Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Moral Monday Moves Forward in Georgia!!

 Last night, we all received the announcement by the St. Louis Grand Jury that the killer of Mike Brown will not be held accountable for his actions. The calls to question the metes and bounds of value of Black life in America. There are many issues involved that are important to many of us including the militarization of our civilian police departments, the mass incarceration of young black and brown Americans, and the mistrust of criminal justice system.  We are inspired by young people who will lift creative protest in the midst of this critical moment in our nation's journey towards a more just society. 


Yet, we are encouraged.  On Saturday in Columbus, we had the privilege of standing with mothers, fathers, educators, ministers, retired individuals, young people, gay and straight Georgia during the Statewide Planning for Moral Monday Georgia.  One thing was clear - we all want Progress! 


Where do we go from here?   

 
Our analysis confirms there was no extreme right-wing mandate from the Midterm elections despite the poplar option of the media.  Instead, despite the failure of candidates to connect; voters endorsed bold progressive ballot initiatives and referendums on criminal justice reform and livable wages won big in those same states. 

 


Let's launch Moral Monday Georgia 2.0!


Join Moral Monday Georgia at the State Capitol for the opening legislative session on January 12, 2015.  Moral Monday Georgia's platform and legislative agenda is bold and lifts our values and not our fears. From the very start of this movement, our eyes have been fixed on the long view. Last year we made news; this year we want to make change. Change doesn't come overnight; and one press cycle; one legislative session; or even in one election.  If we are going to transform the political landscape in Georgia; we must continue work on a bold, persistent, consistent, disciplined values based agenda of change.  

 

The coming legislative session is likely to be brutal. Our most vulnerable communities will surely face new attacks.


What can you do?




We must move forward together and not one step back.
American Friends Service Committee is a proud co-convener of the Moral Monday Georgia Movement

Monday, November 24, 2014

MO Grand Jury Shows Impact of Systemic Racism


Below is AFSC's position on the grand jury decision. For those that are near Atlanta we want to encourage you to join the local effort and gather at 5pm tomorrow(11/25) at Underground near 5 points station. Through this tragedy we hope the local effort to challenge systemic racism continue to build momentum. 

Now that the grand jury has decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, people across the country are justifiably seeking answers. The American Friends Service Committee also is seeking clarity in this case. We remain committed to addressing the issues of militarization of police, police accountability and systemic racism revealed by the killing and its aftermath. If we are to prevent future tragedies, people everywhere should join us in these efforts.

Those who pay the cost of these policies are disproportionally young people of color – and with alarming frequency that cost is death at the hands of police. Ominously, local police increasingly rely on militarized tactics and weapons not only to arrest but to contain people exercising their right to assemble and peacefully protest such tragedies as the Mike Brown killing.

Weeks before today’s announcement, Missouri police and elected officials began stockpiling riot gear and “less lethal” weapons to respond to public protest. We urge protesters to resist provocations such as armored trucks, dogs, and blockades staffed by officers in military garb. We   urge police officials to seek dialogue with those they swore to protect and serve, to find common ground and peaceful paths forward. Throughout our decades of work on social justice and human rights in the U.S. and around the world, we have witnessed the effectiveness of such dialogue and exchange programs.

We are proud of the young people with whom we work in Missouri, who are using peaceful means to work for fundamental change in systems that perpetuate racism and inequality. They deserve both applause and help for their leadership in healing and organizing their communities. We urge all people of good will to join us in supporting peace-building programs for these young people.

Starting just days after the shooting, AFSC has been helping youth process the killing of one of their peers through our two-year-old Peace Education Program working in Ferguson and St. Louis. We are standing with teachers and families, with the community organizations protesting, and with the family of Mike Brown.

Most of all we heed and support their vision of what democracy looks like: It looks like police accountability. It looks like equal access. It looks like an end to mass incarceration. It looks like the dismantling of the school-to-prison pipeline. It looks like the demilitarization of police.

As a Quaker organization that believes in the worth of every person, we call on people everywhere to join us in addressing the systemic and structural racism at the roots of Mike Brown’s death – and that of so many others nationwide.

We need to challenge policies – at every level, from the school house to the State House, from Missouri to Washington DC – that disproportionately incarcerate people of color  and boost profits for corporations running jails, prisons and immigration detention centers. We also must challenge media when they stigmatize youth of color instead of acknowledging their humanity.

Our nation will only prosper when we invest in all our children. Join us as we work to end militarized policing and the systemic racism that endangers youth of color and thus threatens our common future. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Occupy Our Homes ATL is Fired Up from Wildfire!

It’s was hard to be fired up at such an early hour when we set out for the Wildfire Convening 2014 in Fruitland Park, Florida; but by the end of day one we were under the palm trees and fired up for our weekend! An in depth training experience the Wildfire Project brought together progressive groups from all over the country. We had the opportunity to meet groups engaging in work similar to that of Occupy Homes Atlanta, and some much different, but we shared one thing in common, our desire for change!




The long weekend was emotional, raw, and powerful, and brought together people from diverse backgrounds into one place of strength and power. We were able to confront and discuss our relationship with the world under the current power systems of patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism; and how that shapes our interactions with the world, our work, and internally. These discussions continued through-out the weekend and we discussed a better work and what those power systems could like to benefit the people, instead of oppressing them. 



