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Inside the Activist Studio with Winona LaDuke

Thursday, May 28, 2015 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

Winona LaDukeby Liz Moore

I loved talking with Winona LaDuke at Inside the Activist Studio at EWU at the end of April. I had heard her speak at EWU when she was campaigning for Vice President as Ralph Nader’s running mate. As the saying goes, I don’t remember what she said, but I do remember how she made me feel: excited, hopeful, like change was possible and regular people could make it happen. As soon as I met Winona, I began to feel calm and looked forward to talking with her more. She’s very warm and down to earth, not ego-oriented.

For me, Inside the Activist Studio capped off my second year as the Activist in Residence at EWU, a new program based in the Women’s and Gender Studies program. Just this year, over 600 EWU students were exposed to PJALS and social justice work; about 150 attended my panels and workshops on mass incarceration and criminal justice reform, and 200 joined our email list. Several will participate in our internships and Young Activist Leaders program, and of course some connections will last a long time and flower later. It is a position with a lot of freedom, and I’ve really enjoyed building relationships with some faculty and learning more about the campus culture. It was a huge treat to end my time in that role by talking with Winona LaDuke. Read more »

Drones Quilt Project Visits Spokane

Thursday, May 28, 2015 | 2:14pm | Comment on this

Drone Quilt Displayby Teresa Kinder

Veterans for Peace and PJALS brought the Drone Quilt Project to Spokane in March, memorializing the civilian lives lost to US Drone strikes. From newborn babies and young children to the elderly, no one is safe from US drones.

Five quilts were on display in the Community Building lobby, at our Peace and Economic Justice Action Conference, at Chris Hedges’ speech at the Bing, and at the Unitarian Universalist Church. Each square of the quilt represents a different life lost at the hands of a drone. The hundreds of patches represent a tiny minority of bodies who have been identified after a drone strike and some who have not been identified. It is important to remember that each of these squares represents an individual life that has been cut far too short.

The Quilt Project is a lasting reminder of our need for peace around the world. We are connected to individuals from around the world. Are we really so different from the individuals on these quilts? All of us have hopes, dreams, plans, family and friends; this is why we still struggle today.

Spokane Supports Pasco – End Police Brutality

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Join MEChA de EWU and Tri-Cities Community Solutions at 2pm in Volunteer Park Pasco, WA as we come together for the 3 month anniversary of Antonio Zambrano-Montes’ death.

Use the facebook event page to organize carpools.

Donate to support gas money via this button — PJALS will pass through 100% of donations via this button to folks who are carpooling.

donate now button


Powerful award-winning play “My Name is Rachel Corrie” to be shown in Spokane

Thursday, Feb 5, 2015 | 2:14pm | One comment.

Corrie play header

By Justin Mauger

On Monday March 2nd, 7:00 pm, the award-winning play “My Name is Rachel Corrie” will be shown at the Magnuson Theater on the campus of Gonzaga University. This play is brought to the Gonzaga Campus by PJALS’ Palestine-Israel Human Rights Committee in collaboration with Gonzaga student Forrest Potter and featuring actress Erin Fitzgerald. This play is presented free of charge and open to the public. We hope that PJALS members will join us in attendance at this important event.

Rachel Corrie was a gifted writer and peace activist from Olympia, Washington.  As a student at The Evergreen State College, she proposed an independent-study program and went to the Gaza Strip, Palestine, to create a Rafah-Olympia Sister City relationship, where, in her work as a peace and human rights activist she helped protect Palestinian homes from illegal demolition. While practicing Gandhian nonviolence, clad in fluorescent orange and shouting over a bullhorn, she was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer as she attempted to stop the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home in the city of Rafah. Read more »

Supporting Spokane’s Trans* Community

Monday, Feb 2, 2015 | 4:16pm | Comment on this

trans* flagI was shocked and saddened to learn of the physical attack on a trans* woman on West Main on Friday night, sending her to the hospital. An attack anywhere is unacceptable but I find myself especially troubled by an attack taking place across the street from our offices and in a business whose owners have gone out of their way to support equality, the freedom to marry, and the recognition of everyone’s full humanity.

Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane joins our community’s good wishes for the victim’s quick recovery and full well-being. We also join the call for a full investigation and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice quickly. Read more »

Another Look at the Cycle of Violence

Friday, Aug 29, 2014 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

Rusty Nelson on Peace & War

I believe you know that support for capital punishment in this country: is diminishing; was only a foot deep when it was a mile wide; is based upon fear and ignorance rather than common sense or justice, and; is always weakened when executions are honestly examined as factors in the cycle of violence in our communities and institutions.

