Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NATO's living Hell

NATO’s Living Hell

Demons Unleashed in Libya: NATO’s Islamists Continue Program of Ethnic and Ideological Cleansing
By Gerald A. Perreira
This is the dark time, my love,
All round the land brown beetles crawl about
The shining sun is hidden in the sky
Red flowers bend their heads in awful sorrow
This is the dark time, my love,
It is the season of oppression, dark metal, and tears.
It is the festival of guns, the carnival of misery
Everywhere, the faces of men are strained and anxious
Who comes walking in the dark night time?
Whose boot of steel tramps down the slender grass
It is the man of death, my love, the stranger invader
Watching you sleep and aiming at your dream.
Martin Carter
One Tripoli resident, who cannot be named, told me:
‘Everyone is terrified of the NTC and their armed gangs. We have seen with our own eyes what they are capable of – they are animals. All around us people are being rounded up and imprisoned. We have no way of knowing how many have been murdered. Anyone who is associated with Qaddafi or suspected of loyalty to him is at risk. Even people who have worked for people who are known supporters of the leader have been rounded up and tortured. I personally know of many persons who were just working for people associated with the leader who have been taken away and never seen again. If you are black you are an immediate suspect – these rebels call black Libyans ‘abd’ means slave and they are rounding them up just because they are black – it is making me sick and ashamed.'

