law enforcement and the criminal justice system?
I have been a Green Party member since I first registered to vote, which probably makes it easier for me to embrace the idea of becoming a candidate. Grassroots democracy is one of the party’s key values, and it works best when “regular folks” from across the community get involved in creating the policies that affect them. Law enforcement affects all of us, though its visible presence in our lives varies greatly, depending on where we live, what we look like, and other factors. A commitment to equal opportunity coupled with respect for diversity leads Green policymakers towards a system that tracks race and ethnicity for all interactions with law enforcement officers. Collecting these data will draw our attention to patterns of disproportionate engagement that we can then work on changing.
The core Green concept of sustainability has relevance far beyond maintaining our physical land base. When we look at the long-term reality of imprisoning people, we see that most of these people will sooner or later return to our communities, and we will reap what we have sown through our investments in their lives. Using restorative justice models along with therapy, training, and education programs will help bring people back to our community who are able to contribute meaningfully to society as they rebuild their lives and futures. The system that is currently in place neglects this long-term perspective, reflecting a poor use of resources that too often results in persistent crises for those impacted by the system.
The Green party condemns the practice of racial profiling by law enforcement agencies, which are guilty of stopping motorists, harassing individuals, or using unwarranted violence against suspects with no other justification than race or ethnic background. They also strongly support the strengthening of legal services for the poor.
The Greens are also committed to increasing participation of women in politics, government and leadership so they can change laws, make decisions, and create policy solutions that will affect and improve women’s lives. Since men dominate the field of law enforcement, I would work for gender equity in department staffing to improve services and expand capacity, particularly in reducing gender violence and other issues that negatively affect women.
What do you see as the most important duties of the Sheriff, and how are you qualified to fulfill these duties?
The Sheriff manages a large number of workers, many of whom interact with the public under very stressful circumstances. Training patrol officers, court security and jail workers, and administrative support staff to serve the public in a respectful manner and in accordance with their legal rights is a tremendous task. I will take it on with deep concern for every human being involved. Nonviolent communication skills have helped me maintain and improve challenging relationships, and I will ensure that all employees will be instructed and proficient in these techniques. Recurring patterns of disrespect or violence will not be tolerated.
Of utmost significance to the approximately 1500 inmates who dwell in jail on any given day is their own care. The Sheriff is charged with providing nutrition, medical care, and religious services to those in custody. Having worked as a caregiver in many different settings, including serving the elderly, the very young, and people with disabilities, I am acquainted with the diversity of needs that may be present in such a large population. I would oversee these responsibilities carefully, taking time to work alongside the direct providers of meals and basic services.
The provision of medical services is too important to be outsourced. The current contractor, Correctional Medical Care, has been judged “grossly negligent” by the state Commission of Correction. The contract should be terminated and care for jailed inmates should return to the County. Unlike my opponent, I do not accept campaign contributions from corporations—particularly not corporations that provide inadequate health care to our jailed population—and that independence enables me to objectively arrange for the best medical services possible.
What do you see as the most pressing civic issues that Monroe County faces with regards to the justice system and law enforcement?
Drug crimes are overwhelming the system. Simple possession of an illegal drug can ensnare a person in the system, having rippling negative effects on their life and their community. Sending so many people to jail for drug offenses actually increases the likelihood of crime in our neighborhoods. It tears apart families and takes away opportunities for employment, education, and housing.
The majority of crime is nonviolent and much of it can be linked to poverty. More than one in five Monroe County residents live in poverty, and until we address the underlying needs of housing, food, education, and employment, we can expect to see the cycle of hardship and suffering continue to impact the most vulnerable members of our society, eventually leading many to incarceration and early death.
What are the necessary shifts in policy that the Monroe County Sheriff seat needs to address?
Justice is not being served for an individual or for our community when a person’s drug possession or addiction results in a long jail term. With widespread public support, the Sheriff should direct deputies to prioritize issues of safety, not innocuous drug use. We must grow to understand drug abuse and addiction as a public health issue, not a crime.
Decarceration is imperative for a just society. Before the Drug War tainted our common sense with financial incentives for caging users, most mainstream criminology scholars agreed on this point. In 1973 the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and goals found that “the prison, the reformatory, and the jail have achieved only a shocking record of failure. There is overwhelming evidence that these institutions create crime rather than prevent it.”
Law enforcement policy must become more proactive, adopting a compassionate approach to engagement that promotes trust and genuine partnership. We must aim to successfully build people up, not just lock them up, while the greater community works on long term solutions to the problem of crime with policies that address the underlying causes of disparity and unemployment.
