Minutes for MPJC Meeting of March 18, 2009


Present: Peter, Pam, Ron, Glenda Rae, Ellyn, Bob, Lee, Lois

Old business
    1.  Approval of Minutes for February 3: The minutes were approved.

    2. Progress Reports
        a. April 15 protest: Peter had registered the time to be 5-9pm on the NWTRCC website, but folks agreed we should vigil from 6pm to midnight outside the post office. Peter will prepare the leaflets, folding them and inserting a Wax Tax boycott card in each. He will prepare 4 or 5 signs as well. He will look for the list of phone numbers of folks to call to sign up for the vigil in one or two hour shifts. Pam and Lois will do the calling. We will ask Rey to come at 6pm and he and Lois will be in charge until 8. Pam and Ron will be in charge from 8 to 10 and Ellyn and Glenda Rae from 10 to 12. Lee will sign up for a time and possibly Lisa may come during the last shift. We need to call the Catholic Worker folks as their houses are just around the corner from the post office.

        b. IPJN report: Lee thought there would be a midwest peace summit in Indianapolis on the 1st or 2nd weekend in April. He will post information to the list as it comes available. A group of folks from Bloomington will travel to DC this weekend for the demonstration at the Pentagon to mark the 6th anniversary of the Iraq war.

        c. Anniversary of the Iraq War demonstrations: There is a vigil in Fort Wayne on the 19th. There are two in Michigan. MPJC will dedicate its vigil at Grape and Cleveland from 1-2pm on Saturday the 21st to making the sixth anniversary of the war. We all need to call folks to get them to come out, especially those who heard Camilo Mejia. UFPJ will hold a national demonstration in New York City on Saturday, April 4 in commemoration of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all the issues he gave his life for. Code Pink is planning a week-long demonstration in DC the week before Mother's Day. We will be alert for demonstrations in Chicago, but so far no word on these.

     3. Treasurer's Report: Glenda Rae reported that we had $ 202.95 in the bank and $1.76 in petty cash.

New Business

    1. What do we (can we) do next? Lois raised the issue of youth violence in the community again and asked MPJC to come out on record against it and in support of efforts to reduce it. More information can be found at www.usmayors.org. After much discussion we agreed on the following statement:

The Michiana Peace and Justice Coalition supports proactive efforts to reduce violence in the community and will continue to learn about and become involved with community programs working on this issue.

Lois described the proposal of Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, who wrote the book - "Murder is no Accident." One of the coaches at Washington High is using her methodology to work with young people. Unfortunately, the money for after-school programs in the community has run out. Hopefully, it will be refunded through the stimulus package funds. Someone needs to check with Donnelly's office re this. An organization called Ceasefire, operating out of the Charles Martin center, received a grant for violence reduction. This program is a one-on-one process involving only one mentor. It's funds are about exhausted. Lois said that Surgeon General Koop was quoted as saying that youth violence is a public health issue. It was observed that folks don't care about the issue when it is only inner city folks being impacted. It becomes a problem when it affects the middle class.

    2. Visit from Camilo Mejia: He was the first public resister to the Iraq war while in the military. His visit was sponsored by the Fourth Freedom Foundation and he gave well attended talks at IUSB, Goshen, and ND. Folks at the meeting had attended all three sessions - different folks at different sessions. His talk was very impressive as he described the immoral actions he was ordered to take while in Iraq, from torture to killing innocent civilians to letting wounded civilians die without medical treatment. The racism demonstrated by soldiers towards Iraqis and encouraged by officers who were there just to get a medal to further their careers went a long way to creating the resistance leading to the deaths of a million Iraqis and over 4,000 U.S. troops. Hopefully some of the folks who were moved hy his story will start coming out to vigils, especially this Saturday at Grape and Cleveland. Little Flower is trying to get him to come back to the community and other churches would be interested in having him speak to their congregations.

    3. Topic of the Month: Peter is still woring on a list of actions people can do to preserve the environment. One of the folks new to the listserv sent him a bunch of stuff on this. We decided to focus on conscientious objectors in the military as this month's topic of the month. We have to be careful not to push out aganda on returning vets. Start with what we have in common. Try to develop safe spaces for vets to meet with each other and share concerns. Perhaps we can find ways to support the families of soldiers in Iraq, say by helping them prepare taxes or get funding to attend school. Perhaps Lee will prepare some suggestions for us to discuss re this topic.

    4. Other Topics and Issues: Kimberly Rivera is a young mother who refused to deploy to Iraq, but instead fled to Canada. The Canadian government is set to extradite her back to the States where she will be court marshaled and imprisoned. We need to write or call the Canadian Ministry office. Lois has more information on this. There are at least 50 resisters in Canada. 64% of Canadians and a majority of Parliament favor keeping these resisters in Canada, but the government is kowtowing to the U.S.

The Homeward Bound walk is on Saturday, May 9 at 9:00am at Howard Park. This walk helps fund the agencies taking care of the homeless.

The gun buyback will be June 18th at three sites throughout the city. We gave them $75 last year to help buy a gun. We got a plaque for this contribution. Folks were pretty adamant that we not accept another plaque if we help out this year.

    5. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:30pm.

    7. Next meeting: The next meeting will be at Pam and Ron's on Tuesday, March 31, at 7pm.