All of the good that Muammar Qaddafi did for his people, and the immeasurable contribution he made to the oppressed peoples of the world is catalogued everywhere for those who have eyes to see. NATO’s war crimes are also catalogued – they went viral, so even in the absence of a court where NATO and their mercenaries can be tried, millions of people worldwide watched, at their computers and TV screens, the horrific war crimes that unfolded in Sirte and elsewhere in Libya. The verdicts are in. The question is what can be done about it?
The world was quite literally watching and still can watch, anytime they care to google the litany of obscene crimes committed, when a coalition of the most powerful nations on this earth, backed up by the vast majority of Arab and African misleaders, deployed the most sophisticated arsenal of weaponry in the history of the world against a small bastion of African resistance. In the now famous cities of Sirte and Bani Walid, Colonel Muammar Abu Minyar al-Qaddafi led his people in a courageous battle which lasted for months. The battles of Sirte and Bani Walid have surely earned their place in the annals of African history.
At his side were his son, Mutassim Qaddafi and Libya’s Minister of Defense, and one of the leaders of the 1969 Al Fateh revolution, Major General Abu-Bakr Yunis Jaber. Decades ago, he and the young Muammar were in the same class at the Military Academy in Benghazi and were co founders of the Free Officers’ Movement which overthrew King Idris.
Both men, spiritual heirs of Omar Al Mukhtar’s armed resistance against the Italian invaders in 1911, were in their 70s. Having to witness such a savage attack on them and not being able to do anything to defend them against NATO’s jackals, was traumatizing.
The core group of revolutionaries, who led the Al Fateh revolution in 1969 in their twenties, all now in their late 60s and 70s, chose to stay at their posts and fight alongside the people, despite having received many offers for safe passage out of Libya.
A Picture Tells a 1000 Words
A picture of Sirte, after NATO’s bombardment, is worth more than a thousand words when it comes to understanding what actually took place in this once beautiful and prosperous African city. And all in the name of ‘protecting civilians’ – clearly with the exception of civilians loyal to Muammar Qaddafi and the Al Fateh revolution. We salute all of those who fought to defend Al Fateh and the Pan African project in Sirte, Bani Walid and throughout Libya. They are the real Jihadists – the true Pan-African Army.
Julius Malema, ANC Youth Leader, in reference to the North Atlantic Tribes, asked the question – why are these people so bloodthirsty? He pointed out that they did not seem to understand anything other than war.
It is no surprise that Julius Malema has been banned by Jacob Zuma’s ANC. Zuma is one of those African misleaders who signed Qaddafi’s death warrant, when South Africa, along with Nigeria and French controlled Gabon, all temporary members of the so-called Security Council at the time, agreed to the implementation of a ‘No Fly Zone’, which unleashed the demons of war.
Let us not imagine that they did not know what would ensue – the entire world has just witnessed the destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a painful blow to many Africans in Africa and throughout the world. We remembered Nelson Mandela’s now famous speech, when on the world stage he called Muammar Qaddafi ‘one of the great freedom fighters of the 20th century’ and he publicly thanked the Brother Leader and the people of Libya for the material and moral support provided to the ANC when, as Mandela put it – their ‘backs were up against the wall’. The half hearted attempts by the AU to take the necessary action to defend Libya was shameful and demoralizing.
There was a time…
Some of it in my lifetime, when we had visionary, principled and courageous African leaders - Shaka Zulu, Queen Nzingha, Cetshwayo, Dedan Kimathi, Julius Nyerere, Ahmed Sekou Toure, Kwame Nkrumah, Jamal Abdul Nasser, Marien Ngouabi, Ahmed Ben Bella, Samora Machel, Thomas Sankara, Murtala Muhammad, Laurent Kabila to name but a few. Had leaders such as these been in power today, NATO could not have gotten away with invading Libya. The fact is, with few exceptions, the current bunch of African leaders, many of them put in place by the forces of white supremacy were just not up to the job.
Those who are misleading Africa today – ‘who the cap fit let them wear it’ – have paid a dear price. What is coming our way will be punishment for such a colossal betrayal. And sadly, we will all suffer for their sins.
The murder of Muammar Qaddafi plunged us into despair. We mourned his death as sons mourn their father - he called us his sons and we responded as such because we understood his sincerity.
Those who worked with Qaddafi can testify that the Brother Leader’s efforts were motivated by a strong and uncompromising faith in God, his deep love for humanity and a sincere desire to assist all those engaged in the struggle to end injustice and oppression. If anyone epitomized Che’s famous quote, it was our brother: ‘Revolutionaries are first human beings, and at the risk of sounding utterly ridiculous, revolution is based upon supreme feelings of love’
Those among the leadership of Al Fateh who were not murdered, were captured. Dr Ahmed Ibrahim, one of the foremost exponents of the Third Universal Theory, an intellectual warrior and committed Pan-Africanist, was captured while defending Sirte.
The uncle of Moussa Ibrahim, who over the past months became known as the spokesperson for the legitimate government of Libya, he is currently being held in Misurata, and his son, Yurub Ibrahim, has also been arrested. The well known Islamic scholar Sheik Khaled Tantoush, has been abducted from his home in Sirte and is also being held in Misurata. These elderly men are being subjected to constant taunting, beatings and torture and their condition is deteriorating rapidly. Global campaigns have been launched to demand the protection under international law and conventions, regarding prisoners of war, for high profile prisoners Saif-al Islam Qaddafi, Abdullah Senussi, Ahmed Ibrahim, Khaled Tantoush and the thousands of prisoners held by the NTC. (see websites Libya SOS, Libya 360 and for ways you can assist the campaign and video footage of how these elderly prisoners are being treated).
In addition to loyalty to the Leader, and defense of their country against foreign invaders, having black skin and asserting one’s Africanity has become a crime in the new Libya. Ethnic cleansing is continuing unabated. Every day Black Africans from Libya and other parts of Africa are hunted down. Thousands have been brutally tortured and executed. Rape of Black women is a favored weapon of NATO’s Islamists. Many of the female bodies found show signs of rape, beatings and torture. Large numbers of Black Africans make up the ranks of the Green Resistance.
