New Jim Crow Book Group Discussions

In Michelle Alexander’s powerful book entitled, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration and the Age of Colorblindness”, Alexander uses historical and empirical evidence to support her claim that the War on Drugs has continued the legacy of Jim Crow in deliberately targeting and criminalizing non-white citizens. With African Americans being incarcerated nearly six times the rate of whites, despite multiple reports proving that whites use illicit drugs more often than blacks (1), Alexander claims that once criminals, these individuals lose their right to vote, right to employment, and effectively become second class citizens.

Please join us on December 7th at 3:00pm and on December 9th at 6:00pm at the Peace and Justice Center for two hour intellectual group discussions on Alexander’s book, and her claims surrounding mass incarceration. For the first discussion, we will be focusing on the introductory chapter, although reading the entire book is encouraged. Click here for an online copy of the introduction to the book.

All are welcome to attend. Free. To register, please email andiharr@gmail.com with the subject “New Jim Crow”.

[1] NAACP. “Criminal Justice Fact Sheet.” NAACP. N.p., 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2014

Investigative Journalist Dawn Paley to Launch New Book on Drug War Capitalism

The Drug War’s reach is global. As illicit drug use is on the rise in Vermont, another dimension of the Drug War is playing out with unprecedented violencesouth of the US-Mexico border. Questions of legalizing marijuana and addressing police violence have dominated political debates in the US. Meanwhile, in Mexico the recent disappearance of 43 students is bringing about a new social movement to challenge the country’s narco-state.

Canadian investigative journalist Dawn Paley’s new book Drug war Capitalism ties these many pieces together to point to the ways in which the drug trade is a part of global capitalism. Paley will be launching and discussing her new book on Wednesday, December 17th, 6-8pm at the Fletcher room at the Fletcher Free Library (235 College Street in Burlington, VT.)

In the lead-up to this event, the book is available for review, and Paley is available for interviews.The event is organized by Toward Freedom, the Vermont Peace & Justice Center, and Upside Down World.

Drug wars are good business. Though pillage, profit, and plunder have been a mainstay of war since precolonial times, there is little contemporary focus on the role of finance and economics in today’s “Drug Wars”-despite the fact that they boost US banks and fill prisons with poor people. They feed political campaigns, increase the arms trade, and function as long-term fixes to capitalism’s woes, cracking open new territories to privatization and foreign direct investment.

Combining on-the-ground reporting with extensive research, Dawn Paley moves beyond the usual horror stories, beyond journalistic rubbernecking and hand-wringing, to follow the thread of the Drug War story throughout the entire region of Latin America and all the way back to US boardrooms and political offices. This unprecedented book chronicles how terror is used against the population at large in cities and rural areas, generating panic and facilitating policy changes that benefit the international private sector, particularly extractive industries like petroleum and mining. This is what is really going on. This is drug war capitalism.

Dawn Paley is a freelance journalist who has been reporting from South America, Central America, and Mexico for over ten years. Her writing has been published in the Nation, the Guardian, Vancouver Sun, Globe and Mail, Ms. Magazine, the Tyee, Georgia Straight, and NACLA Report on the Americas, among others.

Presente Vigil to Protest the School of the Americas

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We remember. We remember the six Jesuit priest scholars and academics, their housekeeper and her teenage daughter shot to death on the campus of the University of El Salvador. We remember Archbishop Oscar Romero, a bullet pierced his heart as he lifted the Host over his head during Mass in the Cathedral of San Salvador. We remember Jean Donovan and Catholic Sisters Ida Ford, Dorothy Kazel, Maura Clarke, raped and murdered on a back road in El Salvador. In every instance their murderers were trained in the United States at the U.S. Army School of the Americas.

While we do not know the names and the circumstances of their deaths, we remember and hold close those thousands of innocent men, women and children throughout Central and South America who, at the hands of soldiers and officers from their own national military, trained in the U.S., to fight “subversives” and “terrorists,” had their lives taken from them to maintain an unjust and violent system.

So many lives of people whose “crime” was to speak out against injustice and for the oppressed poor, so much destruction we remember. And we act so there will be no more killing in our name.

Our vigil to close the U.S. Army School of the Americas – the name has been changed to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) but it carries the same shame – where tactics of terror and death squads have been part of the curriculum, demands Congress finally shut down the School of Assassins as it is known throughout Latin America.

While the school remains open, the stain on the soul of this country continues to spread and deepen. Nothing can undo the cruelty and murders of the past, we must struggle for a renewed sense of human decency and repentance in our nation and close the School of the Americas.

Join Pax Christi Burlington, Northeast Sisters of Mercy and the Peace & Justice Center on Saturday, Nov. 22 at noon in front of Burlington City Hall where, after a brief silent march, we will gather in a circle and remember those killed by graduates of the SOA/WHINSEC, and we renew our nonviolent commitment to shut it down.

Justicia Migrante Year End Fiesta and Fundraiser

For those of you who came to our party on Saturday, surely, you left inspired by the powerful words from Migrant Justice!!! Please join Migrant Justice this Saturday 6pm-11:30pm in Burlington for their annual Fiesta! For more information and to purchase tickets in advance go here!” If you can provide transportation to the fiesta for farm workers or have items to donate to their raffle please email info@migrantjustice.net or call 802-658-6770!

Drone Presentation on December 10th

Wednesday, December 10th at 6:30 pm, The Experience of Drone Pilots Presentation, at the Peace and Justice Center, 60 Lake Street, Burlington, VT.

Since the implementation of the Cost of War Program in 2012, the Peace & Justice Center has been focusing on many aspects of war. Although issues concerning monetary expenditure are largely important, the cost of war entails more than just money; it has thus been our goal to pay attention to the complications that war gives rise to that are not addressed: namely how war affects the soldiers. Just this past week our nation spent November 11th honoring our soldiers and reflecting upon what it truly takes – more than just physically –  to be apart of the United States Military, on and off the battlefield. With this perspective in mind, and our recent transition and dedication to researching drones, it is important to take time to understand the health hazards that are commonly experienced by soldiers as a result of their involvement with combat and violence.

Join us as we launch a presentation about the people who operate these unmanned aerial vehicles commonly known as drones. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is higher among drone operators than on-board pilots in war zones. This event is an excellent way to become more knowledgeable about drones and the impact they have on individuals and communities in the United States and beyond.

Michaela Herrmann will lead the presentation and the discussion that follows. For more information or if you would like this event to travel to your community, contact Kyle Silliman-Smith at program@pjcvt.org or call her at 802-863-2345 x6.