Tag Archives: Washington DC

‘This Is Zero Hour’: Youth-Led Marches Across the Globe Demand Immediate and Ambitious Climate Action

“Climate change is our last chance to either fix colossal systems of inequality or reach a chaotic state where your privilege ultimately decides if you live or die.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-21-2018

“This isn’t something that’s going to affect us 70, 80 years in the future. This is going to affect us. Our futures, our careers, our lives,” said Talia Grace, social media director for Zero Hour, the movement behind this weekend’s mass actions. (Photo: Zero Hour)

Declaring that climate change is “an issue of survival” that must be confronted with urgency, young activists across the globe on Saturday kicked off three days of marches and demonstrations to pressure elected officials to “reject the corrupting monetary influence of fossil fuel executives,” ban all new dirty energy developments, and safeguard the planet for both its current inhabitants and future generations.

“Climate change is our last chance to either fix colossal systems of inequality and emerge as a more efficient, better equipped society as a whole, or reach a chaotic state where your privilege ultimately decides if you live or die,” said 16-year-old climate activist Ivy Jaguzny ahead of Saturday’s events, which are expected to take place “in cities from Washington, D.C. to Butere, Kenya.Continue reading

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With 700+ Events Planned for Saturday, Nationwide Rallies Will Demand End to Trump’s ‘Zero-Humanity’ Policy

“All people deserve the right to raise their children in a healthy and safe environment without being targeted by aggressive immigration tactics and being forced to live in constant fear.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-29-2018

More than 700 direct actions are planned in cities and towns across the country on Saturday, as Americans rally against President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, the forcible separation of families, and the imprisonment of children.

A list and map of events with start times and details is available at MoveOn.org.

“Donald Trump and his administration have cruelly separated thousands of children from their families. Now they’re jailing families—and they haven’t yet reunified the families already brutally torn apart,” wrote the Families Belong Together coalition. “But we won’t allow it to continue. On June 30, we’re rallying in Washington, D.C., and around the country to tell Donald Trump and his administration to permanently end the separation of kids from their parents. End family internment camps. End the ‘zero-humanity’ policy that created this crisis. And reunify the children with their parents.”

A main event in Washington, D.C. is expected to draw tens of thousands of marchers, two days after thousands of women marched to Capitol Hill and nearly 600—including Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)—were arrested for demonstrating in the Hart Senate Office Building.

Organizers are asking attendees to wear white as a symbol of unity and solidarity.

Smaller protests are planned in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and in front of the U.S. embassy in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Trump administration’s practice of separating families began last month after Attorney General Jeff Sessions implemented a “zero tolerance” policy under which all adults who cross the U.S.-Mexico border without passing through an official port of entry are prosecuted. Following Trump’s signing of an executive order Plannlast week—only after the policy sparked international outrage—Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will no longer separate families.

More than 2,000 children remain in detention centers without their parents, and the Trump administration is planning to detain families together indefinitely while adults await immigration trials.

Dozens of social justice groups were mobilizing their ranks to participate in the Families Belong Together protests this week, including Planned Parenthood, Win Without War, and National Nurses United.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have both spoken out against the Trump administration’s practice of separating families, citing the grave psychological damage being done to both children and parents who have been forcibly separated—many after fleeing violence in their home countries.

The United Nations has also denounced the practice as well as the indefinite detention of families, which is a violation of international humanitarian law.

On Twitter, the Families Belong Together coalition applauded the tens of thousands of Americans planning to march on Saturday, and urged the public to continue fighting the Trump administration’s anti-immigration agenda in the weeks and months ahead.

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‘Most Important Surveillance Story You Will See for Years’: Report Reveals How AT&T Buildings Serve as Secret Hubs for NSA Spying

“AT&T has bent over backwards to help the U.S. government spy on essentially all internet traffic.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-25-2018

AT&T Center, Los Angeles. Photo: Laurie Avocado/flickr/cc

“The most important surveillance story you will see for years just went online, revealing how AT&T became the internet’s biggest enemy, secretly collaborating against its customers and partners to destroy your privacy.”

That was how whistleblower and privacy advocate Edward Snowden reacted to the publication of an explosive story by The Intercept on Monday, which reveals for the first time how “fortress-like” AT&T buildings located in eight major American cities have played a central role in a massive National Security Agency (NSA) spying program “that has for years monitored billions of emails, phone calls, and online chats passing across U.S. territory.” Continue reading

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‘Take Away Our Poverty, Not Our Children!’: Poor People’s Campaign Caps Off 40 Days of Action

‘We will keep coming back until everyone has housing, voting rights, clean water, peace, and justice!” says Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-23-2018

A portion of the Poor People’s Campaign’s poster for the action on Saturday.

Thousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C. on Saturday where the Poor People’s Campaign capped off 40 days of action with a rally and march to further energize its call for a “moral revival” and intention to “move forward together, not one step back.”

Twin banners declaring “Fight Poverty Not the Poor” flanked the stage, where rousing speeches by noted figures including Rev. William Barber, Rev. Jesse Jackson, American Federation of Teachers leader Randi Weingarten, as well as others on the front-lines of the fight for justice—and those who amplify their voices—drew cheers. Continue reading

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To #SaveTheCensus, Major Cities Join 17 States in Lawsuit to Block Trump’s Citizenship Question

“One of the federal government’s most solemn obligations is a fair and accurate count of all people in the country, citizen and non-citizen alike,” says New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-3-2018

Led by Eric Schneiderman of New York, Attorneys General from 17 states and the District of Columbia have filed suit against the Trump administration for its plans to ask about citizenship on the 2020 census. (Photo: Eric Schneiderman/Twitter)

Attorneys General from 17 states and the District of Columbia are suing the Trump administration for its decision to ask about immigration status on the 2020 census, a move denounced by immigrant rights advocates as an effort to “undercount communities of color.”

Led by Eric Schneiderman of New York, the state attorneys—along with legal representatives from six cities and and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors—filed suit (pdf) in hopes of requiring the Trump administration “to enforce the federal government’s constitutional obligation to conduct an ‘actual Enumeration’ of the national population every ten years, by determining the ‘whole number of persons in the United States.” Continue reading

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Protesters Face 80 Years as US Attorney Brings Unprecedented Mass Felony Charges

By Chris Schiano. Published 6-29-2017 by Unicorn Riot

Washington, DC – Dozens of the over two hundred people arrested protesting President Trump’s inauguration on January 20 (‘J20’) have appeared in court over the last two weeks.

(Content Advisory: Sexual Assault)

The arrests took place on the morning of January 20 during an ‘anti-capitalist/anti-fascist’ march, which traveled approximately sixteen blocks, during which police attacked protesters, medics, journalists, and bystanders with chemical weapons, batons, and concussion/flashbang grenades. Several corporate store windows were broken, and there was a melee as part of the crowd was able to charge through police lines to escape the mass arrest as officers began to move into a ‘kettle’ formation, eventually arresting every person in the vicinity. Continue reading

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Kurds, Too, Have A Dream

Under the totalitarian rule of President Recep Teyyip Erdogan of Turkey, the article you are about to read would be considered “terrorist propaganda” and warrants would be issued for its author and associates. To voice disagreement with the government, to ask for peace or even to report as journalists about those that do is identified as a separatist and thus terrorist activity. To be a Kurd has even far worse consequences.

Written by Carol Benedict.

From a 1979 rally in Washington, this photo captures the spirit of peaceful resistance that reflects the Kurds' desire for peace and freedom. Photogragh from "Voices of Peaceful Resistance" exhibit, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; Image by John Benedict.

From a 1979 rally in Washington DC, this photo captures the spirit of peaceful resistance that reflects the Kurds’ desire for peace and freedom. Photogragh from “Voices of Peaceful Resistance” exhibit, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; Image by John Benedict.

The Kurds are the largest ethnic group on the planet with no country or land to call their own. Currently estimated at approximately 40 million strong, the Kurds live primarily in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Armenia within a region known to them for millennia as Kurdistan, with millions in diaspora throughout the entire world including the United States.

Since January 15, 2016, a “Vigil For King’s Dream in Kurdistan” in Washington, DC has taken a presence across Massachusetts Avenue from the Turkish Embassy. Organized by Kani Xulam, founder and director of the American Kurdish Information Network (AKIN), the group is attempting to bring attention to the atrocities taking place in SE Turkey as that country descends into conditions of civil war.

Turkish diplomats have been the victims of up to 27 attacks worldwide by Armenian terrorists. Five of those have been in the U.S., three in California alone — one in 1973, and two in 1982. Despite the fact that none took place in Washington, to this day the Turkish ambassador’s residence off of Sheridan Circle, as well as the Turkish Embassy, enjoys round-the-clock protection from the Secret Service.

Massachusetts Avenue, also called “Embassy Row” because it is the location of the majority of international embassies, was closed today. This is the first time in all the years Kani has been in Washington that he has seen this happen.

On Thursday, March 31 2016, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in Washington DC, he was also scheduled to speak at the Brookings Institute. He was greeted by protestors that offered him booing and rejection. Holding banners that read “End Turkish Denial,” “Erdogan: War Criminal on the Loose” and “Stop Turkey’s War on Kurds!” they shouted at the entourage. “Baby Killer Erdogan!” “We charge you with genocide!” “Long Live Kurdistan!” filled the air.

