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April 20th, 2017

Why Yemen? What have Yemenis done to the USA?

While…

We have bombed them killing civilians and children. We helped Saudi Arabia kill over 10, 000 (still counting) with the sale of weapons and refueling of the bombers we sold them. And now FAMINE threatens this country, one of the poorest in the world! Millions!

The GPB  joined a week long action across from the UN from 10-16 April organized by the New York Catholic Worker Community with many other groups. Around 20 fasted in support of the Yemeni people calling for:

  1. Ending of all drone attacks and military special operations within Yemen;
  2. End to US weapon sales and military aid to Saudi Arabia;
  3. Compensation to those who suffered losses due to US air strikes.

And…
the UN to end a blockade and air strikes, a silencing of all weapons, and a negotiated settlement to the war in Yemen.
Fifty-five US Congress Members including NYC’s Nadler have signed a letter to POTUS expressing concern for our actions in Yemen. This is just a first step. We must ensure the blockade ends and that UN food aid reaches starving children.

What can we do when so few seem to care?
Let your Congress members know YOU care!

Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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March 31st, 2017

NYC Parent Teacher Conference Night – Spring 2017

NYC Parent Teacher Conference Night provides an opportunity to bring non-military alternatives and educational opportunities to families.  On the evening of March 23, 2017, volunteers were at 11 high schools handing out 2 flyers to parents as they arrived to meet with their child’s teachers. Flyer information includes websites for colleges, training programs, community service, scholarships and financial aid as well as questions to ask recruiters in order to better understand the hype of enlistment promises and military service requirements.

With just a few words, “Consider non-military alternatives to the military for your child, check out the many websites, learn more about financial aid and the many opportunities available for your child” parents accept the information often with a thank you included.

Several parents stop to speak with volunteers for more information or to share their thoughts.
One parent commented that there had been some kind of assembly to inform parents about this, but that it was perfectly useless. She was so happy to have all the info in the palm of her hand.

One mother told a volunteer that her son was approached by recruiters as he got out of the subway at the 125th St station on his way home from school. The mom said the recruiters gave her son appealing stuff, for example, a water bottle. Her son seemed to be considering enlisting and she was concerned.

A mother who had been approached by recruiters when she was in dental assistant school never knew how the recruiters got her personal contact info. She said they were persistent. She didn’t want recruiters to be taking to her kid.

The reward of meeting a parent and hearing ‘Thank you for helping me understand and providing information’ is the reward volunteers receive. And thanks to all the volunteers for their time, effort and commitment to providing non-military alternatives to families – you have made a difference.

We hope you will join us in November when we will bring our message and information to parents at NYC high schools again.

Students not Soldiers,
Barbara Harris
Photos: Eva-Lee Baird

for the Granny Peace Brigade

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February 21st, 2017

Signs & Slogans – Not My President’s Day, NYC

We’ve got a lot of work to do and these rallies are part of it.

We all belong here. We will defend each other.

Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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February 20th, 2017

Asking NYC to Divest From Fossil Fuels

In January several retired teachers and a student at P.S. 41 testified at an NYC Teachers Retirement System pension board meeting. Our ask — divest the Teachers Retirement System from fossil fuels. Ten-year-old Ajani reminded the board that,  “The world looks up to America and we should be the lead example of renewable energy…. Ninety-seven percent of scientists believe in climate change. We need to act.”

On Valentine’s Day 350NYC along with other groups and activists, including Ajani called on NYC’s Comptroller Scott Stringer to divest the City’s five pension funds from fossil fuels.

We also asked Comptroller Stringer to cut ties with the banks financing the Dakota Access Pipeline. Mr. Stringer has a lot of work to do. So do we.

See you in the streets.

Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Photos – Mark Dunlea & Marty Rajandran

 

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February 15th, 2017

Letter to President Donald J. Trump re Palestine/Israel

The U.S. approving, almost 70 years ago – 29 November 1947 – the United Nations General Assembly adopted the plan for partition of British Mandatory Palestine, which recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States.  Almost 50 years ago, a result of the Six Day War was that the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem became Occupied Territories.  The Israel-Palestine conflict continues.

For information, ‘Granny Peace Brigade letter to President Donald J. Trump, dated February 7, 2017, on matters related to the Israel-Palestine conflict’ acknowledges the generosity of U.S. assistance to Israel, but draws attention to the need for recognition of Palestinian legitimate rights in a viable homeland, as well as for action for the securing of these.

Deeply concerned with this conflict over decades, after describing possible dire end results, Noam Chomsky wrote — the last sentence of ‘Fateful Triangle-The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians’ (1999) — “Such consequences need not come to pass, but they might, and if they do, privileged sectors of American, Israeli, and Palestinian society have a lot to answer for, in my opinion.”

Barbara Walker
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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January 26th, 2017

The Women’s March – A Special Power

A special power was generated in the throngs of people that “marched” in midtown New York, though the word “inched” would be more accurate.  The energy was colorful and mostly young – and their creative juices were in their signs and pussyhats.

I was with a friend and we were penned in at the SE corner of 47th Street and Second Avenue – only a block away from the Vets for Peace gathered at First Avenue. Given the crowd separating us, we could have been miles away – not just one block.

I had our Granny banner and we decided to open it and display it for all the other folks who were hemmed in. Folks took photos of it and we chatted about the hats they were wearing or their signs.  One woman of about my age saw the banner and said she had to hug me for it because it expressed what she was feeling – that only peace will make for a decent world for the future generations that were around us at that moment.

Once we started to move, we folded the banner away and inched along….it was a wonderful and unique event, and the weather was made for it!

