PJALS and 30 partners call community to join post-election action
The Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane is planning for election response that rejects white nationalism, protects inclusive democracy, keeps the community safe, respects everyone's rights, ensures all votes are counted and demands results be respected, said director Liz Moore.
PJALS is collaborating with 30 community partners to create proactive strategies to keep communities of color and other targeted communities safe, and "to swear in a government of, by and for the people," she said.
A letter to community leaders calls for making sure "our region is a place that includes everyone and protects the right of every person to live, love, work and worship free from fear and bigotry."
"With the fear, anxiety, and sense of chaos that so many of us are feeling, being part of this work makes a big difference," she said noting that when politicians fear losing power, "they try to stoke fear and divide us, so we don't join together to demand the proven solutions all of our families need."
So PJALS and partners, including faith communities, are creating systems of information sharing and community response in case of white nationalist activity or hate incidents.
The letter recognizes the time leading up to and after this election is one of "extreme division," so signers believe it is important to speak clearly and collectively about the value of human rights, human dignity and human life over ideology.
Signers recognize some politicians have empowered white nationalists—stoking anti-semitism, Islamophobia, blaming Blacks, immigrants, religious minorities and anyone opposing their agenda of hate—who now threaten vigilante violence.
The letter says that paramilitary activities, intimidation and violence threaten inclusive democracy and civil society.
Concerned about the risk of violence whatever the election results are, the signers thank leaders who also "oppose the armed vigilantes roaming the streets." They urge law enforcement to challenge anyone inhibiting free speech and to stop private paramilitary units, which are illegal under Washington's constitution and laws.
They also call police not to turn the city into a war zone with use of weapons of war like tear gas—banned by the Geneva Convention—or repurposed military surplus equipment, uniforms, vehicles or weapons that encourage a "warrior mindset" in police, emphasizing violence over relationship-building.
The letter says Spokane needs "public servants we can trust, not street warriors. From their uniforms to their equipment, police should be equipped for the job that is needed."
In addition to calling on leaders to make public commitments, PJALS suggests ways community members can take action.
• PJALS is offering three webinar Wednesdays and four post-election seminars. Its video of the Bystander Intervention webinar is online. Webinar Wednesdays on Nov. 4 and 11 will offer collaborative ideas for working with community partners to create pro-active and responsive strategies to keep communities of color and other targeted communities safe, ensure votes are counted and respected.
• With Eastern Washington University's Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies, PJALS is co-sponsoring a webinar on "White Supremacy, the 2020 Election and the Pacific Northwest," which has sessions from 4 to 5:30 p.m., Thursdays, Nov. 5 and 12, and Dec. 3.
Discussions will look at the role of white supremacy in framing debates, stoking fear and fomenting division. Scholar-activists from the Pacific Northwest will explore its impacts on the region in sessions on "White Power and Hater Studies," "Indigenous Studies" and "Immigration Studies."
For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Showing Up for Racial Justice Committee continues to meet 2nd and 4th Thursdays to discuss books. It is now discussing How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. For information, email email@example.com.
The Peace and Justice Action Committee, which meets on zoom on first Thursdays, has joined with others to form the Spokane Advocacy Team with the Friends Committee on National Legislation's Advocacy Team Network. It's focus is to "End Endless War" related to policies on Iran.
Shar Lichty, organizer, reported that the virtual and in-person "Believing in the Yet to Be" Benefit exceeded its budget goals and welcomed 30 new members.
PJALS also has resources on how to prevent a coup, therapists' recommendations on election stress and dealing with burnout, and advice on talking with children and teens about uncertainty.
For information, call 838-7870 or visit pjals.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, November, 2020