UltraViolet November/December 2005

Stop the Executions
Germany 1939
Hospital Workers Win Healthy Contract
Scenes from a Strike
GI Rape in the Philippines
Woman War Resister Speaks
The MOCHA Column
Amnesty For Katrina Prisoners
Cops Target Queers
Queeruption Crosses Line

Gay Designs Hit Below Bible Belt

Matt Forme, exec director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., and media mogul David Gayfen have teamed up to bid on the multibillion dollar contract for reimaging New Orleans. NGLTF, proprietor of the wildly popular Creating ChangeTM franchise, unveiled the design for "Nola Gay," at a press conference on Bourbon Street, while the Village People sang "La la la la Nola" in the background. Gayfen tried to get his friend and protegé Michael Jackson to craft the theme song, but the popular artist refused, saying that even he must draw the line at a proposal that specifies no more than 10% of the city's residents can be African American.

"Race is so passé," responded Forme, who is changing the spelling of his name to Formé in honor of the city's French roots.

The massive Marriage Pavilion is to be the cornerstone of the Gay Golden Ghetto. The edifice will be the first to adorn the traditional phallic symbol with a giant condom. Formé and Gayfen were quick to state, however, that this does not mean that information about safer sex will be given in the city's schools.

"Abstinence Only will continue to be the law of the land," said Forme. Reverend Jerry Falwell commended this decision, saying that therefore he will withdraw his threat to boycott the city for not having "Merry Christmas" on its city seal. "Hanging red and green lights on that giant dick from the day before Thanksgiving until January 3 will be good enough to keep Christian dollars flowing to your trough," said Falwell.

Instead of "Merry Christmas," the city's motto, "Create ChangeTM Don't Give It," will be emblazoned on the sidewalks, said Formé. Formé also announced that lesbians will not be welcome in new new orleans. "Dikes have obviously been disastrous for this city," he explained. "They don't work."

The governors of Vermont and Massachusetts and the mayor of San Francisco have filed a class action lawsuit to enjoin the new partnership from outsourcing the gay marriage industry which is critical to their local economies.

Stop the Executions

The death penalty is wrong in all cases, from the confessed serial killers to those claiming innocence. Murder is murder; the ending of a life; over; no taking it back; no more chances; no fixing mistakes if innocence is established; no way to make amends; no possibility of change; no rehabilitation; no redemption. Don’t we believe that people can change their lives? State murder in its finality ends all possibilities. State execution is banned all over the world because of this horror. The staid convention and propriety of court procedures, judges, lawyers, laws doesn’t change this one simple idea. The state killing of someone who murders is still murder!

From this ethical principle stems a copious list of reasons for ending the death penalty. It is racist. People of color predominate death rows. People who murder white people are more likely to be sentenced to death. Innocent people are executed. Rich people have lawyers who get them lesser sentences. Location makes a difference. People in Southern California get the death penalty more than in the liberal Bay Area. People with bad lawyers get the death penalty. Youth offenders and people with psychiatric disabilities are killed. It has never been showed to deter murdering. The list is endless, but if all things were made equal, the death penalty would still be wrong

Unless clemency is granted by Governor Schwarzenegger or a discovery motion to examine evidence of his innocence is taken up by the courts, Stan Tookie Williams will be executed on December 13th. Accused of killing four people in two robberies in 1979 Tookie Williams has maintained his innocence of these crimes. He takes responsibility for being the co-founder of the Crips gang in 1971 and the violence associated with gang life and has apologized for that. He has worked from death row on educating and encouraging young people to end gang violence. He has written children’s books and he responds to email from young people all over the world. He has written a peace protocol that helps gang members mediate differences to stop retaliation. He has become a role model for young people trying to change their lives. Below is a quote from Tookie’s web site

“I am a 20 year old man from Iowa. The other day I sat down after I watched your movie Redemption and thought about all the things that I've done in my life and counted how many years that I should be in prison. Every day between the age of 18 and 20 I risked getting 25 to life for the things I was doing. I counted the years I should be doing for the other things I did and in 6 months time I racked up well over 300 years doing the minimum time for each crime that I committed. Only through the grace of my higher power whom I choose to call God that didn't happen. As well as no longer living a life of crime or violence I am also a recovering addict. I will have 8 months clean on June 15 -- that is 8 months without the use of any mood changing chemicals. Before I watched the movie I was making plans to start living my old life again. I wanted all the money and girls and respect (or fear) of others -- but after I watched the movie and started to do some research on you, I found that we are not all that different. I realized that I was going down that same road in a hurry. You helped me see that. The only way I can think to close this letter is to try to express my gratitude for the way you touched my life. It is with the utmost respect and gratitude that I say thank you.”

