Posted by TAG - October 22, 2008 | News

One of several brightly colored floats at the parade.
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — On Saturday a festive parade, complete with drums, dancing and colorful floats, made its way down Bay Street to the Staten Island Yankees baseball stadium. The event was sponsored by the Island Voice – a progressive community organization that works to promote cultural awareness.


Ed Josey, President of the Staten Island NAACP
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

A number of civic groups sent contingents and NLN spotted Ed Josey, President of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Ed served as this year’s grand marshall.


City Council candidate Debi Rose
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Politicians also took advantage of the opportunity to show their support for the African-American community. There was an Obama contingent, a McMahon (D, NY-13) for Congress contingent and candidate for City Council Debi Rose marched with friends from the College of Staten Island.

Video Footage – Part I
(Video: Thomas Good / NLN)     

Video Footage – Part II
(Video: Thomas Good / NLN)

View Photos/Videos From The March

Sergeant Matthis Chiroux (w/ microphone)
(Photo: Mike Morice / NLN)

Hooves Of Fury Stampede Over Veterans/U.S. Constitution
Statement of Matthis Chiroux, IVAW

Wednesday, Oct. 15th, 2008, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War and supporters gathered near the Hempstead, N.Y., train station to march on the final presidential debate at Hofstra University.

Our intent was made clear in a letter to Bob Schieffer, the debate moderator, one week prior. We wanted two members of our organization inside the debate where they would ask one question of Obama and one of McCain. If CBS and the candidates failed to meet our demands, we would march on Hofstra at 7 p.m. in a peaceful attempt to enter the debate to have our voices heard.

I planned on asking Barack Obama if he would back up his assessment of the occupation of Iraq as illegal by supporting servicemembers who would thus be required to refuse service there. Kris Goldsmith planned on asking McCain about his history of failing to vote in favor of V.A. funding, especially since the beginning of the occupation of Iraq.

Non-violence was stressed in every stage leading up to this action. It was stressed by me and Kris in person to Det. Thomas J. Calvert and Det. Robert Annese of the Nassau County Police Department the day before the action. Calvert and Annese were in charge of security for the debate and they assured us they would instruct their officers to respect the non-violent spirit of the action by using restraint towards peaceful veterans and demonstrators.

In every stage of planning, IVAW made every effort to keep all planned tactics and actions “above the table” so that the candidates, the media, the police and the country would know exactly what would happen if our demands were not met.

We were at Hofstra to force the issue that veterans and servicemembers are not being cared for or heard from by our government, and the candidates, CBS and the Nassau County Police Department couldn’t have proved us more correct.

We, the veterans and our supporters, stood together in solidarity, knowing the stakes were high. But a resolve echoed deep from with us to stand our ground and be heard. Twice these candidates had brushed us off, and thrice just wasn’t going to happen.

So at seven p.m. when we’d heard nothing from the moderators, IVAW made good on its promise to the candidates and Det. Calvert. We marched to the front gate of Hofstra, read our questions and peacefully proceeded into police lines.

Because these candidates cared more to hear from “Joe the Plumber” than veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, ten veterans went to jail and five civilian supporters joined us.

This upsets me, but I knew the risk, and if I must fall in defense of democracy, peace and justice, I offer my sacrifice willingly.

What infuriates me is the GROSS MISCONDUCT of the police in the process, much of which I believe to be illegal.

The damage to Nick Morgan’s eye
(Photo: Bill Perry)

After my arrest, the police charged their horses onto a sidewalk and unprovokedly knocked my friend Nick Morgan, a veteran of Iraq, to the ground and trampled his face. They then arrested him, put a piece of gauze on his facewound and loaded him onto a bus headed for jail with the rest of the “Hempstead 15.”

After they brought Nick onto the bus and we the veterans identified him as exhibiting signs of a concussion and as needing immediate medical attention, our arresting officers laughed at us and told us Nick would receive no help unless he himself asked to go to the hospital, though Nick was barely conscience and completely disoriented at the time AND THE COPS KNEW IT!

We pointed out that as a result of a serious head injury, Nick wasn’t aware enough to speak for himself. The police responded with, “too bad.”

Video Footage – Part I
(Video: Mike Morice / NLN)     

Video Footage – Part II
(Video: Mike Morice / NLN)

Continue Reading…

Standing vigil at the display: Pete Bronson of Veterans For Peace
(Photo: Elaine Brower / NLN)

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — On October 14th, the day prior to the final presidential debate, organizations brought the moving Eyes Wide Open exhibit to the campus at Hofstra. This memorial was created by the American Friends Service Committee, a part of the Quaker Society, in 2004 and was started with 500 pairs of soldiers’ combat boots that represented the national death toll as it was then of those military members who were killed in Iraq. Four years later, the exhibit holds 4,182 pairs of combat boots and hundreds of Iraqi shoes, representing the innocent civilian lives taken by those soldiers wearing the combat boots.

