A strike leader speaking at the rally
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

BRONX, N.Y. — May 30, 2009. Workers at the Stella D’Oro bakery have been on strike for over nine months. Brynwood Partners, the Wall Street equity firm that owns the factory, is using strikebreakers to operate the plant. The strikers, represented by Local 50 of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), argue that Brynwood is intent on busting the union by slashing wages, pensions, holidays and sick pay.

New York State United Teachers turned out in large numbers
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

On Saturday, May 30, over 700 strikers and their supporters and rallied outside the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Marble Hill Houses, in the South Bronx, and then marched to the Stella D’Oro plant — located at West 237 Street and Broadway — where a second rally was held. The strikers were joined by members of several unions: New York State United Teachers, better known as NYSUT, Local 100 of the Transit Workers Union (TWU), City University’s Professional Staff Congress (PSC CUNY), the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBT), and the N.Y. Metro Postal Union (APWU).

As the protesters proceeded north on Broadway the orderly march was briefly disrupted when someone threw a bottle from an apartment building. Marchers took to the street the procession continued.

Police behavior appeared uncoordinated and confused at times
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

At the end of the march, members of BCTGM Local 50 came face to face with officers from the 50 Precinct outside the factory gates. Warnings were issued by police — whose actions appeared uncoordinated at the end of the march — after strikers advanced beyond the police barriers and stood outside the main entrance to the plant. Despite some tension, and a few standoffs between protesters and police, there were no arrests. The National Lawyers Guild had observers present which may have helped defuse the situation.

An activist stands in support of the strikers
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Strikers are on the picket line in front of the Stella D’Oro plant every day. For more information on the strike visit stelladorostrike2008.com/

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Posted by Fran Korotzer - | News

“The Audacity Of Torture”
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK — On Thursday, May 28, the World Can’t Wait and friends organized a protest to demand the prosecution of war criminals, the release of the government’s torture photos, and to protest Negroponte giving General Petraeus an award at Manhattan’s Union League Club.

The protest began when about 50 people met on the corner of 42 Street and Lexington Avenue — half of them put on orange jumpsuits with black hoods over their faces, hands held behind their backs. The other protesters carried signs and photographs of acts of torture and handed out leaflets.

At 5 p.m. there was a slow procession up 42 Street into Grand Central Station. Inside the station most of the protesters stood on one of the lower balconies holding anti-torture signs while others handed out leaflets to rush hour commuters. The public response was strong — people were visibly disturbed. Many took photos, some asked protesters about the meaning of the demonstration, some argued, and some thanked the demonstrators. There was a police presence but the cops didn’t interefere with the protest.

The Audacity of Torture – Slideshow

At 6 p.m. the protesters filed slowly out of the station and walked up Park Avenue to 38 East 37 Street, the Union League Club, where the NYPD had already set up a holding pen, apparently expecting a demonstration. There was a very small, pro-torture, counter demonstration down the street — some of the counter-demonstraters held a banner that read “We love Gitmo”.

Two of the anti-torture protesters waterboarded a volunteer. The waterboarding was visible to people in the street as well as cars bringing people to the Union Club. Inside the club, John D. Negroponte, Bush’s intelligence czar, gave General David Petraeus a distinguished service award. Other speakers at the club included Richard Holbrooke, Henry Kissinger, and Paul Volker.

Demonstrators stood outside chanting “Torture is a war crime” and “Shame!”

At about 8 p.m. the anti-torture protesters ended the demonstration and walked west on 37 Street, past the counter demonstrators. There was a shouting match — with the police standing in-between yelling “Keep it moving.”

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A protester outside Radio City condemns torture
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK — On Tuesday, May 26, as protesters demonstrated outside Radio City Music Hall to “unwelcome” Republican strategist Karl Rove to New York City, a few of their colleagues with tickets disrupted the event briefly — before being escorted out of the building by security.

