“Moral Mondays Movement Spreads to Alabama” (AP), and other media cover Sept. 22 Rally in Montgomery

29 Sep

Rev_-barber in Mongtomery sept. 22

(Photo Sept. by John Zippert, ,Greene County Democrat, Sept. 22, 2014)

Alabama Multi-Cultural Fisher and Seafood Worker-Owned Coop was proud to be a part of the Alabama Moral Mondays Rally with Rev. William Barber and close to 300 Alabama activists. Below are cites and links to a few of the articles — including the Greene County Democrat’s John Zippert who attended the rally:

“On Monday, September 22, 2014, 300 people rallied in Montgomery at the State Capitol to begin a process to develop a “Moral Monday agenda” of progressive legislative change to bring before the Alabama Legislature in their 2015 session in the spring of next year. The NAACP, the ‘Alabama Moral Monday Movement’, the SOS Coalition for Justice and Democracy and other organizations sponsored the rally.”

“Rev. William Barber, the leader of the North Carolina Moral Monday Movement and inspirational leader promoting the movement across the South was the keynote speaker at the rally. Barber has worked with people in North Carolina to have a movement that had over a thousand people arrested for civil disobedience during the state legislative session. He also attracted over 80,000 people to a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, at the start of the 2014 legislative session. This was the largest civil rights demonstration in the South since the 1960’s.” (John Zippert, Greene County Democrat, Sept. 22, 2014)

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imagesNNWU27UK feb 8 uu        (Photo/graphic by Unitarian Universalist Church)

8-6moralmondayphoto1 from Teamsters

(Photo by International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Feb. 8, 2014)

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Associated Press journalist Phillip Rawls who is based in Montgomery wrote:

“The Moral Mondays movement has spread to Alabama, focusing on a Republican governor and Legislature just as the founders of the protests have done in North Carolina…. he [Rev. William Barber ]cited the Legislature’s passage of a law to require voters to show photo IDs at the polls and the governor’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law. ‘It’s extreme and mighty low to deny Medicaid for thousands of people,” he told the cheering crowd.”

“Barber, a minister from Goldsboro, North Carolina, started the Forward Together Moral Movement with a Monday rally in Raleigh. Other Monday rallies followed and the events became known as Moral Mondays.”

“The North Carolina demonstrations have resulted in hundreds of arrests for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. Last month, Selma political activist Faya Rose Toure and several others were arrested at the Alabama Capitol after the group refused to leave during a protest over an expansion of Medicaid in the state.”

[ Another one of the activists arrested that day, and who stayed in jail until past midnight was John Zippert, of the Greene County Democrat, cited above, and who wrote the following article about these arrests:http://greenecountydemocrat.com/?p=11511 ]

“Several organizations, including the Alabama NAACP, organized Monday’s Rally for a Moral Legislative Agenda. The Montgomery rally followed a week of marches around the state Capitol last month.”

“Benard Simelton, state president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the rally was not a one-time event. ‘This is the beginning of a movement to bring to the governor’s and Legislature’s attention the moral issues we want them to address in 2015,’ he said. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/sep/22/moral-mondays-movement-spreads-to-alabama/

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Barber-and-Simelton

(Rev. William Barber and Benard Simelton, President of Alabama State Conference of NAACP at the podium on steps of Alabama State Capitol. Photo by John Zippert, Greene County Democrat, Sept. 22, 2014)

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And the Montgomery Advertiser reported:

“…This is a movement, and this is just the beginning of a movement to bring to the Legislature and the Governor’s attention the moral issues we want them to address in 2015,” said Benard Simelton, president of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and one of the organizers of the event….

“There was also sharp criticism of Gov. Robert Bentley for turning down an expansion of the Medicaid program to cover adults making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line – about $16,104 for an individual, and $32,913 for a family of four.”We hand over huge subsidies, some taxed right out of the pockets out of the poor — let’s just say it, stolen from the pockets of the poor (and given) to rich corporations,” said Dr. PippaAbston, a pediatrician who works in Huntsville and writes for Left in Alabama, a left-leaning blog. “And then these corporations and the state say ‘Oh, we can’t find money in our budget for your health care.'”
http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/news/politics/southunionstreet/2014/09/22/moral-monday-speakers-sharply-critical-of-lawmakers/16068145/

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Alabama Multicultural Fishers and Seafood Worker Coop Brings Social Justice Seafood to Alabama Moral Mondays “Break Bread for Justice” With Rev. William Barber

29 Sep

Corrected per Michael Hansen's Sept. 25 observations [Sept22flyerwithroomforaddtionalsupporters [new supporters listed including Union Theological Seminary, Southern Poverty Law Center (4)

