Category Archives: Protest

Black Lives Matter Protest for Equal Justice Comes to Suburbia

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people who took a knee for 8 minutes 46 seconds, the amount of time a police officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck, snuffing out his life. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

The murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer has galvanized the nation and the world. His murder was only one of a long, long list of murders and lynchings over decades. But this was a perfect storm that made its heinousness obvious to all: this was not the instant firing of a gun in a moment of fear, but a tortuously long, drawn out 8 minutes, 46 seconds, during which three other police stood around, onlookers pleaded for mercy, and the whole thing captured on video shared over social media. So while there were other unprovoked killings – Breonna Taylor, shot in her own apartment in the dead of night after police invaded with a no-knock warrant – this one was undeniable in demonstrating the ingrained culture that dehumanizes in order for such violence to occur, and the smug security of police, given unparalleled power of a gun and a badge, that they would not be held accountable.

Enough is enough, protesters by the tens of thousands in hundreds of cities throughout the country and the world, chant, even putting their own lives at risk, not just from the baton-wielding, tear-gas throwing, flashbang grenade hurling, rubber-bullet firing police dressed as an invading army, but from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The protests have come to suburbia and our home town as well – most affectingly, one this weekend organized by Great Neck high school students which drew well over 500 people to Firefighters Park in Great Neck Plaza. (They withstood accusations on Facebook they were terrorists who had collected stones to throw at police. Meanwhile, county police closed off the main street to traffic so they could march a mile to the Village Green, and walked along side.)

They decried the structural racism at the heart of a police culture that has its origins in catching slaves, then, morphed into an enforcement mechanism for White Supremacy, along with so many other structural inequities that, by design, have kept African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities unequal in society.

While the elements of police brutality and criminal injustice are well known, they are kept in force year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation by supremely politically powerful police unions.

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Indeed, the most dramatic “reform” is to completely rebuild police departments – there are 16,000 of them. Some police departments have actually done this – Camden, NJ, for example – and it may be the only way to really root out the structural inequities, bias. Now Minneapolis’ city council has voted to disband its $193 million police department. What that actually means is that, like Camden, it intends to rebuild it, in order to make it functional and appropriate in a country that supposedly is based on principles of “equal justice for all.”

They will likely scrutinize how police officers are recruited, hired, know if there is a record of police brutality (like Timothy Loehmann who murdered 12-year old Tamir Rice). How are officers trained and what they understand their “mission” to be? One trendy training program (as John Oliver disclosed on “Last Week Tonight”) is in the “art” of “Killology” where officers are instructed that if they are not predators prepared to kill, they have no business being police.  

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Not only are the problems well known, but the solutions have been methodically investigated, analyzed, quantified and put in the form of recommendations – by the Obama Administration after the Ferguson, Missouri, riots that followed Michael Brown’s unprovoked murder by police. The task force developed a template for 21st Century Policing, including ending militarizing police. His Department of Justice under Eric Holder obtained consent decrees from the most vile police forces. But, like the template to address a global pandemic handed  to the Trump Administration, it was immediately discarded, and the consent decrees withdrawn.

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But George Floyd has created the rarest opportunity for reform. With breathtaking speed for New York or any state government, major measures for a “Say Their Name” police reform agenda have already passed the Legislature:  Allow for transparency of prior disciplinary records by reforming 50-a; ban chokeholds; prosecute for making a false race-based 911 report; and designating the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor in cases involving death of unarmed civilian by law enforcement.

Cuomo wants to go further to “seize the momentum,” correctly seeing this time as transformational to “reinvent” policing..

“This is a long time coming,” Cuomo said. “It is time to reimagine and reinvent policing for 2020…Police are public servants for that community – if the community doesn’t trust, doesn’t respect police, police can’t do their job.”

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Democrats in Congress have also seized on this transformational moment as well, introducing “Justice in Policing Act” which at the federal level would ban chokeholds; challenge “qualified immunity”; prohibit no-knock warrants; counter the trend toward militarization of police; require body and dashboard cameras; require independent prosecutors in cases of police brutality; establish a national database to track police misconduct; and (finally) make lynching a federal  hate crime.

Calls to Defund the Police. Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Others want more. There are calls to “defund police” – which like “They’re coming for your guns” and “Open Borders!” is a catchy slogan that fits on a sign that has been deliberately distorted by Trump and the Republicans  and used to incite fear among (white suburban) voters who are being told their neighborhoods will be overrun by criminals, gangs and rapists.

What “defund police” means is reassessing what functions the police do. Do we want protectors or warriors? Are police the best ones to address situations involving mental health, drug overdoses, domestic violence or school discipline? More accurately, people are calling for “divest-reinvest”:  take that money and invest in social workers, mental health professionals, and guidance counselors that police, themselves, have said they are not equipped to deal with.

Divest Police-Reinvest in Communities. Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And it means investing in community programs that in themselves reduce crime. That’s what Cuomo is proposing in a Justice Agenda to root out the causes of criminal injustice, all on view in conjunction with the coronavirus epidemic and its disproportionate impact on communities of color: it goes to addressing the disparities in education, housing, health care, poverty.

“This is not just a moment for political protest,” Governor Cuomo said. “It’s not just a moment to express outrage. It’s a moment to do something about it, and to make real reform and real change. That’s the goal of the moment. I understand the emotion. I want people to know how upset I am. Good. Second step, what do we do about it? And let’s get it done here in the State of New York.

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“When we talk about a Justice Agenda, we want to fight the systemic racism, inequality and injustice in our society. That is what the protesters are saying and I stand with the protesters in saying that because it’s very true. But in this moment of change, let’s make it real change and let’s get to the root of the issue. You want to talk about injustice and inequality in America. Well then it has to start with our education system. We do not educate all children the same. ‘Opportunity for all.’ No, opportunity for some, opportunity for people who grow up in a rich school district and a rich family with high property taxes and they go to great schools, but not for the children who grow up in poorer communities, who go to inferior schools. That is the reality today. That is the truth. I’m saying that as Governor of New York not as a protester on a street corner. It is a fact. Even in this state, we spent $36,000 per year, per student, in a wealthy school district, $13,000 per year in a poorer school district. How do you rationalize that? You can’t and say this is a system that provides equal opportunity for all.

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“How do you still have children living in poverty? With all this wealth, with all this abundance, how do you tolerate a situation where some children to no fault of their own, you can’t blame them, they were born into one circumstance and they are living in poverty? You can’t justify it. The number of homeless, lack of affordable housing, you have a federal government that just went out of the housing business. I was the former housing secretary, worked in housing all my life. Housing was a federal responsibility, not state, not local. 1949 Housing Act, “for this nation, safe, clean, decent housing for all Americans.” 1949, it’s 2020, what are we doing? There’s no section eight, no section eight project base, no more public housing, and then we wonder why there is an affordable housing shortage.

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“And yes, criminal justice reform, why do we lock up more people than any industrialized nation on the globe? That is a sign of success? …Why do we have racial disparity in the criminal justice system? How do you rationalize it? Unless it goes back to the other systemic injustices and inequality, if a person grows up in poverty, if a person doesn’t have education, if a person doesn’t have access to opportunity, then you see the result in the criminal justice system. This is how you get at injustice and inequality, and you can’t do it piecemeal, either attack it fully or you will never defeat it. That is the justice agenda. And this has to be done on the federal level and it should be done on the federal level because this is not a New York or California or Florida issue. It is an American issue. And you are in the middle of election season, stand up and say, ‘Here is my election reform agenda. You want my support and my vote? Here is my agenda. You are running for Congress, you’re running for Senate, or whatever you’re running for, you want my support? Here is my agenda.’ That is my opinion,” Cuomo said.

But none of this will happen as long as Trump and the Republicans are in power.

Marching up main street. Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Marching up main street. Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Marching up main street. Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Marching up main street. Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

________________________

© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Amid national protests over police brutality, Trump calling out military against protesters, Biden declares ‘The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism’

VP Joe Biden declares, “The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism. To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation. And to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation — to so many.” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Amid national protests over police brutality and the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and Donald Trump calling out the military against peaceful protesters outside the White House, VP Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, declares, “The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism. To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation. And to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation — to so many.

“We are a nation in pain,” Biden declared. “but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us. 

“As President, it is my commitment to all of you to lead on these issues — to listen. Because I truly believe in my heart of hearts, that we can overcome. And when we stand together, finally, as One America, we will rise stronger than before.”

Here is a transcript of Vice President Joe Biden’s speech delivered from the Mayor’s Reception Room in Philadelphia City Hall in front of an audience that included Mayor Jim Kenney, Congressman Brendan Boyle, and state and local elected officials.:

“I can’t breathe.” “I can’t breathe.”
 
George Floyd’s last words. But they didn’t die with him. They’re still being heard. They’re echoing across this nation.
 
They speak to a nation where too often just the color of your skin puts your life at risk.
 
They speak to a nation where more than 100,000 people have lost their lives to a virus – and 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment – with a disproportionate number of these deaths and job losses concentrated in black and brown communities.
 
And they speak to a nation where every day millions of people – not at the moment of losing their life – but in the course of living their life – are saying to themselves, “I can’t breathe.”
 
It’s a wake-up call for our nation. For all of us.
 
And I mean all of us. It’s not the first time we’ve heard these words – they’re the same words we heard from Eric Garner when his life was taken six years ago.
 
But it’s time to listen to these words. Understand them. And respond to them – with real action.
 
The country is crying out for leadership. Leadership that can unite us.  Leadership that can bring us together. Leadership that can recognize the pain and deep grief of communities that have had a knee on their neck for too long.
 
But there is no place for violence.
 
No place for looting or destroying property or burning churches, or destroying businesses — many of them built by people of color who for the first time were beginning to realize their dreams and build wealth for their families.
 
Nor is it acceptable for our police — sworn to protect and serve all people — to escalate tensions or resort to excessive violence.
 
We need to distinguish between legitimate peaceful protest — and opportunistic violent destruction.

And we must be vigilant about the violence that’s being done by the incumbent president to our democracy and to the pursuit of justice.
 
