Saturday, October 28, 2017

Thousands March For the 5th Anniversary of Superstorm Sandy in remembrance of lives lost and to rise for bold climate action at the state and local level

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New York, NY — Thousands of New Yorkers came together for the #Sandy5 march on October 28, 2017; to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge in a wave of blue, participants are demanding powerful climate action from New York’s elected officials. Over 150 local, state and national organizations, with strong representation from neighborhoods impacted by the storm, signed-on to the march.

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“Superstorm Sandy revealed the inseparable link between environmental justice and climate change,” said Eddie Bautista, Executive Director, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance. “The low-income communities and communities of color across New York City, who are most vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis, have come together to demand that our elected officials take bolder, swifter action to bring about a just recovery, make our city more resilient, and bring us to 100% renewable energy.”

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Participants are marching to remember all lost to Sandy, resist the Trump administration’s rollback of protections, and rise demanding bold and immediate action from New York’s elected officials at all levels of government.

“Five years ago the world watched in horror as Sandy struck its greatest city; now, the world watches in hope that New York will take the steps to help head off the next storm. In the financial capital of the planet, divesting pensions from fossil fuels would be a signal to everyone else that real change is really coming,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org.

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With youth of color leading the march, Sandy5 kicks-off at Cadman Plaza Park at 11:45am before crossing the Brooklyn Bridge to the Lower East Side for a rally and art installation at the Alfred E. Smith Houses. The six areas most notably still living with Sandy’s devastation include: Hunts Point, The Bronx; Lower East Side, Manhattan; Red Hook and Sunset Park, Brooklyn; The Rockaways, Queens; and Staten Island. Survivors of Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, Irma, and Katrina are joining today’s march in solidarity with impacted communities around the world.

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“Our family lost our home in Sandy. Five years later, my daughter still has nightmares and gets scared when it rains. All these storms are climate change, brought to us by the likes of Exxon and Trump, who are now taking the federal government backwards. Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo have the power to create many good new jobs for people who need it badly by moving us now to actually solve the climate crisis,” said Rachel Rivera, a Sandy survivor and member of New York Communities for Change now living in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. “It’s time for them to pass and implement bold solutions, now, not call their tiny, tentative little baby steps on this issue of our collective survival ‘leadership’. That’s why I’m marching.”

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Organizers are calling for just and sweeping climate action from Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Senator Chuck Schumer. In the five years since Superstorm Sandy, New York’s elected officials have failed to adequately meet ongoing needs in the hardest hit neighborhoods, apply pivotal lessons to plan for future climate disasters, and aggressively transition to a fully renewable economy. Organizers demand:

* At the City level, Mayor de Blasio must: meet the needs of NYC’s hardest hit neighborhoods, disproportionately people of color and low income; develop a flood protection plan for vulnerable communities; and divest from fossil fuels;

* At the State level, Governor Cuomo must: commit New York State to 100% renewable energy, thousands of good union jobs and true environmental justice by making polluters pay for the climate-destroying pollution they dump into our air;

* At the federal level, Senator Schumer must: Stop Trump’s climate-killing agenda by fully funding the EPA, block the dirty energy bill, and support legislation for 100% renewable energy.

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“As we recall the devastation of Sandy, we know that the climate crisis has only gotten worse in the past five years. It is time for our elected officials to take much bolder climate action on a much faster schedule. We must move off of fossil fuels and into a new energy economy based on 100% renewable energy sources,” said Leslie Cagan, Coordinator of the Peoples Climate Movement NY.

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#Activism #ActOnClimate #Art #ClimateChange #climatejustice #EnvironmentalJustice #FossilFree #HurricaneSandy #KeepItIntheGround #NewYork #NewYorkCity #NoPipelines #NYC #OffFossilFuels #PeacefulResistance #rally #resist #ResistTrump #Sandy5 #‎Solidarity #SuperstormSandy #WalkTheTalk ‪#‎weareallconnected‬ #WeRise #WhyWeMarch

© Erik McGregor - erikrivas@hotmail.com - 917-225-8963a

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Roosevelt Statue at the American Museum Of Natural History found covered with a blood-like substance

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New York, NY - New Yorkers woke to a disturbing sight after the controversial statue of Theodore Roosevelt outside the American Museum of Natural History in New York City was found covered with a blood-like substance in the early hours of October 26, 2017.