How will you go about initiating these shifts?
Our department would stop accepting financial incentives for drug arrests. Forfeiture laws encourage departments to steer more of their energy and resources towards the pursuit of drugs because police can seize drug-related assets and keep the money to benefit their department. Refusing the bait is one clear way to say no to the drug war.
I will advocate for drug treatment to be made available on demand to anyone who needs it. This up front investment in health care will save money and lives down the road.
I pledge to stop the D.A.R.E. program, which does not work, and instead bring Restorative Justice oriented conflict resolution programs to schools. Deputies will model and teach nonviolent methods of dealing with conflict.
What resources and support from the government and the populace are required to shape more effective policy?
The Public Defender’s office needs to be funded at the same level as the District Attorney’s office. There are people languishing in jail for no other reason than because they lacked suitable defense. Public defenders in the city have absurd caseloads that frequently prevent them from representing their clients effectively. We must find ways to support those who can successfully work within the current legal system to avoid jail.
Additionally, we must restore funding to pretrial services that have recently been slashed and restore the Alternatives to Incarceration program, which help direct some people in the system for nonviolent offenses to places other than jail.
We need a willingness on the part of the government and the public to invest in prisoners’ lives. Cognitive behavioral therapy has proven successful in reducing recidivism among people convicted of nonviolent and violent crimes. We should make this therapy universally available to prisoners and those on probation and parole. Providing real opportunities for stability and employment outside of jail requires investment in job training and education on the inside.
Do you perceive roadblocks to enacting these shifts, and if so, what are they?
Unfortunately, there are several damaging prejudices held by a large sector of the public. Many people feel unconcerned about the experiences of poor people and people of color. Conversations about race and class tend to be uncomfortable, so we avoid talking about it and even segregate ourselves to make it easier. We must learn the racial and class history of mass incarceration. Our deeply socialized biases have influenced policies regarding crime—especially drug crime.
Similarly, we have a tendency to recoil from advocacy for those who are labeled criminals. The Restorative Justice process helps expand our awareness of the adverse impacts on the whole community when we isolate and label the people who most need connection and hope if they are to improve their lives.
Many rural communities must confront the cruel challenge of financial dependence on the prison system in order to take action for justice. Retraining ought to be available to any prison worker willing to switch to a career that provides more benefit to the community, and the public should work collectively to decide the fate of shuttered facilities.
How will you address these roadblocks?
I will give voice to new ideas and visions that give people hope for change, helping our community to understand that no one wins in this current system. For example when we put prisons in communities as a means of employment these communities show increased patterns of domestic violence and addictions. We are all suffering from a punitive system that pits disenfranchised groups against each other.
You have long been interested in and involved in exercising your civic duty regarding social justice and law enforcement. Why is it important for the average person to become more involved in this branch of our government?
We are theoretically members of a democracy, yet I see very little enthusiasm for the effort it takes to stay informed and contribute to the ever-changing dialogue about what we value and where we want to go. People feel hopeless about how to make change despite knowing that something is not working.
Law enforcement policy can define what we are able to do with our lives. I know many people genuinely concerned about human rights, liberties, and suffering who are trapped in prisons for reasons that most of the rest of society would find unbelievable. Anyone can end up in jail, even without violating a law, and we need mass participation in crafting policies that best serve us all. We also need the community to witness problematic interactions with the system and then raise questions if we are to improve our efforts to make peace.
Why do you think many people don’t become involved in shaping and tweaking law enforcement and social justice policy specifically?
Common wisdom says don’t talk to cops. Few people desire any interaction with law enforcement. I believe that the people who the system is failing most dramatically may feel a sense of trauma when in the vicinity of an officer of the law. There are also many examples of abusive officers harassing and retaliating against those who take on difficult efforts to change the way law enforcement agencies operate.
On the other side of the spectrum, people who have virtually no exposure to the criminal justice system because they live in neighborhoods with little crime or police presence have a distorted view of the system, probably informed by dramatic television shows that sensationalize violent criminals and the heroic efforts of law enforcement to save the day. Those people may be unaware that the majority of so-called criminals are nonviolent offenders with few resources to overcome the lifelong impacts of a poor choice.
Besides increasing personal awareness of the systems we have in place, and turning up to vote, in what ways can the common citizen exercise his/her civic duty with regards to law enforcement and the justice system?
We can take responsibility for making important choices that are available to us, like taking the keys away from a drunk driver. Such actions do not necessarily have to result in legal fees and repeated court visits. A clear and honest directive from the community can guide a rational person to change behavior. When we work together—and it really does take work—I believe that we can create a safe and supportive society.
