MCHR Fall Film Series Starts Oct 9th


Join us! 
We will be joined by local activists who will make the connections between the film and what is happening locally.  They will also lead the audience in discussion. 

A Call of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights
Let's Work to Transform 
the Culture of Police Violence and State Terror



When Europeans invaded the American continent in the 15th and 16th centuries, they either sought to plunder the wealth of the indigenous population or to establish colonies as an extension of the war capitalism practiced by their competing nation states. To satisfy the need for labor, European settlers imported African slaves in the 17th century, enacting, in the process, a harsh regime of exploitation throughout the colonies. Once these North American colonies achieved their independence through the formation of the United States in the late 18th century, those states continued to engage in war and expansion against the indigenous populations and to enslave people of African descent.

Indeed, the foundational document of these United States, the Constitution, was a perfect reflection of a slave republic, built on empire, expansion, and exclusion. The Second Amendment to that Constitution inscribed militias as a vehicle of state violence against both the indigenous and slave populations. As William Appleman Williams asserts in Empire as a Way of Life, "the routine lust for land, markets, or security became justifications for noble rhetoric about prosperity, liberty, and security" (62). Hence, hiding beneath the ideological veil of liberty and security was an iron fist of state violence, especially against people of color, whether red, black, or brown.

When state militias became less reliable in the 19th century as a consequence of class conflict, private security agencies, like the Pinkertons, vigilantes, and eventually police forces were the new vehicles to control and repress any resistance, whatever its color. On the other hand, white supremacy as the dominant ideological order through the 19th and 20th centuries consigned to the police the role of patrolling and brutalizing African-Americans. In the southern states in particular, right through the 1960's, police were part of a terror network that punished any black person who violated the rules of white supremacy.

White supremacy did not disappear with the overcoming of segregation and second-class citizenship. If it no longer relied on white sheets to promulgate its terror, it could always find blue uniforms to hide behind whenever travesties were committed against the African-American community. With cries for "law and order" and the pointed use of drug and criminal justice policies, the African-American community faced renewed state violence and police brutality in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Therefore, the unending and vicious murders by the police of unarmed black people is not an anomaly or the work of a few "bad apples." It is inherent in the nature of white supremacist social order that inscribes disadvantage and oppression against people of color. ......

written by MCHR Advisory Board Members, 
                                                         Gloria Aneb House and Fran Shor

To read the rest of the statement, click this link:  
                                                    MCHR Statement on Police Violence

Please note that the film for Oct 16th in our film series will deal with this issue.
Gloria House, Fran Shor , Mark Fancher of the ACLU and De'von Burt will facilitate this important discussion. 

Michigan, Land of Lakes and Rivers, Under Threat

Michigan is a land of lakes and rivers, containing twenty percent of the world's surface freshwater. However, our water is under increasing threat.


Recently, Oakland County was struck with the news that one of its tributaries to the Huron River set a new pollution record for PFOS, a deadly class of chemicals. The unassuming creek tested 450 times what the state allows in surface waters.

This might be a wakeup call to some in the nearby affluent neighborhoods. In some low-income communities, however, water problems are ingrained as part of a constant struggle. Detroit schools were closed over lead levels in August. Flint is, well, Flint. And, of course, even access to clean water is challenged through shutoffs, turning access into an unobtainable goal for families without economic means.

Beyond that, risks with the pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac threaten to devastate our tourist industry. The same corporation that was responsible for one of the largest inland oil spills on record is allowed to gamble with our state's economic vitality.

If there was ever a time to unite, it's right now. Jobs and our health are under threat. The work MCHR is doing is critical to uniting communities around a future with clean resources. Right now, the environmental committee is limited. However, we have a bigger vision which can be fulfilled with more members. We'd like to host workshops and build awareness to help close the divide between communities. Together, we can attack these problems head-on. If you're interested in joining, please email sarpolia@mail.gvsu.edu 

                           submitted by MCHR Board Member, Andrew Sarpolis  


Poor Peoples Campaign Wrap Up

Over the forty days of action launching the New Poor Peoples Campaign, Michigan participants under took six non-violent direct actions with a 140 people risking arrest in civil disobedience.

The first five were in and around the State House in Lansing. These focused on Martin Luther King's giant triplets of racism, militarism, materialism and a fourth evil, added by the campaign, environmental devastation.

The first week, May 14, following a large march and rally, 19 religious' leaders - priests, imams, women religious, pastors, and a large group of rabbis were among those in the street to shut down the intersection of Michigan and Capital for 3 hours.

The second week, people surrounded and shut down the Department of Health and Human Services.

Week 3 marked the capitol lawn with a graveyard of military victims, shut down the Michigan House then in session, and completed a die-in on the floor of the capitol rotunda.

The following week a large group focusing on statewide water issues blocked all doors to the Department of Environmental Quality and encircled it with yellow "crime scene" tape.

And finally, a rally blockade was held at the Michigan State Housing Development Authority protesting the misuse of Hardest Hit funds to demolish homes in Detroit.

The sixth action took place in Detroit, processing from DWSD to Campus Martius where buckets of water were taken from the fountain, the doors to Quicken Loans were blocked and the Q Line in both directions was shut down. Twenty-three people were arrested in attempting to break through the dominant narrative of Detroit's "come-back" by pointing to the stories of those left out, excluded and expelled

Insofar as the Michigan campaign sought to join the national goal of breaking through the silence about the scale of poverty in the US, we were not entirely successful. Press coverage in Michigan, as nationwide, was sparce, to say the least. In alternative media the story was often about the suppression of the story.

Those arrested in Lansing for civil disobedience were all offered a diversion program which would result in no record. Though a number of participants have participated, most others plan to plead not guilty or no contest and make a statement on the record before sentencing. Actors from two of the groups plan to take the charges to a trial by jury. The "Gilbert 7" in Detroit have an October 30th motions hearing and a tentative trial date of November 12th. In Lansing seventeen people are preparing for trial from the DEQ action. No dates have been set.