Videos of Presentations by Civil Rights and Labor Leaders at Bayou La Batre City Council Meeting Demanding Justice at Safe Harbor

29 Sep

August 18, 2014 letter from SOS to Mayor of Bayou La Batre demanding he stop the unjust rent hikes and evictions of Katrina Survivors at Safe Harbor

August 18, 2014 letter from SOS to Mayor of Bayou La Batre demanding he stop the unjust rent hikes and evictions of Katrina Survivors at Safe Harbor, p. 2 pdf

August 18, 2014

The Honorable Brett Dungan

Mayor, City of Bayou La Batre

13785 S. Wintzell Avenue Bayou La Batre, AL 36509

Dear Mayor Dungan,

We are grateful that the members of Bayou La Batre’s City Council warmly welcomed, and even applauded several of our speakers during the City Council meeting held on May 22, 2014. Our speakers represented groups from the local community and well-known and highly respected state and national organizations — they were:

Benard Simelton, President of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12rPF6gm99A)

Ronald Ali 2nd Vice President of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and President of the Mobile County Chapter of the NAACP; (Second speaker on this

recording:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cMkpVQl5jE)

Barbara Robbins, Co-founder of Alabama Multi-Cultural Fisher and Seafood Worker-Owned Cooperative, resident of Snows Quarter Bayou La Batre, and former resident of Safe Harbor (Second speaker on this recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3nuHD8HXhA)

Barbara Howard, representing Saving OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy; and the Honorable Johnny Ford, Mayor Tuskegee, AL (Third speaker on this recording:

Joe Keffer, representing the Federation of Child Care Centers of Alabama (FOCAL) and SOS; also working in conjunction with Alabama AFL-CIO and Service Employees In-ternational Union, (Retired) – First speaker on this recording https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cMkpVQl5jE

Frank Barragan, Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (who spoke at our rally at Greater New Hope Baptist Church in Snows Quarter)

Zack Carter, Organizer and Co-founder of Alabama Multi-Cultural Fisher and Seafood Worker-Owned Cooperative (First speaker on this recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3nuHD8HXhA)

It was unfortunate that illness prevented you from attending that meeting. We are happy to learn that you have recovered and are back at work. We would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss the advocacy we presented to the City Council and the many people who attended the meeting. Could you please provide some prospective dates to meet with representatives of our organization?

Specifically, as we asked in the article published on our website just prior to the May 22 meeting: http://sosmovement.net/2014/05/15/sos-members-rally-support-displaced-bayou-la-batre-mothers-safe-harbor
SOS asks the City of Bayou La Batre and its Mayor, Bret Dungan, to appoint a new and reasonable majority to the property management board at Safe Harbor [the Bayou La Batre Housing Authority] who will keep the promise made by the city, federal and state governments of affordable housing at Safe Harbor for Katrina Survivors.”
1) We also ask that you work with SOS to help find funding – be it governmental, non-profit, or faith based organizations — to bring Katrina rebuilding assistance to the historic African American community of Bayou La Batre and other neighborhoods and families who were neglected during the previous mayoral administration. As Barbara Robbins, who was raised in Snows Quarter, expressed in our on-line article:
“We feel Safe Harbor folks’ pain directly. Out of some 100 homes, only four of us received meaningful Katrina rebuilding assistance. We were promised elevation by the former mayor,” she says. “Since Katrina many of our homes flood after a hard rain and we can’t even flush the toilet. My living room floor is rotting. I am afraid my 90 year old mother will fall through any day. Fred Tombar a Senior Advisor in HUD visited my home three years ago and was moved to tears. A few weeks later he brought HUD Secretary Sean Donavan himself. Last year we voted in a new mayor, but still we have found no justice, in Snows or Safe Harbor. But together we will find it!”
2) We also ask that you speak out against the hate graffiti that was scrawled — the night prior to our May 22 Rally — on the truck that transports seafood for the Alabama Multi-Cultural Fishers’ and Seafood Workers’ Owned Cooperative. This hate act was denounced by one of our speakers at the May 22 Bayou La Batre City Council meeting and the City Council showed concern. We are thankful that the Bayou La Batre police immediately followed up with a police report.