NATO’s Living Hell
One Tripoli resident, who cannot be named, told me:
‘Everyone is terrified of the NTC and their armed gangs. We have seen with our own eyes what they are capable of – they are animals. All around us people are being rounded up and imprisoned. We have no way of knowing how many have been murdered. Anyone who is associated with Qaddafi or suspected of loyalty to him is at risk. Even people who have worked for people who are known supporters of the leader have been rounded up and tortured. I personally know of many persons who were just working for people associated with the leader who have been taken away and never seen again. If you are black you are an immediate suspect – these rebels call black Libyans ‘abd’ means slave and they are rounding them up just because they are black – it is making me sick and ashamed.
What these rebels have done to their own people is disgusting – some of the acts of torture I can’t even speak about. There has been a lot of rape. I wept when I learned of what these animals did to the leader’s female body guards – they are not human and that is why there is so much fear. Any known Qaddafi loyalists who have not been able to get out of Libya have to stay underground. Libyans are afraid to talk to other Libyans – anyone could be an informer. It feels like the last days are upon us – Libya has been turned into a living hell.’
There is now a complete whiteout by the corporate media regarding all news from Libya. And of course, although a genocide is unfolding right before our eyes, there will be no outcry from the UN, Amnesty International or that euphemistic chorus known as ‘the international community’, that beats on ad nauseum about ’democracy, human rights and the rule of law’? No time or motive for outcry – having shared the spoils, they have already moved on to their next victims – Syria and Iran.
Demons Unleashed
To do their dirty work, NATO employed the most barbaric marauders they could find. These Islamist mercenaries are programmed, sadistic fighters – they have been on the battlefields in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya. They have been hired many times over by NATO, who characteristically plays all sides, and that is why they need to sprinkle stimulant powders on their food - to keep them in killing mode.
Shouting Allahu Akhbar, like robots, they go from town to town, city to city, ransacking, beating, torturing, raping and murdering, and then, in their crazed state, with inflated feelings of omnipotence, they actually take footage of themselves committing heinous war crimes and post them on youtube.
As the people bury their dead, they defiantly whisper, ‘Allah, Muammar, Libya and nothing else’. Amidst the screams that can be heard deep into the night, a shell shocked population tries to understand what happened to them, and struggles to come to terms with the obscene end inflicted on a man they loved.
Now they must try to find a way to confront the ‘brave new world’ that has been imposed upon them by this foreign invasion. In an instant, they have been transported back in time to when Europeans last occupied their country.
Green Resistance – It is only a matter of time…
The war in Libya is far from over. The corporate media continues the lie that Libya has been ‘liberated’ and that life there has ‘returned to normal’. In truth, chaos reigns. Rumours about NATO’s plans to carve up the country are rife and Libya remains engulfed in warfare.
People are being systematically hunted down. Truck loads of bodies are being carted away, as the now feuding armed gangs, each with their own command structure, and none adhering to anything the NTC says, introduces the only policy they ever had – exterminate Qaddafi and all those loyal to him. That numbers in the millions and they are stopping at nothing to track them down.
The Green resistance referred to as the Libyan Liberation Army (LLA) or the Libyan Liberation Front (LLF) is regrouping and growing stronger by the day. Street battles are commonplace, explosions can be heard all over Tripoli and in other regions, and NATO’s mercenaries are facing fierce resistance.
Libya’s powerful Warfalla Tribe, comprising more than a million Libyans, have stated that ‘they are thirsting for revenge’, many of them having fought in the battle of Bani Walid.
One Green resistance fighter summed up the feeling of all:
‘It does not matter how long it takes, we will rise again as sure as the sun rises. It is only a matter of time. It may not be today – we are a patient people. Right now, many of us have to lay low while the leaders regroup and put certain things in place so that we can take our resistance to the next level, but we know our time will come and we are only waiting for the word to take up our arms.
We have to be organized and this takes time, especially under the present conditions of occupation. Our people are being tortured and raped and murdered for supporting the leader and defending their revolution. We have had to leave our homes and watch these dogs destroy them and steal everything from us. But our day will come – we can never forget the crimes committed against us by NATO and these murdering thieves who call themselves revolutionaries and Muslims.
What I have seen with my own two eyes is unbelievable – people committing the cruelest acts - crimes against humanity while they cry out Allahu Akhbar.
They are like drugged people. We have uncovered mass graves of Qaddafi loyalists – with their hands tied behind their backs - all executed. I want to tell them that every person they tortured, every person murdered, every woman they raped, every home they destroyed and looted and everything they did to our dear leader and his family will be avenged.
This is not the first time this has happened to us Libyans – this is exactly what happened to us when the Italians occupied our land – thanks to the leader we are a very educated people now – we know our history and our heroes. The NTC has already taken the picture of Omar Al Mukhtar off the Libyan dinar but it does not matter – they can destroy every picture of Omar Al Mukhtar and the leader, because the story of his bravery and the bravery of his son Muammar Qaddafi is in our hearts – these men can never die - and this gives us the belief and certainty that we will overcome these thieves again – believe me, it is only a matter of time.’
A Frenzied Phase
The invasion of Libya and the murder of Muammar Qaddafi ushered in what can be described as the empire’s ‘frenzied phase’. Capitalism and imperialism are taking their last hideous gasps, and in this phase we will see their evil laid bare. NATO will continue to become ever more brazen with its ‘shock and horror’ tactics, believing that they are unstoppable and invincible, as once did Rome. In other words, with the imperialists in panic mode, we can expect their behavior to become all the more barbaric, savage and uncivilized, as has been prophesied.