As anti-war protesters picketed outside Karl Rove’s controversial appearance at Radio City Music Hall — part of an ongoing “speakers series” — activists from CodePINK and the World Can’t Wait took their protest inside. Rove’s testy debate with James Carville was (almost) moderated by talk show host Charlie Rose — and disrupted several times by protesters.

After the action, activist Rae Abileah told afterdowningstreet.org:

Tonight, thanks to the generosity of CODEPINK NYC, Dana and I had two tickets to the perfect seats at Radio City to stage a citizens arrest of Rove. During the heated conversation between Rove and Carville (the Democratic strategist and political consultant for the Clintons) we jumped on stage. I unfurled a banner that said “Arrest Rove! War criminal! codepinkalert.org” that served as a distraction for Dana to walk right up within spitting distance of Rove dangling the cuffs (with the arrest warrant by her side) and saying “Fellow New Yorkers, Karl Rove is under a citizens arrest for treason, election fraud, and lying the world into war!”

We went out shouting “Arrest Rove!” and “War Criminal!” Dana lost her shoe in the debacle.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

Activist and NLN contributor Richie Marini filed this report:

I noticed a female usher running up the aisle at least three times before we disrupted…but I couldn’t see or hear anything happening behind us so I don’t know where she was running to. However, when I was escorted out she was by the door and I heard her say to another usher in a breathless voice (like she was exhausted) “what the hell is going on tonight” which sort of confirmed her running up the aisle had been for others who were also disrupting the event.

When the three of us were escorted out I started yelling “Prosecute the war criminals” and some people started applauding.

Outside the venue, the Police Department stationed a lone plainclothes cop to oversee the picket. He was described by protesters as soft-spoken and willing to negotiate. The National Lawyers Guild sent an observer, but there were no arrests — inside or out. People apparently employed by Radio City watched the protesters outside the event and chatted on walkie-talkies — reporting on what the protesters were doing. Inside the music hall, the protesters were escorted from the building by Radio City security, without incident.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

The sidewalk protest ran from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and was organized by World Can’t Wait and Codepink. People going into the event took the occasional photo and many offered supportive gentures — thumbs-up, applause. Some went so far as to offer their extra tickets to the protesters.

The feeling Marini and others had was that Rove’s presence in New York was not particularly appreciated by New Yorkers.

“Karl Rove has joined the parade of war criminals led by “Dick” Cheney and torture professor John Yoo in a high-profile defense of the Bush legacy of illegitimate occupation, torture, spying on the people, election-stealing, and the gay-bashing, fascist social direction they pushed this society. Rove is as bad as any of the generals and other “deciders.” He’s not only a cynical political operative, but a war criminal with the rest of them, who manipulated public opinion into supporting the Iraq war based on lies. One of the things we’re talking about tonight, on the day that the anti-gay marriage law was upheld in California, is that he led a campaign against gay marriage. The Bush years were a disaster for the world. We’re out here to demand prosecution of these war criminals,” said Debra Sweet of the World Can’t Wait.

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Fran Korotzer and Richie Marini contributed reporting to this article.

HOUSTON (FGM) — On Friday 17th May, 2009, Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace laureate, was detained on her entry into Houston Airport, USA, by Homeland Security Immigration. Maguire was on her way home to Northern Ireland, after attending a 3 day conference in Guatemala, which was hosted by herself and three Sister Nobel Peace Laureates, Rigoberta Menchu, Jody Williams, and Shirin Ebadi. 150 women activists from around the World attended the Nobel Womens’ Conference to discuss, “Redefining Democracy, Human Rights and Peace.”

Maguire was held for two hours, during which she was questioned, fingerprinted, photographed and questioned again. This resulted in her missing her flight. She was released upon the actions of the Nobel Women’s Initiatives representatives’ who insisted on her immediate release.

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Staten Island elected officials at the Memorial Day parade
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — On Monday, May 25, Staten Islanders observed Memorial Day with a parade. Elected officials, high school bands, vintage cars, motorcycle clubs, cartoon characters and conservative radio personality Curtis Sliwa joined various military formations in the traditional march down Staten Island’s Forest Avenue.

