Medea Benjamin Book Tour

Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.–Saudi Connection

October 26th, 4:30-6:30pm at the Peace & Justice Center.
Book talk followed by Q&A and a call to action!

kingdomoftheunjust_cvr_3_largeAbout the Book:
In seven succinct chapters followed by a meditation on prospects for change, Benjamin—cited by the L.A. Times as “one of the high-profile members of the peace movement”—shines a light on one of the most perplexing elements of American foreign policy. What is the origin of this strange alliance between two countries that seemingly have very little in common? Why does it persist, and what are its consequences? Why, over a period of decades and across various presidential administrations, has the United States consistently supported a regime shown time and again to be one of the most powerful forces working against American interests? Saudi Arabia is perhaps the single most important source of funds for terrorists worldwide, promoting an extreme interpretation of Islam along with anti-Western sentiment, while brutally repressing non-violent dissidents at home.

With extremism spreading across the globe, a reduced U.S. need for Saudi oil, and a thawing of U.S. relations with Iran, the time is right for a re-evaluation of our close ties with the Saudi regime.


Meet the Author!

Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the women-led peace group CODEPINK and the co-founder of the human rights group Global Exchange. She has been an advocate for social justice for more than 40 years. Described as “one of America’s most committed — and most effective — fighters for human rights” by New York Newsday, and “one of the high profile leaders of the peace movement” by the Los Angeles Times, she was one of 1,000 exemplary women from 140 countries nominated to receive the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the millions of women who do the essential work of peace worldwide.

She is the author of nine books, including Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control and Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection, and her articles appear regularly in outlets such as The Huffington Post, CommonDreams, Alternet, The Other Words, and TeleSUR.

Is abiding by use-of-force protocol enough to exonerate a police killing?

Deputy Nick Palmier, who shot and killed Jesse Beshaw in Winooski last month, acted in accordance with law enforcement protocols. This was determined by the State’s Attorney’s office, and agreed upon by the “Voice of the Free Press” and others who saw the video footage of the death. While it was determined, conclusively, that Deputy Palmier acted within the law, it is not the end of the story.

I think we would do well to look beyond simple use-of-force protocols when investigating an “incident” that includes one human taking another human’s life. Killing someone is not simple and deserves in-depth analysis so that if there is any way to do better in the future, we will.

In this particular case, Jesse’s family has brought up four important things that I believe merit further response:

  1. Deputy Palmier had been “let go of” by two different police departments in less than two years. In one case, he was let go just shy of one year, just before his probation ended, so no documentation was needed to let him go. According to folks in Winooski, it was due to excessive use of force. Was this investigated even anecdotally? After he was asked to leave the other job, there was a shuffling of paperwork so that the official story is that he resigned. Maybe this was legitimate. But it adds to people’s concerns.
  2. He served two tours of active duty in Iraq. Does Deputy Palmier have trauma from his work as a soldier (or from any life experience)? Did that play into the situation? Has he been tested for PTSD?
  3. No alcohol or other drug testing was conducted. Deputy Palmier had been off duty for two hours before the incident with Jesse, according to a coworker. It does not take two hours to get from St Albans to Winooski. What did he do during that time? Might he have been drinking?
  4. Jesse and Deputy Palmier had a past relationship (which the deputy denies). According to Jesse’s family, the Deputy had arrested Jesse previously and they lived on the same small street. Yes, the video footage shows Jesse acting in a manner that appeared threatening. Might Jesse have acted hostile toward the Deputy because of their history? Would he have acted differently if he were pursued by a different officer?

I implore law enforcement agencies and investigators to broaden their lens. The use-of-force protocols do not account for the full story. Evaluating situations based on these protocols alone is not enough. One place to start looking for other solutions is to utilize the list of 25 specific, actionable solutions to police violence that Shaun King, NY Daily News writer, has published.

Let’s work with our local law enforcement agencies here in Vermont to enact any of these solutions that are not already being utilized. No one wants things to get worse. We at the Peace & Justice Center have begun this task and pledge to continue. We hope you will join us.

Join Nonviolence Activism 101 at MMU in Jericho

Nonviolence education is an essential building block for effective activism and conflict intervention. Many people know about nonviolent leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Cesar Chavez but how often do we learn about the strategy of the movements they were a part of? How much information are we missing? Nonviolence is a powerful tool being used at increasingly high rates and with great success to address conflict and overturn oppressive leaders, policies, and practices. Does this seem unbelievable? We are socialized to believe that violence is the most effective way to get what we want, but what if that is not actually true?

The Peace & Justice Center is hosting our two-part Nonviolent Activism 101 Workshop on Thursdays, November 3, and 10 from 6-8pm. This program explores definitions of violence, nonviolence, power and conflict. During the two days of study and practice the group will explore techniques that can be used to directly address conflict as a tool to build connection and a movement for social justice. Participants will look at how nonviolent strategy can be used to address both systems of oppression and interpersonal conflicts – which nearly always involve some aspect of oppression. Click here to register and for more information. If you would like to know more about why and how nonviolence is powerful and useful to us all, register today. If you would like the $30 fee waived and/or you are under 25 years old please call 802-863-2345 x6 to register over the phone.

Cocoa Campaign Presentation

Thursday, October 27th 5-6pm at the Peace & Justice Center.
chocolateThis presentation focuses on the issue of child slavery and human trafficking in the cocoa industry. It is designed to educate, brainstorm solutions and create tangible action steps that fit within the comfort zone of each participant. Each of us can become advocates of Fair Trade by making mindful decisions. For more information call 802-863-2345 x3.

One Bead at a Time Book Release and Signing


Tuesday, November 155-7:30pm at the Peace & Justice Center. This Book Release and Signing includes Q&A with the author and light refreshments.

One Bead at a Time is the oral memoir of Beverly Little Thunder, a two-spirit Lakota Elder from Standing Rock, who has lived most of her life in service to Indigenous and non-Indigenous women in vast areas of both the United States and Canada. Transcribed and edited by two-spirit Métis writer Sharron Proulx-Turner, Little Thunder’s narrative is told verbatim, her melodious voice and keen sense of humour almost audible overtop of the text on the page.

Early in her story, Beverly recounts a dream from her early adulthood, “I stared at these lily pads for the longest time and I decided that there was one part of the pond that had lots of lily pads and no frogs. I said, ‘I want to go there because there’s lots of lily pads but no frogs and I like creating community.’” And create community she does. Little Thunder established the first and today, the only all-women’s Sundance in the world, securing a land base in the Green Mountains of Vermont for future generations of Indigenous women’s ceremony. She was active in the A.I.M. movement and she continues to practice and promote political and spiritual awareness for Indigenous women around the world. She is a truly remarkable visionary.

When she was forced to leave her spiritual community 20 years ago because she was a lesbian, Beverly founded the Women’s Sundance over 20 years ago to continue teaching the traditions and ceremonies of her heritage. She currently works with women and children from her Vermont home by teaching leadership skills through the Lakota Sundance ceremony, the sweat lodge ceremony, awareness of and respect for the animal and natural worlds, community talking circles, communication workshops, personal retreats, vision quests and spiritual counseling.

Beverly serves as the Chair of the Peace & Justice Center’s Board of Directors.

For more information about this event, please call 802-863-2345 x3.