The Twilight Zone – Vampires of Empire
The additional dimension in this new phase is that capitalism, White supremacy’s socio-economic system, has entered a period of unprecedented crisis – it is on its last legs and the system is turning in on itself. The vampires of empire do indeed ‘suck the blood of the sufferer’. They are desperate now and quite literally don’t care if they are seen to be dripping in our blood. Their global economic arrangement is crumbling faster than they can hold their next summit, and we cannot be caught off guard.
We have watched Europe and the US forestall their collapse for a number of years, to the point where they are frantic and fast running out of ideas. As fast as they share the spoils of one war – they need another to quench their insatiable appetite for plunder. Our trouble is, that many of us are too slow to follow the visionary leadership in their midst. Had African leaders shared the vision, united and worked together toward a United States of Africa as Qaddafi pleaded, the world would have been a very different place today. Muammar Qaddafi and the Libyan revolution were on the verge of bringing about a total shift in the global balance of power, and giving Africa its rightful place in the world. We have never been so close to reasserting African power. He was truly a Lion of Africa.
A Ruthless Enemy – Know Them
The North Atlantic Tribes are an extremely ruthless enemy. It is necessary to study and understand their mentality in order to build an effective resistance. Indisputably, there is good and bad in every race. However, also indisputably, the historical and cultural continuum known as Europe has specificities that no other group on the face of this earth has demonstrated. Their will to dominate, consume and destroy is unparalleled.
Marimba Ani, in her seminal work, Yurugu, An Afrikan-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior, offers an incisive analysis of the European mindset. In her words:
‘All modes of European behavior and dominant styles of action act to increase and ensure material control…The power ideology that defines the total culture keeps it off- balance. The culture itself – always ‘progressing’, never ‘progressed’ – is unidirectional, one dimensional, fanatical, and atrophied; a culture that must consume others. But ultimately this ideology is incoherent; it literally lacks human meaning. It is the compulsiveness, the drive, the insatiable appetite of the culture that are its distinguishing features…it is as well-constructed as a power machine can be…For success it has sacrificed ‘soul’. What is left is profane. Aesthetically, and in terms of self-image, it identifies as white. Europe is the cultural home of a people who identify as one race; i.e., banding together for survival and destruction of others. They would destroy each other if there were not others to destroy. They fear and hate blackness, which they associate with spiritual power – a power which they can neither possess, create nor control.’
In White Racism: A Psychohistory, Joel Kovel describes this drive to conquer and destroy as a ‘cosmic yearning’, ‘a bottomless longing’.
Samuel Huntington, author of the Clash of Civilizations reminds us of something that we should never forget: ‘The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence.’
That is the reason why the enemy gets so agitated when we organize armed resistance, because they know how powerful organized violence can be.
The invasion of Libya and the murder of Qaddafi is what happened to a nation and its leader when they give up their program to develop ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and opted for a path of peaceful coexistence. In an interview at the beginning of the war, Saif Qaddafi admitted that Libya had been caught ‘unprepared for war’, having not even upgraded their conventional weaponry. No nation will ever make that fatal mistake again. The North Atlantic Tribes can never be trusted. Deterrents of any kind are better than no deterrents at all.
The North Atlantic Tribes have mastered the art of war and perfected weaponry like no other peoples in history. They are the quintessential warlords.
In order to carry out this regrab, in their desperate and frenzied attempt to hasten their plunder of Africa and the global south’s wealth, it is imperative for the imperialists to get rid of all revolutionary nationalist regimes that might stand in their way, and ensure that compliant regimes are firmly in place. We must prepare ourselves for what is to come. In his last message, the Brother Leader warned us to ‘hold down our corners’ because if they get past Libya they are coming for all of us. The challenge in this phase is to find ways to cope with the Empire’s collapse and to strengthen our resistance in order to confront the frantic and barbaric behavior which will inevitably characterize their demise.
Their House is Burning - Not Ours
At a global economic summit in 2009, former President of Brazil, Lula Da Silva, when commenting on the global economic crisis, stated, ‘This was a crisis that was fostered and boosted by the irrational behavior of people who were white and blue-eyed, who before the crisis looked like they knew everything about economics, but now have demonstrated they know nothing about economics’ He added, ‘The part of humanity that is responsible should be the part that pays for the crisis.’
Too many of us are still, as Malcolm X put it, ‘house negroes’. The house negro lived in the master’s house and when the master’s house was burning, he said ‘we house burning’. If the master was sick, the house negro said ‘we sick’. And then there was the field negro. When he saw the master’s house burning he said ‘Let it burn’.
In Africa, South America, the Caribbean and throughout the global south, we have been in crisis for centuries as a result of the imperialists endless thirst for domination, plunder and war. It is the master’s house that is burning this time. And we say – ‘let it burn’. The demise of this empire is a welcome thing. We don’t need to concern ourselves with bringing Babylon down, for it is surely crumbling – politically, economically, ideologically and morally, due to its own internal contradictions. In the meantime, as Muammar Qaddafi urged, ‘we must build the new as the old crumbles around us’. Only then can we be ready. It is not the end of the world – it is the end of their world.
Gerald A. Perreira is a founding member of the Guyanese organizations Joint Initiative for Human Advancement and Dignity and Black Consciousness Movement Guyana (BCMG). He lived in Libya for many years, served in the Green March, an international battalion for the defense of the Al Fateh revolution and was an executive member of the World Mathaba based in Tripoli.
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Art 4 Kids After-School - Week 2

