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We stood strong: “Invest in People –Not the Pentagon!”
A dedicated team of PJALS members gathered on Tax Day to make our values visible:
When we spend more than half of our federal budget on the Pentagon, it doesn’t make us more secure. Let’s stop pouring money into defense contracting, and look for comprehensive solutions that address the root causes of conflict. Our security requires investment in education, good jobs, infrastructure, nutrition, health care, affordable housing and other services that provide economic security to our families and a brighter future for our children.
Smart Justice needs you this fall
Our community has a huge opportunity to make major reforms our criminal justice system starting this year. A three-member Spokane Regional Criminal Justice Commission that was appointed by the Mayor of Spokane and the County Commissioners is in the process of conducting a comprehensive and broad review of the criminal justice system that is in the process of conducting a comprehensive and broad review of the criminal justice system. Read more »
12 hours for everyday suffering
by Lucia Vazquez
To bring attention to the suffering and struggles of undocumented Americans, I participated in a 12-hour fast along with 10 other folks from Spokane and Walla Walla on July 3rd in front of Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ office.
At first I was very optimistic of being able to do the full 12 hours with only water to drink yet as the day progressed I doubted being able to make it– my feet were sore, my head pounding, constant thoughts of food raced in my head.
My pain was nothing compared to the number of years families wait to see their loved ones, the deaths of innocent people attempting to seek a better future, the agony undocumented students experience knowing that tuition is due, the fear children face when their parents leave for work, the cruel reality that you’re one traffic stop from deportation–these are all real scenarios and being able to symbolized the suffering undocumented people face every day was my motivation. Read more »
Marching for Immigration Reform
By Lucy Vazquez, PJALS intern
The streets of Downtown Spokane echoed with a powerful “Sí Se Puede” (yes we can) on May 1st as approximately 150 Mechistas, PJALS folks, students, and other community members marched on the streets in support of a just and humane Comprehensive Immigration Reform that will create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11.2 million undocumented people currently living in the United States. Read more »
Walk to Keep Our Community Whole!
Come Walk to Keep Our Community Whole on Saturday, March 23rd at 12Noon to reject the Senate’s proposed All-Cuts budget, and call on our state Senators in the 6th and 7th Legislative Districts to raise revenue and reject cuts that hurt real people in our community. Read more »
Time to Put People First
By Michelle Little, Young Activist Leader and PJALS Intern
Being a single mother of three young children, I depend on many programs to care for my family while I am attending college, including Medicaid, food stamps, child care assistance and the Washington State Need Grant for higher education. Continuing cuts to these programs will devastate families such as my own, and many other families who are struggling to stay afloat.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day I had the privilege of speaking at the rally on the capitol steps with 300 people at Washington Community Action Network’s Racial Justice Rally in Olympia. I went with a delegation from the Peace and Justice Action League including my fellow intern Justin Filla. This was the first time I had ever spoken in front of a crowd, and although it was very scary it was also very empowering to be able to tell my story and have the support of so many people who feel the same way I do.
pulling at the threads of our culture of violence
by Liz Moore, PJALS Director
I hope you will join us on Thursday February 7, in the Community Building Lobby, 35 W. Main from 5:30-8pm for our panel discussion of the culture of violence
Like you, my thoughts, heart, and sorrow have been with the families, children, teachers, and entire community of Newtown, CT, in the wake of the devastating tragedy of 28 people, including 20 children, shot and killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School. I have felt the need not to engage with much media coverage of this heartbreaking event, but I do feel the need to share some reflection and thoughts with you here.
This horrible atrocity is part of a pattern of violence in our country. A timeline of most deadly mass shootings from 1989 to the present is a shocking and saddening set of information, showing increasing frequency in more recent years. And at the same time, our federal budget puts 47% of our national budget into past and current Pentagon spending, Read more »
Facing Race: Coalition Calls on Legislators to Work Towards Racial & Economic Equity
by Lucia Vazquez
Our WA legislature received a D for its voting on racial equity bills for the 2011 and 2012 sessions. The grade came from Washington Community Action Network’s Facing Race: 2012 Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity, which assessed the Washington Legislature’s performance during the 2011 and 2012 regular sessions on issues that affect racial and economic equity. The report was endorsed by 52 organizations across the state, including PJALS. The goal of this report was to educate legislators about the impact their decisions have on communities of color that make up about 30% of Washington residents, but also to spread awareness of advancing racial equity within our state. Read more »
Freedom to Marry: Victory!!!
by Shar Lichty
We made history on Nov. 6th, becoming the first state to defend the freedom to marry at the ballot by 53.32% to 46.68%. We were an important part of a historical night for LGBT rights and recognition nationally.
