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Our movement is only a beginning – the time has come for all of us to demand change.
Indivisible Mohawk Valley

Local residents gather to pray for peace, ask leaders to deescalate conflict with Iran

Press Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 6, 2020

Following recent provocations and threats, Rome area residents gather to pray for peace, ask leaders to turn back from the brink of war with Iran

Rome, NY—On January 6th, Mohawk Valley residents gathered for a candlelight vigil outside Rome City Hall to pray for peace and a deescalation of the mounting tensions and mutual provocations between the U.S. and Iran.

Vigil organizer, Rev. Brian Lothridge said, “I am here tonight because I believe strongly in the power of peace. I believe, because of the teachings of the Christian faith, that those who call themselves Christians are to be people of peace and love.” He led those in attendance in a time of silence and the song “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

Dylan Shibley, an Air Force veteran, quoted U.S. Gen. Omar Bradley, who said, “As far as I am concerned, war itself is immoral,” adding, “We can see the sheer absurdity of our President’s actions [in stirring tensions in the Middle East]. We are here to condemn these actions and pray to all of our respective gods for peace.”

A veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Colt Brumm spoke about the destructive nature of war, and urged that all possible diplomatic measures be taken. “We are not under imminent threat, and we have a multitude of options available…We must choose the peaceful path for the sake of humanity and for the sake of our own humanity.”

Rev. Jeffrey Coulter, a veteran who deployed to Afghanistan in 2007, shared quotes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (“Blessed are the Peacemakers”) and several famous generals about the harm and futility of war. “While I would not cal myself a pacifist, I am strongly anti-war, and agree with General Butler, the highly decorated Marine officer that ‘War hurts those who cannot avoid it, and profits those who are already well-off and not at risk.'”

The sentiment was echoed by Rev. Jennifer DeWeerth, who warned that the rush to to war could lead to the loss of life and humanitarian disaster, and funds used to pay for escalation would deprive the hungry of food, the sick of health care, and children of their education. “God yearns for the flourishing of human beings, not their destruction, desolation, and disunity.”

About 30 people in attendance held candles and prayed for peace.

The vigil was part of a nationwide action, #PrayForPeace, organized by a coalition of groups including Red Letter Christians, Faith in Public Life, and Faithful America. Many religious denominations in the U.S., and the National Council of Churches have called for Iranian and U.S. leadership to deescalate tensions and return to the negotiating table

December 6, 2019

Oneida County, N.Y. — A coalition of climate justice organizations hosted two protests in coordination with a national climate strike to pressure governments and the United Nations Climate Change Conference currently taking place in Madrid, Spain to take bold, transformative climate action. Protests in Oneida County were just two of hundreds across the US and world.

The first protest was at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. A fifty-person “Funeral for Our Futures” was hosted by Sunrise Movement Hamilton College, the Feminists of Color Collective (FCC), the Shenandoah-Kirkland Initiative, the Womxn’s Center, and the Vegan Club, to highlight the personal impact young college students will feel as a result of the climate crisis. A homemade casket was laid on the steps of the administration building after a funeral procession. The coalition made six core demands of the Board of Trustees and College President David Wippman including the total divestment of the endowment from fossil fuels, the declaration of a climate emergency, reparations to the Oneida Nation, and the recusal of the Chairman of the Investment Committee of the Board who manages seven different fossil fuel companies, Robert Delaney ‘79, from decisions about fossil fuels and the endowment. Sophomore and co-chair of FCC Saphire Ruiz argued in a speech, “People like President Wippman and the members of the Board of Trustees will have our blood on their hands if they continue to refuse to act.” The Board is currently having its regular December meeting in New York City; activists are hoping that their demands are being discussed.

Students then traveled to the second protest, held at the intersection of Genesee St. and Memorial Parkway in Utica, which was organized and attended by Citizen Action CNY, Extinction Rebellion Mohawk Valley, FCC, Indivisible Mohawk Valley (IMV), Sunrise Movement Hamilton College, Town of Kirkland Democratic Committee, and the Utica College Outdoors Club. Demands included that the “CLIMATE CRISIS” should be called as such by government officials and mass media, to have the crisis be acted on now, for the City of Utica and Oneida County to follow through with the Climate Smart Community Pledge and enact climate policies at the same level of boldness as the Green New Deal, for the NY Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act to be implemented with $1 billion next year, and special attention to marginalized, frontline communities. More than eighty people attended the rally, despite the snowy weather. Activists performed chants, gave speeches, and held signs directed at drivers. Many drivers honked in support of the protest. IMV plans to host similar protests at the same location every Friday at 3PM. Sunrise Movement Hamilton College hub coordinator Eric Stenzel said of the event, “Our movement is only beginning—the time has come for all of us to demand change.”

July 13, 2019

(New Hartford, NY) Members of Interfaith Matters, Indivisible Mohawk Valley, 1199 SEIU Upstate, and CNY Citizen Action, gathered on Commercial Drive on Friday night, July 12th, for the local Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps. The event drew 130 participants from across the Mohawk Valley.

In June of this year, lawyers and doctors toured facilities along the southern border holding migrant children, many separated from their families. They found lack of basic nutrition and hygiene, serious violations of the law, and asked a judge to order immediate inspections.

In New Hartford on Friday, those attending carried posters in protest of the inhumanities being committed by the US in addressing refugees and immigration across the southern US border. They then lit candles in a silent vigil for all of those held in US detention camps.

“It was important for me to attend the vigil and be part of the voice of opposition in light of the atrocities currently enacted by this administration. It was inspiring to see religious leaders from a variety of faiths represented. Caging children and adults, as well as separating families is not what America should represent.” Said Grace Vento-Zogby.  “The conditions of the border camps are shockingly cruel and inhumane. These are men, women, children, families who are seeking refuge. They deserve to be treated better.” said local organizer Debbie Salema Lindon

The July 12th event was one of over 700 events held around the nation and the world, covering five continents, and bringing light to the darkness of the Trump administration’s horrific policies that violate basic human decency. The local groups partner to support compassionate and caring resolutions to complex problems.

Interfaith Matters, Indivisible Mohawk Valley, 1199 SEIU Upstate NY, and CNY Citizen Action partner to bring to light social injustices and to find solutions that reflect the shared value of honoring and protecting human rights.

Interfaith Matters is an inclusive community in dialogue, covenantally bound by values and ethics of differing religious and spiritual traditions, committed to peaceful and peace-filled activities, service, and relationships.

Indivisible Mohawk Valley is a group of concerned citizens who self-organize around events and projects that strengthen their bonds and community with one another while standing up peacefully and non-violently to the destructive, corrupt, and undemocratic ways of the current federal administration and its supporters in Congress.

1199 SEIU United Healthcare is the largest healthcare union in the United States. With a membership of 400,000 including retirees, its stated mission is to achieve quality healthcare, good jobs and social justice for all. 1999SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. They represent over 400,000 nurses and caregivers throughout Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Florida.

CNY Citizen Action is an affiliate group of Citizen Action of New York and founded in Central New York in 1997, CNY Citizen Action became an official chapter in 2018. Citizen Action is a grassroots membership organization that takes people power and turns it into electoral power.