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February 4th, 2021
STOP THE SWEEPS!
As a group of local grassroots community organizations concerned with justice and human rights, we come together to publicly condemn the openly militarized use of force displayed in sweeping the encampment at 210 Lottie Street on Thursday, January 28th. We call on the Mayor to reverse the course of escalating violence and intimidation and immediately cancel the sweep of the encampment at Geri Fields that is scheduled to take place on or before Friday, February 5th.
We demand that the City abide by CDC guidelines for minimizing the spread of COVID-19 among people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, which state: “If individual housing options are not available, allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are.” The guidelines further note that “clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.”
Instead of compounding the harm that has already been done to the residents of the encampment by subjecting them to further violations of their basic human rights, we call on the City to offer them options for temporary shelter, either at their current location or at another location to be mutually agreed upon, with the provision of electricity, water, and sanitation facilities adequate to serve residents’ basic needs.
In summary, we request that Mayor Seth Fleetwood and the City of Bellingham commit to:
Whatcom Human Rights Task Force (WHRTF), Whatcom Peace & Justice Center (WPJC), Community to Community Development (C2C/foodjustice.org), Imagine No Kages (INK), Birchwood Food Desert Fighters, Sunrise Bellingham, Riveter's Collective, Bellingham Unity Committee, Whatcom Democratic Socialists of America (Whatcom DSA), Bellingham Harold, Justin Globe, Indivisible Bellingham, Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship Social &. Environmental Justice Committee.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to add your organization to this list.
COWLITZ COUNTY REFUSES TO END COUNTRY’S ONLY CONTRACT OF ITSKIND WITH ICE DESPITE REPORTS OF HARM TO CHILDREN
January 18, 2021
COWLITZ COUNTY REFUSES TO END COUNTRY’S ONLY CONTRACT OF ITS
KIND WITH ICE DESPITE REPORTS OF HARM TO CHILDREN
Longview, WA — The Cowlitz County Juvenile Detention Center is the last county youth
detention facility in the nation to hold a contract with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE).
A 2020 report by Harvard-trained child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Amy J. Cohen, MD
details the myriad harms perpetrated against immigrant children locked within the facility.
Despite community members’ persistent advocacy efforts, Cowlitz County refuses to terminate
Dr. Cohen reports immigrant children at the Cowlitz facility are locked in their solitary cells for 16
hours per day, at minimum, with few breaks. There is no therapy and no psychiatric services
despite the facility placing traumatized children on psychotropic medication. The children are not
permitted outdoors unless an appointment has been made, which means that they can go for
months with no exposure to sunshine or fresh air.
“While detained U.S. citizen youth generally do not stay more than a week, migrant youth are
held for much longer,” Dr. Cohen wrote in her report. “The absence of access to stimulation
adversely and likely irreversibly affects brain development during a particularly active
Conditions have worsened in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of Dr. Cohen’s
report last summer, mask-wearing and physical distancing policies were not strictly enforced,
the children spent even more time isolated in their cells than before, and there were no longer
teachers in the classrooms to support the children in their studies. While most of the local U.S.
citizen youth were released in March 2020 to protect them against the risk of COVID-19
infection, the facility never even considered releasing the immigrant children.
Dr. Cohen has over thirty years of experience treating vulnerable children and assessing trauma
caused by child incarceration and has testified before the U.S. Senate and members of the U.S.
House of Representatives. She has published and spoken as a recognized expert on the
Pastor of Longview United Methodist Church Allison Mattocks stated, “As a community member
and faith leader in Cowlitz County, I am appalled that our county continues this contract and
locks children in cages. This contract does not reflect our community’s values, and I implore the
county to end the contract with ICE immediately.”
Since October 13, 2020, Cowlitz County residents have frequently commented at the Board of
Commissioners’ Tuesday morning meetings at 9 a.m., calling on them to end the county’s
contract with ICE. More than 30 individuals have urged the commissioners to end this contract
at these meetings, including teachers, ordained clergy, lawyers, medical professionals, and
social workers. The commissioners have denied multiple requests that this matter be added to
an agenda for a future commissioner meeting.
