Saturday, January 27, 2007

SF Japanese American Community 'Day of Remembrance' 2007 builds unity; Lessons from the Redress Movement

I have been attending Day of Remembrance celebrations since 1984 when I worked with NCRR [then the National Coalition for Redress/Reparations], the Asian Student Union at SF State and APSU [the west coast's Asian Pacific Islander Student Union] to demand reparations for Japanese Americans interned during WWII. For over 27 years, NCRR [now called Nikei for Civil Rights and Redress and based in LA] and others have been using Day of Remembrance events to build multiracial unity among communities and to raise awareness of struggles for civil rights and equality in America.

This week the SF Board of Education passed a resolution I authored which commits our school district to continue our support of the DOR Consortium in its ongoing work:

WHEREAS: The annual Day of Remembrance programs provide our schools and communities a valuable teaching moment of opportunity for students, parents, teachers and all people to reflect on the importance of social justice and civil liberties, especially in times of war and crisis.

WHEREAS: For over 25 years the Bay Area Day of Remembrance Consortium or its predecessor member organizations have presented an annual “Day of Remembrance” program, pursuing the following broad goals:
- To honor and remember the courage and perseverance of those who experienced this grave injustice;
...; and raise awareness of related injustices suffered by other communities (i.e. Japanese Latin Americans, German and Italian Americans) during World War II; ...To do all we can to prevent and/or speak out against similar injustices experienced by other communities, such as Arab and Muslim American communities currently; and To build cultural bridges and mutual understanding. ..

For 2007, the Bay Area Day of Remembrance Consortium presents
Carrying the Light for Justice
Continuing to Build Communities
Saturday, February 17, 2007 2 p.m.Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Northern California1840 Sutter Street (nr. Webster), SF Japantown
Tickets; $15 Door, $12 Advance, Call for group ratesTix/Info: 415.921.5007
Keynote Speaker: Philip Gotanda, author/playwright
Guest Speaker: Samina F. Sundas - American Muslim Voice
Campaign for Justice - Redress Update
Films: Pilgrimage by Tad Nakamura
Meeting at Tule Lake by Anders Tomlinson
Excerpt reading from After the War, a play by Philip Gotanda
Candle Lighting Ceremony
Cultural Performances:Susumu Saiki (shigin), Mas Koga (shakuhachi), and Genyukai (sanshin)
Interfaith Candle Lighting & Reception to follow
Bay Area DOR Consortium:Asian Improv aRts, Asian Law Caucus, API Legal Outreach, Campaign for Justice - Redress Now for Japanese Latin Americans, Center for Asian American Media (formerly NAATA), JACL-SF Chapter, Jam Workshop, Japanese American Religious Federation, Japanese Community Youth Council, Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project, National Japanese American Historical Society, National Coalition for Redress/Reparations, Tule Lake Committee, UC Berkeley Nikkei Student Union (partial list)

More info on SF DOR program
LA info - NCRR - Nikei for Civil Rights and Redress

History of NCRR and Reparations from www.AAMOVEMENT.NET
NCRR's original 1980 principles of unity
Merilyn Hamano Quon's history of JA activism and movement building in LA
Ray Tasaki's summation of the JTown Collective and JA activism in SF/San Jose Bay Area

Hundreds of Thousands March to End War on Iraq; SF Bay Area hosts Lt. Watada's Mother Carolyn Ho

While hundreds of thousands are marching in the rain in DC and San Francisco to stop the escalation of the War in Iraq the San Francisco Bay Area is hosting Presidential contender Dennis Kucinich and Carolyn Ho, mother of war resister Lt. Ehren Watada this weekend.
The Washington Post earlier this month ran a feature on Ms. Ho's social justice activism and work to support her courageous son Lt. Ehren Watada as his February 5th court martial date approaches.

Events - Sat 1/27 - Watada Support Committee

4-7PM film screening: "Ground Truth" (voices of Iraq War veterans)
This is a powerful film of interviews of Iraq War veterans. This is a "must-see" especially for young people who are considering to join the find out what's really happening in the Iraq War and how US soldiers are being recruited, their experiences in battle, their ordeals with post-traumatic stress and injuries, and their struggle to reintegrate with their families and community. with Carolyn Ho & Marti Hiken (military law expert)
JCCCNC, 1840 Sutter St., SF Japantown
free event (donations requested)
Other participants: Rev. Lloyd Wake, War Resister Michael Wong, Karen Kai
Sponsored by Watada Support Committee/APIs Resist!

7PM - "End the War in Iraq" with Rep. Dennis Kucinich & Carolyn Ho
First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin (at Geary), San Francisco
$5-10 (no one turned away for lack of funds)
Other participants: Rep. Barbara Lee, Robert Temple, SF Labor Council leader Tim Paulson, US Labor Against the War's Michael Eisenscher, Daniel Johengen, Rev. Gregory Stewart

7-9:30PM "Little Birds" film & Panel
Humanist Hall, 390-27th St. (by Broadway), Oakland
admission: $8.00/$6.00
Sponsored by the Arab Film Festival & Watada Support Committee/APIs Resist! 7 PM: film screening, "Little Birds"
Award winning documentary by Japanese independent journalist,
Takeharu Watai, captures the truth of the impact of the war on the Iraqi people during the US invasion and occupation, in their homes, in the streets, hospitals and morgues--in their own words. There are also clips of the US and Japanese troops. See
8:30 PM: panel with Carolyn Ho & filmmaker Takeharu Watai

Sun. 1/28

1:15-3:30pm Community Reception with Carolyn Ho
Cameron House, 920 Sacramento St., San Francisco
Performers: Ginny Lim, Mark Izu, Lewis Jordan
Sponsored by Watada Support Committee/APIs Resist!

7- 9:30PM "Little Birds" film & Panel
Women's Building, 3543-18th St., San Francisco
admission: $8.00/$6.00
Sponsored by the Arab Film Festival & Watada Support Committee/APIs Resist!

7 PM: film screening, "Little Birds"
Award winning documentary by Japanese independent journalist, Takeharu Watai, captures the truth of the impact of the war on the Iraqi people during the US invasion and occupation, in their homes, in the streets, hospitals and morgues--in their own words. There are also clips of the US and Japanese troops. See
8:30 PM: panel with Carolyn Ho & filmmaker Takeharu Watai

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bravo to Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey - De-fund the War

Bravo to the Congressional Progressive Caucus and 2 of our local SF/Oakland Bay Area reps Barbara Lee and Lynn Wolsey for introducing HR 508, the Bring the Troop Home Act along with LA's Maxine Waters - More from the Oakland Tribune

The war in Iraq became a war of dueling legislation Wednesday on Capitol Hill, as two Bay Area lawmakers introduced a bill to choke off the war's funding even while Republicans introduced one to ensure that can't happen. ...
Their bill — which has 13 other original co-sponsors — would repeal the president's authorization to use force in Iraq and fully fund a six-month withdrawal of troops and military contractors, cutting off money after that. It also would prohibit permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq, provide economic and political aid to the Iraqi government, fully fund the VA health care system, bar U.S. access to Iraqi oil production at least until the Iraqi government sets clear rules for foreign ownership and participation, and create a bipartisan joint committee to probe whether the United States was led into this war under false pretenses.

