Tag Archives: Protest

Study War No More: Our Right to Voice

Cross Fence

By Stephanie Pratt BA ’13, Graduate Admission Coordinator

For as long as I recall, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution included the right to speak freely and peacefully assemble. Today, however, I sit confused, staring at a plea made by Father Roy Bourgeois, leader of the SOA Watch. This plea is a result of a permit refusal and the silencing of a beautiful and necessary movement. This movement, which is very dear to my heart, as well as many others of the Ursuline community, is the progression to close the School of the Americas.

Read More

cross

Sr. Dorothy Kazel Club Attends School of America’s Watch Protest

Well here’s the short story: 16 students, two days of protesting, 32 hours of travel.

Now, let me back up and give you the play by play…

After our send-off prayer at Ursuline, the Sr. Dorothy Kazel Club hopped in the car for a short trek to Magnificat High School. Here we boarded the bus for Georgia. One car got a bit lost on the way but, no worries, it only delayed us a half hour.

The bus ride down was filled with movies about social activism and the School of Americas (SOA) to keep us up-to-date.

We finally arrived in Atlanta, Georgia around 9am to grab breakfast and freshen up pre-protest. Surprisingly, we we’re earlier than most to reach Fort Benning Road, where the School of America’s protest would take place. Roy Bourgeois, founder of the School of America’s Watch (the organization monitoring the School of America’s bad behavior) actually took time aside to meet with us. It was so inspiring to hear how Roy dressed in a military uniform, climbed a tree on the School of America’s base and played Oscar Romero’s last homily (urging “Salvadoran soldiers to disobey their military commanders, lay down their arms, and stop killing their sisters and brothers”). Roy Bourgeois performed this civil disobedience 30 years ago, igniting the start of this protest!

Throughout Saturday, there were speakers (victims of the SOA, leaders in social movements in Central America and grassroots organizers from the States) and musicians with powerful messages at the heart of their lyrics. Along the side of the street, organizations set up tables with information on a wide variety of social issues and fair-trade items available to purchase. There was also a Puppetista show that some Kazel Club members took part in as well. It’s was a wonderfully artistic way to make a statement through non-violent performance!

Around 4pm we made our way back to the bus, drove to the hotel and then walked to dinner. We actually hit up a restaurant I found on last year’s trip – there’s was a stuffed polar bear wearing a sombrero in the window, so it was hard to forget. The convention center was a short walk away and was already packed with protest-goers eager to sit in workshops on everything from killer drones to international solidarity to free trade and corporate colonialism to grassroots fundraising strategies! Around 8pm, we gathered to hear spoken-word and dance to jams from some incredibly diverse musicians. It was a personal highlight of my night to see everyone jam out to some high-powered ska music!

When Leah Song from Appalachia Rising performed the song Caminando, the entire crowd fell to hush tones. Madgie Dunn, Kazel Club member and Ursuline Education student, was personally touched by this performance. Madgie says, “Before singing Caminando, Leah explains that social justice is not something that we will wake up and just have… it’s something we will be continuously walking towards for the rest of our lives…There will always be problems in the world, so we must make this our journey… siempre vamos a estar caminando”.

Caminando from Ursuline College on Vimeo.

We woke up the next morning at the crack of dawn to eat breakfast and make our way to the protest for the second day. On Sunday, it is definitely a more solemn event – with all protest attendees in procession while each name of those murdered are read aloud. We converge at the fence, barring us from Fort Benning, to place our crosses and signs on it as we chant / pray / sing to ‘CLOSE THE SOA’. This is an incredibly emotional and spiritual part of the protest.

After helping tear down the stage and acting like the roadies for the School of America’s Watch, we boarded the bus back to return home. It was really nice to hear how first-time protest attendees and people that have attended for 17 + years felt about the weekend.

Please join us Monday, December 2nd for a Lunch Discussion on the Protest and Martyrs. It will be 12- 1 in Mullen 214. Also, at 4:30 there will be a short prayer service remember the women in the Mullen St. Angela Chapel!

SOAmosaicWeb

thank you2

To the protest we go!

thank you2The Sr. Dorothy Kazel Club was able to raise $3,395.35 through the support of the Ursuline community, family and friends. I would like to convey my deepest gratitude to each person who has cared about our efforts through donations, food packages, thoughts and prayers.

You might be wondering why 16 current students, two alumnae, one faculty member and a friend of the college are boarding a bus for a 14-hour ride to Georgia…

Well, to be honest, the first year I rode to Georgia I was jumping at a chance to feel warm weather on my face and cross ‘Attend Protest’ off my bucket list. Now, attending the protest for my third year in a row, I truly feel connected to the thousands of people who gather in solidarity at the base of the School of Americas. I stand with such an eclectic group of people, whom know Sr. Dorothy’s story and the story of tens of thousands of others who died like her.

I want to be more. To do more. And by riding to Georgia I’m able to use my voice to speak out against the injustices in this world, to educate myself through workshops and lectures, and to continue to work towards nonviolence in my life.

I will be writing and posting photos about our trip and all that we have learned from this experience. Please check back next week for a recap of the protest.

P.S. If you would like to donate to the Sr. Dorothy Kazel Club, we are sending the extra money we raised to the Cleveland Mission Team in El Salvador (the same team Sr. Dorothy Kazel served on) for clean water efforts and sustainable stoves.

After the Lecture: Urgent NYC – The Protest

On June 22, 2013 people from all over the world attended a historic protest for pets in New York City. you might ask what could New York City possibly be doing with pets to attract the attention of people in England, New Zealand, Australia, and a philosophy professor from Ursuline College.  The fact is that the Animal Control policies in NYC are outrageous. Hundreds of perfectly healthy, happy dogs and cats are held in areas where the public cannot see them and are killed regularly. Demand by a volunteer organization, Urgent NYC, have forced changes into these policies and these volunteers, including myself, have saved over 16,000 dogs and 11,000 cats since the beginning of the Urgent program. We still say that this is not good enough.

The goals of this protest were to demand that the mass killing of pets in NYC stop immediately and that city leaders  implement no kill policies for shelter pets, to demand that shelters are built in Queens and the Bronx, to demand a repeal of breed based dogs bans in the city and an end to the targeting of some breeds for death, and, finally, to demand a criminal investigation into the practices of the ACC officers who work inside of the existing shelters in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

This protest is the first of its kind because of the kinds of demands that were made as well as because individual pets who fell victim to the shelter rules were honored. Another important difference this protest made was to change the image of protesters. When many people think of protesters they think of the young people who did much of the protesting during the 1960’s. Kate Riviello, the founder of New York Animal Rights Alliance, believes that it is important to update the ideas about protesters to meet the current conditions and to change the way that protesters are thought of. To that end many protesters wore protest T-shirts with dress pants or with red suits. Kate believes that stereotypes of protesters often keep many people from taking us seriously and from joining in for causes that they otherwise would join.

While our demands have not been met the protest was still a success because it was very well attended and because we raised awareness of the plight of shelter pets in New York City. More people have joined in the effort to save the pets and more and more pressure is being put on Mayor Bloomberg to keep his campaign promises to the pets in the Bronx and Queens. In any case, everyone knows that the world is watching.