Sincerely,

Senator Hank Sanders, Frank Barragan, Mayor Johnny Ford, Jerria Martin, Dr. Joe Reed,
Sharon Wheeler, Dr. Roberta Watts, Benard Simelton
Co-Chairs of Saving Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy

Website: http://www.sosmovement.net
Phone: 334-262-0932

Our Coop Supports Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice 4 Day Fast and Protests Rally June 25-28

29 Sep

Alabama Multi-Cultural Fishers and Seafood Worker-Owned Cooperative

Supports

Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice 4 Day Fast and Protests Rally June 25-28

(See local media report: http://www.alabamas13.com/story/25871720/immigration-reform-supporter-begin-three-day-hunger-strike-outside-spencer-bachus-office

Our destinies are intertwined” Ingrid Chapman

On April 1, 2014 our cooperative had the privilege of sharing the podium at the steps of the Alabama State House in Montgomery with Ingrid Chapman who represented Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice. A theme of Sister Chapman’s talk was “Our destinies are intertwined”.

Ingrid Chapman of Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice speaking April 1, 2014 at AL State House

Ingrid Chapman speaking for Alabama Coalition for Justice on the steps of the Alabama State House  Alabama Moral Mondays Rally April 1, 2014 9photo from Ingenious Multimedia and Graphics : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oz34Hs9Oywk&list=UUnmnRaZLmBt6Rt4nsbMBqRw)

One of the stories Ingrid told illustrating this basic truth was about a friend whose family owned a tomato farm in Mexico. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) financially ruined their farm. So Ingrid’s friend, at the age of 16, was forced to walk 5 days across the border desert to try and find work in the U.S.

Analyzing thousands of similar tragic stories are immigrant rights activists such as author and award winning journalist David Bacon who stated in a recent interview with therealnews.com: “When the North American Free Trade Agreement allowed big U.S. grain companies, for instance, to dump cheap, cheap corn on the Mexican market, hundreds of thousands of Mexican farmers essentially were not able to sell their crops for the cost of growing it, had to leave home in order to survive…”

Trying hard to survive in Alabama, Ingrid’s friend now works 3 jobs to pay for the medical bills for her mother who has cancer. She was going to school but under Alabama’s inhuman anti-immigrant laws she had to quit her studies, even though she pays her own tuition. And Hispanic families can be ripped apart at any moment by any police in Alabama who have now all been deputized to enforce the inhuman deportation laws.

It is the same NAFTA, and similarly codified corporate greed and pollution, that threatens the very existence of commercial fishers in America. And fisher families at “Safe Harbor” in Bayou La Batre know what it is like to have families ripped apart because of the greed of a few. Our coop greatly appreciates the support Frank Baragan of Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Reform showed these families at our May 22 Shrimp & Crab Boil for Justice: http://sosmovement.net/2014/05/15/sos-members-rally-support-displaced-bayou-la-batre-mothers-safe-harbor/

Indeed “Our destinies are intertwined”. Yet we can transcend our current tragic destiny of joblessness or low wages, homelessness, lack of human rights, deportations, the erosion of public education, and even people dying because the governor will not approve Medicaid expansion! For when we stand together and support each other’s struggles for justice, then our common destiny will be one that is just and deserving of our human dignity.

Alabama Multi-Cultural Fisher and Seafood Worker-Owned Coop Organizer Calls on Other White Alabamians to Speak Out Against Police Brutality Against African Americans

29 Sep

Outraged residents and civil rights leaders march June 7 in Alexander City, AL to protest a police shooting of unarmed African American – Part I June 19, 2014 · Reprint of Greene County Democrat June 19, 2014 (http://greenecountydemocrat.com/?tag=zack-carter)

T. C Cooley addressing the crowd

Tallapoosa County Commissioner T. C. Cooley addresses the June 7 Emerson Clayton rally. SCLC National President Charles Steele is on the front line, pictured third from left. (Photo by Rebecca Marion, NAACP)

Emerson Clayton Jr.

News Analysis and Personal

Reflection by Zack Carter

About 200 people, singing traditional Civil Rights songs loudly and with fervent passion, marched a mile in the hot noon sun, up a long hill, and finally arriving at the steps of the courthouse at this small east Alabama town. The place where a few days earlier a grand jury found a white policeman “not-at-fault” for shooting unarmed Emerson Clayton, Jr., to death. This was as he was backing out of a parking lot and away from an an angry Huddle House employee with whom he had a verbal argument. Mr. Clayton was 21 year old, African-American father of a two year old daughter, Germani Clayton.

As the marchers gathered at the starting point, folks spoke in disbelief about the recently posted video from the camera worn by the policeman who shot Mr. Crayton on March 8.

The policeman claimed that Mr. Clayton was ‘trying to run him over’. In this video one can see Mr. Crayton, backing out of a dark Huddle House parking lot as the angry cook who pursued him from the restaurant is aggressively pointing and hollering at him inches from his driver’s side window of the car.