Down with Tyranny has a good rundown from with what's going on in the US Senate as well.

It's Time! Democrats: Just Say No on Iraq; SF 1/27 and Watada Support Committee Events

As San Francisco prepares for our January 27th United for Peace and Justice actions to end the war [see list below] and opposition grows to Bush's war escalation plans, others like the Working Families Party in NY are urging progressive democrats and all supporters of peace and social justice to step up the pressure to de-fund and end the war.
From and [Progressive]
It's Time for Democrats to Just Say No on Iraq

George Bush's super-hyped speech calling for escalation in Iraq was a political disaster. The American people now overwhelmingly oppose Bush's handling of the war (72%), oppose Bush's escalation plan (61%), and want to bring all our troops home in 2007 (56%).
These polls are terrifying to Republicans - their own pollster told them "if U.S. boots are still on the ground in Iraq and U.S. blood is still being spilled there at the end of the year, the GOP disaster in 2008 will eclipse 2006." Even Bob Novak predicts an
"electoral catastrophe."
Please send this message to your Representatives:
End War Funding, Begin War Investigations Send Message

Presidential Candidates Should Take the Lead
The 2008 Presidential campaign is in full swing, and the Democratic candidates want our support.
Let's tell them what they must do to earn it!
1. Deny all funds for Bush's escalation
2. Support immediate redeployment of U.S. troops, to be completed by the end of 2007 using the funds already appropriated
3. Oppose the $100 billion "Supplemental" appropriation in March and any other bills to extend the U.S. occupation of Iraq
We are keeping track of the positions of all the candidates You can click on the name of each candidate and email our three principles. They are listening to us very carefully - let's speak up! See Bob Fertik's blog for the scorecard.

From Progressive Democrats of America - Support H.R. 508!
Yesterday Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters' introduced H.R. 508 - the "Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Restoration Act"

[the act] would establish a 6-month timeframe for withdrawal for all US military forces from Iraq, provide a framework for bringing stability back to Iraq, and fully fund the VA health care system. The proposal is a direct response to President Bush's challenge over the weekend for those who oppose his planed escalation to put forth a plan of their own.

Local San Francisco/Bay Area events from the Watada Support Committee:
War Resister Lt. Ehren Watada's scheduled Court Martial Hearing is 2/5 in Washington State -
*Sat. 1/27 noon Carolyn Ho speaking at Anti-War Rally & March to Pier 31/33
Rally at Powell & Market, San Francisco
contact: Grace Morizawa - 510-289-1285
*4-7pm Ground Truth film screening (voices of Iraq War veterans)
with Carolyn Ho & Marti Hiken
JCCCNC, 1840 Sutter St., SF Japantown (site to be confirmed), free event
contact: Mike Tsukahara 415-317-7706
*7pm End the War in Iraq with Rep. Dennis Kucinich & Carolyn Ho.
First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin (at Geary), San Francisco
$5-10 (no one turned away for lack of funds)
contact: Pete Yamamoto 415-921-5007
*7-9:30pm 7pm: Little Birds film screening (voices of Iraqi people during war)
8:30pm: panel with Carolyn Ho & Japanese filmmaker Takeharu Watai
Humanist Hall, 390-27th St. (by Broadway), Oakland; admission: $8.00/$6.00
contact: Masami Endo 408-529-3369
*Sun. 1/28 9am Carolyn Ho at Glide Memorial Church - 333 Taylor St. (by Ellis), San Francisco
*10:30am Carolyn Ho at Presbyterian Church - 925 Stockton, San Francisco
*noon-12:30 Press Conference & Community Meeting with Carolyn Ho
Gordon J. Lau Elementary School, 950 Clay St. (btw Powell & Stockton) San Francisco Chinatown
*1:15-3:30pm Reception with Carolyn Ho
Cameron House, 920 Sacramento St., San Francisco
*7-9:30pm 7pm: Little Birds film screening (voices of Iraqi people during war)
*8:30pm: panel with Carolyn Ho & Japanese filmmaker Takeharu Watai
Women's Building, 3543-18th St., San Francisco; admission: $8.00/$6.00
contact: Masami Endo 408-529-3369
*Thu. 2/1 noon-2pm Peace Vigil and Die-In
Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco
contact: Grace Shimizu 510-459-7288
*Sun. 2/4 2-4pm Watada Support Rally (against the court martial)
CHANGE: Civic Center (by City Hall), Polk & McAllister, San Francisco
contact: Mike Wong 415-422-0497
*Mon. 2/5 Watada Support Vigil (against the court martial)
7-8am University Ave. Overpass, Highway 80 (near Berkeley)
5-6:30pm Powell & Market, San Francisco
7-9pm Watada Support Event (live report from the Ft. Lewis court martial)
Veterans Memorial Building, 401 Van Ness Ave. (at McAllister), San Francisco
contact: Mike Tsukahara 415-317-7706 (site to be confirmed)
*Tu, 2/6 Watada Support Vigil (against the court martial)
7-8am & 5-6pm University Ave. Overpass, Highway 80 (near Berkeley)
5-7pm Powell & Market, San Francisco
*Wed, 2/7 Watada Support Vigil (against the court martial)
7-8am & 5-6pm University Ave. Overpass, Highway 80 (near Berkeley)
5-7pm Powell & Market, San Francisco

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

inside the box

The most interesting debate for me at last night’s San Francisco school board meeting (ie until I had to leave at 9:15 PM) was over the supposedly mutually exclusive choice between spending prop H money on “violence prevention programs” ( $50K block grants to be spent as the school site chose) or academic support for teachers. Superintendent Gwen Chan argued that since the SFUSD district was now a “program improvement district” the priority needed to be “academic support” (as if violence prevention isn’t a precondition for learning). The Community Advisory committee argued for violence prevention and 4 Wellness Centers (instead of the 3 that Chan’s plan called for) as a priority, arguing that the students themselves defined that as a priority.

So, two things become clear to me in this debate. One, there isn’t enough money (in a BIG WAY). Two, the local community won’t get to set the priorities – state legislatures do.

These are the fundamental issues that were the pink elephants in the room last night. The debate should have been explicitly about how to do we mobilize the SF community to demand more money from the state and city (instead of arguing over the few crumbs we get from the table see ny times article, also below). The debate also should have focused on why does the community have so little say in what the educational theory and priorities are and how do we get a more democratic decision making process implemented? These issues remain unspoken. Instead, we have accepted the paradigm of inadequate funding and decision by test score alone in public debate.

