Monthly Archives: August 2014

“I am not Target Practice.” – Rally for Michael Brown – Thursday, August 21, 6:00pm



Protest Police Violence and the Killing of Michael Brown

When? Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 6:00pm

Where? Watson-Williams Park on James Street near Steuben in Utica

On February 24th, 2012, 17 year old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman for “looking suspicious.” Though Martin was unarmed, Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges. On November 23rd, 2012, 17 year old Jordan Davis was gunned down by Michael Dunn for being a passenger in a car that played “loud music.” Though Davis was unarmed and not even focused on Dunn, Dunn’s trial for first-degree murder was declared a mistrial. On August 9th, 2014, 18 year old Michael Brown was slaughtered while his hands were up–a universal sign for surrender!–by police officer Darren Wilson. Though he surrendered and was unarmed, Wilson chose to end Brown’s precious life.

We saw something similar here in Utica on July 5th, 2002 when Utica police officer Samuel Geddes killed resident Walter Washington. Geddes’s actions were said to be “a reasonable and justifiable use of deadly physical force.” He was later promoted to a sergeant.

All victims had one thing in common: they were black.

The killing of innocent young black men is an unjust, immoral, and racist action that has become commonplace in America. We must fight collectively, diligently, and strategically to battle police brutality, racial profiling, and any other method that allows these murders to happen.

Please join us on August 21st, 2014 to gather in protest against police brutality, racial profiling, and to fight for Justice for Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown, Walter Washington, and the millions of other precious black lives that have been unjustly taken throughout the history of America. We will meet at 6 o’clock pm at Watson Williams Elementary School Park on the corner of Steuben and James.

– written by Freedom School student and organizer Marquis Palmer

“The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line…”
W.E.B. Dubious
The Souls of Black Folk (1903)

“…the problem of the twenty first century remains the problem of the color line.”
Cornel West
Preface: Race Matters (2001)


Free Palestine! – A Speech Delivered by Palestinian Refugee Haneen Alsaad



(This speech was delivered by Haneen Alsaad at the Free Gaza rally recently held in Utica.)

In the past few weeks we have been seeing and hearing many stories about the crisis in Palestine. But this violence, oppression, and bombings have been going on for decades. This didn’t just begin in the past few days. Palestinians have faced a long history of oppression and occupation. Our people were forced to leave our own land, and now we are facing bombing plus the severe destruction. It is time for the world to hear our voice. It is time to put a stop to the injustice.

The Israelis are killing the Palestinians without any mercy. They persecuted them and they are forcing them to leave their land. They have committed the absolute worst crimes against the Palestinians. Now the circumstances in Gaza are unimaginable. Israel has prevented aid from reaching Gaza. The city is almost completely destroyed. What makes the Israelis kill babies, three months old or even younger? What makes them kill women and the elderly? How can they kill innocent children, who are playing and not hurting anyone, and then claim they did it in self-defense?

The horrible and unacceptable crimes that Hitler did to the Jews in the past are exactly what Israelis are now doing to the Palestinians. When will the killing end? We need to end this cycle of hate. The Israelis keep killing our Palestinian children because they don’t want them to grow up and they don’t want them to fight for their land & rights. They want to destroy all the Palestinians. But we want to let them know that even though they have killed, and are still killing our children, other children will be born. We will never give up on our country. We will fight back until the last day of our lives even if we don’t have guns, or rockets or tanks.

The whole world cares about human rights and especially children’s and women’s rights, but what about Palestinian rights? Aren’t we human also? Palestinian children have a dream of living in their own house, living in safety and peace. These children who dream of becoming doctors, lawyers, businessmen, teachers, or artists, are being destroyed. The Palestinian children have the right to play and to be happy in their country. They have the right to go to school and learn as any normal child does, to make their dreams become truths in their own country.

I was one of these kids. I dreamt of living peacefully in my country, Palestine. But now, there are so many Palestinian children suffering. I suffered too. For many years, I lived in a refugee camp with horrible conditions that no one could stand. Now imagine if Israel hadn’t taken our country. I, and all the Palestinian refugees, would be living together within our country in peace.

The whole world needs to wake up and stand up for what is right. We all must stand against the crimes that Israel commits against the Palestinian people. Together, we must stop the massacre in Gaza and free Palestine!

by Haneen Alsaad (Haneen is a Palestinian refugee and a recent graduate from Proctor High School)

One Hundred Protest the Israeli Siege of Gaza, Vow Future Activism to Support Justice in Palestine



On Friday, July 25 nearly 100 people gathered in Utica at the foot of the Baron von Steuben monument where Genesee Street and the Parkway meet to protest the continued bloodshed and war unleashed on the people of Gaza, Palestine. Although the large demonstration had only a fleeting reference in local media, the issues discussed at the protest will no doubt be revisited in the future.

Occupy Utica, the Green Party of Herkimer-Oneida Counties, the Mohawk Valley Freedom School, the union Industrial Workers of the World, local Palestinian refugees and others put a call out for the rally just a few days prior. Much outreach was done at the mosque on Kemble Street where many of the demonstrators, young and old, heard of the rally.

Although the mainstream media in the US has a strong bias favoring Israel and its policies, the experiences of the Palestinian refugees at the protest, such as recent Proctor High School graduate Haneen Alsaad paint a very different picture. Many of the protesters held signs, waved Palestinian flags, and listened to speeches before they marched down Genesee Street to Congressman Hanna’s office to continue the rally. Hanna, like most of his colleagues, provides uncritical support to Israel.

There were a number of comparisons made between apartheid South Africa and the state of Israel at the rally. During one speech, reference was made to South African freedom fighters and strong supporters of Palestinian liberation Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. The racial segregation and brutality forced on the Palestinian people by Israel was not lost on Tutu when he visited Palestine and Israel.

There was also discussion of launching a local Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to target local politicians, businesses, and even colleges that have financial or political connections with the state of Israel. The BDS campaign, endorsed by Tutu among countless other activists, politicians, musicians, and celebrities around the world, is an international struggle, one modeled in many ways after boycott campaigns that were launched against South Africa.

Although the spirit of the demonstrators was somber over the rising death toll of Palestinian civilians (UN schools, hospitals were repeatedly bombed by Israelis, and entire families have been wiped out), there was also a glimmer of hope that change is possible. Local educational and political rallies in the near future will take shape to target modern-day apartheid in Israel and support an enduring peace in the region. This peace ultimately rests on the reality of a liberated and free Palestine.

Brendan Maslauskas Dunn

(to get involved with a local BDS campaign, please contact 240-3149 or email

Free Palestine! – Meeting this Friday, August 8

Friday, August 8, 2014
at the Mohawk Valley Freedom School / Cornerstone Community Church
(500 Plant Street in Utica near State Street)
Please enter on the side entrance.

There will be a meeting this Friday to discuss how we can get involved locally to support the struggle in Palestine. Among the topics discussed will be planning future protests, educational events, and supporting the BDS campaign (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) against Israel. If you would like anything added on the agenda, please let me know.

LANGUAGE NEEDS: This meeting will be in ENGLISH and ARABIC. If you need another language to translate the discussion to, please let me know.
Finally, there is another “Day of Rage” / Free Palestine protest in Albany this Saturday:
Please email or call me if you have any questions. Let’s build a local movement to help free Palestine and end the occupation!
in solidarity,
Brendan Maslauskas Dunn
315 240 3149 (cell)