Designed in a way that made our entire group think critically, the Wildfire training allowed the entire OOHA team to examine our own organization and the strength and power of our amazing network. We learned and exchanged ideas about direction action, organization, structure, fundraising, and all things vital to running an organization seeking progressive change. There were tears, laughter, singing, and screaming but we emerged that much more powerful. We are now thinking, questioning, planning, and adding that much more critical thought and attention to our movement. This critical analysis and strategy is what will allow us to thrive well into the future.




Above all else the most important part of the trip was the people. We met Dream Defenders, the Ohio Student Association, Occupy Our Homes MN, the Wildfire Team, and Get Equal, and made commitments to support and amply each other’s work. These connections will help us build opportunities for collaboration and learning that go far beyond one weekend. We are building for a better future and it will be possible because together we are unstoppable.

Want to find out what we learned? Join us for Amply Your Voice; A Storytelling Workshop tomorrow 11/20 from 7-9pm at AFSC 60 Walton St, Atlanta! 

Guest Blogger:
Jackie Rodriguez, Project Coordinator, Occupy Our Homes Atlanta

Friday, October 31, 2014

Trick or Vote!!



Trick or Vote is the nation’s largest get out the vote effort in costume and the GenY Project decided to join the cause. Last night the Gen Y Project got hyped up, filled a bus, and went to the West End to spread the word. Armed with voter pledge cards and candy the group set out to remind the neighborhood why it's important to utilize their right to vote. Together we hit the West End Mall and neighboring shops sparking lots of conversation, giving out information, and of course people welcomed the free candy. Some had already voted and others were geared up and ready to vote on November 4th.

With all the efforts to block young people and black/brown bodies fro the polls in Georgia, getting out and voting is more important than ever. Voting isn't the only thing our communities need to do to change a political landscape that isn't working for a lot of us, but it's an important piece of the puzzle that we only lose when we don't participate.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Jim Crow Business in Georgia

 
Moral Monday Georgia, along with American Friends Service Committee, Held a Rally and Sit in on this past Monday at the Georgia Capitol in Protest of Clear voter Suppression Tactics by Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

Today we learned that the judge presiding over the case has decided not to intervene in the Secretary of State’s work despite the fact that young folks who registered, and have proof that they registered, are missing from the voter polls during an election that has already started.
We are in what appears to be a crisis of democracy, and on Monday several Moral Monday Georgia participants felt strongly enough about the issue to march the following letter into Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office:

Dear Secretary of State Brian Kemp,

This past year we've seen a historic effort to register new voters in Georgia and change a political landscape that continues to benefit a few people at the cost of everyone else.  

Right now, weeks after early voting has begun 40k eligible voters have yet to be entered into the voter rolls. 40k is enough to win or lose this election. We know that most of these 40k are young people who have never voted before and come from communities of color.

On October 24, 2014 four witnesses were not allowed to testify at the hearing against Brian Kemp's office. All four had registered to vote and are not on voter roll yet. Two of them are young first time voters.

We are troubled that you call the lawsuit, "frivolous” This is not frivolity; access to the ballot box is essential to our democracy.

Imagine if you had gone through the trouble of registering to vote and when Election Day came you were told your name was nowhere to be found.

We have a simple question: Mr. Secretary – if you have found all of our missing registered voters, where are they?

The reality is that the election has begun and already 40k voters have been silenced, shut out of the process. We belief that this is a crisis of democracy, and today some Moral Monday Georgia participants are willing to nonviolently put their freedom on the line to put a spotlight on this crisis.

We have decided to remain in your office until this issue is addressed. This means we would like to see every one of the missing registered voters entered into the voter rolls. We believe that in a democracy every voice matters, and we’re counting on you to do the right thing and make sure the promise of democracy in Georgia is realized.

Signed,

Concerned Georgians

Moral Monday Georgia

____________________________________________________________________________________


Eight Georgians (Kevin Moran 66, Greg Ames 66, Daniel Hanley 33, Lorraine Fontana 67, Peggy Marx 58, Joel Solow 27, Molly Swann 62, and Kathy Acker 62) were arrested for refusing to leave Kemp’s office until he answered.


Ironically they were arrested for disrupting government business. Sadly these days it seems voter suppression is the business of Kemps office, which sits directly across from Governor Deal’s office. Arguably no one stands to gain from blocking young people and communities of color more than Governor Deal who sits several spaces higher on the totem pole above Kemp.


Another sad irony is that the reason Kemp wasn’t in the office that day is that he is currently on a GOP Victory tour. We today Governor Deal and Brain Kemp did get a victory, they have successfully built a barrier to the pole for the group of people who are most likely to vote against them. It’s a victory that should not be celebrated.
 
There's a name for this kind of business, we used to call it Jim Crow. Jim Crow existed to ensure that policies and laws that only benefited some remained by stopping those negatively affected from participating in the democratic process. Jim Crow will forever be synonymous with nasty, mean business. 

We are proud to be able to share space with the Moral Monday Georgia arrestees as their bold action shined a light on the kind of government business that is worth disrupting.
 
Some mainstream press articles on Monday's action: