Statements

Justice for Rachel Bradshaw

In March 2010, Rachel Bradshaw, a student at Henderson High School in East Texas, was raped in the band room of her school. Rachel reported the rape to teachers and administrators and the police. The school's response was not to punish her rapist. Instead, the school accused Rachel of “public lewdness” and moved her to an alternative disciplinary educational program. Then they moved the man who raped her to the same program. She was forced to see her attacker daily. Rachel Bradshaw was punished for speaking out.

Unfortunately, Rachel's story is not unique. All too often, sexual assault survivors receive no justice and are condemned for reporting the attack. Continued, purposeful exposure to the perpetrator, as occurred in Rachel's case, is also a common byproduct of the way educational institutions and communities deal with assaults.

In many of these situations, like at Yale University, where years of unaddressed rape, sexual assault and harassment resulted in a Title IX investigation, survivors are pressured to remain quiet about what they endured. Many school officials berate survivors who try to report assault for “trying to ruin someone's life.”

But Rachel would not be silenced. With her family, friends and the local chapter of the ACLU backing her, she fought the district's decision to place her in another school. Her case gained a great amount of support. Rachel eventually graduated from a different district, and Henderson ISD was ordered to revise its discrimination and sexual harassment policies, provide two years of mandatory annual training for staff, designate a counselor for dealing with sexual harassment cases, review police records for other cases of assault, clear Rachel's record and create a committee of staff, parents, organizations and students to educate the school community on sexual violence.

These victories are a direct result of the heroic and courageous struggle waged by Rachel and her family, as well as the support they received from community and legal organizations. In a society where sexual violence and other forms of violence against women are epidemic, where victim blaming is commonplace and compounds that violence, our response must be to build a movement that can stand up with and for people like Rachel Bradshaw.

Anti-woman initiative defeated in Albuquerque, N.M.

Report from WORD Albuquerque

The people of Albuquerque, N.M., on Nov. 19, defeated an unconstitutional anti-choice initiative that had been put up to a vote on a special election ballot. Out-of-state groups, Operation Rescue and Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, known for their hateful fear tactics, moved to New Mexico specifically to further their agenda, which is to ban abortions at all stages of pregnancy in every state. In Albuquerque, they chose to begin their strategy by attempting to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

This initiative campaign was unique. It was the first time the anti-choice movement had tried to restrict abortion at the municipal level. Had it passed, the abortion ban would have begun a very long and expensive legal battle.

Luckily, the proposed ordinance did not make it that far, as the city voters rejected the ban with a large margin: 54.75 percent of votes cast opposed the ban compared to 45.25 percent in support. This was only made possible because of hard-working organizers who banded together all across the city in a very successful get-out-the-vote campaign from the pro-choice individuals and organizations.

Operation Rescue and Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust were not concerned with the health and well being of New Mexican families. Rather, they wanted to ban a very rare procedure (late term abortions account for only 1.5 percent of all abortions in the United States) and use it as a precedent to further erode a woman’s right to choose.

They targeted Albuquerque because the only two providers of abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in New Mexico are in Albuquerque. One of the clinics in Albuquerque, South Western Women's Options, is one of only four clinics in the United States that provides abortions after 26 weeks. Two of the doctors that operate in South Western Women’s Options Clinic were colleagues of Dr. George Tiller, a late-term abortion provider who was assassinated by an individual affiliated with Operation Rescue in Kansas in 2009.

Mobilization of the people turns tide

In the final weeks leading up to the special election, both sides of the issue put forward efforts to either pass or stop the proposed ordinance. Proponents and opponents raised a combined total of $1,000,000 for their campaigns. Pro-choice individuals and organizations in Albuquerque worked tirelessly to mobilize voters to defeat the ballot measure, as it was not indicative of our city’s views.

A coalition of women’s groups called Respect ABQ Women was immensely active and gained the support of thousands of people in the Albuquerque metro area. They were successful in building the resources to run a solid grassroots get-out-the-vote effort with the help of many dedicated youth, including members of WORD, who carried out door-to-door canvassing shifts as well as going to do outreach outside of polling locations to help combat the presence of anti-abortion protestors. The door canvassers, working for Grassroots Campaigns, Inc., on behalf of Respect ABQ Women, knocked on 54,402 doors in a time span of six weeks, surpassing their goal by nearly 1,000 doors.

When University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College were denied polling locations, Feminist Majority Foundation (part of the Respect ABQ Women campaign) organized free trolley rides from campus to the polls. It took a whole army to defeat this measure. It was thanks to the hard work of organizers all over the city that we were able to block this hateful attempt to restrict women’s reproductive rights from becoming law.

WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend) organized a banner drop over Interstate 40 (one of the two highways in Albuquerque) and also hosted a community forum and strategy meeting with numerous women’s groups that was open to the general public. WORD has been active in the struggle since late summer when we mobilized Albuquerque residents to attend city council speak outs and held a successful demonstration shortly before it was decided that the ordinance would be put to a vote. WORD in Albuquerque postered and leafleted in neighborhoods across the city, building momentum amongst and encouraging people to get involved in the struggle to defend women's rights.

WORD also organized a nationwide photo campaign where people from all over the country submitted their photos to show solidarity with the women of Albuquerque. Click here to see the gallery of photos.

The anti-choice, anti-abortion forces in Albuquerque mainly focused on extremely ineffective, fear-based tactics that centered around the idea of abortion and morality, as opposed to working to get out the vote. One of the anti-choice extremists that came to Albuquerque was Cheryl Sullenger, who pled guilty to conspiracy charges relating to the bombing of an abortion clinic and served two years in federal prison. It was people like her who were the authors of the ballot initiative, using language that even confused their own supporters.

Advocates of the proposed ordinance ruthlessly held signs depicting graphic photos of dead fetuses in public places, even going so far as handing out their propaganda to young trick-or-treaters and driving around the “Truth Truck,” a large truck with billboard covered with photos depicting dead fetuses and slogans urging viewers to “Vote for Protecting Unborn Babies!” Such tactics backfired, as they did not sit well with the residents of Albuquerque. It was disrespectful, incredibly offensive, and exposed as a lie the pro-family values the anti-abortion forces claim to promote.

Resounding defeat for right-wing forces

The outcome of this special election is a significant achievement. All in all, the voter turnout was significantly higher than that of our mayoral election, with 85,354 votes cast on the issue (as opposed to the 70,361 that turned out for the mayoral election in October). Some 58 percent of the votes were cast by women. We worked hard to win this election and succeeded despite the fact that city council blatantly tried to repress votes by denying a polling location at the college campuses in Albuquerque, but allowed four churches to have poll locations on their premises, two of which openly advocated for voting for the proposed ordinance to their congregations.

This victory proves that a mass mobilization led by young activists can defeat anti-choice forces that use tactics of shaming and antagonizing communities. We cannot say for sure if the anti-choice forces will attempt these same tactics in the future, but we have proven that they can be defeated and have a successful model that can be used nationwide in the future.

This campaign proves that the struggle against sexist, anti-woman groups and individuals is indeed still alive and well. Our side won with science, education and mass mobilization of the public, which was far more effective than the opposition’s fear tactics, and shaming and judging of women in a campaign of misinformation.

We need to carry the momentum created in this struggle onward toward real progress for women and all working people all over the world. It does not end here, but we are better prepared for what comes next.

WORD and community speak-out and march on Transgender Day of Remembrance

On November 20, WORD activists and community members gathered outside the New Haven, Conn., City Hall for a people's speak-out and march in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance. People joined together to hear a number of powerful speakers, chant and take to the streets in a loud protest of the unending cycle of anti-trans bigotry and violence. The march took a route through the streets of downtown New Haven and ended by joining a candlelit vigil hosted by students from the Yale LGBTQ office as part of the university's Transgender Awareness Week.

A number of local groups participated in the action: Seminarians for a Democratic Society came to offer support from the faith community, Food Not Bombs brought out supporters and home-cooked food for the protesters, and the ANSWER Coalition mobilized as well. People who had never met came together and demanded justice as one.

WORD organizers began the event by speaking about the statistical realities of transgender oppression. Transgender victims make up 20 percent of all murders and 40 percent of all police violence. One in 12 transgender people are murdered every year. The majority of transgender people murdered, 83 percent, are women of color. Transgender people suffer high rates of homelessness, employment discrimination, no or inadequate healthcare, suicide, and sexual abuse as well

Organizer Shawn Vieira spoke about the far-reaching violence and negligence directed at transgender people. “Not only are these murders committed by people who are out with the intent to injure and murder transpeople,” he said, “but also at the hands of passive and bigoted doctors and medical staff.” An anonymous transperson spoke out, saying: “I have been refused emergency room treatment even when delivered to the hospital by ambulance with numerous broken bones and wounds.” Other people present testified to their own experiences of life-threatening discrimination in doctors' offices and other institutional settings. WORD organizers spoke about Islan Nettles, a young African-American trans woman in New York City who was beaten to death right outside a police station, and CeCe McDonald, another transgender woman of color who survived a vicious attack by a white supremacist, but is now in prison for defending herself.

The answer, speakers said, was to continue in the spirit of Stonewall – through organized fightback and tireless demands for change. A trans rights activist stated that vigils are not enough: “We need to be strong as a community, mourn our dead, and come together in solidarity to make a change.” “We hold the power!” chanted the crowd. “When I say queer, you say power!”

WORD organizer Blaire Lauro's words ignited a desire to join in a spirited march and long-term commitment to the struggle. “I want to challenge us all to speak out and fight against oppression at our jobs, in our social life, call it out where ever it appears. It is only with an united populace that we can really end transphobic and all other forms of planned violence. Not one more life!”

The march echoed with more chants: “Not one more life! Shut it down! CeCe's in jail! Shut it down! The whole damn system – shut it down!” “What do we want? Trans rights! When do we want them? Now!” A giant banner inscribed “Not One More Trans* Life Destroyed – Remember, Persevere, Fight Back!” headed the line of marchers, who carried signs with trans oppression statistics and a quote from CeCe McDonald: “I would rather have been punished for asserting myself than become another victim of hatred.”

A block before the location of the vigil, the march fell silent and joined the Yale students, who carried candles and names of murder victims. The vigil involved a song, a reading of the names and solemn speeches by clergy and Yale organizers.

The successful action brought together many different people, all of whom were excited to see a strong fight back movement rising around transrights. The community was excited to hear about WORD's work and vowed to stand together in future struggles.

As organizer Shawn Vieira said, “I have a choice to act as a resistance, or to stand idle. Why do I resist? Because these problems do not solve themselves... We are more than statistics. These people are my friends, this audience, and the future generation of people.”

Transgender Day of Remembrance began in 1999 in San Francisco, Calif., as a call to mourning over the hate-motivated murder of Rita Hester, a transgender woman killed in Allston, Massachussetts in November of 1998. Hester's case, like many others involving transgender victims, has yet to be solved. Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to preserve the memories and histories of slain transgender individuals like Rita Hester, functioning as a national day of mourning for the transgender community as well as their friends, allies and families. It also serves as sobering reminder of society's pervasive indifference to the well-being of transgender individuals. Just as with Rita Hester's case, many hate crimes against transgender people remain unsolved by the so-called criminal justice system, and the stories of their lives are too often forgotten or misunderstood. The aim of Transgender Day of Remembrance is not only to honor these stories but raise public awareness of transgender issues and bigotry against gender non-conforming people.

The destructive politics of the wrath of nature in the Philippines

Super Typhoon Yolanda has created massive destruction.

By Arturo P. Garcia, Alliance-Philippines

“When will they ever learn?” This is the question that concerned environmentalist and political analysts are asking in the wake of the terrible “super typhoon” nicknamed “Haiyan” or “Yolanda” that hit the Central Philippines, most specifically the central islands of the Visayas and other adjoining islands on November 9.

It is imperative that the government authorities in the Philippines alleviate the plight of the Filipino people and focus on protecting the archipelago from natural tragedies by proactive means.

In the case of the Philippines, hundreds of years of destructive mining and logging, destructive agri-business and uncalled for development projects like turning pristine beaches and lands into eco-tourist resorts and large reclamations areas that destroy nature, have gone unabated.

And when nature has fought back, we see the devastation it has caused in eco-tourism areas like Bohol and Cebu, and the logged-over areas of Samar and Leyte, the most hard hit by the super typhoon Yolanda that has killed more than 10,000 people in the Central Visayas.

This disaster was caused by what the Philippine government has called a “storm surge:” a type of tidal wave carried by the winds of the typhoon that comes in successive waves as high as two story or 30 feet, more destructive than a tsunami. The storm surge leveled the whole city of Tacloban, Leyte and other cities on its path of destruction.

Safeguard the environment and alleviate people’s suffering

Time and time again, the Philippine government has failed to protect the people from natural and man-made disasters. Instead, the government has prolonged the agony of the people by failing to deliver basic services to the victims of natural disasters.

The recent typhoon has proven this fact again. The Storm Ondoy in 2009, the Storm Pablo that hit Southeastern Mindanao, the successive rains of Habagat and recent storms of 2013 and the Oct. 15 earthquake in the Visayas of the Central Philippines are just examples of the reactive response and not proactive actions of Philippine authorities.

Now, even when President Aquino has promised to improve the government response, much is still to be desired with regards to disaster prevention and alleviation.

Historical legacy of colonial plunder of the Philippines

Samar, Leyte and Cebu, when they were colonized by the Spaniards, became the source of wood to make ships known as galleons that were used for commercial trading between the Philippines and Mexico for more than 250 years. The Acapulco-Manila trade ceased in 1821 when Mexico gained its liberation and independence from Spain.
As a consequence, forests were destroyed for ship building and for widespread construction of forts and churches for Spanish use. This trend did not change when the U.S. occupied the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century.