None of this would have been possible without a campaign dedicated to organizing in Eastern Washington. We had significant gains in Eastern WA support from R71 to R74 with the three largest gains being: Garfield County, 5.89% increase; Whitman County, 5.14% increase; and Spokane County, 4.48% increase. The City of Spokane also saw a significant 4.37% increase with the larger gains coming from the more conservative districts: District 1, 3.09% increase and District 3, 6.37% increase.
Spokane played another key role in Approving R74 with 16 faith leaders publicly endorsing the freedom to marry. Read more »
Why Marriage Matters: LGBT People of Color Discuss the Freedom to Marry for All Loving Couples
by Lucy Vazquez
As the November election approaches and ballots are being filled out, it’s important to bring up conversations about LGBT communities’ rights and that no one should face discrimination when they hope to marry the person they love.
PJALS teamed up with Why Marriage Matters Washington to organize an event that focused on engaging in the conversation among communities of color about the freedom to marry. The East Central Community Center was filled with love, laughter, tears, and reflection as it became a safe space for a dialogue with great leaders of our communities who shared their personal stories as gay, lesbian, and two spirit people as well as allies showing their support to all loving couples.
This event was so powerful it touched my heart and made me reflect on my life; I didn’t realized how much I could relate to their stories. Read more »
Why Marriage Matters: LGBT People of Color Discuss the Freedom to Marry for All Loving Couples
As the November election approaches, this event will lift up the visibility of LGBT people of color and leaders of communities of color who are allies for the freedom to marry. No one should face discrimination when they hope to marry the person they love.
Panelists will include Sandy Williams, Stanley Ruiz, Marvo Reguindin, and Ramon Alvarez sharing their stories as gay, lesbian, and two spirit people of color; and Rev. Happy Watkins, MEChA leader and PJALS intern Lucia Vazquez, and other community leaders speaking as supporters of the freedom to marry for all loving couples. Join us Saturday, October 20, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at East Central Community Center, 500 S. Stone. Read more »
Maia Water Project joins Thirsting for Justice Summer Campaign
By Sheila Fox, co-chair of the Palestine-Israel Human Rights Committee
What would it be like to live on 6.3 gallons of water a day during these summer months? Many Palestinians know. Wash and drink in solidarity with them and record your experience by joining on to the Thirsting for Justice campaign for a day.
It takes 2.5 gallons or water just to flush the toilet once. Read more »
How Will You Feel If We Fail Marriage Equality?
By Shar Lichty, Organizer
Last month I attended a brown bag lunch discussion with a staff member from Washington United for Marriage and leaders from the local group working to secure marriage equality at the ballot in November. During introductions we were asked to answer the question, “How will you feel on Nov. 7th if marriage equality fails at the ballot?” This question threw me for a bit of a loop because I honestly had not thought about it. In my mind it was not an option. This question became a dose of reality for me, a wake-up call: We can fail. Read more »
Honor Life: Abolish the Death Penalty
By Victoria Thorpe, co-chair of PJALS Inland Northwest Death Penalty Abolition Group
Honor Life: Abolish the Death Penalty was a very successful event presented to the Spokane community July 21st, 2012. Our special guest speaker was Jason Baldwin, of the West Memphis Three, who echoed our goals beautifully in his own words, “There are those of us who will not give up until the death penalty has ended, until this country is about saving lives and not killing people and throwing them away for making mistakes.” Read more »
Clean Water for the Children of Gaza – A PJALS Success Story!
by Sheila Fox
Last December, the Palestine-Israel Human Rights Committee (PIHRC) figured out a fun way to raise money for a very serious problem: A bowl-a-thon called “Bowling For Water!” With this event and contributions from members like you, we successfully raised the $4,000 needed to purchase a purification and desalination unit for Atfal Al-Ghad (Children of Tomorrow) pre-school and kindergarten in the city of Khan Younis, a refugee camp and village in Gaza! But we’re not done yet! Read more »
APPROVE Referendum 74
By Shar Lichty
The marriage equality law that was passed by the legislation and signed into law by the Governor on Feb. 13, 2012 was set to go into effect on June 7th permitting civil marriage for same-sex couples. Unfortunately, the folks who don’t believe in equal rights for same-sex couples were successful in gathering enough signatures by the June 6th deadline to challenge this law at the ballot in Nov. Read more »
Our Work for Economic Justice – A PJALS Success Story!
