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The Justice & Peace eWeekly is a weekly survey of upcoming events, local news and activism opportunities. Feel free to forward this to anyone you know who might be interested.

 


Week of June 15, 2020


 

Sudden Shift in Culture Could Empower
Lives of Constant Activism


New Efforts to Address Police Brutality, Racism Blossom in Colorado and Around the World

(Photo of June 13 Kids' March by Loring Wirbel)

A startling shift in public opinion engendered by 12 days of global protests suggests that peace and justice activists may see some degree of payback for lives spent in continuous activism. The prospects seem daunting to exploit to the fullest, particularly given restricted conditions in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, but opinions in the mainstream of the nation seemed to be shifting profoundly over a matter of days.

Nine years ago, activists affiliated with Occupy tried a new model of bringing social change home to all through the tactic of continuous occupation of public and private space. While the movement grew with remarkable speed, it also faltered quickly as state and municipal governments used all tactics to prevent 24-hour protests. (This suggests a warning for the 2020 “autonomous zones” in Seattle and Nashville: municipal, state, and federal powers may bring all forces to bear to end areas of autonomy.)

This time around, demonstrators with Black Lives Matter and affiliated groups did not attempt constant occupational protests, but day-by-day events that exposed institutional racism while shining a light on police brutality – even brutal police acts that took place during the protests themselves. Just this weekend, Atlanta experienced new turmoil after the police shooting of a black man at a Wendy’s drive-through led to the police-chief’s resignation and a night of rioting June 13. At first, many citizens seemed to be veering toward a hard line in order to end looting. This may be one reason the president attempted a stunningly ill-fated threat to call in troops on June 1. This not only won universal condemnation, but by June 10-11 unthinkable cultural changes were under way.

In city after city, calls to disband traditional police departments were taken seriously. When police unions reacted angrily, the public quickly turned on the unions themselves. In more mundane fields, NASCAR banned the display of Confederate flags at their races, and the country group Lady Antebellum changed its name to Lady A. In virtually every state of the union, no one wanted to look like a racist any more. This was reflected worldwide, as large protests to commemorate George Floyd took place in dozens of European and Asian cities. In many cities, statues honoring slave traders and imperialists were torn down by citizens.

Here in Colorado, the legislature passed a police accountability bill that was forward-looking enough to become the lead item on the national All Things Considered on NPR June 12. While SB217 passed both houses with heavy bipartisan support, it generated heated debate between Democrats and Republicans. The Colorado Springs City Council took citizen testimony June 9 before holding an executive session June 11 to consider possible police accountability boards. Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission released a statement to the council describing police activity in 2019 related to PPJPC’s LEAD Academy (see related article). At the Thursday session, the primary presenters on the National Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement conference were all 19 to 25 years old, earning praise from Mayor Suthers for youth activism. Outside council chambers, protesters held a funeral procession for victims of police violence.

The nation has seen similar acts of reconciliation following the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and following the early 1990s Los Angeles riots on the fate of Rodney King. In those times, events were soon swept into the background. This time, something feels different. It may well be that progressive multiculturalism becomes a new norm, but it will not happen easily. It will require an almost constant effort by peace and social justice activists through the summer and beyond to “activate our activism.” The factor that may prevent burnout this time around is that activists can see tangible and palpable results before them every single day.
 
 

Moms Demand Action to Participate in Pride Event

CRUISING WITH PRIDE
NEXT Sunday, June 21, 8:30-10:30 AM 
Meet at SW corner of S. Cascade and W. Vermijo Ave. (Juror Parking Lot next to Pike Peak Center, 83-1 W. Vermijo Ave., COS 80903)
Show your support for disarming hate and the LGBTQ victims of hate filled gun violence. Decorate your car, buckle the family in, and join us in socially distanced Cruising With Pride. We will meet at 8:30 AM at the SW corner of S. Cascade Avenue and W. Vermijo Ave. to add #DisarmHate placards on our windows. Cruise begins at 9 AM will go through downtown and continue through Old Colorado City and return to the starting point. Optional to continue cruising up to Lincoln Center and out to Wasson Park and beyond. Come and participate for a shorter or longer timeframe as you like.  Email actnow232@gmail.com if you have questions.
Click here to RSVP for Cruising With Pride
 