Community members have also organized several vigils in front of the detention center, in front
of the commissioners’ offices, and at Longview Civic Circle, including a vigil on Christmas Eve
2020. Despite these and other efforts, Cowlitz County has refused to terminate their contract
Press Release from Office of Rep. Betty McCollum
For Immediate Release
November 20, 2020
Amanda Yanchury, 202-597-1228
McCollum: To Promote Middle East Peace and Security, Democrats in Congress Must Reject Illegal Israeli-Trump Annexation of Palestinian Lands
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) issued the following statement today after Sec. Mike Pompeo became the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit an Israeli settlement, signaling a symbolic U.S. stamp of approval of Israel’s military occupation:
“Yesterday, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo issued official U.S. ‘country of origin’ labeling guidelines that grant legitimacy to Israel’s illegal settlements by requiring all products produced in Area ‘C’ of the occupied West Bank to be marked as ‘Product of Israel’ or ‘Made in Israel’ when exported to the United States.
“Secretary Pompeo is once again flagrantly advancing the Israeli government’s effort to unlawfully annex Palestinian lands. This act effectively erases the longstanding bipartisan U.S. policy differentiating between Israel and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, territory occupied by Israel in 1967.
“This official State Department action means that the U.S. has provided tacit recognition of de facto Israeli annexation of occupied Palestinian lands in violation of international law. This further entrenches an undemocratic system in which Israel would permanently rule over a Palestinian people who are denied basic civil rights and human rights.
“Secretary Pompeo claims his actions are consistent with a ‘reality-based foreign policy approach.’ This right-wing ‘reality’ is nothing more than overt Trump administration support for Israel to maintain an unjust political system that denies Palestinians the right to self-determination and an independent Palestinian state.
“The Trump administration has acted with complete disregard for international law and decades of bipartisan U.S. foreign policy consensus to aggressively support and legitimize permanent occupation and a de facto system of apartheid. I reject Israeli annexation and will work to ensure the U.S. does not support, defend, or legitimize any plan to illegally annex occupied Palestinian lands. This is exactly why I introduced H.R. 8050, The Israeli Annexation Non-Recognition Act, in August.
“I urge Democrats in Congress to support efforts to promote peace, justice, and equality by prohibiting the U.S. from formally recognizing, legitimizing, or providing U.S. taxpayer assistance to any area of the occupied West Bank annexed by the Government of Israel in violation of international law.
“I also strongly urge President-elect Biden to implement rights-respecting policies grounded in U.S. obligations under international law, including United Nations Security Council resolutions, specifically Resolution 2334.”
A PDF version of this statement is available here. Information on H.R. 8050, The Israeli Annexation Non-Recognition Act, is available here.
Author: Matteo Tamburini, WPJC Board Member
Today's edition of the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica, one of the two newspapers with the widest circulation, has the following headline:
"Usa, Trump celebra Colombo: 'Un grande italiano'. E si scaglia contro gli estremisti che minano la sua eredità." [English Translation] "USA, Trump celebrates Columbus: 'A great Italian'. And he attacks the extremists who undermine his legacy."
I wrote them the following reply, in Italian (the English translation follows):
"Spett.le redazione di Repubblica,
Nel titolo del vostro articolo di oggi, non si capisce bene di chi sia la descrizione si 'estremisti' diretta a chi 'mina l'eredità di Cristoforo Colombo'.
A usare quel termine siete voi, o state citando Trump?
In quanto Italiano DOC (nato a Firenze, cresciuto a Pistoia), e anche in quanto cittadino statunitense che da un decennio insegna matematica in una università' di Nativi Americani, devo dire che continua a infastidirmi il vostro accanimento contro una rivalutazione del lascito storico del colonialismo europeo.
E' cosi' difficile vedere le cose da un altro punto di vista? O anche solo ammettere che possa esistere un altro punto di vista?