When peaceful protestors are dispersed by the order of the President from the doorstep of the people’s house, the White House — using tear gas and flash grenades — in order to stage a photo op at a noble church, we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle.
 
More interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care.
 
For that’s what the presidency is: a duty of care — to all of us, not just our voters, not just our donors, but all of us.
 
The President held up a bible at St. John’s church yesterday. 

If he opened it instead of brandishing it, he could have learned something: That we are all called to love one another as we love ourselves.
 
That’s hard work. But it’s the work of America.
 
Donald Trump isn’t interested in doing that work.

Instead he’s preening and sweeping away all the guardrails that have long protected our democracy.
 
Guardrails that have helped make possible this nation’s path to a more perfect union.
 
A union that constantly requires reform and rededication – and yes the protests from voices of those mistreated, ignored, left out and left behind.
 
But it’s a union worth fighting for and that’s why I’m running for President.
 
In addition to the Bible, he might also want to open the U.S. Constitution.
 
If he did, he’d find the First Amendment. It protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
 
Mr. President: That is America.
 
Not horses rising up on their hind legs to push back a peaceful protest. Not using the American military to move against the American people. This nation is a nation of values. Our freedom to speak is the cherished knowledge that lives inside every American.
 
We will not allow any President to quiet our voice. 
 
We won’t let those who see this as an opportunity to sow chaos throw up a smokescreen to distract us from the very real and legitimate grievances at the heart of these protests. 

And we can’t leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away and do nothing. We can’t.
 
The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism. To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation. And to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation — to so many.
 
I’ve said from the outset of this election that we are in a battle for the soul of this nation. Who we are. What we believe. And maybe most important — who we want to be.
 
It’s all at stake. That is truer today than ever. And it’s in this urgency we can find the path forward.
 
The history of this nation teaches us that it’s in some of our darkest moments of despair that we’ve made some of our greatest progress.
 
The 13th and 14th and 15th Amendments followed the Civil War. The greatest economy in the history of the world grew out of the Great Depression. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 came in the tracks of Bull Connor’s vicious dogs.
 
To paraphrase Reverend Barber — it’s in the mourning we find hope. 

It will take more than talk. We’ve had talk before. We’ve had protests before. 

Let us vow to make this, at last, an era of action to reverse systemic racism with long overdue and concrete changes.
 
That action will not be completed in the first 100 days of my Presidency — or even an entire term.
 
It is the work of a generation.
 
But if this agenda will take time to complete, it should not wait for the first 100 days of my Presidency to get started.
 
A down payment on what is long overdue should come now. Immediately.
 
I call on Congress to act this month on measures that would be a first step in this direction. Starting with real police reform.
 
Congressman Jeffries has a bill to outlaw choke holds. Congress should put it on President Trump’s desk in the next few days.
 
There are other measures: to stop transferring weapons of war to police forces, to improve oversight and accountability, to create a model use of force standard — that also should be made law this month. 
 
No more excuses. No more delays. 
 
If the Senate has time to confirm Trump’s unqualified judicial nominees who will run roughshod over our Constitution, it has time to pass legislation that will give true meaning to our Constitution’s promise of “equal protection of the laws.”
 
Looking ahead, in the first 100 days of my presidency, I have committed to creating a national police oversight commission.
 
I’ve long believed we need real community policing.
 
And we need each and every police department in the country to undertake a comprehensive review of their hiring, their training, and their de-escalation practices.
 
And the federal government should give them the tools and resources they need to implement reforms.
 
Most cops meet the highest standards of their profession. All the more reason that bad cops should be dealt with severely and swiftly. We all need to take a hard look at the culture that allows for these senseless tragedies to keep happening. 
 
And we need to learn from the cities and precincts that are getting it right.
 
We know, though, that to have true justice in America, we need economic justice, too.
 
Here, too, there is much to be done.

As an immediate step, Congress should act to rectify racial inequities in the allocation of COVID-19 recovery funds. 
 
I will be setting forth more of my agenda on economic justice and opportunity in the weeks and months ahead.
 
But it begins with health care. It should be a right not a privilege. The quickest route to universal coverage in this country is to expand Obamacare.
 
We could do it. We should do it.
 
But this president — even now — in the midst of a public health crisis with massive unemployment wants to destroy it.
 
He doesn’t care how many millions of Americans will be hurt— because he is consumed with his blinding ego when it comes to President Obama.
 
The President should withdraw his lawsuit to strike down Obamacare, and the Congress should prepare to act on my proposal to expand Obamacare to millions more.
 
These last few months we have seen America’s true heroes. The health care workers, the nurses, delivery truck drivers, grocery store workers.

We have a new phrase for them: Essential workers.
 
But we need to do more than praise them. We need to pay them.
 
Because if it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now. This country wasn’t built by Wall Street bankers and CEOs. It was built by America’s great middle class — by our essential workers.
 
I know there is enormous fear and uncertainty and anger in the country. I understand.
 
And I know so many Americans are suffering. Suffering the loss of a loved one. Suffering economic hardships. Suffering under the weight of generation after generation after generation of hurt inflicted on people of color — and on black and Native communities in particular.
 
I know what it means to grieve. My losses are not the same as the losses felt by so many. But I know what it is to feel like you cannot go on.
 
I know what it means to have a black hole of grief sucking at your chest.
 
Just a few days ago marked the fifth anniversary of my son Beau’s passing from cancer. There are still moments when the pain is so great it feels no different from the day he died. But I also know that the best way to bear loss and pain is to turn all that anger and anguish to purpose.
 
And, Americans know what our purpose is as a nation. It has guided us from the very beginning.
 
It’s been reported. That on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, little Yolanda King came home from school in Atlanta and jumped in her father’s arms.
 
“Oh, Daddy,” she said, “now we will never get our freedom.”
 
Her daddy was reassuring, strong, and brave.
 
“Now don’t you worry, baby,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. “It’s going to be all right.”
 
Amid violence and fear, Dr. King persevered.

He was driven by his dream of a nation where “justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
 
Then, in 1968 hate would cut him down in Memphis.
 
A few days before Dr. King was murdered, he gave a final Sunday sermon in Washington.
 
He told us that though the arc of a moral universe is long, it bends toward justice.
 
And we know we can bend it — because we have. We have to believe that still. That is our purpose. It’s been our purpose from the beginning.

To become the nation where all men and women are not only created equal — but treated equally.
 
To become the nation defined — in Dr. King’s words — not only by the absence of tension, but by the presence of justice.
 
Today in America it’s hard to keep faith that justice is at hand. I know that. You know that.
 
The pain is raw. The pain is real.
 
A president of the United States must be part of the solution, not the problem. But our president today is part of the problem.
 
When he tweeted the words “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” – those weren’t the words of a president. They were the words of a racist Miami police chief from the 1960s.
 
When he tweeted that protesters “would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs … that’s when people would have been really badly hurt.” Those weren’t the words of a president — those were the kind of words a Bull Connor would have used unleashing his dogs.
 
The American story is about action and reaction. That’s the way history works. We can’t be naïve about that.
 
I wish I could say this hate began with Donald Trump and will end with him. It didn’t and it won’t. American history isn’t a fairytale with a guaranteed happy ending.

The battle for the soul of this nation has been a constant push-and-pull for more than 240 years.
 
A tug of war between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart. The honest truth is both elements are part of the American character.
 
At our best, the American ideal wins out.
 
It’s never a rout. It’s always a fight. And the battle is never finally won.
 
But we can’t ignore the truth that we are at our best when we open our hearts, not when we clench our fists. Donald Trump has turned our country into a battlefield riven by old resentments and fresh fears.
 
He thinks division helps him.
 
His narcissism has become more important than the nation’s well-being he leads.
 
I ask every American to look at where we are now, and think anew: Is this who we are? Is this who we want to be? Is this what we pass on to our kids’ and grandkids’ lives? Fear and finger-pointing rather than hope and the pursuit of happiness? Incompetence and anxiety? Self-absorption and selfishness?
 
Or do we want to be the America we know we can be. The America we know in our hearts we could be and should be.
 
Look, the presidency is a big job. Nobody will get everything right. And I won’t either.
 
But I promise you this. I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate.
 
I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country – not use them for political gain.
 
I’ll do my job and take responsibility. I won’t blame others. I’ll never forget that the job isn’t about me.
 
It’s about you.
 
And I’ll work to not only rebuild this nation. But to build it better than it was.
 
To build a better future. That’s what America does.
 
We build the future. It may in fact be the most American thing to do.
 
We hunger for liberty the way Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass did.
 
We thirst for the vote the way Susan B. Anthony and Ella Baker and John Lewis did. We strive to explore the stars, to cure disease, to make this imperfect Union as perfect as we can.
 
We may come up short — but at our best we try.
 
We are facing formidable enemies.
 
They include not only the coronavirus and its terrible impact on our lives and livelihoods, but also the selfishness and fear that have loomed over our national life for the last three years.
 
Defeating those enemies requires us to do our duty — and that duty includes remembering who we should be.

We should be the America of FDR and Eisenhower, of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., of Jonas Salk and Neil Armstrong.
 
We should be the America that cherishes life and liberty and courage.
 
Above all, we should be the America that cherishes each other – each and every one.
 
We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us.
 
As President, it is my commitment to all of you to lead on these issues — to listen. Because I truly believe in my heart of hearts, that we can overcome. And when we stand together, finally, as One America, we will rise stronger than before.
 
So reach out to one another. Speak out for one another. And please, please take care of each other.
 
This is the United States of America. And there is nothing we can’t do. If we do it together.

Cuomo Proposes Reform Agenda to End Police Brutality, Systemic Racism, Tells Protesters ‘Use Moment Constructively’

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a national agenda to end systemic racism in law enforcement, end police brutality. “Use this moment. Let’s talk about investigation of police abuse. No chokeholds, nation-wide standard for undue force. Let’s talk about funding of education and equal funding in education. Let’s talk about affordable housing. Let’s talk about a child poverty agenda. Let’s use the moment constructively.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo proposed a positive reform agenda to address systemic racism and police brutality amidst the ongoing protests across the state and nation in response to the killing of George Floyd. The reform agenda includes a national ban on excessive force and chokeholds by law enforcement officers; independent investigations of police brutality conducted by independent, outside agencies – not by local prosecutors; and disclosure of disciplinary records of police officers being investigated.

