News Stories

Center for Justice, others voice new concerns with SPD body cam policy

Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014 | 5:17pm | Comment on this

Originally published by the Inlander (

Posted By Jacob Jones on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 5:16 PM

Police accountability advocates today voiced several new concerns about the Spokane Police Department’s proposed usage policy for officer-worn body cameras, taking issue with vague recording requirements and a perceived lack of public input.

The Center for Justice issued a letter dated July 16, also signed by the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane and other local groups, saying advocates found the latest draft policy insufficient to ensure body cameras would provide reliable oversight.

“Unfortunately,” the letter states, “the current version of the policy supports a purpose mostly of discretionary surveillance, not of transparency and accountability.”

A promotional photo of the chest-mounted Taser Axon Body camera Spokane Police will start wearing in September. - TASER

A promotional photo of the chest-mounted Taser Axon Body camera Spokane Police will start wearing in September.

Advocates expressed the most concern with the rules defining what and when an officer must record. The proposed policy says “most” police encounters “shall” be recorded, but a section specifically listing many common, required interactions was removed. Read more >>

Stopping the Spiral of Violence: PJALS’s Shar Lichty on Praxis Radio

Tuesday, Jul 15, 2014 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

“Host Taylor Weech talks with Shar Lichty, organizer at the Peace and Justice Action League, about the upcoming rally and march “Stop the Spiral of Violence: End These Endless Wars” in Spokane and the issues of U.S. imperialism and cultural violence that will be addressed there. In the second half of the hour, they are joined by phone by Hakeem Bashir, a Gazan PhD student at Washington State University, who shares his perspective on the current violence directed at Gaza and how it fits into the overall story of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” (Praxis Radio)

Listen to the podcast here >>

Israel’s hypocritical claim of “self defense” goes largely unquestioned in U.S. media

Saturday, Jul 12, 2014 | 9:09am | Comment on this

Originally published by the Inlander (

Posted By Taylor Weech on Sat, Jul 12, 2014 at 9:43 AM


Taylor Weech

Five days ago, when I interviewed Ayman Nijim, a Gazan masters student working on his degree in Vermont, the bombardment of his neighborhood and other major population centers in Gaza had barely begun. Since then, he has posted updates that tally the numbers of dead and wounded in his town and others in the besieged area and memorialized specific friends killed in the bombing. While the news we see here might portray the success of Israel in targeting Hamas specifically, the stream of images coming directly from Gaza tells a different story. An ambulance carrying wounded to a hospital that can’t sustain electricity for more than 12 hours a day targeted and destroyed; homes, churches, and stores bombed without warning; children dead in their parents’ arms or missing entire pieces of their bodies. Read more >>


Photos: Iraq Anti-War Protest

Monday, Jun 30, 2014 | 11:11am | Comment on this

Originally published by the Inlander (

Posted By Matt Weigand on Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 9:09 AM

Approximately 30 Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane activists met on the median between Ruby and Division at North River Drive on Thursday during rush hour to protest the possible threat of bombing Iraq.

The group handed out fliers to motorists stopped at red lights, who gave a wide range of reactions to the protest, from supportive honks and waves to angry comments and obscene gestures.

Michael Poulin protests against the threat of bombing Iraq. - MATT WEIGAND

See and read more at Inlander >>

A Part of Us All

Monday, May 5, 2014 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Originally published by the Inlander (

By Rachel Dolezal

“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday,” seemed to be the call of more than 100 protesters lined up to march in Spokane last week, seeking urgent immigration reform. “We have written letters, gone on hunger strikes, made phone calls and are marching again to send a message to Cathy McMorris Rodgers that this issue is important to the people she represents,” said Dr. Martin Meraz-Garcia from Eastern Washington University’s Chicano Education Program. “This is about having compassion for others. It’s a humanitarian issue we should all care about.”

While immigration reform is supported by more than 70 percent of Americans, the small gathering at last Thursday’s march suggests an underrepresentation of regional voters. “All people should understand that immigration reform is important, because these people are a part of our society and the backbone of our workforce,” said Jackie Vaughn, a leader of MEChA de EWU, a Chicano student group. “We need people to be proactive and not just passively supportive.” Key legislation overwhelmingly passed the Senate in 2013, but if that bill, S. 744, does not make it to a vote in the House by this August, the movement will suffer a major setback.