The small school policy debate (that followed the prop H proposal discussion) has been equally narrowed to one in which the only reason an educational reform should be made into policy is to make sure that the school system continues to socialize and sort in a legitimate fashion. It was clear to me last night that small school proponents have accepted the premise that those who don’t “succeed” in school should be blamed for their failure as individuals. Equity, according to the small school proponents last night, will exist if school success cannot be correlated to race, gender, class or neighborhood or parental income. That is, if failure can be pinned on the individual or family, then the successful can wash their hands of any responsibility for the growing polarization of wealth and its resulting social, cultural and political impoverishment (not to mention impending ecological disaster – and why isn’t Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth required viewing in the district?). Apparently it is okay if a student is damaged or alienated by the school experience as long as such damage isn’t correlated with race, class or neighborhood. Equal opportunity damage. Yeah, sign me up.

The debates and presentations last night occurred within the paradigm that defines success as going to college. Let’s ignore all the reasons why the system, as is, will never let everyone go to college (which is why the RHETORICAL goal of getting the college bound to be proportional to disaggregated demographics exists). What if everyone went to college? Would that necessarily result in everyone having a decent home, health care, functional families, disposable income and world peace (would it alter the nation’s spending priorities – see article, also below)? What are people actually learning in school? How long does that learning last? How many adults, for example, learned algebra and still know it? Is anyone learning in school how the power structure in this country actually works (as opposed to the myth of how it works)? No one is explicitly examining, debating or questioning whether qualifying to go to college is really evidence of how well one has accepted one’s role to support the status quo.

Asking everyone to think outside the box (eg give up the myth that we live or could live in a meritocratic society) is like being against slavery in 1750. It is an exercise in frustration, unless one is thinking in the long term. But unlike 1750, I worry that in 2007 there is no long term, that we are locked into a box on a truck heading towards the edge of a cliff. Two articles in the NY TIMES (yesterday and today, snippets below) make me feel that we are indeed in deep trouble unless we make some fundamental changes – one of which is transforming schools from places in which we socialize to one in which we actually start educating people. And for that to happen, much greater sums of money must be spent on schools, not war, as a necessary but not sufficient variable. It is not a matter, as Jurgis Rudkus (The Jungle) thought it was, of merely “working harder.”

What $1.2 Trillion Can Buy
by david leonhardt, January 17, 2007

…… $1.2 trillion would pay for an unprecedented public health campaign — a doubling of cancer research funding, treatment for every American whose diabetes or heart disease is now going unmanaged and a global immunization campaign to save millions of children’s lives.

Combined, the cost of running those programs for a decade wouldn’t use up even half our money pot. So we could then turn to poverty and education, starting with universal preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old child across the country. The city of New Orleans could also receive a huge increase in reconstruction funds.

The final big chunk of the money could go to national security. The recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that have not been put in place — better baggage and cargo screening, stronger measures against nuclear proliferation — could be enacted. Financing for the war in Afghanistan could be increased to beat back the Taliban’s recent gains, and a peacekeeping force could put a stop to the genocide in Darfur.

All that would be one way to spend $1.2 trillion. Here would be another: The war in Iraq.

When Being Green Raises the Heat
By KEN CALDEIRA January 16, 2007

CARBON DIOXIDE is heating up the Earth. Ice caps are melting, ocean levels are rising, hurricanes are intensifying, tropical diseases are spreading and the threat of droughts, floods and famines looms large. Can planting a tree help stop all this from happening?. . . . While preserving and restoring forests is unquestionably good for the natural environment, new scientific studies are concluding that preservation and restoration of forests outside the tropics will do little or nothing to help slow climate change. And some projects intended to slow the heating of the planet may be accelerating it instead. . . . Consider Pacific Gas and Electric’s surcharge plan. While the carbon soaked up by California’s forests reduces atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations everywhere, cooling Crete, Cancún and Calcutta, the sunlight they absorb warms the state and the surrounding region.. . . The broadest goal is neither to slow the growth of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere nor to slow climate change, but rather to preserve the irreplaceable natural balance that sustains life as we know it on this planet. . . . regardless of its impact on climate — we need more trees, not fewer. But the notion that we can save the planet just by planting trees is a dangerous illusion. To preserve our environment, we must drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and this will require a major transformation of our energy system.

SF Message to Pelosi - Cut Off the War Money

From the left coast of San Francisco, earlier this month some 1000 people gathered to send a creative message to our elected officials and the world. Unlike some other beach gatherings a little to our north, I understand that folks at this one were fully clothed. The gathering was at Ocean Beach outside one of my favorite hangouts - the Beach Chalet.
Blogs of the week - Down With Tyranny as usual tells it like it is - with a great youtube clip for young and old alike - DEMOCRATS! DON'T BE A BUNCH OF PUSSIES-- IMPEACHMENT IS TOO SOFT A LANDING FOR BUSH
On the local tip - San Francisco Bay Area activists are gearing up for the global actions on 1/27 - young army Lt. Ehren Watada's mother Carolyn Ho, progressive presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich and others will be joining us in SF for our actions. Watada is the courageous officer who is resisting the "illegal and immoral" war on Iraq and faces a court marial on February 5th. More info -

Cut Off the War Money! - SF Bay Guardian sends a strong message to Speaker Nancy Pelosi in this weeks editorial -
Twenty thousand more US kids, going to fight a war that can't be won. Twenty thousand more lives in potential danger for no imaginable purpose. This isn't the "surge" Bush has invoked; it's an escalation, one reminiscent of the worst days of the Vietnam War, when Presidents Lyndon Johnston and then Richard Nixon sent more and more troops into a quagmire from which there was no good exit.
...Remember: the odds are very good that many of those 20,000 soldiers will never make it home and that many, many more will come home mutilated and maimed. ...And since Bush is acting unilaterally, without congressional assent, the only way to stop this madness is to cut off funding.
Pelosi has been devoting most of her energy and political capital to the rather modest advances of the "100 hours" strategy. But frankly, nothing on her agenda is as important as ending the war. The House and Senate leadership need to move
immediately to eliminate funding for any troop escalation. * More.
How to De-fund the Escalation - Gareth Porter from offers an historical analysis and a clear solution to Pelosi and the Democratic Party Leadership -

The Democrats’ real problem appears to be political rather than constitutional: They have convinced themselves that they cannot cut off funds without being accused of failing to keep faith with U.S. troops in Iraq.

But this is a false dilemma. Congress can force Bush’s hand without being vulnerable to the charge of stranding U.S. troops simplyby setting a date beyond which no funds can be used for U.S. military presence in Iraq. As long as the date provides a reasonable time for those troops to be “redeployed” from Iraq, the burden falls on the executive branch to adjust its policy to the congressional requirement by taking them out of the war zone. More.

