Posted by TAG - August 23, 2010 | Analysis, News

“I live here, Sarah Palin doesn’t”
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

NEW YORK — August 22, 2010. Sunday was another rainy day in New York City, as two sides of the Ground Zero mosque issue squared off in dueling protests — two sides who are responding to a catastrophe with two mutually exclusive answers: hatred and healing.

“Islamophobia defiles Ground Zero”
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)


If volume validated an argument then the motorcycle contingent bound for Sunday’s anti-mosque protest would win, hands down. With loud pipes and shrill voices, the bikers from out of town who thundered down Broadway en route to the demonstration — apparently going the wrong direction — would have the final word in any debate whose outcome is measured only in decibels. But it isn’t that simple. And just as the issues surrounding the proposed building of a mosque-slash-community center in the general area of Ground Zero aren’t so simple — it’s too simplistic to write off all of the bikers as stereotypic toughs, incapable of compassion or human emotion. Some of them lost relatives in the September 11, 2001 attack on the Trade Center.

A short time after the loud cavalcade drove past this reporter, several of their number, now dismounted, emerged on a street corner looking confused, vulnerable and maybe even a little embarrassed. It was hard to deny their humanity. We’ve all been lost before — alone, wandering unfamiliar territory.


To those who see the world from the vantage point of an “us versus them” perspective — there is no middle ground, no room for freedom of religion, no Constitution to defend, no reason to wince at racist epithets hurled at the Other side. To those who embrace an ideology based on interpreting 9/11 as a clash of two cultures, as an apocalyptic harbinger of a holy war — one protester’s angry outburst sums up the world view: “Islam is not a religion, it’s a cult.”

This was the statement one New Yorker hurled at another on Sunday.

And as if this statement was not sufficient to choke off discussion, to demonize and objectify an entire faith, the anti-mosque protester continued: “If you had a Qur’an here, I’d piss on it.”

“Support freedom of religion”
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)


The objectification of Other as evil incarnate, the demonization of billions of believers, is not a rational construct but it is one that has currency, perhaps because choosing hatred over healing, choosing to adopt bumper sticker slogans over calm dialog is less threatening, less intimidating than attempting to grasp elusive nuances. There is no doubt that it is easier to hate than to love, to assimilate rather than to accommodate, to shout rather than to listen. This is the sad trajectory of terrorism itself.

“Isn’t the Constitution hallowed?”
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

The man who uttered that sad statement, who argued that Islam is not a religion, was eventually quieted by a white-shirted NYPD senior officer. The target of the protester’s venom — who had responded angrily — walked off to join the Other demonstration of the day: the group of civil rights activists, peace protesters and interfaith clerics who support the Muslims looking to build the Cordoba House mosque and community center on 51 Park Place.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)


At the anti-Islamophobia rally, Alan Stolzer of the Military Project asked me a question.

“Has anyone built a church near the Oklahoma City bomb site?”

His rhetorical question was pointed: Timothy McVeigh was a blond and blue Christian. A home grown killer. The analogy was not ideal. McVeigh did not profess to kill in the name of his religion. But in our history other Americans have killed in the name of their faith, some acting in concert with other true believers. And yet in these cases, it was the killers who were judged, not the professed faith, not the religion in its entirety. It could not be otherwise. And yet it’s different for Muslims in America.

“Build and learn together”
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)


Somewhere in between the 9/11 ideologues — the Islamophobes and racists who look to burning books as a solution — and the Muslim community left holding a fractured First Amendment are the families of 9/11. Their grief is not ideological in nature but their numbers, their “hearts and minds,” are the perceived prize for those who would market rabid xenophobia disguised as patriotism. The Sarah Palins and other rank opportunists, none of whom have ever lived in New York, some of whom can’t spell xenophobia — even if they can see it from their back yard — are eager to profit from appeals to hatred and racism. But for those who lost loved ones, healing will have to be accomplished without hate. However this is done, whatever path is chosen, healing involves overcoming hate, not embracing it.

As the rain fell on the protesters who challenge the binary world view, those who want to heal and move beyond Islamophobia and the scourge of racism, as the mainstream media swarmed to get their soundbites from the “pro-mosque protesters” — a man in a priest’s collar quietly held up a sign. It read: “Build and Learn Together.”