R-IMC articles on Emily Good:
On April 13, 2013, the Labor Lyceum hosted a panel and discussion called “Building Worker Power Through Community Organizing.” The panel and discussion met at NYSUT Hall, 30 North Union Street in Rochester, NY.
As workers across the nation are struggling with the consequences of job flight, downsizing, discrimination, rampant unemployment, and other labor troubles, a different way of organizing outside of the traditional union model is emerging.
Workers' centers, in more than eighty cities, have been founded by communities through grassroots organizing that combine worker and community struggles in order to find justice and dignity. Worker centers are comprised of a wide range of occupations that advance a strong worker/community focused agenda that includes dignity, justice, living wages and good working conditions, while fighting against wage theft, discrimination, poverty wages, sexual harassment, workers' compensation hassles, and so much more.
Moderating the discussion was Linda Donahue. Presenters included Pete Meyers of the Tompkins County Workers' Center, located in Ithaca, Caroline Kim-tee-han—ee (Kimtihanyi) of the Workers' Center of Central NY, located in Syracuse, and Reyna Ramolete Hayashi, of the Worker Justice Group located in Rochester.
video of panelists presenting on workers' centers:
listen to the discussion after the presentations (1h 32min 12sec):
Bristol Hill Congregational United Church of Christ – Volney, NY
Chris and I get all sorts of excited when we learn of a new place to see or possibly a free tour of some giant ball of yarn. We consider it a win win if we learn of a free church tour because then we just look to see what else there is to see around the church and go and make a day of it. Believe it or not, we do learn of free church tours every so often, but it is a rare gift when an entire county opens its doors for free tours. This is exactly what happened a few weeks ago in Oswego County, but let me explain a bit. Not every single place in the county was open for a free tour; instead a list of designated places was available for tours and was spread across several small towns within the county. Chris had called a representative from Oswego County and had the list mailed to us several weeks in advance and we narrowed down our list of things to see to make it more manageable. The one site that stood out more than any other was the Bristol Hill Congregational United Church of Christ (hereby referred to as Bristol Hill Church for short), located in the small Town of Volney, NY.
What sets Bristol Hill Church apart from any other church in the area is that it is listed on New York State’s Underground Railroad Heritage Trail, and is also on the New York State and the National Register of Historic Places. The Bristol Hill Church congregation dates its creation to 1812 and the current church was completed and dedicated in 1835. The church is built on the highest point in the Town of Volney and is sometimes referred to as the ‘Church on the Hill.’ Except for the loss of its original bell, the church stands virtually the same as when it was built in its original Federal-style to reflect its New England origins. While there were originally homes surrounding the church, today the Oswego County landfill encroaches 200 feet to the rear of the church (I will return to discussing the proximity of this dump in more detail later).
The free tours for the day started at 1:00 pm, so Chris and I got to Bristol Hill Church around 12:45 pm. Seeing that someone was already inside the church, we walked in and were greeted by Jim Hinman, who we eventually found out was the former Pastor and whose son is now the current Pastor of Bristol Hill Church. Jim introduced himself to us and we did the same (surprisingly not spending too much time on the fact that we write a blog). There were several placards posted up around the church explaining much of the church’s history and Chris and I began to walk around and explore. The interior of the church is very traditional, with individuals entering from the rear and walking down the center aisle of pews to the front platform where the altar is. There is also a continuous balcony above that can be entered through a staircase from the narthex. However, since Chris and I were the only ones in the church (which was our plan and why we got there early), we had Jim’s undivided attention and proceeded to bombard him with relentless questioning…but Jim seemed to love it! As we made our way from the back to the front of the church, one placard in particular caught our attention, which had two portraits of two men on it; one being an old white guy named Hiram Gilbert and another of a younger looking black guy named James Watkins Seward.
On the very same day of May 15, 1831, Hiram Gilbert and his wife became members of Bristol Hill Church at the same time that a man named Amos Mason and his step-son James Seward did as well. The Gilberts came to Bristol Hill Church as staunch abolitionists and the Mason-Seward family were actually one of three African-American families. Over the next several years, a large, well organized abolitionist movement emerged at the Bristol Hill Church as newer members continued to join and support the cause. The first story of note started in the year of 1839, when James Seward made the decision to travel to Cincinnati. It is important to know that James Seward was born a free man in 1813 and had never known what being a slave was like. When he decided to go to Cincinnati in order to help educate other blacks, James Seward was explicitly told to reconsider since he was going dangerously close to a slave state. However, despite the warnings, James Seward decided to go and was not heard from again until 1840. Fortunately, James Seward did in fact find employment, just not as a teacher but instead as a steward on a Mississippi steamboat. At some point, the steamboat docked in New Orleans and James Seward disembarked and nearly made it back on board. However, before this occurred, James Seward was arrested and placed in jail as a fugitive slave. Even though dozens of white people came to James Seward’s aid, he was thrown into prison, onto a chain gang during the day and was threatened to be sold into slavery.
