Current Events

Take a Knee

Last September, quarterback Colin Kaepernick first took a knee during the national anthem. Amid a flurry of criticisms asserting that his action was un-American, he stated that he could not “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” (CNN) He specifically cited the issue of police brutality as a prominent motivation for his action.

The practice of kneeling in protest can be traced back to MLK Jr., who would often do so before marches or rallies. The gesture itself is a respectful one, often used by soldiers, and was deliberately chosen because of its history and meaning. Eric Reid, who took a knee alongside the Kaepernick, stated in a NYT editorial that, “We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.” Since last fall, athletes have repeatedly protested in the same manner, igniting a debate regarding the role of athletes, protest, and race relations in America.

More recently, President Trump called on NFL owners to fire any players who chose to “disrespect our flag” by sitting or kneeling during the anthem, referring to protesters as “sons of *****s” during an Alabama rally. The comment was quickly condemned by many politicians, players, and citizens alike, leading to larger protests during Sunday football games. Dozens of athletes kneeled or locked arms during the national anthem, with some teams even staying in their locker rooms while it was played. In solidarity with the NFL players, celebrities Eddie Vedder, Roger Waters, Dave Matthews and Pharrell Williams also took a knee on stage.

However, the reason for the demonstrations is becoming increasingly obscured as they are put into terms of Trump. By rebranding the act of taking a knee as anti-Trump, its original purpose of calling attention to racial injustice in America is lost. NFL owners can avoid discussing race by condemning Trump’s words as divisive or disrespectful without acknowledging that there were targeted at African-American athletes. A recent statement from the President on the topic also seeks to blur this line, claiming that “the issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem.” While they were in response to Trump’s harsh comment, Sunday’s demonstrations of solidarity should not be interpreted as nothing more than another anti-Trump action. If they are, we run the risk of forgetting their greater mission as protests against police brutality and racism.

In a time when the president picks fights with the NFL, we urge you to remember the original meaning of Kaepernick’s protest and continue fighting for racial justice. For more information and opportunities to get involved, visit http://blacklivesmatter.com/getinvolved/ and http://www.naacp.org/find-local-unit/ or follow https://www.facebook.com/BlackLivesMatter/ on Facebook.

Written by Sam, and SJPJC Intern.

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History

Our Brief History and Background

The majority of this piece was written for the San Jose Peace & Justice Center’s 50th Anniversary in 2007. The last few paragraphs were added to update the piece to represent 10 years later in our 60th Anniversary.

The Peace Center was founded in 1957 by individuals profoundly concerned about peace and justice issues, especially the growth of nuclear arsenals and atmospheric nuclear testing. The Peace Times newsletter  began publication in the 1950s and has been published consistently since then.

With the signing of the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963 and the expansion of the war in Southeast Asia, the Peace Center spearheaded local efforts to end the war in Vietnam. With seminars, flyers, TV appearances, and op-ed pieces in the newspaper, ads in newspapers, vigils in downtown San Jose and protests at recruitment centers, Peace Center volunteers mobilized public opinion against the war.

A major component of the anti-war work in that era  was draft counseling, which was offered at local schools and colleges and at the Peace Center on a regular basis every week. The San Jose Peace Center was also instrumental in assisting peace center start-ups in other communities, such as Berkeley, Modesto, and Santa Cruz.

Before and after the Vietnam war, the Peace Center made nuclear disarmament and the training in nonviolence its primary concerns, with many Peace Center members taking part in protests at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab and at the Nevada nuclear test site. Activists were also involved in the Civil Rights Movement, support work for Native American struggles and support for the Farmworkers Movement. Anti-militarism and environmental concerns converged in the struggle against rocket maker United Technologies, a producer of ozone-depleting rocket motors which was burning waste solid rocket fuels in burn pits. Protesters had he goal of converting the facility to nontoxic, non-military production and succeeded in shutting down several of the burn pits. International issues such as apartheid in South Africa and the U.S. wars in Central America were also a focus.

Meeting first in a living room, next in a basement, then a second-story room, for several years in a rented office at 235 North First St.and then in an office at Grace Baptist Church, the Peace Center was finally able to buy the house at 48 S. 7th St. in 1985  On August 5, 1990, The Peace Poles, donated by the City of San Jose, were installed in front of the Collins House to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and the Peace Center’s dedication to ending war.  The house on 7th St. is named after peace activists George “Shorty” Collins and his wife Evelyn, who were among the founding members of the Peace Center.

In 2007, the Center served as an umbrella group and a meeting space for a number of peace and justice groups, and putting an emphasis on ending the war in Iraq and preventing an attack on Iran, the Peace Center continued its efforts to educate and engage the South Bay community around critical issues of peace and justice.