Police officers arrived on the scene and proceeded to cordon off the statue with crime scene tape since they were not able to determine at the time if real blood was used to deface the statue. 

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The outside walls of the museum with the carved words —scientist, explorer, scholar, ranchman, conservationist, naturalist— describing Roosevelt were also smeared over with the same blood-like substance.

Museum personnel were present waiting for the police to give the authorization to start the cleaning process.

According to the NYPD no one appeared to have taken responsibility for the actions and no arrests had been made.

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#Activism #AMNH #BlackLivesMatter #blood #Colonialism #ColumbusDay #CrimeScene #decolonizethisplace #DefendTheSacred #EndWhiteSupremacy #FirstNations #genocide #IndigenousDay #IndigenousLivesMatter #IndigenousRights #IndigenousRising #NaturalHistoryMuseum #NewYork #notmyhero #NYPD #RemoveTheStatue #RenameTheDay #resistenciaindigena #SacredLand #‎Solidarity #TheodoreRoosevelt #vandalism 

© Erik McGregor - erikrivas@hotmail.com - 917-225-8963

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Indigenous Advocates launched an art intervention on JP Morgan Chase ATMs in Manhattan

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New York, NY - Indigenous Advocates launched an art intervention, by placing Out of Order signs on ATMs at various locations of JP Morgan Chase in Manhattan, calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Comptroller Scott Stringer to use their positions on the NYC Banking Commission to to end the city's relationship with JPMorgan Chase and other banks funding pipelines like the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).


The group responded to a call put out by the indigenous-led coalition Mazaska Talks for three days of actions around the globe between October 23rd and 25th, when ninety-two of the world's largest banks will meet in São Paolo, Brazil to discuss policies on the climate and Indigenous People's rights to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC).

Yesterday in downtown Manhattan, a group of indigenous advocates disrupted business as usual multiple times at the JPMorgan Chase headquarters as part of a national day of action to call attention to banks that fund climate disaster and the abuse of indigenous people. They called on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Comptroller Scott Stringer to use their positions on the NYC Banking Commission to to end the city's relationship with JPMorgan Chase and other banks funding pipelines like the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

As of May of this year, New York City has over $1.7 billion dollars of deposits in six banks that funded the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Wells Fargo, Bank of America, TD Bank, HSBC, CitiBank and JPMorgan Chase) The most is $739,190, 853 in JPMorgan Chase.

"Indigenous peoples reserve the right to free, prior and informed consent of all matters regarding our land, safety, preservation as a people. Chase is one of the largest investors in pipelines all across this country that threaten many Nations' sole water source & New York City has strong business ties with chase.These banks have not obtained free, prior or informed consent of the construction of these pipelines. We will continue to demand the city prioritize our safety, and preservation as a people by divesting these banks!" says Shawnee, Mohawk of the haudenosaunee confederacy.

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Earlier in the year the American Indian Community House and a broad coalition of groups responded to a call put out by water protectors at Standing Rock to #DeFundDAPL and divest from banks funding pipelines. The coalition asked the Mayor and Comptroller to take bold leadership and follow cities like Seattle, Davis, and Philadelphia, who voted to divest from banks funding DAPL.

Indigenous leaders camped out overnight outside a Wells Fargo and in may advocates packed the bi-yearly NYC Banking Commission meeting, calling on the Mayor and Comptroller to end the city’s relationship with the bank.

Reporting in a number of media sources revealed that Wells Fargo workers targeted immigrants and Native Americans to open unwarranted and fraudulent accounts. These, and other illegal practices, have led federal regulators to downgrade Wells Fargo’s rating to “needs improvement”.

NYC Designated Banks require a “satisfactory” rating so the NYC Banking Commission voted to end any further contracts with Wells Fargo.

Indigenous leaders are now calling on the Mayor and Comptroller to end the city’s relationship with JPMorgan Chase and the other banks funding pipelines that violate indigenous sovereignty and fuel climate disaster.