You should also know that Gov. Inslee’s moratorium on executions is little comfort to the men on our death row in Walla Walla, who believe they are likely to be killed when a new governor takes office. Believing this is a splendid time to ban the death penalty and that public enlightenment is the best way forward, the Inland Northwest Death Penalty Abolition Group wants Spokane to see its new production of The Exonerated on November 21 or 22, at Gonzaga University. The Center for Justice produced two performances of The Exonerated, five years ago at the Civic Theatre, and is co-sponsoring this show, which will, again, be directed by Bryan Harniteaux, Spokane’s attorney/playwright. Read more »

MAIA PROJECT – Gaza Water Purification Unit update

Friday, Aug 29, 2014 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

This is a different update from what we originally planned to give, as since July 8, Gaza has been under almost constant attack from Israeli bombing and shelling, and Khan Younis, where “our” unit is located at Atfal Al-Ghad (Children of Tomorrow) pre-school and Kindergarten, has been particularly devastated.

Deborah Agre from our partner Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) told us in mid-August that they don’t yet have a report on the water units there, as the primary concern right now is keeping people safe, recovering the dead and treating the injured. What they do know is that the UNWRA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) schools in which the units are installed have been used as shelter for families fleeing bombs and needing shelter when their homes were destroyed, many of which were themselves bombed. Units that were built to serve hundreds of children during school hours have had to put out clean water for tens of thousands of people, 24 hours/day if they are working at all. MECA does not know yet how the units are performing at so far above capacity. Read more »

Actions & Resources for Peace in Israel & Palestine, Iraq, and Transparency in US Drone Targetting

Thursday, Jul 17, 2014 | 3:15pm | Comment on this


Call Today:
Sen. Murray: 624-9515
Sen. Cantwell: 353-2507
Rep. McMorris Rodgers: 353-2374

Tell them: We have to build a better world for all our kids, and it has to start with each of us. Elected leaders must hear our demands that our money be spent to create true peace with justice, not to send more missiles or drones around the world. End drone use. End US war, occupation, and military aid in Iraq & Afghanistan. End military aid to Israel. 

Special message for Senator Murray: “Please tell the senator to vote against the additional funding to Israel in TODAY’s Defense Appropriations bill, especially since Israel is massacring people in Gaza right now.” 

Jewish Voice for Peace: Join the 64,000 who’ve signed our Open Letter telling Israeli leaders to stop killing civilians.

Just Foreign Policy: Urge President Obama and your representatives in Congress to demand that Israel refrain from bombing Wafa Hospital and other medical facilities in Gaza protected by international humanitarian law by signing our petition at MoveOn.

Avaaz: As a new round of violence kicks off in Israel-Palestine and more children are killed, it’s time to take definitive non-violent action to end this nightmare. Our governments and companies have continued to aid, trade and invest in the status quo, but we can stop this cycle of violence if we call on key banks, pension funds and businesses to pull out their investments — add your voice now.

United for Peace & Justice:  Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Walter Jones (R-NC), and Barbara Lee (D-CA) have just introduced House Concurrent Resolution # 105, a privileged resolution under the War Powers Resolution that will force a debate and vote on U.S. military intervention in Iraq. It will come up for a debate and vote within fifteen days of the date in which it was filed. Call Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers now at 353-2374 to ask her to co-sponsor.

CREDO: Sign the petition: Demand transparency on U.S. drone strike targets: According to a number of civil and human rights groups, drone warfare has led to hundreds of civilian deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia – and a possible violation of international law. We want the government to name who it has killed with U.S. drones, where, and why, including an explanation of the legal authority and evidence supporting each of those killings.

Information & Resources:

Read more »

Marching for Immigration Reform

Monday, Jun 2, 2014 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

immigration reform march May 12014

Jeremiah Manes and YALP alum Molly Ftizpatrick carry the PJALS banner at the May 1 2014 march for Immigration Reform. PJALS Organizer Shar Lichty and member Mark Hamlin offered a Peacekeeper training for MEChA de EWU members who organized the event.

PJALS Director Liz Moore and little Duncan

PJALS Director Liz Moore and little Duncan say: Immigration Reform Now!