Veterans of foreign wars…
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Overheard at the parade —

Retired Marine: “They didn’t have any tanks this year.”
Mother with young child: “I can live without them.”

…veterans of future wars?
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

On the other side of town, at the Staten Island Mall, shoppers sought Memorial Day bargains in an era of economic uncertainty. Peace signs were prominently displayed in numerous store windows. Another sign of the times?

Peace on display at the Staten Island Mall
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)


(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

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Flowers for the fallen
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

NEW YORK — The New York City Chapter of Veterans For Peace hosted its annual Memorial Observance For Peace at Noon on Sunday, May 24th, 2009, at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (55 Water Street) in lower Manhattan. VFP has staged this event every year for almost two decades. The theme this year was “The Long War.”

Matti Mattson, veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

“The Long War” is what the Department of Defense calls the world-wide conflict which includes the occupation of Iraq, the campaign in Afghanistan, air strikes in Pakistan and Somalia, and military missions in the Philippines, Indonesia and elsewhere. For veterans and military family members, “The Long War” also describes the struggle for adequate healthcare and justice for the victims — military and civilian — of “friendly fire”, Agent Orange, depleted uranium, “collateral damage”, prisoner abuse, torture and the other tragedies inherent in modern warfare.

Michael McPhearson, executive director of Veterans For Peace
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Veterans For Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Families and Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, The Granny Peace Brigade and Women In Black gathered at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in lower Manhattan, and, after some brief speeches, marched to the Battery Park waterfront where veterans, friends and family members tossed flowers into the harbor in remembrance of loved ones lost in various conflicts.

The Women In Black
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

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Hugh Bruce, a former combat medic, at the Arlington NYS press conference
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Community organizers, local politicians and members of the clergy united this past Memorial Day weekend with an exhibit on Staten Island’s South Beach boardwalk — a memorial to military personnel and civilians killed in the U.S. military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Organizer Elaine Brower said that the group of organizers and participants “could be the most diverse coalition Staten Island has ever seen — and is reflective of the country’s waning enthusiasm for war, particularly in light of the economic disaster that is the U.S. economy.”

Arlington New York State
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

The “Arlington New York State” memorial centered on U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was set up along Staten Island’s boardwalk — with the scenic Verrazano Narrows Bridge in the background. Modeling the memorial on the “Arlington West” exhibit maintained by Veterans for Peace in Santa Barbara, CA, members of Movement for a Democratic Society’s Staten Island chapter joined with Military Families Speak Out, Peace Action Staten Island and other local activists to produce a field of crosses in the sands of South Beach, each one representing a New York State resident killed in action in Iraq or Afghanistan, as well as another 600 markers as a small representation for residents of other states. The memorial included the “Eyes Wide Open” display produced by the American Friends Service Committee which is a collection of military boots and civilian shoes, each tagged with the name of a victim of the Iraq War.

Community organizer and city council candidate Debi Rose
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

The memorial ran from 10:00 a.m. Saturday, May 23 through 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 24. A press conference on Saturday afternoon featured some well known local leaders: Ed Josey of the NAACP, Reverend Susan Karlson of the Unitarian Church, Hugh Bruce of Veterans For Peace, Gold Star Mother Sue Niederer whose son was killed in action in Iraq and community organizer Debi Rose who recently announced her candidacy for the New York city council. Rose will square off in a primary against incumbent Ken Mitchell (D – District 49) in the fall.

NLN covered the event and all of the speakers remarks are available on video.nextleftnotes.net.

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Posted by TAG - May 21, 2009 | News

Rapper / Activist M1 of dead prez speaking at the Troy Davis rally
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

NEW YORK — May 19 was a day of national action for Amnesty International and Union Square was filled with a militant spirit, inspired and inspiring — to the extent that it was almost possible to forget the rally was called to save a man’s life.