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#Activism #ATM #Chase #ChaseBank #CorporateGreed #CultureJamming #DefendTheSacred #divest #DivestTheGlobe #FossilFree #JPMorgan #KeepItIntheGround #MazaskaTalks #NewYork #NoPipelines #NYC #NYCdivest #OutOfOrder #PeacefulResistance #ProtectTheSacred #‎Solidarity #StopTheBlackSnake #StopThePipeline #WaterIsLife ‪#‎weareallconnected‬ 

© Erik McGregor - erikrivas@hotmail.com - 917-225-8963

Thursday, October 19, 2017

DACA Recipients from New York and Wisconsin to demand Paul Ryan to pass the DREAM Act at Annual Al Smith Dinner in NYC

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NEW YORK, NY – DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients from Wisconsin and New York held a demonstration on October 19, 2017 outside the annual Al Smith Dinner at the Hilton Midtown, targeting its keynote speaker, Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan. Ryan has continued to refuse to meet with immigrant youth from his own district about the Dream Act, which would provide urgently needed protections and a path to citizenship for immigrant youth with DACA.

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Immigrant leaders from both New York and Ryan’s home state have asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan to rescind Ryan’s keynote invitation, citing that immigrant youth are “deeply offended” that Ryan would be a speaker in such a high profile event meant to benefit children when the speaker’s actions against immigrant youth go against that mission. Despite thousands of people around the country signing an online petition, Dolan has refused to withdraw the invitation.Speaker Ryan has the power to bring a clean Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers, to the House floor, but has instead chosen to use the lives of DACA beneficiaries as bargaining chips to advance the racist agenda of white supremacists in the administration. Immigrant youth from Wisconsin and New York are demanding that Ryan meet with them.

Fernanda Jimenez, a high school student and member of Voces de la Frontera's student arm Youth Empowered in the Struggle, said, "As a DACA recipient from Paul Ryan's district, I'm worried about my future, and that of all the other young people whose lives hang in the balance.  We have gone on hunger strike outside Ryan's office, we have held a prayer vigil at his church, and we have invited him to town halls for over two years. Cardinal Dolan has spoken forcefully in defense of DACA and has called for a legislative solution. It’s way past time for Paul Ryan to meet with us and the Dream Act and move forward on solving this crisis." Jimenez' and her sister are participating in the delegation along with two other Wisconsin DACA recipients and their siblings. 

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Cesar Ortega, Make the Road New York member on Staten Island and practicing Catholic, “As Trump tries to tear apart our families and our dreams for the future, Paul Ryan keeps refusing to meet with immigrant youth like me. We demand that Paul Ryan meet with us about passing the DREAM Act, which is the solution we need. If he won’t meet with us, we’ll be out there on Thursday to protest.”

New York City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, added, "We find ourselves in a political environment poisoned with hate and antipathy toward DACA recipients. Innocent people who have spent their entire lives in this country, learning, working, and strengthening our country. We cannot stay quiet and we will not stay quiet in the face of these attacks, nor can we honor the politicians that are playing politics, poor and senseless, with people's lives. Until Mr. Ryan decides to be the Speaker for all Americans, puts forward a clean DREAM Act, and finally meets with his immigrant constituents, he has no business proclaiming to be a defender of American youth." 

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#Activism #CleanDreamAct #DACA #DACArepeal #DefendDACA #DefendDemocracy #DefendTPS #demonstration #DreamAct #dreamers #DumpTrump #Here2Fight #Here2Stay #HereToStay #HiltonMidtown #humanrights #ICEfreeNY #ImmigrantNY #immigration #NewYork #Ni1Mas #NoBan #NoHumanIsIlegal #Not1More #NoWall #NYC #PaulRyan #PeacefulProtest #PeacefulResistance #rally #RefugeesWelcome #ResistTrump #SanctuaryCity #SaveTPS #SinDACASinMiedo #‎Solidarity #Somos11Millones #SpeakerOfTheHouse #StopDeportations #StopICEraids #StopTheHate #TakenFromUs 

© Erik McGregor - erikrivas@hotmail.com - 917-225-8963
Community Groups and Public Defenders Demand Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to Resign

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New York, NY - Community Groups and Public Defenders held a rally and press conference outside Manhattan District Attorney's office at 80 Centre Street on October 19, 2017; to demand DA Cy Vance to resign amid accusations of allegedly using his power of discretion to allow the rich and powerful to escape prosecution while delivering punishment to New Yorkers of color for the smallest of infractions. 