At the Hofstra campus only the New York State boots were displayed, representing a total of 183 lives lost in Iraq. Sad posters with the faces of Iraqi children surrounded by the shoes also stood a few feet away from those boots. The exhibit, brought there by AFSC, Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), Veterans for Peace (VFP) and the Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Tomorrows, was on display from noon until 6 PM at the Labyrinth located in the middle of the campus.

As students and professors headed in and out of class, they passed the exhibit. Most walked through with sad expressions, nodding heads, whispering to each other, and honoring the dead. Those of us who carried the burden of explaining what this all meant, handed out flyers and information explaining its importance. Of course, you had an occasional screech of “We Love War!” and “Bush is Great!” coming from somewhere far off in the distance, as a coward would shout so as not to be identified by those who may actually be suffering and reflecting.

At one point early on, a father showed up to remove his son’s boots and name tag from the display. He was angered by the fact that AFSC would use his son’s death in this way. However, he stood, with a friend, off to the side of the Labyrinth for over 30 minutes shocked by the beauty of what he was seeing, and not really knowing how to approach us.

He argued with the AFSC coordinator about how we must kill the terrorists, and his son did not die in vain, and we had some nerve doing this, and then handed her a DVD of the latest right-wing garbage propaganda “Obsession” detailing how “all of Islam” wants us dead because of our “freedoms.”

The rest of us stood aside and let him rant, feeling his pain, anger and frustration. He left quietly and we remained there talking to those coming and going the rest of the day. The feeling when you walk through the display of combat boots, dog tags, photos, and memorabilia donated by family members is one of complete despair, grief and total sadness. It drains the emotions, as well as fueling a fire of passion to end all wars.

The march of the dead
(Photo: Elaine Brower / NLN)

At closing, 6 PM, the “March of the Dead”, a procession of black-clad students with white face masks symbolizing those Iraqi’s and Afghani’s killed in the wars, proceeded from across campus and stopped at the Exhibit. The vision was so absolutely moving that everyone who was passing stopped and watched as the marching dead surrounded the display of boots in a circle of silence. A reading of the names of all of the fallen soldiers and those innocent civilians continued with the ringing of a gong to announce the solemnity of what war really meant to the lives of others.

Those of us who remained there found it hard to pack up and leave. Flowers had been placed on the boots, and in the middle of the Labryinth earlier in the day, which remained when the exhibit was removed as a symbol to remind all those who passed by that we are still at war and more boots and shoes will be added to the pile.

View Photos/Videos From The Event…

Lynne Stewart
(Photo: Mike Morice / NLN)

NEW YORK — Political prisoners in the United States? How can that be? The Bill of Rights protects freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and the freedom to petition the government for the correction of injustices. Civil liberties are respected and the right to dissent is allegedly the cornerstone of this nations foundation. The reality is that there are currently over one hundred people being held in prisons across this country who were arrested and convicted for their political ideas or political activity.

On Friday, activists from a wide variety of political and social justice organizations gathered in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza to demand amnesty and freedom for all US-held poliical prisoners and POWs as part of the Jericho Movements 10th Anniversary Weekend of Resistance. Jericho is committed to four principal issues: building an amnesty campaign despite the US governments continued denial that such prisoners exist, educating the people about their existence, providing supportive expenses for lawyers to provide legal defense, and fighting for quality medical care.

Pam Africa
(Photo: Mike Morice / NLN)

This day, while a delegation of Jericho activists meet with diplomats on the issue of amnesty inside the UN, outside in the Plaza, Pam Africa updated everyone on the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Describing herself as “a seasoned revolutionary”, Africa noted the presence of many younger activists, and no less militant due to years, spoke of the need to “carry on the struggle by any means necessary”. Emerging from the UN meeting, anarchist activist and former political prisoner Ashanti Alston called for continuing the educational campaign and rallied the crowd; “Free Herman Bell” “Free Leonard Peltier”, “Free Mutulu Shakur”, “Free Marilyn Buck”.

Ashanti Alston
(Photo: Mike Morice / NLN)

Finally, radical attorney Lynne Stewart spoke of the governments historic determination to intimidate and silence political dissent. She reminded the protestors of the diversity of US-held political prisoners/POWs, many coming from such varied origins as the Puerto Rican Independence movement, the Black Liberation movement, the Native American struggle, the anti-Imperialist movement, and Earth and Animal Liberation movements. As Stewart put it, “none of us as activists are safe. If it can happen to any one of them, it can happen to you”.

View Photos From The Protest…

Posted by TAG - October 7, 2008 | News

An animated Norm Siegel (center), flanked by Michael Meyers (left) and State Senator Eric Adams (right)
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

NEW YORK — Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent announcement that he plans to seek a third term – and wants the City Council to change the law to make this possible – is stirring up controversy. Bloomberg has argued that New York needs him to navigate the City through the current financial crisis. Not everyone agrees.