Troy Davis has been imprisoned on Georgia’s death row since 1991. Arrested for the August 19, 1989 murder of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail, Davis was convicted solely on the basis of witness testimony – no weapon was ever found. After the trial, seven of the nine prosecution witnesses recanted or contradicted their testimony, some claiming police coercion. Davis has consistently maintained his innocence and filed several appeals asking the courts to review exculpatory affidavits — new affidavits signed by the former witnesses who have recanted. The courts have refused to review the new evidence despite calls for a new trial from President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, former FBI chief William Sessions, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Congressman Bob Barr, among others.

On April 16, 2009 the 11th Circuit Court (Georgia) denied Davis’ most recent petition requesting an evidentiary hearing and issued a 30-day stay of execution so that Davis could file a last appeal with U.S. Supreme Court. With the stay already expired and time running out, Amnesty International called a Global Day of Action on May 19. In New York, the local chapter of Amnesty responded with a rally at Union Square.

Event organizer Thenjiwe McHarris (Amnesty International)
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

The rally — held on Malcolm X’s birthday — was attended by a very diverse crowd, unified with an overarching spirit of militant resistance. Reverend Dr. Brad Braxton, minister of Riverside Church — where Martin Luther King, Jr. came out against the Vietnam War in 1967 — spoke at the rally, alongside rappers, activists, community organizers and attorneys. The Welfare Poets performed, Harlem’s academy award nominated Impact Repertory Theatre danced and rapper M1 of dead prez invoked the name of slain Black Panther Fred Hampton and demanded justice for numerous political prisoners sitting in U.S. jails.

The gravity of the event was driven home by rally organizer Thenjiwe McHarris who served as master of ceremonies. McHarris, an Amnesty International activist, read aloud several affidavits from witnesses who have recanted their original testimony — and reminded the crowd that “We have very little time for Troy.” She urged the crowd to act. “Time is literally running out for someone’s life,” she said.

The modern setting — epitomized by an expanse of digital cameras and professional sound equipment — stood in stark contrast to the primitive horror described by McHarris: Georgia as a “former slave state” that continues to execute prisoners, many of whom are African-American. According to a Georgia Department of Corrections report, dated May 11, 2009, there are presently 103 inmates on death row, 47 (46%) of whom are listed as Black. Nationwide, racism is a factor in deciding who ends up on death row. According to a Department of Justice report, issued in 2000, nearly 80 percent of inmates on federal death row at that time were Black, Hispanic or from another minority group. Minorities accounted for 74 percent of the cases in which federal prosecutors sought the death penalty, according to the report. McHarris said that Troy Davis was a victim of the system that produced this black and white brand of criminal justice.

Lawrence Hayes of the Campaign To End The Death Penalty
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Former Black Panther Lawrence Hayes, who served twenty years in prison after having his death sentence commuted, spoke about the need for a new trial and a review of all available evidence. Hayes, a cofounder of the Campaign To End The Death Penalty, said that if the U.S. is a democracy of the people, it must listen to the people. He said that “We have heard the testimony, we have heard what went down and what didn’t go down.” Referring to the new affidavits of the trial witnesses who recanted, Hayes noted that “There are witnesses who have come forth and said that they said what they said under terror. They said what they said under duress. That, in and of itself, should be the grounds to give Troy Davis a new trial.”

Kerry McLean (NLG) and Florence Morgan (NCBL)
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

Florence Morgan, an attorney with the National Conference of Black Lawyers agreed. Morgan, a fiery speaker, demanded that the state put “the justice back in the criminal system!” Indicating a connection between the number of African-Americans on death row and the number of African-Americans behind bars for political activity, Morgan said, “Free all political prisoners! Free Troy Davis!”

Yusef Salaam, former member of the Central Park Five
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

The greatest flaw in the logic of the death penalty — the potential for error in assigning guilt — was embodied in the person of Yusef Salaam who attended the rally to speak out in defense of Troy Davis. Salaam was imprisoned in 1990, after being wrongfully accused and convicted. He was eventually exonerated — but AFTER his release from prison. In 1989, Salaam was a member of the so-called “Central Park Five” — five teenagers who were accused of raping the “Central Park jogger” (Trisha Meili). The teenagers were arrested, convicted and imprisoned in 1990 but were cleared of wrongdoing, by DNA evidence, in 2002 — after they had all completed their sentences. Salaam told the crowd that despite his ordeal he refused to be a victim and remained “standing strong”. Salaam said that he fully supported Davis — another wrongfully accused person whose life was placed on hold by a broken criminal justice system.