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's Office, as well as other District Attorneys throughout the city, have used their power of discretion to allow the rich and powerful to escape prosecution while delivering punishment to New Yorkers of color for the smallest of infractions. Vance is the poster boy for a criminal justice that is blatantly racist and unjust. Vance must resign. 

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Vance's brand of criminal "justice" for low-income communities of color means incarceration, fees and fines that punish poverty. Mr. Vance is key driver of the Broken Windows philosophy of policing that leads to arrests and prosecutions of New Yorkers for low-level crimes. His Office has, for years, prosecuted low-level "crimes" of poverty, including countless fare-evasion arrests, and used over-charging and discovery practices to coerce guilty pleas. He has also routinely ignored and enabled police corruption, perjury and violence all while proclaiming himself a reformer.

The new revelations of campaign donations by lawyers representing powerful people his office is investigating, underscore the hypocrisy playing out on a daily basis in Cy Vance’s office – where the well-connected are giving every possible chance to avoid criminal penalties that are doled out without second thought to those without this access.   

This Thursday, grassroots community groups and public defenders will call for:

1. Cy Vance’s resignation from office.
2. An end to Broken Windows policing. 
3. Immediate action to end mass incarceration. 

"The recent revelations about Cyrus Vance’s treatment of Harvey Weinstein, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner demonstrate a kind of access not available to vast majority of people in the criminal legal system, who are indigent, and represented by public defenders. Prosecutors are the most powerful actors in the criminal legal system; a system built on racism and oppression. How New York City’s prosecutors use that power will determine whether or not mass incarceration persists for decades to come. Cy Vance’s policies and practices routinely undermine our clients' constitutional rights and perpetuate poverty. Our call to action is not about prosecuting the wealthy or campaign finance reform. It is about holding all actors, and today prosecutors, accountable for mass incarceration and the criminalization of poverty." - 5 Boro Defenders

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“Almost 40 percent of all people held on a given day on Rikers Island are being prosecuted by Cy Vance, whose bail, charging and discovery practices are driving mass incarceration in New York City. The aggressive prosecution of regular people, of low-income people of color, is the real scandal at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the time for accountability is now,” - Nick Malinowski, Civil Rights Campaign Director at VOCAL-NY. 

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“Cy Vance uses unfair bail demands to maintain a racist two-tier justice system, letting off powerful and well-connected criminals while warehousing Black, Latino, disabled, and homeless people in a jail the city's own commission called 'an international symbol of despair and damage.' Holding prosecutors accountable is the first step towards healing the damage done by mass incarceration.” - NYC Democratic Socialists of America

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"Cy Vance is a cog in the wheel that is today's corrupt New York City.  In lock step with the Mayor DeBlasio’s pay to play government, Cy Vance rewards the criminal rich while dropping the hammer on Black and Brown people who can least afford to defend themselves. Cy Vance is a scourge who must be resign today.  This racist criminal justice system must be dismantled." - Shannon Jones, Bronxites for NYPD Accountability 

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#Activism #BlackLivesMatter #‎ByeCy‬ #CouldntBuyCy #CyVance #DistrictAttorney #EndBrokenWindows ‪#EndMassIncarceration #ManhattanDA #NewYork #NYC #PoliceAccountability #PressConference #Protest #RacialInequality #RacialJustice #racism #rally 

© Erik McGregor - erikrivas@hotmail.com - 917-225-8963

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Advocacy groups "Take a Knee" at the NFL Fall League meeting to support players' right to protest injustice

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New York, NY - Ahead of the NFL Fall League meeting in New York on October 17; 2017; PEN America, Rise and Resist, the Corrections Accountability Project, the African American Policy Forum, the New York Justice League, Black Lives Matter of Greater New York and the March for Racial Justice are staging a protest taking a knee outside the Conrad New York Hotel, to urge Roger Goodell and NFL team owners to resist pressure from the Trump administration and defend players' right to protest.

"If President Trump gets NFL owners to punish players it will be a direct hit on free speech rights for all of us," said PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel. "Owners have a duty to step up and defend their players from the White House’s coercive efforts to silence peaceful protests."

