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Peace and Economic
Justice Committee

Marching To Defend Democracy
And Protecting The Right To Vote

Dec 10, 2011

On this day, the United Nations Human Rights Day, thousands gathered in front of the offices of Koch Industries. Organizations funded by the billionaire brothers have been busy lobbying state legislators and governors, persuading them to enact legislation that attacks democratic rights by restricting voting rights.

In some 30 sates, right-wing lawmakers have passed laws that roll back motor-voter registration, do away with Sunday voting, require state-issued photo ID’s and bar convicted felons from the voting booth. Under the guise of preventing voter fraud – a non-issue because electoral fraud is virtually non-existent – these new laws are designed not to prevent fraud but to prevent citizens from voting their choice. These laws are the modern equivalent of yesterday’s Jim Crow poll tax and literacy tests that were used in the last century to disenfranchise vast numbers of African-American voters in the south.

From the Koch brothers’ office on Madison Avenue and East 61st Street, the marchers walked to the United Nations and a rally.

Sponsored by the NAACP, domestic issue organizations and many different unions, including the Transport Workers Union, The United Federation of Teachers and the Service Employees International Union/1199, the coalition issued this call:

Voting rights are under attack.

Our nation is in the midst of the most aggressive attempt to roll back voting rights in over a century.

A century ago, the target was the voting rights of Black voters and other voters of color. The goal was to eliminate their presence at the polls to accelerate the spread of racial segregation.

Today, the target is the voting rights of Black voters, Latino voters, Asian American Voters, Native American Voters, as well as students and young people, seniors, working women, and immigrants of all colors. These are also among the voting demographics who are most likely to support workers rights, equal opportunity, women’s rights, LBGT rights, environmental protection, and peace.

A century ago, their tactics were varied: grandfather clauses, poll taxes, and racially motivated ex-felon voting bans.

Today, voter suppression also takes many forms, including attacks on early and Sunday voting to make voting harder for working people, photo ID requirements for voting and registration that introduce the first financial barrier to voting since the poll tax, and the same racially-motivated ex-felon bans.

Attacking voting rights was un-American then.

Attacking voting rights is un-American now.

We rose to the challenge then.

We must meet the challenge now.

It’s time for each of us to Stand for Freedom.

Brooklyn For Peace endorsed and participated in this march. Restricting voting rights goes hand-in-hand with the drive to war and the militarism that is a hallmark of today’s American society. The fight for peace, to stop the vicious cutbacks in vital services, to change priorities from war to human needs – these require a full and functioning people’s democracy, with freedom of speech and assembly and the unfettered right to vote in elections that are free from corporate money and dominance.

To see all our photos visit our gallery.

Make History Tomorrow
Because You Can’t Evict An Idea!

Nov 16, 2011

They came in the dead of night, overwhelming peaceful protesters with brute force, tear gas, batons and pepper spray. They dumped tents and tarps and computers and books – 5,000 or so books! – into trash bins and garbage trucks. They arrested over a hundred peaceful demonstrators. And all this was done under the pretext of protecting the public’s “health and safety”, carried out on the orders of the Billionaire Mayor of New York, Michael R. Bloomberg.

Curiously, this mayor has been a chief culprit when it comes to the deteriorating health and safety of the people who elected him —

  • The so-called Education Mayor has fired hundreds of school aids and made severe cutbacks to our public schools, forcing children into unsafe, overcrowded and dilapidated classrooms.
  • His policies have allowed his wealthy developer pals to gentrify vast sections of the city, driving rents up and forcing poor people out, causing more homelessness and helping to destroy the middle class.
  • He is silent even though large sections of Brooklyn (and other boroughs) are losing one hospital after another, leaving large numbers of New Yorkers without access to decent medical care.

Instead of supporting the basic tenets of the Occupy Wall Street movement, this Mayor (and many others) have been trying to shift the discussion to irrelevant issues of health and safety. OWS says that we face an economic emergency: Our homes are being taken by greedy banks that we bailed out. Job prospects for the unemployed, students, and veterans are practically non-existent. And at all levels, politicians are looking to make even deeper cuts to our schools and vital health and human services. The Mayors should be standing by the side of OWS because it is their cities, and the people who live in them, that are suffering the most.

Tomorrow, in New York City and around the country and the world, we will deliver an answer to the Billionaire Mayor. Thousands will turn out for a National Day of Action to celebrate the 2-month birthday of OWS and to tell him and other elected officials under the sway of the One Percent –

“You cannot evict an idea whose time has come. We are not going away. We want our country back and we demand a change in priorities!”