We remember that Samar and Leyte were turned into “a howling wilderness” when U.S. General Jacob Smith ordered a ‘scorched-earth policy” in Samar to subdue the Filipino revolution from 1899-1916.
Logging and commercial mining were introduced by the U.S. and went on even after the the Philippines’ nominal independence in 1946. In fact during the Marcos dictatorship, the Defense Minister Juan Ponce-Enrile made Samar and Leyte his logging empire.

Thus, the two islands on the typhoon path became more vulnerable to storms’ death and destruction every year. At least 24 typhoons a year passed through these islands.

The people’s demands for tragedy alleviation

The Filipino people still hope that current President Benigno Aquino III translates into actions his promise to make the Philippines a better place to live in so that no more Filipinos will be a slave in another land and the 12 million overseas Filipino workers can go home to a better homeland.

We in the Alliance-Philippines demand that the Philippine government do the following:

Implement a total logging ban all over the Philippines and conduct widespread reforestation to counter the rampant deforestation in the country. There is an immediate need to save the last remaining 30 percent of our forest cover and launch a nation-wide reforestation drive.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources must see to it that this law is implemented so that legal and illegal logging are stopped in Mindanao and all the watershed areas of our country.

Stop destructive extractive mining all over the Philippines especially in Zambales where the Chinese mining corporations are destroying the mountains and have caused so many floods; in Cagayan where the Chinese are also mining “Black Sand along the Cagayan River, coal mining in Zinandungan Valley and Isabela and other areas.

Remember what happened in Marinduque, Leyte and in Surigao. Ending destructive mining  will eventually stop the degradation and denudation of our mountains and prevent landslides. We should cater first to the needs of the Filipino people and not of the foreign corporations.

Stop the reclamation projects in Manila Bay, relocate all low-lying coastal areas and cities and settlers along the riverbanks and major waterways of major cities and towns.
There is a need to implement good and proper urban planning. Provide decent and proper housing to the people who will be relocated along Laguna Lake and major waterways.

Train and educate the masses in disaster preparedness. Provide early warning systems along waterways all over the country and build more ready-made shelters so they will not use the schools for emergencies and disasters.

But all of these efforts are only palliatives for we know that the government is not serious about reforming the system. It is always the right of the Filipino people to fight and advocate for a real thoroughgoing change in the rotten system.

Only through a true national and social liberation struggle can the Filipino people defend and nurture the environment and protect its resources and benefits for the people. Only systemic change can improve the lives of the people.

Call for solidarity

More than 2 million people have been affected by Typhoon Yolanda. To ensure that the survivors of in the Visayas  receive the immediate help that they need, the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles and the United States Action against PDAF (USAP Coalition)  has initiated the TAWID BAHA Disaster Relief Drive for the Visayas and is accepting monetary donations (no in-kind donations please).

All monetary donations will go towards helping the more than 2 million affected communities in the Visayas hard hit by Tyhpoon Yolanda and the cost of wiring the donations. Donations of any amount are tax-deductible.

Donate through FACLA TAWID BAHA Disaster Relief Drive


Send a check to:

Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) 
1740 W.Temple St. Los Angeles CA, 90026



For more information please call FACLA at (213) 484-1527 or USAP at (213)241-0995. 



*For Immediate Release*

*People’s CORE*

*November 22, 2013*

*PEOPLE'S CORE LAUNCHES SAGIP TULUY-TULOY TULONG PILIPINAS (STP), 2013*

*Los Angeles--*The Los Angeles-based non-profit organization, People’s Community Organization for Reform and Empowerment (People’s CORE) along with the Alliance Philippines (AJLPP) ,Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV), KmB / Pro-People Youth, and The Park’s Finest are calling on the community to respond to the recent tragedy in the Philippines caused by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, the strongest typhoon ever recorded to hit land.

Reports indicate that 5, 200 Filipinos have lost their lives and over 43 provinces in the Visayas have been affected, with Tacloban City  now in ruins as the hardest hit. Haiyan is estimated to have destroyed 90% percent of structures in its path as it tore into the coastal provinces of Leyte and Samar. Overall, reports estimate that 11 million people have been affected.

*The STP Relief Drive  2013 is collecting both monetary and material

Typhoon Yolanda Recovery: Serve the Suffering People, Not Corporate Interests!

It is essential that aid from abroad be channeled to genuine people’s organizations in affected communities, instead of those beholden to the same corporate interests that caused or exacerbated the devastation.

from Damayan Migrant Workers Association

In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines, what is sure to be a long and painful recovery has begun. It was the strongest typhoon ever to make landfall, and the 25th typhoon to hit the Philippines this year. Haiyan caused untold damage to the provinces of Leyte, Samar, Panay, Bohol, Negros and Palawan, affecting more than 2 million people and killing an estimated 10,000 people.

