Washington Judge: Valley Protesters Innocent

Four Valley residents were found not guilty of “unlawful assembly” in a Washington, DC court room on June 16. They were arrested with 21 other people for protesting torture at the U.S. capitol building in January.

Judge Russell Canan freed the arrested protesters.

The non-violent protest was organized by the group Witness Against Torture www.witnesstorture.org

Photos: Northampton Street Life

These two photos were taken on June 3 in downtown Northampton. Workers used a chemical solvent to wipe away graffiti that read, "You can't silence art." And a sign at the entrance to a parking garage proclaimed that Northampton's women and coffee are both strong. Northampton's mayor is a woman, and the city is home to Smith College, a famous women-only college.

Native New Zealander Might Sing in Northampton

Jess Harlen, a new singer from Australia with a stunning voice, has performed in Europe and Japan. Her next stop could be Northampton.

“I’d love to play there,” Harlen told the Valley Post recently. Her most popular single on YouTube, “Watch the Water,” was inspired while she was swimming in the warm ocean waters of Mexico – not too far from the U.S., she noted. A brilliant video of her performing that song is at:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvBAXq2Vdhw

Harlen writes all her own lyrics and music.

Uprising by Vermont Prisoners

Some three dozen Vermonters were on “lock down” at a private prison in Tennessee on May 14 for non-violent civil disobedience on May 12. A prison official refused to tell the Associated Press when the prisoners would be allowed to make phone calls and have their other rights restored, for example, the right to exercise outside their cells. Guards used a "non-lethal grenade" to force the prisoners into their cells.

For Massachusetts Workers, Consumers Boycott Shaw's

On May 8, workers stood outside a Shaw's supermarket near Brattleboro and asked people not to shop at Shaw's until a strike is settled. Many customers said they would do what the workers asked. Some 300 workers at a Shaw's warehouse near Boston have been on strike for weeks. Shaw's is using the Keene-based C&S corporation to scab. C&S has warehouses in Brattleboro and near Northampton. The May 8 action, and recent pickets at the C&S warehouses in the Valley, were organized by the Massachusetts and Vermont chapters of www.jwj.org

Striking Grocery Workers Will Rally in Keene on April 3

Workers at the Shaw’s and Star Markets supermarket chains went on strike March 8. There are Shaw’s stores in Keene and near Brattleboro in Wilmington, Vermont. Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 791 voted 288 to 8 to strike. The workers asked people to boycott Shaw’s until the strike is over.

The striking workers distribute perishable food like fruit, vegetables, milk, and meat to Shaw's and Star Markets stores throughout New England.

“Shaw’s has recruited C&S to scab,” said Jon Weissman of the western Massachusetts chapter of Jobs With Justice www.jwj.org

A Teacher Speaks Out on How to Save Students' Lives

It’s not every day that the world’s most famous newspaper publishes an article about South Hadley, Massachusetts. But that’s what The New York Times did on March 30. It took the disturbing death of a school girl to make that happen.

Phoebe Prince was a 15 year-old student at South Hadley High School (near Northampton) when she hung herself in January. On March 29, several students at the school were charged by District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel with the felony crime of bullying Prince so severely that she killed herself.

March 31 Noon Rallies at Bank of America: 'Jobs Now!'

On March 31 at noon, union activists around the Valley will hold rallies asking people to boycott Bank of America. They say the bank has done little to reduce the state’s unemployment rate despite receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer money last year. The bank paid its CEO in 2008 some $9.9 million.

According to Jon Weissman, spokesman for Jobs with Justice www.jwj.org the activists will be at Bank of America branches in: Springfield at the corner of Main Street and Boland Way; Northampton at 144 Main Street; Amherst at 1 South Pleasant Street; and Greenfield at 208 Federal Street.

Photo: Hundreds in Northampton March for Peace

Hundreds of people in Northampton marched for peace on March 20. The march and a rally were organized by the western Massachusetts chapter of the women's group Code Pink, and other groups. More information is available at www.codepink4peace.org

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Local Peace Activists Prepare for April 15

Every year on tax day, April 15, activists around the Valley hand out fliers at post offices showing people how much of their taxes go to war. To join the local actions, contact the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee www.nwtrcc.org and/or the War Resisters' League www.WarResisters.org

Out of a federal budget of about $2,900,000,000,000 about half goes to war. Details are at:

www.warresisters.org/files/FY2011piechart.pdf