You cannot evict an idea whose time has come.

Rule by the One Percent has given us endless wars, loss of homes and jobs and cuts to our social services. Now we are being told that we must suffer even more with Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security on the chopping block of the Congressional Super Committee.

Occupy Wall Street has changed the agenda. It says:

“Let the billionaires and Wall Street pay for the mess that they created! Hands off our Social Security and other vital programs! End these wars and cut the bloated Pentagon instead!”

Please join the thousands tomorrow, Thursday, November 17th at 5:00 pm in Foley Square. The Brooklyn For Peace contingent will meet at 4:30 to 5:00 pm, one block north of Foley Square at the SW corner of Leonard and Lafayette Streets. Get a map link here.

For some videos and photos of yesterday’s triumphant reclaiming of Zuccotti Square, click here.

 

An Inspiring OWS Video

Oct 28, 2011

An inspiring video from Occupy Wall Street.

Watch! Then Join.

The Movement For Peace & Jobs
is Alive and Well in Brooklyn!

In another sign that protest against the tragic status quo of our times is growing, Brooklyn For Peace and its allies in Brooklyn, staged an event on Saturday, October 22, 2011, to mark the 10th anniversary of the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

Called as a community rally and march around the slogans of —

“Ten years of war — Ten years too any!
End the wars!
Bring all our troops home now – safe and alive!
Bring our war dollars home for jobs and vital services!”

— speakers blasted the wars and the skewed priorities of Congress in approving one-and-a-quarter trillion dollars over the last ten years on the two wars while our cities crumbled and Americans lost jobs and homes. They demanded that Congresss and the President move the money from war to urgent pulbic needs. They called for and to the cutbacks and layoffs that are devastating the communities and for fair taxation policies that would make the wealthiest and the large corporations pay their proper share of taxes.

The notion being used by elected officials that “there’s no money” was called a lie because the deficit could be greatly diminished or turned into a surplus by ending the Bush tax cuts and slashing the spending for the wars and for the bloated annual Pentagon budget which claims 60 cents of every dollar while public schools get 4 cents! What the economy needs now, many pointed out, is spending for jobs and expansion of services, certainly not cuts and layoffs.

A dramatic street theater, staged by Lone Wolf Tribe and Ft. Greene Peace, started the day. William, a life-sized puppet of a U.S. veteran of the Afghanistan war, sadly staggers into an open area of sidewalk in front of the library. He is holding a folded American flag and finally falls, stricken, to the pavement. Then theater participants chalk messages on the sidewalk around the fallen soldier: brief slogans that illustrate the fate of our nation’s neglected veterans, ignored by the so-called patriots who sent them to war in the first place. It dramatically galvanized onlookers and passers-by and encouraged them to stay and listen to the speakers who followed.


Street theater at the Grand Army Plaza library.

Speakers included leaders of labor, peace and community organizations, among them Tish James, local city council member and NYC Public Advocate, Bill De Blasio.


Council Member Tish James attacked gun violence and linked it to the violence that pervades society.

Introduced by Veronica Nunn, a co-chair of Brooklyn For Peace, who MC’d the day’s event, both of those elected officials inspired the assembly to make the wars a central issue once again.

Rusti Eisenberg, Co-Chair of Brooklyn For Peace set the tone when said that 911 was hijacked. “But the perpetrators were not foreign “terrorists”, they were homegrown politicians and business leaders, who transformed our tragedy —- the horrifying attack on the World Trade Center into a call for endless wars.”

She went on to show just how much the two wars had cost the people of Brooklyn. Eisenberg said,

“NYC has spent in excess of $39 billion dollars for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Brooklyn alone has spent $10 billion for the wars. And that’s just the wars. When you include here the overall Defense budget -what we in Brooklyn pay for the American military, year after year the amount skyrockets.

“But when it comes to domestic needs, we are told there is no money. We’re in austerity. We have to lay off school aides, cut back on services in hospitals, schools, libraries, mass transit, programs for the poor. No money. And with each passing day, the state and city budgets grow tighter and the quality of life for most people in this city declines.”

Folk singers John Munnelly and Sharleen Leahy entertained at the rally and then several hundred Brooklynites took off on a walk through the Prospect Heights neighborhood. As they walked chants broke out:

“How do you solve the deficit? End the war and tax the rich!”