View Photos/Videos From The Event…

Posted by Adoptee Rights Coalition - August 18, 2010 | News

The 2010 Adoptee Rights march in Louisville meets the press
(Photo: Dory Martin / ARC)

[ Editor’s Note: I was adopted in October of 1958. In May of this year I found my birth mother. I went to see her in July. It was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life. I not only reunited with my mother but was very excited to discover I have a birth sister. I feel very fortunate. If I had been born after 1964 — I would have been denied access to my own records and the mother and son reunion that was so moving would never have happened. Many adoptees are not as lucky as I was. Each state has different laws and some states have convoluted, archaic laws — my home state has three sets of laws for three time periods. It can be very confusing to attempt to navigate the legal system if you have no background or no progressive attorney (thanks Gideon!) to offer guidance. For this reason I contacted the Adoptee Rights Coalition and asked their organizers to write a piece for NLN. It is my contention that the adoptee’s right to access their own history is no different from any other civil right — unfortunately this is a civil right trampled by corrupt politicians and attorneys who profit from making children into commodities. I recently spoke to a friend in the NAACP and as we talked about our common search for ancestors it became clear that adoptees and the descendants of slaves have one thing in common: our past has been taken from us. One could argue that the Adoptee Rights Coalition could well adopt the slogan of the National Lawyers Guild: “Human rights should be more sacred that property rights.” In the end, adoptees are not the property of the State and have a right to know who they are, where they came from — and to pursue a reunion with their birth family if all concerned want it. I salute and thank the Adoptee Rights Coalition for the work they are doing and for agreeing to submit a piece to NLN. ]

“The people, united…” (Adoptee Rights protesters in Louisville, 2010)
(Photo: Dory Martin / ARC)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Adoptee Rights Coalition was formed in 2007 in response to frustration at the myths, speculation, conjecture and shame that fuels the practice of denying American citizens — who happened to be adopted — the facts of their own lives.

“I’m Tired Of Being A Secret” (Louisville, 2010)
(Photo: Dory Martin / ARC)

In the 1930s and 1940s the United States — except for Kansas and Alaska — sealed the original birth certificates of people who were adopted. Not to protect the adoptee — to protect the sanctity of the adopted family.

“We Are opposedTo State Lies” (Adoptee Rights protest in Philadelphia, 2009)
(Photo: Kate Dahlquist and Claudia D’Arcy / ARC)

Adoption gained wide acceptance and popularity after World War II. As soon as the first bumper crop of adoptees grew-up, adoptees began asking for the right to have the documents relating to their own lives as available to them — a birth right taken for granted by most American citizens. In 1971, adoptee Florence Fisher founded the Adoptees Liberty Movement Association “to abolish the existing practice of sealed records” and advocate for “opening of records to any adopted person over eighteen who wants, for any reason, to see them.”

“Original Identity Is A Basic Human Right” (protest in Philadelphia, 2009)
(Photo: Kate Dahlquist and Claudia D’Arcy / ARC)

Unfortunately, the case for ending discrimination against adoptees has been stymied by adoption agencies and adoption attorneys who currently enjoy an unregulated $1.4 billion dollar a year industry. For more information, see “The National Council for Adoption: Mothers, Money, Marketing and Madness”

Adoptee Rights Coalition member Diane Crossfield offered a brief run down on the issue of adoptees being denied access to their won birth certificates on The Takeaway.

“Bastards Unite” (Philadelphia, 2009)
(Photo: Kate Dahlquist and Claudia D’Arcy / ARC)

Adoptees are routinely pathologized, their motives and loyalties questioned — for the simple act of wanting the same rights afforded to every other citizen.

“Birth Moms Support Adoptee Rights” (Philadelphia, 2009)
(Photo: Kate Dahlquist and Claudia D’Arcy / ARC)

Because adoption laws are decided on a state by state basis, Adoptee Rights activists have gathered at the National Convention of State Legislators for the last three years to lobby and educate law makers regarding pending legislation — and to urge legislators to take up the issue of adoptee rights legislation in their home state. To read more about these efforts visit

Adoptee rights activists made the journey to Louisville this year — holding a protest outside the convention as part of the effort to educate the legislators and the public. has resources for anyone who is looking to donate time and money, or is interested in learning more about the adoptee rights movement in their state.

View Photos/Videos From The Protests In Louisville and Philly…

(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — August 12, 2010. It was the show that almost didn’t happen — but for headbangers in the tristate area, in the end it was a real treat.