US Militarism and the girls of Nigeria

Monday, Jun 2, 2014 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

by Liz Moore

More than two hundred girls kidnapped in Nigeria have caught the sympathy of many in the West, and that attention has helped to prompt US military aid as part of the effort to rescue them.

It started as a simple #BringBackOurGirls call gaining amplification on social media. Then came the names of the girls, which I and others re-posted as a way of making more specific and more powerful our call for their return. And then, wiser people pointed out that listing the girls’ names puts them in greater danger in the future and violates their right to decide whether or not to be public about their experience. I had to pause my urge to help to learn whether my actions were actually helpful or harmful.

The world clamor, led by protests by parents in Nigeria, led to greater attention and some international response. The US government response, of course, was to offer “counter-terrorism assistance.”

Let us pause again to see if our offer of help is actually helpful. Read more »

Time to Act Against Drones

Friday, Feb 28, 2014 | 10:22pm | Comment on this
Kareem Khan with picture of his son, killed by a drone. Credit: Noor Behram/Reprieve

Kareem Khan with picture of his son, killed by a drone. Credit: Noor Behram/Reprieve

by Bobby Kirl

Remember drones? The President, in his lengthy State of the Union Address last month, gave a mere three sentences to one of the most pressing issues of our age. He mentioned the word drone only once. For many of us this is not only a snub that fell far short of calling for the necessary action to put an end to the immoral use of these terrible machines, it is outright indifference to the suffering of those who his drone policies have affected so terribly.

An international call for Spring Days of Action — 2014 is ringing out across the social airwaves. This coordinated grassroots campaign, supported by a litany of activist groups and individuals of conscience, is being held this April and May. The campaign is simple in its concept, but bold in its purpose. It aims to encourage activists around the world to join in consolidated effort for a common set of goals; winning passage of local laws that prohibit drones and drone surveillance; keeping drones from being used in our communities; and seeking national laws to bar the use of weaponized drones and drone surveillance. This campaign has the potential to be a massive coalition for human rights. Read more »

Solidarity with El Salvador

Friday, Feb 28, 2014 | 10:22pm | Comment on this

Hermanas Spokane and Camp Salvador Counselors are raising money for the library of Huisisilapa:

Dinner and Auction: Saturday, March 8, at The Community School 1300 W. Knox. Tickets: $10 (a donation accepted for families). Doors open at 5:00 pm; 6:00 pm Live auction; 6:15 pm Program.

Women of Huisi, El SalvadorHuisisilapa (we-si-si-la-pa) is a community of former refugees from Mesa Grande in Honduras as a result of the Salvadoran Civil War.  The last refugees to repopulate El Salvador from the refugee camp went to  an area known as Huisisilapa (Huisi).  The area was pastor land without as much as one outbuilding and of course no infrastructure.

The people arrived in Huisi April 1, 1992, to begin rebuilding their lives.  They had lost everything during the war. Read more »

“Move, Cathy–Get Out of the Way!”

Monday, Nov 25, 2013 | 10:10am | Comment on this

PJALS members join OneAmerica for Immigration Reform Action Nov 13

Momentum for commonsense immigration reform is growing. But Speaker John Boehner has yet to schedule a vote. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers continues to stand behind him. And 1,100 people are deported each day. We spoke out to call on GOP leadership to vote on a pathway to citizenship this year!

filling the sidewalk in front of Rep McMorris-Rodgers' office

filling the sidewalk in front of Rep McMorris-Rodgers’ office


filling the street

Filling the street, while we chant, “Move, Cathy, Get Out of the Way!”


12 risk arrest for 11 million people living in shadows

12 risk arrest for 11 million people living in shadows, including PJALS members David Brookbank and Mark Hamlin

Members of Washington Community Action Network and PJALS as well as college students from Whitworth, EWU, and Whitman were arrested in a civil disobedience action to convey the urgency of comprehensive immigration reform.


PJALS Members and Smart Justice Supporters Turn Out for CJC Hearing

Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

Smart Justice Campaign logoBy Dom Felix, Intern

The Spokane County Commissioners and Mayor Condon appointed a joint City-County Regional Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) in November 2012, charged with recommending reforms to our criminal justice system. The Commission’s final recommendations will provide the “to do list” for City and County elected officials to implement criminal justice reform. Their recommendations were released in a 60 page draft November 1st 2013.

