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Current Activities

Statement in Support of Brooklyn Commons and Melissa Ennen

We are extremely concerned about the threat to the Brooklyn Commons as a space which has housed and nurtured progressive groups, such as ours (see below for signers), as well as the personal attacks on the integrity of Melissa Ennen. This threat has arisen as a result of the controversy over her decision to allow Christopher Bollyn to speak at the Commons on Wednesday September 7. Since that time, we are aware that there is an effort to convince groups which use the space at the Commons to cancel events or even to move their offices out. Furthermore, rumors are being spread that Melissa herself holds anti-Semitic, racist or neo-Nazi views.

Melissa has made clear her commitment to the principle of free speech. (See Statement “Who We Are”  posted on Commons website) We may or may not agree with her about how this principle applies to a non-governmental space such as the Commons. However, her stand on this, and her decision to allow Bollyn to use the space, does NOT mean that she is in agreement with any of his ideas or views. We understand that there are progressive allies who consider it necessary to erect a “firewall” against speakers such as Bollyn, who promote anti-Semitism or white supremacy, often in subtle forms which may be initially difficult to distinguish. But we believe it is open to question whether these views can be counteracted most effectively by not allowing speakers such as Bollyn to speak, or by protesting outside his appearances, or by attending and challenging his statements during events at which he does speak. 

Many of us have known Melissa Ennen for as long as 14 years.  During that time, her actions have spoken louder than any words. Some of us met her in the aftermath of 9/11. She came to a Forum (January 2002) sponsored by Brooklyn For Peace attempting to mobilize community response to the disappearances of our Muslim neighbors, and their incarceration at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park.  She joined us at weekly demonstrations in Sunset Park for several months.  Nothing that she has ever said or done has in any way indicated that she has any sympathy for anti-Semitic, racist, or neo-Nazi views.

Since 2010 Melissa has worked tirelessly to develop the Brooklyn Commons as a community center and a home for progressive groups, offering office and working space, as well as space for events. This is an extremely important resource for all of us in Brooklyn. We can not allow it to be undermined or destroyed, or allow the questioning of Melissa Ennen’s integrity to remain unchallenged. 

Signed, as of January 13, 2017: (see below if you wish to add your name or the name of an organization)
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Thank You, Brooklyn For Peace,
Says Downstate Nurses Union.

Dec 13, 2016

Several Brooklyn For Peace members attended the holiday party of United University Professions, the union representing nurses and other staff members at Brooklyn’s Downstate Medical Center. Several years ago a battle raged there as the management threatened massive layoffs and shutdowns to this important and prestigious facility in the heart of the borough. The union rallied support by building a coalition of clergy and community groups. Brooklyn For Peace joined with the coalition, helped build support, handed out flyers, attended rallies and travelled to Albany to demand funding and full staffing of Downstate. The borough has been witness to the closing of a dozen medical institutions in recent years, the result of city and state cutbacks to the health care system.

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UUP Treasurer, Rowena Blackman-Stroud, presents a plaque of appreciation to Brooklyn For Peace members Matthew Weinstein (center) and Bruce Altschuler. Altschuler is also a UUP member.

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Brooklyn Turns Out STRONG
To Welcome Refugees!

December 7, 2016

Over 160 people crowded into Fort Greene’s Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church to attend a forum titled, “The World-Wide Refugee Crisis: Syria and Beyond.” The event was sponsored by community peace and justice organizations, Fort Greene Peace and Brooklyn For Peace as well as the Lafayette Ave Presbyterian Church Social Justice Committee and Amnesty International USA.

The forum consisted of a panel of speakers with expertise on the subject, some of whom were refugees themselves.

The Panel of speakers with moderator, Cindy Sibilsky, at Wednesday night's forum on refugees.
The Panel of speakers with moderator, Cindy Sibilsky, at Wednesday night’s forum on refugees.

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The 2016 Pathmakers To Peace
A Fitting Answer To The Election:
FIGHT BACK!