Chris Peoples of the National Action Network read a statement from Reverend Al Sharpton and followed the prepared remarks with an off-the-cuff, emotional, commentary on the futility of the death penalty. “What do you do – do you rape the rapist?” she asked. Peoples argued that a system that murders the murderer does not further the cause of justice. “How do you create a system of justice and you take people’s lives? I don’t understand the logic of the death penalty at all,” she said.

After Peoples, the Welfare Poets performed, and they in turn were followed by Kenneth Cohen of the NAACP. Cohen urged the crowd to get involved, to use the new technologies, to e-mail and text their elected officials and demand justice for Troy Davis. Noting the diversity of the crowd Cohen raised the issue of unity.

“Continually they divide us on these issues. But today we are here, people of all colors, of all social backgrounds, of all classes, standing together against the death penalty — to save Troy Davis,” he said.

Cohen surveyed the crowd and led a call and response. His line, “When I say death row, you say…?” was met with a resounding “Hell no!” from the fired up crowd.

Rapper M1 of dead prez was introduced by Amnesty spokesperson and former Green Party vice presidential candidate Rosa Clemente (2008) as “the people’s advocate”. He told the rally goers “I’m very happy to be here because I see the resistance is here. This is where I want to be.” M1 said that there was a direct line from the ancestors to the Black Panthers of the Sixties to the political prisoners of the modern day. And for this reason the slogan of freedom fighters should be “Free them all!”

“Hands off Assata Shakur, hands off Troy Davis!” he said.

Rev. Dr. Brad Braxton, senior minister of Riverside Church
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Riverside’s Reverend Dr. Brad Braxton was the last speaker. He told the crowd that Jesus Christ “…too was executed by the State for trumped up charges.” Braxton urged resistance in the spirit and style of Martin Luther King, Jr, telling an appreciative audience to “Resist in ways that never become violent.”

“Even as we raise our voices in protest, our justice rhetoric, our protest rhetoric, must never become violent, otherwise we sink to the level, descend to the level, of those against whom we protest” he said.

Wrapping up the rally, academy award nominated theater group IMPACT performed spoken word and dance routines.

The rally ran about two hours — an amazing feat of time management on the part of the organizers given the number of speakers. With the clock ticking for Troy Davis, organizers and supporters were hopeful the rally inspired some of those present to act to prevent the execution of a man who deserves a fair trial.

“For you cannot set up a court in the Kingdom of the Blind, to condemn those who see; a court presided over by those who would pluck out the eyes of men and call it rehabilitation.”
— Daniel Berrigan

View Photos/Videos From The Rally…

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Students speaking at the Al-Nakba protest
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK — On Sunday, May 17, activists from New York’s Arab Community held a rally in Times Square to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine, known as Al-Nakba — “The Catastrophe”.

A protester at the Nakba rally
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

On Sunday, hundreds of protesters gathered in Times Square in support of the Palestinian people. Speakers urged the world to unite against the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian lands that was formalized on May 15, 1948 — the day Israel declared independence.

Palestinian refugees – 1948
(Photo: Mike Odetalla / Hanini.org)

In 1948, during the Arab-Israeli war, almost 800,000 Palestinians were displaced from their lands by Zionist settlers from Europe and the U.S. These settlers formed what is known today as Israel. According to Al-Awda, the principal rally organizers, “two-thirds of the Palestinian population have been forced out of Palestine, living in refugee camps and across the world in exile and diaspora.” The English translation of Al Nakba is “The Catastrophe” — a catastrophe that produced one of the largest exoduses of refugees in history. Al-Awda supports the “right of return” of Palestinians displaced by the Nakba.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

View Photos From The Rally…