On Saturday, October 18, 2014, a Black Lives Matter rally was held on the University of Rochester campus during Meliora Weekend. It was organized by B.L.A.C.K. (Building Leadership And Community Knowledge) and UR students.
Participants ended the march at the Douglass Leadership House on the campus where Makia Green and Natajah Roberts addressed those gathered. A four and half minute silent vigil was conducted to honor Mike Brown, while recognizing that law enforcement let his dead body lay in the open for four and half hours.
Mike Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. B.L.A.C.K. coalesced around the murder of Brown and some of its delegates have been to Ferguson in order to participate in demonstrations and to build relationships with on the ground organizers there.
B.L.A.C.K. is a grassroots collective created to empower the Black community through education, awareness, leadership development, cooperative economics, social media, and tactful action in an effort to combat the many disparities caused by institutionalized racism. Through a unique focus on Black cultures, as opposed to race, the group strives to emphasize the value of Black lives and promote solidarity among peoples of the African diaspora. You can email them at: email@example.com
Remember the 2004 election in Ohio and the long lines made up of mostly people of color, well they could be back. The Supreme Court upheld recent laws passed in Ohio that are designed to suppress the votes of minorities, young and working class. These laws will eliminate same day registration and cut ealy voting days and times. The ACLU of Ohio recently fought to overturned the new voting laws and won in both the U.S. District Court and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, but the State appealed it and the Supreme court of the overturned the lower courts upholding the laws as constitutional.
In an interview, Drew Dennis an attorney for the Ohio ACLU, discusses the new voting laws and the case they presented to the courts in hope of getting them declared unconstitutional.
On Sunday October 5 2014 about 100 anti-war protesters gathered at the entrance to the Hancock Air National Guard base in Syracuse NY. Unlike previous events which led to arrests this one had a permit to use a small area in full view of the base entrance. The response by base guards and local police seemed quite excessive as there seemed to be more cops and soldiers than there were protesters. A pro-war group of about 10 people was also permitted to demonstrate in the same area but there were no incidents.
The event was part of a larger event beginning October 4 in Germany and the UK, and in other US cities. The delegation in Syracuse included groups from Buffalo, Rochester, Ithaca, Utica, Albany and Binghamton. Among the New York groups represented were:
Bicyclists Against Killer Drones
Medical Workers Against Killer Drones
Town of Dewitt Residents Against Killer Drones
Honey Bees Against Killer Drones
Gardeners Against Killer Drones
Veterans Against Killer Drones
Video of event (approx 30 miniutes) with simulated drone attack (you can't see them when they attack!)
One point that was made was the improper use of Orders of Protection. After a protest last year, a judge granted an order of protection to the base commander. Orders of Protection were intended to protect victims of violent crime, not heavily armed officers from people who object to their actions. In response, a “People's Order of Protection” was issued to protect innocent civilians from drone warfare internationally.
Killer drones have been used continuously in Afghanistan, resulting in numerous civilian casualties, largely unreported, as the ongoing war in Afghanistan has been virtually invisible for the last 8-10 years. To this day, 40 children are killed every week in the ongoing violence in Afghanistan. Drones are used to bomb countries we are not at war with, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and now Iraq and Syria. Well, it's stretching a point to say we aren't at war with Syria. The drones are used in many parts of the Middle East, SW Asia, and Africa to terrorize indigenous populations into accepting western agendas. Israel uses drones over Gaza and drones were a key weapon in the bombardment of Gaza last month that took the lives of more than 2000 people. The US has agreed to sell drones to 68 foreign countries, and Israel is less discriminate in their proliferation.
Of course there was music!
On October 3, 2014, the Flying Squirrel Community Space was able to get death row prisoner Keith LaMar on the phone live after watching "The Great Incarcerator, part 2: The Shadow of Lucasville."
Keith LaMar talking to people at the Flying Squirrel from death row
The documentary screening and the call-in event were part of a month of stop mass incarceration programming at the Flying Squirrel Community Space.
Keith LaMar AKA Bomani Shakur has been imprisoned on Ohio’s death row since 1995 for his alleged role during the “Lucasville Uprising” of 1993. He was falsely accused of having murdered prisoners and having “led a death squad.”