In 1990, thrash metal giants Slayer and Megadeth teamed up for a “Clash Of The Titans” tour. In 2010, the two titans teamed up again, this time as an “American Carnage” tour that reprised the 1990 effort, right down to the choice of material performed. Slayer announced their intention to perform “Seasons In The Abyss” in its entirety and Megadeth vowed to do the same with “Rust In Peace.”

Tom Araya live at the Izod
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

And then Slayer front man Tom Araya needed emergency back surgery — the announcement came in January — and the tour was postponed. Some cities saw their dates completely canceled due to lack of venue availability. New York was luckier. New Jersey’s Izod Center rescheduled and honored tickets sold prior to the postponement.

Anyone who follows Slayer knows that, in a Spinal Tap moment — May of 1992 to be precise — drummer extraordinaire Dave Lombardo left the band after an argument over women (Lombardo wanted to bring his wife on tour). Lombardo was replaced by thrash veteran Paul Bostaph. Bostaph perfformed admirably on several Slayer recordings: Divine Intervention (1994), Undisputed Attitude (1996), Diabolus in Musica (1998), and the finest effort to date: God Hates Us All (2001). During the God Hates tour, Bostaph aggravated an already sore elbow and was replaced by Lombardo who eventually rejoined the band. For fans of Paul Bostaph — a terrfic thrash drummer and a true gentleman — it was a special treat that Testament, Bostaph’s current band, opened for Slayer and Megadeth.

Testament’s Alex Skolnick
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

And Testament opened with style. Chuck Billy is the only person I can think of who doesn’t look silly playing air guitar with his microphone. Why? He loves the music and it shows. Flanked by New Yorker Alex Skolnick, Billy snarled and growled his way through a number of Testament classics as well as several cuts from the well respected 2008 “Formation of Damnation” release. Skolnick was Skolnick: one of rock’s most able guitarists and very enjoyable to watch.

As the lights went down and Megadeth fans cheered, Jello Biafra’s voice erupted from the loudspeakers:

“We interrupt this program with a special bulletin:
America is now under martial law.
All constitutional rights have been suspended.
Stay in your homes.
Do not attempt to contact loved ones, insurance agents or attorneys.
Shut up.
Do not attempt to think or depression may occur.
Stay in your homes.
Curfew is at 7 PM sharp after work.
Anyone caught outside the gates of their subdivision sectors after curfew will be shot.
Remain calm, do not panic.
Your neighborhood watch officer will be by to collect urine samples in the morning.
Anyone caught interfering with the collection of urine examples will be shot.
Stay in your homes, remain calm.
The number one enemy of progress is questions.
National security is more important than individual will.
All sports broadcasts will proceed as normal.
No more than two people may gather anywhere without permission.
Use only the drugs prescribed by your boss or supervisor.
Shut up, be happy.
Obey all orders without question.
The comfort you’ve demanded is now mandatory.
Be happy.
At last everything is done for you.”

With Megadeth’s long history of social commentary it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Dave Mustaine opened his set with a recording of an Ice T song featuring Jello Biafra — a song about the end of civil liberties — but it was very apt given all that is going on in the U.S.

Dave Mustaine
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

After Jello, a very well dressed (and well-moussed) Megadeth took the stage. Mustaine was in great form — his guitar work is always stellar but his voice was also very strong as he and the band worked through “Rust In Peace,” arguably their best recording. After Rust, Mustaine played a couple of newer numbers, including “Head Crusher” from the latest release “Endgame.” Guitarist Chris Broderick was very good and Dave Ellefson ripped it up on his six string bass.

Chris Broderick of Megadeth
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

During the second intermission a white sheet obscured the stage…but from my vantage point I could see that Dave Lombardo’s drum kit would far closer to the audience than Bostaph’s or Shawn Drover’s kits had been. This was cause for celebration as Lombardo, known as the “godfather of double bass” drumming, is without peers. Reviewers have described his style as “over the top” (as opposed to the rest of Slayer?) but fans know that Dave is simply the best and very entertaining to watch.

The inimitable Kerry King
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Slayer opened with the title track from the new CD, “World Painted Blood” and, after erupting into the uptempo “Hate Worldwide,” played all of “Seasons In The Abyss.” Seasons is classic Slayer. From the first cut, the anti-war “War Ensemble,” to the last, title track, the songs chronicle human failings, mixing in a bit of social criticism. Slayer ended their set, as they always do, with “Angel Of Death.”

