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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 8, 2020


 

Tides Slowly Turn at End of Tumultuous Week


May 6 Single Largest Day of Civil Rights Protests in History; Curfews Declared in Colorado Springs, Denver, and Across Nation

(Photo courtesy Larry Black)

The tide appeared to turn over the weekend into global recognition of the twin challenges of racial injustice and police accountability. After a week of nonstop protest in the U.S., huge protests erupted Saturday and Sunday around the world, demanding justice for George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and other victims of police violence. In Colorado Springs, a Saturday morning prayer walk for Floyd and De’Von Bailey was followed by a four-hour march through downtown by hundreds, as a handful of camouflaged armed rightists looked on. In Denver, members of the Broncos joined a large march for Floyd, and the NFL belatedly decided it would allow “take the knee” protests. Police in many cities joined in the taking of the knee and expanded dialog with protesters, even as some of their number continued violence against marchers and the media.

But what appeared to be a big victory for social justice arrived only after a week in which democratic foundations were shaken, particularly early in the week. President Trump called out members of the 82nd Airborne Division and the Bureau of Prisons armed units to protect national monuments, with many officers wearing unmarked, unbadged uniforms. On Monday evening, he directed Attorney General William Barr to clear the area around the White House with tear gas, and went to St. Johns Church for a photo opportunity, holding a Bible, while warning he would deploy other troops with or without the approval of state governors.

The response was swift and decisive. Several governors claimed that Trump was ripping up the Constitution. Shortly after Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he would not deploy such troops, former Defense Secretary James Mattis said the president was a threat to the Constitution, a claim followed a few days later by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. The White House proceeded to erect barriers around the perimeter of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (causing many demonstrators to shout in call-and-response fashion “Build that wall!”"Tear down that wall!"). Presidential advisor Jared Kushner called for postponing the elections, as it became apparent the executive branch was dissolving.

But for most Americans, Washington DC was but a sideshow. Although fires, looting, and property violence had dwindled by mid-week, protests continued in cities large and small. City governments in Denver and Colorado Springs joined with dozens of other cities in declaring nighttime curfews, although by the time they went into effect, most overnight turmoil seems to have subsided. What hadn’t subsided was police violence in many cities. New York City and Atlanta police were particularly fervent in bringing out the billy clubs. The overuse of tear gas caused many cities to enact new ordinances to ban its use. In Denver, a federal judge ordered police over the weekend not to use tear gas or projectiles of any type. And in Buffalo, NY, two police officers shoved a 75-year-old Amherst peace activist to the ground, causing him to bleed from both ears. When the city suspended the officers, all 57 officers resigned from the city’s rapid response team.

Perhaps those officers were misled by their police unions, thinking that the public would support a strong hand against protesters. Instead, many activists began calling for an end to police unions for all but wage negotiations, since unions are seen as defenders of police brutality. Many community organizers called for the replacement of all police forces with community policing teams. Musicians Lizzo and The Weeknd were slightly more moderate, suggesting that cities consider a 25% or greater reprogramming of budgets away from police, and toward community development.

Despite propaganda on social media and around the nation suggesting that protests were dangerous, and even claiming that George Soros had paid to send busloads of “Antifa” rioters to small towns, ordinary Americans of all colors were not deterred. By midweek, families in Colorado Springs and across the nation were coming to protests to nonviolently demand a change in law enforcement.

While the summer starts with a more positive outlook than anyone dared to hope for one week ago, we should not ignore all the challenges to be faced. Racism and police violence may come right back to usual levels after a few weeks of platitudes. The president still could decide on rash efforts to exceed Constitutional limits to power. An economic lag in August-September could wipe out job gains in May. And the lack of social distancing at many protests around the country could lead to a summer resurgence of coronavirus. Nevertheless, all the challenges we face cannot disguise the fact that peace and justice took massive steps forward last week.


Photo courtesy Xanthe Alexis
 

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.
 

Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Calls for Law Enforcement Accountability Act

CIRC is calling for signatures from both individuals and groups for its effort to pass a new bill in the Colorado Legislature. SB20-217, a bill to “Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity,” was introduced last week to hold law enforcement accountable for police brutality in tangible ways. This bill comes amid a growing movement to stop the systemic killing of the Black community at the hands of law enforcement and we urge you to join us in standing up and telling your legislators to support this bill.The contents of this bill are outlined below:
  • Mandate body cameras. All officers must have body-worn cameras within a year and record interactions with members of the public. Failure to record creates a rebuttable presumption of officer misconduct.
  • Public reporting on policing. All law enforcement agencies must track and report data, including demographic information, on uses of force, stops of civilians, searches of civilians and forced entries into homes.
  • Rein in use of deadly force by officers. Bring Colorado law in line with Supreme Court precedent holding deadly force may only be used by an officer, including people who are fleeing the police, when there is an immediate risk of danger to human life.
  • Prevent rehiring of bad officers. Officers who are found untruthful, terminated for cause, or are decertified shall be listed in a database to stop the practice of bad apple officers moving from one law enforcement agency to another, where they continue to do predictable harm. Officers adjudged to have used excessive force shall be fired and decertified
  • Civil rights enforcement by individuals. Victims of police misconduct will be permitted to bring a lawsuit against officers to enforce the Colorado Constitution, and officers will not be allowed to shield themselves with the doctrine of qualified immunity which has served to protect officers from accountability and deny families justice.
Please send an email to your legislator today! This bill is set to go to committee this evening and we expect resistance from many DAs, Sheriffs, and local Mayors that may influence some legislators to peel off their support for this important bill.
You can also submit remote testimony here.
We will not be free until we are all free.
In solidarity,
Raquel Lane-Arellano
 

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 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.
 

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/

 

PPJPC Offers Sound System for Community Group Rental

PPJPC has partnered with Studio 809 to purchase a portable sound system appropriate for indoor or outdoor use. If you are interested in arranging the use of this sound system, contact Victoria at (719) 632-6189.

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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