August 25, 2008
We have been overwhelmed with your response to our May letter from Rebekah Wolf of the Palestine Solidarity Project. It’s gratifying to know that so many of you are concerned about the situation in the Middle East, and are willing to provide financial as well as moral support for nonviolence efforts there. We also appreciate your continued commitment to our counter recruitment efforts and other programs against war and militarism.
If you haven’t sent in a contribution yet, I urge you to do so. If you have already given, we thank you—and ask you to please consider giving again. Despite responsible budgeting and low administrative costs, the Muste Institute is facing its most serious deficit in years. We will likely have to cut back our general grantmaking in 2009. We urgently need your help to continue promoting nonviolent action for social justice at home and around the world.
The Muste Institute made a $2,000 grant in December 2007 to help the Providence-based Olneyville Neighborhood Association establish the Red de Defensa (Defense Network), a network of immigrants organizing against raids and deportations in Rhode Island. This article is by ONA Strategy and Development Coordinator Shannah Kurland.
Delmy Reyes Urizar, age six, moved her way through the crowd of fifty people to ask for her own packet of Know Your Rights Cards, which give critical info about what to do in case of a raid or other encounter with ICE – Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It was February 14, el dia de amor y amistad (day of love and friendship) and the Red de Defensa had just kicked off with a brief presentation at an elementary school in Providence. People at risk of ICE raids were joined by folks from community groups, labor unions and churches to mark the opening of this community defense network. Delmy explained that she wanted the cards to hand out at school. Her parents were among dozens of people who helped plan the Red de Defensa through community forums and meetings.
But Delmy’s connection to the issue ran deeper than most; less than a year before, she was held prisoner with her father at the T. Don Hutto facility in Taylor, Texas, where hundreds of immigrant families are incarcerated by the Department of Homeland Security. Working through the Olneyville Neighborhood Association, Delmy’s family and the broader community not only won their release, but came together to create a hotline that families can call in case of raids. The hotline is staffed around the clock by trained volunteers who answer questions and in case of urgent calls notify a team of allies. The “street team” volunteers who have the safety of legal status go to document the immigration raids, and where possible to intervene nonviolently using strategies developed in consultation with legal advisors.
The Red de Defensa team has also conducted Know Your Rights trainings with over 300 people at churches and schools, in English classes and living rooms, and has distributed more than 2,500 cards with the phone number and basic info about what to do in case of an encounter with ICE. Expert advice is easily available through the network’s legal advisor, and when necessary, phone volunteers provide referrals to immigration attorneys who are screened for competence and honesty. Red de Defensa volunteers also work the phones to help families find where their loved one is being held, and to navigate the prison industrial complex and immigration court.
In the past few months, the Red de Defensa has been tested in new ways as ICE turns its attention to tiny Rhode Island with greater ferocity than ever. In the early hours of June 12, ICE agents swept through Newport, grabbing 42 Mexican, Guatemalan and Brazilian immigrant workers from their homes and workplaces, breaking windows, chasing people in a Home Depot, and putting pistols to the heads of unarmed people. ONA members piled into a van and met with families and community activists over the next few weeks, sharing tools and ideas, conducting trainings for volunteers, and helping track down detainees. Working off the Red de Defensa model, immigrant workers and allies from religious and small business communities in Newport have built a strong committee and are developing their own system for response and protection against ICE attacks.
Back in Providence, ICE continued to sow terror with a major raid on July 15 against the workers who provide cleaning services in Rhode Island state courthouses. At the time of the raid, a Red de Defensa team was picking people up to attend a meeting of the committee in Newport, but changed course immediately to arrive at the Providence courthouse only minutes after ICE agents had left with their prisoners. The group of three adults (only one of whom had papers) decided to walk the short distance to the immigration office to look for the people. ICE agents confirmed that the workers were being held there, and the cell phones started going into overdrive.