Read more at the Inlander >>

Chapter Closed – For Now

Thursday, Feb 13, 2014 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Originally published by the Inlander (

by Heidi Groover

Even as some took the tone of a chapter closing, others left the council chambers thinking only of the work left to be done.

“I think we’re on the edge,” said local civil rights attorney Breean Beggs following an emotional city council meeting.

At its meeting Monday, the Spokane City Council approved a new contract agreement with the Spokane Police Guild, which raises officer pay 2 percent per year from 2012 to 2015, expands retirement benefits in 2016 and outlines some new roles for the Office of Police Ombudsman. After a unanimous rejection of the previous version of this agreement in November, Monday’s lone “no” vote was Councilman Mike Fagan, who called the agreement “too rich.” The agreement must still be approved by guild members.

The newest contract establishes a citizen commission to oversee the ombudsman, and allows that commission to order the ombudsman to do his own investigation if the ombudsman believes IA has not sufficiently investigated. (Ombudsman investigations must come after department decisions about officer discipline have been made.) The new agreement also allows the ombudsman to do preliminary investigations for the purpose of determining whether a complaint should go to IA and to publish closing reports about cases in which he is involved, as long as the reports do not include officers’ names.

Read more at the Inlander >>

City Council approves new Spokane police contract, oversight law

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2014 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Originally published by The Spokesman-Review (

by Jonathan Brunt

Three more months of public debate, news conferences and negotiations have led to the Spokane City Council’s approval of a new police oversight law and union contract.

After unanimously rejecting a proposed Spokane Police Guild contract in November, the council approved a five-year labor contract Monday in a 6-1 vote. It also unanimously approved a law governing police officer oversight.

Council members said the deal and new law significantly improve citizen oversight of the Police Department, a dominating issue of city government at least since the 2006 death of Otto Zehm.

“If it’s not a perfect document, it’s damn close,” said City Councilman Steve Salvatori, who was one of the council members who led the charge last year to insert independent oversight into the City Charter.

Read more at The Spokesman >>


City announces new police contract agreement

Tuesday, Feb 4, 2014 | 7:19pm | Comment on this

Originally published by the Inlander (

by Heidi Groover

City and Spokane Police Guild negotiators have reached a new tentative contract agreement they hope will satisfy the city council, which rejected an earlier agreement and has repeatedly called for more authority for the police ombudsman.

The new agreement maintains the current structure in which the ombudsman sits in on Internal Affairs investigations, but adds several new roles:

Where he previously forwarded all complaints of excessive force or “improper/inappropriate interaction with an officer” to IA, the ombudsman would now conduct a preliminary investigation to determine whether to forward the complaint to IA. (Unless an officer is the one filing a complaint, the ombudsman cannot interview officers at this step.)

Read more at the Inlander >>

Town hall meeting on police oversight tonight

Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

Originally published by Inlander (

by Heidi Groover


There was a moment last month when things seemed to be falling apart for Mayor David Condon.

The city council had, in a rushed emergency vote, unanimously rejected a contract agreement the mayor had spent 21 months hashing out with the Spokane Police Guild. Council members said it didn’t do enough to strengthen the city’s police ombudsman, whose power has been under scrutiny since the office was created in the aftermath of the death of Otto Zehm, an unarmed mentally ill man who died after a confrontation with Spokane police, landing an officer in federal prison.
Today, the ombudsman monitors misconduct investigations as an observer within the Internal Affairs process; many have called on the city to grant him the authority to investigate on his own outside of that process.

Read more at the Inlander >>

Education Deform: School-to-Prison Pipeline

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 | 2:14pm | Comment on this

Originally published by Dissident Voice (

by Paul Haeder

As a preface here, as I have done many times as my role as writer for DV, I have to default to the local, as in, where you see fault lines and bright lines in a local situation, you can pretty much make the larger microcosmic statement about many things for a state, region, country, culture, what have you.

The School to Prison Pipeline has been written about many, many times, and my hat goes off to some of those writers:

Read more at Dissident Voice >>

Local protestors voice concern over possible U.S. attack in Syria

Tuesday, Sep 3, 2013 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

See KREM’s coverage here


SPOKANE, Wash. — A group of local protestors gathered Downtown to voice their concerns over President Obama’s plan to seek military action in Syria.