“We are the 99%!” echoed through the streets of Flatbush.


Christine Williams, a member of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Executive Board, blamed cutbacks on fat paychecks for Transit Authority executives and on bloated war budgets, leaving little or nothing for the 99% of us.

At the Q/B subway station at Flatbush Avenue and Park Place, Transit Workers Union (TWU) Board member, Christine Williams gave an impassioned speech decrying cuts to the city’s transit system and putting the blame squarely on big bonuses for MTA fat cats and a strangulated city budget being choked by federal war spending.

Likewise at MS 340, at the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and Sterling Place, public school advocate Jon Halabi once again addressed the marchers blaming public education cuts and layoffs squarely on the military budget.

“Our public schools,” Halabi said “must be financed first and not struggle for the crumbs that are left over after wasteful spending for wars and the Pentagon have eaten up all our tax monies.”

The walk ended back at the elegant arch in Grand Army Plaza where folks chanted and held signs for passing cars and shoppers in the farmers market across the road. It was a great day that put the movement for peace and jobs and economic justice back squarely on the map in Brooklyn. Now onwards to building the kind of coaltion that cuts across all constituencies so we can work together in Brooklyn and throughout our city to win progressive change!


Demanding peace and new priorities while marching through Grand Army Plaza and up Flatbush Avenue.

There was good coverage of the day’s event on local cable channel News12.

To see the video and all the day’s photos just CLICK HERE.

SAT, 10/22, 12-2 pm: March and Rally in Brooklyn
Protest Ten Years of War in Afghanistan

Commemorate 10th anniversary of war in Afghanistan:
Ten Years Too Many!
Join Brooklyn For Peace for a Community Rally & March!
Speakers and music! Bring your families! All are welcome!
WHEN: Saturday, October 22nd, 12 noon to 2 pm
WHERE: Central Library, Grand Army Plaza
WHY?? WE DEMAND:
End the wars! Bring Our Troops Home!
Bring Our War Dollars Home to Rebuild Our Communities!
Put our country back to work with green jobs.
Fix our crumbling infrastructure.
Stop the cuts to our schools, hospitals, transit and housing.
Make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes.

Speakers:

  • Veronica Nunn (MC)
  • Rusti Eisenberg (BFP)
  • Bill De Blasio, NYC Public Advocate
  • Jonathan Halabi – UFT New Action Caucus
  • Josh Silverstein, President, Democracy for NYC
  • Ahsanullah Bobby Khan – Coney Island Avenue Projecct
  • Ana Aguirre – United Community Centers, East NY
  • Rev. Tom Martinez, All Souls Bethelem Church
  • Jan Clausen, NYC Chatper of US Labor Against the War

Sponsored by: Brooklyn For Peace
Additional Sponsors: (list in formation): Coney Island Avenue Project; Democracy for NYC; Flatbush For Peace; Fort Greene Peace; Green Party of Brooklyn; Local 420, Municipal Hospital Employees Union; Military Famlies Speak Out, Metro; New Action Caucus, UFT; Social Action Committee of the Park Slope United Methodist Church; Peace Action Bay Ridge; Peace Action New York State; United Community Centers, East New York; UPROSE; US Labor Against the War, NYC Chapter; Dan Campanelli, Chair, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (ID only)
Check out the flyer. Check out the event on Facebook, and share with your friends.
Community Walking Route:
We will walk through the arch, and then north to tip of plaza. We will continue  up the east side of Flastbush ave to stop at Q/B train station at Park Pl and Flatbush. We will then walk up Park (eastwards) to Vanderbilt to right on Vanderbilt to MS 351 on corner of Vanderbilt and Sterling for a brief stop there (teacher will talk again about school cuts). Then back to arch through the plaza, where we will gather together.
Questions? Call 718-624-5921 or e-mail pej@brooklynpeace.org
Email pej@brooklynpeace.org or call 718-624-5921 for more information.

Observing the Tenth Anniversary of the Afghanistan War
Remarks by Carolyn (“Rusti”) Eisenberg

Remarks at Times Square Rally,
October 7, 2011

by Carolyn (“Rusti”) Eisenberg, Brooklyn For Peace and United for Peace and Justice

This is the week New Yorkers began to hope again. If you were down in Foley Square on Wednesday, the infectious spirit of the crowd, the amazing diversity of the marchers, the energy and feeling of unity were a reminder that social justice and peace are living aspirations for most people. And they come to life when we act together.