Visti i tempi che corrono, sarebbe opportuno celebrare altri eroi (che certo non mancano), e cercare di coltivare un po' più di umiltà nei confronti della nostra storia.
Un cordiale saluto,
iscritto all'AIRE del Comune di Pistoia
Residente a Bellingham, stato di Washington, Stati Uniti d'America
Dear editors of 'La Repubblica',
In the article you published today it isn't clear who is using the term 'extremists', directed at those who might 'undermine the legacy of Christopher Columbus'.
Are you using that word, or are you quoting Trump?
As an Italian (born in Florence, raised in Pistoia), and also as a US citizen who has spent the last decade working at a university run by Native Americans, I must say that I find your ongoing aversion to any re-evaluation of effects of European colonialism quite vexing.
Is it so difficult to see things from another point of view? Or even to admit that another point of view is possible?
Given the times we're living in, we might be better off celebrating different heroes (there is no shortage of those), and to trying to cultivate a greater degree of humbleness in regards to our own history.
- - - - - -
As part of my enforced isolation during the pandemic, I have been doing more research about the history of Italian Americans' path to becoming white. As part of my Capoeira practice, I turned what I learned (mostly from reading Dixie’s Italians: Sicilians, Race, and Citizenship in the Jim Crow Gulf South by Jessica Barbata Jackson, LSU Press, 2020) into a poem in Portuguese - included below with English translation. Happy Indigenous People's Day!
Speak Up Speak Out Radio Host jim justice Speaks with Damani Johnson, WPJC's 2020 Lifetime Peacemaker Award Honoree
Radio host jim justice speaks with Damani Johnson, the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center's 2020 Rosemary & Howard Harris Lifetime Peacemaker Award honoree. Damani is the WWU's College of Humanities & Social Studies Program Director for the Munro Institute for Civil Education & editor in chief of the African Journal of Governance & Development. In 1988, Damani was on the Advisory Committee for the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Presidential Campaign. He was also on the Steering Committee of the Washington State Rainbow Coalition from 1988-1992. He's been part of the Whatcom Human Rights Taskforce & offered week long educational sessions on Civil Rights in Washington over the past several summers. Listen in to find out more about all the work Damani has done to bring people of diverse backgrounds together to learn about others.
Posted on July 21, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) National Office is launching a hotline for activists and lawyers to report incidents of federal repression, such as FBI “door-knocks” at activists’ homes, grand jury investigations and subpoenas, and any other federal law enforcement efforts to undermine civil rights, including federal grab squads and the use of unidentified federal agents to police protests. The line is live at: 212-679-2811.
Since May, the NLG has continued to support the movement for Black lives, organizing to support legal defense efforts and provide Legal Observers for demonstrations. In the last week, we have seen the use of anti-protest shock troops by the federal government, such as Portland, where federal grab squads have arrested activists and taken them away from demonstrations in unmarked vans.
A memorandum from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suggests that these officers are acting under the auspices of DHS and are members of the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC). This is a unit typically tasked with high level law enforcement operations and it is formed under US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). These officers are acting under direct orders from the Trump Administration and Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf.
The use of BORTAC to disrupt activism is a recent escalation by the federal government, which has also used the National Guard, FBI, and Secret Service in order to violently quell protests. These efforts come in combination with an aggressive political and legal strategy labeling ‘antifa’ a domestic terrorist organization. Federal prosecutors are also filing criminal charges against activists throughout the country.
The NLG Federal Defense Hotline will allow callers to have privileged conversations with attorneys, and to receive attorney referrals, know-your-rights information, and resources for responding to grand jury investigations and subpoenas. Inquiries about the line can be sent to email@example.com. The line is staffed by attorneys organizing with the NLG, and will remain active as long as federal prosecution efforts continue.
The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.
We invite the WPJC community to contribute fact-checked submissions on local, national and global current events. Linking to original sources and articles is required. Submissions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org for review.