Social Justice Week at Sonoma State - 3/23-27/15

See the next post for more information about the Peace & Justice Center's involvement in Social Justice Week.

50th Anniversary Anti-War Teach-Ins

March 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the first anti-war teach-ins on university campuses in 1965. As part of Social Justice Club's Social Justice Week (3/23-27/15) at Sonoma State, the Peace & Justice Center and Veterans for Peace Sonoma County are hosting a full day of teach-ins.

Vietnam War veterans, Iraq War veterans, 1960's activists, nonviolence educators and healthcare professionals will be part of the panels.

Here's the schedule:

10:00 to 11:45 a.m. - Teach-in #1 - The Vietnam War and Beyond
Noon to 1:30 p.m. - Poetry and Stories from Veterans and Activists
1:45 to 3:15 p.m. - PTSD, Moral Injury and the Costs of War 
3:30 to 5:15 p.m. - Teach-in #2 - The Vietnam War and Beyond
5:30 to 7:30 p.m. - Post-9/11 Wars and Protest

Sonoma State University, Cooperage Room 3

National Mobilization to Say "No!" to Drones Begins Today

 The national mobilization of nonviolent resistance to shut down killer drone operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan,Yemen, Somalia, and everywhere begins today - 3/4/15.

People from Sonoma County and the Peace & Justice Center will be participating in this imortant action in the desert. We'll be organizing a report back after they return!

Petition: No More War Weapons for Police

No More War Weapons for Police!

The Peace & Justice Center's Freedom from Militarization Project is asking you to sign this petition, which will go to your representatives and the president.

Last year Ferguson, Missouri, made the news. As attention fades, the Pentagon continues to unload war weapons on local police all over the U.S.

But support in Congress to halt this madness is growing. Congressman Hank Johnson has just reintroduced his bill – the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act.

The continued use of aggressive military tactics by local law enforcement makes clear that Congress must take dramatic action to reduce local forces’ access to military equipment under the Defense Department’s 1033 transfer program. The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act contains three key provisions that would reduce militarization:

  • Preventing outright the transfer of some of the most aggressive military equipment, including rocket launchers and other explosive devices.
  • Ending the program’s requirement that local forces use transferred equipment within a year of receiving it. As it is now, this requirement incentivizes unnecessary use.
  • Requiring all recipients to account for the equipment they receive. Some local forces have been observed gifting or transferring their equipment to other entities; our bill prohibits that.

Public opinion is clear on this issue. A survey from libertarian-leaning Reason-Rupe polling found that 58 percent of Americans believe local police should not be given military weapons. Editorials from the New York Times, Newsweek, Mother Jones and countless other publications have called for ending police use of military equipment. Support for ending police militarization is wide and bipartisan.
However, we still face some staunch opposition from many in the GOP. Their recent attempt to silence me and undercut this legislation didn’t work, but be sure that they will try again.

America’s Radioactive National Park

February 25, 2015 by Paul DeRienzo

Door to a contaminated area in the T Plant at the Hanford Reach National Monument. By Paul DeRienzo.

Door to a contaminated area in the T Plant at the Hanford Reach National Monument. By Paul DeRienzo.

Among the items in the $600 billion National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress last year is a measure establishing the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which encompasses three sites central to the development of nuclear weapons.

Supporters see the park — a monument to the Manhattan Project, the super-secret wartime effort that built the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 and killed 200,000 people—as a long-neglected commemoration of the bomb project. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation reported in 2001 that the development and use of the atomic bomb during World War II was “the single most significant event of the 20th century.”

Located at Los Alamos, New Mexico; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Hanford, Washington, the park will be jointly run by the National Park Service and the Department of Energy. U.S. senators from the three states involved sponsored the legislation, but notably, the park itself was left unfunded.


Former Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a vocal opponent of commemorating the Manhattan Project, had blocked passage of the park proposal until he lost his 2012 re-election bid. Responding to the park’s supporters, who claim the monument is a celebration of technological achievement and not the bombing of civilians, Kucinich replied: “The technology which created the bomb cannot be separated from the horror which the bomb created.”

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Did the US Prison Boom Lead to the Crime Drop? New Study Says No

By Juan Thompson Feb. 19, 2015

Louisiana — a state whose motto is Union, Justice and Confidence — is known for many things. The Bayou State is the birthplace of jazz, Creole, and Cajun food, and New Orleans is the site of the country’s largest annual Mardi Gras Carnival. But as the Times-Picayune found in a major series years ago, Louisiana is also “the world’s prison capital,” with an incarceration rate that is “nearly five times Iran’s, 13 times China’s and 20 times Germany’s.”