On Nov. 6th the CJC held a hearing to get input from the community. There were nearly 150 community members at the hearing. Read more »

Why Race Matters

Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 | 2:14pm | Comment on this

Glenn HarrisBy Jeremiah Manes, Intern

On October 22nd, members of PJALS along with others in the community were able to attend a workshop by Glenn Harris titled, “Why Race Matters: Tools and Strategies for Strengthening Community.” This interactive workshop on bias and race allowed for participants to assess their organization and it’s possible contribution to disparity, while fostering conversations on questions such as, “Why does race matter?” Read more »

Your Voice is Needed for Smart Justice: Hearing Wed., Nov. 6

Monday, Nov 4, 2013 | 2:14pm | One comment.

We’re part of the Smart Justice Campaign because PJALS members like you told us alternatives to incarceration and criminal justice reform are worth winning. Now is the time for us to spring into action together!

Your Voice is Needed at November 6th Hearing to 

Call for Smart Justice in Spokane

Criminal Justice Commission Hearing 
Wed Nov 6th at 6:00pm 

**Pre-Hearing Training at 4:30pm**
Gonzaga Law School Court Room, 
721 N Cincinnati St, Spokane, 99220

It is the Zimmerman mindset that must be found guilty

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

Trayvon MartinLike millions of people across the country, I was very saddened when I learned a Florida jury had found George Zimmerman not guilty of murder nor manslaughter for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin. Read more »

August Claims

Friday, Aug 2, 2013 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. … If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, … want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. …. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will.

– Frederick Douglass,  Letter to an abolitionist associate, 1849

12 hours for everyday suffering

Friday, Aug 2, 2013 | 2:14pm | Comment on this

Lucia Vazquezby 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 »

Patriots Say NO to US Civil Liberties Violations

Thursday, Jun 27, 2013 | 2:14pm | 3 comments

whistle stencilThis next week we’re going to hear a lot about patriotism. What does patriotism mean to you?

To me, it’s most important to be loyal to humans and our planet as a whole, not to focus too much on nationality. I feel suspicious of so-called patriotism being used to silence critical thinking and dissent. I like Barbara Ehrenreich’s quote: “No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.” In fact, dissent, rebellion, and hell-raising have a strong track record of strengthening democracy & justice in our country and all over the world.

On that note–Will you join me and other PJALS folks to speak out against US violations of civil liberties–NSA spying, call-tracking, email surveillance; unlawful detentions, force-feeding, & rights violations at Guantanamo; and the persecution of whistleblowers Eric Snowden & Bradley Manning? Join us on Wednesday July 3 at 5pm on Division at North River Dr, near the Wendy’s. Read more »

Human Rights, the US Drug War, and Grassroots Nonviolent Resistance in Colombia

Friday, Jun 21, 2013 | 10:10am | Comment on this

We Build Peace Every Day

Just back from a month-long research trip in Colombia, John Lindsay-Poland of the Fellowship of Reconciliation will share eyewitness experiences with communities using active nonviolence to refuse participation in the armed conflict, civil groups maintaining collective memory of the conflict, as well as with soldiers who have been part of this long war. Learn about peace communities, the current process seeking an end to war, and efforts to hold the United States accountable for its role in Colombia’s trauma.

Thursday July 18, 6:00 – 8:00pm

Salem Lutheran Church
1428 W. Broadway Ave., Spokane, WA 99201

Since 2000, the United States has spent more than $8 billion on “Plan Colombia,” most of it military aid, as part of the “drug war” and “war on terrorism.” Nearly five decades of armed conflict in Colombia have subjected Indigenous people, women, union activists, youth, journalists, and human rights workers to violence by guerrillas, paramilitaries and the U.S.-backed Colombian military. Yet, despite this adversity, Colombians refuse to give up in their courageous quest for peace and social justice.

Marching for Immigration Reform

Friday, Jun 21, 2013 | 10:10am | Comment on this

Immigration March 2013

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 »

Genocide in Guatemala: Another Consequence of U.S. Policy?

Thursday, Jun 20, 2013 | 5:17pm | Comment on this

Guatemalan woman holds cross in protestby Mike Nuess

The May 10, 2013 conviction of former Guatemalan dictator and School of the Americas attendee, Efraín Ríos Montt, for genocide and crimes against humanity sets a major milestone along the long path toward justice on this earth, marking the first time a head of state has been convicted of genocide by his or her own country, and clearly testifying to the extraordinary and courageous perseverance of thousands of persecuted Guatemalans who toiled to bring the truth to light.