Eventually the Oswego County abolitionists at Bristol Hill Church found out about James Seward’s situation and went into action. Dozens upon dozens of wealthy influential white people were sought out and several petitions were signed, plus eventually the support of Governor William Henry Seward (no relation) himself also came to fruition. These abolitionist protests eventually did lead to the successful release of James Seward in the year 1840. However, this is not the end of the story. James Seward was next heard of on July 9, 1841 when he was executed by hanging in St. Louis, Missouri as a result of being charged with arson and murder. To this day, according to our guide Jim Hinman, the evidence of James Seward’s guilt was shaky at best, but needless to say, James Seward became lured by people whom he thought were respectable and was at the most, peripherally involved in a bank robbery where two individuals were murdered. Jim shared with us that after the extensive reading he has done about James Seward that he feels James Seward could not be capable of committing such a crime due to Seward’s extensive education and his position in the African-American community, not too mention the lack of evidence linking him to the crime and that it’s much more likely that James Seward was simply implicated and/or coerced into a confession due to being black. Also attached to the placard we were reading about this story was a copy of an original advertisement selling tickets for $1.50 for a ferry ride to Duncan Island in the Mississippi River to watch James Seward and the other men hang on July 9, 1841, which reportedly thousands attended. While I can neither confirm nor deny the validity of whether James Seward actually committed a crime or not, Chris and I agree that the story of James Seward is fascinating and one that we certainly want to learn more about.
Two years after James Seward’s death in 1843, back at Bristol Hill Church in Volney, NY, Hiram Gilbert and the abolitionist congregation wrote and published an anti-slavery resolution which consisted of a preamble and seven resolutions that addressed the “sin of slavery.” Jim explained to Chris and I that while not the first and only church in the U.S. to be so against slavery, this seven point anti-slavery resolution literally put the Bristol Hill Church “on the map” and easily established Bristol Hill Church as one of the leading abolitionist churches in the country. Jim began to show us a copy of the original anti-slavery resolution, but we interrupted him and asked if he knew where the original copy was. Jim looked surprised at this question, but he quickly agreed to show us the original and to follow him. Jim then took us to the rectory of the church (which is a new addition to the original church), where a very large and old safe is located. After searching around inside the safe for a minute, Jim then brought out a very old book that was nearly falling apart. Jim carefully went page by page through this original Deacon’s book and there in its original writing from 1843 was the anti-slavery resolution. Chris and I felt like we were looking at the Declaration of Independence and were awestruck to be able to actually look and even touch something so old and something with such historical significance. It was incredible!
In addition to this anti-slavery resolution, many of the personal homes of the members of Bristol Hill Church were active “stations” on the Underground Railroad, including the home of Hiram Gilbert. In addition, church members signed at least one anti-slavery petition in 1837, passed the anti-slavery resolution mentioned above, were a large voting block for the Liberty Party in the 1844 elections, and also worked to free William Chaplin arrested in 1850 for trying to free enslaved people in Washington, D.C. After Jim completely blew us away by showing us this original book, he then told us that most of the history that I just wrote here and shared, the Bristol Hill Church did not even know about themselves until recently, around the year 2000. Jim explained that there was nothing that set the names apart in the registry of church members that could differentiate the white and black members and none of the history was well documented. It was only when one member of the church actively began to do some research that the history of Bristol Hill Church and its involvement in the abolitionist movement came to light.
Eventually a few other people began to trickle into the church and not wanting to overwhelm Jim too much, we then went back to looking around on our own, however not before asking Jim if we could go check out the bell tower. Jim told us that the balcony was open for viewing and that we could go ahead and look at the bell tower. Before I could say, “Okay Jim, thanks,” Chris was already upstairs poking around. Once upstairs we became a bit confused. See, when you tell Chris and me that we can do something, we take it literally. But the thing is, the bell tower at Bristol Hill Church does not seem like it is very accessible and to actually see the bell, you have to climb a ladder that does not seem anyone has climbed for decades. Chris asked me if I thought Jim meant we could climb the ladder and my response was that “he didn’t say we couldn’t.” However, after thinking about it some more and assessing the safety of the ladder and whether Jim actually meant we could go all the way up, we actually made the rare decision to air on the side of caution and we did not make the climb. Instead, we proceeded to repeatedly ring the bell and annoy everyone else now in the church.