Speaking of war funding, whenever I bring up the war with my classes at SF State, I use a helpful economic tool. The National Priorities Project allows you to break down the cost of war - $359 billion as of today - and compare it to how much we could have spent on health care, schools, teachers, grants and college scholarships, human needs, etc.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Obama Takes Bold Step - 2008 Presidential Candidacy Potential for a New Rainbow Coalition?

So, it's official - Chicago's Senator Barack Obama has now jumped into the 2008 White House race. See the announcement for yourselves.
The last time I remember as charismatic a strong candiate for president was some 20 years ago when many grassroots activists like me were building the rainbow coalition chapters and diverse labor/community alliances all over the US for the 1984 and 1988 Jesse Jackson campaigns. But Obama critics rightly challenge Obama's relatively shallow, but 'clean' record, while also pointing out his clearly centrist politics. Progressive friends of mine from Chicago and within the old 80's Rainbow Coalition seem to be taking a wait and see approach. How Obama's platform and campaign structure shapes up will be worth watching. And, whether Obama can build strong grassroots labor and community support like Jesse Jackson's 84 and 88 campaigns remains to be seen as well.
SF Story - Last night a small group of people of color working in the SF Bay Area to Draft Obama for President met to discuss ongoing work locally. For more info on the local SF Bay Obama Support group - David Trotman (415) 298-8979 or

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) of Illinois jumped into the 2008 White House race on Tuesday, promising to "change our politics" with a campaign that could make him the first black president in U.S. history.
Obama, a freshman senator and rising party star, formed an exploratory committee to begin raising money and hiring staff to campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to succeed Republican President George W. Bush.
He plans a formal campaign announcement in his home state of Illinois on February 10.
"Our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, common-sense way. Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can't tackle the big problems that demand solutions," Obama said in a video message announcing his bid.
YouTube - See it here

MLK on Critical Thinking; SF Small Schools, Big Challenges

Here's a fitting quote from Mike Klonsky's Small Talk - for MLK Day which cuts against the grain of NCLB and our high stakes testing driven system of education -
"The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals." --
Martin Luther King, The Purpose of Education, Morehouse College,

Parents, Teachers, Community Demand Stronger SF Small Schools Policy -
As the San Francisco School Board goes into a public hearing tonight at 6pm to discuss strengthening our small schools policy the Chicago-based small schools workshop provides great guidance from their recent summit in Miami on some key issues we are grappling with:
1. how to develop stronger autonomies for small schools with a meaningful system of accountability [see BAYCES Steve Jubb's view] and
2. finding common ground with our teacher's union United Educators of San Francisco and other labor groups.
Our small schools task force tonight will be presenting their findings and recommendations to the board's meeting at 555 Franklin Street [at McAllister], Board Meeting Room, San Francisco.

The new Board President Mark Sanchez has also outlined a number of other issues we are hearing tonight as well, including:

Approval of a Public Education Enrichment Fund Spending Plan for School Year
2007-2008 ;
Parcel Tax Initiative; and
Changes to Starting Time of
Regular Sessions of the Board.

Monday, January 15, 2007

MLK Day: Immigrants and Civil Rights; Building Black/Brown & Multiracial Unity in the Globalization Era

Happy MLK Day. I appreciated this great piece from 2 longtime social justice activists from the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area - MLK on immigration and building community among African Americans and newcomers - from Gerald Lenoir, the coordinator of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) and Larisa Casillas, director of the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition (BAIRC).

See also San Francisco activist Betita Martinez' piece on building Black/Brown unity in North Carolina and the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights' BRIDGE Project: Building a Race and Immigration Dialogue in the Global Economy: Popular Education Resources for Immigrant and Refugee Community Organizers.
For historical context of multiracial coalitions and community alliances see also the Institute for Multiracial Justice, an organization I helped to found 10 years ago under the leadership of Betita Martinez, Carlos Munoz, Miriam Louie and many others. For more recent efforts to build multiracial unity within grassroots communities see building-blackbrown-alliance-la-style.html.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bush gives us the finger on Iraq Escalation; Feingold - Use the 'Power of the Purse' to end the war

As Bush gives the public the finger regarding the escalation of war in Iraq, Senator Feingold, United for Peace and Justice , Global Exchange and others look for strategies to de-fund the war. From Cactus Pat -

How's this for a trial balloon? Feingold joins Dennis Kucinich in calling for de-funding the war, albeit in a slightly different manner...
Use the power of the purse By RUSS FEINGOLD Jan. 10, 2007Keeping our brave troops in Iraq indefinitely is having a devastating impact on our national security and military readiness.
That's why I have consistently advocated that we set a timetable to redeploy our troops from Iraq. But the president refuses to set a timetable, even though the American people soundly rejected his Iraq policy in November. Instead, the president has announced he wants to send approximately 20,000 more troops. We should be redeploying our troops out of Iraq, not sending in more....
See also CactusPat's post on Speaker Pelosi's position in December -

Pelosi: 'We won't cut off funding' for Iraq - Congressional Democrats head for spring showdown on paying for war WASHINGTON - Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a message Tuesday for voters who elected a Democratic Congress last month hoping it would force President Bush to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq. “We will not cut off funding for the troops,” Pelosi said. “Absolutely not,” she said. (more)

Friday, January 12, 2007

SF '07 Macworld - Think Different, Think Justice!

From Itinerant/Joe Pennant at the MacWorld Expo January 2007
More info @Monster Cable Workers march for justice.

Monster Cable Workers Disrupt SF MacWorld Convention and Expo, Ask Apple to Tell Owner Noel Lee to Stop Being Such a Monster

On Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 12:30 pm, over 50 laid-off Monster Cable workers and their supporters marched from Yerba Buena Gardens to various retailers including the Apple Store, CompUSA, Radio Shack and then to the MacWorld Conference and Exposition at Moscone Center. Laid-off workers marched to expose the hypocrisy of Monster Cable CEO Noel Lee’s claims that he can’t afford to treat workers fairly, and call upon Apple Computers, Inc., which sells various Monster Cable Products, to tell Monster Cable “Stop being such a Monster!” More.

1/11 Emergency Protests in SF - parenting/marching to stop the escalation of war

Marching with the ANSWER coalition and United for Peace and Justice last night in the chilly San Francisco air to protest the escalation of the War on Iraq my 6 year old and I talked about how we were a small part of a larger social movement with hundreds of other actions all over the world. But as Paul Hogarth says in we have to work on building much more mass support for our efforts to 'defund the war' and 'bring the troops home.'

MoveOn members had organized a number of actions during the day throughout our Bay Area as well. has plenty of great photos.