No physical evidence connects Keith to the murders that took place
when the prison at Lucasville was in uprising. The verdict is based on
(forced) snitch testimony.
Keith wrote a book called Condemned, in 2004, to highlight
his life and the truth about what happened. This book
Condemned: The Whole Story is now published and for sale.
FInd out more about his case and get involved in supporting him: www.KeithLaMar.org
Find out about other prisoners charged with the Lucasville Prison uprising at: justiceforlucasvilleprisoners.wordpress.com
Additional and Related information: FLYING SQUIRREL JOINS NATIONAL CALL-OUT TO STOP MASS INCARCERATION | Black Lives Matter Rally; Sept 27 2014 | Officer Masic to Mr. Keene: "If you don't stop moving, I'm going to shoot you." | Pass OUR community safety act now, before another Ferguson happens | Ferguson Report Back- Ricardo Adams and Rosemary Rivera | Rosemary Rivera's Messages from Ferguson | NYCLU Annual Meeting: Candis Tollver on NYPD Reform | Ricardo Adams from Ferguson, MO: "Enough is enough!" | National Moment of Silence Against Police Brutality | Reverend Stewart on What's Hot with Howard Eagle | Ban the Box Passes in Rochester! | RPD Civilian Review Board Should Have Investigative Power and Authority | Rev. Stewart gives a teach-in on Independent Civilian Review Boards
Clifton Ross and Marcy Reins spoke on Thursday evening about their new book “Until the Rulers Obey: Voices from Latin American Social Movements.” The event was organized by Red and Black and was held at the Flying Squirrel Community Space.
Blaqsha Shakur Mandela, the videographer who captured and posted the police attack on Clem Long on Thursday Sept 18th, called for a March and Rally on Rochester's West Side.
The Rally took place on Sept 27th and included a march from Brooks ave and Genesee to the Athletic field at Wilson Academy on McCree and Genesee. Speakers at the Rally include, Blaqsha- a member of the Black Panther Party, members of Clem Longs family, members of BLACK (Building Leadership and Community Knowledge), members of the ISO (International Socialist Organization), International Action Center and Enough is Enough.
On September 18, 2014, Quintin Keene was doing his laundry at a laundromat on Genesee Street--blocks away from where Sgt. Aaron Colletti of the Rochester Police Department brutalized Clem Long Jr. Mr. Keene was arrested by officer Mario "Cowboy" Masic (the same guy who arrested Emily Good (1, 2, 3) and broke into Lewis Powell's car, among countless other stories of his terror on the West Side), two hours after Mr. Long was brutalized and arrested.
Masic bum rushed and pepper-sprayed Mr. Keene without warning, dropped him to the ground, and yelled at him--after he was in handcuffs--"If you don't stop moving, I'm going to shoot you." Mr. Keene was speaking with his grandmother on the phone when the altercation happened; she had an asthma attack as she heard her grandson violently arrested. Mr. Keene wants nothing more than to see officer Mario "Cowboy" Masic lose his job and never work for law enforcement again.
On September 20, Rochester Indymedia sat down with Mr. Keene and asked him to explain what happened. Here is his story.
Additional Information: Pass OUR community safety act now, before another Ferguson happens | Ferguson Report Back- Ricardo Adams and Rosemary Rivera | Rosemary Rivera's Messages from Ferguson | NYCLU Annual Meeting: Candis Tollver on NYPD Reform | Ricardo Adams from Ferguson, MO: "Enough is enough!" | National Moment of Silence Against Police Brutality | Reverend Stewart on What's Hot with Howard Eagle | Ban the Box Passes in Rochester! | RPD Civilian Review Board Should Have Investigative Power and Authority | Rev. Stewart gives a teach-in on Independent Civilian Review Boards
Officer Mario "Cowboy" Masic
United Christian Leadership Ministry held a press conference on September 22, 2014 at Inner Faith Gospel Tabernacle where they called for a police accountability legislative package to be passed that would include an independent civilian review board, body cameras for cops, the collection of data for stop and frisk (as well as its end), and law that would compel officers to inform civilians of their rights if they are stopped. The press conference also addressed the deteriorating environment of police / community relations. Reverend Lewis Stewart spoke on behalf of UCLM.