On Sunday, two separate press conferences were held on the steps of City Hall to take up this issue.

At noon, City Council member David Weprin of Queens held a press conference opposing any legislative changes to term limits. Speakers at the conference included Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, attorney Gene Russianoff from NYPIRG and Council Members Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Eric Gioia and Charles Barron. The diverse group was united in their opposition to legislating any change that would negate two previous referenda in which the people of New York voted in favor of maintaining term limits.

After some council members stated that Mayor Bloomberg wasn’t the issue – the issue is one of process – Charles Barron disagreed.

“It is about Mayor Bloomberg. This is the worst attempt at a power grab — and changing the democracy into an oligarchy. It is Mayor Bloomberg and the rich on Wall Street who got us in this mess in the first place,” said Barron. “The people spoke in ’93 and ’96, said they wanted us eight and out,” he added.

Charles Barron (left) with NLN intern Nathaniel
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Barron proposed a different type of leadership for Bloomberg.

“Mayor Bloomberg came into this office worth 5 billion dollars, 65th on Forbe’s list. He is now eighth on the list and is worth twenty billion dollars. Well, Mayor why don’t you do what your buddy Warren Buffet did … Mayor give the City one of your twenty billion and stop coming to us with cuts, and bail out the poor and stop this power grab, this defiance of democracy, it’s a disgrace, it’s an insult to our city,” he said.

A second conference was held later in the day.

Shortly after two o’clock, civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, State Senator Eric Adams, City Council member Letitia James, City Council candidate Debi Rose and NY Civil Rights Coalition Director Michael Meyers joined with many other New Yorkers – individuals and group representatives – in condemning the Mayor’s “power grab”. The large, extraordinarily diverse, group filled the steps of City Hall and the press conference went on well into the afternoon. Speaker after speaker demanded that “the will of the people”, as expressed in the 1993 and 1996 referenda, be respected.

“The people of New York have spoken in favor of term limits … not once but twice,” said Norman Siegel. Commenting on the Mayor’s plan to overturn term limits by legislative mean Siegel said: “You need a public referendum to overrule a public referendum.”

“It’s over,” said Eric Adams, addressing Bloomberg — who was in Europe at the time. “Don’t become a political punch drunk boxer that believes he’s the only that can bring home the crown. New York is filled with competent individuals.”

Eric Adams (left) discusses Bloomberg’s “Napoleonic act”
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

“It was men like Bloomberg and Wall Street billionaires that got us in this mess,” Adams told the crowd. “The same individuals we bailed out are now saying they’re going to get us out — don’t believe the hype, nothing could be more insincere,” he added.

“Shame on the editorial pages of this city. Shame on you,” Adams said, chastising the corporate media as he spoke directly to the assembled press corps.

Returning to his central theme, Adams said that “Mayor Bloomberg cannot duplicate the Napoleonic act of crowning himself as king of New York.”

View Photos/Videos From The Conferences…

Posted by TAG - October 6, 2008 | News

Bill Ayers is someone I’m proud to call my friend. He’s a respected educator endowed with an astounding work ethic and a human being with a tremendous generosity of spirit. Recently he has been the target of a smear campaign. To counter this attack a number of Bill’s colleagues have started a website.

From Support Bill Ayers:

“It seems that the character assassination and slander of Bill Ayers and other people who have known Obama is not about to let up. While an important concern is the dishonesty of this campaign and the slanderous McCarthyism they are using to attack Obama, we also feel an obligation to support our friend and colleague Bill Ayers. Many, many educators have reached out, asking what they could do, seeking a way to weigh in against fear and intimidation. Many of us have been talking and we agree that this one gesture, a joint statement signed by hundreds of hard-working educators, would be a great first step. Such a statement may be distributed through press releases or ads in the future.”

Responding to the McCarthyite smear campaign targeting Barack Obama — and Bill — Chicago’s Mayor Daley said, “I also know Bill Ayers. He worked with me in shaping our now nationally-renowned school reform program. He is a nationally-recognized distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois/Chicago and a valued member of the Chicago community.” [1]

Because Bill is a gentle soul, a teacher and an inspiration to all of us who know him, I was honored to sign the statement of support. I hope you’ll join me.
Please visit and sign the statement.

Thank you – See You In the Streets,
Thomas Good, Editor, Next Left Notes

Members of the NYC WRL protested at the Intrepid Museum
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

NEW YORK — On Thursday members of the New York City local of the War Resisters League protested the return of the U.S.S. Intrepid, a World War Two era aircraft carrier, to Manhattan . The Intrepid had been docked in Staten Island for the last two years as it underwent refurbishing. Permanently based on the Hudson River, adjacent to Manhattan’s West Side Highway, the ship is used as a museum – one that glorifies war according to the WRL. Ironically, the warship, propelled by tugs, returned to Manhattan on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. The War Resisters League carried signs referring to the coincidence as a “sad tribute”.

View Photos/Videos From The Protest…

NLN Video