Nov 18, 2016

Several hundred friends and members of Brooklyn For Peace, Brooklyn’s largest and most active peace and justice organization, crowded into the historic Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights. They were there to celebrate the organization’s more than 30 years in fighting the good fight. But also to attend this year’s Pathmakers To Peace, the organization’s annual fundraising dinner, wherein those individuals who have led the fight for peace, equality and social and economic justice are honored.

Enjoy photos of the evening’s festivities  here.
See it on YouTube (full-length)
Finally, check out the program journal here. Thanks to the individuals, community organizations, businesses, and service providers whose support made this memorable and uplifting event possible. Please let them know that you appreciate their commitment to peace and social justice!

One of the evenings honoroees, Opal Tometi, co-founder of Black Lives Matter.
One of the evenings honorees, Opal Tometi, co-founder of Black Lives Matter.

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Tom Hayden, Presente!

Brooklyn For Peace joins with United for Peace and Justice in mourning the death of Tom Hayden.  We celebrate his life and acknowledge with gratitude his  contributions to BFP, as well as to the larger movement of which we are a part.  He spoke for BFP (without charge or even an honorarium) on October 2, 2009 (our 25th anniversary year.)   His talk was entitled “Does U.S. Foreign Policy in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan Mean Endless War?” Sadly, we are still facing that question today. For further reflections on Tom Hayden’s life and legacy, see this article by Richard Flacks  It concludes with some of Tom’s ideas for activist practice, which can serve us well to keep in mind as we continue to move forward.

From United for Peace and Justice:

United for Peace and Justice mourns the death of Tom Hayden, a long-time friend and generous supporter of our organization.

Tom Hayden will be remembered as one of the giants of the movement for peace and social justice in our lifetime. Through all the major struggles of the past decades -for civil rights, peace, a safe environment and labor rights- his was a consistent voice on behalf of a wider humanity. Continue reading

BFP Statement re Controversy About the Brooklyn Commons

Statement re Controversy About the Brooklyn Commons

I’m writing this message personally and also on behalf of Brooklyn For Peace, of which I am the Chairperson.  We are most distressed about the threat to the Brooklyn Commons as a space which has housed and nurtured progressive groups, including BFP, as well as the personal attacks on the integrity of Melissa Ennen, as a result of the controversy over her decision to allow Christopher Bollyn to speak at the Commons on Wednesday September 7.

Personally I disagree with that decision, but whether or not we agree about that, Melissa’s decision to proceed with allowing him to use the space does NOT mean that she is in agreement with any of his ideas or views.  The way in which she is being “tried” in the court of public opinion on Facebook is only giving ammunition to whatever groups or individuals would like to see the Brooklyn Commons closed as a venue which has hosted progressive ideas and events over the years.

Melissa reports that there is an effort to convince groups which use the space at the Brooklyn Commons to pull out, and that the parents of children who use the space in the programs of the nearby “Mathnasium” are being called and advised to withdraw their children because “Melissa Ennen is an anti-semite and/or a neo-Nazi.” Who is doing this, and why??  Whose agenda is being served by this??

I believe that Melissa’s actions over the past 14 years that I have known her speak louder than any words. I met Melissa in the aftermath of 9/11, when she came to a Forum (January 2002) sponsored by Brooklyn For Peace attempting to mobilize community response to the disappearances of our Muslim neighbors, and their incarceration at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park.  She joined us at weekly demonstrations in Sunset Park for several months.  In the years that followed, she has made free or very low cost space available to Brooklyn For Peace for our Board meetings and public events. Nothing that she has ever said or done has made me think she is in any way anti-semitic, or would support anti-semitic, racist, or neo-Nazi views.

I’d suggest that folks look at the article about Melissa (posted 3/4/2011).  Also there is a short YouTube video of her speaking about the history of the Brooklyn Commons, posted on 11/21/2015.

There is an urgent need for groups and individuals to step forward both to defend Melissa personally, and to defend the space at the Commons which has been so important to the nurturing of a progressive community in Brooklyn.

Charlotte Phillips, M.D.
Chairperson, Brooklyn For Peace
Sept 11, 2016
718-344-9913
cpforpeace@gmail.com

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