Jeff Hanneman of Slayer
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman (stage left to right) were in top form and at their headbanging best as they stood together for Angel of Death. Bassist and singer Tom Araya was apparently fully recovered and gave a rock solid performance. And Dave Lombardo … Lombardo makes the kid in all of us sigh and utter the well-worn phrase “Fuckin’ Slayer!”

The Godfather of Double Bass: Dave Lombardo
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

As Lou Reed once observed (on “Take No Prisoners”), musicians work for a year and then some critic gives them a B-plus. I will resist the temptation but know this: if American Carnage comes to your town, see it. It should be easy – well aware that the U.S. is in the midst of the “Great Recession,” Slayer has reserved blocks of tickets to be sold for $10, in order to make certain their long term fans get to see the band. While the politicians talk, Slayer delivers.

View Photos/Videos From The Show…

“McMahon Stop Pandering To Islamophobia”
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — August 16, 2010. What do angry labor leaders, frustrated health care recipients, disgusted anti-war activists, stunned “Jewish money” donors and now — protesters decrying an “Islamophobic Witchhunt” — have in common? Mike McMahon.

Activist Elaine Brower strums a few chords for tolerance
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)


In a statement released last week a “diverse group of activists” said that, “As the elected representative of the 13th District, Congressman McMahon is encharged with upholding the principle of equal treatment for ALL, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. When he called for federal information on the Muslim religious organization MAS, he violated that core principle, and in so doing, pandered to the worst forces of bigotry. Would he have made the same request if it were a Christian or Jewish organization that wanted to build a house of worship? Is Representative McMahon prepared to investigate the anti-Muslim hate groups that breed a growing atmosphere of intolerance and racism from coast to coast?”

A protester plays John Lennon’s “Imagine”
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

The statement was issued prior to a demonstration that the aggrieved activists held at McMahon’s Staten Island office on Friday the 13th. One version of the statement went out with the headline Protest Rep. McMahon Islamophobic Witchhunt

What made the protesters mad?

McMahon — and McCarthyism?
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)


The Muslim American Society wanted to build a mosque on Staten Island. Some local community members claimed that the group had ties to a U.S. branch of the “Muslim Brotherhood.” The “U.S. Muslim Brotherhood” is apparently an organization so secret that one on can prove it exists, except in the extreme right wing of the blogosphere where it is mentioned constantly.

Rather than meet with the MAS, to determine their intentions and ask about their affiliations, McMahon told the Staten Island Advance he would do a check on the group. He then asked the FBI to investigate. The Bureau, according to McMahon, eventually told the Congressman that the MAS “appears harmless.” But the furor and the investigation caused the Catholic Archdiocese to cancel the sale of its closed convent to the MAS — and without a property to build on, the mosque plan was scrapped. Protesters accused McMahon of pandering, of using Islamophobia as an election year ploy.

A sergeant from the 122 PCT looks on as protesters decry racism
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

An initial protest, against Islamophobia, was held at the site of the proposed mosque. But protesters, angry with their congressman, decided that they needed to put a finer point on his behavior, and they called a second protest. This time the protest was held outside the congressman’s office.


As the sun set on Friday, a dozen protesters holding signs were watched by two cops from the 122 Precinct as drivers passing by honked in support — while others hurled the occasional epithet. One driver called the protesters “a bunch of Muslims.” The protesters were a mix of faiths — with a couple of atheists thrown in.

The protesters argued that “McMahon should have stood up for the Muslim community. Instead he chose to disrespect them by appeasing those who use anti-Islamic hysteria as a political tool. By calling the Federal government, he a gave a nod to those who make it their life’s work to point an accusing finger at American Muslims, and engaged in an Islamophobic witchhunt. He played enabler to a movement of anti-Mosque fear and bigotry that now sweeps the country and demands national headlines.”

Activist Richie Marini is interviewed by NY1
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)


Mike McMahon, known for his non-committal, “centrist,” rhetoric and conservative voting record angered labor leaders when he voted against President Obama’s hhealth care reform package. Earlier today several news services reported that the AFL-CIO decided not to endorse McMahon “at this time.” SEIU1199 and the Working Families Party have made less equivocal decisions to yank their endorsements of the conservative Democrat.