We made our way back downstairs and I began to poke around in some of the literature Jim had on display on some tables. On one of the tables was a poster board with a large newspaper article glued to it that reported a charity organization for local cancer victims that also included a picture of Jim on it. We asked Jim what the charity organization was for and Jim hesitated a bit, but then told us that the Bristol Hill Church is now surrounded by the Oswego County landfill and that over the last few decades, the landfill has done nothing but continue to grow and get bigger. It suddenly occurred to me what the charity was for and I asked Jim if he was saying that because of the landfill people were being diagnosed with cancer. Jim shared that he cannot really “prove it,” but more and more individuals have been diagnosed with cancers ever since the landfill has been there and continues to grow. In response to the landfill, Jim has now erected a very large cement-walled cross in the property to the right of the Bristol Hill Church to memorialize those who have lost their lives due to cancer because of the landfill. Chris and I were very surprised, but almost upset to learn of this news. Due to more and more people coming in to the church, we eventually lost touch with Jim for a few minutes so Chris and I proceeded to walk outside and look at the giant cross in the yard.
Cross in the lawn which commemorates those who have been diagnosed with cancer possibly due to the nearby landfill
Once outside, Chris and I noticed that the church property is walled in by a line of trees on all three sides of its property, with the street on the fourth side. Literally on the other side of this line of trees is a landfill…a very large one. While I cannot speak to the politics surrounding the County of Oswego’s decision to locate this landfill where they have, Chris and I were reminded that yet again, not only are the congregations of many churches getting smaller, older and dying off, but in the case of Bristol Hill Church, a culturally significant and historical landmark, the congregation may be literally dying off prematurely. Chris and I took many pictures from the outside, but then eventually went back inside to say goodbye to Jim. Once goodbyes were said, Chris and I then set off to see the rest of the sites on our list in Oswego County.
original article here: http://www.rochestersubway.com/topics/2013/05/manhattan-square-park-mural-erased/
I haven’t been able to find anyone who knows exactly when this mural was painted, but it’s been a fixture in Manhattan Square Park for at least 30 years, says Charles Moreland, Executive Director of Rochester Parkour . The outdoor venue has been mostly abandoned for the past 10 years, but its concrete walls and irregular geometry make it ideal for practicing the fine art of Parkour. Charles’ group can often be found moving throughout the park. Yesterday Charles noticed the mural had been covered with a fresh coat of gray paint…
The mural (when it was still there) was a depiction of the history of Rochester – from the days of the Iroquois, to Frederick Douglass, George Eastman, and Kodak technology aboard satellites in space. But now, like a giant Etch A Sketch, it’s completely gray.
John Picone is the City’s Park Superintendent. In a phone conversation he explained to me that the park is in between phases of a makeover. The nearby ice rink and lodge (a former restaurant) underwent a renovation and were reopened this winter. But the mural was in rough shape.
With events such as the Fringe Festival and Roc Pride Festival scheduled to take place in the park, and with the new lodge available for the public to rent, John says the peeling paint and other graffiti in the park had to be cleaned up.
But Charles disagrees, “That mural has been there longer than I’ve been alive, and in the last 30 years that wall HAS NEVER BEEN TAGGED. Not once. Every other wall in MSP gets ‘fuck’ or ‘I was here’ or whatever other tags… but no one has ever touched the mural.”
Charles says he’d like to see something happen with the wall. “It does Manhattan Square Park a disservice to repaint the artwork grey. They complained about no one going to the park before, but now I can’t imagine anyone going there just to stare at grey walls.”
As it turns out, Luis Burgos, Commissioner of Recreation and Youth Services would like to see a new mural painted here. He has already reached out to Dr. Ian Wilson of WALL\THERAPY who would be happy to give the wall some ‘therapy’. “Manhattan Square Park would be a most ideal location for a WALL\THERAPY mural! We (myself and WALL\THERAPY team) would love the opportunity to be a part of the conversation regarding that wall space,” says Ian.
My personal opinion… let’s get something back on this wall. BUT, in the future, please consult the artist, or the people of Rochester, before public art is destroyed.
On May 14, 2013, Benny Warr entered Judge Stephen Miller's courtroom flanked by his lawyer, Charles F. Burkwit, his wife, Nina (pronounced nine-ah), and other family members and supporters. The proceedings got underway promptly at 9:30am with Warr's arraignment first on the docket.
