The Blogful of Salt

Questions for Spokane Police Department Chief Candidates

by pjals Monday, Sep 19, 2016 | 4:16pm | Comment on this

Submitted on behalf of the Spokane Police Accountability & Reform Coalition on Friday Sept 16 2016. Read more »

Organize, Vote, Act!

by pjals Thursday, Sep 15, 2016 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

liz-head-shotBy Liz Moore, PJALS Director

Looking ahead, I am beginning to imagine what our work and our role would be living under a Donald Trump presidency or under a Hillary Clinton presidency. As I imagine this, I exhort myself to think like an organizer, which means, consider who will benefit and who will be hurt and how those of us who whose interest is not served can best position ourselves to work together to change the balance of power.

Of course PJALS is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. The rules about our work are very clear that we cannot support or oppose any candidate or any party. We can discuss issues and we can work on ballot measures and we can lobby legislators with a limited percentage of our resources. I know that PJALS members are quite capable of reaching their own conclusions about who they prefer to try to influence as President or other elected offices.

We are launching “Vote and Act – Peace and Justice Voter Project” with this issue of our newsletter. Our goals are to encourage our members and supporters to educate themselves, vote, encourage others to vote, and commit to act beyond election day. Read more »

Calling Us All In: Race, Class, Gender, and Justice

by pjals Thursday, Sep 15, 2016 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

As we cap off our year of celebrating our 40th anniversary, we turn our gaze to the future and the work to be done. Join us on Thursday, October 13, 2016 for a lunchtime event at the Woman’s Club of Spokane (1428 W 9th Ave) and an evening workshop, Calling Us All In: Race, Class, Gender, and Justice. Doors for the luncheon open at 11:30 AM, program is 12:00-1:00 PM. Lunch will be provided free of cost.

We invite our current members and donors, new friends and neighbors interested in our work to hear firsthand about how we expose and transform systems of violence and oppression to build a just and nonviolent world. We want to offer an opportunity for people to connect with like-minded peers and present them with ways they can become part of our movement for peace and justice.

This is a ticketed event, free of cost, with an opportunity to support PJALS financially. If you have not already been invited by a table host, please go to our website,, to register as an individual. We want to accommodate everyone!

Keynote Speaker: Jessica Campbell is a national leader of Showing Up for Racial Justice and co-director of Oregon’s Rural Organizing Project. She has worked with some of the most rural communities in Oregon to fight for the commons from post offices to public parks, to support communities on the frontlines of the militia movement, and to envision what healthy and vibrant rural communities could look like.


Thanks to Wonderful PJALS Volunteers

by pjals Thursday, Sep 15, 2016 | 12:12pm | Comment on this


Steering Committee:
Louise Chadez, Cly Evans (Chair), Dom Felix, Jessica Jahn, Adrian Murillo (on leave), Taylor Weech (Vice Chair), Deb Svoboda, Ray Thorne (Secretary)

Interns & Practicum Students:
Hawa Elias & Bailey Russel, Gonzaga University; Ashley Bergman, Whitworth University; and Christina Walden & Dena Brill, Eastern Washington University

Volunteers, June 2016-August 2016:
Ami Manning, Gary Jewell, Jet Tilley, Joshua Washington, Joy Fradin, Kurtis Robinson, Kurtis Robinson, Mark Hamlin, Mary Naber, Megan Wingo, Pauline Druffel, Tom Schmidt, Wes Lorier

Contact PJALS:

Our priority areas for 2016-17

by pjals Thursday, Sep 15, 2016 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

As determined by our member priority survey responses and our Steering Committee!

A Just Society: Smart Justice and Police Accountability
Peace: Truth in Recruitment, Consciousness-Raising about Militarism, and Mobilizing against War!
Human Rights Community Organizing: Building collective power with targeted communities.
Ending the Death Penalty in Washington as our top legislative priority.

Exposing & transforming systems of violence & oppression to create beloved community.

Rusty Nelson on Peace and War; Fire!

by pjals Thursday, Sep 15, 2016 | 12:12pm | Comment on this


rustyAs tough as it always is to narrow the scope of my commentary, I had done the writing before going to church Sunday morning. I planned to tinker with it and submit it in the afternoon, almost in time. But Sunday was not a good day for polishing a manuscript.

We noticed the menacing plume from the South Hill. It was disturbing but hardly surprising, and we reassured my daughter when we stopped at her home. When we arrived at our place, we had driven past the expanding column of smoke and chatted with our neighbors about its trajectory and tried to contact Jerry and Marilynne Mueller, our partners who were visiting her sister-in-law in hospice care. The smoke grew thicker in the relentless wind. Despite our assessment, Lara, 8-months pregnant, her husband working in Florida, was told to evacuate. We suggested she head to Spokane with her four-year-old and her dog. No sense joining us in the path of the fire.

The fires are not out, not even contained, and smoke is everywhere. We have a few items packed, in case, but Lara is back in her home. Muellers returned before the highway was closed. Their earth-sheltered home may be as fire-resistant as any in the county, but a family compound on the river, including a cabin built by their own hands decades ago, is reported destroyed in the Hart Road Fire.