Police violence is gun violence. Black Americans are shot and killed by police at three times the rate of white Americans. In Colorado, over 200 people have been killed by police between 2013 and 2019.
SB20-217 includes meaningful reforms that would help reduce police shootings and improve public safety:
  • A revised standard for when a law enforcement officer is justified in using deadly physical force
  • Requiring all law enforcement officers be provided with body-worn cameras and recordings from body-worn cameras to be released promptly to the public following an incident
  • A public database that includes comprehensive data about all use of force incidents
  • Requiring law enforcement to regularly report all such uses of force to the Attorney General
Text COLORADO to 644-33 to call key legislators about bill SB20-217.  They need to hear from us!  You’ll be given short talking points and connected directly.  Easy!
 
 

Pikes Peak Women Release a Call to Action, Summer-Long Program to Address Racial Injustices

Pikes Peak Women, a local group of leaders that include former PPJPC Chair Melissa Marts, Citizens Project Executive Director Deb Walker, and Indy Give! Director Barb Van Hoy, released the following statement on Wednesday, June 10:

Pikes Peak Women stands with those who are horrified by the brutal murder of George Floyd  by Minneapolis police on May 25, and those  of Breonna Taylor,  Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray Jr., Walter Scott, Oscar Grant III, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, and too many more.  As mothers, as sisters, as friends we thought we were doing the right things to support and advance equality.  We were wrong!
 
Our efforts have been too little and our voices too weak.  Too often our silence spoke louder than our efforts.   As the great leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” 

We can do better.  We must do better. The community of Fannie Mae Duncan and “Everybody Welcome” must come together to lead the way through advocacy, collaboration, and peaceful protest. 

We cannot claim to know the racism and discrimination experienced by our Black colleagues on a daily basis, but we can learn.  It is no longer enough to ask “Am I racist?” but rather “HOW am I racist?” and, even more so, “How can I use my privilege to advocate through positive action, relationship building, and communication to the broader community that racism is NOT welcome here?  Not here in the Pikes Peak region.  Not here in the United States.”

The leadership of Pikes Peak Women is committed to becoming effective allies, leading the charge to examine our white privilege and systemic racism to finally deliver the promise of equality at all levels for people of color. Many of you have attended our programs on media bias, political advocacy, and running for office.  You have learned from Pikes Peak Women and brought your unique perspectives and truths to our forums. Now is the time to declare your commitment by adding your voice and story to the chorus of those demanding justice and reform for equal treatment, access, and respect for communities of color.  Women are a powerful force in this community.  Just 100 years ago women gave their hearts, their efforts, and their lives to deliver suffrage to women.  We can move mountains when moved to action, and now it is more important than ever to commit to action! 

In the coming months Pikes Peak Women will be collaborating  with our community partners to draft programs that educate us so we can be stronger – and louder – allies in this fight for equality. The details have yet to be formulated and we do want to hear from you on suggested topics that you think would be helpful.  Here are some sample topics:  White Privilege – What Is It?  What are police guidelines on Use of Force?  How are schools educating our children on civil rights, discrimination, privilege?  What is the penalty for CSPD officers who don’t wear their body cameras or turn them on?  What is our history of civil rights in Colorado Springs?  The list is likely to be long, but we would welcome your ideas.  Feel free to share this memo with your friends and neighbors.  We welcome all suggestions.
 
We cannot remain silent. We must fight systemic racism and inequality, the historic absence of respect, and the denial of justice to our friends, neighbors, family members, and fellow citizens who are people of color.  We commit to learning to be true allies in this movement.  We ask each woman of the Pikes Peak region to JOIN US.
 

Concrete Couch Offers Summer Online Zoom Sessions and Face-to-Face Small Classes at Hillside

Our friends at Concrete Couch have expanded their spring Zoom offerings in two directions. Weekday Zoom classes will continue to be offered, following a general schedule of Food on Monday, Art on Tuesday, Construction on Wednesday, Science on Thursday, and a Friday session on Mindful Movement, including yoga and dance. There is also a new “Teach One Thing” program for those aged 9-17, who are prepared to commit to five hours for preparing a class on a favorite subject to teach, and then teaching it online. Find out more at www.concretecouch.org . Steve Wolf tells us that Concrete Couch is looking for teachers, too, so drop him a line at teach@concretecouch.org.