Ten seconds later Emerson Clayton, Jr. is shot dead from several bullets fired from the policeman into the same driver’s side window. (http://www.alexcityoutlook.com/2014/05/28/breaking-grand-jury-finds-officer-not-at-fault-in-huddle-house-shooting-death/)

Bravely joining state and national Civil Rights leaders, on the front line were Emerson Crayton Jr.’s mother, Barbara Crayton, and Kolea Burns, the mother of his surviving two year old daughter Germani Clayton. The march began from the building that housed the only school African Americans could attend until the Civil Rights Movement ended segregation.

At the start of the march, the group was briefed by a U. S. Department of Justice official – of what to do in case of a counter demonstration. It had been rumored that the Ku Klux Klan was going to hold one.

After the march, people rallied for an hour and a half outside the County Courthouse in Alexander City. They listened intently to the speakers for words that could possibly bring some understanding and justice. Indeed such words arrived, and from some of the most gifted, wise, and courageous orators Alabama has to offer.

Speakers at the rally included: Benard Simelton, from Huntsville Alabama and President of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP; Sam Alexander, President of the Tallapoosa County Chapter of the NAACP; national SCLC President Charles Steele of Tuscaloosa Alabama; several local clergy, Tallapoosa County Commissioner T.C. Cooley, Attorney Eric Hutchins of Alexander City and co-counsel for the federal wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Clayton’s family; Emerson Clayton Jr.’s brother and others.

President Simelton delivered a strong tell-all wrap up speech, beginning with a traditional Civil Rights Movement chant: “Fired, up, Fired Up! I want to thank the Tallapoosa County Branch under the leadership of Mr. Sam Alexander for all the work that you all have done to bring about Justice in this situation.”

“I also want to thank the clergy and members of the community who have rallied together, prayed together, cried together to try and understand why this terrible thing happened to Mr. Crayton. The NAACP and the community believe that this did not have to turn out this way. ”

President Simelton immediately called out those responsible for the injustice that took Mr. Clayton’s life and the sham investigations that followed: “The Alexander City Police Department, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, the Tallapoosa County District Attorney office all should be ashamed of themselves by the way in which they have investigated this case. The Alexander City Police Department took the life of an innocent young African American man who was only trying to leave the premises of the Huddle House Restaurant when an overzealous police officer by the name of Tommy Manesse used unnecessary force and killed young Emerson.”

“The District Attorney E. Paul Jones has threatened to prosecute those witnesses whose testimony did not match what he wanted them to say. I say to you Mr. Jones, you may be the district attorney but you are not above the law, at least not above Federal Law. The NAACP and those who are here today, do not appreciate you threatening law abiding citizens”. “I would ask Mr. Jones to clean his glasses and go and review the tape again and explain how Mr. Clayton threatened to cause harm to the police officer….”

“As I watched the tape, I ask Mr. E. Paul Jones and Mr. Manesse and the police chief if officers are required in Alexander City to identify themselves as police officers. The only thing I saw was the Huddle House employee standing outside of Juniors’ car and the police officer, I assume it was the police officer because I did not see him nor did I hear the officer identify himself as a police officer; banging on the window of junior’s car.”

One of the most riveting talks at the June 7 rally came from the young Alabama NAACP legal redress lawyer Eric Hutchin– who courageously told the crowd about secretly recorded evidence he had obtained: an audio tape of a conversation in which an alleged Alexander City policeman bragged that he and another policeman planned to kill a certain African American “…and then Alex City would have one less nigger”.

When SCLC National President Charles Steele took the podium immediately giving a strong salute to Attorney Hutchin’s brave report, and then rolled out a thunderous anti-racist message against the growing epidemic of police killings of unarmed Black men and women, the police who had been watching and apparently photographing became visibly unnerved!

Charles R. Shaw, the white mayor of Alexander City, also spoke at the Rally for Justice for Emerson Crayton, Jr. Mayor Shaw did not speak out against the shooting of Emerson Crayton, Jr., but to his credit, he stood before the crowd and welcomed everyone, saying that: ‘I hope you will all come back and we can meet again under better circumstances.’

However “better circumstances” can only come about once the following basic and reasonable democratic demands articulated by President Simelton in his speech are agreed to by the mayor and Alexander City: “We are asking three things of the Alexander City Officials; 1. Implement a Citizen Review Committee/Council; 2. Begin to have community meetings with citizens and the police and Sheriff Department; and 3. Retrain the officers on the use of deadly force and provide sensitivity training.”

For this reasonable 3 point program to have a fighting chance it will likely have to be backed up by more and larger protests, protests in which people of all colors participate, including white folks.

It was encouraging to see many Hispanic people at the rally for Emerson Crayton, Jr. –, they were representing Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice. But I was very disappointed to see that, other than Mayor Shaw, I was the only white person present.

