The Austin Alliance For Peace (AA4P) is a trans-partisan organization dedicated to promoting peaceful solutions in an era where violence and threats are too often employed. The First Annual Austin Alliance for Peace 'Peace Rally" was held on Saturday, April 14 from noon-2 PM on the South Steps of Texas State Capitol. The purpose of the event was to reinvigorate the anti-war sentiment in the great State of Texas with the Peace Rally the day before National Tax Day. We are pleased that renowned peace activist, Dr. Dahlia Wasfi and the host of anti-war radio, Scott Horton were headliners for this event. Other speakers from the Austin area spoke on how the cost of war has deeply effected our local community through such issues as police brutality, regional fusion centers, implementation of an American urban warfare state in major cities across the U.S. (including Austin) with the implementation of Urban Shield programs, and how local politicians accept "federal money" to further the growth of the police state in local communities. AA4P objectives are: 1) To educate the public on violations of peace in any form, 2) To mobilize the citizens of the state of Texas to bring peace wherever it is absent, 3) To pursue the redress of grievances in alignment with the tradition of non-violent resistance. 4) To build a constituency whose main priority is to practice diplomacy and to always strive to resolve problems without the use of violence,
Austin activism in 2011 saw an upsurge in activity throughout the year with the mantra of change in the air. With the revolutions in the Arab world acting as a spark, people lit the fire that was once at the heart of social change in America. Activists for human rights involved in a whole rage of issues joined forces to fight the system of injustice seen all across the United States and the world.
Learn about the most recent solidarity delegation from the U.S. to El Salvador! In June of 2011, Austin independent filmmaker and journalist Matt Gossage went to El Salvador as a delegate of CISPES, Committee In Solidarity with the People of El Salvador.
Matt shared food, pictures, sounds and stories of the delegation and will report on the exciting political and social developments in El Salvador. CISPES' "Living the Change" delegation brought a diverse group of U.S. citizens to El Salvador to learn and experience the work of the grassroots social movements that are fighting for justice and human rights.
From funding and actively supporting the civil war from 1981 to 1992 and currently imposing its economic model on El Salvador, the United States has a close relationship and responsibility to the people there and their struggle. From environmental destruction, disastrous neo-liberal economic policies, unsustainable agriculture, lack of health care, a draconian criminal justice system and the attack of community media; the resistance in El Salvador is fighting the same systems as the resistance here in the United States.
This report-back focused not on the problems in El Salvador, but the solutions organized movements there are using to bring democracy and justice to their country. The discussion covered some of the groups and their work and how we in the U.S. can learn from the organizing being done there. After the dinner and presentation, information was shared on how we can stay involved, informed, support and stand in solidarity with El Salvador as activists in both our countries build a healthier and more just world.
CodePink Austin, along with other friends and supporters of the U.S. Boat to Gaza, held a symbolic "launch" on the Pfluger Bridge over Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas. Participants read excerpts from writings by Alice Walker and Kathy Kelly and the letter... to President Obama regarding the reasons for the trip to Gaza. Austin citizens were asked to stop and write messages to the passengers and participate in other symbolic actions.
World Refugee Day March & Rally in Austin, TX 2011
Music from World Refugee Day March Rally in Austin, TX 2011
This video contains live Son Jarocho music from June 20th 2011; which was World Refugee Day, and it also marked a lengthy discussion at the Texas Capitol on Senate Bill 9 and House Bill 9, both immigration bills left pending in committee.
Outside the Capitol building, civil rights and immigration rights groups marched in opposition of those two bills and in opposition of an immigrant detention center being built outside San Antonio. The march was organized by Texans United for Families, but the immigration bills have stirred up plenty of controversy.
Other organizations joined the march including PODER, Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera, American Gateways, American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, Detention Watch Network, Grassroots Leadership, Texas Civil Rights Project, Texas Jail Project, Texans United for Families, San Antonio Immigrant Youth Movement, Save Our Youth, Southwest Workers Union, Wilco Justice Alliance and Workers Defense Project.
To learn more about the movement and the detention center to be built outside San Antonio in Karnes, check out the Grassroots Leadership website (http://www.grassrootsleadership.org/).
It has been almost two years since three construction workers died while building the 21 Rio complex in West Campus. Now, the company that subcontracted some of that crew is partnering with the Workers Defense Project to raise awareness about employee safety. The three men who died at 21 Rio were employed by American Mast Climbers, a company subcontracted by Maxum Development.