But the path toward justice leads further, continuing both within Guatemala and beyond it, too—perhaps especially to the U.S. Read more »

Things I learned at Pride

Thursday, Jun 20, 2013 | 3:15pm | 2 comments

photo credit OUTSIDEMediaby Liz Moore

In keeping with our role for over two decades, PJALS peacekeepers were at Spokane’s Pride Celebration on June 8. These are four reflections on my experience this year.

Things I learned at Pride #1: some things haven’t changed. The threat from one anti protestor was the same as I was threatened with when I told a fellow Deer Park 2nd grader in probably 1980 that I didn’t believe in a god: “Repent, or you’ll burn in the lake of fire.”

Things I learned at Pride #2: Some things REALLY CHANGE ALOT: Read more »

Mossadegh Legacy Institute founder to speak June 6

Monday, Jun 3, 2013 | 3:15pm | One comment.

The non-profit Mossadegh Legacy Institute (MLI), inspired by the legacy of the late Iranian Prime Minister, Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, seeks to “create a world that nurtures the nonviolent virtues and values of “The Gandhi of Iran” [Mossadegh], not only for his beloved Iran, but for the global community on our distressed Mother Earth.”

MLI has composed a petition to the Nobel Foundation for a joint Posthumous Nobel Peace Prize for Mossadegh and Mahatma Gandhi. MLI’s Board of Endorsers includes MIT Professor Noam Chomsky (Honorary Chair); Prof. Ervand Abrahamian; Tariq Ali; Cindy Sheehan; Professor Richard Falk; Prof. Stephen Kinzer and many other effective contemporary voices for truth and justice.

MLI is conducting a Mossadegh Awareness Speaking Tour across the U.S., seeking to build a deeper understanding of Mossadegh and beget Sanity in Foreign Policy, a condition urgently needed in today’s world. MLI founder Moji Agha will speak in Spokane on June 6:

6:00 to 8:00 PM, at Salem Lutheran Church, 1428 W 1428 W Broadway Ave, Spokane, WA 99201 Read more »

Learn, Share, Accompany

Wednesday, Mar 6, 2013 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

by Liz Moore

I’m delighted that we were so lucky as to host human rights workers Pablo Obando, Communications Director of the Fray Bartolomé Human Rights Center in Chiapas, Mexico, and Tony Nelson, of the Mexico Solidarity Network and the Autonomous University of Social Movements and the Albany Park Centro Autónomo, last month. It was a powerful and bilingual presentation. A great detail was the word “compañero” or “compañera” which was not translated because there’s not an exactly right English word–the best way to explain it is brother or sister, with a political and community meaning; a companion in the struggle for justice.

Pablo spoke on the human rights situation in Chiapas, Mexico, the Fray Bartolomé Center’s work, and the role of international solidarity. The Center has been widely recognized for accompanying indigenous communities under attack, documenting abuses, and defending cases in court. It has recently been increasingly threatened by paramilitary organizations for this work.

Both Tony and Pablo spoke about how they do their work: they do not give, teach, or help–they are committed, instead, to learn, to share, and to accompany, so that the people experiencing oppression are the authors of change. If you missed their great presentation, or if you just want a refresher, check out this video of their presentation!

Our Community of Action Going Forward Together

Wednesday, Mar 6, 2013 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Dove Powerby Liz Moore, PJALS Director

What I love most about PJALS is being part of a community of people who take action together based on the connections between human rights, economic justice, & peace.

Our Steering Committee asked you, PJALS members, to guide strategic planning for 2013-2014. We learned that you overwhelmingly support organizing to raise revenue & reject cuts as well as to counter the costs of militarism and to demand money for people, not for war. You’re also passionate about alternatives to incarceration & police accountability. You value that we create community together through our events & campaigns. You strongly support our Young Activist Leaders Program & our interns. You love our Action Conference. You want PJALS to continue to strengthen our connections with communities of color & with rural people.

Why prioritize those areas? Read more »

17-year-old sentenced to life in prison needs support

Wednesday, Dec 26, 2012 | 3:15pm | 2 comments

Please support the release of Yvette Louisell (0805144), who was sentenced as  a 17-year-old college student to life without parole.   Yvette has been incarcerated now for 24 years. Take a moment to write a short letter to: Judge Michael Moon, Story County District Court, 1315 South B Avenue, Nevada, IA  50201

Since the June Supreme Court decision  to strike down laws of Life Without Parole for Juveniles, the Iowa Governor Terry  Branstad converted each of the individual cases in Iowa to 60 years.  Her case is now in the courts. Read more »

Facing Race: Coalition Calls on Legislators to Work Towards Racial & Economic Equity

Wednesday, Dec 26, 2012 | 2:14pm | Comment on this

Tia Griffin speaks at Facing Race releaseby 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 »

Land, Freedom, Equality: A Palestinian Village’s Nonviolent Struggle – a visit with a leader of the nonviolent popular resistance in Palestine

Wednesday, Dec 26, 2012 | 2:14pm | One comment.