While standing firmly in support of the protests against police brutality, the Governor said that protest for its own sake would only work against the cause, but that there needs to be a clearly defined list of actions that need to be articulated.

“You want to make that moment work,” he declared. “Yes, you express the outrage. But then you say, ‘Here’s my agenda. Here’s what I want.’ That’s what we have to be doing in this moment. And the protesters are making a point. And most of them are making a smart, sensible point. But you have to add the positive reform agenda that every voice calls for so the government, the politicians know what to do. And there is a positive reform agenda here. There should be a national ban on excessive force by police officers. There should be a national ban on chokeholds. Period. There should be independent investigations of police abuse.”

And Cuomo also differentiated between the those who are exercising their Constitutional First Amendment right to protest against those who are taking advantage to loot and vandalize, giving Trump the opportunity to deflect and discount, and shift focus to himself as the “law-and-order” strongman. Indeed, there are reports that White Nationalist group is posing as Antifa on Twitter, calling for violence. Trump is proposing to designate Antifa a terrorist group, and is using them to justify calling out military against protesters – which would be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.

“There’s no doubt that what the President’s trying to do here is turn the attention to the looters rather than the point of the protest, which is genuine outrage,” Cuomo said in an interview with Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC. “”You look at what happened with Mr. Floyd, you have to be outraged. It’s not just Mr. Floyd in an isolated situation, it’s been years and years of the same situation. You can go back to Rodney King, Amadou Diallo and Eric Garner – it’s a long list.

They want to make this about looting and criminals rather than the killing. That’s what they’re trying to do. In New York, we did have large protests and we do have people who are, I think, exploiting the protest. There’s no doubt that there’s some people who came out and did looting and criminal activity. You have some disrupting organizations that are seizing upon the moment. We want to make sure that order is maintained and we’re putting in place a curfew.”

“Use this moment. You look in history, Nicolle, when did change come? Change came when the people insisted on change. Let’s talk about investigation of police abuse. No chokeholds, nation-wide standard for undue force. Let’s talk about funding of education and equal funding in education. Let’s talk about affordable housing. Let’s talk about a child poverty agenda. Let’s use the moment constructively.”

Cuomo ordered a curfew of 11 pm in New York City, and doubled the number of police, from 4,000 to 8,000. However, that was not enough to stop a spate of acts of looting and vandalism.

The protests come just as New York City was hitting the milestones in the fight against COVID-19, which has taken more lives – and more disproportionately in communities of color – in the city and state than anywhere in the country or world. The  Governor said that if there was any “silver” lining in the timing, the protests are happening when the infection rate has been cut from 20 percent to 2 percent but still raised concerns of reigniting the spread of the pandemic.

Here is a transcript of Governor Cuomo’s remarks:

We’re talking about reopening in one week in New York City. Now we’re seeing these mass gatherings over the past several nights that could, in fact, exacerbate the COVID-19 spread. We spent all this time closed down, locked down, masked, socially distanced and then you turn on the TV and you see there’s mass gatherings that could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people. After everything that we have done. We have to talk a minute and ask ourselves what are we doing here? What are we trying to accomplish?

We have protests across the state that continued last night, they continued across the nation. Upstate we worked with the cities very closely. The State Police did a great job. We had, basically, a few scattered arrests, upstate New York. But the local governments did a great job, the people did a great job, law enforcement did a great job. The protestors were responsible. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad, either, upstate.

I said from day one, I share the outrage and I stand with the protestors. You look at that video of the killing of an unarmed man, Mr. Floyd, it is horrendous. Horrendous. It’s frightening. It perverts everything you believe about this country. It does and there’s no excuse for it. No right minded American would make an excuse for it. So, protest yes. Be frustrated, yes. Outraged, yes of course. Is there a larger problem? Of course. It’s not just Mr. Floyd, it goes back – there are 50 cases that are just like Mr. Floyd. We’ve them here in New York City. What’s the difference between Mr. Floyd and Amadou Diallo? Or Abner Louima? Or Eric Garner? What is the difference? What have we learned? Nothing?

So, yes, we should be outraged. And yes, there’s a bigger point to make. It is abuse by police. But it’s something worse. It is racism. It is discrimination. It is fundamental inequality and injustice. My father spoke about it in 1984. The speech called “The Tale of Two Cities.” People still talk about it. The point of the tale of two cities is there’s two Americas. Two sets of rules. Two sets of outcomes. Two sets of expectations. It’s true. It was true then, it’s true now. Look at our prisons and tell me there’s not inherit injustice in society. Look at public housing, tell me there’s not inherent injustice.

Look at what happened with this COVID infection rate nationwide. More African Americans infected, more African Americans dead proportionally than white Americans. Of course, there’s chronic institutionalized discrimination. There is no doubt. There is no doubt. And there’s no doubt that it’s been going on for a long time and people are frustrated, and it has to be corrected and it has to be corrected now. And there’s no doubt, that this nation as great as it is has had the continuing sin of discrimination. From before the nation was formed and it started with slavery. And it has had different faces over the decades, but it’s still the same sin. That is true. That is true. So let’s use this moment as a moment of change? Yes.

When does change come? When the stars align and society focuses and the people focus, and they focus to such an extent that the politicians follow the people. That’s when change comes. “Well, the leaders lead!” Baloney. The people lead. And then the politicians see the people moving, and the politicians run to catch up with the people. How did we pass marriage equality in this State, giving a new civil right to the LGBTQ community? Because the people said, “enough is enough. How can you say only heterosexual people can marry, but the LGBTQ people— they can’t marry? How is that constitutional? How is that legal?” You have your own preference— God bless you. But how in the law, do you discriminate between two classes of people. We passed marriage equality.

After the Sandy Hook massacre, after all those years we tried to pass common sense gun safety. Do you really need an assault weapon to kill a deer? But then the Sandy Hook massacre happened, and the people said, “enough. You’re killing children? Young children in schools with an assault weapon? In the Sandy Hook massacre. Enough.”

And in that moment, we passed common sense gun safety in the State of New York. Record income inequality? People said, “enough” and passed a real minimum wage in this State that went all across the nation. There’s a moment for change, and is there a moment here? Yes. If we’re constructive and if we’re smart, and if we know what were asking for! It’s not enough to come out and say, “I’m angry, I’m frustrated.” OK. And what? “Well, I don’t know, but I’m angry and frustrated.”

And you want what done? You need the answer. “Well, I want common sense gun reform.” OK, what does it look like? Here it is— three points. “Well I want to address income inequality.” Well, what do you want? “Here’s what I want. Minimum wage at $15. Free college tuition.” What do you want?

You want to make that moment work. Yes, you express the outrage! But then you say, “here’s my agenda. Here’s what I want.” That’s what we have to be doing in this moment. And the protestors are making a point. And most of them are making a smart, sensible point. But you have to add the positive reform agenda that every voice calls for so the government, the politicians know what to do. And there is a positive reform agenda here. There should be a national ban on excessive force by police officers. There should be a national ban on chokeholds. Period. There should be independent investigations of police abuse. When you have the local District Attorney doing the investigations— I don’t care how good they are— there is the suggestion of a conflict of interest. Why? Because that DA works with that police department every day and now that prosecutor is going to do the investigation of that police department that they work with every day? Conflict of interests can be real or perceived. How can people believe that the local prosecutor who works with that police department is going to be fair in the investigation? It shouldn’t be state by state. Minnesota Governor Walz put the attorney general in charge. Good. In this state, I put attorney general in charge of investigations where police kill an unarmed person. Good. But it shouldn’t be the exception. It should be the rule. There is no self-policing. There’s an allegation, independent investigation. Give people comfort that the investigation is real.

If a police officer is being investigated, how is there disciplinary records not relevant? Once a police officer is being investigated, if they have disciplinary records that show this was a repeat pattern, how is that not relevant? By the way, the disciplinary records can also be used to exonerate. If they have disciplinary records that say he never, she never did anything like this before, fine. That’s relevant too.

We still have two education systems in this country. Everybody knows it. Your education is decided by your zip code. Poorer schools in poorer communities have a different level of funding than richer schools in this state. $36,000 per year we spend in a rich district. $13,000 in a poor district. How do you justify that? If anything, the children in a poorer community need more services in a school, not less. How do you justify that? You can’t. Do something about it. You still have children living in poverty in this nation? Well, when we had to, we found a trillion dollars to handle the COVID virus, but you can’t find funding to help children who live in poverty? No, you can find it, United States. You just don’t want to. It’s political will. When you need to find the money, you can find it. Let’s be honest, the federal government has a printing press in their basement. When they have the political will, they find the money.

The federal government went out of the housing business and never re-entered it. We have a national affordable housing crisis. Of course you do. You don’t fund affordable housing. I’m the former HUD secretary. I know better than anyone what the federal government used to do in terms of affordable housing with Section 8 and building new public housing. And we just stopped, and we left it to the market. Now you have an affordable housing plan. That’s what we should be addressing in this moment. And we should be saying to our federal officials, “There’s an election this year, a few months away. Here’s my agenda. Where do you stand?” Say to the congress, the House and Senate, “Where’s your bill on this?”

I heard some congressional people talking saying well maybe they’ll do a resolution. Yeah, resolutions are nice. Resolutions say in theory I support this. Pass a law, that’s what we want. A law that actually changes the reality, where something actually happens. That’s government’s job is to actually make change. Make change. You’re in a position to make change. Make change. Use this moment to galvanize public support. Use that outrage to actually make the change. And have the intelligence to say what changes you actually want. Otherwise, it’s just screaming into the wind if you don’t know exactly what changes we need to make.