Concrete Couch also is offering its first paid classes, in which five kids and five instructors will join at Concrete Coyote Learning Laboratory, Colorado Springs Food Rescue, Hillside Community Center, and other locations. The students will learn a variety of art, construction, science, stonework, and ecology skills. Participants must bring their own water, snacks, mask, and gloves. Morning sessions from 9 to 10 a.m. are for those aged 9 to 12, while sessions from 10:00 to 11:30 are for 13 to 17 year-olds. The classes began last week, so check with Christine at the email below for possible late entrants. The classes run from June 8 to August 14. The cost is $50, though there are scholarships available, and each student that attends at least 9 of 10 classes gets 100% of tuition back. For more information, contact Christine Flores at christine@concretecouch.org.
 

Peak Environment Podcast 58 Examines Indigenous Land Management for Food

 

Studio 809’s Peak Environment has its first new episode since the lockdown! Konrad Schlarbaum, sustainability coordinator at Pikes Peak Community College and chair of Green Cities Coalition, presents a Pikes Peak Foodshed Forum presentation from Feb., 8, before the quarantine, on local food featuring keynoter Michael Alcazar.

You can find the latest podcast here:
http://studio809radio.com/indigenous-land-management/


Also be sure to check out “The PFAS Story in El Paso County,” the third Peak Environment podcast on PFAS. You can’t escape toxic PFAS chemicals. They are everywhere. Get an update on what we know and what’s being done about water contamination by PFAS (Perfluoroalklsubstance). Groundwater and surface water in portions of the Pikes Peak Region is known to have PFAS contamination, due to years of firefighting exercises at Peterson Field and the Air Force Academy (PFAS have been an ingredient in firefighting foam for decades). 
You can find Podcast 57 here:
http://studio809radio.com/peak-environment-57-pfas-story/
 

New Webinar on Hybrid Warfare

About Face: Veterans Against the War and World Without War partnered in late March to present a webinar that is now available for viewing online. “The Age of Hybrid Warfare” is available on YouTube at https://youtu.be/gZK40p10MOA. You can also check out the PowerPoint slides that go with the webinar at tiny.cc/wij4nz.  This seminar looks at the creation of “permanent war” environments when economic warfare, “lawfare,” cyberwar, and other methods augment traditional avenues of armed conflict.
 

PPJPC Cancels Peace Camp, Plans Late Summer Online Family Event

It should surprise few people that we have elected to cancel Peace Camp in either online or face-to-face formats this summer. While our friends at Concrete Couch were generous is describing what does and does not work for remote Zoom classes as well as for limited outdoor onsite activities, we found in polling former attendees that many kids were experiencing Zoom burnout after a semester of online classes, and many other families did not want to attend face-to-face events for now.

Needless to say, scholarships and funding will be carried over into 2021, when we will hopefully be past the pandemic and able to put on the quality event we want to offer. In the meantime, we are planning on a special online event for families in the August-September time frame. Stay tuned for more details!
 

PPJPC Issues Statement to City Council on Police Brutality
 

Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission issued this statement to City Council, describing in first-person account events that took place almost exactly one year ago with PPJPC’s LEAD Academy.
PPJPC supporters, community and friends please find the statement that will be sent to our community and those within the council and lawmakers to support this vote that will be taking place tomorrow with our city council.

June 9, 2020

The Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission supports the formation and funding of a citizen review committee for the purposes of investigating complaints of law enforcement brutality and misconduct and lack of transparency. There are many tragic examples of excessive use of force by Colorado Springs Police Department and lack of accountability for those actions.

Shortly before De’Von Bailey’s death, May 30, 2019, we at the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission (“the Commission”) had our own experience of excessive use of force by the Colorado Springs Police Department and lack of transparency in the aftermath.

The setting: In August 2018-May, 2019, the Commission, together with Pastor Paul Nelson “Pastor Paul” of Living Word Baptist Church, Dwayne Roberts, life coach and founder Men of Vision, Inc. and Jeffrey Bryant “Mr. B”, retired D 11 teacher, and other community members and volunteers collaborated in a learning center pilot project that held classes in the Living Word Baptist Church Youth Center located near the western boundary of Memorial Park. We called the learning center the L.E.A.D. Excellence Academy: Leaders Empowered Amazingly Determined, aptly named by the Commission’s Executive Director, Victoria Stone. The mission of the learning center was to provide a classroom for students expelled from the local school districts and “locked out” of education, as detailed Faith Miller’s article subtitled “Locked Out” published on January 1, 2020 in the Colorado Springs Indy. The Academy mostly served young men of color, who are disproportionately arrested and expelled from school.