The second Mount Pleasant Art 4 Kids after-school-session brought nine children that brought joy and reality to the basement of the Second Trinity Baptist Church last Tuesday, 12/6. Below is a dedication to Nancy Cobbs, one of the eleven Imperial Avenue victims, done by her young cousin.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Brothers, Clinton and Semaj participated in the first Mount Pleasant Art Day for Kids. We had good discussion about school and family while the boys created.

Our hope is to have students express how they feel after the their neighborhood has become a focus of attention by media, law enforcement, and activists due to the discovery of 11 women's remains found on property on Imperial Avenue, Cleveland.

Neighbors and Friends of Mount Pleasant, and Peace in the Hood will continue the project at Second Trinity Missionary Baptist Church every Tuesday after school.

Pictures top to bottom: YVON discusses art themes with students; Willie Stokes invites passerby's to participate in the project; Clinton and Semaj show their artwork.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Grassroots Organizations Stand For Murdered Black Women on Imperial Avenue

By Don Bryant
(National and Cleveland, Ohio-area news)

On Monday, Nov. 16 "Stand For 11 Black Women Vigil and Forum" brought a diverse group of people to Imperial Ave. site of the 11 Black women murdered allegedly by Anthony Sowell. Many of
Cleveland's local social justice organizations and agencies were represented at the event including the Mount Pleasant Task Force, Domestic Violence Center of Cleveland, Black on Black Crime, People's Fight Back Center, and Inter-Religious Task Force on Central America. Additional groups were Women Speak Out For Peace and Justice, The Revolution Books, Party, The Greater Cleveland
Immigrant Support Network, The Middle East Peace Forum, and The People's Forum, among others.

People from all over world have paid tribute to the 11 African-American women found allegedly murdered by Anthony Sowell. Many from around the country have visited the Imperial Avenue site where the home once occupied by Sowell is located. Some, if not all of the victims, were raped, and at least two of the bodies were found in the the back yard, once occupied by Sowell.