UFPJ PROTEST JANUARY 27TH! On Saturday, January 27, thousands will be marching on in Washington to call for an end to the Iraq war.
ANSWER March on the Pentagon March 17th.

Happy 5th Birthday NCLB? Grassroots parent/teacher/community coalition campaigns to repeal it

Rethinking Schools Graphic
I am proud to be part of the Educator Roundtable, an alliance of teachers, parents, scholars, and policy analysts who have come together in hopes of repealing the CURRENT authorization of the ESEA (No Child Left Behind Act). Over 23,000 folks from all over the country have signed on to our campaign as Congress debates the reauthorization of ESEA.
Thanks to activists like Kathy Emery, Susan Ohanian, Jean Anyon, Jim Horn, Philip Kovacs, Harold Berlak, Alfie Kohn and others for their efforts to build grassroots resistance to the NCLB and other conservative education policies that threaten public education.
Considering the power and position of the individuals and organizations behind NCLB, we are under no illusions about the difficulty of ending this destructive legislation. While no one has yet leveled an effective, widespread challenge to the law, we are hopeful. We are hopeful that thousands of disenfranchised educators, disillusioned parents, overburdened students and broken school districts will raise their voices in protest to reclaim our free, public, and locally controlled schools.
Apparently our call has not gone unnoticed by the leadership of the NEA who support a "positive agenda for ESEA" which seeks to reform NCLB or make it less harmful to schools and districts. The AFT is taking a similar approach - see their Let's Get it Right blog. But the Educator Roundtable strategy is decidedly different -
Recognizing that public schools are not perfect, we believe in education reform led by teachers, the professionals closest to our children, rather than ill-informed politicians or other representatives of corporate America. We intend to deliver 50 bills, tailored for each state, calling for an end to NCLB.
At the same time, we will propose legislation seeking genuinely representative solutions to the many issues facing students and teachers across the country. To begin both processes, we ask that interested individuals sign our petition so that our legislators can begin seeing how widespread the opposition to this legislation has become. Our goal is 1,000,000 signatures, to be printed and hand delivered to a national representative committed to ending No Child Left Behind.
As of today there are more than 23,000 people from all over the United States that have signed the petition in only a few weeks. Please join us - sign our petition!
For more progressive analysis on challenging NCLB, resisting high stakes testing, organizing for educational justice, etc. - Susan Ohanian's website, Kathy Emery's Education and Democracy, see also Jim Horn's Schools Matter blog, Jamie McKenzie's No Child Left, and
Mike Klonsky's small talk also points out the weakening of support for NCLB from the conservative right as well. San Diego State's Rich Gibson also offers a useful class analysis of the strategies to address the existing NCLB. The Rogue Forum is gathering March 1-4 in Detroit to further debate the issues as well.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Religious Right Attacks Migrant Kids & Birthright Citizenship

Happening Here has an excellent post on the racist right's new "Families First" attack on the constitutional principle of Birthright Citizenship established by the abolitionist movement, the 14th Amendment, and cases like the 1898 landmark US vs. Wong Kim Ark. Mr. Wong was a young American-born San Franciscan of Chinese ancestry who successfully challenged the US governement's efforts to bar him from reentry into the United States because his parents were immigrants to the US.
Janinsanfran writes:

Leaders of the religious right -- likes of Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association and Gary Bauer, former rightwing political candidate -- have gotten together to push one of the ugliest forms immigration restriction. By way of something called Families First on Immigration, according to the Washington Times, these guys have taken a stance in the immigration debate. No, they are not advocating welcoming the stranger or defending the rights of the alien worker in a strange land. They want a "grand compromise" that does away with "birthright citizenship."
...Immigration restriction as espoused by white citizens is too often an expression of the fear of "browning," of the demographic tide that has this country well on its way toward ceasing to have a white majority. It thrives on the fear that "those people" have lots of babies just to enable them to engulf the United States. It is sad, but perhaps not entirely surprising, to find the leaders of the religious right playing to racial fears by joining an effort led by outright xenophobes to repeal birthright citizenship. After all, pseudo-populist initiatives that both incite -- and pretend to allay -- hyped-up fears are their stock in trade. Look at their incitement of panic in response to the "threat" of full civil rights for gays.
Janinsanfran was one of our leaders of Californians United Against Prop 187 in 1993/94 and a founder of Californians for Justice in 1995/96.
For more on Wong Kim Ark and birthright citizenship see Frank Wu's Born in the USA
See also Migra Matters for more on immigrant rights struggles today.

Parents Demand a Voice in the SF School Superintendent Search Process

Hundreds of San Francisco Public School parents attended the January 9th board meeting to speak out for equity in the school system. Parents delivered hundreds of petitions demanding that the Board ensure a strong parent voice in the superintendent search process.
Our district is fortunate to have strong parent leaders like Pauline Vela [pictured above in the middle] of our Parent Advisory Council and Parent Advocates for Youth, Coleman Advocates parent organizer Sandra Fewer and Parent Voices leader Lorie Jones.
Other parent leaders, including Sophia Nixon, Toni Hines, Jaime Ramirez, and many others, also spoke out and mobilized at the Board meeting. Bravo to the parents - and their new Public Education and Equity Group - who are continuing a tradition in SF, Boston, and many other cities of parents leading and organizing for a stronger public school system and a better future for our children and communities!
The Oakland/San Francisco PLAN [parent leadership action network], the regional parent organizing group, is holding a parent conference next week to help build power and strengthen parent advocacy in our Bay Area school districts.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

SF Parents, Laid-off Monster Cable Workers Appeal for Justice at MacWorld Conference

At Noon today hundreds of laid-off Monster Cable workers and their supporters will be Marching for Justice at the MacWorld Conference at San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center. When I talked to one of the workers, the mother of one of my daughter's former classmates, on Sunday she told me that the workers are still organizing for a fair severance and and an acknowledgement from Monster owner/CEO Noel Lee of their years of hard work making the company profitable.
Time: 12:30 pm (Starting time), 1:15 pm (March arrives at MacWorld)
Where: March Starting Point: Yerba Buena Gardens,Mission St. between 3rd and 4th Streets, SF. Endpoint: Moscone Center, Howard St., SF
From the Chinese Progressive Association -
On Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 12:30pm, over 100 laid-off Monster Cable workers and their supporters will march from Yerba Buena Gardens to various retailers including the Apple Store, CompUSA, Radio Shack and then to the MacWorld Conference and Exposition at Moscone Center. Laid off workers will expose the hypocrisy of Monster Cable CEO Noel Lee’s claims that he can’t afford to treat workers fairly,and call upon Apple Computers, Inc., which sells various Monster Cable Products, to tell Monster Cable “Stop being such a Monster!”
After weeks of protest, “’Head Monster’ Noel Lee finally met with worker representatives during the holidays, only to tell them he doesn’t have money to offer them a fair severance or support the community that made him wealthy. Meanwhile Monster Cable is organizing an expensive star-studded awards ceremony and concert for over 4,000 people at CES 2007, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, boasting that this annual show has “become the biggest social eventof CES in Las Vegas.” (Monster Cable press release, December 13, 2006).
From the workers:
“A small group of us finally met with Noel Lee, Monster Cable CEO on Dec. 30th. He told us that company finances were not good, and so he could notmeet our demands,” says Yijun Huang, who worked at thefactory for over 16 years. “And yet, we know that the company owns several dozen fancy sports cars and is throwing an expensive concert at the Las Vegas CES. Clearly, they are doing well! Unfortunately, the CEO doesn’t want to pay any attention to laid-off workers, so we are going to more retailers and to MacWorld. We hope that Apple will help us put some pressure on Monster Cable.” Workers are turning to Apple Computers Inc. and to electronics consumers to tell Mr. Lee “Stop being such a monster!”
They hope to raise awareness about the plight of Monster Cable workers and more broadly, the issue of labor practices in the electronics industry.