And we have to be smart in this moment. The violence in these protests obscures the righteousness of the message. The people who are exploiting the situation, the looting, that’s not protesting. That’s not righteous indignation. That’s criminality and it plays into the hands of the people and the forces that don’t want to make the changes in the first place because then they get to dismiss the entire effort. I will tell you what they’re going to say. They’re going to say the first thing the President said when this happened. They’re going to say “These are looters.” Remember when the President put out that incendiary tweet? “We start shooting when they start looting or they start looting, we start shooting?” That’s an old ’60s call. The violence, the looting, the criminality plays right into those people who don’t want progressive change. And you mark my words, they’re going to say today, “Oh you see, they’re criminals. They’re looters. Did you see what they did breaking the store windows and going in and stealing?” And they’re going to try to paint this whole protest movement that they’re all criminals, they’re all looters. That’s what they’re going to do. Why? They don’t want to talk about Mr. Floyd’s death. They don’t want people seeing that video. They want people seeing the video of the looting. And when people see the video of the looting they say “Oh yeah, that’s scary. They’re criminals.” No, look at the video of the police officer killing Mr. Floyd. That’s the video we want people watching.

Now, I don’t even believe it’s the protesters. I believe there are people who are using this moment and using the protest for their own purpose. There are people who want to sow the seeds of anarchy, who want to disrupt. By the way, there are people who want to steal. And here’s a moment that you can use this moment to steal. You can use this moment to spread chaos. I hear the same thing from all the local officials. They have people in their communities who are there to quote unquote protest. They’re not from their community. They don’t know where they’re from, extremist groups, some people are going to blame the left, some people will blame the right. It will become politicized. But there is no doubt there are outside groups that come in to disrupt. There is no doubt that there are people who just use this moment to steal. What, it’s a coincidence they broke into a Rolex watch company? That was a coincidence? High end stores, Chanel. That was a coincidence? That was random? That was not random. So, can you have a legitimate protest movement hijacked? Yes, you can. Yes, you can. And there are people and forces who will exploit that moment and I believe that’s happening.

But we still have to be smart. And at the same time, we have a fundamental issue which is we just spent 93 days limiting behavior, closing down, no school, no business, thousands of small businesses destroyed. People will have lost their jobs. People wiped out their savings. And now mass gatherings with thousands of people in close proximity one week before we’re going to reopen New York City? What sense does this make? Control the spread, control the spread, control the spread. We don’t even know the consequence for the COVID virus of those mass gatherings. We don’t even know. We won’t know possibly for weeks. It’s the nature of the virus. How many super-spreaders were in that crowd? “Well, they were mostly young people.” How many young people went home and kissed their mother hello or shook hands with their father or hugged their father or their grandfather or their brother or their mother or their sister and spread a virus?

New York City opens next week. Took us 93 days to get here. Is this smart? New York tough. We went from the worst situation to reopening. From the worst situation to 54 deaths in 50 days. We went from the worst situation to reopening in 93 days. We did that because we were New York tough. New York tough was smart. We were smart. We were smart for 93 days. We were united, we were respectful of each other. We were disciplined. Wearing the mask is just discipline, it’s just discipline. Remember to put it on, remember to pick it up, remembering to put it on when see someone, it’s just discipline.

It was also about love. We did it because we love one another. That’s what a community is. We love one another. And yes, you can be loving even in New York. Even with the New York toughness, even with a New York accent, even with a New York swagger. We’re loving. That’s what we’ve done for 93 days in a way we’ve never done it before. Never in my lifetime. Never in my lifetime has this city and this state come together in the way we have. I don’t think it ever will again, in my lifetime. Now you can say maybe it takes a global pandemic for it to happen. I don’t know if that’s true and I don’t know that the power of what it was like when it came together might not be so beautiful that people want to do it again.

Remember when we all acted together during coronavirus and we rallied and we knocked coronavirus on its rear end. Remember when we all wore masks and we had to have hand sanitizer? Remember what we did? Wow. When we come together, we can do anything and it’s true. It’s true for the state, it’s true for a nation. When you come together and you have one agenda you can do anything. You want to change society, you want to end the tale of two cities, you want to make it one America? You can do that, just the way you knocked coronavirus on its rear end.

People united can do anything. We showed that, we just showed that the past 93 days. We can end the injustice and the discrimination and the intolerance and the police abuse. We have to be smart. We have to be smart right now. Right now in this state. We have to be smart tonight in this city because this is not advancing a reform agenda. This is not persuading government officials to change. This is not helping end coronavirus. We have to be smart.

________________________

© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Trump ‘Acquittal’ Triggers New Protests Vowing ‘We Will Remember in November’

Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

The widely anticipated vote to “acquit” Trump, impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, was never in doubt, though activists had hoped nationwide protests would shame Republicans into at least allowing witnesses and evidence into their show “trial”. But the activists are still determined for Trump to be held accountable – along with the Republicans in House and Senate who have been complicit enablers in higher and higher crimes and misdemeanors, breaching the public trust.

Mere hours after the Republicans voted to acquit – with the singular exception of Senator Mitt Romney who acknowledged Trump’s abuse of power – hundreds took to the streets, vowing to continue the protest, turn Trump out of office and “flip the Senate”. “We will remember in November,” they chanted as they marched from Columbus Circle, just across one of Trump’s Manhattan buildings, down 57th Street o Fifth Avenue, and passed the Trump Tower, to 42nd Street Public Library.

Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

About 2,500 people in all participated in the protest, met by fewer than a dozen pro-Trumpers.

They are calling for continued investigations and for Congressional oversight so that Trump isn’t able to skate away, as in the 2016 campaign, hiding his tax returns which most likely would have shown financial ties to Putin and Russian oligarchs (who made outsized donations to his inaugural and bought condos at inflated rates), and made secret payments to hush up a porn star, causing Trump to be labeled “Individual 1” in the prosecution of his “fixer” Michael Cohen, now imprisoned, and the 10 counts of obstruction of justice which the Mueller Probe found, saying they would have indicted but for a Department of Justice “policy” against indicting a sitting president.

Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In reaction, Trump, who used the State of the Union like a political rally  – even offering to broadcast the names of donors “live” – followed up with continued smears against any and all who have opposed him, even threatening to unleash the Department of Justice to do the very thing – political witch hunt – that he says he was the victim of. Except that there has never been any evidence or any testimony offered that contradicts the crimes he is accused of, only the abuse of his political power to extort complicity.

Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Indeed, it is now revealed that the Treasury Department, which has stonewalled lawful requests from Congress for Trump’s tax returns (it is actually a law), based on some sort of invasion of privacy of a US citizen, and has sequestered the mandated audit of Trump’s returns while in office, has been probing Hunter Biden to supply Senate Republicans with dirt.

The question is how long Republicans can ignore substantial majorities of people who want climate action, gun safety, immigration reform, voting rights and preservation of the Rule of Law and the fundamental premise that no one, not even a president, is above it.

There were more than 300 marches and protests around the country in towns large and small – marches in places from New York City and Petoskey, Michigan to Wasilla, Alaska; rallies in 46 states and Washington, D.C. and a “flash mob to say thank you to Sen. Romney” at his office in Salt Lake City.

Here are highlights from the rally, march and protest in New York City, one of dozens held around the nation on Wednesday, February 5, 2020:

Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rally, march and protest in New York City after Trump acquitted by Senate Republican © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

__________

© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

2,500 Long Islanders March Together to Stand Against Anti-Semitism

Senator Schumer, County Executives Laura Curran and Steve Bellone, Congressmen Tom Suozzi, Kathleen Rice and Peter King, Attorney General Letitia James, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, State Senators Anna Kaplan and Todd Kaminsky, Assemblyman Charles Lavine, Dr. Isma Chaudhry of Islamic Center of Long Island among elected officials and faith leaders joining together with 2,500 Long Islanders marching to stand against anti-Semitism.

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

I thought it was impressive when a couple of dozen elected officials from state, county and local government came to a Shabbat service at Temple Beth-el of Great Neck to show support for the Jewish community after horrific attacks at a Rabbi’s home in Monsey and a massacre at Jersey City kosher grocery. I was moved by the outpouring of 25,000 mostly Jewish (surprisingly few Orthodox) who marched as a demonstration of Jewish pride and resolution over the Brooklyn Bridge, led by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Governor Cuomo and Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, and faith leaders. But what was truly awesome were the 2500 Long Islanders who marched in a show of solidarity to fight anti-Semitism and hate crimes at the county seat in Mineola, representing just about every aspect, community and culture across the length and breadth of Long Island. Marchers came from across the Island, representing more than 125 religious and community groups.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran: “We organized this march to send a clear message in one voice: Long Islanders of all faiths and backgrounds stand united with our Jewish community and against Anti-Semitism.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran organized the march and rally in solidarity with the Jewish community and against Anti-Semitism in response to horrific attacks in Brookyn, Monsey, and Jersey City, as well as incidents of Anti-Semitic graffiti at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County in Glen Cove. In December, Nassau and Suffolk Counties formed a bi-county coalition that will identify and develop a plan of action to combat and report acts of hate and bias incidents on Long Island. In conjunction with a number of organizations, today’s march marked one of the task force’s inaugural initiatives.

“We organized this march to send a clear message in one voice: Long Islanders of all faiths and backgrounds stand united with our Jewish community and against Anti-Semitism,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

As Assemblyman Charles Lavine read off the names of participating groups, closing out nearly two hours of speeches (notably very short speeches, that’s how many speakers there were) included on the list: Turkish, Chinese, Indian…

Former Congressman Lester Wolff, now 101 years old, joined thousands of Long Islanders in the March United Against Anti-Semitism © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Many of the speakers spoke of bigotry and anti-Semitism as being anathema to American values. But of course, Americans have a Pollyannish notion of this country’s “tolerance,” “acceptance.” The strain of bigotry, hatred and particularly anti-Semitism has always been here, even during World War II. It was muted after the Holocaust, after the US soldiers penetrated the concentration camps and saw, for the first time, that it was not “propaganda” that millions and millions were caged for extermination, that the Final Solution was real. But it was anti-Semitism that kept America from accepting refugees before, during and after the Holocaust, and no coincidence that the Palmer raids of the 1920s targeted Jewish labor leaders and the McCarthy blacklist consisted mainly of Jewish writers and officials.