Filipinos around the world have mobilized to assist the people of our homeland, and have been moved by the outpouring of solidarity from non-Filipino people. We in the Filipino-American community are organizing relief drives and conducting people-to-people aid to help our devastated compatriots. With the Sagip-Tulong sa Pilipinas (STP) Relief Campaign, Damayan Migrant Workers Association and allies echo the appeals for generosity and sacrifice to send aid directly to pro-people organizations in the Philippines.

At such a moment, it is also important to put this catastrophe into a political and social context. Resource allocation and planning can play a decisive role in mitigating the impact of natural disasters and dealing with the aftermath. As the people of the Philippines struggle to locate their loved ones and survive the shortages of food, shelter and other basic necessities, there is a well-founded concern that the Philippine government’s relief effort will primarily serve wealthy elites and corporate interests rather than the people who are suffering.

The Philippines needs aid, not militarization

Immediately following the typhoon, international news began to spread of “anarchy” and “looting.” On Nov. 10, just one day after the typhoon left the archipelago, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said that he was considering declaring a state of emergency or martial law in the hard-hit city of Tacloban, Leyte. As of this writing, hundreds of Filipino police and soldiers have been deployed to the area in the name of security.

The situation obviously requires emergency action. But these stringent military measures are geared to protect private property and goods rather than provide for people’s needs. The call for martial law-style “order” is an appeal to those with wealth; for the rest of the population, it means the suspension of civil liberties, including due process.

On the heels of President Aquino’s statement, U.S. military search-and-rescue helicopters, surveillance planes and Marines raced toward the central Philippines. The claim is that this military push to the area will help survey the devastation and assist survivors.

Again, the larger historical context of these actions must be emphasized. The U.S. military in the Philippines has been the instrument for the complete subservience of the Philippines to U.S. political and economic interests. It has meant an increase in violence against women at the hands of U.S. service members.

The U.S. government has long wrapped its colonial and neocolonial endeavors in the Philippines in the language of humanitarianism and paternalism towards its “little brown brothers.” With President Obama’s strategic “Asian Pivot,” which has a military and economic dimension, the Philippines figures prominently. Washington plans to once again use the Philippines as a key military base. While the Philippines will welcome any and all humanitarian aid, progressives must oppose U.S. military aid.

Corporate interests and corruption: unnatural disasters

The ultimate cause of the devastation is largely hidden from the news stories about this typhoon and other natural disasters: the unnatural disasters of climate crisis, large-scale commercial logging, mining and deforestation of the Philippines.

Climate change is one of the most urgent issues of the world today, bringing about rising sea levels and sea temperatures that lead to super typhoons such as Yolanda. Greenhouse gas emissions are largely responsible, mostly emitted by rich and so-called developed countries like the U.S. Transnational corporations, with the blessings of their governments, have been at the helm of destructive projects that have likewise contributed to the crisis: they have polluted and plundered communities, and built factories, oil refineries and coal power plants contaminating our air and water. These countries have further pushed for policies allowing industries to irresponsibly extract the earth’s minerals. The U.S., in particular, continues to wage environmentally destructive wars. Meanwhile, these same countries are ignoring or even denying the existence of climate change and the climate crisis.

In the Philippines, large-scale commercial logging and deforestation, run by big political families, have largely escaped regulation despite an Executive Order by President Aquino declaring a moratorium on logging in natural forests and creating an Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force. Recently, a commercial logging permit was given to the San Jose Timber Co, owned by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, to cut trees in the 95,770 hectares of forest lands in Samar Island, one of the hardest-hit provinces during Typhoon Yolanda.

Beset with corruption, government agencies are responsible in the processing and approval of logging operations, while some officials are actually active parties in the destruction of forests. Logging companies with permits were able to reforest only 97,741 hectares since 1976 – an insignificant number compared to the millions of hectares of natural forests that were destroyed. Wiping out the archipelago’s natural defenses, deforestation has left the people vulnerable to storms, exacerbating the calamity.

A True Recovery for the People

Given the political and economic context in which aid takes place in the Philippines, and indeed globally, it is essential that aid from abroad is channeled to genuine people’s organizations in affected communities, and that these organizations are not beholden to the same corporate interests that caused or exacerbated the devastation to begin with. And most importantly, aid should seek to break with, rather than to contribute to the same historic problems of neocolonialism, racism and chauvinism that continue to sink the Philippines further into poverty.

In addition to the Sagip-Tulong sa Pilipinas (ST) Relief Campaign, Damayan Migrant Workers Association signs on the calls of Alliance-Philippines for the following:

1. Stop deforestation and destructive extractive mining all over the Philippines.

2. Relocate all low-lying cities and squatters along the coastal areas and implement good and proper urban planning. Provide decent and proper housing to the people who will be relocated.

3. US military out of the Philippines – aid should not come at the expense of Philippine sovereignty.

4. End the destructive practices causing the climate crisis!

For information or to donate to STP, click here. One hundred percent of donations will go towards people’s organizations in the affected areas.