Monday's vigil was preceded by a press conference organized by the grassroots organization, Black on Black Crime to express appreciation to the Cuyahoga County Coroner's
Office for its swift identification of the women's remains, where all but one of the victim's have been identified. County Coroner Frank Miller was represented at the forum by spokesperson, Powell Ceasar, who said that they had DNA on the eleventh body but they had nothing to cross-reference it with.

Just a few months ago, President Barack Obama spoke about national health care in the affluent community of Shaker Heights, just a few miles from Cleveland's
Mount Pleasant area, where the murders were committed. Eleven women's bodies laid either in Sowell's house, or in the back yard, moldering in the graves not far from Shaker Heights High School where Obama spoke.

"It's more than ironic and it is representative of the extreme disparity between rich and poor
in our communities," said a vigil organizer.

He went on to say that, "tonight we stand for these eleven African-American women, because they can't stand for themselves, and tomorrow let us breath for them."

A strong local activist and Yoga instructor, Rebekka Willow, said that women must be respected and crimes against women must cease.

Activist and retired school teacher Thomas Kim Hill said that the nation's military budget, which funds current wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Columbia and Palestine is bleeding taxpayers while the war on poverty gets little, if any, funding.

Following the vigil the group gathered at Second Trinity Baptist Church, two blocks from Imperial Ave. There, JoAnn Moore, the older sister of Imperial Ave. victim, Janice Webb, spoke.

"My sister would call our 91-year old mother daily,"said Moore. "When my mother did not hear from Janice for a couple of days she knew that something was wrong."

Webb was allegedly reported missing by her family in June of this year, and the story of the Imperial Ave. murders broke on Nov. 1, two days before Cleveland's mayoral election, where authorities announced the discovery of the bodies for the first time.

Sherri Smith, a member of the Mount Pleasant Task Force and a liaison for the Pastors'
Alliance, announced the establishment of the Imperial Avenue Family Fund at U.S. Bank, which is designed to help the families with funeral expenses.

Affiliates of the Cleveland Domestic Violence Center were also on hand.

"The system often deters women from reporting rape," said Amanda Ruiviejo.
"Women that rape are often labeled not credible."

Activist and journalist Kathy Wray Coleman reported on the Nov. 16 meeting with Cleveland Communications Director, Blaine Griffin, who represented Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. Twelve women, six Black and six White attended and presented demands to Jackson and Cleveland City Council that include city ordinances around the missing persons' issue, more minorities and women in leadership roles in the Cleveland Police and Law Department, and an investigation of police and city prosecuters following a report that five of the 11 women were killed after a police report from a Black female that she was raped by Sowell was rendered "not credible."

Grassroots organizations are urging Cleveland residents and others to attend the meetings of Black on Black Crime which are held Wednesdays at McCall's, at Euclid Ave. and Lee Rd. 146th block, and Peace in the Hood meetings, held every Thursday.

The women's group that met last week with the mayor's representative and grassroots organizations are holding a rally on Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 6 p.m. on Imperial Ave, close to the site of the murders. It is to demand that all reports are considered credible, and investigation of Cleveland police and prosecutors around the matter, and the review of police reports of alleged rape over the past ten years, including those branded "not credible."

Contact Sharon Danann for more information at 216-571-2518.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stand For Eleven Black Women




CONTACT 440-623-0492

The remains of the eleven slain African-American women were discovered
in a Cleveland neighborhood, less than two miles from the affluent
Shaker Heights community where President Obama recently visited to
address national health care.

The Cleveland neighborhood where the horrific crimes occurred has been
hit hard economically. In Cleveland's Ward 4 known as the Mount
area, 414 homes are in foreclosure, 887 vacant houses were counted,
and 72% of homes are run by single females.

Local community groups feel that most of these deaths could have been
prevented if Cleveland Police and city government would take reports of missing
people seriously. There are currently 77 women reported missing in
Cleveland; 21 women reported missing in the Mount Pleasant area.
(WOIO-TV news, Nov. 7, 2009)

The Eleven Black Women found dead and buried at the home of alleged
serial killer, Anthony Sowell, has brought Cleveland's
African-American Community, and some
supporters, out to support the families of the dead women and
other missing people, and to get answers.