Ten years ago our city was hijacked. But the perpetrators were not foreign “terrorists”, they were homegrown politicians and business leaders, who transformed our tragedy —- the horrifying attack on the World Trade Center into a call for endless wars. On September 12, 2001, we were a city of grieving people, who were seeking ways to help each other. We understood with startling clarity that every life is precious–no matter what the person’s race or religion or income. And we watched the rescue workers down at “ground zero” risk their own lives, with the diminishing hope that by their effort they could save even one person. Continue reading

Voters To Schumer – “Bring Our War Dollars Home!”

Sep 3, 2011

We set up our Penny Poll table at the Fort Greene farmers market on a beautiful late summer day. Despite the Labor Day weekend, the market was crowded and so was our table. Hosted by Brooklyn For Peace and its ally in the neighborhood, Fort Greene Peace, the table attracted scores of Brooklyn residents who took the poll to voice their concern about skewed federal spending priorities. With 60 cents of every dollar going for wars and military spending (while only 4 cents, for example, being spent on education), folks voiced their concern about the disconnect between their priorities and how Congress has been spending their tax dollars.

After taking the poll, many signed postcards addressed to Senators Gillibrand and Schumer, urging them to match their voting to the desires of the people who sent them to Washington. It was noted that both Senators have been voting for continued funding of the Afghanistan war (the two wars have taken 1-1/4 Trillion dollars over the last 10 years!) and for the annual bloated Pentagon budget. With severe cutbacks being made to needed domestic services and with threats from extremists in Congress to end Medicare and Social Security, residents demanded that the Senators show leadership in saving these programs by cutting the outsized military expenditures.

There were no surrpises in the results of today’s poll. As in past weeks, Brooklynites voted (with their pennies) for spending on education, jobs, housing and the environment. War spending received only 3% of the pennies allocated by the poll takers (see graph below). By contrast, Congress allocates nearly 60% on the wars and the military budget – the exact opposite of what voters want.

To see photos from today’s Penny Poll table at Ft. Greene farmers market go here.

To participate in upcoming tables just drop us a line: pej@brooklynpeace.org … it’s fun!

Ten Years After 911: We Walk For Peace And Friendship

Aug 31, 2011

On Sunday, September 11, a diverse group of  Brooklyn residents will gather and march across the Brooklyn Bridge to demonstrate their desire for peace and friendship among all peoples. This will be the eighth annual Children Of Abraham Peace Walk which, over the years, has united Jews, Christians, Muslims and others – joining hands and walking together in a spirit of harmony and good will. It has been and will be a remarkable display of the intrinsic peaceful and good nature of the American people – the very opposite of the hatred, racism and violence that has been spewed by some in an attempt to foment an atmosphere of distrust and disunity among us.

After the evil violence and destruction of the attacks of 911 there were many who called for international understanding and cooperation as the way forward to combat terrorism. That opportunity to build a more peaceful world was dashed by endless wars and conflict, initiated by the Bush/Cheney administration.

Brooklyn For Peace is proud to be a sponsor of this event. We will march with others to present our vision of a better country and world. Instead of increasing misery, hunger and homelessness; instead of drastic cuts to social services; instead of anger, suspicion, mistrust and disunity we will proclaim loudly and clearly:

End the wars!

Bring all our troops home now!

Bring the wasted billions of dollars home to our communities to provide jobs , good schools and decent and affordable housing.

United we stand and progress!

Divided we fall and go backwards!

Join us at to walk with our sisters and brothers:
Meet Sunday, September 11th at 2:00 pm at the Dawood Mosque, 143 State Street in Brooklyn – from there we will stop briefly at other houses of worship and then walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. See details and download a flyer here.

Please note: This is a dignified and somber walk. The organizers have asked that you please do not bring signs or banners that would diminish the nature of the event.

Children Of Abraham Peace March flyer

We Ask Brooklynites –
How Do You Want Your Tax Dollars Spent?

Aug 6, 2011

“How about taking a Penny Poll?”

That’s what we asked dozens of Brooklyn residents today at the Fort Greene Farmers Market.

“What’s that?” they wanted to know. We explained that Congress, in its 2011 discretionary budget, allocated an incredible 58% for wars and Pentagon spending, leaving just “pennies” for schools, jobs, housing and other important programs.

“How would you like your federal tax dollars spent?” we asked. “What are your priorities?”

“Take our Penny Poll and vote your own priorities.”