Free Marissa Alexander - Drop all charges now! Sign the petition and get involved

Santa Cruz, CA
Washington, D.C.

The movement to free Marissa Alexander and demand that all charges against her be dropped is growing!

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the UC Santa Cruz Women’s Center hosted the first event on campus about Marissa's case. Those who attended pledged to join the struggle.

In anticipation of Marissa’s October 31 status hearing, WORD Santa Cruz gathered activists the Monday evening before the hearing at the main entrance of the University, a busy transportation hub, to pass out fact sheets and the number to call Prosecutor Angela Corey to demand the case against Marissa be dropped.

WORD signs reading “Free Marissa Alexander Now” in English and Spanish and “Say No to Racism and Sexism,” with photos of Marissa, helped raise awareness about the movement to free her. Cars honked in support and many people took flyers and said that they would make a call to support Marissa Alexander.

On the morning of Marissa's status hearing, WORD activists in Washington, D.C., did outreach during the busy downtown rush hour to spread the word about the case. Earlier in the week, activists in San Francisco and other cities did the same.

Now is the time to intensify our efforts spreading the word about Marissa's case and demanding her freedom.

Despite the fact that the original guilty verdict was overturned, Florida State Attorney Angela Corey is moving ahead with the unjust prosecution of Marissa Alexander. At the status hearing on October 31, a bond hearing was scheduled for November 8th and a new trial was set to begin March 31, 2014. Marissa's new trial is taking place in the same venue where she was originally convicted of aggravated assault. She was sentenced, under mandatory minimum sentencing laws, to 20 years in prison in the same state that let George Zimmerman walk free.

There is no crime in defending yourself from abuse. Marissa Alexander acted in self-defense and injured no one. She is a survivor of domestic abuse, and is only imprisoned because of this racist and unjust legal system. Marissa Alexander should not be subjected to a second trial. All charges against her should be dropped immediately.

Get involved!

Marissa Alexander petition image

Video: Fight-back women's rally in New Paltz, New York

 

A spirited rally and march in Defense of Women’s Rights took place in New Paltz, N.Y., Sept. 7, organized by Mid-Hudson WORD in recognition of Women’s Equality Day.

A total of 135 people attended at some point during the rally in Peace Park before marching with signs and chanting “fight-back” slogans through the village’s business district, returning to the park for informal discussions among attendees and speakers.

Five of the eight speakers were in their upper teens or twenties, to the delight of local WORD organizer Donna Goodman, who viewed youth participation at that level as a positive sign for the future of the women’s movement. Goodman, who is also an a editor of the Activist Newsletter and a delegate of UUP/SUNY (AFL-CIO), spoke about “the political system’s failure do more for women’s rights.”

Other speakers included: Andrea Callan, NY Civil Liberties Union, Statewide Advocacy Coordinator. Julia Vogt, student member of NP High School Pride organization. Cait O’Connor, SUNY New Paltz Feminist Collective. Karina Garcia, New York State WORD organizer, and staff of National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. Joanne Myers, Marist professor, head of Women's Studies dept., VP  H.V. LGBTQ Center, member Ulster Democratic Women. Suzanne Kelly, former SUNY NP Adjunct Professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. Pat Lamanna, Dutchess peace and justice activist, who sang.

Organized by WORD and Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter, the rally was endorsed by New York Civil Liberties Union, Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley, Upper Hudson Central Labor Council, Ulster County Democratic Women, Orange County Democratic Women, Orange County Democratic Alliance, Orange County Peace and Justice, New Paltz Feminist Collective, N.P. Women in Black, N.P. Statewide United University Professions (AFL-CIO), Occupy New Paltz, Dutchess Greens, Dutchess Peace, Latinos Unidos of the Hudson Valley, H.V. LGBTQ Center, H.V. Progressives, IFCO/Pastors for Peace, Mid-Hudson ANSWER, Middle East Crisis Response, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Real Majority Project, Ulster MoveOn Council, WESPAC, Women Against War, Hudson River Playback Theatre.

Albuquerque WORD chapter hosts speak-out against anti-choice legislation

Download the sign here, add your name and send your photo to info@defendwomensrights.org

The struggle against an anti-choice ballot measure that would ban abortions after 20 weeks in Albuquerque, New Mexico, continues as the date of the November 19 special election approaches. The proposed city ordinance was put on a special ballot by far-right, anti-choice groups from Kansas.

The Albuquerque chapter of WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend) hosted a public meeting on October 25 to discuss strategies for combating the anti-choice legislation.

The panel included speakers from WORD, Southwest Women’s Law Center, Catholics for Choice, Personhood for Women, the National Organization for Women (NOW), and the Respect ABQ Women campaign.