Related Information: Ferguson Report Back- Ricardo Adams and Rosemary Rivera | Rosemary Rivera's Messages from Ferguson | NYCLU Annual Meeting: Candis Tollver on NYPD Reform | Ricardo Adams from Ferguson, MO: "Enough is enough!" | National Moment of Silence Against Police Brutality | Reverend Stewart on What's Hot with Howard Eagle | Ban the Box Passes in Rochester! | RPD Civilian Review Board Should Have Investigative Power and Authority | Rev. Stewart gives a teach-in on Independent Civilian Review Boards
For full disclosure, the one of the authors of this article, Susan Galloway, was one of the litigants against the Town of Greece in the SCOTUS case, Town of Greece vs Galloway and Stephens.
The Town of Greece was recently in a lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court of the United States, Town of Greece v. Galloway, over their prayer practice. The plaintiffs argued that the Town aligned itself with Christianity, in that in over ten years the town only had 3 non-christian prayer givers and only after the Town of Greece knew that a lawsuit was imminent.The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Town of Greece upholding the the Town's prayer practice in a 5 to 4 decision. All three Justices of a minority faith were on the dissenting side.
The Town of Greece had no formal written prayer policy until August 18, 2014 when the Town Board passed a policy unanimously that lacked any transparency or public input. http://rochester.indymedia.org/node/104057 The Alliance Defending Freedom is a fundamentalist Christian advocacy organization that defended the Town of Greece in the lawsuit regarding their prayer policy. They appear to have incredible influence when deciding the prayer policy for the town of Greece in that the new policy is almost the exactly like the Alliance Defending Freedom's prayer policy model. Despite repeated claim's by the town of Greece in its court briefs and arguments that they were not aligning themselves with any specific religion, the town adopted the Alliance Defending Freedom's prayer policy model almost word for word as its own. It is hard to argue that you are not aligning yourself with a religion when the policy you adopted was written by an organization whose website states, "We must continue the fight for religious liberty, so that the life-changing message of Jesus Christ can be proclaimed and transform our culture. Each win for the Body of Christ is a loss for the opposition. Itʼs that black and white."http://alliancedefendingfreedom.org/issues/religious-liberty. ADF actively recruits lawsuits that challenge women's reproductive rights, including rights to contraception and abortion, equal marriage laws, non-discrimination laws, laws the that uphold the separation of church and state in public schools, laws that set limitations on politicking for tax exempt status for places of worship and organizations, and other issues that would break down the wall between church and state in the U.S. and abroad.
The new town prayer policy contradicts much of the argument Greece made to the Supreme Court and the press statements made by town officials. In the Town of Greece brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/supreme_court_preview/briefs-v2/12-696_pet.authcheckdam.pdf
The question presented by the Town was:
“Whether the appeals erred in holding that a legislative-prayer practice violates the Establishment Clause notwithstanding the absence of discrimination in the selection of the prayer-givers or forbidden exploitation of the prayer opportunity.”
The current policy adopted by the town post-decision introduces explicit discrimination that was only implicate in the practice of the town prior to the policy.
The brief is introduced as follows:
1. “This case concerns whether the Town of Greece, New York, can open its monthly board meetings with an invocation to solemnize the proceedings, offered by any Town resident from any faith tradition (or no faith tradition) who volunteers to speak.”
The current policy violates the very premise upon which the case was argued. No longer can “any Town resident” offer the invocation, but only those who are members of “religious assemblies”.
2. Quoting Marsh v. Chambers, the Town states that “…unless the government acts with “impermissible motive” in selecting the prayer-givers… courts may not “embark on a sensitive evaluation”.”
Again, the new policy undermines the Townʼs own argument by introducing “impermissible motive in the selecting of prayer-givers” that invites the “sensitive evaluation” that the Town claimed was not permitted.
The town further argues that “the opportunity is open to all residents”, and points to this fact as “dispositive” (conclusive in settling the issue). Thus a key “fact” in the Townʼs argument is simply no longer the case.
3. It was also claimed that, “The Town allowed any citizen to volunteer to deliver an invocation, and never rejected such a request.”
The Town has since rejected at least two specific requests, and has now instituted a policy that will permanently bar any citizen not associated with a “religious assembly”.