911 call reporting “No disturbance”: It was the last day of class May 30, 2019. The kids had put in a good morning and, together with Dwayne and Mr. B, stopped at the 7-11 and headed to the playground on the west side of Memorial Park to release some energy. According to an independent eye witness, a group of men and women were picnicking at the pavilion near the playground. At 11:30 a.m., a man called 911 to report that six male Hispanic and African American teenagers entered the park, were smoking and play boxing in the play area. He reported drug use. He confirmed “nothing serious yet” and “no disturbance”. The 911 operator stated an officer would respond.

Weapon drawn: An officer arrived by marked police car. According to the eye witness report, the police officer exited his vehicle, drew his gun and pointed the gun at the students before contacting anyone. Dwayne and Mr. B, who were in the park with the students, identified themselves as teachers. According to the eye witness report, the officer continued to point his gun at the students, searched them and detained two students in the back of the police car.

No transparency: What did the officer see that bright sunny morning in Memorial Park that caused him to draw his weapon and point it at the students? Pastor Paul and the Commission filed a complaint and paid the fee in support of request for production of the officer’s body camera recording. By letter dated July 17, 2019, CSPD acknowledged receipt of the formal complaint. Pastor Paul diligently pursued the complaint through Internal Affairs and up the chain. By letter dated October 29, 2019, we were advised that “the case was reviewed by the employee’s [or chain of command.” The author of the letter forgot to fill in the blank of who conducted the investigation. But the letter assures us that the complaint was taken “very seriously” and “a thorough investigation was completed”.

We were denied production of the body camera footage for the reason that it was against the interest of the Department to produce it. De’Von Bailey was shot in the back and killed by Colorado Springs Police while the investigation of the Memorial Park incident with the students was pending. The protective veil of secrecy descended.

No transparency. No accountability. No justice.

The citizens of Colorado Springs have been calling for a citizen review committee for many years. Pam Zubeck reported a list of police brutality suits filed against CSPD in her article “Case by Case” published July 15, 2015 in the Colorado Springs Indy. Since then, we have watched the video of a young black man shot in the back to his death. For De’Von Bailey, for our black brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, children and friends, we demand transparency, accountability and justice. Each and every one of us deserves a community that lives into its commitment that Black Lives Matter.

The City Council has an opportunity to align with our values of transparency, accountability and justice. We ask the City Council to pass an ordinance forming and funding a citizen’s review committee with jurisdiction to investigate reports of police brutality, misconduct and lack of transparency. We need this from our City Council and we need it now.

The Pikes Peace Justice and Peace Commission
Loring Wirbel, Chair
Marguerite Terze, Treasurer
Debra Fortenberry, Board member
Steve Flynn, Board Member
Gabriel Cordova, Executive Director
 
 

Active for Justice Podcast Covers Plowshares Nuns' March 5 Speech

 

 Thanks to Greg, Dave, Rick, and everyone at Studio 809 (who are currently on a virus semi-sabbatical) for editing the presentation Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert gave at All Souls Church on March 5. We were lucky to host the sisters for several events prior to the quarantine being enacted locally. We have also listed the latest two Peak Environment podcasts of Studio 809 below, though it may be a few weeks before additional podcasts are added.

Plowshares Podcast here:
http://studio809radio.com/active-justice-yes-humanity-mar-05-2020/

 

Sierra Club Calls for Energy Portfolio 17 to Close Drake Early

As the City Council slowly moves to a power futures plan that could see Drake closed as early as 2030, Sierra Club and other community groups are asking for support for an option known as Energy Portfolio #17. The Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) Board of Directors (AKA City Council) will vote on June 26th to select a final energy plan for Colorado Springs for the next 30 years. This is an important opportunity to ensure CSU is putting our community on a path to innovative clean energy technologies that are cleaning up Colorado's air pollution and saving ratepayer money.

On June 3rd, the Utilities Policy Advisory Committee voted from five final energy plans to recommend energy plan #16 to the Board that would replace 400 megawatts of coal at Colorado Springs’ 2 coal plants, Drake and Nixon, with 500 megawatts of new gas plants. This means Colorado Springs would actually have more fossil fuels in 2030 than we do now in 2020, taking a major step backwards and subjecting ratepayers to greater risk than other energy plan
options.

