I Have a Dream - 51 Years

August 28, 1963
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of half a million gathered on the Mall in Washington, D.C. They gathered there for jobs and freedom.

1983: Three hundred thousand marched in Washington on the 20th anniversary of MLK's "I Have A Dream" speech for the second "March on Washington for Jobs, Peace and Freedom."

94th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage - So Much More to Work For!

August 26 marks the 94th anniversary of U.S. women gaining the right to vote. Today, we celebrate our audacious foremothers of many colors who waged a courageous struggle to improve the lives of women.   

As the most militant suffragists knew, winning the power of the ballot was a huge advance, but could not solve inequality especially for women who were of color, immigrants or working class. And so the fight for women’s liberation continues. 
A burning issue affecting women are today's unending wars for profit, resources and territory. Militarism at home and abroad has boomed under the Democratic Party administration of Barack Obama with the full complicity of both capitalist parties.

March to United Nations headquarters in New York City protesting bombings in Gaza, Aug. 2014. 

Israel's murderous assault on Palestinians in Gaza proceeds with U.S. armaments, purchased with $3.1 billion in annual U.S. aid. More than 2,000 Gazans have been killed since the beginning of Israeli bombing, including 553 children and 253 women. Working-class women and men around the world have hit the streets to protest the onslaught in Gaza. The source of the conflict is here in the U.S., which upholds Israel as a bulwark of U.S. foreign policy. U.S. funds to Israel must be stopped!
In Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, U.S. bombs, drones and troops are often justified as defense of women or democracy. But women's status throughout the region has been drastically lowered by an oft-repeated U.S. policy cycle: first, arm far-right fundamentalists to stop working-class revolt; then disavow these allies when they begin to challenge U.S. dictates; finally, attack them militarily to preserve U.S. interests at enormous cost to human life and the environment. 
The problem is not only in the Middle East. The U.S. gives hundreds of millions of dollars of military aid to Mexico supposedly for fighting narco-traffickers. In reality, the money is being used to stifle protest by impoverished workers and to seize indigenous lands and resources for the benefit of giant corporations and drug cartels.
Community self-defense forces have formed to protect towns and villages, with considerable success. The Mexican government has responded by jailing scores of these defenders, including Nestora Salgado, a U.S. citizen, feminist and elected leader of the indigenous police force in her home village of Olinalá. A growing international campaign to free Salgado and other political prisoners is demanding an end to government repression against all self-defense forces and indigenous communities and a stop to U.S. military aid.

Rally in Portland, Ore. in solidarity
with protests in Ferguson, Aug. 2014. 

And here at home Ferguson, Missouri. Brave protesters in the predominantly poor and African American community faced down tanks, tear-gas and rubber bullets to demonstrate against the murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black 18-year-old, by a white cop. Who gave the robo-police their tanks and state of the art military armaments? The Department of Homeland Security the same bureau whose ICE agents are furiously deporting immigrant children back across a super-militarized border.
What should feminists do? We can honor the militant suffragists by expanding our vision beyond the ballot box. To gain equality and justice for the world's oppressed majority means eliminating the capitalist system that fuels militarism, war, poverty, sexism and scapegoating of all kinds. The alternative is socialism: a democratic, planned sharing of the world's resources for the benefit of all people rather than just a powerful few. Socialism promotes peace and equality, rather than war and bigotry, because it relies on cooperation, unlike capitalism's insatiable competition for profit. This massive restructuring will take a united movement of working people, led by women, people of color, first nations, immigrants and queers. We must lead the change we want to see.
To build the fight for a better future, let's come together with these demands:

  • Defund the U.S. military, Homeland Security and ICE!
  • End all U.S. wars. Stop U.S. funds to Israel. Support the global campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Drop the prosecution of Rasmea Odeh, a gutsy Palestinian-American feminist arrested by Homeland Security on trumped-up charges as harassment for 40 years of community organizing to empower Arab women and win justice for Palestinians.
  • End military aid to Mexico. Free Nestora Salgado and all political prisoners. Open U.S. borders.
  • Put police under community control through independent elected civilian review boards empowered to investigate, punish and fire abusive cops. Organize community self-defense in the tradition of the Black Panthers and today's indigenous Mexican communities.
  • Redirect military dollars into schools, social services, housing and jobs. End the poverty-to-prison pipeline and a justice system skewed against people of color. Free Marissa Alexander  an African American domestic violence survivor threatened with a 60-year sentence for an act of self-defense that harmed no one.

