Grand Rapids, MI - Anti-war activist Deb Van Poolen appeared in the 61st District Court here, April 15, with a group of supporters. Van Poolen pled guilty to the charge of creating a disturbance on Jan. 31 at the DeVos Place Convention Center.
With great interest, Judge Kim Schaefer asked the defendant if she had created a disturbance that day. Van Poolen proudly said, “Yes, I stood up and spoke in front of several hundred people, and I said, ‘General David Petraeus you are a war criminal responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children. I am a graduate of Calvin College and a follower of Jesus Christ and I am here to speak out.’”
Judge Schaefer interrupted and asked what the effect was. Van Poolen responded, “Petraeus stopped speaking and then two men brought me outside.”
Next Van Poolen’s lawyer David LeGrande spoke in her defense, saying, “It was an intentional act of civil disobedience. The tradition sees it as appropriate to break laws and deal with the consequences…to right injustice.” Defense attorney LeGrande continued, “She performed a public service by challenging militarism and the often unchallenged acts of aggression by the U.S. She is a full-time ideologue and I mean that in the best sense of the word. She has the support of local activists in court today and the support of communities in other parts of our country and the world.”
Judge Schaefer, appreciating this exceptional plea in her court. asked if Van Poolen had any final comments.
Van Poolen responded, “I was practicing free speech in a non-violent way. I did so with the sincere belief that, to call attention to the outrageous and immoral acts of U.S. leaders, civil disobedience is required. I hope my actions followed in the footsteps of other great and inspiring leaders.”
Van Poolen is required to pay $160 in restitution as requested by the prosecution and about $300 in court costs and fees for a total near $460. She plans to enter a work program with other low-income women doing physical labor to pay off their debts to the justice system. Anti-war activists in Grand Rapids are also raising funds in solidarity with her bold action.
All set for general strike: Maoist
IMPHAL, April 15: The Maoist Communist Party Manipur has in a press release said that preparation for the April 16 general strike called against the misuse of Local Area Development fund of the MP Dr Th Meinya Singh for ten years all set ready and further disclosed [...]
U.S. Supports Arrest of Movadef Members
The United States government saluted Peru on its arrest of almost 30 members of a political group that had close ties to the Shining Path rebels.
In a statement, the U.S. State Department said it “congratulates the Government of Peru for last week’s arrests of at least 28 [...]
Miami, FL – More than 30 south Florida activists gathered April 13 at the Margaret Pace Park. Occupy Miami, part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, organized a reunion for Occupiers and invited other local organizers to take part in discussions. The Occupy movement inspired many to join the fight for justice and many Miami Occupiers continue to organize.
Members of Broward and Miami-Dade Green Party, People’s Opposition to War, Imperialism, and Racism (POWIR), Veterans for Peace, Progressive Democrats of America-Miami, Reclaim Your Power and Equality and Amnesty International participated in discussions summing up the past couple of years. Local activists are looking forward too, with upcoming plans to celebrate May Day - International Workers’ Day.
Palestine solidarity organizers are planning a commemoration of Al-Nakba, “the catastrophe,” when millions of Palestinians were violently forced to leave their homes in historic Palestine on May 15, 1948. Arab-American women’s leader Rasmea Odeh will be a focus of the May 15 event. Odeh is the target of political repression and is going to court in Detroit on June 10. A nationwide solidarity campaign at www.StopFBI.net is building up to support Odeh.
The Occupy Wall Street movement experienced repression at the hands of the U.S. government and the Occupy Miami reunion called for people to stand in solidarity with activists like Rasmea Odeh who are being targeted.
Pamela Maldonado, lead organizer with POWIR said, “We as activists experience repression, but we also practice solidarity that protects our movements. When we come together to fight we have a bigger impact. Together we are stronger.”
People spoke of ways to support each other’s work and strengthen the fight for justice. The spirited collaboration of the community helps to solidify the movement going forward.
Chicago, IL - Over 2000 people attended the 2014 Labor Notes conference here, April 4-6, bringing together some of the best fighters in the labor movement for 140 crowded workshops of people discussing how to rebuild labor in the U.S. and abroad, and a militant protest at Staples on behalf of postal workers fighting privatization.
Mark Dimonstein, the newly-elected president of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), gave a rousing speech in defense of postal workers and public sector unions.
"We're living in a moment when six members of the Walmart family have the accumulated wealth of 40% of this country," he said, detailing how the super-rich avoid paying taxes and, after successfully beating down private sector unions, have now "unleashed their fury on public sector unions." Dimonstein added, "When they don't pay who does? We do. And when they still don't have the money they take it out of the public sector.”
Asked to say something about the victory of his reform slate in the APWU, Dimonstein explained, "We simply told our members the truth as we understood it, we went to the rank and file around this country, we never offered a path of guaranteed or easy victories, the only thing we guaranteed is if we were elected we would wage an unrelenting fight alongside the membership to save the public postal service, the fight to rebuild our union contracts, the fight to save our union, and we promised to enter the battlefield without white flags or surrendering, that was our promise. We asked the members to support us if they want a union the is willing to fight back."
Conference attendee Charles Jordan, of Teamsters Local 804 in New York City, was recently on the front lines of a battle with UPS in his local. Teamsters of Local 804 were fighting the unjust firing of their union steward, who has 24 years working for UPS. In response to management walking him off the job, 250 drivers held an emergency protest outside their facility. UPS started replacing some of the 250 and said they were going to fire all of them. A campaign to save their jobs resulted in a victory where all 250 are back at work now.
Jordan stated, "The support for Local 804 was great. It was understood that the 804 fight was not only to primarily get our drivers reinstated, but also to protect the act of solidarity shown that fateful day when the drivers remembered, 'an injury to one, is an injury to all,' and they stood up for their brother unjustly fired."
Fight Back! hosted a party Saturday evening that featured class struggle unionists, including the president of an AFSCME local in Minnesota; a labor leader from El Salvador, where the people just elected a pro-worker government; a leader of the Chicago Teachers Union, a worker from Teamsters 804 who was one of the 250 UPS workers that recently went on strike, and many more.
One of the teachers in attendance at the Fight Back! party asked the crowd, “Where has unions following the rules gotten us? The game is rigged. Unions are going to have to start breaking the rules and looking at civil disobedience."
Blake Branum, a rank-and-file Teamster from Local 344 in Milwaukee, said, "I was astounded not only by how much knowledge I had taken in but by the diverse amount of people who are proud and unwilling to compromise what they believe in their heart.”
Cherrene Horazuk, president of AFSCME 3800, told the party attendees, "We know that working people win when we stand up and fight back, when we fight the boss for a better workplace, when we use the most powerful tools in our toolbox - the strike and solidarity - and when we organize as a class to make this a better place for all working people."