Iyad Burnat and Jimmy CarterBy Marianne Torres

On January 11 (7:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4340 West Fort George Wright Drive), PJALS will host Iyad Burnat, one of the leaders of the resistance in Bil’in, Palestine (West Bank).  Mr. Burnat is in the midst of a speaking tour of the US. He and his wife were our hosts when our May 2012 Interfaith PeaceBuilders delegation to Palestine, that included PJALS member Myrta Ladich and me, stayed in Bil’in. Download a flier here to share! 

Spokane will have a rare opportunity to meet a man who is deeply engaged in a life and death struggle to end 45 years of military occupation of his land, his home, and hear first-hand how a town reacts to confiscation of their farmland and crops by force and without compensation.

Burnat is head of the Bil’in Popular Committee and a leader in the village’s non-violent popular resistance movement.  Since 2005 citizens of Bil’in have held weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the building of the Israeli separation wall through the community’s agricultural lands, and the steady encroachment of illegal settlements.   Read more »

The Time Is Now: Safe & Just Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Wednesday, Dec 26, 2012 | 1:13pm | One comment.

safe and just alternativesby Shar Lichty

PJALS’ Inland NW Death Penalty Abolition Group (INDPAG)has been working toward ending the death penalty for decades through raising awareness among the public. The statewide campaign Safe & Just Alternatives (SJA) could win legislation to end it soon!

The death penalty is an unjust, unfair, and irrational punishment that does not deter crime.  The death penalty costs tax-payers more than life imprisonment, with majority of these extra costs being incurred during the trial phase. The death penalty is arbitrary in small part due to geography, with smaller counties unable to incur the cost, and in large part due to race. Washington’s death row currently houses 8 individuals, 4 of which are African American males. Read more »

Smart Justice Gains Momentum

Wednesday, Dec 26, 2012 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

The movement towards a smarter criminal justice system in Spokane is gaining momentum and has some worthy accomplishments to report!  The Smart Justice Campaign coalition, convened by Greater Spokane Progress and endorsed by PJALS, the Center for Justice, and many other groups, co-sponsored the Smart Justice Symposium in November.  About 200 elected officials, judges, police officers, attorneys, probation officers, ex-offenders, and concerned citizens gathered as experts and stakeholders discussed proven alternatives to jail that reduce crime, save taxpayer dollars and produce better outcomes for people re-entering the community.  At the end of the day, anonymous polling revealed that a vast majority of the audience supported reallocating resources to support the programs discussed. Police Chief Straub helped closed the event by promising to work collaboratively with the public to heal, change and move forward towards a better Spokane.

For the coalition, part of making Spokane better is eliminating the grim fact that our criminal justice system disproportionately impacts people of color, people with disabilities, and people with low incomes.  To educate and promote a dialogue surrounding this issue, the Campaign hosted the opening night of “The House I Live In,” a powerful documentary that links these disparities with drug war policies.  After the film, Reverend Happy Watkins led an honest, but hopeful, discussion about institutional racism in Spokane and what we can do to address it.

The coalition has actively sought input from experts, criminal justice stakeholders, and the people most impacted by the system in order to create recommendations for change.  At the core of these policy recommendations is the request that the city and county make all future policy decisions regarding criminal justice through a Smart Justice Lens – This means focusing on the person, not the crime, matching individuals with appropriate alternatives to incarceration that reduce recidivism and reduce costs, and monitoring such programs to ensure effectiveness.  In addition, this lens includes paying particular attention to racial, economic, and other disparities within the system.  The coalition hopes to share its recommendations with the three-member Regional Criminal Justice Commission recently appointed by the city and county to examine possible reforms.

While we have successfully gotten “Smart Justice” into Spokane’s vocabulary, it is time to push for commitment, a reallocation of resources, and implementation.  To reach these next goals, we will need more participation and engagement from people like you.  To find out how to get involved and for more information on Smart Justice alternatives, contact PJALS or go to the Smart Justice website –

PJALS supports new strong Police Oversight ordinance

Thursday, Nov 1, 2012 | 4:16pm | Comment on this

Liz Moore, PJALS director, gave this statement at a PJALS and Center for Justice press conference this afternoon, where our organizations released a newly drafted ordinance strengthening independent oversight of the Spokane Police Department, with the support of the League of Women Voters.