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Speakers and performances included musician K Sloan, singing the national anthem (protesters were invited to take a knee), readings by author Brionne Janae, Bianca Tylek, Donald Vincent, and Jay W. Walker, and a statement in solidarity with protesters in St. Louis.

"When NFL players first took a knee during the National Anthem, it was to protest police brutality and racism in America," said Andy Ratto, a Rise and Resist protest organizer. "While we are pleased to hear that the NFL coaches will not be banning their protests, racism and police brutality is just as much a problem in America as it was when NFL players started their protest. We will continue to act in solidarity with these players, and work to call attention to these issues."

Supporters are also encouraged to sign the petition urging NFL team owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell to respect athletes' right to free expression and take seriously their cause. 

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#Activism #BlackLivesMatter #ConfrontWhiteSupremacy #DumpTrump #‎EndPoliceBrutality‬ #EndPoliceTerror #FreedomOfSpeech #ImWithColinKaepernick #Kaepernick #NationalAnthem #NewYork #NFL #NYC #PeacefulProtest #PeacefulResistance #PoliceAccountability #RacialInequality #RacialJustice #racism #resist #ResistTrump #‎Solidarity #TakeAKnee #TakeAKneeNFL

© Erik McGregor - erikrivas@hotmail.com - 917-225-8963

Monday, October 16, 2017

“Stranded By Cuomo” Flash Mob, protesting lack of elevators at the 6 line Parkchester subway station in the Bronx

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Bronx, NY — Activists, people with disabilities, mothers with strollers, and elderly people staged a “Roll-In” demonstration at the Parkchester stop on the 6 line in the Bronx, on October 16, 2017; the Parkchester subway station was renovated in 2010 to the tune of $89 million. The entrance is at ground level, and the architects of the station had the forethought to install an auto gate for passengers with wheelchairs, mothers with strollers, and travelers with rolling luggage. Yet there are no elevators to get to the train level. 

Nick Holzthum, a man with cerebral palsy needed to get to a meeting at 125th street. He had to crawl his way up to the platform since the newly renovated station lacks elevators. 

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With only 117 out of 472 stations fully accessible, and with elevators often out of service at many of the accessible stations, Governor Cuomo and the MTA make it impossible for the almost 10% of New Yorkers that have a disability to get to work, the doctor, or to school. Direct action group Rise and Resist will lead many people affected by the MTA’s neglect in a ‘roll-in’ flash mob-style protest at the Parkchester station in pressuring Cuomo, who controls the MTA’s purse strings, to devote more resources and energy to installing and maintaining elevators. 

“San Francisco, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Boston - all these major U.S. cities treat their residents better in terms of making their mass transit systems accessible,” said Martin Quinn, a member of Rise and Resist. “There’s much written about the constant delays currently affecting the system, and rightfully so, but not including elevators in building plans, and not keeping the few we do have working on a consistent basis makes living here beyond frustrating to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, not to mention tourists.” 

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In 1994, the MTA agreed to make 100 key stations accessible by 2020, part of a settlement that exempted the agency from full compliance with the American Disabilities Act. The MTA is currently working to complete the final 11 of these 100 stations in its 2015-2019 capital construction plan. Beyond fulfilling this agreement, there is no plan or policy for making the rest of the system more accessible in the future. 

Century-old systems in Boston and Chicago are on their way to reach 100% accessibility. New York is settling for 25%. 

Rise and Resist is a direct action group committed to opposing, disrupting, and defeating any government act that threatens democracy, equality, and our civil liberties. Previous Rise and Resist actions include a "cough-in" at Jean-Georges restaurant, and a protest at Trump Tower against the Muslim ban, the ICE raids, and the proposed border wall where 26 members were arrested.

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#AccessDenied #Accessibility #ADA #ADAcompliant #AmericansWithDisabilitiesAct #AndrewCuomo #BrokenElevators #Bronx #Cuomo #Disability #GovernorCuomo #LetUsRide #mobility #MTA #NewYork #NoElevator #NYC #NYCSubway #NYCTransit #Parkchester #rally #RiseAndResist #safety #StrandedByCuomo #straphangers #SubwayStation #TransitCenter #transportation #wheelchair

© Erik McGregor - erikrivas@hotmail.com - 917-225-8963

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Rainbow Flag dedication ceremony at Stonewall National Monument marks first time LGBTQ flag will be displayed permanently in New York City

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NEW YORK CITY – The dedication ceremony of the LGBTQ Rainbow Freedom Flag at The Stonewall National Monument was held on october 11, 2017; marking the first time the LGBTQ Rainbow Flag will be displayed permanently in New York City. Activists cited bureaucratic homophobia under the Trump administration after the National Park Service suddenly withdrew their sponsorship to the event.

