Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
Truthout contributor and historian Jeffrey R. McCord divides his time between Virginia and the US Virgin Island of St. John, once part of the Danish West Indies. Virgin Islands National Park is spread over two-thirds of the relatively undeveloped, mountainous island. In recent years, however, real estate development has posed a recurring threat to environmentally sensitive lands on St. John bordering the Park. Now, pristine Coral Bay and its unique sailing community are threatened by a proposed mega-yacht marina and associated luxury commercial and residential development on-shore.
In a Caribbean Sea increasingly dominated by Cruise ships, mega-yachts and boats and facilities catering to them, the residents of one unspoiled US Virgin Island harbor stand tall as a main mast for traditional sea and conservation values generation after generation. Since the early 1970s, live aboard sailors in St. John's Coral Harbor have helped preserve the unique character of the sleepy historic village surrounding the 18th century Moravian Mission founded during Danish colonial days. Although small restaurants and bars have sprouted up to serve sailors and tourists alike, Coral Harbor businesses continue to share the land with wandering sheep and playful semi-wild donkeys loved by residents and visitors.
It can only be a good thing that the attention of the nation is focused on the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and its aftermath. However, if the debate continues to be on the details of this particular case – many of which will likely never be known – or even on the growing problem of police heavy-handedness, or even the besetting problem of racism in America, we will never reach a solution to these tragedies.
As one minister from the region pointed out, every time a black person is killed by a white police officer, the country is split in two. What we need is a national dialogue on unity, on healing. I agree; but I think we need to go even further. We need to remember the prophetic words that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pronounced from the pulpit of Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967, in his famous sermon called Beyond Vietnam: "The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit," he said, and to cure this malady "we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered." King instinctively knew and often said that racism was a form of violence, so until violence itself was addressed racism would never leave us. And he was right.
Mark Colville, a Catholic Worker from New Haven Connecticut was sentenced this afternoon in DeWitt Town Court on 5 charges stemming from a protest at Hancock Air National Guard Base on December 9 of last year, when he and two Yale Divinity School students presented flowers and a People’s Order of Protection for the children of Afghanistan and their families at the guard gate. In a surprise decision, Judge Robert Jokl sentenced Colville to a 1 year Conditional Discharge and $1000 fine. He said that sending Colville to prison would not serve justice, nor would parole serve any good purpose, and he did not issue a permanent Order of Protection.
Colville was facing 2 years in jail on 5 counts including Contempt of a Judicial Judgment and Obstructing Governmental Administration.
Michael Brown is dead. This is the one truth upon which we can all agree without prejudice. Beyond this, he is neither civil rights legacy nor victim. Neither innocent nor guilty. He is dead.
Michael Brown is just one grain of sand in the American cause-and-effect… the tornadic, myopic, narcissistic, deliriously overinflated landmass in which 316 million of us claim zip codes. To those who live by “the greatest nation” mantra, perhaps it’s best to share the secrets that inform such allegiance.
In New York City yesterday, a grand jury failed to indict the officer who killed Eric Garner in Staten Island.
The grand jury decision isn’t just disappointing, it’s downright alarming.
Grand juries aren't supposed to find innocence or guilt - they're supposed to decide whether there is enough evidence to accuse someone and bring them to trial.
The killing of Eric Garner was caught on camera and the video went viral. The coroner ruled the death a homicide. In the face of such compelling, awful evidence, the Garner family and communities across the country reasonably expected some accountability.
Washington, DC -The United Nations voted 128 to 16 to formally begin negotiations to create a global bankruptcy process. This resolution comes after the UN General Assembly voted in favor of a legal bankruptcy framework for countries in September. The UN legal framework could prevent global financial crisis, limit country defaults and stop predatory behavior. The 16 countries that voted against the resolution include the United States, Japan, Australia and much of the European Union. The United States, European Union, Australia and Japan all expressed support for improving debt restructuring and stopping predatory funds. However these countries that represent chief financial jurisdictions felt this conversation should take place at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the Paris Club rather than the UN.
"It's incredibly exciting that this vote passed with such strong support," shared Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA, a religious group that supports financial reforms to protect poor people. "Even among the countries that voted no, there is universal agreement on the problems."
Six cleared Guantanamo prisoners – including Reprieve client Abu Wa’el Dhiab – have today been released to Uruguay.
Mr. Dhiab, a 43-year-old Syrian who was cleared by the US Government in 2009, had been on a peaceful hunger strike since early 2013 to protest his detention without charge. As a result, he had been repeatedly subjected to force-feeding, which continued into at least November this year, according to the Department of Defense.
The Bahamian government has won praise for its immigration initiative at home but disturbing questions remain about how it fits with what is moral, what is legal, and what is economically and socially beneficial. The move highlights the startling xenophobia and lack of empathy surrounding Haitian and those of Haitian descent.
Those who have taken issue include Amnesty International and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights. Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell has claimed there is no evidence that Haitians are being "rounded up", mistreated, or denied access to due process, as these organizations have alleged. He said criticisms that the policy and its deployment are inhumane are based on "misinformation" or the trumped up claims of pro-Haitian activists. Some locally have reveled in telling international organizations to, effectively, "stick it."
David Brook’s December 2 column in the New York Times arguing that classism, not racism, is what really ails our nation came off as one of the more racially tone-deaf commentaries so far on events in Ferguson. What must it feel like for an African-American to take in Brooks’s examination of 21st century class differences by means of a description of 19th century conditions in Britain: “The people who lived in these slums were often described as more like animals than human beings. For example, in an 1889 essay in The Palace Journal, Arthur Morrison described, “Dark, silent, uneasy shadows passing and crossing — human vermin in this reeking sink, like goblin exhalations from all that is noxious around. Women with sunken, black-rimmed eyes, whose pallid faces appear and vanish by the light of an occasional gas lamp, and look so like ill-covered skulls that we start at their stare. ‘Proper’ people of that era had both a disgust and fascination for those who lived in these untouchable realms. They went slumming into the poor neighborhoods, a sort of poverty tourism that is the equivalent of today’s reality TV or the brawlers that appear on ‘The Jerry Springer Show.’”
To be fair, later in the column it becomes clear that Brooks doesn’t buy this as a valid comparison with our own times. But that begs the question, why did he attempt it? Not only does it come across as grossly racist, but also he is grossly mistaken to assume that class not race explains the divide in our country between white and black. Most if not all of the latent classism in our country originates in the kind of institutionalized racism that the tragedy of Ferguson has brought into sharp relief.
Large Rally Planned at Arraignment for 20 Arrested Protesters this Wednesday, December 3 at 6:00 PM at Reading Courthouse
Former Elected Official and Civil Rights Activist Ruth Young will Speak; We Are Seneca Lake Will Address Questions Surrounding the Role of Local Residents in the Campaign
Watkins Glen, NY – Carrying signs identifying them as Schuyler County residents, ten local people were arrested this morning for trespassing at Texas-based Crestwood Midstream’s gas storage facility gates on the shore of Seneca Lake. These arrests follow 73 previous arrests as the ‘We Are Seneca Lake’ civil disobedience campaign enters its 6th week of blockades to stop the gas storage facility. All total, 83 arrests have now occurred at the gates of Crestwood since the campaign began on October 23. There have also been multiple rallies with hundreds of people and numerous winery owners, local businesses and health professionals.