“We’ve just been through two wars that is killing this country and this is insane,” said Michael Beasley with Spokane Coalition Builders.

Beasley and dozens of other protestors from organizations around Spokane gathered Saturday to stand against any possible violence.

“The civilian population will suffer the heaviest toll, so we will just be adding to it,” added Veterans for Peace protestor Arthur Hathaway. Read more »

Pentagon cuts could help all

Thursday, May 16, 2013 | 11:11am | Comment on this

Justin EllenbeckerPJALS member and disabled veteran Justin Ellenbecker placed this powerful Guest Editorial in the Spokesman-Review on Saturday, May 11. 

The discussion over what to do with the budget has been blanketing newspapers and airwaves for quite some time now. Several plans are jockeying to see how much we can cut without amputating some large portion of the voting public. As a combat veteran, I’m aware of the difficulty in making triage decisions. This is why I now fight to make sure all veterans receive the lifelines they need. Preserving and strengthening Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and care for returning service members needs to be a top priority.

While serving in Iraq, I suffered injuries that forced me to leave the line of work I’d trained for. Since my return, I’ve worked with supportive networks to counsel returning service members who, like me, have physical and mental health issues. One of the chief concerns that veterans raise is the ability to care for themselves and their families now, and in the future.

Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress are pushing budgets that directly attack the programs that Americans’ lives depend on: Medicare and Medicaid. Now, the president wants to weaken Social Security. All of this is in the guise of deficit reduction.

There’s no need to slash these programs, which help drive our economy, generate jobs and deliver health care to millions, including tens of thousands of veterans. Read more »

KYRS Local News Nov 2

Monday, Nov 5, 2012 | 9:09am | Comment on this

Highlights, history and analysis from Thursday’s news conference announcing the submission of a newly proposed Police Ombudsman Ordinance for the City of Spokane by the Center for Justice and the Peace & Justice Action League of Spokane. Includes and interview with Liz Moore, Director of PJALS.

Listen here:


Interfaith Peacebuilders exposes people to struggles, efforts for peace

Tuesday, Oct 9, 2012 | 4:16pm | Comment on this

From the Fig Tree

When Myrta Ladich toured the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem last May, she saw a photo of family of her closest friend during college and her early years of marriage. The photo brought tears to her eyes.

Myrta has long been attuned to the suffering of Jews in the Holocaust.

Her friend came to Seattle at the age of 18, having fled communist rule in Hungary by walking to Vienna. She had survived the Holocaust as a child at the age of six. Most of her family were killed in Auschwitz.

Before joining the May 18 to 31 delegation of 30, visiting through Interfaith Peacebuilders, Myrta knew her Jewish friend, who now lives in California, is appalled at what Israel’s government does to Palestinians.

Read the whole article here

Selected news coverage of PJALS 2008-2010

Saturday, Jan 8, 2011 | 2:14pm | Comment on this

Tax Breaks Burden Poor

May 2011


County Jail Site Opposed at Hearing

March 2011


A Night in the Life of the Inland Northwest

February, 2011


Union wants lender’s support

January  2011


UN Human Rights Day speaker focuses on Middle East conflict

December 2010

Spokane unites against Westboro’s message of hate

October 21, 2010


Waging Love: Countering the Westboro rabble.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Marchers call for feeding the poor, not feeding the war

October 2010


State carries out first execution in nine years

September 10, 2010


Local peace group protests state execution tonight

Thu, Sep. 09, 2010


PJALS will mark 35 years

May 20, 2010


The Transcendence Project

March 28, 2010


Watch Man

The city’s first ombudsman finds himself in uncharted territory

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Greater ombudsman powers urged

February 7, 2010


Activism of peace group’s director began in school years in Deer Park

October 2009


Protesters call for police oversight

June 26, 2009


Protest outdraws ombudsman forum

May 30, 2009


In brief: Protesters hold anti-torture rally

May 22, 2009


Even into their retirement Couple will continue to nudge the world toward peace

May 2009


‘Icons’ of local political and social justice movement step down

May 4, 2009


Friendly Skies?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Big Brother is Watching

Wednesday, July 9, 2008