Peace groups are also frustrated with McMahon’s support for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

In perhaps what is the most damaging blow to McMahon’s re-election effort, his former campaign spokesperson, Jennifer Nelson, released a list of “Jewish money” — i.e. campaign donors to McMahon’s rival Michael Grimm — to the New York Observer. McMahon fired the staffer but the news went viral and googling for “McMahon Jewish Donors” turns up over 1 million hits.

Can McMahon survive labor troubles, a pro-war voting record, and the “Jewish money” flap? Perhaps…perhaps his “Islamophobic Witchhunt” is an effort pander to those voters who haven’t yet jumped ship.

View Photos From The Event…

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK — August 10, 2010. MoveOn is worried. Apparently so were a hundred or so of their closest friends.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

The progressive Democrats held a rally a “Rally for Democracy” in which “New York City residents gathering to support fundamental changes to recapture our government from Corporate Lobbyists and CEOs” took to the streets.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

On Tuesday, August 10, at high noon, over 100 New Yorkers gathered outside Senator Charles E. Schumer’s office in Manhattan, at Third Ave. and 47th Street. The demonstraters were there to rally support for the “Fight Washington Corruption Pledge.” The Pledge addresses three issues that MoveOn members have identified as critical to the preservation of U.S. democracy: lobbying reform, election reform and reversing the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision, which essentially allows corporations to campaign for political parties and candidates without spending limits.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

According to MoveOn this has the effect of “Putting our candidates up for sale. This is not democracy and must be answered. These three fundamental areas need to be changed before other political issues will be able to receive open debate and consideration.”

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

According to organizers a goal of the rally was to unite “People who advocate for positive change, to educate fellow citizens on how their hard-earned liberties are jeopardized by bloated corporate wealth and to show Senator Schumer the voice and desires of his constituents, so that he can vote with our interests in mind.”

The rally featured speakers from Citizens Action, Common Cause, and the Public Campaign Action Fund, among others.

View Photos From The Event…

(Photo: Ed Hedemann / WRL)

NEW YORK — August 7, 2010 — Tompkins Square Park. It was an unusually pleasant summer day for an especially unpleasant subject — 65 years since the United States unapologetically — to this day — unleashed nuclear weapons on the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, unilaterally beginning the nuclear arms race. This exhibit, which the War Resisters League produced for the 50th anniversary of the bombings, immediate drew the attention of park denizens as well as many passersby. While some took fleeting notice, others spent a lot of time reading every single panel in the exhibit. Though there were a number of impromptu discussions and some debates, mostly people took leaflets and other literature and looked in silence.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

Frida Berrigan, a long time War Resister, worked the event. She told NLN that “It was a lovely, hot afternoon. Not unlike the day on which the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Passersby were asked to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to spend a few minutes with the War Resisters League’s ’65 Years of Nuclearism’ exhibit, and take literature. A number of people read the whole exhibit, and were happy to take our materials.

I think that our presence there served as an important reminder to people out to enjoy their Saturday.”

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK — “Stop in the name of health! Don’t cut my Medicare. After I voted for you. After I voted for you.” 100 people from the Granny Peace Brigade and their many supporters sang like the Supremes (Stop in the Name of Love) and did a group dance in busy Bryant Park on Friday, July 30th, during lunch hour. They were accompanied by a very able band. Organized by Healthcare Now! NYC the event was timed to coincide with the 45th birthday of Medicare as well as meetings currently being held by the federal Deficit Commission which is considering cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security despite Social Security having a $2.54 trillion surplus and solvency through 2037 (

Some of the dancers and singers were in their 80’s and 90’s while others were only 65, but all agreed that their lives depended on Medicare, and that this is a life or death struggle. They said Medicare should be expanded not cut. Some had personal stories about repeated bouts with cancer and explained how Medicare was allowing them to get the treatment that was keeping them alive.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

Although the performance left many observers laughing in appreciation, this is very much a fight for survival. According to the Harvard Medical School 45,000 people a year die in this country because they don’t have medical insurance. The number goes up to 101,000 people when the underinsured are included.

“People who voted for him [Obama] are not happy to see him preparing to cut Medicare. The irony is that a Medicare for All system would actually save $400 billion a year, because it cuts out the profits and the administrative waste of the private health insurance industry,” said participant Julia Willebrand, 77, who is the Green Party’s candidate for N.Y.S. Comptroller.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

After the performance in Bryant Park the troop walked around the block and repeated the song and dance on 5th Avenue between the stone lions, Patience and Fortitude, that guard the front entrance of the public library. Many interested observers stopped to comment and ask questions.