Get involved the world needs you! 
In solidarity,
Helen Gilbert
National Executive Committee
Radical Women


Students protest in front of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow - Don't Shoot!

Deputy's return felt like 'slap in the face' by Shirley Zane and Francisco Vasquez

On Monday night, members of the public packed the meeting of the Community Healing Subcommittee of the Community and Local Law Enforcement Task Force. They were there to express their dismay, sadness, anger and, above all, their fear for their children and for themselves.

These same feelings were expressed at the Board of Supervisors meeting the next day.

As a member of the Healing Subcommittee (Vázquez) and as a supervisor (Zane) we, too, felt blindsided when we learned that Deputy Erick Gelhaus would return to patrol duty this week and that, depending on staffing needs, he might also be patrolling the Moorland area where he shot 13-year-old Andy Lopez less than a year ago.

During the this week’s meeting I, Francisco, did my best to explain that it was clear that Sheriff Steve Freitas was “going by the book” in making that decision. This simply means according to established law and procedures. (Just as the Sonoma County district attorney went by the book in not filing any charges against Gelhaus.)

One member of the audience rightly questioned why the book could not be changed. The reply was that a strong community and active citizen engagement can indeed make those changes.


A larger view of the book is the social contract. Historically, we as individuals were willing to give up certain rights in return for social order within our own clan or culture.

Later, civilization brought different cultures under one roof with the promise that every one of them would be treated equally under the law. However, as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the author of “The Social Contract: The Principles of Political Right” once observed: There are city, state, and national laws.

But the real law resides in the hearts of the people.

What this means is that the shooting of Andy Lopez, like the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., awakens the memory of a long history of injustices.

By choosing to go by the book, Freitas ignored this larger context. Furthermore, the manner in which the announcement was made, without consultation with the Board of Supervisors or the task force, has done serious, perhaps irreparable, damage to the tremendous amount of work that has been done in the past eight months.

Yes, the sheriff has the legal right to put Gelhaus back on the streets wherever he needs him. But to assert that right without consultation with other members of an implicit social contract is inconsiderate at best and an arrogance of power at worst.

To those of us in the community who are grieving the tragic death of Andy Lopez, the decision and the manner in which it was announced felt like a slap in the face.

With $4.3 billion in military equipment, police forces throughout the country appear more and more like a military force.

This is not just a problem for the Latino community that grieves Andy Lopez or the African American community that grieves in Ferguson; this is a problem for the United States of America.

The individual rights of Gelhaus may have dominated the sheriff’s decision to put him back on the street, but at what cost? The trust of the community has been damaged once again.

Tragedies of these proportions deserve more than a by-the-book response. Sonoma County leaders will need to come together as never before to demonstrate that they are listening to the heart of the people. There is much work to do.

The guiding principles of compassion and doing what is best for everyone will lead us to the type of deep healing our community expects.

Shirlee Zane is a member of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. Francisco H. Vázquez is a professor at Sonoma State University and a member of the Community and Local Law Enforcement Task Force, created by the Board of Supervisors in the aftermath of the shooting of Andy Lopez in October.

Militarized Police and the Threat to Democracy by Dennis Kucinich

Let's insist on the following principles:

  • Well trained, culturally diverse, de-militarized local police forces to protect our neighborhoods.
  • The military to defend our nation.
  • And a rule of law which applies to a man with a badge and a gun, just as it applies to an unarmed teenager.

The requirements of freedom demand no less.

To read more:


Protect and Serve or Occupy and Control?

Fred Ptucha - Vets for Peace Sonoma County - Remembering the Gulf of Tonkin Fifty Years Later

Hear David Swanson's interview with Fred as he remember the cables he read regarding the Gulf of Tonkin "incident."


