Updates & our Indiegogo Campaign

Now that Peace Week and Ballyhoo are over and the collective has taken a small breather, we are enthusiastically raising money for our capital campaign! Please consider checking out our capital campaign website here.

Peace Week was a successful series of events once again. Some highlights:

Our 4th annual Hullabazoo happened! It was bigger than ever and local vendors were able to share their handmade items. There were informative workshops and great music.
Kate Elko lead a yoga workshop on Monday of Peace Week.
Emilio Howell gave an informative lecture on transgender History.
Emilio Howell & Janet Aladetohun facilitated a keynote conversation with Mia McKenzie of Black Girl Dangerous .
Leah facilitated a Feminist Tea Party about being an ally.
We had another Prison Letter Writing workshop and made over 30 birthday cards for prisoners!

Since then, the second annual Ballyhoo Moon Poetry festival happened! It was 3 nights of poetry and literary creativity, focusing on amplifying queer and trans voices of color!

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Also Kestrel was able to participate in a peace trip to South Korea.

Now, as a collective we are focusing with fervor on our capital campaign. We are trying to secure a new office to be a safer space for organizing for generations to come. Are you able to donate? Anything from $5 on up is so helpful! Are you able to share this link? We have some interesting and exciting perks.
Make it rain on the peace center

Thanks for your continued support.

Save Old Colony Farm Orchard

Momentum to save Colony Farm Orchard is building! A committed group of individuals calling themselves “Save Old Colony Farm Orchard” has been working to build power on campus and in the community to hold Western Michigan University (WMU) accountable to it’s values.

When WMU was initially given the land, they were entrusted to maintain green space there. As a result of some shifty, back door deals in 2010, the University no longer has the legal obligation to honor the original covenant of the land- to keep it wild and maintain research space there. More information on that history can be found here and here.

The group begun circulating a petition last week. Signatures are already over the 500 mark! They are also holding a public protest tomorrow at 5 pm, demanding that the University abandon plans of development and annex CFO into Asylum Lake and maintain the green space there.

Western owns land downtown Kalamazoo. There are plenty of vacant buildings that could use improvement downtown. We live in a culture built on stolen land, in a country whose economy is uneasily stilted on the stolen labor of millions of African Americans. Systemic racism is eerily alive today. And while systemic racism may not be visible to the mostly white middle class administration of WMU, their attempts to proliferate suburban sprawl instead of building in the heart of this city causes this author to wonder… Is the university resistant to their business people seeing brown and black folks? Does WMU want to build in Oshtemo so they can pretend that homelessness is not a problem that impacts all Kalamazoo residents?No Deal WMU!

With Western Michigan University recently receiving Tree Campus USA acknowledgment for the 7th year in a row, I challenge this institution to exemplify it’s commitments to sustainability.  I challenge WMU to edify the natural world by  annexing Colony Farm Orchard into Asylum Lake Preserve and honoring the people who donated this land. I challenge WMU to consider the archaeological artifacts that exist within the site and the spring that feeds into Asylum Lake. I challenge the administration of WMU to think critically and outside of the box.

Peace Week 2015

38th Annual Peace Week

38th Annual Peace Week

Kalamazoo Peace Center Celebrates 38th Annual Peace Week with Week Long Peace & Social Justice Programming KALAMAZOO— Peace Center of Kalamazoo is celebrating  their 38th Peace Week April 4th through April 11th. Over the past year, the KPC has focused on issues of feminism, racism, militarism, self care, incarceration, drone warfare, and environmentalism.  This year’s Peace Week will involve yearly traditions intermixed with new interests.

Chalk & Kes & Hippo

Saturday, April 4th Peace Center Collective members will call for the grounding of hellfire missile bearing drones in the middle east by flying kites at the Air National Guard base in Battle Creek from noon-1 pm. Also, on Saturday, there will be the 4th annual Hullabazoo : A Celebration of Do it Yourself Culture. This festival includes a local artisan bazaar, a series of free workshops ranging from creative writing to plant identification, and live, regional music. Jeffery Lewis, acoustic tale-teller and story-man extraordinaire, will headline the evening show. This festival is held at the Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo at 2101 Wilbur Ave on Western Michigan University’s campus. It runs from 2pm-11pm.

Jeffrey Lewis @ Hullabazoo 2015! Photo by Kasey Chaos

Jeffrey Lewis @ Hullabazoo 2015! Photo by Kasey Chaos

On Sunday, April 5th, at 12pm, the Kalamazoo Peace Center will join Kalamazoo Non-Violent Opponents of War for their weekly peace vigil outside the Federal Building Downtown. We will voice our concerns of non-violence in Kalamazoo and the world, and have a brief conversation about local happenings.

Drone Vigil KNOW

Monday, April 6th we will host two events at the Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo. At 11am, the KPC will round off their Self-Care series with a community shared Yoga Workshop on the main level of the Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo.Yoga

At 2pm, one of the Kalamazoo Peace Center Collective Members will give a lecture on Trans History in the upper room of the Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo. There will be an opportunity for discussion and questions after the lecture.trans feminism!