The “popular” view is that anti-Semitism is back on the rise because working people feel somehow disadvantaged, though the connection eludes me. But here’s what I don’t get: in Nazi Germany, Jews were a convenient scapegoat for the genuine suffering of Germans caught in a Great Depression. That is not the case here in the United States. In fact, we are constantly told that the economy is the strongest in history, unemployment is at a 50-year low.

The rise in anti-Semitism – not just vandalism and nasty remarks but physical violence like the massacres at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg, a synagogue in Poway, California, in Jersey City and the attack at a rabbi’s home in Monsey during a Chanukah celebration, has been quite astonishing. Over 2,000 hate crimes against Jews in 2019. In New York City, according to the New York Police Department, hate crimes against all other groups (Asian, Catholic, Hispanic, Black, Arab, Muslim, LBGTQ) totaled 206; the number directed against Jews, just in the five boroughs? 229.

The Islamic Center of Long Island joined thousands of Long Islanders in a March United Against Anti-Semitism © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Speakers referred to the fear that Jews now feel in their own neighborhood, community, college campus. Many Holocaust survivors are being wracked with renewed PTSD, their terrors re-awakened.

Indeed, a study by the American Jewish Committee in October found that 31% of Jews hide the fact they are Jewish; 25 percent avoid certain places, events, situations out of concern for their safety. In America?  “We must be proud and not shy away,” said Eric Post, AJC NY Associate Director. “Anti-Semitism is not solely a Jewish problem. It’s an American problem. If not eradicated, it will corrode our fabric.”

There is a difference in today’s anti-Semitism, in that individuals armed with social media or semi-automatic weapons can do horrific damage that before would have required some organization or government sanction. And even if the defense is some sort of mental illness, as in the Monsey case, the question is  why the voices compel them to strike out against Jews, what is it in the culture that directs hatred in that way?

But such hate turns out not even to be solely “organic” or a representation of “grassroots” disaffection. Foreign governments, particularly Russia, as well as domestic political factions that are using anti-Semitism, racism and fomenting hate in order to sow division, disrupt and destabilize our society to tilt elections and take power – after all, it worked so well during the 2016 campaign.

Congressman Peter King joins Long Islanders March United Against Anti-Semitism © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Indeed, five of our region’s Congressional representatives – Suozzi, King, Rice, Meeks and Zeldin – are requesting FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad Wolf and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper conduct an investigation into potential campaigns sponsored by foreign adversaries to cause civil unrest on domestic soil.

 “Whether anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, race based or some other form of hate, internal divisions provide an opportunity for our adversaries to exploit and further divide our nation,” the letter states. “We must work together to combat those that exploit ignorance to sow division for their strategic interest.”

The letter also cites a recent FBI study that found the rate of hate crimes increased by 17 percent from 2016 to 2017 but the rate of anti-Semitic crimes increased by 37 percent in 2017 and attacks motivated by racial or ethnical prejudice doubled. The timing since Trump’s ascendancy is not coincidence; Trump has curried the support of racists and bigots and basically green-lighted their activities. No longer is racism and bigotry kept under wraps or in shadow; with Trump it is out in the open.

But to the extent America is a melting pot, that melting pot is the New York metropolitan region – the city and suburbs, especially Long Island. Which is why the dramatic escalation in anti-Semitic hate crimes our area is all the more shocking and terrifying.

Rabbi Meir Feldman, who gave the sermon at Temple Beth-el on that Friday night, had only 72 hours before been at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

State, county, town, and local elected officials stand against anti-Semitism at Temple Beth-el of Great Neck (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Our question tonight is not why there is anti-Semitism. It is simpler: what is this crazy evil thing, this abnormal force of anti-Semitism?” He shows a cartoon that is displayed at the memorial, an image of a parasite, an insect meant to be walked on but sits on top of the world, in its right eye, a symbol of money, in its left eye a hammer and sickle, the symbols of Capitalist and the communist seemingly contradictory.  That is anti-Semitism – hated by both ends, a convenient scapegoat for anybody’s discontent and any politician’s demagoguery.

“Anti-Semitism is an impossible series of contradictions,” he says. “What’s our response? How do we confront and fight this scourge of contradictions?” He says with honesty, unity, solidarity and hope.

“We must call out Anti-Semitism wherever, whenever, reveal it for what it is: insane contradictions. Identify the ideological source – right, left, White Nationalist, Black Nationalist.”

But this is the most significant difference between Germany in the 1930s (where Jews had been living for 1000 years) and now: the vast majority of elected officials are standing up and calling out anti-Semitism, initiating new laws and calling for police enforcement, as they did on Friday night at Temple Beth-el, in the March Against Hate in New York last week, and in this weekend’s extraordinary march and rally on the steps of the Theodore Roosevelt County Building.

Senator Charles Schumer, recalling that 30 members of his family, ages 3 months to 85 years old, were machine gunned down in Ukraine by Nazis when people failed to act, is calling for $360 million more in spending to secure houses of worship and federal assistance to localities to prosecute hate crimes. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And it isn’t just speeches and marches, but actions. Senator Charles Schumer is advocating $360 million more in spending to secure houses of worship and federal assistance to localities to prosecute hate crimes; 298 Representatives have signed on to sponsor the Never Again Education Act to authorize the Secretary of Education to award grants to eligible entities to carry out educational programs about the Holocaust. (It was introduced in the House in January 2019.)

Congressman Tom Suozzi said social media makes it easy to spread and magnify hate, some of it promulgated by foreign adversaries to stir up civil unrest. It works because “there is too much ignorance.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congressman Tom Suozzi attributed the rise in anti-Semitism to social media which makes it easy to spread and magnify hate, some of it promulgated by foreign adversaries trying to stir up civil unrest. It works because “there is too much ignorance. How many deny the Holocaust or don’t know about it? That is a recipe for disaster.” The US soldiers, he said, who were just two or three months away from liberating the concentration camps were still debating if the Holocaust was real or propaganda. “We must educate.”

The state and county are stepping up prosecution of hate crimes, as well. Governor Cuomo is proposing a domestic terrorism law that encompasses hate crimes, and is seeking resources and security funding for law enforcement and faith based institutions.

State Senator Anna Kaplan has introduced four bills aimed at combating the rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate in New York State, through education, awareness, and a stronger hate crimes statute to ensure prosecutors have the tools necessary to hold accountable those committing anti-Semitic and hate motivated crimes.

NY State Senator Anna Kaplan and State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins light Sabbath candles with Rabbis Meir Feldman and Elle Muhlbaum at Temple Beth-el of Great Neck during a service to show solidarity to combat hate crimes and anti-Semitism © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“As a Jewish refugee who came to this country fleeing anti-Semitic violence in my homeland, my heart aches over the out-of-control spree of anti-Semitic violence taking place here in New York. I’ve been proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with New Yorkers of all faiths and backgrounds as we have marched in the streets and loudly proclaimed that we will not allow anti-Semitism and hatred to take hold in New York, and today, I’m proud to announce that I am taking concrete steps to address this crisis from every direction.”

Kaplan, the first Persian-American elected State Senator: “We speak with one voice. We are never going to accept anti-Semitism in our community or anywhere. Anti-Semitism has been a plague on society for thousands of years. We have to be the generation that stands up and takes decisive action.”

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said, “We see thousands of you shoulder to shoulder, different colors, creeds, faiths, standing with neighbors, community to say ‘Enough.’ Hate is offensive to a nation born of tolerance, and it is criminal. We will work hard to arrest, prosecute, hold offenders accountable. “ She has created a hate crimes bureau. ‘We hope one day soon we won’t need it. We say no to anti-Semitism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, bigotry.”   

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who organized the massive display, said, “Hate has no place on our beautiful island. We have got your back,” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who organized the massive display, said, “Hate has no place on our beautiful island. We have got your back,” and introduced five Holocaust survivors.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone: “this is the one nation on earth where every form of humanity is a citizen… January 27 is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. That date is a reminder, we must stand up, any time we see bias or hate in words or actions.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone: We must stand up, any time we see bias or hate in words or actions.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Senator Schumer, relating how his great grandmother,  along with 30 other relatives aged 3 months to 85 years old, were machine gunned by Nazis in Ukraine, said, “Unfortunately people there didn’t speak up.”

NYS Attorney General Letitia James: “Not just black blood but Jewish blood [was shed for civil rights]. Hate won’t be tolerated on Long Island or anywhere in the State.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State Attorney General Letitia James said, “As an African American, I know hate, know discrimination. An attack against one of us is an attack against all of us… During the civil rights movement, it was Jews who referred to blacks by their last name, not their first; who let Blacks enter the front door, not the back door, Jewish people who died for my people. Not just black blood but Jewish blood [was shed for civil rights]. Hate won’t be tolerated on Long Island or anywhere in the State.”

NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli: “You being here show that we will not accept this as the new normal. What we take from today, in our homes, workplaces, houses of worship, neighborhoods, that’s where we must fight hate.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said it is hard to believe how the numbers of anti-Semitic incidents, of hate, violence are going up in the New York metro area. “You being here show that we will not accept this as the new normal. What we take from today, in our homes, workplaces, houses of worship, neighborhoods, that’s where we must fight hate.” Everyone, he said, should see the “Auschwitz: Not Long Ago, Not Far Away” exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (extended until August 30, 2020). “Eli Wiesel warned of the great peril of indifference in the face of hate.”

Dr. Isma Chaudhry, president of the Islamic Center of Long Island: “As a Muslim, our moral obligation to stand by humanity suffering in pain, prosecution of hatred, discrimination. We stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters in solidarity… Nassau is making history by this strong statement of solidarity of diverse communities.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Dr. Isma Chaudhry, president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, which turned out in force for the march, said, ‘What I see today is a strong Long Island. As a Muslim, our moral obligation to stand by humanity suffering in pain, prosecution of hatred, discrimination. We stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters in solidarity… Nassau is making history by this strong statement of solidarity of diverse communities.”

Kevin Thomas, first Indian-American elected State Senator, with 13-month old daughter, says children must be taught tolerance at an early age. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Kevin Thomas, the first Indian-American elected State Senator, holding his 13-month old daughter: “My community stands with the Jewish community” adding, we need to teach our children when they are young.