When Judge Miller asked Warr to enter a plea, Warr, in his baritone voice, said, “Not guilty.”
On May 1, Benny Warr was waiting for the bus in his wheelchair at the intersection of Bartlett St. and Jefferson Ave., near his home. As he was waiting for the bus, a Rochester police cruiser rolled up to the intersection. The officers exited the car and told Warr, using expletives to move on. Warr responded by saying he was only waiting for the bus. According Warr, the officers then maced him in the face and proceeded to throw him out of his chair where he was kicked, punched, and kneed by police while on the ground. He was put in handcuffs for nearly two hours until he received care at Strong Memorial Hospital for his injuries. He sustained broken and fractured ribs, numbness in his hands, neck injuries, internal injuries, and cuts on his wrists.
In a statement Warr made outside City Court today, he said, “I was minding my own business. I was catching the bus and it is my right to catch the bus.”
In response to multiple questions, from the corporate media, asking if he had done something to provoke the attack, Warr emphatically responded, “No way!”
In the early morning hours of May 2, he was released and given an appearance ticket. He was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
There is a pretrial hearing scheduled for May 30 in Judge Miller's courtroom at 9:30am.
The incident was videotaped by a bystander and posted on YouTube.com. Rochester Indymedia has published the original video here, which, while clearer, is also sideways. Rochester Indymedia apologizes for this and will be uploading the video again this evening but right side up.
“This was a blatant case of excessive force used on a disabled man in a wheelchair. It's despicable,” said Burkwit who is representing Warr.
Burkwit explained that he is nearing the end of his investigation into the attack on Warr and intends to file suit in both city and federal courts alleging civil rights abuses.
Nina Warr, Benny's wife, said, “I expected it to be short and simple and that he would plead not guilty. And that's what it was.”
The family and friends of Warr have called for a rally, march and speak-out this Saturday, May 18, 12:30pm, at the intersection of Jefferson Ave. and Bartlett St.
Related Rochester Indymedia articles: Disabled Man Assaulted by RPD While Waiting for Bus | Flyer for Benny Warr Rally | The RPD's policies and procedures for ADA compliance: Are they doing a good job? | Have you seen these guys?
Related articles: Rochester, NY Police officers Assault Disabled Man in Motorized Wheelchair | Rochester, NY Police officer Cedric Felton Remains Professional, When Asked About Incident With Disabled Man in Wheelchair Being Assaulted by RPD officers, but Female officer Has No Comment | Rochester, NY's So-Called 'Black Leaders' Silent After Disabled African-American Man In Wheelchair Is Beaten By RPD Officers
Front of the Greenhouse cafe at 2271 East Main Street. Cafe operations are run by Coffee Connection, a nonprofit distributor of organic, fair-trade coffee products
Behind the Greenhouse Cafe at 2271 East Main Street lies what its backers hope will become a model for independent, sustainable urban communities. In The City Off The Grid, a sustainability engineering firm has completed what it refers to as the first of three stages of the project. The front of the former florist shop has been converted into a coffe shop/Bistro with a front and rear solarium. One of two greenhouses behind the cafe has been renovated and is being set up as a hydroponic garden. The technology uses common household components such as gutter pipes, sump pumps, garden hoses and food barrels for high-tech equipment. Its backers hope to grow up to 750 lettuce plants every 3 to 4 weeks during the growing season. Organic seeds and natural nutrients will be used, no bio-technology or genetically modified organisms.
Newly renovated greenhouse from former florist shop now houses a hydroponic garden
Stage 2 of the project involves renovation of a second greenhouse to house two fish ponds. In addition to raising fish for consumption the waste water from the fish will be used to sustain the hydroponics. Types of fish being considered are Talapia, Crawfish, Catfish and Eel. Salmon may be considered at a later date but they are more difficult to raise and high waste producing. The group hopes to eventually produce energy in the form of biofuel and electricity from windmills and solar cells. The energy will be used to power the facility's lights and pumps. Once enough fuel can be produced, it could be used to heat the greenhouse in winter allowing production year-around.
Before and after. Greenhouse on right resembled the one on left before renovations beginning in January 2013
Hydroponic technology need not be expensive. Common gutter pipes and garden hoses are used
An ordinary sump pump supplies a thin film of water to plants. Plants are placed in a medium such as would be found in a florist's arrangement. These are placed into the holes in the pipes. Ordinary rain gutters return water to the barrel to be recycled. Barrels such as those used to ship olive oil or flour are used.
