Handful of Salt
Volume XLVII, Number 4 – Winter 2023
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Committee Update
As this year comes to an end, PJALS staff are in a planning process for the upcoming year. This process will include what this committee’s role will be within our racial justice education and action. Please watch for updates in the coming year on how you can get involved in this critical work to advance equity and justice.
2023 Conference videos are now available!
Our 2023 Peace & Justice Action Conference videos are now available! If you registered for the 2023 conference, your registration includes complementary access to all 12 workshops that were recorded (all but the Arts & Culture track). You will be receiving an email soon with information on how to access all recordings. Please contact Union Carter at [email protected] if you have any questions.
If you have not yet registered for our 2023 conference, you can still register now and gain retroactive access to all workshop recordings!
Jail Expansion is Not the Answer
This fall, jail expansion was on the ballot and we sent Measure 1 down in flames with a landslide win of 63% of the county voting “No”. This was an astounding win for the Justice Not Jails PAC, of which the Peace and Justice Action League is an active participant. This win was a long time coming–from the formation of the coalition members in the spring, a successful ballot language legal challenge against Spokane County in August, and a strong campaign ending with the defeat of Measure 1. Our amazing volunteers, canvassers, and phone bankers were able to make a total of 48,500 contacts with voters. PJALS also supported the effort with the 17 Organizing Interns hired to fight Measure 1; they spent 6 weeks text banking and phone banking urging people to vote no. Talking with voters was essential to secure a no vote, the ballot language was misleading using words like “criminal justice, public safety, and behavioral health” while County electeds knew the intention of the proposed sales tax funds would be used to expand the jail system. It was a classic bait and switch–where progressive voters would be invested in ideals of “criminal justice, public safety, and behavioral health”, but due to the vague nature of those words, would be voting to expand a dangerous jail system. Thankfully, we were able to have moving conversations with our neighbors to reveal the true plans for our tax dollars and encourage them to vote no on Measure 1. Our county shut down this jail sales tax measure with an emphasis that jail is not the answer to the issues we are facing.
While celebrating our win, we must also be prepared to continue fighting the mass incarceration agenda that some of our elected officials truly believe in. The issues we face in Spokane–homelessness, substance abuse disorder, mental health, and many others–are not solved by jailing people, they are exacerbated. Dumping millions into the carceral system diverts funds away from creating affordable housing, supporting substance abuse treatment, job training, and services that could help our community flourish. On top of fiscal irresponsibility, there is an immoral and flawed line of reasoning used when attempting to lock people up for social issues our society has created. In Spokane and our nation, we have bred a dangerous carceral system. We jail people for living on the streets and being in parks after they are “closed”, but fail to stabilize rent prices and or consistently fund homeless services. We jail people at extreme rates, but fail to offer substantial services to help them navigate the “free” world such as job training or housing support. We arrest and jail Black and Indigenous people in Spokane at rates more than 8 times those of white people but lack a racial equity lens at both the carceral and government levels. When a cycle as vicious as the one in front of us exists, how can we stand back and wonder if expanding it is the answer? It simply is not. So when a jail is on the ballot again, and believe me it will be back, we vote no every time. Not only because it is a poor use of our money and our budget is a showcase of what we truly value, but because this is not a system that cares about the lives of our community members, let alone improving them. This carceral system is not working, and the fixation on jailing people as a solution distracts us from other proven solutions.
PJALS calls for a Ceasefire and a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel
PJALS is appalled by the dramatic escalation of violence in Palestine and Israel. We are writing with heavy hearts, grieving the many dead and wounded civilian Palestinians and Israelis during the current violence in Palestine/Israel. We seek to hold each other, ourselves, and all people grieving with tenderness and care.
We condemn and mourn the extensive loss of civilian life from actions by the Israeli military and by Hamas. The current escalation must be viewed in the context of decades of illegal Israeli military occupation and systemic violent campaigns in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. To end the violence, its root causes must be addressed. Military attacks only exacerbate human suffering!
This is not a conflict between equally-resourced sides, nor is it “a fight between children of light and children of darkness.” PJALS condemns the ongoing and persistent U.S. government’s support for Israel’s apartheid regime and its massive financial and military support for the continuing violence, oppression, and human rights violations inflicted on Palestinians. Instead of fueling the volatile political situation, we call on the US to work with other international organizations to de-escalate the violence, provide humanitarian support, and call for negotiations. We call on the US to give truly peace-building attention to this region on an ongoing basis and not only react to violence. See full statement from PJALS on ceasefire
We also encourage you to continue your own education on this topic. We recommend watching this webinar recording called “Understanding Christian Zionism” and join us for our workshop on Monday, December 18th entitled Ceasefire & Beyond: A Critical Analysis of What’s Happening in Palestine and Israel and It’s Impact.