The Peace and Justice Action League strongly supports this new strong Police Oversight ordinance because it does 3 completely critical things:

1. gives the Ombudsman investigative authority and mandates public reporting on investigations;

2. removes police unions from the process of selecting the Ombudsman responsible for oversight of the police department; and

3. creates a commission of community members to review and guide the Ombudsman’s work.

Read more »

November is for SOAW

Tuesday, Oct 30, 2012 | 10:22pm | Comment on this

Rusty NelsonRusty Nelson on Peace and War

Remember School of the Americas? School of Assassins? Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation? Some of us will never forget our experiences at Ft. Benning or the U.S.-sponsored atrocities that made us passionate about being there, but we might forget our country still maintains a facility to perpetuate terror against impoverished Latin Americans who dare to act, or even speak, against their own oppression.

SOA Watch

Perhaps you get emails from SOA Watch and know that thousands of opponents of our anachronistic U.S. policy on Latin America gather each November to observe the grim anniversary of the massacre at the University of Central America and try to shame our military into eliminating our own haven for state terrorism.You may know our tax dollars pay for this institution of human misery which has few enemies in Congress and a ‘wall of honor’ for many of our hemisphere’s worst abusers of human rights. Read more »

Why Marriage Matters: LGBT People of Color Discuss the Freedom to Marry for All Loving Couples

Tuesday, Oct 30, 2012 | 9:21pm | Comment on this
why marriage matters panelists

Standing, from left: Terrie Ashby-Scott (moderator), Ramon Alvarez, Farand Gunnels, Marvo Reguindin, Sandy Williams, Renika Williams. Seated, from left: Rev. Happy Watkins, Lucy Vazquez, OJ Coates

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 »

It’s time to Bowl for Water!

Tuesday, Oct 30, 2012 | 9:21pm | Comment on this

children drinkingLast year, through the fun of “Bowling for Water” and donations, we raised $4,000 to purchase a water system for a pre-school and kindergarten in the city of Khan Younis, in Gaza. This year we are at it again! We want to raise buy another water purification/ desalination system for children and their families in Gaza.

Roughly 90% of the water in the Gaza Strip is polluted and undrinkable, so these systems are greatly needed. The systems are built and installed by Palestinian companies with 80% of the materials being local. So not only are you helping to provide drinking water for a preschool or kindergarten, but you are also helping out their local economy. So far this project has installed 38 units at kindergartens and UN schools in Palestinian refugee camps, providing 30,000 children with clean, safe drinking water.

“Bowling for Water” will be on Saturday, December 1st at 4:00pm at the North Bowl, 125 W. Sinto. Read more »

Dreaming of Duvets

Tuesday, Oct 30, 2012 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

by David Smith-Ferri, traveling in Kabul with Voices for Creative Nonviolence

children in the Charahi Qamber refuge camp in KabulHaroon has recurring dreams. Haroon whose father was killed when he was a boy and who remembers a gnawing hunger during the long winter in every year of his childhood. At night, he dreams that someone drops him from a great height. He freefalls through the air, crashes to hard ground, and dies. During the day, he dreams of relief from the anger and confusion that pursue him, and of being a photographer, a traveler.

Faiz, who lost his parents when he was a boy, and whose brother was shot and killed in front of him, has nightmares, too. Each night at the Afghan Peace Volunteer (APV) House here in Kabul, as he sleeps against the wall a few feet away, his moans and cries wake me. By day, he dreams of being a journalist, of marrying and raising a family, of a world without borders and war.

In Afghanistan, with a child mortality rate of nearly twenty percent, many children never even have a chance to form dreams, yet alone to realize one. Life is especially hard on children whose families flee their homes, leaving behind not only their land and livelihoods, but their social networks. Across the country, four hundred people are displaced every day by violence and poverty, and many of them choose to come to Kabul, carrying their shattered dreams with them. Kabul, a city built to support 300,000 people, is now home to over five million.

Last winter, particularly fierce, dozens of very young children froze to death in squalid, “refugee” camps on the outskirts of the city. An estimated thirty-five thousand people live in these camps….