The National Park Service (NPS), which had originally approved and sponsored a ceremony to be held today at 12:00 Noon at Stonewall National Monument to dedicate the Rainbow flag, has suddenly withdrawn. The event, however, will go on as scheduled. 

LGBT activists planning the event with NPS officials cite bureaucratic homophobia for the last-minute change in plans, as the Trump Administration has systematically rolled back LGBT rights at the federal level since January. 

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Organizers of the event were unexpectedly informed on Tuesday afternoon that the NPS is officially passing on their responsibilities of proprietor and caretaker of the nautical flagpole to the City of New York. Fortunately, NPS has donated the Rainbow Flags to the City and the City has given assurances that the ceremony will go on and that flag will fly permanently. 

This historic event had originally been planned as the first time that the LGBT flag will wave over federally-funded land, under the permanent stewardship of the National Park Service. NPS personnel were scheduled to speak at the event, but will no longer be in attendance. 

“Since planning began this past summer, the NPS had been wholly cooperative,” said Ken Kidd, a spokesperson for the LGBT organizers. “This abrupt turn-around, as well as the NPS distancing itself from this event, is more evidence of the Trump administration’s campaign to reduce LGBT people to second-class American citizens. It’s no coincidence that this comes on the heels of Attorney General Sessions’s support of religious rights over LGBT civil rights.” 

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Despite the change in flag stewardship, the dedication will go forward at 12:00 Noon on Wednesday at Stonewall National Monument, located in Christopher Street Park in New York’s Greenwich Village. The park is on the corner of Christopher Street and 7th Avenue South. 

The event will be emceed by Gay USA television co-host Ann Northrop. Performers will include Telly Leung, who plays the title role in Disney’s “Aladdin on Broadway” and Cantor Steve Zeidenberg of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. Speakers will be Leslie Cagan, co-organizer of the 1987 March on Washington for LGBT Rights, Kiara St. James, Executive Director of New York Transgender Advocacy Group, and LGBT and AIDS activist Michael Petrelis, who spearheaded this initiative.  

“It is a victory for our Community to have these symbolic colors flying majestically over our Stonewall, designated as a National Monument by President Obama, even as our LGBTQ brothers and sisters are under attack by the current regime in power,” said Petrelis. 

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October 11 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the historic 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian & Gay Rights--when the NAMES Project AIDS Quilt was unfurled on the National Mall.  The date also marks the annual National Coming Out Day, inviting the LGBTQ community to live their lives openly. 

The flag, originally designed in 1978 by the late artist and activist Gilbert Baker, consists of six stripes: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Gilbert Baker died in New York City on March 31 at the age of 65. Memorials to the internationally known activist were held across the globe in subsequent weeks. 

Support for the ceremony is being generously provided by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. BC/EFA helps men, women and children across the country and across the street receive lifesaving medications, health care, nutritious meals, counseling and emergency financial assistance. broadwaycares.org 

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The Stonewall Inn was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. 

The Rainbow Flag was originally designed in 1978 by the late artist and activist Gilbert Baker, the flag consists of six stripes: Red (Life), Orange (Healing), Yellow (Sunlight), Green (Nature), Blue (Harmony/Peace), and Purple (Spirit) An instantly recognizable symbol of welcome, comfort, strength, and unity, our Rainbow Flag is also a sign to all who see it that we are one Community, proud, strong, and dedicated to the struggle for true equality. That struggle is far from over. 

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources, and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 BC/EFA has raised more than $300 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States. 