— Nydia Leaf

And elsewhere in NYC other Grannies were on the march:

— Photos – Regina Silvers

 

 

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January 25th, 2017

Pre-Inauguration Rally January 19, 2017

At a pre-inauguration rally in New York City, the Granny Peace Brigade joined thousands of New Yorkers to speak out against Trump’s agenda for America. Our message, ‘Trump, you’re not our president.’


We stand for peace, justice, tolerance and inclusion for all. Our voices were loud and clear. We’re here to stay; we’ll be listening and watching.

We act to make a safe and peaceful world for all children and grandchildren, ours and everyone’s.

Text – Barbara Harris
Video – Anthony Falco
Photos – Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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January 19th, 2017

United We Stand Rally – New York City

Some Granny Peace Brigade sisters went to the UNITED WE STAND rally in NYC Thursday, while others were already on their way to Washington. (Click on the photos for larger images.)

We have to turn this country around, and from the size of the crowd in New York it looks like that might be possible.

Democracy is under attack!
What do we do?
Stand up, fight back!

See you in the streets,
– Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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January 10th, 2017

JROTC prelude

We don’t know exactly how long our children have been learning military protocol as part of their high school curriculum, but JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp) has been in NYC schools for a long time. Established in 1916 as part of the National Defense Act, our research tells us that there has been a JROTC program in New York City schools since at least 1994 when what was to become one of the largest JROTC programs in the country opened at Francis Lewis High School in Queens. It didn’t take long before it was a hugely popular program.

Even though many aspects of the program are popular with children and their parents, members of GPB and other groups vehemently oppose the military in our schools in any of its many guises–whether it be a JROTC program or recruiters roaming the halls or being on the corner when children leave for the day.

We want our children to be students, not soldiers. And we don’t want our children encouraged to kill other people’s children. We believe that militarization should be kept out of high schools and that any positive attributes the program may have should be available to all children. Given our certainty regarding the detrimental effects of a military presence in schools, we have made it our business to be in the faces of our city council members to object to the 1.5 million dollars of taxpayer money allocated to funding JROTC in the schools. More recently, we have taken on the task of convincing Carmen Fariña that allowing children to march with dummy rifles is antithetical to a policy of 0 tolerance for guns in the school. The chancellor has been shrugging us off. “They’re only toys,” she said.

Please watch this powerful video produced by Chicago Veterans for Peace to fully understand our position. And please read and comment on the exchange of letters between the Granny Peace Brigade and Chancellor Fariña’s office.

– Joan Pleune
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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January 10th, 2017

Exchange of Letters Between the Granny Peace Brigade and Chancellor Fariña’s Office re JROTC

In early December the Granny Peace Brigade sent the following letter via snail mail to Chancellor Carmen Fariña and also to members of New York City Council.

December 2016

Dear Chancellor Fariña,

One and one half million dollars of New York City taxpayer money is spent to fund Junior Reserve Officers Training programs in eighteen New York City high schools.

In addition to being opposed to the militarization of our children, we in the Granny Peace Brigade would like to point out that the JROTC programs glorify the use of weapons within the schools and at public events.

This is not in compliance with New York City policy prohibiting real or imitation weapons in schools.

(Citywide Behavioral Expectations to Support Student Learning, p.19)

We call upon you to do the right thing and defund all military programs in New York City high schools.

We can find better things for our children to hold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We received this response via email.

Dear Ms. Harris:

Thank you for writing to the Chancellor on behalf of the Granny Peace Brigade. We appreciate you sharing your concerns with us, and apologize for the delayed response.

Please be advised that New York City JROTC programs do not involve handling weaponry and use non-operational, dummy rifle replicas solely for military drills, which are conducted in a supervised setting.

Moreover, our JROTC programs are rooted in principles of youth leadership and community service. The JROTC class curriculum commonly includes leadership, team-building, citizenship, post-secondary planning, health, and physical fitness drills. Approximately one half of JROTC instructor salaries are reimbursed by the military JROTC programs. Students apply to the JROTC programs either directly through the high school admissions process, or self-select to be involved generally in 9th grade. Furthermore, early morning and after-school activities including drills (physical fitness, color guard, drum corps) and tutoring are frequently offered. JROTC programs provide students with a supportive niche of belonging and personalized attention within the larger school community, as well as a greater sense of involvement in school life. Participation in JROTC programs also has a positive impact on student achievement (e.g., graduation rates).

I hope this information has been helpful.  Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of our students, and I wish you and your family a joyous holiday season.

Sincerely,
Anessa Hodgson
Communications Associate
Chancellor’s Strategic Response Group

Here is our reply.

Dear Ms. Hodgson,

First off, the GPB really appreciates your December 23 email reply to our concerns about JROTC in New York City schools. So often responses to our concerns are perfunctory. It is clear that you devoted time and thought to your response.

We wish to address some fundamental concerns. First, is there a place for weapons in New York City Schools, even imitation weapons? We maintain that dummy weapons are not in compliance with NYC policy prohibiting real or imitation weapons in schools.

Our second concern has to do with children receiving  military style training in order to receive supportive services. We believe that JROTC should not be a prerequisite to providing “students with a supportive niche of belonging and personalized attention within the larger school community, as well as a greater sense of involvement in school life.” In fact, it should be incumbent upon the school system to provide all students with supportive services, community service opportunities and exciting programs.

We hope you can make time to watch a 3 -minute video concerning JROTC made by Veterans for Peace, Chicago. Veterans For Peace Chicago Education Not Militarization Campaign

We would welcome an opportunity to meet with the Chancellor to discuss these issues.

Dear Readers, We would be grateful for your comments on this exchange.

– Barbara Harris, Joan Pleune, Edith Cresmer, Nydia Leaf, Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

 

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