Throughout its 50-year history, the Peace Center has been a consistent voice for alternatives to the ever-increasing violence and militarism in this country and the world. We look forward to continuing that work as long as it is necessary. Please join us in this vital effort.

On our 60th Anniversary, we continue to serve as a resource for progressive activism in the South Bay.We seek to contribute toward building a just and sustainable society in which the gross and obscene concentration of corporate power and personal wealth is overcome by the achievement of basic economic rights for all.

Social justice, not inequality
Peace, not war
Plant justice, grow peace
Create an inclusive community
Innovate for positive change
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Protest Trump’s Escalation in Syria

This blog was written by Nikki, an Office Team Intern with the San Jose Peace & Justice Center. The opinions expressed in this post are hers. The photos were taken at the protest by Nikki.

On April 7th, I attended a nationally coordinated protest locally hosted by Rise Up for Justice (#RU4J) and the Friday Night Peace Vigil. We protested Trump’s escalation in Syria to demand an end to the U.S. war against Syria. This escalation was an immediate action after the chemical attack that killed 89 people on April 4, 2017. Syria blamed terrorist groups for the attack, and Russian President Putin, implied that the forces that have been trying to frame the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried out the attack. The attack in Syria prompted the United States to launch its first military strike on the Syrian regime. President Trump ordered the launch of 59 missiles at the airbase that was home to the warplanes that allegedly carried out the chemical attacks.

It has been unclear who was responsible for the chemical attack in Syria. It has been difficult for me to choose where I stand with this issue. It breaks my heart every time I read or see what is happening in Syria. I cannot imagine what they are going through each day and night, never knowing where the next bomb will hit, people have been living in constant stress and fear. I think in some parts of the world, in some situations, it is justified for the U.S. to interfere if human rights laws are being broken and innocent people are being killed. If nobody takes an action and help these innocent people, then who will? However, I also understand that the U.S. shouldn’t be policing the world. I think there should be a line that the U.S. should not cross.

I am unsure whether or not I support this strike. I am happy that the government finally took an action against the Syrian regime. However, I do not support Trump’s sudden response to strike against a regime without actual proof that the chemical attack was done by the Syrian regime. Also, bombing a Syrian air based to send a message to the Assad regime is just not enough. Less than a day after the U.S. strike, new airstrikes targeted the same town. It has been unclear who was responsible for the second attack. At least one woman was killed and three others were injured.

While attending the protest, I saw many people holding signs and standing in front of the MLK library. Although I was unsure about how I felt about this strike, I also felt it was not the right action to take. I knew that the strike would cause people to either be for it, against it, or like me, be unsure. Being at the protest, it made me feel great. I loved the energy and seeing how many people were there to protest against the strike while holding signs and just peacefully protesting. Many people honked their horns as they drove passed us.

 

Interns

A Day Without a Woman

This was written by Kevin, a spring 2017 intern at San Jose Peace and Justice Center after attending the Day without a Woman’s Rally at San Jose City Hall on March 8, 2017. The opinions in this post are his.

On March 8, 2017, A Day Without a Women Rally was held in front of San Jose City Hall. A large amount of men and women were in attendance in support of the cause. Many of supporters wore red and held signs to symbolize the “revolutionary love and sacrifice” in regards to the history of the labor movement. Thus, men and women wore red to show their solidarity to the event. The coordinators of the event encouraged the message of “Keeping the Momentum Going!” Therefore, the emphasis of voicing out one’s opinion was emboldened in order for politicians to know our stand on specific policies and actions.

Before attending this event, I never took part in any activist work. However, once I arrived at San Jose City Hall, I felt a sense of unity and support for one another. I never knew what activist work was and how it worked, but after attending this event I realized that being heard and standing up for what you strongly believe in is what really matters. This event was very important because it focused on many areas that are very concerning in today’s society. In fact, our newly elected President, Donald Trump, has voiced his negative opinions about women, immigrants and other controversial matters. Many of his remarks were degrading, outrageous, and unnecessary. Thus, this rally encourages us to stand together and use our voices to be heard.

I learned that reforms and changes in society do not happen quickly. Also, there are many issues that are not addressed and are often set aside by politicians and other higher authorities. However, everyone has a voice and should (and can) express their concerns and opinions because “We the People” have that as a right. Moreover, I’ve also learned that it’s those little changes that motivate us to move forward and keep pushing for what we believe is right.

Interns

Introductions – 2017 Office Team Interns

By Michele Mashburn, Coordinator

I am honored to have my first set of interns this semester (Spring 2017). After a bumpy start, they are all working hard on different projects for the Center. They are all hard workers and talented in many ways. This semester is going by too fast but I know they all have a bright future ahead of them.

From social media research to a movie night to an upcoming Open House, they are helping the Center with many projects and tasks. The movie night is on April 13th from 7 to 9 pm: Rosewater. Look soon for information about the Open House on May 4th.