Assemblyman Tony D’Urso’s family is a model of the courage that it takes. When he was just a boy, Nazis took over his village in Italy. His father protected the only two Jewish families who lived in the village, hiding them in the mountains when others would have happily given them up for a little money or food.

Assemblyman Tony D’Urso’s family was honored by the Pope and Yad Va’Shem for courageously harboring two Jewish families in the Italian countryside from the Nazis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Probably most touching was Linda Beigel Schulman, whose son Scott was a teacher-coach when he was murdered in the massacre at Parkland school in 2018. She noted that the target of his killer was a history class teaching about the Holocaust.

“We held a celebration of his life at the temple where Scott was bar mitzvahed. The rabbi asked if I wanted any security. I said ‘Why?’ Six days later, a gunman massacred Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue, simply because they were Jewish.”

Schulman’s father was a Holocaust survivor and when she taught in Germany 1977-9, “I feared telling people I was a Jew. But living in Louisiana, a woman asked me, ‘where do you hide your horns.’ Her husband attended NYU; his roommate moved out when he discovered he was Jewish.

Linda Beigel Schulman: “I know why I am here today…We are the antidote to wipe out anti-Semitism once and for all. Our voices must be heard. Silence only brings acceptance and gives anti-Semitism the fuel it needs to spread.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I know why I am here today, why we all must be here, to have our voices heard. Over 2,000 anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 – gestures, name-calling, painting swastikas, toppling headstones, physical attacks and murder, merely because a person is Jewish or believed to be. Anti-Semitism is like a virus infecting, sometimes killing its host. The body tries to fight it off, but it lies dormant, and rears up again. If we allow anti-Semtiism to take hold in the United States, it will destroy the fiber that holds us together. E Plubus Unum – out of many, one. Without that motto is tribalism and ‘me first’.

“We need to become the best society we can. We the people are the antidote.  It doesn’t matter if Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or no religion, Asian American, Hispanic, Italian, African American, whether citizen or immigrant, if you came by airplane, ship or on foot. We are the antidote to wipe out anti-Semitism once and for all. Our voices must be heard. Silence only brings acceptance and gives anti-Semitism the fuel it needs to spread.”

Assemblyman Charles Lavine, who served as the emcee for the event, said, “For generations, tragedy after tragedy, Jews have been saying “Am Yisrael Chai” – the people of Israel live. It is time for us all Americans to stand together, united to say, Am America Chai. These are the stakes.”

Teach the children, “Stop the Hate.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here is a list of the elected officials, community and faith leaders who participated in Long Island’s march against Anti-Semitism:

  • Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone
  • Chuck Schumer, Senator
  • Letitia James, State Attorney General
  • Tom Suozzi, Congressman     
  • Peter King, Congressman       
  • Kathleen Rice, Congresswoman                    
  • Tom Di Napoli, State Comptroller     
  • Todd Kaminsky, State Senator           
  • Kevin Thomas, State Senator
  • Anna Kaplan, State Senator   
  • Jim Gaughran, State Senator
  • John Brooks, State Senator    
  • Chuck Lavine, Assemblyman
  • Judy Griffin, Assemblywoman           
  • Mike LiPetri, Assemblyman   
  • Michelle Solages, Assemblywoman   
  • Madeline Singas, NC Distirct Attorney          
  • Jack Schnirman, NC Comptroller       
  • Don Clavin, Town of Hempstead Supervisor
  • Anthony D’Esposito, TOH Councilman          
  • Charles Berman, Town of North Hempstead Tax Reciever   
  • Wayne Wink, ToNH Clerk      
  • Peter Zuckerman, ToNH Councilman
  • Veronica Lurvey, ToNH Councilwoman         
  • Viviana Russell, ToNH Councilwoman           
  • Debra Mule, County Legislator          
  • William Gaylor, County Legislator     
  • Thomas Mckevitt, County Legislator
  • Delia Deriggi-Whitton, County Legislator     
  • Ellen Birnbaum, County Legislator
  • Richard Nicolello, President Officer of County Legislature
  • Tim Tenke, Mayor Glen Cove
  • Marsha Silverman, Councilwoman – Glen Cove
  • Eve Lipenko-Ferrante, Councilwoman – Glen Cove
  • Danielle Fugazy-Scagliola, Councilwoman – Glen Cove
  • John Perron, Councilman – Glen Cove
  • Rocco Totino, Councilman – Glen Cove

Faith organizations and other groups

  • Chabad of Mineola
  • Chabad of Hewlett
  • Chabad of  Oceanside
  • Chabad of  Port Washington
  • Chabad of Manhasset
  • Chabad of Merrick
  • Chabad of West Hempstead
  • Chabad of Oyster Bay-East Norwich
  • Chabad of Brookville
  • Chabad of Great Neck
  • Chabad of Stony Brook
  • Chabad of 5 Towns
  • The Young Israel of Woodmere
  • Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst
  • Temple Israel of Lawrence
  • Sid Jacobson JCC
  • Barry and Florence Friedberg JCC
  • The Marion & Aaron Gural JCC
  • Suffolk Y JCC
  • 5 Towns Jewish Center
  • East Meadow Jewish Center and Temple Beth-El
  • Congregation Simchat HaLev
  • Interfaith Clergy Council of Syosset, Woodbury & Jericho
  • Temple Am Echad of Lynbrook
  • Islamic Center of Five Towns
  • Hillside Islamic Center
  • Temple B’nai Torah
  • Central Synagouge Beth Emeth
  • North Shore Synagouge
  • Plainview Jewish Center
  • Temple Beth Chai
  • Reconstructionist Synagouge of the North Shore
  • Shelter Rock Jewish Center
  • Cathedral of the Incarnation & the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island
  • The Muslim Center of Long Island
  • Oceanside Jewish Center
  • Temple Or Elohim
  • Temple Avodah
  • Old Westbury Hebrew Congregations
  • Synagouge Kehillas Bais Yehudah Tzvi
  • Congregational Church of South Hempstead
  • United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
  • Christian Light Missionary Baptist Church of Long Beach
  • Tiberian Baptist Church of Queens
  • New Hope Institutional Baptist Church of Amityville
  • Union Baptist Church of Hempstead
  • Kingdom Family Ministry of Uniondale
  • Zion Cathedral Church of God in Christ of Freeport
  • First Baptist Church of Glen Cove
  • Antioch Baptist Church of Hempstead
  • South Hempstead Baptist Church
  • Miracle Christian Center of Hempstead
  • Westbury AME Zion Church
  • Mount Calvary Baptist Church of Westbury
  • Bethany Seventh-Day Adventist Church of Westbury
  • First Baptist Cathedral of Westbury
  • Ahavat Shalom Synagogue
  • Temple Sinai of Roslyn
  • Dioceses of Rockville Centre
  • Shuvah Yisrael Messianic Synagogue
  • Temple Beth Torah or Melville
  • Achiezer
  • Muslim Community Center of Nassau County
  • Anti-Racism Project
  • African American Museum of Nassau County
  • Moms Demand Action
  • Chinese Center of Long Island
  • NAACP Westbury Branch
  • Selfhelp Community Services
  • Western Nassau Sisterhood of Salam Sholem
  • Islamic Circle of NA-Sisters Wing
  • Muslim Children of North America
  • Indian American Muslim Council
  • Federation of American Indian Relief
  • Muslim Community of Nassau County MCNC
  • Zionist Organization of America
  • Nassau Now
  • Erase Racism
  • East Meadow Public Library
  • Voices for Truth and Humanity
  • LI Chapter of Friends of Israel  – Scouts
  • Suffolk Jewish Advisory Board
  • Interfaith Allicance, Long Island Chapter
  • Long Island Board of Rabbis
  • Commonpoint Queens
  • Merrick-Bellmore Jewish Community Council
  • Hadassah Nassau
  • Yashar, the Attorney and Judges’ Chapter of Hadassah
  • Women’s Diversity Network
  • Turkish Cultural Center of LI
  • Muslim American Community of Syosset
  • Zionist Organization of America
  • Jewish Lawyers Associations of Nassau
  • Kiwanis International and Long Island Kiwanis Clubs
  • Long Island Inclusive Communities Against Hate
  • Nostrand Gardens Civic Association
  • The Lakeview Estates Civic Association
  • New York Board of Rabbis
  • Shomrim Society of Nassau
  • Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island
  • Hewlett House
  • Nassau/Suffolk BBYO
  • Long Island Cares
  • Muslim American Community of Syosset
  • NY Metro Region of the Federtion of Jewish Men’s Clubs
  • the Long Island Latino Teachers Association
  • Long Island Torah Network
  • Raising Voices USA
  • 9/11 Calling of the Names Ceremony Organizers

__________

© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Tells 250,000 at NYC Climate Strike: ‘We demand a safe future’

Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

It is being hailed as the biggest climate protest in history: a worldwide climate strike that brought out over 4 million people in more than 2100 events in 175 countries, with some 600 in the United States.

New York’s climate strike brought out more than 250,000 who overflowed Foley Square, marched down to Battery Park, where the global climate leader, Greta Thunberg of Sweden, laid down the gauntlet to the do-nothing world leaders:

Greta Thunberg gets ready to speak to 250,000 at Battery Park for the Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“This is an emergency. Our house is on fire,” Thunberg told the cheering crowd. “We will do everything in our power to stop this crisis from getting worse.” Noting that she has withdrawn from school in order to agitate for climate action and to take part in the strikes, children have left school, she said “Why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us. That is being sold for profit.”

“Everywhere I have been the situation is more or less same. The people in power, their beautiful words are the same,” she said. “The number of politicians and celebrities who want to take selfies with us are the same. The empty promises are the same. The lies are the same, and the inaction is the same.”

“We should not be the ones who are fighting for the future, and yet, here we are,” Greta Thunberg tells the Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Virtually daring the world’s leaders to act, she declared, “The eyes of the world” will be on the world leaders at the climate summit on Monday for the U.N. Climate Summit. “They have a chance to prove that they too are united behind the science, they have a chance to take leadership, to prove they actually hear us,” she said to chants.

“It should not be that way. We should not be the ones who are fighting for the future, and yet here we are,” she continued.

