“George Floyd: Say His Name”

Published in the Grass Valley Union on June 12, 2020

“In resistance people live most humanly. No to death means yes to life.”” William Stringfellow

Our organization, Earth Justice Ministries, is deeply committed to the principle and practice of nonviolence. We promote disciplined nonviolence in word and deed in our personal lives and organized, cooperative nonviolent action in public demonstrations.

Nevertheless, we recognize the violence and racist discrimination inherent in the current system. We are not surprised by the uprisings that are taking place in various cities, including the solidarity demonstrations in Nevada City and Grass Valley, following the violent killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis this past week. While looting took place early in the protests, it is important to remember that “protestors are not looting. Looters are looting. Protestors are protesting.” And as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Looting is the language of the unheard.”

As for property destruction in black communities, we know that at least one instance of property destruction was initiated by an out-of-uniform policeman and in several instances by white supremacists. We are outraged by violent police crackdowns on peaceful protesters and encouraged by the positive responses by some police departments and local governments. We understand how the grief and outrage that communities treated unjustly have experienced for far too long, and we align ourselves with their struggle. We, too, abhor systemic racism and the ongoing killing of black men and women by police and others, which is the issue that countless communities are reacting to.

In times of great social evil, the only way to maintain our humanity and our integrity is to live in resistance to systems of domination that bring injustice and death. This is such a time, when human beings are targeted, treated cruelly, and killed because of their race.

Who was George Floyd? It is important to say his name. The point of Black Lives Matter is that people who are black or brown are not expendable. George Floyd was a person, known by many as “Big George.” He had gifts, hopes, dreams, and people who loved him. He played a role in his community. A friend writes, “He was the man that helped me drag a baptismal pool to the court in the projects so we could baptize dudes in the hood. The man that put down chairs and helped put down and clean up chairs at outreaches in the hood. A man of peace. A good man.”

Many people, especially those of us who are white and privileged, don’t want to believe that white supremacy and systemic racism are real in the United States. “White fragility” makes it hard to face, especially if we feel accused of racism or of being complicit in a system of racist discrimination. The ways we recount US history, even in our history books, tends to soften or leave out the blatant injustice upon which our country was founded and upon which was built the wealth of the nation: colonialism, genocide, slavery, economic injustice, violence against women, oppression of workers, scapegoating of immigrants, projection of military power, and the exploitation and destruction of the natural world. Whatever gains made for the ideals ascribed to our nation’s founding documents have come only through the struggles of people joining together to demand justice, peace, and environmental care. These struggles are as important today as ever, perhaps more so in the current resurgence of racist violence and its encouragement from the top of our government hierarchy.

The only way to face the atrocities taking place in the United States today, with our tax dollars and in our names, is to stand in peaceful solidarity with the victims of unjust policies, rise in nonviolent resistance, and speak out for what is right. To accept the reality of such things without taking a stand is to side with the oppressors and be diminished as human beings. Still, many choose the relative comfort of denial and apathy over the discomfort of being at odds with the system from which many of us benefit.

We are convinced that the spirit of love that is present at the heart of the universe is at work even now through all who foster peaceful and just relationships and seek the common good.

The Board of Directors of Earth Justice Ministries.

Sharon Delgado

Brian Fry

Tracy Pepper

Guarionex Delgado

Ruby Chow

 

Open Letter Supporting the Cheyenne River and Lakota Sioux

 

Open Letter Supporting the Cheyenne River and Lakota Sioux From the Board of Directors, Earth Justice Ministries

June 11, 2020

Kristi Noem, Governor, Pierre, South Dakota 57501

Dear Governor Noem:

We are writing to you with our concerns for the health of your neighbors (and ours) on the Cheyenne River Reservation and Lakota territory.  We are aware that the tribal government has taken steps to protect its people from the Covid virus by setting up some checkpoints on their reservation, to limit unnecessary travel through their lands, and to minimize possible exposure.

We are also aware that your office is working to prevent the tribal government from taking action to protect its people, including appealing to the federal government to help you enforce the state’s sovereignty over the sovereignty “guaranteed” through treaty for the Lakota and Cheyenne River people.   The colonization of indigenous lands and the genocide of indigenous people by European nations and the “Indian Wars” of the Nineteenth Century are great sins in American history for which national amends and restitution are long overdue.  There continue to be efforts to further dispossess and destroy Native American culture and its ability to exercise sovereignty and self-determination.  Even now it appears to us that your actions are continuing those disgraceful attitudes and episodes from American history.

We are an organization whose mission is to “inspire, support, and connect our faith to actions that bring hope for Earth, for the human family, and the whole community of life.  We seek to further the cause of peace, justice, and the healing of Earth.”   Active peaceful resistance is the spirit and backbone of our work for justice .