National WORD organizer Nathalie Hrizi traveled to Albuquerque from San Francisco to speak at the meeting and to help organize a street outreach campaign that the local WORD chapter will be continuing up until the day of the vote.

In a national statement issued prior to the meeting, WORD spoke out about the ballot measure:

This ballot measure is NOT about banning abortions at 20 weeks – it is about taking the first steps in banning ALL abortions, not just in Albuquerque, but nationwide.

This is a battle in a larger war on women being waged by the right wing. With each battle they win, they are taking more territory. We cannot cede them any territory. We cannot accept any infringements on reproductive rights. We cannot allow them to roll back the clock on the rights that women fought for and won.

Anti-choice groups, like the Legal Life Defense Foundation and Operation Rescue, were unable pass laws at the state-level in New Mexico. This ordinance is a new step, a new tactic, to pull the issue down to the local level. They hope to set a precedent of local bans, with the hope that this tactic will spread across the country and lend itself to helping increase the restrictions on abortion at earlier and earlier stages until what was a right is completely banned for all.

We cannot stand by and allow this to happen! One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. This is an issue that impacts hundreds of thousands of women across the United States.

At the Oct. 25 meeting, Albuquerque organizer Pamela Herndon from the Southwest Women’s Law Center drew connections between the attacks on teachers and on women’s rights that are occurring at the same time across New Mexico. She told the story of a teacher in one of the state’s rural communities who was fired for teaching a student how to properly use a condom.

Marylou Singleton of the Albuquerque-based Personhood for Women discussed the passage of so-called “fetal rights” laws that have led to hundreds of women across the nation being imprisoned.

Nathalie Hrizi of WORD emphasized the national implications of this attack on women's rights in Albuquerque, discussed the ways in which working-class and women of color will be the most negatively impacted by the proposed legislation, and talked about the need for a nationwide fight-back movement.

The public discussion, which comprised the majority of the meeting, was a chance for many of Albuquerque’s most involved activists to speak out on the issue of women’s rights. Many spoke enthusiastically about drawing connections between the struggle for women’s rights and a variety of other social justice issues. Others expressed their determination to have a polling location at the University of New Mexico campus, which would allow the largely pro-choice student community to make their voices heard more easily.

Participants were also interested in finding ways to reach out to communities who might not have access to information about the ballot measure. WORD has initiated an extensive outreach campaign, putting up English- and Spanish-language posters all around the city.

This ballot measure, if it succeeds, will set a dangerous precedent for cities all around the country. It is the first attempt by right-wing groups to pass their agendas at a city level. Albuquerque is being used as a testing ground by the right wing to level attacks against the rights women have won through decades of struggle.

The women of Albuquerque are not willing to go back! WORD is committed to fighting back with everything we have to defend women’s rights in Albuquerque.

Get involved!

Fight against anti-woman, right-wing reactionaries who are attacking women’s rights in Albuquerque!

Click here to read more about the ballot measure.

What you can do:

Nationwide

  • Spread the word about the Albuquerque ballot measure! Let your friends and family know why we should all support the struggle Albuquerque because the right wing is attempting to use this tactic nationwide.
  • Print a flyer & submit your photo in solidarity with Albuquerque women.

In Albuquerque

  • Help to spread the word about this important struggle to everyone you know in Albuquerque.
  • Become a volunteer.
  • Attend local events in defense of women’s rights.
  • Speak out at Albuquerque City Council on November 18 to demand a resolution that protects women’s reproductive rights.
  • Vote against the November 19 ballot measure that takes away a woman’s access to a safe abortion.

Click here to sign-up.

Defend women’s rights in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Women's rights activists, including WORD organizers, packed the Albuquerque City Council on September 16 to denounce the proposed anti-woman ordinance and declare Albuquerque a pro-choice city.

Right-wing groups from outside of New Mexico that are part of a campaign to undo women’s rights nationwide have successfully petitioned to place a measure on the ballot for a special election taking place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Nov. 19, 2013, that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

The misleading name of the ordinance – “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance” – is an attempt to cover the purpose of the proposed law in lies and language that pulls at the heartstrings. The truth is that this is a blatant attempt to strip Albuquerque women of the right to control their own bodies and make decisions about their health care.

This ballot measure is NOT about banning abortions at 20 weeks – it is about taking the first steps in banning ALL abortions, not just in Albuquerque, but nationwide.

This is a battle in a larger war on women being waged by the right wing. With each battle they win, they are taking more territory. We cannot cede them any territory. We cannot accept any infringements on reproductive rights. We cannot allow them to roll back the clock on the rights that women fought for and won.