“We demand a safe future,” she said. “Is that really too much to ask?”

“Capitalism Destroys Planets.” Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The link between capitalistic greed and political corruption was very much on view, with signs that called for “Green Jobs Not Dirty Fuel” and even more radical calls to “Save the Planet. End capitalism.”

The demands of the strikers echoed the Green New Deal being proposed: a 100 percent shift away from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy; shifts to sustainable agriculture, in such a fair and equitable way as to “leave no one behind”; environmental, social, political and economic justice.

“Charge ahead toward  100 percent clean renewable energy, protect habitat and species, hold corporations accountable, have a just transition – leave no one behind,” stated Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, 39, a marine biologist, policy expert, founder and CEO of Ocean Collectiv, was one of the only adults to give a speech. “We need strong government policies that accelerate transition, a Green New Deal.

“Policy Change, Not Climate Change.” Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

She argued that regenerative farming, renewable energy, electrifying transporation necessary to mitigate or reverse the adverse impacts of climate change are already available. “We don’t need new technology.” What is needed is government policy.

“But when there is failure at the national level, localities, states need to step up.” Individuals can make a difference as well: “Plant trees, grow food, plant a climate victory garden, choose foods that are grown regeneratively. Show up, transform culture. Vote in every election. In 2016, 10 million registered environmentalists failed to vote. Do not let that happen again.

“We cannot mobilize at the scale we need unless we face the challenge head on. Focus on solution. Build a coalition so massive, it shifts the status quo. Dig in for the long and beautiful struggle for a new world.”

Capitalism was very much under fire – with the opposition asserting that addressing climate change is akin to throwing the doors open to socialism, or worse, communism, and in any case, that it would be damaging to the economy.

“Save Me.” Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But the case is made by former Vice President Al Gore and others that the fastest growing areas for jobs are in solar and wind power; Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders makes the case that the $1 trillion spent to transition the economy to clean, renewable energy will create 20 million jobs.

And in fact, the economy has already been transformed to new energy: 150 years ago, when coal was discovered in Pennsylvania and emerging industrialists figured out how to turn it into fuel, and petroleum extractors figured out a way to capitalize on the waste product of processing petroleum for industrial grease, gasoline and effectively killed the development of the electric car. That caused a migration of workers- imported migrants and transplants – to new villages, cities and towns based on mining, processing, and manufacturing that had not existed before, often by displacing indigenous people.

With the Freedom Tower as a backdrop, protesters say, “Save the Planet, End Capitalism.” Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The worldwide climate strike comes just ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit to be held Monday, September 23, when countries are expected to present concrete proposals to mitigate and reverse the climb in temperature before global warming has catastrophic impacts on food, water, public health and habitats. The United Nations summit, though, begins with an unprecedented youth climate summit on Saturday, September 21.

The 16-year old Thunberg, who began her climate crusade more than a year ago, holding Friday strike, has become the world’s most recognized climate activist, who has stood her ground against world leaders and the snarky questions of US congressmembers.

The worldwide climate strike actions coincided with the second anniversary of Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico in which 2,975 people died, and New York City strike’s was held jointly with a Puerto Rico Day of Action. It also comes just days after Hurricane Dorian devastated much of the Bahamas, with Trump shutting the door on climate refugees from that catastrophe.

Here are more highlights from New York City’s Climate Strike:

“It’s unfair to the earth, to our generation, that the people in charge are dumping on us, when they should be taking care of the planet,” said Jenna Farraj, 14, from Ft. Hamilton, Bay Ridge.”Help us get back to where we should be. [This action] shows that kids are not just kids. We have a voice. It’s serious. We won’t stop until something is done.” With Violet McKee, 14, Sienna Palacios, 13, Meghan Mo, 14. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Fifth and sixth grade students from Pine Street Green Ivy School, New York City, a private school which is devoted to teaching sustainability as a curriculum, who can tell you about biodiversity and circular economy, and can school Trump, with the school founder, Dr. Jennifer Jones. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Representatives of indigenous peoples call for protection of Mother Earth. Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Crowd swarms Foley Square for Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Youth at the Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“System Change, Not Climate.” Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Trying to get Trump’s attention: “Mar-a-Lago is Sinking. Save it B4 It’s Too Late.” Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Save the World, Now.” Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Exxon, Guilty for Murder.” Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Green Jobs.. Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“The Sixth Extinction is Here. Act Now.” Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Leaders of the Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
NYC Core members who organized Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Climate Strike, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Greta Thunberg continues her crusade for Climate Action at the United Nations Summit © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

__________

© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Record Numbers Turn Out for WorldPride NYC 2019, A Celebration of Pride & Joy

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

They came together in celebration, not anger or fear. The common thread among the 150,000 who marched, coming from around the world and across the country, and the estimated 2.5 million who watched along the WorldPride NYC 2019 parade route: Free to be me.

The parade, which took eight hours to complete and was estimated to be the largest Pride event in history, was particularly poignant, honoring the 50th anniversary since the Stonewall Uprising, which are considered the trigger to the modern LGBTQ movement.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Jim Foray, among the Grand Marshals at the parade, was there that night. He was living just a block away and recalled the Stonewall as a “sleazy bar where we were grateful and exploited.” The bar, reputedly owned by the Mafia, was regularly raided by the police.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

What a difference 50 years has made, noted Julian Sanjivan, NYC Pride March Director. “They had no way of knowing what the next 50 years would bring, no way to know they were starting a global movement, changing hearts and minds everywhere.” And who could have expected an openly gay and married man, a mayor from South Bend, Indiana, Peter Buttigieg, running for President.

Fear and loathing has given way to pride and joy.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Five Grand Marshals lead both the 50th NYC Pride March: the cast of POSE, represented by Dominique Jackson (Elektra), Indya Moore (Angel), and MJ Rodriguez (Blanca); Phyll Opoku-Gyimah; Gay Liberation Front; The Trevor Project and Monica Helms.

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah is the nucleus of the award-winning celebration and protest that is UK Black Pride. Widely known as Lady Phyll – partly due to her decision to reject an MBE in the New Year’s Honours’ list, to protest Britain’s role in formulating anti-LGBTQ+ penal codes across its empire – she is a senior official at the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) trade union as the Head of Equality and Learning. She’s a community builder and organizer; a Kaleidoscope Trust Trustee; an Albert Kennedy Trust patron; Diva Magazine columnist, and public speaker focusing on race, gender, sexuality and class.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Gay Liberation Front was the very first LGBTQ activist organization formed after the Stonewall Rebellion. The courageous members of GLF fought to give political shape and direction to a whole new generation of LGBTQ militancy that spread with unprecedented vigor and impact across the nation and the world.  

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The organization works to save young lives by providing support through free and confidential programs, including TrevorLifeline, TrevorText, and TrevorChat. They also run TrevorSpace, the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, and operate innovative education, research, and advocacy programs.

Monica Helms is a transgender activist, author, and veteran of the United States Navy, having served on two submarines. She is also the creator of the Transgender Pride Flag, in 1999, and subsequently donated the original flag to the Smithsonian Institution in 2014.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It was indeed a demonstration of world pride – there were marchers from Copenhagen, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Portugal, Australia, Holland, and so many other places.

American cities and states were represented as well, from coast to coast and in between – from Palm Beach and Orlando to Palm Springs, San Francisco and Venice (California), Austin to Washington DC, Brooklyn, Boston, even Native American tribes.

Here are highlights from the WorldPride NYC 2019:

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Austin Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Capital Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Boston Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Brooklyn Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Orlando Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Palm Springs Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Ft. Lauderdale Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Houston Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Tampa Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Twin Cities Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Italian LGBTI Association. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Bologna Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Germany. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
United Kingdom. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Portugal Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Amsterdam Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Blackfeet Nation. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Celebrating 43 years. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Paying homage to Gilbert Baker, founder of the Rainbow flag WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Paying homage to Gilbert Baker, founder of the Rainbow flag WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
What a difference 50 years make. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

A clear sign of the changing times was the outpouring of elected and government officials who joined the march. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo used the occasion to sign into law legislation banning the gay and trans panic legal defense, a key component of his 2019 Justice Agenda,.

See also:

At WorldPride NYC Parade, NYS Governor Cuomo Signs Law Banning Gay, Trans Panic Legal Defense

See next: Officials Join WorldPride NYC Parade 2019

__________

© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging atwww.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us onfacebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Cuomo, Schumer Stand Up for Israel, Decry Anti-Semitism, as Marchers Shout Down Protesters

Dueling flags at Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

In stark contrast to the 40,000 marching with joyful exuberance and  pride in the Celebrate Israel Parade on Sunday, June 2, there was a smattering of the oddest collection of protesters, who stood on one small stretch Fifth Avenue in front of the fountain between 58-59 streets.

Protesters at Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

There were religious Jews who claim that a state of Israel should not exist until the Messiah has come; a few Palestinians accusing Israel of terrorism, clearly ignoring the thousands of bombs lobbed from Gaza; and a couple of what are presumed American Jews who charge that the West Bank settlements are immoral and an impediment to peace.

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Things got testy at points between the marchers and the handful of pro-Palestinians, with loud shouting matches and dueling flags, the protesters wielding cellphones, hoping to provoke some viral video, across a 10-foot “no man’s land” between metal barriers guarded by police.

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

When US Senator Charles Schumer came by, he at first passed stoically as a few hecklers taunted him (a Trump supporter yelled at him to “Go Home” – the Senator from New York is from Brooklyn) but finally turned his bullhorn to respond to a woman who screamed “Why are you supporting Israel?” with a comment that boiled down to “Why shouldn’t Jews have a homeland?” At which point his aides refocused him and he marched on.

Senator Charles Schumer addresses protesters at Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The encounters seemed to get more heated as the afternoon wore on, but as the police successfully moved marchers along using tact and restraint to defuse the situation, even stopping the protesters from using an elongated pole on their flag like a lance, and the marchers went into a celebratory song and dance.