In a somewhat unprecedented fashion the state has taken it upon itself to actively campaign against the clemency appeal. In a very nasty press release put out by san quentin they tried to say that Tookie is still actively leading the Crips. The state really wants to kill this man. So much so that they pushed his execution date to the head of the line, ahead of two other people to prevent an active clemency campaign from growing. This campaign for Tookie really pushes the clemency issue as he has such a strong case. The state knows this and doesn’t want to let any small chink in their death penalty armor. No governor has granted clemency since the death penalty was reinstated in California in 1978. Interestingly in September 2002 the ninth circuit of appeals after refusing to hear Tookie’s case again in an unprecedented court statement suggested that his prison writings might be grounds for granting clemency

Tookie Williams was convicted by an all white jury. The case against him was based on paid police informant testimony. The physical evidence (fingerprints, a bloody footprint, etc.) at the scene of the crimes did not match Tookie. The shotgun casing found at the scene was never positively identified as coming from Tookie Williams’ gun. A new forensic expert cited in the discovery motion has explained that because no pictures were taken of the original shotgun casing, it cannot be positively identified. This shot gun casing is the only physical evidence in the case allegedly tying the crime to Tookie.

LAGAI went to a big rally at san quentin featuring Snoop Dogg and others in the rap community. We carried our QUEERS AGAINST EXECUTIONS banner, as usual, holding up the out queer presence. This rally important because it was taking place well before the execution night, called for clemency and was about a thousand people strong. A number of high school age and younger children spoke eloquently of how they were impacted by Tookie’s message of peace. A group of Los Angeles women from Project Cry No More, a group which works to end both police and gang violence in LA, extended their support and forgiveness, because of Tookie’s apology for his part creating the Crips.

As people from different communities are executed a wider range of people become involved in the movement to abolish the death penalty. Today it was heartening to see kids from the hip hop world at a demo outside san quentin. When the state murdered Jay Siripongs, a Thai national, buddhist and wonderful artist in 1996, Thai people were outside of san quentin as well as the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. When the sate murdered Manny Babbit, an African American Vietnam veteran, Veterans for Peace were at the vigil. Darrell Young Elk Rich asked for sweat lodge as his last rite and was denied this request. The night of his execution there was a Native American drumming circle that was heard by the men on death row inside san quentin.

Stan Tookie Williams’ execution date is just the beginning of a grisly speedup in state sponsored murder. Clarence Ray Allen, a 75 year old Choctaw Indian convicted of ordering the murders three people while serving a life sentence for the murder of a young woman in 1974, has a date set for January 17, 2006. He is old, has diabetes, heart disease, is blind and in a wheel chair. As in all the death penalty cases he had lousy representation, the jury was given confusing instructions, and he is a Native American and all the victims were white.

Michael Morales, a 45 year old Latino, will be scheduled for execution in February or March. He was convicted of the rape and murder of 17-year- old Terri Winchell. His co-defendant who orchestrated the murder received life imprisonment.. He too had a bad lawyer. His case was based on a jailhouse informant whose testimony established special circumstances for the death penalty. It later came out that the informant had six felony counts dropped in exchange for his testimony. A new recently published statewide study found that those who murdered whites are four times more likely to get the death penalty than if Latinos are the victims and three times more like if the victims are African Americans. The study also concluded that people convicted in white rural counties such as Ventura (in Morales’s) case are three more times more likely to get the death penalty than if they are tried in an urban diverse county.

The work against the death penalty is fraught with many contradictions. We work hard to make the person slated for execution come alive in the media, to make people understand that life goes on, it happens, there is a story even on death row. Jay Siripongs painted extraordinary paintings. Stephen Anderson wrote lovely haunting poetry. Manny Babbit’s family turned him in after he killed his elderly woman victim, with the promise he would get the desperately needed psychiatric help and to prevent him from hurting others. Instead he was sentenced and executed for a murder he did while psychotic.

Tookie has a long (over ten years) volume of work with youth built on his own self realization while on death row. He is an extraordinary role model and much more use to society alive than dead. He demonstrates that people on death row can become creative, helpful, thoughtful people.

But what of the people on death row that little can be found to say about, the people who are not compelling. They are still people, and the state has no business killing them . Activists have to work just as hard on their behalf because the death penally is wrong in all cases. The death penalty hurts us all.


