Protest Leads to Victory for Music in Greenfield Public Schools

About 500 people attended a rally at the Greenfield town common on May 25. They were protesting cuts in funding for music classes in Greenfield public schools, among other cuts. On June 14, the music funding was restored.

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In the Pioneer Valley town of Washington, Massachusetts on June 17 at 11 a.m., there will be a rally to stop logging in a state forest. A petition is at:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfLg5REHtGz1n04L6DrnZ6OkR_ScYhD...

The rally will be at:

https://www.bing.com/maps?osid=1ad5211c-1dfb-4550-b6e2-0ed93c3610ff&cp=4...

For more information contact: 

Susan Purser susanbythesea6696@hotmail.com

Janet Sinclair jasinclair@verizon.net 

One of the speakers will be Michael Kellett, executive director of RESTORE The North Woods.

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On June 14, Vermont's Republican governor signed a bill that will spend about $15 million toward the cost of a new prison. 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 private prison in Mississippi.

Vermont uses a private prison – Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Canada do not. Details are at:

https://www.sentencingproject.org/reports/private-prisons-in-the-united-...

Groups that are working to end mass incarceration have web sites at www.aclu.org and https://ellabakercenter.org

In December 2014, in Oakland, California, anti-prison activists held a rally outside a meeting of the county legislature. They were asking the Alameda county board of supervisors to invest $17 million a year in programs to keep people out of prison by creating jobs for people just getting out of prison. The board rejected the activists’ request. The activists kept returning to the board’s meetings and speaking out during the public comment period. But the board kept rejecting their request. On March 4, 2015, the activists returned to a county board meeting. This time they were ready to get arrested for non-violent civil disobedience. They interrupted the meeting by singing songs from the civil rights movement. The board quickly ended the meeting. Soon, the activists won. They got the $17 million.

There are two main newspapers in Oakland, the Oakland Tribune and the East Bay Express. The Tribune is owned by a corporation in Colorado that owns dozens of other newspapers around the nation. The East Bay Express is owned by a group of local people in Oakland.

There are several radio and TV stations that cover Oakland news. One of them is KPFA, a non-profit radio station whose board of directors is elected by anyone who donates $35 a year or volunteers four hours a year. KPFA rejects the corporate money that NPR stations rely on.

Darris Young was the main organizer of the protests at the Alameda county board of supervisors meeting. He was a prisoner in California in 2008. While he was in prison, he organized a strike by the prisoners. They refused to do their jobs until they got more recreation time. They won. Now he is out of prison. He works for the Ella Baker Center in Oakland as a community organizer. The Valley Post spoke with him in September 2015.

Young told the Valley Post the East Bay Express provided coverage that helped turn out people for the protest in March. He said the Tribune did not. KPFA has covered his group’s work better than the commercial radio and TV stations.

Vermont's incarceration rate is double Europe's rate. In Brattleboro in 2017 there was a freedom march to call on Vermont politicians to reduce the number of people the state keeps in prison.

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