Within hours, the Red de Defensa was activated and over 200 people were outside the immigration office. Youth took charge of leading chants on the bullhorn, “Todos somos libres – nadie es ilegal!” (“We are all free—no one is illegal!”) Undocumented organizers, clergy and students established a blockade as the vans left to take detainees to prisons in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Over the next several days, ONA members and staff worked with many allies to help get legal help for those who were arrested and released with ankle bracelets and for those who were still detained, and to support the leadership of the people affected by the raids in carrying out media work, fundraising and oversight of the support fund. A next step is a forum to expose the real criminals: the owners of the cleaning companies TriState and Falcon who have been exploiting immigrant workers by witholding paychecks and not submitting payroll taxes to the government.
In Rhode Island, you can train to be a defense volunteer, or help with publicity, contact management, calls and transportation to prisons, and fundraising. Similar projects exist in other cities but if not, get in touch and we’ll share our info with you to start your own! Contact us by email at [email protected] or by phone at (401) 228-8996.
NOTE: a video of the July 15 protest at the ICE office in Providence can be seen at http://www.abc6.com/news/25490039.html
The Muste Institute’s Counter Recruitment Fund makes small grants for grassroots efforts to inform young people about the realities of military service, help them protect their privacy from recruiters and refer them to non-military education and employment options. Our next deadline for proposals is October 3, 2008. Guidelines are at www.ajmuste.org/counter-recruit.htm
American Friends Service Committee-Chicago, Chicago, IL: $1,500 for a three-week summer institute that introduces youth to peace work and trains them in discussing the realities of military service and nonviolent career alternatives. www.afsc.org/chicago/
Brooklyn for Peace, Brooklyn, NY: $1,500 for expanding outreach to students in Brooklyn high schools and on the subway, to inform them about the realities of military service and educational and vocational alternatives. www.brooklynpeace.org
Coalition for Peace and Justice, Linwood, NJ: $500 for tabling at the annual New Jersey Education Association Conference and efforts to develop a statewide network of teachers concerned and informed about military recruitment and alternatives.
Orita Peace and Justice Program, Greensboro, NC: $1,000 for a project highlighting alternatives to war and militarism through a statewide opt-out awareness campaign, community trainings and career fairs.
Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities (Project YANO), Encinitas, CA: $1,500 to educate youth and parents, especially in African American and Latino communities, about the realities of military service and educational and vocational alternatives. http://www.projectyano.org/
The International Nonviolence Training Fund (INTF) makes grants for nonviolence trainings outside the U.S. or in indigenous communities within the U.S. The next deadlines are September 5 and December 5, 2008. Guidelines are on our website at http://ajmuste.org/guidintf.htm
Association of Human Rights and Torture Defenders (AHURTOD), Buea, Cameroon: $3,500 in April 2008 for a “training for trainers” workshop for 30 University of Buea student leaders.
Family Mediation and Conciliation-FAMEC, Nairobi, Kenya: $2,995 in April 2008 for a nonviolence training for university student leaders in Nairobi.
Love Thy Neighbor, Bethesda, Maryland (USA): $3,000 in June 2008 for the Living Nonviolence Training and Summer Camp in Ramallah,West Bank, Palestine, teaching Palestinian children and teenagers the skills and principles of nonviolence, and training Palestinian young adults as nonviolence trainers.
Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement Between People, Beit Sahour, Palestine: $3,000 in June 2008 for the Young Advocates Program, training young Palestinians in nonviolence, conflict resolution, advocacy, human rights, communication and other skills, in order to help them lead a successful nonviolent movement to end the Occupation.
The A.J. Muste Memorial Institute makes small grants to groups engaged in nonviolent education and action for social justice. Our next deadline is October 3, 2008. Guidelines are at www.ajmuste.org/ guidelin.htm.