The group was several organizations who shared the same disdain for the Turkish President. They included those involved in “A Vigil for King’s Dream in Kurdistan,” Amnesty International and others. Reporters and supporters alike were subjected to attacks from plain clothes Turkish security.

The protest today exploded into chaos. One FB post read:

 Local Washington D.C. police officers were forced time and again to get between Erdogan’s security forces and journalists and protesters. At one point, an officer placed himself between one of Erdogan’s security guards and a cameraman he was moving to confront, while another angrily confronted several Turkish security guards in the middle of the street, telling them, “you’re part of the problem, you guys need to control yourselves and let these people protest.” Another Turkish security official pulled his colleague away after he began arguing with the officer. Other members of Ergodan’s team stood in front of the Brookings building, motioning for the protesters to come closer, and making obscene gestures.

“Today’s confrontation in Washington vividly illustrates how little Turkey’s government values human rights such as freedom of the press and freedom of assembly. Those who were present at today’s protest saw firsthand the consequences of governments that violate human rights,” said T. Kumar, Amnesty International USA’s advocacy director for Europe, in a press release.

Our nation’s capitol is no stranger to peace vigils, demonstrations and protests. In January of this year, a woman died who had maintained a 32 year 24-hour vigil in Lafayette Square.

Concepcion “Picciotto, also called Connie or Conchita, manned a 24-hour vigil against nuclear proliferation from a makeshift camp next to the White House. The vigil site needed to be continuously attended by someone in order to remain in place… She had been a fixture at the encampment site in Lafayette Square since 1981, frequently speaking to tourists about nukes.”

Kani, as a resident for the last 23 years, knows this city quite well. Not only an impromptu “tour guide” during our visit that skirted congestion and tangled streets of hills, buildings and pedestrians safely, he has learned the history that made Washington DC the historical and tourist magnet that it is, drawing on average 67,000 visitors per day.

Seeing the White House from all directions, the Naval Observatory (Washington DC residence of Vice-President Joe Biden), all the buildings representing the functionality of the American government, seeing Obama’s Marine 1 helicopter depart, becoming entangled with traffic because of a demonstration in support of Palestinians: all this in one afternoon gave us reference for how hectic this city is around the clock.

All of this backdrop of the nation’s capital does not distract Kani from his work. It is a relatively never-ending pursuit of searching for news reports as well as responding to inquiries from those wanting information. AKIN lives up to its name on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.

 

Azad Kobani and Carol Benedict wave pennant flags for the YPG/YPJ fighting forces in Rojava. Photo by John Benedict.

Azad Kobani and Carol Benedict wave pennant flags for the YPG (Men’s Units) and YPJ (Women’s Units) fighting forces in Rojava. Photo by John Benedict.

Kani’s decision to organize the “Vigil for King’s Dream in Kurdistan” stems from two major directions: the support of like-minded individuals and recognition of the similarities between the Civil Rights Movement in America and the Kurdish struggle.

An astute scholar of history, Kani aligns the words of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech with the voices of the Kurds across the world. He, like so many of us, believes in peaceful resistance as a means toward change. His past public actions have included rallys and hunger strikes to draw attention to the voices of over 40 million people begging for freedom.

He is not alone. Manning the street every day the Vigil site is able to be open is a native of Kobane, Syria and former parliamentarian of the Syrian government, Azad Kobani. He, too, has made this struggle for peace his life work.

Azad Kobani takes warmth from the fire as he reflects on the Kurdish struggle. (Image via FB.)

Azad Kobani takes warmth from the fire as he reflects on the Kurdish struggle. (Image: FB)

Standing the Vigil Site with Azad was a lesson in determination. Faced with a language barrier, we were unable to converse fluently. But Azad is a master at communicating regardless. He quietly took the yellow YPG pennant flag representing the men’s forces that are fighting ISIS in a region referred to as Rojava by the Kurds. In silence, he waved at every car, holding the flag. Realizing this is something he has done every day possible since January 15, I pulled the green YPJ flag representing the women’s fighting forces from the barricade fence and walked to the other end of the Vigil Site.

We got honks and waves back as people slowed down to read our signs and take our pictures. Many were tourists, that will undoubtedly show the photos to their friends and say, “Look! We were in Washington DC and there was this protest we drove by…” and the Vigil message spreads.

These are the seeds from which awareness and change can grow. Since all major media outlets refuse to cover this issue for the shockingly horrifying human tragedy that is unfolding before our very eyes, this has become the only hope that many have for the dreams of living their life with the same self-determination and freedom as the rest of humanity is afforded.

Kani’s words will never leave my thoughts:

“Americans complain too much. They should spend a week living as a Kurd in Turkey, then see how their perspective would change.”

About the Author: 
Carol Benedict is an independent researcher studying Kurdish history, culture and politics for 3 years. She is also a human rights activist.

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