BFP's Penny Poll table in Fort Greene.
People crowded the table, eager to send Congress a message on its misguided spending priorities.

Using a new Penny Poll gizmo (that had been used successfully by other peace groups, including the Grannies) which some BFP volunteers had constructed, we gave participants a bag of 20 pennies and let them distribute them they way they’d want Congress to. It came as no surprise to us in Brooklyn For Peace, that Congress was not reflecting the desires of their constituents. Overwhelmingly, they put their pennies into tubes labeled “education,” “jobs,” “housing,” and “environment.” At the bottom of the list was war spending – the exact opposite of Congress’ skewed priorities.

Penny Poll Flyer
The 2-sided flyer distributed at our Penny Poll.

It was a graphic and dramatic demonstration of the disconnect between Congress and the will of the people. The poll technique is very effective is starting a conversation with residents who voted with their pennies but also took flyers, made contributions and signed up for more news from Brooklyn For Peace and Fort Greene Peace – both groups participated in staffing the table.


The People’s Choice? Education led. War spending was last!

We’ll be using the Penny Poll gizmo in the weeks ahead as the budget battle heats up in Congress. In the wake of the lopsided and destructive Debt Ceiling debacle, pressure on the House and Senate is more important than ever to insure that priorities reflecting people’s needs and not the profits of the war contractors are reflected in the federal budget.

The Penny Poll campaign is an initiative of BFP’s Peace And Economic Justice (PEJ) Committee. We invite you to partipate? (It’s fun, by the way).
Contact us at pej@brooklynpeace.org.

CLICK HERE to see  all the photos from today’s Penny Poll action in Fort Greene.

 

Brooklyn Says Thank You For Voting
Against The Cutbacks and Wars.

Jul 26, 2011

Brooklyn For Peace (BFP) members joined other Brooklyn residents in extending thank you’s in person to Congress members from Brooklyn who were among the 86 Democrats in the House  who agreed with the Speaker that cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits are “off the table.”

The visits were called by MoveOn.org in emails sent to their Brooklyn members. Under the slogan of “Keep Standing Strong,” the visitors extended their appreciation but also urged their Representatives to continue to be vigilant and strong as things come down to the wire. As MoveOn noted in its email, the 86 “will be under incredible pressure to give in to Republican hostage-taking.”

One such meeting took place today at the offices of 11th CD Representative, Yvette Clarke. A diverse group of a dozen or so Brooklyn residents crammed into a conference room at the Linden Boulevard office of Clarke. Attended by several of Yvette Clarke’s aides, there were representatives of MoveOn, Save The American Dream and members of several unions including the UFT and NYSUT. In addition, BFP members, Sam Koprak and Matt Weinstein presented a letter of thanks to the Congresswoman for her recent votes against the 2012 Pentagon budget and continued funding of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

BFP member Koprak presented the letter to Clarke aide, Veronica Aveis, and said that his organization appreciated her votes against the military budget and also her support of Barbara Lee’s amendment that would have allowed spending only for the speedy and safe withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Copies of the letter as well as a BFP flyer were handed out to others in the delegation.

Others in the delegation expressed their support for Clarke’s declaration that cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security were “off the table” but wanted further assurances that she would “keep standing tall” as the pressure mounted to reach some settlement. A UFT member made it very clear that the delegation expected Clarke to continue to represent the overwhelming majority of her constituents who  do not want those services to be cut in any way, shape or form. BFP’s Weinstein said that recent polls show that more than 85 per cent of the American people have stated their opposition to cuts in those programs and that outsized war spending and unfair tax cuts for billionaires and large corporations should be the source of revenue that could prevent cuts and could actually expand services. “That’s the kind of society we want and federal spending priorities must reflect that,” he said.

The meeting ended with a consensus that unity of all those who want progressive change was the most important thing to strive for. That should include those who are working for peace as well as those involved in the fight for economic justice and against cutbacks in domestic programs. Only by building such a coalition can we succeed in pushing elected officials to abandon the current path of solving economic problems on the backs of working families.

For more photos, click here.
For a copy of the BFP flyer, click here.
For a copy of the BFP letter to Yvette Clarke, click here.

 

 
Who We Are


Mission Statement

The Peace and Economic Justice Committee could also be called the Brooklyn For Peace Direct Action Committee....Read more

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Protest FBI Raids and Harrassment of Antiwar Activists.

Penny Poll

See the results of our Penny Poll!

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E-mail us or call 718-624-5921 if you are interested in attending.