Stage 3 involves integrating everything into a self-sustaining community, an urban "eco-village" a place where people can live where their food and energy are produced. It would be a return to a village or community based economy, something which sustained humanity for thousands of years. It would be based on a sustainable permaculture, with people living and working where their food and energy are produced. The concept needs to be easily replicated in economically ravaged communities. This is a new frontier but emphasis is on building on what's already there. We are not coming to colonize. This is about building a new full-scale economy. It's more than just a few corn stalks growing on a plot of land on the corner. Building a greenhouse that produces a few hundred heads of lettuce is a small step in that direction.
Lettuce plants begin to grow from blocks of florist's foam. Lettuce has large leaves but short roots making it well-suited to this form of hydroponics
Lettuce from the greenhouse will eventually fill this salad bar in the bistro
Inside of the old unrenovated greenhouse still contains equipment from the former florist operation. In Stage 2 fish ponds will be located here.
The eco-village concept would integrate homes such as these behind the greenhouse into independent communities that exist "off the grid"
On April 27, 2013, Kathy Kelly, Noor Mir, Sarah A.K. Ahmed, Rooj Alwazir, Fidaa Abuassi, and Mohammed Abbas presented a workshop titled "The Human Face of War" at the Resisting Drones, Global War and Empire convergence in Syracuse, NY.
Part 1 is video of each panelist describing their particular experience.
Part 2 is the discussion that occurred but in audio format rather than video.
Related Rochester Indymedia articles: "A Policy of Full Spectrum Dominance" a workshop at Resisting Drones, Global War and Empire convergence | "Youth Organizing Against War" a workshop at the Resisting Drones, Global War and Empire convergence | Ending the Fabrication of the War on Terror: Lessons from Africa--a workshop by Horace Campbell | Civil Resistance, What is it? and why do we do it?--a workshop | Anti-Drone Banner Drop in Syracuse, NY | 31 protesters arrested for blocking drone base | Bruce Gagnon: Stop the Militarization and Nuclearization of Space! | Sarah AK Ahmed, an Iraqi, grew up through Two Decades of War | An interview with Kathy Kelly from Voices for Creative Nonviolence | Hancock Drone Resisters Found Guilty; Sentencing is April 24 | On Guard! Your Government Isn't Trustworthy! An interview with Col. (ret.) Ann Wright | We Can Make Change - Debra Sweet Interviewed | Stopping the Billionaires, the Bombers, and the War Machine--an interview with David Swanson | Everyone Must Resist! An interview with Elliott Adams | Nick Mottern Discusses Drone Warfare and His Consciousness Raising Efforts | 10 Years Ago: Hundreds say no to US aggression | Martin Luther King: "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam" | Anti-Drone Protest Draws Police Attention | Anti-Drone Demonstrators Return to Brighton | Anti-NATO coverage by Rochester Indymedia in Chicago | From Disney to Drone Wars - a critical settler perspective | Anti-Drone Demonstration Draws Hundreds; 37 Arrested for Civil Disobedience
"A Policy of Full Spectrum Dominance" a workshop at Resisting Drones, Global War and Empire convergence
On April 27, 2013, Bruce Gagnon presented a workshop titled "A Policy of Full Spectrum Dominance"at the Resisting Drones, Global War and Empire Convergence in Syracuse, NY.
Related Rochester Indymedia articles: "Youth Organizing Against War" a workshop at the Resisting Drones, Global War and Empire convergence | Ending the Fabrication of the War on Terror: Lessons from Africa--a workshop by Horace Campbell | Civil Resistance, What is it? and why do we do it?--a workshop | Anti-Drone Banner Drop in Syracuse, NY | 31 protesters arrested for blocking drone base | Bruce Gagnon: Stop the Militarization and Nuclearization of Space! | Sarah AK Ahmed, an Iraqi, grew up through Two Decades of War | An interview with Kathy Kelly from Voices for Creative Nonviolence | Hancock Drone Resisters Found Guilty; Sentencing is April 24 | On Guard! Your Government Isn't Trustworthy! An interview with Col. (ret.) Ann Wright | We Can Make Change - Debra Sweet Interviewed | Stopping the Billionaires, the Bombers, and the War Machine--an interview with David Swanson | Everyone Must Resist! An interview with Elliott Adams | Nick Mottern Discusses Drone Warfare and His Consciousness Raising Efforts | 10 Years Ago: Hundreds say no to US aggression | Martin Luther King: "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam" | Anti-Drone Protest Draws Police Attention | Anti-Drone Demonstrators Return to Brighton | Anti-NATO coverage by Rochester Indymedia in Chicago | From Disney to Drone Wars - a critical settler perspective | Anti-Drone Demonstration Draws Hundreds; 37 Arrested for Civil Disobedience
On May 1st, 2013, Benny Warr was waiting for the bus in his wheelchair at the intersection of Bartlett St. and Jefferson Ave., near his home. As he was waiting for the bus, a Rochester police cruiser rolled up to the intersection. The officers exited the car and according to Warr, asked him what he was doing.