The humidity is almost nonexistent. Fire danger is high in the entire area. Homes have been lost, lives altered, and two connections will inevitably be made. Climate change and war. Neither will be taken seriously enough.
Of course it’s always hot and dry in our summers. We see this much damage from lightening-caused fires. Our conflagrations pale in comparison to those raging in Southern California, or even those so close to us last year. But the extreme weather causing misery across the globe only matches one pattern, the herds of tornadoes and incredible floods in other parts of the country, climate change spurred by the ways humans bully nature. And now our smoke springs into the mix, spewing carbon with no safe place to land. We’re watching a cycle that’s killing our planet and hoping for another price drop for our precious fossil fuels. We argue over the safety of trains freighting frighteningly incendiary fuels through our midst, while it’s the safely delivered cargoes that make us weak and sick, cause the greatest degradation of our air and water, threaten the environment of humanity. We have climate deniers in Congress and climate liars in corporate board rooms, and our resolve to save the earth is wavering.

War? Seriously? What could three little wildfires, now called the Spokane Complex, have to do with war? One might be allowed to wonder if we might have safer electrical transmission methods than wind-whipped, vulnerable lines stretched across miles of crunchy, parched vegetation if the bulk of our research and development dollars was not dedicated to death and destruction.

Nobody has died in this cluster of local fires. Are we getting carried away?
But someone will say, “It looks like a war zone.” There’s a lot of trauma when fires gobble, or even threaten, our cherished possessions. We depend upon courage, perhaps heroism, from ourselves and others in our community. Terror and adrenaline push our physical limits. Fear and anger are to be wrestled and conquered. But this is no war zone. When you emerge from your burning house, no one is waiting to shoot you. Mortar rounds won’t find you as you set your hose and sprinkler. Neither IEDs nor landmines await the wheels bearing your family members and pets away from the inferno.

I would be wrong to trivialize any loss you’ve known by fire, here or far away, sentimental articles or loved ones or material value or precious family or friends. I will never forget hearing in the middle of the night that the offices of PJALS were burning, standing in the parking lot and watching firefighters douse the flames, sifting through charred and soaked documents that had been as dear to me as the earliest crayon drawings of my precocious children. It was not war. No rockets red glare or bombs bursting in air. No second airliner zeroing in to finish us off.

Perhaps these fires are little more than background noise for you. The smoke blows by or enhances your sunset. It’s not a war. The trees will come back, the forest will survive, insurance will help with crops and houses. But don’t ever say “firestorm.” That’s too close to home. My country has been in denial all my life about firestorms. When did you know about firestorms as military weapons?

I was nearly forty when I learned we dropped atomic bombs on Japan to show the Soviet Union what we could do, not because we needed more weight to win the war. A few years later, I learned about Dresden, Germany’s military-free city, when I read Slaughterhouse Five. The only way Vonnegut could tell his story of the shameful allied firebombing was to wrap the truth in fiction. It was only a few months ago that I learned it was common knowledge in Hawaii in 1941 that the Japanese were about to bomb Pearl Harbor. And there are still more dirty little secrets about firestorms the U.S. inflicted upon civilian populations. You know about 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, but do you know about the 30 firebombings after Tokyo, the firestorms U.S. aircraft set in city after city, some burning at temperatures never seen before, burning women and children whose men were away in the emperor’s military. Not every bombing produced that firestorm that burned steel and cement and vaporized human beings, but there was enough heat and death to end the war. Still, we could not end the war without revealing our perfection of the art of war. We could not disappoint the creators of the atomic bomb, the heroes of Los Alamos and Hanford.

If someone doesn’t take your fire too seriously, perhaps they’ve been already burned, scorched by war, singed by the insensitivity of the powerful and haughty. We all need to watch and listen for ways to get over the willingness to burn our enemies by the unit, by the family, by the millions. We need to find generals, presidents and prime ministers who will refuse to kill millions of innocent people. Imagine a president who could say no to war, no to military contractors, no to nuclear weapons, no to the briefcase with the nuclear codes.

It starts with us. Let’s make it simple. No killing. No war. No preparation for war. No new nukes. No refurbished nukes. No first use. No second use. There is no use for nuclear weapons.

We still wonder where this fire will go next. It’s uncontained, and its smoke gauzes our prized view of the north Palouse. Our electricity is on. Our phone works, and we communicate with neighbors without any sense of doom or panic. It’s not war. There’s hope. -RN

Police Accountability Summer Gathering

by pjals Thursday, Sep 15, 2016 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

jaclyn-at-forumBy Jaclyn Archer, YALPista

On August 12 and 13 community organizers from Spokane, Portland, Seattle, Olympia, and other Washington cities came together to discuss police accountability in the Northwest. The first annual Northwest Community Coalition on Police Accountability was held at Portland State University, and hosted by the Portland NAACP in cooperation with the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS). The conference arose from the realization of community leaders in Spokane, Portland, and Seattle, that all three cities had been audited by the Department of Justice (DoJ), and according to Portland NAACP President, Jo Ann Hardesty, “all three [cities] got something slightly different out of it.”

The conference kicked off on Friday night with a vigil for Keaton Otis at the site where he was shot twenty-three times during a random stop by Portland police officers. Pockmarks from the bullets can still be seen in the brick of the building that stood behind him where he died. At the vigil, mothers of police shooting victims spoke to the gathered crowd of the need for reform and police accountability. Several in attendance held signs, while another local activist chalked the names of police shooting victims in the sidewalk. Read more »

PJALS Membership Meeting & Potluck

by pjals Thursday, Sep 15, 2016 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

Thursday, Sept 29th 5:30pm
Community Bldg, 35 W. Main

Come join in our potluck dinner and annual membership meeting! New folks, friends, and kids welcome!

We’ll share plans for campaigns and programs as well as a finance report, and we’ll facilitate discussion on race, class, and gender in this election season – and ways we can build our movement’s impact for election day and way beyond.