Taking it to the Streets

About 250 people attended a Black Lives Matter rally in Putney, Vermont on July 22. Putney is about 10 minutes from Brattleboro by car. Vermont has the nation's most racist prison system, which may help explain why it is one of the whitest states. Vermont sends prisoners to a private prison in Mississippi.

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In Northampton on July 19 about 120 people marched. They had two goals: to get politicians to do more to stop climate change, and to stop racist white police officers from killing unarmed African Americans. The march was organized by a group that has a web site at www.SunriseMovement.org.

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About 60 people attended a Black Lives Matter march and rally in Brattleboro on July 17. “It went really well,” Amber Arnold told the Valley Post. She was one of the speakers at the rally. She can be reached via www.SusuHeals.com.

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In Amherst, about 75 people took part in a car rally on July 20. They delivered 1,000 or so petition signatures to the town council. The goal is to cut the amount of money the town spends on police. The group that organized the event has a web page at:

www.facebook.com/groups/735989937147447

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Twenty people from the Pioneer Valley camped at the Massachusetts statehouse July 20 and July 21 to call for driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. They may have camped for more nights. The campers have a web site at https://pvworkerscenter.org

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On July 23 in Springfield there was a rally to protest Trump's use of federal troops against protesters in the USA. About a dozen people were there. Another rally for the same issue will be on July 30 in Springfield. It's being organized by the local chapter of Code Pink.

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The USA is losing 6,000 acres of open space to development every day. That's according to www.tpl.org/ourland

In the 1800s and 1900s, the government created wilderness parks, each of which were over 1,000 acres. That almost never happens anymore. Instead, the government gives money to land trusts like the Nature Conservancy, and half a dozen local ones in the Valley. The money is a tiny fraction of what the government spends on war and tax cuts for billionaires. Nevertheless, most land trusts get about half their money from the government, if you include the money land trusts spend on buying land or so-called “development rights,” not just the money they spend on salaries and rent on their office space.

In a recent interview, the man who runs the land trust in Keene said all of his group's staff people and board members are white. The Monadnock Conservancy employs 11 people. There are 15 people on its board. Ryan Owens said he hopes to get people of color onto the group's staff and board soon. The group's territory borders Massachusetts, which is home to 7 million people, 29 percent of whom are people of color. Ten percent of New Hampshire's population is people of color. Keene is 9 percent people of color.

According to the Lowell (Massachusetts) Sun daily newspaper, Michael Kellett was a “key player” in the creation by President Obama of the 87,400 acre Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine. Logging is banned in national monuments. Kellett runs a group that has a web site at www.restore.org.

On July 21, Kellett told the Valley Post that the policy of most land trusts to log their land is wrong. Owens said the vast majority of the forestland his group has protected from development – using taxpayer money – gets logged.

Kellett told the Valley Post, “Foresters are trained primarily to grow trees and to cut them down. Forestry school provides little education in climate science, ecology, soil science, recreation, public health, or other non-forestry subjects. As a result, with few exceptions, the forest management plans they produce give inadequate consideration to these concerns. I am glad that land trusts are protecting land from development. I have no complaint about that. And if a landowner will only donate or sell land or an easement if they can continue logging, it still may be beneficial on balance for the land trust to acquire it. However, foresters, the forest industry, and public forestry agencies have spent a century churning out pro-logging propaganda. Most people believe this propaganda, which is largely based on forestry traditions and not on substantiated science.”

Kellett continued, “When a landowner has a forester come and recommend how to 'manage' their forest, it is 99.9 percent certain that the forester will declare that the forest needs to be logged to be 'healthy.' Most landowners will believe this, because it comes from an 'expert' and is consistent with the pro-logging propaganda they have heard before. Unfortunately, few land trusts — or other mainstream conservation organizations — seem to be willing to make the case for not logging a forest, so the forest 'management' (i.e., logging) paradigm usually prevails.”

Owen disagrees with Kellett at great length. The Valley Post will forward Owen's email comments to anyone who requests them. His group's web site includes the same kind of information. So does the web site of the Nature Conservancy and most land trusts.

Kellett's comments were almost as long as Owen's. The Valley Post will forward them to anyone who asks for them. Again, his group's web site is at www.restore.org.

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There will be a peace march starting Sunday, August 9 at 1 p.m. at the Brattleboro town common. Peace activists in Japan are asking people around the world to march on the anniversary of the USA dropping nuclear bombs on Japan. With 4 percent of the world's population, the USA today spends as much on war as the rest of the world combined. This year the USA will spend $1.6 trillion on war. That's 47 percent of the federal budget, meaning about half your income taxes go to war.

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The mayor of Holyoke is calling for the government to give every American enough money to live on. More information is at www.MayorsForAGI.org.

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On July 10, the Valley Post quoted an NAACP official who accused the Brattleboro police of an incident of racial profiling. The article is at:

http://valleypost.org/2020/07/10/100-rally

On July 9 the Valley Post asked the Brattleboro police chief to respond. On July 22 he emailed a long comment to the Valley Post. His comment is in the comments section on the July 10 article.

The NAACP did not immediately respond to an email and phone call seeking further comment.

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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What follows is a letter to the editor of the Valley Post from Amherst resident Virginia Ryan. She gave the Valley Post permission to publish her email address: vryan22@amherst.edu.

Youth voter turnout is a national crisis and embarrassment. Only 28.2% of 18-29 year old citizens voted in 2018, which is more than double the 2014 youth turnout (see www.forbes.com/sites/civicnation/2020/06/23/growing-voters-an-opportunit... ). These numbers do not align with the activism we have seen and heard in the streets and on social media, where young people are fighting for the most pressing issues of our time such as racial and climate justice.

Today, young people are protesting in staggering numbers: 27% of people aged 18-24 say they have attended a march or demonstration compared to the 5% and 16% before the 2016 and 2018 elections, respectively (see https://circle.tufts.edu/latest-research/poll-young-people-believe-they-... ). Young people clearly have the passion, but why do we not show up on election day?

Many young people, including myself, feel discouraged by prevailing inequalities and doubt that our individual vote can make a difference. We must remember that voting is an essential first step in the long and complicated process that is lifelong activism.

College campuses have a unique responsibility and opportunity to increase voter registration and turnout. Members of the administration, faculty, and student organizations must join forces to actively promote resources for their students to register to vote and show up on election day. We cannot wait until our generation is in power: we must have our voices heard now. We young people are ignored by elected officials on the grounds that we lack experience, but if every member of the largest and most diverse generation voted, our opinions would be represented and respected.

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