So let’s meet the interns:

A is for Andy…

Andy

Hello there, my name is Andy and I am one of the Spring 2017 “Office Team” Interns at the San Jose Peace and Justice Center! I am currently a senior in my final semester at San Jose State University, majoring in Justice Studies with a minor in Human Rights. Additionally, I am the Vice President of Alpha Phi Sigma Iota Chapter, the National Criminal Justice Honor Society and a member of Forensic Science Students Club. Outside of school, I have coached high school wrestling for 7 years, and have 11 years of experience in the sport as well. My hobbies include hanging out with friends, adventuring new places and cuisine, and watching movies & TV shows on both Netflix and Hulu. Some of my academic interests include the Media, Management within the Criminal Justice System, and Juvenile Delinquency.

G is for GM…

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Hello, my name is GM. I am a student at San Jose State University majoring in Justice  Studies. This Spring semester, I am an intern at San Jose Peace and Justice Center (in BOTH the “Office Team” and the “Immigration Relief Project”). I am a member of the Alpha Phi Sigma National Criminal Justice Honor Society. I will be graduating this year. My interests include anything outdoor related including: Football, Basketball, and the occasional hike. I also love to spend time at the gym and reading. Although I haven’t read a book in a while, I want to start reading again because books are a great way to gain knowledge while being entertained.

My free time is usually spent outside or watching movies and TV shows. I also love spending time with my family in our backyard having barbecues on the weekends. Oh, and let’s not forget that I enjoy watching professional sports: My favorite teams are the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Chargers.

K is for Kevin…

Hello, My name is Kevin and I am currently a student at San Jose State IMG_2791University with a major in Justice Studies. This Spring semester, I am one of the “Office Team” interns at San Jose Peace and Justice Center. Also, I am an active member of the Alpha Phi Sigma National Criminal Justice Honor Society. When I am not in school, I spend most of my time with family, friends, and playing sports. Therefore, I am a basketball enthusiast who is a huge fan of the Los Angeles Lakers. I also love being in the outdoors and trying new things. I am originally from America’s Finest City, San Diego, which means that I love Mexican food, beaches, and sunny weather. One thing that not a lot of people know about me is that I’m a very shy person at first, but once you get to know me, I am actually very outgoing and love to make people laugh.

N is for Nikki…

image2Hello. My name is Nikki and I am an “Office Team” Intern with San Jose Peace & Justice Center this Spring 2017. I am a senior at San Jose State University and will be getting my Bachelors of Science in Justice Studies this year. I am an Iranian-American and as an immigrant I am very interested in human rights and immigration issues.

In my free time, I like to spend time with my loved ones (family, friends, and my dog), read books, hike, go to the beach, watch movies, listen to music, watch soccer, and explore the area.

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Immigration Training Cements Intern’s Interest – by GM

This blog was written by GM, a spring 2017 intern at San Jose Peace and Justice Center after attending Immigration in the era of Trump training.

Before becoming a student at San Jose State University, I didn’t know what I wanted to major in. Over the course of my academic career I was a Marketing major, then I changed it to Administration of Justice, then to History and finally to a Justice Studies major.

My indecisiveness was due me desire to do something special and be effective in helping and changing lives. Choosing Justice Studies as my major was the best choice for me because I got to learn about the many aspects of how laws and policies can have a huge impact in creating injustices for many citizens, specifically minorities.

My major created the opportunity for me to find this internship that relates with what I want to accomplish. Michelle Cordova, the coordinator for the Immigration Relief Project at the Peace and Justice Center, initiated the training process for immigrants’ rights. As I attended the first day of the training as an intern, I saw many individuals willing to sacrifice their time and energy to help those in need. These volunteers were especially eager to help given current social and political crisis that plagues many immigrants. Ms. Cordova told us that don’t worry about making mistakes because we will learn from it and that she wants willing people that learn from those mistakes.

The first day of the training explained the different roles the volunteers will have. There are six roles that she listed which are: Office & Administration; Consulates; Public Relations; Event Organizers; Design & Communications; and Coordination Team. The training also consisted of the background of the current issues around immigration in the Trump era. She gave us examples like that the majority of immigrants are falsely perceived to be Mexican, however; she showed that many people come from South America. What was really troubling to hear is that the immigrants deported from South America are sent to Mexico even though Mexico isn’t their country of origin to begin with. She showed that there is clear discrimination of immigrants and people fail to realize that immigrants offer many contributions to the American Economy.

Ms. Cordova’s first training session was really informative with the issues regarding the current political climate. She also went over issues with the dangers of border crossing and Homeland Security Priority Enforcement Programs. The issues that she covered cemented the reasons why the volunteers were there in the first place. The issues she presented created a need for urgent action and the volunteers showed their humanity in answering that call to action.

