10 Arrested for Civil Disobedience

Two students at Keene State College were among a group of 10 people who were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience at the New Hampshire statehouse. They were protesting a Republican effort to make it harder for people to vote. “It went really well,” Robby St. Laurent told the Valley Post in a telephone interview. He is one of the Keene students. The other was Jackson Brannen. In a phone interview Brannen told the Valley Post. “There were over 100 people there supporting us. It was a powerful moment. We want Governor Sununu to sign House Bill 106.” The arrests happened on May 7. The group that organized the protest has a web site at www.nhYouthMovement.org.

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In Northampton on May 17 at 11 a.m., students at the public high school will walk out of classes in solidarity with workers at the school who are demanding higher wages. Starting pay for cafeteria workers is $11.64 an hour; for custodians it's $12.01. More information is available via www.pvWorkersCenter.org.

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“I feel great that it's not going to be a gas station,” Alicia Flammia told the Valley Post in a phone interview on May 14. She was referring to a 10 acre farm field. Flammia is chair of the conservation commission in Walpole, New Hampshire. Walpole borders Putney, Vermont, which is about 10 minutes from Brattleboro by car. “For now it will stay farmland,” Alicia Flammia said. “We're open to ideas from the public for other possible uses for outdoor recreation. It will stay open space.”

The land is at the corner of Route 12 and Walker Road. It borders the Connecticut river. D&C Transportation Corporation had planned to build a gas station there but the community rallied and bought the land.

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Amtrak could get faster between the Valley and New York City. “The states of Massachusetts and Vermont would need to offer Amtrak money to eliminate stops in Connecticut,” Bruce Becker told the Valley Post in a phone interview on May 10. He works for a group that has a web site at www.RailPassengers.org.

In related news, the start of more frequent Amtrak service to Greenfield, Northampton, and Holyoke from Springfield and New York City has been postponed to late summer. It had been scheduled for June. The more frequent service is the result of work by a group of activists that has a web site at www.TrainsInTheValley.org with support from Tim Brennan who runs a government agency that has a web site at www.pvpc.org.

The activists also succeeded in pushing the state to do a study of what it would take to make Amtrak much faster and more frequent between Springfield and Boston. The trains would parallel Interstate 90. That study is underway.

On May 10, state senator Jo Comerford of Northampton posted on Facebook about her plan to start passenger train service between Greenfield and Boston, parallel to Route 2. She asked people to post a comment if they would take the train. As of May 16, more than 400 comments had been posted in response.

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Last month the Valley Post reported on a peace protest in Brattleboro. With 4 percent of the world's population the USA spends as much on the military as the rest of the world combined. The USA will spend about $1.5 trillion on war this year. On May 10, Monika Decker told the Valley Post that about 9 million people will probably die of starvation this year. She works in Boston for a group that fights starvation. It has a web site at www.oxfam.org.

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In a phone interview on May 15, Kate Spiner told the Valley Post that a prisoner at a jail in Keene recently died of suicide. Spiner works for the New Hampshire attorney general.

In Northampton, five people work full-time to reduce the nation's prison population. They work for a group that has a web site at www.PrisonPolicy.org. No nation keeps such a high percentage of its people in prison as the USA. Europe's rate is a third of ours.

According to a New York Times article published last month, "If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to www.SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources."

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While the chances of dramatically cutting both the USA's military spending and prison population 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, 154 years ago, ending slavery and granting women the right to vote both seemed unlikely. Mass movements of ordinary people won justice.

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