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Week of September 7, 2020


A Much-Needed Labor Day Breather


Prude Case in Rochester the Only New Source of Dissent

In any other year, the first week of September would have been seen as one of unusual turmoil. Police in Rochester, NY were finally called to task for the March death of Daniel Prude, who was asphyxiated under a spit hood during a drug stop. Although coroners at the time ruled the death a homicide, Rochester officials had successfully covered it up for more than five months. Also last week, the protester who killed a Trump supporter during a Saturday night rally in Portland, OR, was himself killed by police who were attempting to arrest him in northwest Washington. On the weekend, conflict broke out between BLM protesters and armed militia groups at the site of the long-delayed Kentucky Derby.

But in a summer like 2020, last week could have been deemed mellow. President Trump attempted to start a new narrative about “lawlessness and violence” to appeal to suburban voters, only to see it fall flat when all but the president’s most vocal supporters rejected the bleak scenarios of the president. In fact, by week’s end, the president found himself on the defensive, when The Atlantic magazine published a series of quotes he had made mocking soldiers. When even Fox News confirmed the elements of the story, the president saw serious erosion in his military support base.

The nation stumbled into the Labor Day weekend in a spirit of exhaustion, from both Covid lockdowns and endless dissent. During this relatively quiet period, which is unlikely to be more than a brief reprieve from further unrest both before the election and after, it is time for activists to reassess strategies and refresh their batteries. At PPJPC, we’d suggest one basic tenet would serve everyone well – never come armed to a demonstration of any sort. When both sides carry weapons, it only increases the likelihood of events like those in Portland last week. Also, do not let your guard down. The presence of police accountability boards will not insure that police around the nation are suddenly on good behavior. And perhaps most important, try to retain a language of respect, even when speaking to those who don’t deserve it. It may be hard to carry on any sort of conversation with those who reject any form of logic, such as QAnon conspiracy theorists, but calling them “mindless morons” will only widen the gulf. It’s time to open dialog of minimal sorts, even with those who seem impossible to talk to. And Happy Labor Day, until the Tuesday blizzard brings on the next round of turmoil.


Covid Closures Continue in the "Best of All Possible" Fall Scenarios

It seems odd to talk about a flattening of Covid-19 cases nationwide, at a time when deaths in the U.S. approached 190,000, and were likely to top 200,000 by late September. Nevertheless, Colorado in particular has seen a significant drop in Covid cases, as have many areas in the Northeast and West. Nevertheless, Colorado College decided to move back to online classes in fall semester after confirming 11 Covid cases in dorm residents. It is not certain how some students will pay for flights back home, or if the college will be held liable for trying to open with in-person classes at the start of the semester. UCCS, too, is initiating some limited dorm lockdowns due to Covid cases. And at the primary school level, King Elementary in District 2, as well as Bear Creek Elementary and Discovery Canyon K-12 in District 20, have had to undergo partial closures as new cases were discovered. (Teachers and staff at Discovery Canyon said they only learned of the cases from the media, something becoming all too common in school districts nationwide.)

Colorado remains a relative oasis, however, compared to new spikes in Midwestern and Plains states such as the Dakotas, Missouri, and Minnesota. Some cases are tied directly to the Sturgis motorcycle rally last month, though others are the result of state leadership rejecting mandatory mask policies. And in some southern states, campus reopenings are being deemed a failure. The University of South Carolina had 1000 positive Covid cases among its incoming students.

Many citizens are fearful of the October-November period for a possible surge, both because events will move inside as weather gets colder, and because people are worried about a flu-Covid double-whammy. The truth is, no one knows what the fall will bring. Southern Hemisphere nations, who have their winters in June-August, reported a surprisingly light flu season, though this may not be replicated in the Northern Hemisphere. The arrival of a vaccine is being treated as a political issue, as initial vaccines could be available before elections (though CDC and FDA said the White House should not count on that). In any event, a vaccine will not be a magic bullet, regardless of how big a population of citizens will accept it. We will be living with the coronavirus for years to come, and the only question left is how close to normal the remainder of 2020 and the first half of 2021 could be.




RAWtools Offers "Taking Stock" as a YouTube/Facebook Resource Following June 28 Debut

RAWtools debuted its new poetry video, “Taking Stock: Loaded Words and Bullet Points” in late June to rave reviews. The video features local poets reading works on issues of gun violence. The video was directed and produced by Mary Sprunger-Froese and Lauren Weaver, and includes poems from Jonathan Andujar, former Pikes Peak Poet Laureate Susan Peiffer, NAACP activist Rosemary Lytle, and PPJPC Chair Loring Wirbel.  The video is now on YouTube for viewing at any time, you can find it here:

PPJPC/PPLD Fall Plans Begin With Library's "Ruth and the Green Book" Puppet Show, Available for Viewing Beginning Sept. 12

We’ve dropped mention of emerging plans for a series of youth events, held in conjunction with Pikes Peak Library District, to meld 2020 Peace Camp themes with All Pikes Peak Reads. We are looking for Peace Camp alumni and other teen participants to review and discuss books on racial justice, as well as to prepare online programs for younger children. Events will take place through the fall alongside PPLD’s own events. The first PPLD event will be a puppet show from an Atlanta-based group around the picture book, “Ruth and the Green Book.” This will be a virtual YouTube event beginning Sept. 12, through the month of September, that families will sign up for. Here’s PPLD’s initial information on the puppet show – registration starts Aug. 15, and only one person need register for a family.

The Center for Puppetry Arts presents a live action and puppet rendition of Calvin Alexander Ramsey’s children’s story, Ruth and The Green Book. Ruth and her parents travel south to visit family but encounter many people who are unfriendly to black travelers along the way. This lively production brings understanding and enlightenment about an oppressive era in US history. 

Registration begins August 15. Please register only one person for this program and we will send you a link to view the puppet show online.


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:


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 or After double-checking with candidates, we will send out a slate of board candidates for member approval.

Peak Environment Podcast 59 Examines Regional Sustainability


Studio 809’s Peak Environment has released the second of two podcasts featuring Konrad Schlarbaum of Green Cities Coalition. Schlarbaum, the sustainability coordinator at Pikes Peak Community College, talks about “Updating the Regional Sustainability Plan.” How can we improve the Pikes Peak Region 2030 Plan?  Schlarbaum lays out his suggestions.

You can find Podcast 59 here:

Podcast 58 covers a presentation Schlarbaum made Feb. 8 at the Pikes Peak Foodshed Forum, on local food and indigenous roots. The podcast also features keynote speaker Michael Alcazar.

You can find Podcast 58 here:

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