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SJPD Crush Youth Protest on J20 by Sharat G. Lin

3_sjpdThree mass actions of nonviolent resistance to newly-inaugurated President Donald Trump in San José, California brought about very different police responses. The Riseup for Justice march on January 20, 2017 (nearly a thousand participants) and the Women’s March on January 21, 2017 (estimated at 30,000) proceeded completely peacefully. However, the Disrupt J20 march by youths on January 20 (fifty participants) was met without warning by brutal police force resulting in three arrests and dispersal of the crowd.

Beginning after dark at 7 pm at San José City Hall, then marching into traffic on Santa Clara Street, San José Police on motorcycles initially moved to block traffic to ensure the safety of the protesters. But after the protesters moved to San Fernando Street, San José Police turned on their motorcycle sirens and drove directly into the marchers. This came without prior warning to get out of the street and move onto the sidewalk. Only after two march participants were arrested did police announce that marchers must stay on the sidewalk or be subject to being charged for blocking traffic. By that time, all protesters were already on the sidewalk. A bicyclist who was participating in the march was also arrested without provocation while fully within a marked bicycle lane.

After the arrests, police continued in hot pursuit of the protesters until the entire march was dispersed.

See the youtube video.

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Super Bowl 50: Super Militarization and Super Inequality by Sharat G. Lin

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The most expensive single sports game on Earth kicked off under unprecedented militarization of the police and the highest levels of inequality since the Great Depression.

As the biggest sporting game in the United States, thousands of law enforcement and security personnel from nearly every conceivable agency have converged on Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California for Super Bowl 50. But the outfits, weapons, vehicles, and communications equipment are increasingly those of the military.

Santa Clara Police were seen dressed in military camouflage and army helmets as if prepared for urban warfare. They were riding around in new all-terrain vehicles purchased especially for the Super Bowl. Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputies wore new green uniforms. A dozen bomb squad units, including units from other counties, were gathered near Levi’s Stadium.

Army humvees were everywhere — guarding rear access to Levi’s Stadium and its parking structure and patrolling the streets. Military police were present with M-16 submachine guns. Army helicopters flew overhead with soldiers ready to jump on a moment’s notice.

Federal law enforcement agencies had set up temporary communications towers in the vicinity of Levi’s Stadium, and a command center nearby.

While a major police presence is not surprising considering the magnitude of the crowds and the intense national visibility of Super Bowl 50, one wonders against whom the police, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Pentagon are apparently preparing for urban warfare?

The 50th Super Bowl in Levi’s Stadium is the easily the single most expensive event to come to Silicon Valley. With an economic impact conservatively estimated at over a billion dollars and game tickets reselling for $4800, Super Bowl 50 stands in contrast to the record numbers of homeless people in the San Francisco Bay Area, unprecedented student debt, continuing cutbacks in public education, and rising socio-economic inequality.

“Super inequality” was the target of protests near Levi’s Stadium and in downtown San José, where demonstrators chanted that “the Super Bowl’s pockets are lined with gold.” Marching around Super Bowl festivities in Plaza de César Chávez, they called for some of the money to be used to solve the homeless crisis and to address poverty and urgent social issues.

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SJPJC Interns for 2015!

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  Hi, I am Patrice! I am currently taking a break from Sonoma State University from majoring in Political science. I was born in San Jose, but have lived in many places including Sacramento, Maryland and South Korea. I would like to help my community and work on the Latin FilmSeries while I am working at the Peace and Justice Center. I have worked with Rotaract Club of Silicon Valley in the past. In my free time, I like to sew and watch Anime. 

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Hi, I’m K. Austria! I am from a small island in Washington known as Whidbey Island, and I’m a freshman at San Jose State University.  I’m majoring in journalism, with a minor in human rights studies. I have a passion for social justice, especially issues surrounding people of color and the LGBTQ community.  I am also currently involved with SJSU Q&A. I am excited to learn more about the activist community in San Jose while working at the Peace and Justice Center.  In my spare time I indulge in spoken word poetry, and art history.

 

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From the Streets to the Grave holds candle lit vigil

By K. Austria

Last Saturday, November 14th, a candle light vigil was held in front of San Jose City Hall to commemorate the lives lost in acts of violence.  The vigil did not only pay tribute to victims of violence, but also the families of these victims who were mourning the loss of their loved ones.  The event was put together by Elsa Lopez, the founder of the organization “From the Streets to the Grave”.  During the vigil, Lopez as well as many others shared the names and stories of the loved ones they had lost.  “This vigil is not just for those who have lost someone due to acts of violence.  The holidays are coming up and that’s a very difficult time for families who have lost loved ones, whether it’s from violence, illness, or any other means.”  There were also a variety of hymns sung throughout the vigil, in both Spanish and English.

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