Therefore, we earnestly urge you to continue to pursue friendly and cooperative negotiations with the tribal government to explore reasonable solutions that honor tribal sovereignty over their land and allow precautions for the health of the Native population, as well as other South Dakotans and other travelers who may have need to pass through tribal territory.  Please avoid any further requests for federal enforcement or engaging in any violent or coercive activity against the Lakota and Cheyenne River Sioux.

Sincerely,

Brian Fry, Chair

For the Board of Directors of Earth Justice Ministries

Rise Gold proposes massive mine waste piles in Grass Valley

Note:    Earth Justice Ministries worked to defeat the previous proposal to reopen the Idaho-Maryland Mine and we will work to defeat this one. This article by Ralph Silberstein from Community Environmental Advocates, published in the Grass Valley Union on April 24, 2020,  explains why.

See the original article from the Grass Valley Union here.

Once again Grass Valley has to deal with a Canadian junior mining company trying to open the Idaho-Maryland Mine.

Rise Gold Company’s application to re-open the mine is not yet deemed complete by Nevada County Planning Department, but a review of currently available documents provides a glimpse into the nature of the project and the many ways it would impact our community. Here’s just one.

Mining will take place 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the New Brunswick site at the corner of East Bennett and Brunswick roads. About 1,500 tons of waste rock and tailings will be removed from the mine daily. Of this, 500 tons per day will be mixed with cement to form a paste backfill and re-deposited into the mine. The remaining 1,000 tons per day will be loaded and trucked over to the 56-acre former mine site along Idaho-Maryland Road (between DeMartini RV Sales and Centennial Drive).

This means that waste rock and tailings from the mine will be transported by trucks making up to 100 round trips per day, 16 hours per day, seven days per week. There are a lot of residences in that area. To get to the Centennial Drive site, the heavily laden gravel trucks will turn left onto Brunswick Road, pass through the East Bennett Road intersection and turn onto Whispering Pines Lane to reach Centennial Drive. Then, using bulldozers, graders, and rolling compactors, a mountain of gravel will be formed covering 44 acres up to 70 feet high. A subsequent second mountain of tailings is also planned for on the southern portion of the New Brunswick site along Brunswick Road. These operations will run for at least 11 years.

Grass Valley has designated the Idaho-Maryland Road site as Business Park and Urban Medium Density Residential, but Rise Gold intends to get this changed to Industrial. Given the housing shortage, and considering the anticipated development of hundreds of homes at Loma Rica Ranch just beyond this site, one might ask why the City of Grass Valley doesn’t just summarily tell the mine to go away now and save a whole lot of trouble. It would be incredibly bad judgment to put a “reverse” gravel quarry at this location just while Loma Rica will be trying to sell homes.

Just think, if the proposed Dorsey Marketplace is approved, the 172 units of high-end apartments will be built directly above and looking down on this dusty noisy gravel operation as well.

What makes sense is to stick with the Grass Valley General Plan, not allow a rezone.

We need to promote a walkable housing and business park community at this close-to-downtown location. It is one of the few places left in our city where this kind of infill development can take place. It would be a bad idea to go with mine waste mountains instead.

For more information, visit cea-nc.org.

Ralph Silberstein lives in Grass Valley.

 

Car rally urges release of persons detained by ICE

Car rally urges release of persons detained by ICE

From The Grass Valley Union, April 15, 2020

Submitted by Sharon Delgado

Eight people from Nevada City, Grass Valley, and Camptonville participated in a “social distancing” car rally Tuesday at Yuba County Jail. Over 40 cars circled the jail, sometimes chanting or honking their horns, demanding action to protect immigrants and other inmates who are housed there from infection by COVID-19. Over 150 immigrant detainees are housed there under a county contract with the federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Human rights groups are calling on Yuba County to cancel the federal contract with ICE due to concerns that current conditions create a breeding ground which could cause the pandemic to infect people and spread.

Three Nevada County participants in the car rally, Shirley Osgood, Janie Kesselman and Sharon Delgado, have personally visited immigrants at the jail through a sponsoring organization, Faithful Friends. These visitors have communicated with individual detainees, inquired about their health and the conditions in the jail, shared their needs with Faithful Friends, and sometimes contacted their families or requested lawyers. The trio said they were alarmed by unsanitary and crowded conditions, which could provide an environment that could easily spread COVID-19 to prisoners and guards, including to ICE detainees. Demands include releasing all people in ICE custody who are eligible for alternatives to detention; releasing all people who are older than 60, immune compromised, pregnant or with underlying conditions. Additionally, soap, CDC-recommended hand sanitizer, medical care, comprehensive sanitation and cleaning of facilities — as well as other safety measures as recommended by the CDC — should be immediately provided for those who remain incarcerated. Organizers also advocate granting humanitarian parole requests, eliminating medical copays and lifting all fees for calls to family members.

The car rally was organized by Jewish Action Norcal, whose message, “Never again means now,” serves as a reminder that countless people died in the Nazi concentration camps due to disease. For more information, visit https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/release-immigrants-detained-at-yuba-county-jail-amid-covid-19-pandemic.