Last week, a new study from the Brennan Center for Justice reaffirmed Louisiana’s grim status as the world’s leading jailer. “Louisiana incarcerates 1 in 75 adults, that’s twice the national average [496 people per 100,000] and the highest in the world,” said the Brennan Center’s Lauren-Brooke Eisen. But the crux of the study was not the state’s prison boom. Instead, researchers sought to explain what caused the dramatic drop in crime in the United States over the past couple decades — and to what extent the decline can be linked to the expansion of the prison industrial complex. In the past 20 years, Louisiana — in tandem with the rest of the country — has experienced a drastic drop in crime at the same time the state’s prison population has doubled.

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War Is STILL Not the Answer!

The Peace & Justice Center joins with Veterans for Peace in condemning the decision for more war.

Veterans For Peace is disappointed but not surprised by the so called strategy President Obama presented last night. We are disappointed because it is more of the same. The U.S. will continue to be “the greatest purveyor of violence” on the earth. It will continue to follow a failed policy of war-making in the Middle East. It will continue to waste precious financial resources which should be directed toward human needs and to support the U.S. economy.It will continue to put U.S. service members into harm’s way when other solutions are possible and it will continue to take the lives of innocent people, most of whom will undoubtedly be women and children who are always disproportionately impacted by war.

We are not surprised because it has been made clear to us that our leaders are not interested in finding solutions other than war to solve international conflicts. After thirteen years of war what has been accomplished? Iraq and Afghanistan are in shambles, the Taliban has not been defeated, al Qaeda has further decentralized to at least thirty countries, ISIL has emerged as a power of sorts in Iraq and Syria and a State Department report outlines that terrorism increased by 43% in 2013. By any objective measure, U.S. foreign policy in the Iraq and Afghanistan from Bush to Obama has been a failure. Yet more war is put forth as the answer, even though President Obama himself in the recent past said there is not a military solution to the violence in Iraq and last night explained that ISIL does not pose an immediate threat to the U.S. Why then do we continue down this path?

There are solutions to confronting ISIL which do not include U.S. military action.

  1. Stop the airstrikes because the Sunni leaders and militia, who President Obama acknowledges must be persuaded to break with ISIL, see the U.S. as acting as the air force for the Kurds and Shia against Sunnis. The driving force for the Sunni-ISIL alliance is the alienation of Sunnis from Baghdad by the previous Iraqi administration. Bombing Sunnis will not help mend this relationship.
  2. Stop the slippery slope of sending troops to Iraq and stop sending more weapons that fuel the conflict killing more civilians and ignoring human rights violations committed by “allies.”This includes pressuring countries to stop supporting and selling arms to ISIL and stopping all black market weapons sales.
  3. Make diplomacy the number one priority. Since it is clear there is no military solution, seriously engage with everyone in the region, including Iran who is needed to force the Iraqi government to be more inclusive with Sunni leaders. Without an inclusive government in Iraq there is no way to effectively confront ISIL.
  4. Initiate a new effort at building a broad diplomatic solution in the United Nations to use diplomatic and financial pressure to stop countries from financing and arming ISIL and other fighters in Syria. An arms embargo on all sides should be on the long-term agenda.
  5. Make a real effort to restart UN negotiations to end the civil war in Syria. Set aside preconceived demands and work to end the violence. Once that is achieved the people of Syria can begin to chart their destiny.
  6. Massively increase humanitarian efforts through the UN and any other means. Real and effective efforts to relieve suffering will go a long way in convincing people to break with ISIL. More U.S. bombings and killings will only confirm that the U.S. is the enemy of Islam.

President Obama outlined a strategy no different from what the U.S. has done for the past thirteen years. It is not a plan for success, it is a gamble that war will work this time when it has spectacularly failed thus far. We at Veterans For Peace challenge the American people to ask whose interests does endless war serve? Who is paying for these wars, whose children are dying in these wars and who is getting paid to finance and provide weapons for these wars? We the people are being driven by manipulated fear to support polices that are not in our interest. Peace is harder than war, but it is cheaper in blood and treasure. After thirteen years it is time to take another path, the path of peace.


"I think the importance of doing activist work is precisely because it allows you to give back and to consider yourself not as a single individual who may have achieved whatever but to be a part of an ongoing historical movement."

-Angela Davis


Justice = Love

Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Birthday Celebration