Tuesday, April 7th, Mia McKenzie novelist, activist, and renowned blogger of “Black Girl Dangerous” will be a part of a keynote conversation at 7pm at the Little Theater on Western Michigan University’s campus. This is a phenomenal opportunity to be a part of a dialogue to help amplify voices of trans and queer women of color as well as added discourse of racism, social justice, and equity. This is a conversation-style event where students and community members can contribute questions and ideas about feminism and progress. The event, sponsored by the Kalamazoo Peace Center,  the Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion on WMU’s campus, and the Western Student Association Allocations Committee will take place at 7 p.m. You can read more about her at miamckenzie.net and her activist blog, blackgirldangerous.org.

Wednesday, April 8th, there will be a discussion on sustainability : Fifty Cent Flap Jacks (with locally made maple syrup!) in the lower level of the Wesley Foundation. The maple syrup is made by Wesley’s new Sustainability Coordinator. This talk will be at 5pm.

Thursday, April 9th, the final date of the Feminist Tea Party series will wrap up with a conversation style event at 7pm in the lower level of the Wesley Foundation. A speaker will introduce a topic of feminism, and have prompting discussion questions to involve the group in a worthwhile talk. Free tea and snacks will be provided.

Friday, April 10 there is a 2nd annual Prisoner Letter Writing workshop will be held in the lounge of the Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo from 5pm-8pm. Paper and supplies provided, people will have the chance to write letters to prisoners who have been incarcerated for non-violent offenses to uplift their humanity, self-worth, and vitality. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, please visit http://www.kzoopeacecenter.org PressRealeasefor2015PeaceWeek

Racial Injustice at Kalamazoo College

In 1968, The Black Student Organization raised racial movements at Kalamazoo College, now in 2015 their are students of minority who still encounter racial injustice at Kalamazoo College. The hashtag #UnsafeatK has went viral and received attention, which also resulted in students starting a movement ” The Kalamazoo College Intercultural Movement.” The students within the movement has demanded at least ten things or more to make them feel safe at Kalamazoo College, such as hiring more faculty and staff of color, requiring all staff to participate in all anti-racist training, and to establish a intercultural center permanently.

Support the Intercultural Center Movement at Kalamazoo College

Support the Intercultural Center Movement at Kalamazoo College

Saturday March 7th is your chance to support minority students by collectively gather with the movement at the press conference which will be held at 8:30am on the steps on Mandelle Hall. Please show support by wearing all black.

For more details and thorough information:  http://www.thekzooindex.com/intercultural-center-movement-declares-state-of-emergency/

Kathy Kelly to spend 3 months in Prison

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Missouri judge convicts and sentences two peace activists for protesting drone warfare at Whiteman Air Force Base.

Jefferson City, MO—On December 10, a federal magistrate found Georgia Walker, of  Kansas  City, MO and Chicagoan Kathy Kelly guilty of criminal trespass to a military installation  as a result of their June 1 effort to deliver a loaf of bread and a citizens’ indictment of drone warfare to authorities at Whiteman AFB.   Judge Matt Whitworth sentenced Kelly to three months in prison and Walker to one year of supervised probation.

 

In testimony, Kelly, who recently returned from Afghanistan, recounted her conversation with an Afghan mother whose son, a recent police academy graduate, was killed by a drone as he sat with colleagues in a garden.  “I’m educated and humbled by experiences talking with people who’ve been trapped and impoverished by U.S. warfare,” said Kelly. “The U.S. prison system also traps and impoverishes people.  In coming months, I’ll surely learn more about who goes to prison and why.”

During sentencing, prosecution attorneys asked that Walker be sentenced to five years of probation and banned from going within 500 feet of any military base.  Judge Whitworth imposed a sentence of one year probation with a condition that Walker refrain from approaching any military base for one year. Walker coordinates an organization that provides re-entry services to newly released prisoners throughout Missouri.  Noting that the condition to stay away from military bases will affect her ability to travel in the region, Walker expressed concern that this condition will limit her work among former prisoners.

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Kelly’s work as a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence places her alongside people in a working class neighborhood of Kabul.  She said that the day’s proceedings offered a valuable opportunity to shed light on experiences of Afghan families whose grievances are seldom heard. At the conclusion of the sentencing, Kelly said that every branch of U.S. government, including the judicial branch, shares responsibility for suffering caused when drones target and kill civilians.

Lawsuit! Student Group Sues After Western Michigan U. Taxes Controversial Speech October 20, 2014

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2014—A Western Michigan University (WMU) student organization has filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the university today with assistance from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

The lawsuit stems from WMU’s demand that the Kalamazoo Peace Center (KPC), a REGISTERED student organization, pay a hefty security fee before hosting rapper and social activist Boots Riley for a speech on campus last spring. The suit is the seventh First Amendment lawsuit filed as part of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project.