"I told them I was just waiting for the bus. I was being polite," he said to me in a brief phone interview today.
The next thing Warr knew, he had a face full of mace and three officers punching and wrestling him out of his wheelchair where he was further kicked and beat while on the ground. A savvy citizen, who goes by the handle Shakur Muhammed on YouTube, started recording the incident with her phone just before Warr was violently forced from his chair.
After Warr was arrested, he said he was taken to the hospital where he was released and given an appearance ticket. He was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He's scheduled to be in court next week.
Watch Shakur Muhammed's video of Benny Warr being assaulted by three RPD cops (any ads are from YouTube and not Rochester Indymedia):
Gender Justice, Inclusion, and the Problem with Language for the Women's Equality Agenda in New York State
original article: http://upandrise.tumblr.com/post/49938349690
The NY Women’s Equality Agenda is a policy initiative that NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo announced early in 2013. NY Women’s Equality just unveiled this new video. I invite you to watch the video, read my response below, and share your own response.
Let me be clear before diving in: I completely support the points set forth by the Women’s Equality Agenda. However, we need to make sure that if we are going to push such important policies we do it the right way the first time. In a sense, I am stressing and advocating for *gender justice*.
Don’t know about the Women’s Equality Agenda? Here’s a quick description via NY Women’s Equality Facebook:
The New York Women’s Equality Coalition is comprised of hundreds of labor groups, business associations, civil rights organizations, medical associations, and religious groups united in vigorous support of Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Agenda.
New york has long served as a model for equality and fairness on several issues including women’s rights. This year at his state of the state Governor Cuomo announced plans to advance a 10-point Women’s Equality Agenda that will break down barriers that perpetuate discrimination and inequality based on gender.
The video is alienating and offensive to me, not only as a self-identified woman but also as someone who knows that gender and gendered nuance — hundreds of years of patriarchy and systemic oppression against anything not white, male, and acceptably masculine at the historical moment — cannot be expressed by playing with the tone of someone’s voice. The video is glaringly transphobic for similar reasons, reasons that should be obvious to anyone interested in putting an end to the violence and discrimination against trans* and gender nonconforming individuals.
It relies on hurtful and limiting assumptions about human gender expression and identity. The “male” voice dub-overs completely ruin a video that, unedited like that, would have been alright. Additionally, I would imagine that the male voice over is incredibly alienating to men — it pits women against men by adding an emotional and accusatory element. This is not how we get legislation passed in a government of predominately male representatives.
The video is embarrassing. It is offensive. It is a lazy and oversimplified effort to express what is supposed to be a helpful policy agenda for women. It is unfortunate that this video undermines the real message. My women’s equality agenda, the one in my head and heart, is one that not only encompasses cis women’s struggles (which are real, they are here, and they do seem completely hopeless at times) but one that also acknowledges and recognizes the struggle of trans and gender non-conforming individuals (as well as the different struggles between women of color, poor women, and immigrant women); individuals that feel the oppression and discrimination expressed in the 10-point plan even more deeply, the oppression and discrimination that Gov. Cuomo is trying to eliminate. My equality agenda understands that oppression and discrimination come from a hatred of things that do not fit in boxes, are not the masculine norm, or stem from ableism, classism, racism, etc.
When it comes to politics it is easy to take the simple way out. A Women’s Equality Agenda that communicates like this, just like the fight over the “War Against Women” we saw last summer and during the elections, plays into the oversimplified way that culture wars happen in our country. It makes me feel like we are running on a hamster wheel. I hope that NY State Women’s Equality Agenda and Gov. Cuomo consider how these potentially liberating and transformative policies can also be limiting and hurtful if used and communicated in the wrong ways. Additionally, I pledge my support to the NY State Women’s Equality Agenda in hopes that it continues to transform and grow in its approach.
Let’s push for *gender* equality (for women, for trans* individuals, for gender nonconforming individuals) and equality for ALL individuals (people of color, people living in poverty, immigrants, individuals with disabilities, etc.).