During the past year Medicare Now! NYC led the fight for a single payer, Medicare for All, “Everybody In – Nobody Out” health insurance. There were regular demonstrations in Grand Central Station as well as at insurance companies which were raking in billions while denying essential treatment to policy holders. Many people were arrested while sitting-in at these companies and charged with criminal trespass and/or obstructing governmental administration. During the year these cases worked their way through the court system with charges being conditionally dismissed.

Charges against 2 of those arrested at Aetna, Joan Pleune and Kate Barnhardt, were dismissed last month. However, news was brought to the library steps that the office of Cy Vance, Manhattan District Attorney, was filing new charges against Pleune and Barnhardt. That very morning ADA Eric Kratzville informed their attorney, Stephen Edwards, that he was planning to refile “amended charges” against Joan and Kate and that they should arrange a date to turn themselves in or be re-arrested against their will.

Everyone was incredulous, upset, angry. Why are the city’s resources being used to pursue charges in a non-violent protest case? This seems to make no sense.

As of this writing, August 6th, Pleune, a veteran of the civil rights movement, and Barnhardt have not been re-arrested. People have been urged to call the District Attorney’s Communications Director, Erin Duggin (212-335-9400) and ask why they are pursuing a case against these 2 women.

View Photos From The Event…

Posted by TAG - August 11, 2010 | News

A “Peace Procession” was part of the 2010 Hiroshima / Nagasaki observance
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — August 8, 2010. Hiroshima still haunts: marking the 65th anniversary of the Hiroshima / Nagasaki bombings the Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Church of Staten Island and Peace Action of Staten Island commemorated the events with music, dance, dramatic readings and a “peace procession.”

David Jones performed a piece he calls “Nagasaki”
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

The bombings at HIroshima and Nagasaki took place on August 6 and 9, 1945.

According to Wikipedia: Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000-166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000-80,000 in Nagasaki,

Sunday’s commemoration took place at the Unitarian Church and featured readings and poetry. Music was provided by Staten Island pianist David Jones and members of the musical ensemble WaFoo, which blends the traditions of Japanese music with American jazz.

Flutist Yuuki Koike of WaFoo
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

The American Conscience Theatre performed a short theatrical piece by Georgina Ohene commemorating the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. The 25 minute presentation was a combination of live music by Robert Ross, dancing, and readings from John Hersey’s book, Hiroshima.

Georgina Ohene of the American Conscience Theatre
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

The commemoration concluded with a procession from the Unitarian Church to the Snug Harbor Cultural Center.

Peace Action’s Sally Jones took part in the “Peace Procession”
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

View Photos/Videos From The Event…

Bias attack victim Richard Vieira looks on as Matt Titone and Gerard Mawn address the crowd
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — August 7, 2010. On Saturday evening a diverse group of Staten Islanders united against hate crimes, held a candlelight vigil outside Borough Hall — before marching to White Castle where Assembly Member Matt Titone treated everyone to a burger.

Earlier this year, on July 7, a man made homophobic comments before assaulting Richard Vieira and his partner at a White Castle in Staten Island’s Stapleton section. Police continue to search for the assailant.

Anti-hate vigilers outside Borough Hall
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

In response to the attack — and to the recent wave of hate crimes targeting Mexicans — Staten Island Pride called a candlelight vigil and march. The event was held on Saturday night and was sponsored by a variety of groups, elected officials and individuals, including: Make The Road New York, the Guardian Angels, the Public Advocate’s office, State Senator Diane Savino (D – 23rd District), New York City Council Member Debi Rose (D – 49th District) and State Assembly Member Matt Titone (D – 61st District).

Protesters and press
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Standing in front of Borough Hall, the vigilers were besieged by the New York press corps which has been following the hate crimes story. Standing in formation, to the right of the crowd, a group of Guardian Angels held candles.

The Guardian Angels joined the vigil
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

As the time neared to start the march event organizers addressed the crowd and the press.

“We want to call attention to hate crimes here on Staten Island,” said Gerard Mawn of Staten Island Pride.

“We want everyone here to commit to being a solution, to being part of the solution, to the hate crimes that started many months ago,” he said.

Mawn introduced Matt Titone who thanked the Guardian Angels for keeping the community safe and for participating in the vigil and march. Titone also thanked police and told the crowd that six arrests have been effected since the bias attacks began in April.