“Western Michigan University’s censorship relied on an old trick: Having realized that it could not outright ban Boots Riley from campus, WMU tried to tax him away,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “WMU is about to learn that such transparent censorship doesn’t fly under the First Amendment.”

The complaint alleges that when KPC sought to secure university space for Riley’s keynote address for its annual Peace Week commemoration, WMU refused, citing “public safety.” When presented with evidence that Riley had appeared on other college campuses without incident, WMU notified KPC that it could hold the event on campus—but only after paying $62 per hour for private security. Rather than pay this unforeseen and unjustifiable expense, KPC arranged for Riley to speak in the basement of the Wesley Foundation building, a campus ministry group whose facility was not controlled by the university.

WMU has no published guidelines for deciding which speakers might require security. Instead, WMU Department of Public Safety Chief Blaine Kalafut has admitted that decisions are made on a “case-by-case basis” and with consideration of the speaker’s identity and history. Today’s lawsuit challenges this unconstitutional practice, which functions as a viewpoint-based tax on controversial, dissenting, or unpopular speech.

The suit also challenges WMU’s requirement that students submit flyers for approval and that postings “conform to generally accepted standards of good taste,” arguing that these policies violate the First Amendment by instituting a licensing scheme for free expression.

FIRE has retained preeminent First Amendment attorney Robert Corn-Revere of Davis Wright Tremaine to serve as counsel for KPC and its co-directors, Nola Wiersma and Jessica Clark.

Six of the seven federal lawsuits filed as part of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project are currently being litigated or are in settlement discussion. A suit against Modesto Junior College in California was successfully concluded in February after the college revised its speech policies and paid $50,000 to settle the case.

On September 17 of this year—Constitution Day—FIRE mailed warning letters to more than 300 public COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES that maintain speech codes that violate the First Amendment rights of students and faculty. The letters informed college officials of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project and notified them that their institution could face a lawsuit if it continued to fail to meet its legal obligations under the First Amendment.

FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, freedom of expression, academic freedom, due process, and freedom of conscience at our nation’s COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across America can be viewed at thefire.org.

CONTACT:
Katie Barrows, Communications Coordinator, FIRE: 215-717-3473; katie@thefire.org

Schools: Western Michigan University
Cases: Western Michigan University – Stand Up For Speech

October 7, 2001, Air War Begins Over Afghanistan October 7, 2014, Drone Protesters in Court in Missouri

By Brian Terrell

On October 7, thirteen years to the day from the beginning of “Operation Enduring Freedom,” Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and Georgia Walker, an activist in Kansas City, will be arraigned in US District Court in Jefferson City, Missouri. They have been summoned to answer charges that they trespassed at Whiteman Air Force Base during a protest against war crimes and assassinations carried out from that base using remotely controlled drone aircraft.

This is the same court that in 2012 sentenced me to six months in prison, Mark Kenney to four months and Ron Faust to five years probation. Judge Whitworth explained our convictions and the severity of these sentences telling us that he was responsible for the security of the B-2 “Spirit” stealth bomber, also based at Whiteman. Until after we were found guilty, the B-2 was never mentioned during our trial and the airmen of the Air Force police brought to witness against us testified that we had posed no danger to the security of the base or to the weapons housed there. As a US Magistrate, Judge Whitworth is sworn to rule by law regardless of his personal devotion to any particular weapons system, but this, he explained, was a deciding factor ruling against us.

From the Wikipedia entry for Whiteman Air Force Base: “Whiteman AFB is the only permanent base for the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. Whiteman can launch combat sorties directly from Missouri to any part of the globe, engaging adversaries with nuclear or conventional weapon payloads. The 509th Bomb Wing first flew the B-2 in combat against Serbia in March 1999. Later, Whiteman B-2s led the way for America’s military response to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. in September 2001. B-2 bombers were the first U.S. aircraft to enter Afghanistan airspace in October 2001, paving the way for other coalition aircraft to engage Taliban and Al Queda forces. During these operations, the aircraft flew round-trip from Missouri, logging combat missions in excess of 40 hours – the longest on record.”
Kathy and Georgia
The first bombs exploded over Kabul on October 7, 2001, so Kathy and Georgia have a significant date to be in court! The B-2 needs inflight refueling every six hours and it costs $55,000 an hour just to keep it in the air, not to mention the cost of munitions. The flyers who took the first bombs to Afghanistan were in the air for more than 40 hours straight! Today flying drones at computer terminals, airmen from Whiteman can bomb Afghanistan without missing a coffee break; they can sleep in their own beds. The killing in Afghanistan continues from Whiteman on the cheap for the government, but the costs to people on the ground, here as in Afghanistan and in the ever broadening war of terror, is still exorbitant and dire.

Georgia and Kathy are expected to go to trial at a later date set by the court.