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)

Brooklyn For Peace (See statement)
Ann Fawcett Ambia
, Brooklyn For Peace Board
Annette Averette, Sixth Street Community Center, Manhattan
Charlene Barker, Brooklyn For Peace Board
George Bartenieff, Theater Three Collaborative
David Barouh, WBAI Volunteer
Bay Ridge Peace Action
Heidi Boghosian, Law and Disorder (WBAI) and A.J. Muste Memorial Institute
Howard Brandstein, Executive Director, Sixth Street Community Center, Manhattan
John Brinkley, Former Chair, WBAI Local Station Board* (for identification only)
Brooklyn Greens
Stephen M. Brown,
Director of the Pacifica Foundation*; Director of PRN (Progressive Radio Network*); Director of El Taller Latino Americano*; President of ACE (Alliance for Community Elections)* (*for identification only)
Linnea Capps,M.D., Doctors for Global Health* (for identification only)
Mitchel Cohen, Brooklyn Greens; Organizer of “Phil Ochs Birthday Bash” at The Commons
Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism –
Gary Cobin, Harmonica player and Progressive
Rhio Coreli, Author, Singer
Paul Corell
Randy Credico, Political Comedian (WBAI)
Elliot Crown
Ken Diamondstone, Brooklyn For Peace Board
Bill Dobbs, Civil Libertarian
A.J. Elterman
Elizabeth Ely

Roy Felshin, Antiwar Activist
Larry Fishman, Oakland Greens* (*for identification only)
Henry Florsheim, Brooklyn For Peace Advisory Board
Jaki Florsheim,
Brooklyn For Peace Advisory Board
Julianna Forlano, The Julianna Forlano Show (WBAI)
Jim Freund, Producer/Host of Hour of the Wolf on WBAI-FM; Exec. Curator of New York Review of Science Fiction Readings (NYRSFR)
Ken Gale, Eco-Logic (WBAI)
Paul Gilman, Green Party NY & Cures Not Wars Anti-Drug War Activist
Terri Ginsberg, Assistant Professor of Film, The American University in Cairo, Panel Organizer at The Commons
Robert Gold, Former Listener Delegate to the WBAI Local  Station Board (2007–2010)
Ed Goldman, Fort Greene Peace* (For identification only)
Dennis M. Goldstein, WBAI Listener; Denville (NJ) Sustainability Committee/Green Team
Judy Gorman, Singer-Songwriter
Arnold Gore, Consumers Health Freedom Coalition
Granny Peace Brigade
Naomi Paz Greenberg,
Flushing Interfaith Council* (for identification only)
Georgia Guida, Member, Brooklyn For Peace, Israel-Palestine Committee
Kevin Gunderson
Jenny Heinz,
Member, Granny Peace Brigade
Doug Henwood, Journalist & Broadcaster
Ruth Indeck
James Irsay,
Producer, Morning Irsay; WBAi-FM8 (*for identification only)
Abdeen Jabara, Past President, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Jennifer Jager, Former Director, Pacifica Foundation* (For identification only)
Michael Johnson, Ganas Community and Grassroots Economics Organizing
Reggie Johnson, From the Soundboard / Liquid sound Lounge (WBAI
John Kane, Host of “Let’s Talk” (WBAI)
Deborah Kapell, Jewish Voice for Peace* (for identification only)
Kevin Keating, Documentary Film Producer: “Giuliani Time”
Bill Koehnlein, Theater of the Oppresed Laboratory
Sam Koprak, UFT member;  Brooklyn For Peace member (Peace and Economic Justice Committee)
Joel Kovel
Brent Kramer
Jonathan Logan

Fran Luck, Producer/Host: Joy of Resistance, Multicultural Feminist Radio (WBAI)
Carl Makower
Alex Mallis, Filmmaker
Karen Malpede, Theater Three Collaborative
Kathleen McArdle
Victoria McFadyen,
Bay Ridge Peace Action
Matt Meyer, War Resisters International; International Peace Research Association
Donia Mili: Indie filmmaker
Dan Miner, Resilience NYC Meetup
Frances Minichiello,
Brooklyn For Peace
Michael Montella, Ishmail Shabazz Defense Fund
Marcia Newfield
Constance Norgren
No Spray Coalition against pesticides
Bertell Olman, Professor, Deptartment of Politics, NYU; Speaker on Marxism and Dialectics at The Commons
Jeff Peress, Past Green Party candidate for the 13th Assembly District, Past WBAI  Local Station Board candidate* (for identification only)
Charlotte Phillips, M.D., Brooklyn For Peace (Chairperson)
Marie-Claire Picher, Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory
John Pietaro, Writer and Musician
Dawn Reel, community-based technologist
Berthold Reimers, General Manager, WBAI Radio* (For identification only)
Rev Billy & Savitri D., “The Earth Wants YOU” radio show, WBAI
Roberto Rivera, Retired Professor of Mathematics, C.U.N.Y; Resident of Atlantic Avenue community for over 40 years
Max Schmid, Engineer for WBAI radio; Host of the show “Golden Age of Radio” for many decades* (For identification only)
David Schweickart, Loyola University Chicago* (for identification only)
Jack Shalom, WBAI volunteer, Commons Cafe customer
Alice Shields, Board of Directors, Association for the Promotion of New Music (
Ann and Ahmad Shirazi, Anti-War Activists
Carolina Cositore Sitrin, Author
Michael Steven Smith, Law and Disorder Radio (WBAI)
Thomas Smith, Social Science Adjunct professor, CUNY
Paul Stein, Musician
Tony Stanzione, Organization Stanzione Studio
Meg Starr, Resistance in Brooklyn
Cathryn Swan, Board member/Activist, No Spray Coalition against pesticides
Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory** (See below for their statement)
Greg Todd, Waste Not Permaculture
Pete Tucker, former Pacifica and WPFW board member* (*for identification only)
Marilyn Vogt-Downey, WBAI Volunteer; student in Marxist Education Project classes
Rev. Gabriella Velardi Ward, Pastor of St Praxedis Catholic Community
Matthew Weinstein, Brooklyn For Peace Board
Wheels Collective
Michael D.D. White,
 Noticing New York & National Notice
Sue Yellin

*For identification only

**Joint Statement from Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory and The Indypendent:
“While TOPLAB and The Indypendent opposed having Christopher Bollyn as a speaker at The Commons, we view the choice made by Melissa Ennen as a political decision. We disagreed with that decision, yet we nonetheless see the entire issue as simply that: a political disagreement. To condemn her, to seek reprisals, to advocate for a boycott–and possible shutdown–of The Commons is unfair, politically misguided and gives tangible support to reactionary right-wing forces who would seek to eliminate all venues of the left. For folks who disagree with Melissa’s choice, keep in mind the numerous areas of shared affinity and solidarity, over the years, between left/progressive communities and organizations and Melissa and The Commons–particularly the providing of valuable physical space in which to educate, organize and move forward. Please do not allow one disagreement to undermine or sabotage this important left resource.”
In Solidarity-
Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory
The Indypendent

NOTE: If you want to add your name as an individual, or the name of an organization, please e-mail