by Amanda Hunt, BSW
Since September, I have had the pleasure of working with the Peace and Economic Justice Committee. In this committee, we set our 2012 legislative priorities which included fighting to raise revenue in the state by closing corporate tax loopholes and rejecting cuts that will disproportionately affect low-income children, families, and people of color. Read more »
An Invitation to Share Your Story, for Smart Justice
A diverse coalition including PJALS, Greater Spokane Progress, and the Center for Justice is about to launch a Smart Justice Campaign to persuade the County to fully implement comprehensive alternatives to incarceration for non-violent and low-level offenders.
We need to humanize this issue, so community members and elected officials will understand how the current system affects individuals and families. Julie Schaffer, an attorney at the Center for Justice, is inviting people who have been impacted by the criminal justice system to please contact her and share their stories. Read more »
Good news: WA state Senate Committee calls for “Money for People, Not for War!”
URGENT ACTION NEEDED! Sign the petition here for a full Senate vote!
A Washington State Senate committee passed SJM 8014, calling upon Congress to stop the Afghanistan war, bring the troops home to their families, cut the military budget, and shift spending to job creation, education, healthcare, environmental protections, and lifeline programs for struggling families! Now we need your help to bring it to the Senate floor for a vote!
SJM 8014 is now in the Senate Rules Committee, where it will languish unless a member of the Senate Rules Committee pulls it by Tuesday Feb 15 at 5pm to send it to the floor for a vote by the entire Washington State Senate. Fortunately, Spokane 3rd LD State Senator Lisa Brown serves on the Rules Committee and is the powerful Senate Majority Leader. Please contact her IMMEDIATELY and ask her to send SJM 8014 to the floor. TIME IS SHORT, SO PLEASE ACT NOW.
Phone: 360-786-7604 or (509) 456-2760
(sample message below)
Read more »
Washington United for Marriage: Campaign for Marriage Equality
By Shar Lichty
Will Washington be the next state to grant this civil right to same sex couples? I dare to dream the time is now.
PJALS has endorsed and is actively working with the campaign for marriage equality in Washington State, Washington United for Marriage. Governor Gregoire made a public announcement in support of marriage equality for this legislative session introduced the bills, SB 6239 and HB 1963. Since then, King County Council and Tacoma City Council have both passed resolutions in support of marriage equality as well as two Republican Senators publicly announcing their support. Read more »
Facing Race: How Budget Cuts Are Increasing Racial Disparities
Washington’s communities of color and low-income communities have faced unequal pain in this recession. High levels of unemployment, home foreclosure, and racial inequities in health, education and criminal justice continue to devastate communities of color. By 2030, one in every three Washington residents will be a person of color.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed. Washington’s budget decisions can either echo this, or make matters worse.
The report Facing Race: How Budget Cuts Are Increasing Racial Disparities highlights how the cuts made to the 2011-2013 biennial budget disproportionately affect communities of color in Washington State and worsen existing racial disparities. Read more »
Showdown at Suncadia
By Amanda Hunt, intern
On September 21, I attended the Showdown in Suncadia, in beautiful and remote Cle Elum, WA. Suncadia is a luxurious mountain resort in the majestic Cascade Mountains. This event was organized by Washington Community Action Network, and joined by many organizations from across the state. Shar Lichty, Brock Baker, myself, and 5 members of the Youth Sustainability Council left Spokane at 530AM. This was an action in direct response to Governor Gregoire’s “private” address to the Association of Washington Business. Besides our governor, Phyllis Campbell, the Northwest Regional Chairperson for Chase Bank, was also addressing the group.
Unfortunately for the corporate fat cats, who were supposed to be enjoying activities such as wine tasting and golfing, Suncadia was not secluded enough. Hundreds of protestors from all over the state interrupted their quiet little retreat. Read more »
Community Speak-out and March for Work Not War
1:00 pm, Saturday, October 8, Clarke Park on the corner of Garland and Division
Join PJALS members like you to commemorate 10 years of US war and occupation in Afghanistan. Speakers will include veterans and community members on the many costs of war including out-of-control military spending and the resulting lack of funding for lifeline programs for struggling families in our communities.
And, two days prior, join us to Meet and Eat
Thursday, October 6, 5:30-7:00pm, Lobby of the Community Bldg, 35 W. Main