To illustrate how the fact that the invocation was “open to all residents” was central to the Townʼs argument, consider the volume and specificity of the following statements in the Townʼs brief:
“Under the Townʼs practice, atheists and non-believers were also welcome to volunteer to give an invocation.”
“In… 2007… Town officials met with respondents and explained that anyone could volunteer to deliver the opening prayer…”
“…any Town resident of any faith or no faith may offer the invocation.”
“… the prayer opportunity was open to anyone…”
“…there is no evidence that the town would not have accepted any and all volunteers who asked to give a prayer…”
“… the Town made no restrictions on who could volunteer to offer the prayer.”
“… it is undisputed that the Town would have welcomed atheists and nonbelievers to open the meeting with a statement of their choosing.”
“III. The Townʼs neutral policy permitting volunteer prayer-givers of any or no faith … is Constitutional…”
“… the Townʼs policy for selecting prayer-givers is facially neutral…” (facially neutral: does not even appear to be discriminatory)
“The Townʼs practice would also be Constitutional if this Court chose to evaluate it under its limited public forum jurisprudence, which affords protection to private individuals who express their views in a forum created by the government for a particular purpose that is equally open to all citizens.”
“… volunteers from any or no religion are permitted to deliver an opening statement…”
“…the town simply provided a neutral opportunity for its citizens to speak…”
“… the Town established an opportunity for private citizens to open the legislative session and allowed all to participate…”
Greece town officials also made statements to the press that contradict this new prayer policy.
In a Democrat and Chronicle article, http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2014/05/05/greece-town-board-prayer-court-ruling/8739551/, dated May 6, 2014," Reilich said that while nearly all houses of worship in Greece are Christian, there's no policy prohibiting anyone from volunteering to offer a pre-meeting invocation."
From a WHEC News 10 article, dated 05/05/2014, http://www.whec.com/article/stories/s3424461.shtml, Andrew Conlon, Greece Town Board, said, “Being a predominantly Christian community, it just happens to be that most of them are Christian, but again anybody in the community is welcome to it.” The article went further to say that “the town board is encouraging anyone who wants to pray to simply call and get on the list. There are no rules or restrictions."
On September 16, 2014, after Susan Galloway spoke about the new prayer policy at the town board meeting, Greece Supervisor Relich stated, "The hypocrisy, we won the lawsuit. We are allowing Atheists to come and pray because they want us to be tolerant, but they're not tolerant of Christians, their not tolerant of others, the hypocrisy". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVkrg5x4UYU The facts are clear that Greece argued equal opportunity to all Greece residents to the prayer at town board meetings, but have changed the rules. Now they are saying that either you are a member of a recognized "assembly" or you are disqualified. it should be the people that are saying "the hypocrisy" to the town.
Ricardo Adams and Rosemary Rivera, who went to Ferguson, MO at different times, presented on their trips. The event took place at the Flying Squirrel Community Space in Rochester, NY on Sept 16th, 2014 and was organized by the group Enough is Enough.
Rosemary & Ricardo are in the process of setting up another, full two-hour panel where they can continue sharing their experiences. Ricardo Adams is scheduled to go back down to Ferguson for five days in early October. Stay tuned to Rochester Indymedia for more information about this panel. It will co-incide with the Flying Squirrel Community Space's Stop Mass Incarceration programming in Oct.
Also, going from Ferguson to Rochester, United Christian Leadership Ministries & Coalition for Police Reform will hold a public forum on police violence and what we can do on Thursday, October 2nd, 2014, 6:30pm at Inner Faith Gospel Tabernacle (32 York St.).
Statements / Writing from Ferguson:
Here is a link to a phone report back from Ricardo when he was in Ferguson: http://
And here are links to Rosemary's dispatches from Ferguson:
Day 1: http://band-of-rebels.com/
Day 2: http://band-of-rebels.com/
Day 3: http://band-of-rebels.com/
Day 4: http://band-of-rebels.com/
Additional Information: NYCLU Annual Meeting: Candis Tollver on NYPD Reform | Ricardo Adams from Ferguson, MO: "Enough is enough!" | National Moment of Silence Against Police Brutality | Reverend Stewart on What's Hot with Howard Eagle | Ban the Box Passes in Rochester! | RPD Civilian Review Board Should Have Investigative Power and Authority | Rev. Stewart gives a teach-in on Independent Civilian Review Boards