Currently, Monster Cable Inc. makes a number of products for Apple Computers Inc., including the iTVlink, iEZClick, iSplitter, iCruze, iCarPlay, iCable and iStudioLink, with cost up to $100 per product.
On Oct. 20, 2006, Monster Cable Products, Inc. laid off over 120 production workers from their Brisbane facility, outsourcing their jobs to low-wage labor overseas to increase profits. The company is a highly profitable company which sells high end audiovisual cables, home theater equipment, etc. The laid-off workers are mostly monolingual middle-aged Chinese, Vietnamese, Latino, and Eastern European immigrants who worked an average of over 8 years and as many as 20 years for the company with an average wage of $11-$12 per hour. Laid off workers want a just severance as previous laid off workers and want the company to address their long term unemployment issues by contributing to a Community-Worker Transition Fund. In 2005, MonsterCable estimated sales of up to $300 million.
More info - Shaw San Liu - Tel: (415) 577-0628, Cell or(415) 391-6986 ext. 313,
E-mail:; Alex T. Tom Tel: 510-449-1172, Email:
See also - Grassroots-resistance-to-globalization.html

Monday, January 08, 2007

Asian American parent & youth organizations support School Desegregation and Equity in Supreme Court's Seattle/Louisville Cases; Boston's CAPAY

As I and other San Francisco School board members work towards improving our future equity and desegregation plans for our 57,000 public school students, a number of community groups are starting to build support nationwide for our work here and in other urban centers.
Last month Asian American organizations from San Francisco to New York filed a 'friends of the court' [amici curiae] brief to weigh in on the US Supreme Court's arguments in the Seattle and Louisville school desegregation cases.
Besides SF's Chinese for Affirmative Action and NY's AALDEF [Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund], other 'amici' include - Asian Americans United, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, Asian Pacific Islander Youth Promoting Advocacy and Leadership, Boston Asian Youth Essential Service, Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families,
Coalition for Asian Pacific American Youth, Detroit Asian Youth Project, Filipinos for Affirmative Action, Japanese Community Youth Council, One Lowell, Providence Youth Student Movement South Asian Youth Action!, and United Chinese Association of Brooklyn.

Lead attorney for the Asian American organizations, is former SF Asian Law Caucus attorney Khin Mai Aung, now with AALDEF. From AALDEF's December press release:
Civil rights groups Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and CAA Chinese for Affirmative Action/Center for Asian American Advocacy asserted a compelling interest for the nation’s public schools to actively ensure equal access to quality education and a diverse learning environment. In both cases, locally elected school boards in Seattle, Washington, and Louisville, Kentucky had voluntarily adopted measures to reverse racial segregation in their public schools, and considered race in their cities’ kindergarten to 12th-grade school assignments. Similarly, in San Francisco, where more than 50% of public school students are Asian American, School Board Commissioners would also like to propose a race-conscious student assignment plan that would include considerations of race in a narrowly tailored manner.

CAA, which joined AALDEF in filing an amicus brief with the High Court, represents Chinese American parents and children who favor such an approach.

AALDEF Staff Attorney Khin Mai Aung said, “Asian American students in particular rely on the invaluable benefits of racially integrated public schools, which more accurately reflect their communities and greater U.S. society. If the Court were to bar school districts from desegregating their schools, the quality of education for Asian American children would be significantly harmed. AALDEF supports efforts by districts nationwide to consider race and other factors in order to fulfill the promise of educational equity embodied by the Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, more than 50 years ago.”

CAA Policy Advocate Christina Wong said, “In many of San Francisco’s schools, racial isolation has increased in the absence of race considerations in student assignment plans. Our current school assignment process has failed to provide our children with a racially integrated environment. CAA supports the voluntary use of race and ethnicity as a factor in the school assignment process to ensure that thousands of our city’s students receive a well-rounded education.”

Cindy Choy, a parent leader with the Visitacion Valley Parents Association, said: “As a parent and resident of one of San Francisco’s most diverse neighborhoods, I’ve witnessed firsthand how important it is for children to learn in a racially diverse environment. It would be easy to have my only daughter go to a school with a majority of Chinese students like herself but that would not allow her to learn and benefit from other groups of people. ...

Boston's Youth Organizing with CAPAY
Last year I visited various Boston social justice organizations, including the Asian American Resource Workshop, Chinese Progressive Association, U Mass Boston's Ethnic Studies programs, and a progressive Asian American youth organizing group recommended by UMass's Peter Kiang called CAPAY -Coalition for Asian Pacific American Youth. CAPAY is one of the organizations that support the AALDEF/CAA brief in favor of civil rights and desegregation.

I attended one of CAPAY's workshops and a summer picnic with activist supporters Sophia Kim and Gee Quach and was impressed with the dynamic organization and the young folks that make it strong. One of my former TA's Anjela Wong, now finishing her EdD at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, was a former CAPAY leader.