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But as I stood between the two screaming entities, reflecting on the thousands of marchers parading jubilantly, protected by a police force against the smattering of opponents, I thought how different it would be living in a society that oppressed Jews (or any minority), where that minority had to live in fear, practice in secret, where the police, the courts and the government were agents of suppression and repression, and instead of thanking the police officer on 57th Street as they passed, as I saw just about every group do, they had to fear the police, fear the state. The images of police beating protesters at Pettus Bridge in 1965 Selma; Kristallnacht in 1938 Germany came to mind.

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

How different things could be.

Governor Andrew Cuomo marches with Israel Counsel General Dani Dayan at Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“And I want the people of this state to be clear: anti-Semitism is not just wrong and immoral and unethical and anti-American; it is also illegal,” Governor Andrew Cuomo told a press gaggle as he began the march. “And we will enforce the law to the fullest extent and you have my word on that. 

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“As a sign of solidarity, at this time of crisis for the Jewish people, I’m going to be doing another trip to Israel as a trip in solidarity right after the legislative session and I invite my Jewish colleagues to join us as a sign of solidarity. New York stands with Israel. We are all Jewish today. We all appreciate the Jewish community. They are part of what makes New York, New York and one of the best parts.”

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Asked what is being done to combat the wave of anti-Semitism, Cuomo said, “We have increased the hate crime penalties all across the state. We are working on more understanding, more communication, but we’re also going to enforce the law because it has reached a critical point. Eighty-three percent increase in the state of New York. Twenty-two percent increase in neo-Nazi groups. And by the way, I invite all politicians to condemn the neo-Nazi groups for what they are. They are domestic terrorists. That’s what they are. And this is not part of the democracy. They spread hate, they spread violence, they attack and every politician—Democrat, Republican—should condemn these neo-Nazi groups and call them for what they are.”

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew Cuomo had as his special guest Devorah Halberstam, who runs the Jewish Children’s Museum. Halberstam started the museum in honor of her son Ari Halberstam who was killed in an anti-Semitic attack. This week, an anti-Semitic note was left there, “Hitler is Coming.” 

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We are here to celebrate Israel,” Cuomo said. And it’s more appropriate than usual this year because the blunt truth is there has been an increase in the number of anti-Semitic attacks in this country and in this state. There’s been about a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the United States of America. People have heard about the Pittsburgh horrendous temple attack, in California. But a 57 percent increase. There’s been an 83 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the State of New York, 83 percent increase all over the state – upstate, Long Island, Brooklyn, I just mentioned Devorah Halberstam’s most recent attack.”

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Pride and jubilation at Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Just a few days later, on June 6, after another incident of anti-Semitism in which the words “Kill All Jews,” “Israel” and “Mario Cuomo” were written on a mailbox in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Cuomo said, “Hate speech and threatening language has no place in our state, and the mailbox was immediately replaced with a new one after the graffiti was reported.

“Enough is enough. We are reaching our breaking point and these despicable acts of violence must stop. We will not back down in this fight against intolerance and bigotry, and we will continue to stand up to those individuals who spew hateful language and attempt to spread fear across our state.

“As New Yorkers and as a nation, we must denounce anti-Semitism and hate in all its forms. I am directing the New York State Police Hate Crimes unit to assist the NYPD in the investigation into this incident and to provide all resources necessary to hold accountable those responsible.

“In the face of these ongoing incidents that are ripping at the fabric of our State, we will do everything in our power to ensure the continued safety and equal treatment of all New Yorkers.”

See also:

Thousands Join Celebrate Israel Parade in NYC to Show Solidarity, Pride; Cuomo Denounces Anti-Semitism

__________

© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging atwww.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us onfacebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

New Yorkers Rally to #StopTheBans and Preserve Reproductive Freedom

New York City Stop the Bans rally to preserve reproductive rights: “I Survived.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

As women rallied across the country in a national day of action against the rush of abortion bans, New York City said New York State would become a sanctuary and the city would seek to create a fund to help women who cannot afford to obtain abortion services.

Hundreds turned out in downtown Manhattan across from the US Court Building at a rally to #StopTheBans – the epidemic of increasingly draconian anti-abortion legislation designed to force the Supreme Court to render a new decision they believe will overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade which established that women have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy up until the time the fetus was viable outside the womb, 24 weeks. Many states not only put significant barriers that have forced clinics to close, chipping away at the “undue burden” provision that has endured subsequent Supreme Court scrutiny, leaving only one or two clinics in a state, but all but 15 states deny  Medicaid funding to cover abortions, while many private insurance companies also do not cover abortion services.

“A right without true access is merely a privilege,” said New York Abortion Access Fund’s Maddy Durante.

At the federal level, Republicans in Congress have tried multiple times to end funding to Planned Parenthood despite the Hyde Amendment’s prohibition of any federal funds to be spent on abortion services, is . Now, the Trump Administration is allowing private insurers to offer policies that do not cover maternity care, dismissing the rising rates of maternal mortality, especially among minorities and lower income women, as Trump reverses the gains in access to care made under Obamacare.

New York City Stop the Bans rally to preserve reproductive rights: “Maternal mortality is increasing.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But though New York State’s recently adopted Reproductive Health Act not only allows for abortions beyond 24 weeks of gestation in cases where the mother’s life is at risk or the fetus is not viable, and also expands the professionals authorized to conduct abortions to certain physicians assistants, nurses and midwives, if the Supreme Court adopts the concept of fetal personhood, as these new extreme laws propose, that could jeopardize the legality of abortions everywhere.

That is a reason that many of the speakers at the Tuesday Stop the Bans Day of Action rally in New York called for a renewed rise in a nationwide movement to protect reproductive freedom, and insisted, “We are not going back.”

Here are highlights from the rally:

New York City Stop the Bans rally to preserve reproductive rights: “Together We Fight For All” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“From Alabama to Ohio, extremist politicians are trying to ban safe, legal abortions,” declared Leann Risk, associate director, community organizing for Planned Parenthood, NYC.  “Activists in all 50 states are engaged in a massive show of strength. We will not stand for the bans, not now, not ever, no way.”

Laura McQuade, Pres, CEO of Planned Parenthood NY: “We won’t stand for blatant injustice against our reproductive rights. ” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Laura McQuade, President and CEO Of Planned Parenthood NYC, declared,  “We say to delusional politicians, stop the abortion bans. ..We are facing a sick attempt to strip us of fundamental humanity and autonomy. This is a coordinated attempt to drive care underground, to force a showdown in the Supreme Court…

“Fact: 73% of Americans do not want to overturn Roe; nearly one in four women in the United States will have an abortion in her lifetime.

New York City Stop the Bans rally to preserve reproductive rights: “We Will Not Go Back.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“These are not lawmakers, but lawbreakers, trying to dismantle rights we have had for nearly five decades. We won’t stand for blatant injustice against our reproductive rights. Abortion is the law of the land – legal today, will be legal tomorrow, as long as Planned Parenthood (which has existed over 103 years) and ACLU and so many others exist.”

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer declared, “It’s time for NYC to become the first in the nation to directly fund abortion care – guarantee access to abortion regardless of the ability to pay.” He is advocating a New York City Abortion Access Fund.

Gloria Allred: “We will never allow abortion to be criminalized again.. No elected official has the right to make a choice for us. Resist. Insist. Persist. Elect Pro Choice candidates.”   © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Gloria Allred, the high-profile attorney, revealed her own terrifying experience, nearly bleeding to death when she was in her 20s because of a back alley abortion after being raped at gunpoint.

“As I lay hemorrhaging in a bathtub, [the abortionist] said, ‘It’s your problem now.’ Back then, the only time you would be admitted to a hospital is if you were bleeding to death. I was running 106 degree fever. I was put in a ward with others suffering after an illegal abortion” where the patients were shamed.

“The nurse told me, ‘This should teach you a lesson,’” Allred said. “It taught me a lesson all right: abortion should be safe, legal, affordable and accessible!

“We will never allow abortion to be criminalized again.. No elected official has the right to make a choice for us. Resist. Insist. Persist. Elect Pro Choice candidates.”

New York City’s First Lady Chirlane McCray: “The bans are about control. The people pushing the bans are chipping away at our rights…We cannot be silent.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York City’s First Lady, Chirlane McCray, said, “The bans are about control. The people pushing the bans are chipping away at our rights…We cannot be silent. Women are more than half the population. We will tell [these politicians] ‘Women brought you into this world and women can take you out [pause] of office. We will march, organize, donate and vote.”

NYC Mayor Bill DiBlasio with wife Chirlane McCray: “We know women will die because of these laws. We know the American people will support freedom of women. The rights of women matter most.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

She was soon joined by Mayor Bill DiBlasio who said, “New York respects women. We are not going back. This is a fight for our lives. We know women will die because of these laws. We know the American people will support freedom of women. The rights of women matter most.”

Eve Ensler, who wrote The Vagina Monologues: “Get your invasive, violent hands off our bodies. Our vaginas, uterus, minds are out of the bottle and we ain’t going fucking back.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Eve Ensler playwright, performer, feminist, and activist, best known for her play “The Vagina Monologues,” shared her own experience getting an abortion. “That abortion was the smartest thing I have done…. Tell that predator-in-chief and those misogynists, ‘Get your invasive, violent hands off our bodies. Our vaginas, uterus, minds are out of the bottle and we ain’t going fucking back. My body, my choice. Are you up for the fight?”

“We are here because we are outraged,” said Andrea Miller, president and CEO of the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH). “These anti-abortion extremists tell women they can’t be trusted to make our own decisions. They don’t believe we should have the right to control our bodies, our families, our futures. That we are not able to choose our destiny. We say no. The decision whether, when, with whom to have children belongs to us, not politicians.

Andrea Miller, president and CEO of the National Institute for Reproductive Health: The decision whether, when, with whom to have children belongs to us, not politicians. .” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“New York State passed the Reproductive Health Act. We knew what was coming, coming for our rights. We aren’t just seeing things go back. We are partnering with people moving forward. New York is not done if reproductive rights are not accessible, affordable.”

The NIRH is partnering with New York City on the first Abortion Action Campaign Fund – seeking $250,000 in the city’s budget to fund abortion care for those who cannot afford it. Call the City Council to show support.

“We know our health, our lives, our futures depends on stopping the bans. Make sure abortion is safe, legal, accessible, affordable.”