Following the lead of Survivors/Victims of Tragedy, Inc. and Black on Black
Crime, Inc., the People of the Imperial Avenue area and the Mount Pleasant
Task Force are demanding the creation of a Missing Persons Department in
the city of Cleveland and other proactive initiatives.

People of the Imperial Avenue area also recognize that they have a
certain responsibility of getting to know their neighbors, like "the
way it used to be."

As ten of the victims have now been identified,
a vigil and community forum are planned for November 16. An intense
effort has been initiated for wider participation from all people of
diverse ethnic and economic sectors.

Vigil organizers stated, "African-American activists associated with
the Mt. Pleasant Task Force have supported plenty of rallies for other
people and causes. It's time to come to the aid of our
African-American Sisters and Brothers. It takes the whole community to
aid in the healing of the victim's families and overcome the fear and
horror felt by the people of Mt. Pleasant."

The impact on the children of the Mt. Pleasant area is a special concern. What
fears are they living with? These fears are known by all the children
of many of Cleveland's poor, ethnic communities and religious faiths.
The fear of someone coming for them in the night, losing their
parent(s), or being hungry or homeless.

Organizers proclaimed, "the women and children of Mount Pleasant area
deserve to feel safe and secure. All women deserve relief from the
fear of being preyed upon."

Many ethnic communities have experienced this scale of racism in the
USA, in our jaded history. Fear-mongering against certain races or
faiths in this nation disparages the integrity of the US, it divides the nation,
perhaps by design; it divides the cities and the neighborhoods

Cleveland and Cuyahoga County are highly segregated There are Black
neighborhoods, and Latino neighborhoods, and White suburbs; and the
list goes on. This has a detrimental effect on the viability of the
underprivileged sectors, perpetuating unemployment, poverty, poor
education, breakdown of family structure, increased crime, children in fear,
and at-risk, and further disparity between rich and poor.

From Palestine to Kabul, to Baghdad to Cleveland, Ohio, human rights
suffer for the sake of colonial wars and occupations perpetrated by the US
and its corporate and military allies. The exorbitant military expenditures of the US
leave few resources for meaningful economic recovery for the nation's cities and peoples.

Governmental and social neglect of human rights and dignity of the
poor, and people of color, breeds crime, violence, and despair in our


Monday, November 9, 2009

Origins of the People's Forum

Spaces Gallery
By Kim Hill and Don Bryant

“We may have all come on different ships but we’re all in the same boat now,” said Ted Guerry about the State of the People Forum on Friday night. Guerry represents the community group, Black on Black Crime, and he was quoting Martin Luther King.

The Forum was held at Spaces Gallery coinciding with it exhibition, “Bi-Lingual,” combining the works of African American and Latino American artists.

African American speakers described the lack of employment, failed schools, gang and police violence, and unfairness in the judicial process which results in tragedy for so many young people. The Wall of Sorrow in East Cleveland contained the names of 2000 young people lost to urban killings.

Ruth Standingford, of Peace in the Hood, reported on the recent national gang summit in Kansas seeking to reduce urban violence.

Priscilla Cooper of the Family Connection Center explained that welfare reform has forced many mothers into “voluntary” community service, which she called virtual “slavery,” rather than providing real job training in NE Ohio’s depressed economy.

The Lucasville Five Committee representative, Sharon Danann, spoke of the wrongful convictions of Lucasville, Ohio prisoners, now on "death row."

Local Arab Americans and Muslims were represented as well. A Muslim American prison chaplin noted the disproportionate US rate of incarceration of Black Americans.

Julia Shearson, Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations,
Cleveland office, described how US authorities violate the constitutional
rights of Americans of Muslim faith, including the totally unsubstantiated
designation of Ms. Shearson as a "suspected terrorist." Ms. Shearson
was detained and handcuffed as she attempted to return to the US with
her four year-old daughter,in 2006, as they returned from a vacation to Canada.