A Need for Peace
written by John Alder, PJAC and FCNL Member
As part of FCNL (friends committee national legislation ) advocacy teams in 48 (only South Dakota and Oklahoma are currently not involved but still being recruited) states talking to their representatives and senators in their state and region to get one issue of national importance passed this year. This was to get up to $180 million to be spent on building peace not war in our budget and relations with our world’s neighbors. In plain speak, we would have a world void of the war machine eating up hundreds of billions of dollars, eating up our U.S, budget, money that should be used for the socials like housing shortage, mental health care , health care, food insecurity, stopping mass incarceration, creating a clean green economic environment, but also a world environment of all races , faiths , in all countries live together in peace with food security, without environmental crises, housing stability, medicine for all of the world.
The crisis in Ukraine and Palestine accelerates the need for a world wide policy of peaceful neighbors as well as peaceful existence. Also, sharing their resources to provide better equipment to use on irrigation, other farming needs to provide better food security, better medicine than a knapsack carrying pills and needles, actual medical clinics providing the latest medical techniques all over the world, affordable housing more steady than the flimsy shacks that fall over at the first wind storm, providing medical care, instead of armed forces from the U.S.A. coming over intimidating our worldly friends. In short, creating a world where everyone lives in peace and productivity.
A Successful Fall YALP Session
We had an amazing Fall 2023 session of the Young Activist Leaders Program (YALP)! With the support of Youth Organizers and other PJALS staff, we hired 17 Organizing Interns to contact voters to educate them on why they should vote NO on Measure 1. And with the help of these interns, we defeated Measure 1! In total, our Organizing Interns sent out 13,313 texts to voters and made 9,010 calls, resulting in 22,323 voters reached. With many of these interns being new to voter outreach, we were thrilled to see them grow their confidence and skills during the YALP session! For our Youth Organizers, this was their first time leading the Young Activists Leaders Program. This session of YALP focused mainly on activism work, and we plan for the Spring 2024 session to be education focused, as it was in the previous spring session. Everyone who participated in the Fall 2023 session is invited to participate in the Spring 2024 session, which will run from February 2nd to March 29th.
Member to Member Matching Challenge
In our Peace & Justice Action League community we know everyday people can accomplish extraordinary things together. We are powered by our mission: to build a just and nonviolent world. That means exposing and transforming systems of violence and oppression, including racism, patriarchy, and militarism. That means using an intersectional racial equity analysis and commitment. That means altering the relations of power so that people impacted by decisions are in the driver’s seat to make those decisions.
That means continuing to build beloved community and nourish a cross-race, cross-class movement both within our PJALS community and beyond. That means we can’t stop and we won’t stop!
Over the last year, PJALS members like you helped support the growth of our staff team to strengthen our communications and increase youth leadership, including 17 paid organizing interns; showed up to talk to voters and defeat Measure 1; participated in various actions and our annual Action Conference; and generously gave of your time and money.
Gifts from members like you mean we’ll go together into the new year with the fuel for long-term work! Will you donate today to help meet our member-to-member matching challenge? Thanks to generous and committed PJALS members, staff, and Steering Committee all gifts by December 31 will be matched up to $13,600!
Every donation made strengthens our efforts as we, together, address the injustices and violence felt by ourselves, those closest to us, and those in our community and around the world. Your generosity will have a great impact as it ripples out to those most affected by hatred, anger, pain, trauma, frustration, and war. Together, we work to build a just and nonviolent world for generations to come.
Save the Date!
2024 Eastern Washington Legislative Conference:
Renewing Hope for the Future
Hosted by the Fig Tree
Saturday, January 27
8:30am – 3:00pm
Spokane Valley United Methodist Church
115 N Raymond Rd.
Spokane Valley, WA
This event features an interfaith worship service, a young adult activists panel (featuring PJALS’ own Ellis Benson!), a plenary on environmental issues, a panel with father leader responses, and briefings on 2024 legislative issues. There will also be workshops on racial justice, voting rights, refugees & immigrants, Indigenous issues, health & environment and housing issues.