Read the full article at

Why Marriage Matters: LGBT People of Color Discuss the Freedom to Marry for All Loving Couples

Tuesday, Oct 16, 2012 | 5:17pm | Comment on this

wedding ringsAs 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 »

From the Director’s Chair: The Season of Balance

Thursday, Aug 30, 2012 | 4:16pm | One comment.

Liz Moore

By Liz Moore

As much as it pains me to acknowledge this particular reality, fall is pretty much here. This fall will see the first anniversary of the Occupy movement, on September 15. PJALS will march with Occupy Spokane at 12 noon on that day and I hope you’ll join our delegation.

The approach of fall means the Vernal Equinox is coming soon, of course. The equinoxes always make me think of that of that perhaps-Platonic ideal, balance. It seems like such a nice concept, doesn’t it? It evokes order and a sense of calm and serenity, like what I imagine it must feel like to successfully perform the yoga asana called Tree Pose, standing with one foot against the opposite inner thigh, arms gracefully raised above the head. I don’t actually know what it’s like to feel Tree Pose, because I wiggle and wobble like a wanna-be toddler trying simply to stand up. But I imagine it’s serene and calm, the embodiment of balance.

But I think I should be thinking of balance as a verb, not a noun. Read more »

Witnesses in Palestine

Thursday, Aug 30, 2012 | 3:15pm | One comment.

Myrta Ladich and Marianne Torres will be showing photographs taken during their recent trip and sharing more stories and reflections in the Community Building, September  6 at 7 P.M.

Myrta LadichBy Myrta Ladich

You hear a noise at your front door at five A.M.  Clad in your night clothes, you head for the door as an explosion rips it open and armed men burst in, ordering your family out of your house NOW.  Your children, sleepy and in their pajamas, are grabbed bodily and flung into the street, as your household goods are thrown into a truck and driven off, never to be seen again.  In a half hour you watch, powerless, as a Jewish family is moved into your house, a house you own.

This was the experience of Miriam al-Rawi in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.  For months Miriam and her children lived on the street across from their former home. Read more »

Maia Water Project joins Thirsting for Justice Summer Campaign

Thursday, Aug 30, 2012 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

thirstingforjustice.orgBy 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?

Thursday, Aug 30, 2012 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

Shar LichtyBy 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

Thursday, Aug 30, 2012 | 3:15pm | One comment.

Victoria ThorpeBy 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 »

Honoring Life: Abolishing the Death Penalty

Thursday, Jun 28, 2012 | 6:18pm | 4 comments

Paradise LostLearn more about the West Memphis Three and Jason’s case — join us on Monday July 9 at 6:30 at The Magic Lantern Lantern theater at 25 W. Main for the film “Paradise Lost,” the story of the West Memphis Three, from their 1993 murder convictions to 2011 release from prison. This showing is free of charge. All are welcome. 

Then, on Saturday, July 21, 4 pm, on the Saranac Rooftop, 25 W. Main:

Jason Baldwin, of the West Memphis Three, will be joining us to share his powerful story of being a wrongfully convicted young man. Join PJALS Inland Northwest Death Penalty Abolition Group (INDPAG) for an evening of music, food, and education as we put a little life into our abolition work.  Read more »

Clean Water for the Children of Gaza – A PJALS Success Story!

Thursday, Jun 28, 2012 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

by Sheila Fox

Maia water projectLast 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 »

PJALS participates in 21st Annual Pride Parade and Rainbow Festival

Thursday, Jun 28, 2012 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

By Shar Lichty

This year marked the 21st year of the Pride Parade in Spokane on June 9. As we have done since its formation, PJALS participated with a delegation in the parade and provided peacekeepers to ensure a safe and fun filled day for all.  Mother nature was not so kind this year with her cold, rainy presence but that didn’t dampen the spirit or turnout (there were rainbows galore!) for what “my favorite day in Spokane.”

I recently caught this video clip (below) being posted on facebook from the first Pride Parade and am so pleased to see how much it has grown. Read more »

2012 Rainbow Awards

Thursday, Jun 28, 2012 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

By Shar Lichty

Once again, the LGBTQ community came together to celebrate the contributions of some of its leaders and kick off Pride Week in Spokane with the Rainbow Awards. I attended the event once again to celebrate with my LGBT family and honor the award recipients. I was surprised and honored to learn of the several nominations PJALS had received. Read more »

APPROVE Referendum 74

Thursday, Jun 28, 2012 | 2:14pm | Comment on this

Approve Ref 74By 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 »