Psychologist Evelyn Rivera described the abuses suffered by immigrants and their families in Ohio. She deplored the post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by children, due to racial-profiling against their Latino parents, often U.S. citizens, as parents are imprisoned in workplace raids and deported.

Alejandro Rivera (not related) noted America’s cynicism in bringing in Hispanic laborers to do many of our most grueling and necessary jobs and then discarding them as “throw-aways.”

Sarah Sommers of the InterReligious Task Force on Central America spoke about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), passed by Congress under the Clinton administration, which drives family farmers off their land in Central America and Mexico, resulting in their migration into the US seeking jobs to help their families simply survive.

A Palestinian American, Nader Mustafa, and others, reported on human rights violations in the so-called “War on Terror.” As the US and Israel collaborate on this “war,” there are massive human rights abuses not just in Iraq but also in Gaza and the West Bank supported by billions of US tax dollars. Iran, Afghanistan and perhaps Pakistan portend more trouble ahead.

Jewish-American peace activist, David Berenson, discussed the toll war takes on our own soldiers, Iraqi people, Afghan people, and on needed social programs, which are starved of tax dollars diverted into the military. He also criticized "environmental racism."

Maria Smith and her husband, Presbyterian minister, Charlie Hurst, described non-violence and tax resistance against our militarized culture.

Kim Hill, who taught school, in the 1960s in the Hough area, and in Lebanon, focused on the combination of racism, poverty, and violence resulting from our policies toward the “Third World.” This third world exists not only in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin American but also here at home, internal to the US. The cost for the Bush administration’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, though predicted to cost just $50 billion, are now estimated at between $3 trillion and $7 trillion dollars!

Several members of the audience made closing statements. Norma Freeman warned against catching the “disease”of the dominant culture. American ethnic groups must not fall into the divide and conquer trap of oppressing each other as sometimes happens in their competition for limited opportunities in the American economy.

Evelyn Rivera urged unity in the future, that the groups assembled must seek mutual understanding, cooperation and projects for unified action.

Yoshiko Ikuta, who lived through World War II as a child in Japan, drew loud applause when she said the issue is "human rights."

Alicia Kirkman, whose 17-year-old son was shot in the back and killed by Cleveland police in 2007, called for equal justice as promised in the US Constitution.

Sam Phillips, a video journalist of grassroots groups and community action events in NE Ohio, reminded everyone of the $700 billion “cash for trash” bail-out under consideration in Congress at the very moment we were meeting at Spaces. Politicians should not be allowed to abandon Americans living along West 25th Street, Lorain, Cedar or Warrensville as they desperately try to save Wall Street.

Don Bryant, of the Immigrant Support Network, which organized the Forum, thanked all participants and the volunteers who worked to make the event possible.

Special thanks go out to Angelica Pozo, the Curator of the Spaces exhibit, to Nicole Edwards, the communications manager of Spaces, and to Liberation Brew Cable TV programmers. Panelists: Nava Ibrahim, social worker, Saudi-American Muslim; David Berenson, the Green Party and Cleveland Peace Action; Priscila Cooper, Family Connection Center; Don Freeman, co-editor of Vibration magazine; Ted Guerry, Black on Black Crime; Kim Hill, Middle East Peace Forum; Nader Mustafa, Palestinian American and Iraq war vet; Alejandro Rivera, Mexican-American community activist; Julia Shearson, Council on American Islamic Relations; Evelyn Rivera, psychologist; Charles Hurst, Presbyterian minister, war tax resistor; Maria Smith, nonviolence activist, war tax resistor, Sarah Sommer, InterReligious Task Force on Central America; Ruth Standingford, Peace in the Hood on youth violence; David McCarthy, Muslim chaplan; Sharon Danann, Lucasville Defense Committee; Lady Dove, domestic violence survivor. Thanks go out to those who helped plan and put on the event for Immigrant Support Network: Vera Hall, Liz Lavelle, Yoshiko Ikuta, Linda Park, Nava Ibrahim, Don Bryant, Janet Loehr, Stewart and Valerie Robinson, Kim Hill and Anna Ruiz.