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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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January 9th, 2017

Climate Deniers, Torturers — We Say No

Today in NYC two members of the Granny Peace Brigade joined hundreds of climate activists in a rally at the NYC offices of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand.

Four climate deniers have been nominated for key environmental positions in Donald Trump’s cabinet.

  1. Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon, for Secretary of State
  2. Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator
  3. Rep. Ryan Zinke for Department of Interior
  4. Ex-Gov. Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy

It is time for our senators to stand up to Donald Trump and reject these climate denying nominees. And it’s time for us to make very sure our senators have stiff spines.

Meanwhile, in Washington DC two other members of the Granny Peace Brigade joined Witness Against Torture for their annual demonstrations to close Guantanamo.

President Obama has failed in his pledge of eight years ago to close the US detention camp at Guantánamo.  Congressional obstacles, misinformation perpetuated in the media, and the president’s own lack of will are all responsible for this policy disaster.  Guantánamo remains a living symbol of US torture and other human rights abuses, and a place of misery for the 59 men it still houses.  Most of them have never been charged with, let alone tried for, any crime.

In the remaining weeks before he leaves office, President Obama must do what he still can: expedite the release of cleared men and release the full 2014 Senate Torture Report documenting CIA abuses.

Human rights and the United States’ standing in the world face a new danger:  the possibility that President-elect Donald Trump will reinstate the use of torture.  He has also called for increasing the prison population at Guantánamo. (read more)

– Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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December 17th, 2016

A Wall That Speaks For Us – Union Square Station, NYC

Our vigil to recognize International Human Rights Day came complete with a serendipitous discovery. After 35 minutes in the cold, six ferocious women in golden szmatas (that would be us) beat it down the subway steps by Food Emporium, just east of Broadway, and there we found a paradise with much pedestrian traffic. We didn’t even have to swipe a Metrocard  to be there. So lovely were we (or maybe pathetic would be a better word), that some women thrust dollar bills at us. A trifle embarrassing, but hey, now we know what to do if times get tough. As Eva-Lee, Eleanor and I headed into the subway to make our way home, we found more than 25 folks hypnotized by a wall with thousands of post-its expressing the loves and concerns of citizens of the world, written one by one by all of us. The City Council official photographer was there, pursuing his own portrait project. He recognized me from City Council meetings and told me what a great bunch of activists we are. Then Eleanor and I got to break yet another camera lens.

Joan Pleune
video: Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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