Revolution?

A non-violent revolution might look something like the marches in the Valley that happened this week to protest killer cops. At least 5,000 people took to the streets in Holyoke, Springfield, Brattleboro, Amherst, Northampton, Keene, and smaller towns around the Valley. General strikes have shut down American cities in the past -- Seattle for six days in 1919, San Francisco for four days in 1934. Strikes created the American middle class. Maybe they can fix policing and challenges like climate change.

The below photos show the Holyoke march and a Keene rally. To enlarge a photo, click on it, then scroll down and click “see full size image.” The Holyoke photos are by Dannuel Rivera. He asked the Valley Post to include a link to the Facebook page of the group that organized the march. It is:

www.facebook.com/413Boricuas

The Keene photo is by Jim Murphy.

Details about specific police reforms Springfield protesters are fighting for are at:

http://valleypost.org/2019/02/05/two-marches-planned

One of the groups that organized the Springfield rally has a web site at www.AriseSpringfield.org.

No nation keeps such a high percentage of its people in prison as the
USA. Europe's rate is a third of ours. The USA's prison system is
racist. That's according to the book “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander.

Vermont's prison system is one of the most racist among the 50 states. Just 1 percent of Vermonters are black but 9 percent of its prisoners are black. Vermont sends prisoners to a prison in Mississippi.

The Vermont state legislature can raise taxes on rich people and use the money on programs that have worked in Europe to reduce the number of people in prison. The legislature – which has a Democratic and Progressive party super majority – can override the Republican governor's near-certain veto of this kind of program.

Selene Colburn is a member of the Vermont legislature and a member of the Progressive party. On May 29, 2020 she told the Valley Post she is working to decriminalize prostitution. Like decriminalizing all drugs (which Portugal has done) this would reduce the prison population and reduce violent crime.

As of 2018, Brattleboro police were killing people at a rate far higher than the national average. Details are at:

http://valleypost.org/2018/07/17/brattleboro-police-kill-high-rate

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A proposed biomass plant in Brattleboro would be worse for climate change than a coal power plant. To learn more and get involved in the fight to stop it contact Deb Katz via her group's web site:

www.nukebusters.org/contact.shtml

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The mental hospital in Brattleboro is the biggest employer in the county. It just fired the president of its workers' union. Two rallies to get her re-hired, and to get the CEO and other top officials fired, are set for June 15 and June 22, both from 1:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m., outside the hospital at 1 Anna Marsh Lane. The public is invited to attend. The union has a web site at www.unap.org. Contact info is at:

www.unap.org/about/contact-us-2

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The first labor rally in the Valley since the virus began – not including car rallies -- happened May 7 in Springfield. Dozens of people were there. The union that has a web site at www.MassNurses.org organized the rally.

According to that web site, Trinity Health Corporation “has failed to properly protect staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, has not respected and supported staff during this challenging time, and has charged ahead with plans to close 74 child and adult psychiatric beds ... in Holyoke.”

On June 4 the union held a press conference in Springfield with updates on that struggle.

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The nation's unemployment rate is the highest it has been since the Great Depression that began in 1929 and ended in 1933. Labor Notes magazine has been published monthly since 1979. The magazine puts on a conference once every two years that is attended by thousands of people. Labor Notes has offices in Detroit and New York City and it publishes a book called Time Out: The Case for a Shorter Work Week. It argues that reducing the workweek to 32 hours while keeping workers' income the same would reduce unemployment.

Pushing Congress to reduce the workweek from 40 to 32 hours will take a mass movement. But it has happened before. The normal workweek in the USA was 60 hours until 1938, when a series of workers' strikes led congress and the president to reduce it to 40 hours.

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Every six months or so, the Valley Post does an article about trains. On June 2, 2020 Ben Heckscher said passenger trains are running in the Valley. More information is at the web site of a group he runs: www.TrainsInTheValley.org. The group is fighting for better trains between the Valley and Boston.

Meanwhile, the nation's first bullet train is under construction between Los Angeles and San Francisco. More than 2,300 workers are currently laying out the tracks for the bullet train. Trains there will go 200 mph. At that speed, from Springfield it would take about 45 minutes to get to New York City and about half an hour to Boston. Details on the California train are at www.hsr.ca.gov.

Tim Brennan, who the Valley Post interviewed by phone many times between 2001 and last year, died peacefully of cancer on March 12. He was 73. Brennan was a highly effective advocate for better trains in the Valley. He ran a large government agency. He was a warm, kind man.

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