Anti-choice groups, like the Legal Life Defense Foundation and Operation Rescue, were unable pass laws at the state-level in New Mexico. This ordinance is a new step, a new tactic, to pull the issue down to the local level. They hope to set a precedent of local bans, with the hope that this tactic will spread across the country and lend itself to helping increase the restrictions on abortion at earlier and earlier stages until what was a right is completely banned for all.

We cannot stand by and allow this to happen! One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. This is an issue that impacts hundreds of thousands of women across the United States.

Get the facts!

The bill is part of a larger attack on women’s rights, not concern about late-term abortions.

Abortions after 20 weeks account for a little over 1 percent of all abortions in the United States. The overwhelming majority of abortions are performed at much earlier stages, before 13 weeks.

The only exceptions granted are to save the woman’s life, or because the pregnancy would cause substantial and irreversible physical impairment to the woman. It would also make it illegal to induce labor earlier if it would threaten the life of the fetus.

The right to choose is an issue for poor women who have little other options available to them – NOT the right-wing bigots who put the ordinance on the ballot.

The overall unintended pregnancy rate in the United States remained stagnant between 1994 and 2006, but unintended pregnancy increased 50 percent among poor women, while decreasing 29 percent among higher-income women.

Multiple studies have shown the enormous burden that is placed on poor and working women who are forced to struggle to come up with the hundreds of dollars required. The average early-term abortion costs $450, only increasing as the pregnancy progresses. Almost 60 percent of women who have abortions later in their pregnancy do so because they were not able to make arrangements and raise the necessary funds earlier.

The ordinance is costing the City of Albuquerque hundreds of thousands of dollars and will ultimately cost millions because the ordinance has NO legal basis.

The ordinance, if passed in November, will be unenforceable and unconstitutional. With groups already talking publicly about challenging the bill in court should it be passed, the New Mexico Attorney General has stated that the process will be costly for the state when it has to pay for the trial. And where is that money going to come from? From taxpayers as need services are slashed!

Get involved!

Fight against anti-woman, right-wing reactionaries who are attacking women’s rights in Albuquerque!

What you can do:

Nationwide

  • Spread the word about the Albuquerque ballot measure! Let your friends and family know why we should all support the struggle Albuquerque because the right wing is attempting to use this tactic nationwide.

In Albuquerque

  • Help to spread the word about this important struggle to everyone you know in Albuquerque.
  • Become a volunteer.
  • Attend local events in defense of women’s rights.
  • Speak out at Albuquerque City Council on November 18 to demand a resolution that protects women’s reproductive rights.
  • Vote against the November 19 ballot measure that takes away a woman’s access to a safe abortion.

Click here to sign-up.

No WIC shutdown! Nationwide emergency funding now!

The recent government shutdown shows us what the politicians see as “essential” versus “non-essential” programs. Suffice to say that women, poor people and children—the most vulnerable people in society—are “non-essential” to the politicians who care more about stopping legislation that would give millions of people access to affordable healthcare through the Affordable Care Act than they do about the lives of women and their children.

The shutdown will effectively suspend $7 billion dollars in funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). The WIC program serves around 9 million women in this country with nutrition programs, food vouchers and breastfeeding support.

The shutdown will mean that WIC centers across the country may begin to close down as soon as they run out of funds. While some states have made arrangements to protect funding for WIC through October 31, no plan exists at the federal level to guarantee funding. The USDA is allowing states to access additional funds to keep programs running for the rest of October; however, the programs will still “face funding shortfalls” and each state must make its own arrangement for funds.  This may mean disaster for the millions of low-income women and children who depend on the WIC voucher program for food.

WIC food vouchers allow women to buy items such as milk, cereal, fruits and vegetables for their families.  WIC also provides infant formula vouchers for nursing mothers. On average, formula costs $15 per can and lasts only a few days. Without these vouchers, many mothers will have no way of feeding their newborns, leaving mothers who cannot breastfeed with no options or other safety net to turn to. For many women who live in small towns, the loss of a WIC center means that they will not have access to clinical services unless they travel further distances into bigger cities, which can often prove very difficult.

The shutdown has also forced Head Start programs to close across the United States as funds run out. Head Start provides early childhood education and serves as affordable childcare for countless poor and working women.

The shutdown proves that the politicians don’t care about the lives of women or their children. To them, we are just pawns to be maneuvered in the game of political chess. The Republican Party is to blame for forcing this shutdown, but the Democratic Party is equally guilty for allowing poor families to suffer as they point fingers at the Republicans to win political points in future elections while doing nothing to aid suffering families until the shutdown is over.

WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend) knows that we cannot leave our lives in the hands of the politicians, because time and time again they remind us that neither our lives nor the lives of our children matter to them. We believe that we must demand our rights.

We are circulating a petition that demands that the federal government provide funding for these programs during the shutdown because no one’s life should be on the line in the name of political posturing.

Demand emergency funding for WIC now!