Investigators say faulty scaffolding led to the workers' death in June of 2009. It's reported the crew was forced to work more than 60 a hours week applying stucco to the building, which is now an apartment complex."They not only worked long hours, but were forced to work in hazardous working conditions without workers compensation or rest breaks," Director of the Workers Defense Project, Christina Tzintzun, said.
"They were even illegally charged for their safety equipment."This past April, a judge forced the contractor to pay $15 million to the victims' families, and Maxum
Development dropped American Mast Climbers from all of its projects. In addition, Maxum plans to improve communication at construction sites and increase safety inspections and training."We are trying to build a repertoire with the workers to make these projects flow better, safer and work better as a team," Gary Perkins with Maxum Development said. Maxum's Gary Perkins signed an agreement Thursday with Workers Defense Project, promising those construction site improvements.
"I think many construction workers that already work in Texas are sometimes even afraid to go out every day to do their jobs," Tzintzun said.
"I think we need an industry where people--at the end of each work day--know that they can go home safely to their families."As Austin's skyline continues to change and urban development moves forward, the Workers Defense Project hopes other companies will follow Maxum's lead.Last fall, Austin City Council adopted an ordinance requiring workers to take breaks every four hours. The mandate also requires contractors to have drinking water available on site.Construction rights advocates still say there is still much to tackle in terms of safety. Just this past Tuesday, a teenager was hospitalized after suffering a severe heat stroke on a construction site. He told investigators he did not take any breaks and was not drinking enough water.
June 4, 2011 Austin Activists join forces to form a solidarity dance party in the Texas State Capitol Building, exercising their constitutional rights when Agent Harris from the Capitol Police harass and use unreasonable force against Austin Indymedia reporter Jeff Zavala. The Police Agent Black also refused to help a victim of assault.
Facebook event invite: May 28 2011 Adam Kokesh and friends were wrongly assaulted and arrested at the Jefferson Memorial for dancing. They will be back out next weekend and here in Austin we are planning a similar event in solidarity. Come out and dance to make people aware of the recent ruling making it "illegal" to dance at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. and also the brutality of police against peaceful protesters on May 28, 2011.
Economist James Galbraith discusses the roots and consequences of the financial crash and the ongoing economic crisis. A professor in the University of Texas' LBJ School of Public Affairs, Galbraith is the author of The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too and Created Unequal: The Crisis in American Pay. In addition to his teaching and research, Galbraith has served in several positions on the staff of the U.S. Congress, including Executive Director of the Joint Economic Committee. He writes for numerous magazines including Mother Jones, The Texas Observer, The American Prospect, and The Nation.
Well over 11,000 parents, teachers, educators and community leaders from over 300 independent school districts converged at the state capital in Austin on Saturday, March 12.
“Today, Texans have come together in great numbers and have sent a very strong, clear message to our elected officials that we must do better by the children of our state by funding education to the maximum extent possible,” says Allen Weeks of Save Texas Schools, the grassroots coalition organizing the rally, and director of Austin Voices for Education and Youth.
“And it’s not over with this rally. We’re going to continue our fight to keep Texas smart.”
After a drum line led blocks of rally-goers on a march starting from Waterloo Park to the Capital grounds, a fantastic line-up of speakers and performers made heartfelt pleas for education.
“We live in the 21st century. We have a global economy,” said Julian Castro, Mayor of San Antonio, in his podium address. “Here in Texas I wonder how long the fortune 500 companies will stick around if we can’t produce the students who can compete,”
Superintendent John-Kuhn of Perrin-Whitt, CISD, rollicked the crowds with his impassioned speech, saying: “Public school teachers, you are the saviors of this society. You are the first responders standing in this rubble while they sit in their offices and scribble judgmentally on their clipboards. You are heroes and what you do isn’t worth $27 billion; it is priceless.”
In a unified voice, rally participants urged legislators to take three critical steps to help close state budget gaps that are threatening education:
Use the $9.3 billion Texas “Rainy Day” Fund to help rescue schools from the current crisis. Sign the paperwork for $830 million in federal aid for teachers. Fix school funding laws to be fair to all districts and our growing student population.
After the rally, Save Texas Schools offered a training to those who plan to continue to work for public education across the state. Topics covered included how to keep the grassroots effort growing, how the legislative process works, and how education is funded in Texas.