MCHR members participated in the campaign as nonviolent civil disturbers, nonviolence trainers, attorneys, rally and logistics supporters, and state coordinating committee members.

                 submitted by MCHR Board Member, Rev Denise Griebler












Imam Steve El Turk, new MCHR advisory board member


Rev. Denise Griebler, new MCHR board member















Rev Ed Rowe, MCHR advisory board member











MCHR Stands for Justice 
for Colombian Workers


Fired Colombian GM workers have been living in tents outside of the US Embassy for over 7 years.

To learn their story: click here:                                  
                                                                        MC HR and ASOTRECOL                                                  
To lend them financial support:    
To help fund their children's education:                                                                         
                                                                           GO TO FUND SCHOOL
 

A cademic Lynching of Tariq Ramadan-


A Premier Muslim Scholar,
Reformer, and Academic

(Editors note: academic lynching is when groups within an academic setting gang up on another academic to get them dismissed or to ruin their reputation)

Colonialism is very much alive. I hope, we could be of greater help to release Professor Tariq Ramadan or highlight his plight; the imprisonment of this Oxford Muslim professor, prolific author, and reformer on fictitious charges shows yet again the brutal suppression of Islam by a neo imperialist power. His inhumane treatment proves that the French legal system is barbaric, primitive, and deeply flawed. Sarte, the existentialist philosopher, was correct in blaming all his French countrymen for violence against Muslims. France's freedom from and divorce of religion and her aggressive secularism is unconscionable and scandalous; perhaps Muslims need their own holocaust memorials across the Muslim and Western world. We join the voices of professors Noam Chomsky, Amina Wadood, John Esposito, and others in protesting the lack of due process, and the lack of the presumption of innocence in Tariq's case. Tariq's lawyer, family, and supporters are convinced that he was punished before any fair trial. Muslim scholars who accept the false master narrative or are silent are complicit and have betrayed him. Muslims across the world who crown him before, should not be too quick to help crucify him in politically motivated charges; any activist or truth-telling scholar could be a next target....
              submitted by MCHR Board Member, Dr. Imam Achmat Salie

For rest of article click this link:   
                               Academic Lynching of Tariq Ramadan
                     
Part I: Mental Health is a Final Frontier for Human Rights

My experience with mental illness began as a seven-year-old. In a matter of months, I watched my older brother, Paul, go from a seemingly normal 13-year-old, 8th grade honor roll student and Eagle Scout candidate to a deeply disturbed and psychotic teenager. 

I observed my beloved and trusted older brother begin to exhibit delusional thinking, hallucinations, disorganized speech and a complete lack of interest in all the things he had loved before - including me, my siblings and my parents. 

Rather than talking with his family, he talked gibberish to himself constantly, laughed hysterically at nothing and would often ride off on his bike in the middle of the night, not returning for hours. 
 
After several months, his raging schizophrenia had profoundly altered the dynamics of our home and family life. We admitted him to a juvenile psychiatric unit at University of Michigan Hospital. 

Psychiatry in the late 1950s was hardly a cutting-edge specialty. The hydrotherapy, electro-shock therapy and seclusion rooms they employed as treatment seemed more like punishment to me.

After several months of hospitalization, my brother came home for a weekend visit. He was heavily medicated - and even I could tell that his condition was unchanged. It was around this time that I started to become aware of how little our society understood about mental illness and the mentally ill.

For the ensuing 50+ years, I was witness to the endless pattern of my brother being admitted and discharged from mental hospitals dozens of times in multiple states. He was also locked-up many times in various city and county jails after being picked-up for loitering, disturbing the peace or frightening citizens.

Somehow, my brother survived into his mid-60s and died in 2016 of advanced pulmonary disease.

Early in my brother's life as a schizophrenic, it also became obvious to me that he and millions like him were not only severely handicapped by their conditions, but very often forced to endure violations of their most basic human and civil rights.

By the time I was 13 or 14 myself, I'd seen how the mentally ill were stigmatized and faced discrimination on many levels. Through no fault of his own, my older brother lived most of his life as a second-class citizen. The gross unfairness of this kind of insult to injury marked the beginning of my own awareness and activism.

                                 submitted by MCHR board member,  Eric Hood

In Part II: More on human rights issues and the mentally ill; the stigmatization of mental illness and advocating for persons with mental illness.
Re-Entry is not an Event.....It is a Lifestyle


Today is another day in the life of an advocate for the current and formerly incarcerated persons in our community. A day that presents many challenges and many triumphs. It is a joy to actively participate in the lives of those that face the numerous hurdles of maneuvering through a society filled with barriers placed along the path of freedom in a country where the idea of freedom has been cast as an American standard. I say that it is a joy in lieu of the tenacity of those that face those hurdles daily in a remarkable display of courage and hope. I speak about the men and women who have taken on the task and the honor of the badge of advocacy as a life long work rooted in the passion of assisting a fellow traveler in need of unimaginable necessities. I speak of a work that when I started this journey over 25 years ago was only a concept and a small drop in the bucket of ideas of changing a system named by Angela Y. Davis as the "Prison Industrial Complex". I am talking about a task taken on in "David and Goliath" proportions in a world where a system is designed to devour humans rather than restore them.

That was then and now 25 years later, the movement has grown to epic proportions....

                 submitted by MCHR Board Member Victor Wheeler

To read rest of article click this link:    Re Entry Is Not an Event                   

Register to Vote by Oct. 9th
Then Vote Nov. 6th 
Be an Informed Citizen


Get MCHR's Voter Guide by clicking here:
                     MCHR Voting Guide 2018


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