Gulf of Tonkin "Incident" - 50th Anniversary - Remember It With Those Who Were There

Friday, August 22, 2014, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

The Peace & Justice Center and Veterans for Peace #71 invite you to learn the truth about the Gulf of Tonkin "incident." Local Vet for Peace, Fred Ptucha, was a young Naval officer off the coast of Vietnam in August 1964 and received the cables about what was supposedly happening in the Gulf of Tonkin - cables that would be used to justify increasing U.S. aggression in Vietnam. Fred will speak about his experience and what it meant to him and the United States. 

There will also be poetry by veterans and music by Hop Head (pop, rock, jazz, blues and folk) with vet Peter Tracy, Kim Richards and James Tepperman.

Gaia's Garden Restaurant, 1899 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa

$5.00 minimum purchase - beer, wine, tea, chai and juices available
Seating is limited. Come early for dinner and enjoy a wonderful vegetarian buffet. Reserve a table at 707-544-2491.

Returning to the Street to Protest the Return of Gelhaus to the Street!

Saturday, August 16, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., Sheriff's Dept., Santa Rosa

Outside the Sheriff's Dept.

On message!

Nicole Guerra and Nico

Terra Freedman being interviewed

Nico - Andy's best friend's little brother - growing up with Gelhaus on the streets

Marching to the corner of Bicentenial and Mendocino

Keeping a watch on us

Terri Carrion speaking out!

Sign of the times!

Double Victory! Israeli Ship Blocked for 2 Days!

Double Victory! Israeli Ship Blocked for 2 Days!

The weekend of August 16 and 17 was no more business as usual for the apartheid state of Israel in the Bay Area.

On Saturday, a mass mobilization stopped the unloading of an Israeli cargo ship. The Zim Piraeus was scheduled to dock and unload at the Port of Oakland on Saturday, August 16.

A rally at the West Oakland BART station was followed by a march of more than 4,000 people to the port gates. The march to the port was spirited with chanting led by members of the Arab Youth Organization.
The rally at the port also showed solidarity with the people of Ferguson, Missouri and the family of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old African Amercian man shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Demonstrators lined up facing the police with their hands up chanting, "Hands up, don't shoot."

The Zim ship actually arrived in the Bay Area in time to dock on Saturday. But in spite of the full backing of the Oakland police and other law enforcement agencies, which "protect" the port, the ship did not dock. It was the powerful mobilization of the people that forced the Zim Piraeus to stay at sea in hopes of avoiding the wrath of the movement against apartheid and the latest genocidal invasion of Gaza.

On Sunday, August 17, the Zim Piraeus finally docked at the Port of Oakland and was scheduled to be unloaded in the evening. A rapid mobilization of organizations and activists brought hundreds of people back to the port by 5:30pm to picket the Stevedore Services of America
(SSA) entrance gates.

Chanting "Long Live Palestine," and "Zim ship you can't hide, you support genocide," militant picket lines at four gates lasted for several hours. In the spirit of solidarity, the workers who unload the ships, represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 10, refused to cross the picket line and did not go to work. An important tradition of solidarity by the ILWU dates back to the struggles aginst many fascist and repressive governments, including apartheid South Africa in 1984, when the ILWU workers refused to cross picket lines protesting the unloading of goods from the South African regime.

Lara Kiswani of the Arab Resource Organizing Center read a statement to the crowd Sunday evening stating:

On August 17, 2014, Palestine was once again victorious in Oakland, California. For the second day in a row, the Bay Area community held off the Israeli Zim ship from unloading at the port. Thousands of people rallied on Saturday and successfully kept the ship at Bay on its regular scheduled day. Today, we got word that the ship had arrived and workers were being called to unload it. Within 30 minutes, we mobilized over 400 people back to the port and we won!

Workers honored the picket and stood on the side of justice, as they historically have. Oakland has said no to Zionism and blocked the boat for an entire weekend. This is the first time in history that this has happened. Israeli apartheid is falling one port at a time!

Palestine will be free from the river to the sea! Long live international solidarity and the struggle for liberation!

A coalition including the Arab Resource Organizing Center, ANSWER Coalition, Arab Youth Organizing, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and other organizations and individuals mobilized people from across the Bay Area. The call was to "Stop Israel at the Port! Zionism is not welcome on our Coast!" The action was endorsed by over 125 organizations.