CENTRO DE POLÍTICAS PÚBLICAS POR
EL SOCIALISMO (CEPPAS)
FOOD AND MEDICINE
NORTHWEST WORKERS’ JUSTICE PROJECT
PICTURE THE HOMELESS
UNION OF MINORITY NEIGHBORHOODS
The NOVA Travel Fund helps grassroots activists from Latin American, Caribbean and indigenous North American organizations to participate in regional meetings. The next deadlines are October 1 and December 1, 2008. Guidelines are on our website — see www.ajmuste.org/novaintro.html for Spanish,www.ajmuste.org/novaintro-eng.html for English
In June 2008 the NOVA Travel Fund made the following 11 grants totaling $10,424:
Comunidades Eclesiales de Base de Nicaragua, Managua, Nicaragua: $1,000 for Carmen Maximina Martinez Baltodano to participate in the 8th Latin American and Caribbean Meeting of Church Base Communities held June 30-July 5, 2008, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
Kontak Nasyonal T.K.L. YO, Port-au-Prince, Haiti: $1,500 for Marie Nardege Moise of the Church Base Communities of Haiti to participate in the 8th Latin American and Caribbean Meeting of Church Base Communities held June 30-July 5, 2008, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
Iglesia Católica Cristo El Hijo del Hombre, San Miguelito, Panama: $800 for Casimira Ríos, a representative of the Outreach and Organizing Team of the Church Base Communities of the Archdiocese of Panama (EPACEB) to participate in the 8th Latin American and Caribbean Meeting of Church Base Communities held June 30-July 5, 2008, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
Equipo de Animacion y Coordinacion de las Comunidades Eclesiales de Base de la Arquidiocesis de Salta, Salta, Argentina: $250 for a representative of the Organizing and Coordination Team of the Church Base Communities of the Archdiocese of Salta to participate in the 8th Latin American and Caribbean Meeting of Church Base Communities, held June 30-July 5, 2008, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
Frente Unido en Defensa del Ecosistema, San Miguelito, Panama: $670 for Adelaida Miranda of the Movimiento 10 de Abril – Río Tabasara - Comarca Ngöbe Bugle to participate in the 4th Latin American Meeting of Redlar, the Latin American Network Against Dams and in Defense of Rivers, Water and Communities, held July 22-26, 2008 in Santa Cruz de Lorica, Colombia.
Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens - MAB, São Paulo, Brazil: $1,154 for MAB representative Soniamara Maranho to participate in the 4th Latin American Meeting of Redlar, the Latin American Network Against Dams and in Defense of Rivers, Water and Communities, held July 22-26, 2008 in Santa Cruz de Lorica, Colombia.
Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH), La Ceiba, Atlántida, Honduras: $900 for a representative of OFRANEH to participate in the 4th Latin American Meeting of Redlar, the Latin American Network Against Dams and in Defense of Rivers, Water and Communities, held July 22-26, 2008 in Santa Cruz de Lorica, Colombia.
Grupo de Mulheres Negras Nzinga Mbandi, Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil: $1,000 for Silvana Veríssimo of the Nzinga Mbandi Black Women's Group to participate in the XVII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2008) held August 3-8, 2008 in Mexico City.
Red Bonaerense de Personas Viviendo con VIH-SIDA, Buenos Aires, Argentina: $1,000 for a representative of the Buenos Aires Network of People Living with HIV-AIDS to participate in the XVII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2008) held August 3-8, 2008 in Mexico City.
Mujeres Organizadas Emprendedoras de Estelí - MOES, Estelí, Nicaragua: $750 for Julissa Lissette Velásquez Dormus of the women's group MOES to participate in a meeting on reproductive, sexual and human rights in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo - CLOC, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: $1,400 for two representatives of the Confederación Nacional de Mujeres Campesinas (CONAMUCA, the National Federation of Peasant Women), an affiliate of the Latin American Coordination of Rural Organizations (CLOC), to participate in the Americas Social Forum, to be held October 7-12, 2008 in Guatemala City, Guatemala.