Portfolios #12, #16, and #17 are the favored, low-cost, final options and the Board wants to hear from the community about what residents prefer. All three of the portfolios retire Drake and Nixon coal plants by 2030, replacing them with a diverse mix of resources.

Here’s what we like about energy plan #17:
1) It retires Drake coal plant by 2023 and Nixon coal plant by 2030
2) It does not build a new gas plant that will pollute the region for decades
3) It invests more in state of the art, clean technology like battery storage, wind, and solar
4) It is one of the top 4 financially responsible energy plan options for CSU
Here’s why portfolio #17 is more responsible than portfolio #16:
1) Clean energy is a safer investment than gas, especially as new gas plants subject ratepayers in Colorado Springs to regulatory risk.
a) The next decade is critical to making changes to combat climate change and mitigate its impacts on our communities. As a result, Colorado communities are pushing state leaders to set ambitious clean energy and carbon reduction goals and we are likely to see further regulation to do so. Colorado already has laws in place to meet new climate goals and trending regulation across the West will make gas a bad investment.
b) Any new gas infrastructure is bound to become a financial burden on ratepayers as Colorado moves toward more clean energy to meet state carbon reduction goals, the same way coal has. Portfolio #17 subjects Colorado Spring ratepayers to less risk since it builds more clean energy and storage than portfolio #16 or #12. In this way, CSU would be set up for success to meet stricter greenhouse gas emissions target or clean energy targets in Colorado.
c) Data from multiple reports, including a 2019 study by the Rocky Mountain Institute, finds that 90% of proposed gas plants in the next five years could be cost-effectively avoided with clean energy, and are at risk of saddling customers  with expensive, unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure.
2) Portfolio 17 allows CSU to rely more on its own electricity generation resources instead of heavily relying on market purchases (and the market’s price risks).
a) Portfolio 16 (red line) relies much more heavily on making market purchases starting in 2035, whereas portfolio 17 (dark gray line) is the best option for CSU to rely on its own generation resources for electricity. Source: Colorado Springs Utilities June 2020 UPAC agenda
3) Portfolio 16 forces ratepayers to pay for a gas plant that will hardly be used.
a) Portfolio 16 builds a brand new gas plant in 2030 that according to CSU’s own modeling will hardly be used as the utility plans to rely on cheaper market purchases anyway.
b) Spending ratepayer money on a new gas plant that will hardly be used is unnecessary and can be avoided by choosing portfolio #17.
c) To further clarify this point, barely running an additional, new gas plant in 2030 is how CSU is still able to hit the 80% carbon emission reductions by 2030 that are needed to comply with state greenhouse gas reduction goals.
4) The revenue requirement (AKA cost) difference between portfolio #16 and #17 is statistically meaningless (0.5%) and could be flipped due to uncertainties like the volatility of future gas prices.
a) CSU’s own modeling shows that portfolio #17 is only 0.5% more expensive than portfolio #16. That is five cents on a $100 utility bill, and well within the margin of error.
b) See average annual electric revenue requirements on page 70 of CSU’s modeling below:
c) CSUs’ modeling shows that the 0.5% (around $100 million on a 30-year basis) gap is more or less covered by the uncertainty of other cost inputs (AKA sensitivities modeled by CSU) such as the volatility of gas prices, the downward trend of renewable energy and storage costs over 30 years, and changes in electricity demand.
i) For example, CSU’s modeling (p 160) shows that an increase in gas prices would cost CSU $77 million more with portfolio #16 compared to portfolio #17. More ambitious climate targets (90% CO2 reductions by 2030 relative to baseline) would cost CSU $119 million more with portfolio
#16 compared with portfolio #17. Renewable energy costs that come in cheaper than CSU’s conservative assumptions would save $95 million more in portfolio #17 than in portfolio #16
 
 

PPJPC Seeks Interest for Officers of Board

While we at PPJPC identified potential board members at our Feb. 29 annual meeting, we are seeking your help as we reconstitute post-quarantine. If you are interested in nominating yourself or someone else to a board position, contact us at info@ppjpc.org or media@ppjpc.org. After double-checking with candidates, we will send out a slate of board candidates for member approval.
 
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