Danger: School Privatization - the Right-Wing Fordham Foundation's role

It's a 'chilly' but sunny 60 degrees here in the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area, but I wish I were in Miami this week with Mike Klonsky, Pedro Noguera, Debbie Meier and many others for the 6th Annual Small Schools Workshop gathering. Klonsky's latest blog points out the conflicts of interests with the conservative Thomas Fordham Foundation's role as both an authorizer and operator of charter schools. Foundation head Checker Finn is a former Reagan administration assistant secretary for education.
... I still can't help wondering how the Fordham Foundation, with close ties to the Bush Dept. of Education, can be both a charter school authorizer and operator of a chain of charter schools. I guess I've already answered my own question.
As privately-managed charter schools increasingly become the answer to the question "where does school reform go now that school reform is dead?" the conservative think tank led by Checker Finn has obviously been doing some thinking. Why sit around and complain, as Finn often does, about the failure of charter school accountability under NCLB? Why not get into the business ourselves?
So, as Edweek's Eric Robelen , who makes private management seem almost heroic, puts it, Fordham has "taken the plunge" and will operate nine charter schools in southwest Ohio, which has become charter school's version of Mecca.
According to Robelen's account, the nine schools serve some 2,700 students, mostly from low-income and minority families. They run the gamut from two charters operated by the for-profit Edison Schools Inc. to a school started by a Baptist minister.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Message to Speaker Pelosi - De-Fund the War and Bring the Troops Home Now; Support for Lt. Watada Builds as his Feb 5 Court Martial Date Approaches

SF & Washington Communities' Message to Speaker Pelosi last week - "De-Fund the War and Bring the Troop Home Now!" - from the Associated Press -

Protesters also said they wanted to send a message to San Francisco Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who became the country's first female Speaker of the House on Thursday morning."We're here to send a message to Nancy Pelosi. She was elected to defund the war and bring the troops home," said demonstrator Nancy DeStefanis.

Thanks to Grace Shimizu of the Watada Support Committee and the Campaign for Justice for the links below. The photo above of Lt. Ehren Watada, father Bob Watada, mother Carolyn Ho and stepmother Rosa Sakanishi is from former War Resister Jeff Paterson/Courage to Resist.

1/4/07 Pre-trial hearing at Fort Lewis in Washington State - from INDYBAY.ORG Lt. Watada hearing tackles free speech for soldiers, relevancy of truthby Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist. January 5, 2007
Media Links of SF Event:

Support Lt. Watada – Refuse Illegal War
Supporters are asked to write Lt. General James Dubik, Commanding General Fort Lewis, 1 Corps Building 2025 Stop 1, Fort Lewis WA 98433. Please request that General Dubik “Dismiss all charges and honor Lt. Watada's long-standing resignation from the U.S. Army.”
A Citizens' Hearing is being convened January 20-22 at Evergreen State College, Tacoma campus in order to fully evaluate Lt. Watada’s claims regarding the legality and morality of the Iraq War. Confirmed witness include: Daniel Ellsberg, military analyst who released the Pentagon Papers in the Vietnam War; Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General; Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University. For more information:
Finally, help spread the word about the regional mobilization at Fort Lewis on day Lt. Watada’s court martial is scheduled to begin on February 5, or organize your own local protest in solidarity on that day. We will try to post info on local San Francisco/Berkeley/Oakland solidarity events later.
For more information: or

Friday, January 05, 2007

SF School Parents Add Voices for New SFUSD Planning for 2007

Photo - Parent and social justice activist Francisco Hererra at the Parent Leadership Action Network gathering in Oakland.
Parent leader Lisa Schiff has a great new commentary in Beyond Chron's School Beat: Parent Voices are Part of the New SFUSD Plan. Schiff outlines how progressive school board members worked with parent groups like hers [PPS] and others like Coleman Advocates, Chinese for Affirmative Action, ACORN, SFOP and others to demand stronger, more meaningful parent voice in our district.
San Francisco public school parents are typical San Franciscans. We want to be involved, consulted and listened to when it comes to issues affecting our communities and one of those issues is most certainly our public schools. Last year, in a unified voice, the community told the Board of Education (BOE) and the district administration that the difficult path through declining enrollment and insufficient budgets could only be successfully traversed if two major projects were undertaken.The first was to develop a new long-term comprehensive education plan for the district. The second was to meaningfully include the voices of parents and guardians regarding issues such as educational programs, the achievement gap, school closures, the needs of different communities and neighborhoods and more.
With capacity building support from Coleman, the SF Education Fund and others we are also working towards a stronger mechanism for parental and community involvement in our upcoming Superintendent Search Process as well.
Please join us for SFUSD's final set of parent/community conversations organized with help from our Parent Advisory Council, Hugh Vasquez and the SF Ed Fund, PPS and others.
  • Saturday January 6 from 10-11:30am (in Spanish) PPS-SF Office -- 9 Silliman St, Ste 6 (@ San Bruno)
  • Thursday January 11 from 7-8:30 pm (in English) San Francisco Education Fund -- 47 Kearny St (between Post and Market)
  • Wednesday January 17 from 10-11:30 am (Chinese and English) PPS-SF Office -- 9 Silliman St, Ste 6 (@ San Bruno)
  • Tuesday January 30 from 10-11:30 am (in English) PPS-SF Office -- 9 Silliman St, Ste 6 (@ San Bruno) .
SF Parent Voices leader Maria Luz Torre and 2 of my former colleagues from the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights now are on the advisory board of the PLAN [Parent Leadership Action Network] - Jenny Ocon of the Parent Services Project and Christina Wong of Chinese for Affirmative Action.
Debra Anderson has children at AP Giannini Middle School and Burton High School, and a son in college. She is a native of San Francisco and lives in Oceanview. She has been active with parent groups and the SSC at her children’s schools, and as a volunteer with the Young Scholars program.
Charles Armstrong has children at Cesar Chavez Elementary School and the Willie Brown Academy. He lives in the Western Addition. He has been active at his children’s schools and is a member of the SSC at Willie Brown Academy.
Ana Castillo has two children at Monroe Elementary School, where she has been active with the parents’ group, and lives in the Excelsior. She is a native of San Francisco but new to the SFUSD, as her older child attended private school. She is bilingual in English and Spanish.
Cindy Choy has a child at El Dorado Elementary School and lives in Visitacion Valley. She is a member of the SSC at El Dorado, serves on the DELAC, is a leader of the Visitacion Valley Parents Association, and works with Parents for Public Schools. Her primary language is Cantonese.
Stephanie Choy is the PAC’s Vice Chair. She has a child at RL Stevenson Elementary, one at Lincoln High, and another in college. She lives in the Forest Hills neighborhood. She has been involved in her children’s schools for years, as a parent leader and member of SSCs.
She speaks some Cantonese and Mandarin.
Nick Driver has two children at Alvarado Elementary and lives in the Dolores Park neighborhood. He has been involved in the school’s parent group and SSC, as well as the SFUSD Bond Oversight committee. He also speaks Mandarin.
Derrick Eva has a child at Charles Drew and lives in Hunters Point. He has been involved in the school’s parent group and on the SSC, and is active in the Bayview/Hunters Point communities as well as working on school and district initiatives.
Kelly Huang has a child at RL Stevenson Elementary School. She lives in Visitacion Valley and is involved with the Vis Valley Parents Association. Her primary language is Cantonese.
Milena Levitin has a child entering Kindergarten at the new Dianne Feinstein Elementary School. She lives in the outer Sunset, and is active with the Russian immigrant community. She is bilingual in English and Russian.
Jenny Mai has children at Lincoln and Lowell high schools. She lives in Visitacion Valley and is involved with the Vis Valley Parents Association. Her primary language is Cantonese.
Emily Murase is the PAC’s Secretary. She has a child in the Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program (JBBP) at Rosa Parks Elementary School. She is a product of San Francisco public schools and has been active with the JBBP for many years. She is bilingual in English and Japanese.
Cecilia Roman has a daughter at Leadership High School and two in college. She lives in the Excelsior and is bilingual English/Spanish. She has been a leader at her children’s schools for years, and has been on SSC and ELAC committees at several schools.
Donna Smith has a grandson at Aptos Middle School, and lives in the Excelsior. She has been involved in developing leadership among public school families for many years. She has been on the district’s Title I advisory committee and is a Parent Liaison at Balboa High School.
Kate Steinheimer is the PAC’s Chairperson. She has a child at Grattan Elementary, and lives in the Haight. She has been involved with Grattan’s parent group as well as the SSC, and has worked with the SFUSD’s committee on food and nutrition.
Luis Vasquez-Gomez has a son in middle school at San Francisco Community, where he is been involved as a volunteer. He lives in the Mission District and is bilingual English/Spanish.
Joanna Warrens is the PAC’s Parliamentarian. She has a son at Sunset Elementary, where she is an active volunteer. She lives in West Portal, and has served on the San Francisco Civil Grand Jury.
(There are currently two open seats for Alternates on the PAC.)

