Springfield Police Charge 21 Protesters

Police in Springfield on June 4 charged 21 protesters with trespassing on state property. The protesters were using nonviolent civil disobedience to bring attention to politicians' failure to address air pollution that makes Springfield the nation's worst city for people with asthma. The same air pollution – largely from cars – causes climate change, which the world's leading scientists say is a major threat to earth's ability to support human life. Solutions include raising the gas tax to European levels, and improving public transportation, sidewalks, and bicycle paths. Gas costs about $8 a gallon in Norway. It's about $3 a gallon in the Valley.

The activists are members of the Poor Peoples Campaign. They have a web site at www.PoorPeoplesCampaign.org.

The protesters were also calling on politicians to raise taxes on billionaires and use the money to help poor people. A third demand was cutting military spending. Almost half (47 percent) of this year's entire federal budget of about $3 trillion is being spent on war. That’s according to:

www.WarResisters.org/FederalPieChart

With 5 percent of the world's population, the USA spends at much on the military as the rest of the world combined.

The USA's military is used to steal from the poor to help the rich. Details are at:

www.valleypost.org/2018/04/18/hours-after-syria-bombing-more-100-protest...

According to the May 30 edition of the New York Times, “As food runs out in South Sudan over the next few months, officials say millions may face acute malnutrition.”

As part of the Poor Peoples Campaign, in recent weeks, four people from the Pioneer Valley were arrested in Boston, and a woman from Brattleboro, Ellen Schwartz, was arrested at the Vermont statehouse with 13 other people.

Schwartz told the Valley Post, “Here in Vermont, black residents are incarcerated at nearly 11 times the rate of white residents.... Immigrants — who have come here to escape poverty and violence in countries with brutal regimes supported by our government -- often work low-wage agricultural jobs with long hours and are picked up by ICE when doing routine tasks like going to the dentist.” ICE is part of the Trump administration. Being "picked up" or arrested by ICE usually means deportation.

The four people from the Pioneer Valley who were arrested in Boston are Sherrill Hogan of Shelburne, Vicki Kemper of Belchertown, Mary Friedman of Longmeadow, and Liza Neal of Northampton.

Springfield is the nation's worst city for people with asthma. That's according to:

www.aafa.org/media/AAFA-2018-Asthma-Capitals-Report.pdf

The 21 people who police charged on June 4 are Jessica Begans of Greenfield, John Berkowitz of Northampton, Tatiana Cheeks of Indian Orchard, Justin David of Northampton, Aaron Frary of Hyde Park (Boston), Mary Friedman of Longmeadow, Kelly Gallagher of Northampton, Ellen Graves of West Springfield, Georganne Greene of Pelham, Sherrill Hogen of Shelburne Falls, Catherine Hondorp of Easthampton, Carole Horowitz of Amherst, Carol Lewis of Methuen, Rema Loeb of Plainfield, Roger Mombourquette of Whitinsville, Shirley Scott of Buckland, Sigrid Schmalzer of Northampton, Russ Vernon-Jones of Amherst, Ryumon Baldoquin, Erik Burcroff, and Dennis Carr.

While the chances of stopping climate change and dramatically cutting U.S. military spending may seem small, in 1989, the chances of Nelson Mandela -- who was then seven years into a life sentence in prison -- becoming president of South Africa were also small. In 1994, Mandela was elected president and one of the world’s most brutal and racist governments was overthrown.

In the United States, 153 years ago, ending slavery and granting women the right to vote both seemed unlikely. Mass movements of ordinary people won justice.

In other news from the Valley, on June 1 in Brattleboro, dozens of people marched to protest president Trump's policy of incarcerating children. The march was organized by Nancy Braus, who is co-owner of Everyone's Books, a bookstore in Brattleboro. On June 3, a member of the U.S. Senate, Jeff Merkley, was denied entry to a vacant Walmart in Texas that Trump is using as a prison for children.

In other news from the Valley, in Keene on June 4, forest defenders had a victory when a judge ruled that the city could not clearcut a 12 acre forest that it owns.

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