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#Activism #ceremony #dedication #GayLiberation #GayPride #GayRights #GilbertBaker #LGBTQ #NationalParksSystem #NewYork #NPS #NYC #PeacefulResistance #pride #RainbowFlag #ResistTrump #RiseAndResist #StonewallInn #StonewallNationalMonument #StopTheHate #WeWillNotBeSilent

© Erik McGregor - erikrivas@hotmail.com - 917-225-8963

Monday, October 9, 2017

Indigenous, Black and Decolonial Activists call for renaming Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day and for the removal of Theodore Roosevelt’s Statue

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New York, NY - Activists from New York’s Indigenous and Black communities, along with decolonial advocates led an “Anti-Columbus Day Tour” at the American Museum of Natural History on October 9, 2017; the groups are demanding that Mayor de Blasio and members of the New York City Council join the growing list of cities in the U.S. that have renamed Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. 

New York City boasts the largest indigenous population in the country—more than one hundred thousand people—and it sits on the territory of the Lenape. 

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In their public letter to the City of New York and to the Trustees of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), several grassroots groups (NYC Stands with Standing Rock, Decolonize This Place, Black Youth Project 100, South Asia Solidarity Initiative, and the Eagle and Condor House) insist that the public holiday should honor the persistent presence of Indigenous Americans, and that it is no longer acceptable to commemorate Christopher Columbus, a figure widely associated with exploitation, enslavement, and conquest. 

The letter also demands that elected officials remove the equestrian statue of Theodore Roosevelt (outside the AMNH), which has often been cited as the most hated monument in New York City. A stark embodiment of the white supremacy that Roosevelt himself espoused and promoted, the statue is seen as an affront to all who pass it on entering the museum, but especially to African Americans and Indigenous Americans. The letter insists that a statue glorifying racial hierarchies should be retired from public view.  

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“No truly reputable museum” observes Amin Husain from Decolonize This Place, “should allow such a racially inflammatory monument to guard its entrance.” The call for removal is in line with an international movement that began with the dismantling of Cecil Rhodes’ statue at the University of Cape Town, and escalated in the U.S. with the removal of Confederate flags and generals from public display in the South. The statue is city-owned, and sits on land managed by the Parks Department, so city officials have jurisdiction over its fate. The demand is especially timely in light of the systematic review of public “symbols of hate” currently underway by the Mayor’s monuments commission. 

The letter also calls attention to the Museum's discredited racial classification system that relegates colonized peoples to the domain of Nature and and colonizer to the domain of Culture and Science. For example, the Hall of African Peoples still shares the same exhibition framework as the Akeley Hall of African Mammals. Even more bizarre, as Amrit Trewn, Black Youth Project 100 organizer points out, "there is no space in the museum where African and African-descended people are allowed to exist in modern time, they are frozen in the past.” 

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Regarding the inappropriate display of artifacts, Crystal Migwans, from NYC Stands with Standing Rock, calls for respect for these "artifacts" as ancestral beings, and for true collaboration with their descendants: "The AMNH sits atop a mountain of cultural wealth drained from our communities. The objects in those cases are our relatives, and their mistreatment here, in the heart of this American metropolis, reflects our own." The letter demands that the museum’s display plan be reviewed and re-conceived by curatorial representatives of the “exhibited” populations, and that human remains, sacred things, and objects of power be placed under the authority of their descendants. 

Recently, the AMNH leadership announced plans to renovate the Northwest Coast Hall, its first cultural gallery, largely untouched since it was built at the turn of the twentieth century. While this is a welcome initiative, it is long overdue and there is much more to be done to catch up with other museums much further down the path of decolonization. The letter calls for the immediate establishment of an independent Decolonization Commission to assess how the AMNH can rearrange the other halls, and for town hall meetings to be scheduled so that members of the public can testify openly about the impact of the racist stereotypes and demeaning representations on display. 

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Since more than 2 million school children visit the museum annually, the letter also calls on Department of Education officials to undertake their own review of the harms perpetuated upon New York’s highly diverse youth. Currently, the AMNH, which receives $17 m of taxpayer funding annually, and uses land and facilities managed by the city, is not held accountable for the damage done to these young minds. 
   
According to Tlingit artist Jackson Polys: “Real decolonization--a repatriation of all objects and land to Indigenous peoples--may seem beyond the reach of an institution that to its core acts to reinforce settler colonial mentalities.”  In his view, “there's real opportunity here to begin dialogue, but can our voices truly be heard when framed--contained --by these constant justifications for a foundational violence that permeate every representation of non-European peoples?” 

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