Assembly Member Matt Titone led the march
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Surrounded by the press, Titone led the vigilers in a march to the White Castle where Luis and Richard Vieira were assaulted. Richard Vieira, his arm in a sling, joined the march. He was surrounded by Guardian Angels as the procession made its way down Bay Street.

Richard Vieira flanked by Guardian Angels
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Cars passing the marchers honked in support as protesters held up signs saying “I Am Staten Island” and “Respect For Diversity.”

Standing in the parking lot of White Castle, Matt Titone addressed the marchers as TV crews looked on.

“I would like to treat everyone, including the press, to a burger on me. We passed a budget — I got paid. But seriously I really do want to thank everyone for participating and really showing our unity, our stand against hatred,” Titone said.

“We will not stand for intolerance. We are not afraid of those who are afraid of us. And we will continue to work, we will continue to march and we will continue to pray for those who feel differently,” he added.

View Photos/Videos From The Event…

Posted by Fran Korotzer - | News

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK — On August 5, 400 people (with another 50 were on a waiting list) paid anywhere from $25 up to board a boat at the East 23 Street Marco Polo Marina for a sunset cruise of New York harbor. All had two things in common: an understanding of the urgency of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and a passionate need to break Israel’s blockade. The situation is getting desperate — the people of Gaza cannot do without life’s necessities any longer, including their freedom.

The cruise was a fundraiser for an American boat that will join a large international flotilla including boats from every part of the world – Europe,the Middle East, Canada, South Africa – making their way to Gaza this fall to bring humanitarian aid and end the Israeli blockade. It is particularly important that there be an American presence in the flotilla because Americans are complicit in the persecution of the Palestinians by the Zionists. The U.S. gives Israel billions of dollars in military aid every year while Israel has turned Gaza into a prison that holds 1.5 million people and the West Bank is under a fascistic military occupation.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

$370,000 will be raised in the next month which will be used to purchase a boat large enough to carry 60 people, hire a crew, and help subsidize the cost of sending a U.S. delegation. The boat will be named “The Audacity of Hope.”

The cruise boat sailed under a pink sunset. It was adorned with Palestinian flags and a huge sign that read “US TO GAZA – THE AUDACITY OF HOPE”. As it floated under the Brooklyn Bridge it felt very surreal. Never, in all my very many years, did I imagine myself sailing under the Brooklyn Bridge holding on to a big Palestinian flag draped over the side, flapping in the breeze. Inside there was a beautiful banquet of Middle Eastern foods for all to enjoy. Donations were collected – one person gave $5,000, another gave $2,500. Emily Henochowicz, a young Cooper Union art student who lost her eye when a tear gas canister was fired at her as she demonstrated, at an Israeli checkpoint, against the killings on the Mavi Marmara in the last flotilla, gave 2 of her paintings to be auctioned off. They brought $5,000 more towards the boat.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

People of every color, age, and ethnicity were there. People of every group in the Palestinian rights spectrum were also there. They are not always in total accord but they are absolutely united in the goal of having a boat flying the American flag in this flotilla that is aiming to break the illegal siege of Gaza that is causing so much suffering.

There were many Palestinians on the boat. Some young, some not. They have been on the streets leading the Palestinian fight for justice for many years now. There were also many Jews, most coming into this struggle more recently. Some forming their own groups like Jews Say No, Not in Our Name, and Jewish Voices for Peace, while also working toward common goals with the other organizations. Peace activists were there too. The peace movement has finally made the issue of Palestine an integral part of their agenda.

Remi Kanazi, the dynamic young Palestinian-American poet recited some of his poetry. The playwright, Ismail Khalidi, spoke too. At one point he quoted June Jordan saying “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” The former NY Times Pulitzer prize winning war correspondent and author, Chris Hedges also spoke. Pointing out that there was probably a paid informant for Israel on the cruise that night, he gave him a message to bring back, “I would like to remind them that it is they who hide in the darkness, we are in the light. The arc of the moral universe is long… You may have commandos who descend on ropes… we have only our hands, our hearts, our voices… But note this, note this well: it is you who are afraid of us, not us who are afraid of you… When there is freedom in Gaza, we will forgive you…”*

(*Hedges quote was reported in “In NY Harbor, Palestinian-Americans take leadership role in US campaign for Gaza”, by Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, 8/6/10)

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