To build such broad protests for Emerson Crayton, Jr. white people need to first understand the extent of the historic problem of police brutality, especially against African Americans, and that this problem continues today, as forcefully underscored by National SCLC President Charles Steele and others in their talks at the June 7 rally.

About the author: Zack Carter has served as the organizer for Alabama Multi-Cultural Fisher and Seafood Worker-Owned Cooperative since its founding in 2011 to the present; worked as a community organizer for 8 years; a union organizer and representative for 13 years, including 10 years while working as a machinist at Alabama Dry Dock; and taught history at the high school and college level.

Tagged with: AL to protest a police shooting of unarmed African American • Attorney Eric Hutchins of Alexander City • Benard Simelton • Civil Rights Movement • Emerson Clayton • from Huntsville Alabama and President of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP; Sam Alexander • Germani Clayton • Huddle House employee • Ku Klux klan • Outraged residents and civil rights leaders march June 7 in Alexander City • President of the Tallapoosa County Chapter of the NAACP; national SCLC President Charles Steele of Tuscaloosa Alabama; several local clergy • Tallapoosa County Commissioner T.C. Cooley • Zack Carter

WHY WE SUPPORT RESTORATION OF THE 1965 VOTING RIGHTS ACT AND ALABAMA DEMOCRATIC CONFERENCE RALLY MAY 16, 2014

29 Sep

 

By ALABAMA FISHERIES COOPERATIVE: A MULTI-CULTURAL FISHER & SEAFOOD WORKER-OWNED COOPERATIVE, P. O. Box 94, Coden, Alabama.

For more information contact Zack Carter, Organizer 334 224-3983; or Barbara Robbins, Organizer, 251 422-2941

Coden, Alabama – May 15, 2014.  Our multi-cultural cooperative salutes Alabama Democratic Conference rally today for voting rights. An injury to one person’s right to vote is an injury to everyone’s right to vote – be it at the polls or undermining the people’s referendums that approved racing tracks in Greene County or Macon County Alabama, and established jobs for hundreds of people. This need for solidarity is as true today, as it was in the past.

For example, in the 1890’s twice poor white and poor black farmers “reached across the color line” in Alabama to elect a populist governor who was ready to challenge the Robber Barons of the railroads that was fleecing all farmers. Twice the election was stolen from them. Then their right to vote was stolen by the 1901 Alabama Constitution: first African Americans’ vote was lost through the codification of Jim Crow amidst the shameful silence of most their previous white allies; several years later poor whites lost their vote to the poll tax. Neither group was able to vote again until the African American led Civil Rights Movement and one its most significant achievements, the 1965 Voting Rights Act which eliminated both racism and taxation at the polls.  (See the late Bailey Thompson’s “Century of Shame”, an award winning series editorials published by the Mobile Press in 1999.)

Our multi-cultural fisher and seafood worker cooperative wholeheartedly supports the Alabama Democratic Conference Voting Rights Rally today. We wholeheartedly support full restoration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, as well as the local referendum votes that established local racing tracks.

We understand directly the need for solidarity to end voter suppression in any of its nefarious forms.  For example, one of our co-founders, Vietnamese American Minh Van Le, was unjustly removed from the ballot when he ran for City Council of Bayou La Batre in 2008. A spontaneous demonstration of nearly 100 people, of all colors – mostly high school students — assured that he was placed back on the ballot. We also were in touch with the U. S. Department of Justice whose intervention in Bayou La Batre was recorded in this USA Today editorial: “Why renew Voting Rights Act? Ala. town provides answer” http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2006-02-22-forum-voting-act_x.htm

Today we struggle with some of the same unscrupulous local politicians and elites who are now subverting a vote by the United States Congress that established a special FEMA fund to build affordable homes for 100 Katrina Survivor families in Bayou La Batre. They want to turn it into their own private cash cow. But we don’t struggle alone – for it is long time Civil Rights leaders who are joining at the front of the line with us, and joining our Solidarity Shrimp Boil next Thursday May 22 at Greater New Hope Baptist Church in Bayou La Batre ( See Saving OurSelves website article: http://sosmovement.net/2014/05/15/sos-members-rally-support-displaced-bayou-la-batre-mothers-safe-harbor/ .)

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Alabama Multicultural Fisher and Seafood Worker-Owned Cooperative Members Denounce Hate Graffitti Scrawled on Coop’s Truck Night Before May 22, 2014 Rally for Safe Harbor; and Thank NAACP and SOS for Support

29 Sep

photo of Ernie Seaman and Barbara Robbins protesting hate graffitti on truck that transports seafood for Al  Fisheries Coop