SF Asian Americans and Peace Activists hold die-in and rally to support Lt. Ehren Watada and bring the troops home now

On the first day of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's tenure as Speaker of the House, hundreds of Asian American and peace activists held a die-in and rally at the San Francisco Federal Building highlighting a National Day of Action to support Lt. Ehren Watada for his pre-trial hearing for resisting the 'illegal and unjust' war on Iraq. Above - Reverend Lloyd Wake calls for support for Watada and to bring the troops home now.

Sacramento activists Andy Noguchi and his daughter accompany Rev. Wake at the rally.

Campaign for Justice [for Japanese Latin Americans] activist leader Grace Shimizu, longtime peace activist Ying Lee Kelly, NCRR and Watada Support committee activist Mike Tsukahara and dozens of others participate in the die-in at the doors of the chilly SF federal building.

Global Exchange and Code Pink Founder Medea Benajamin leads the chant - "Money for Schools and Education, Not for War and Occupation. " Benjamin, Rev. Dorsey Blake, AFSC Director Steven McNeil and others challenged Pelosi to "de-fund the war" and bring the troops home now. The die-in and rally were organized by the Watada Support Committee, APIs Resists!, Declaration of Peace, First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco, American Friends Service Committee, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Episcopal Peace Fellowship and San Francisco Friends Meeting.

More info -

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

SF Supports Army Lt. Ehren Watada for resisting the War on Iraq

One of the Bravest folks of the year is Lt. Ehren Watada, the young Asian American Army officer resisting what he calls an "illegal and immoral" war. He is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq. For refusing to participate in the war, Lt. Watada is facing 6 years in prison and a military court martial on Feb. 5, 2007 and a pre-trial hearing on Jan. 4, 2007. Now is the time to show your support for this courageous young man.

The Watada Support Committee and APIs Resist! and others are organizing events today in San Francisco, including a walk from JapanTown to the Federal Building with a 1pm 'die-in' on the steps. Our local events coincide with the Declaration of Peace and others' National Day of Action to support Watada.

Join the Watada Support Committee and APIs Resist! at the JAN. 4 - VIGIL & "Die-In"

January 4th also marks the first day of a pre-trial hearing for US Army Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse orders of deployment to the Iraq War. Lt. Watada is facing 6 years imprisonment at the maximum security military prison at Ft. Leavenworth: 2 years for refusing deployment to the Iraq War and 4 years for publicly speaking out about his decision of conscience and why he believes the war is illegal and immoral. The military's intention IS to SILENCE VOICES OF RESISTANCE and make an example out of Lt. Watada.Lt. Watada's bold actions have raised the consciousness of thousands of Americans about the illegality and immorality of this war, but his actions alone will not stop the Iraq war. If Lt. Watada is willing to sacrifice his freedom, then we, too, must voice our opposition and take action to end the war.Jan. 4, 2006 Schedule (Your participation at any point in the schedule is appreciated)

11:15 am Watada supporters gather at SF Japantown Peace Plaza (Post & Buchannan)
11:45-12:15 pm Watada supporters walk from Peace Plaza and meet up with members of Unitarian Universalist Church
12:15 -12:30 pm Watada and UUC folks walk to Federal Building (450 Golden Gate Ave.) to join the Vigil (which starts at noon)
12:30 pm – 1pm join silent VIGIL at the Federal Building
(sponsored by Watada Support Committee, APIs Resists!, Declaration of Peace, First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco, American Friends Service Committee, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Episcopal Peace Fellowship and San Francisco Friends Meeting, and Vietnam Veterans Against the War.)

1pm "Die-In" program and civil disobedience demonstration at the Federal Building
(sponsored by Declaration of Peace, First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco, the Watada Support Committee and APIs Resist!)

In remembrance of the 3000 US soldiers and over 650,000 Iraqis who have died during the Iraq War, participants will lie down blocking the Federal Building doors and cover themselves with white sheets in lieu of shrouds with the message, “No business as usual while the killing and dying continue in Iraq.
PLEASE JOIN US! Support Lt. Watada--Refuse Illegal War!

Photo to the right - Former WWII Draft Resister Frank Emi speaks out in support of Lt. Watada at a forum organized by NCRR [Nikei for Civil Rights and Redress]

To me, Lt. Watada is a modern day Frank Emi, a tremendously courageous individual standing up for his rights in the midst of tremendous racism and repression. Frank was a leader of the Fair Play Committee, a group formed in the U.S. concentration camp at Heart Mountain, Wyo. during World War II. He and 85 other Japanese detainees refused induction into the U.S. armed forces to protest the incarceration of Japanese Americans during the war.
Ironically Frank had an 18-month old toddler at the time and would not even have been drafted. Emi and six other leaders were convicted of conspiracy to evade the draft and of counseling others to evade the draft.They spent a total of 18 months in jail before an appeals court overturned their conviction. The other draft resisters also served time and were eventually pardoned by President Truman.
Frank stood up for his community and for his constitutional rights during WWII. Lt. Watada needs our support today as he stands up to resist the illegal war on Iraq.
For more information, please contact: Grace Morizawa or 510/289 1285 -
Emi and other Fair Play Committee members are featured in the documentary, "Conscience and the Constitution," by Frank Abe - - and in local SF filmmaker/cinematographer Emiko Omori's beautiful film Rabbit in the Moon.