Stop the Executions!
What you can do to save Tookie,
Clarence, and Michael

Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story
Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th Street, SF
Sunday, December 4, 5 p.m.
Danny Glover, Barbara Becnel and Kevin Epps will host a short program before the movie to explain the status of Stan's case and let people know how to get involved in the movement to stop the execution.
Tickets are $5 students, youth, seniors. $10 general admission.

Continuous Vigil and Action
Religious Imperative to Stop State Murder
Starts Sunday, December 4, 2005
San Quentin Prison’s Main Gate
Contact: Paul Sawyer at revpaulsawyer@yahoo.com for more information.

DECEMBER 12, 2005 - AM
Walk Against the Death Penalty
A group will depart from San Francisco's Palace of the Legion of Honor at 7:00AM and walk to arrive at the gates of San Quentin Prison by 6:00pm.
Contact Death Penalty Focus (415)243-0143 for more info.

DECEMBER 12, 2005 - PM
Statewide Rallies and Vigils Against the Scheduled Execution of Stanley Williams
San Quentin State Prison, East Gate of San Quentin
Rally Starts at 8:00 p.m.

Circulate petitions to save Tookie, download at www.savetookie.org.
Call, E-mail, write and fax governor arnold schwarzenegger and demand clemency for Stan Tookie Williams, NOW.
(A clemency petition will be filed for Clarence Roy Allen in December, and for Michael Morales about 30 days prior to his scheduled execution.)
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814,
Phone: 916-445-2841, Fax: 916-445-4633,
e-mail: http://www.govmail.ca.gov

For more info on what you can do, go to www.savetookie.org or call 510-235-9780

Germany 1939

by Kate

I'm obsessed with prisons these days.

Especially with Guantanamo Bay, where more than 400 men have been held for almost four years in inhuman conditions – many of them outside, in rain or heat or cold, not able to wash regularly (and cleanliness is very important to Muslims), no privacy, no regular exercise, no charges, no arraignments, no trials, sometimes no lawyers.

Let me say that again – four years, no charges, no lawyers, no trials.

There have been at least 34 suicides which have been barely reported in our press, though they are widely covered in the Arab, British and even the Taiwanese press. The military has reported several hundred “SIBs” – “self-injurious behaviors”, averaging two a week. The other day, Jumah Dossari tried to hang himself in front of his lawyer. I heard the lawyer, Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, on Democracy Now! If I relied on CNN or ABC for my news, I could well have missed the story. Yes, it was there, but there wasn't the kind of up-to-the-minute breaking news coverage that there was when Terry Schiavo was sucking in her last artificial breaths, or when Scott Dyleski murdered Pamela Vitale in Lafayette.

But that's no surprise. The mainstream media works for the government or at least for the same agenda, we know that, and their interest is in burying stories of US atrocities. The surprise to me has been the lack of response from the left, even from the people I have worked with for years on other prison issues, against the death penalty, against control units.

When I mention Guantanamo to them, they say, yes, and people are also being tortured in Pelican Bay and in East Oakland. We are busy focusing on that.

Okay, I get that. But actually, I don't think that's right. I think we, the left, are in denial about the significance of what has happened over the last four years.

When the Guantanamo prisoners began hunger striking, I thought that would wake us up, make us realize this is an issue we need to target specifically right now. Just in solidarity. I mean, they are being force-fed with tubes up their noses, which are then put into the next person's nose without even cleaning the vomit and blood off of them.

And if that is not enough, now we know that our government is abducting people from their countries and taking them to Romania and Poland to be tortured.

Congress just said it's okay to torture people as long as they're not u.s. citizens and not on u.s. territory.
I'm not saying that what's happening in our own communities, what has been happening for years in our prisons, is okay, or is less important. The california supreme court recently found the state's prison "health care" system a form of cruel and unusual punishment, and ordered it reformed, and then a couple weeks ago that reform was put on hold because they can’t find a qualified person to implement it (perhaps they should consider the EVIL DAVE KEARS). And this is an issue that the California Coalition for Women Prisoners and other prison activist groups have fought hard on for years and years.

And then there are the stories about the prisoners in New Orleans. How the guards left the prison, the largest in the country, leaving the prisoners in locked cells to drown, how some of the prisoners were able to help others get out, how the guards surrounded the prison with rafts to round up the people who managed to make it out, and held them for days on a bridge where they were not allowed to stand up but had to pee on themselves, how then they were taken to a soccer field where they were held for like a week with no blankets and no mattresses and guards would come and throw peanut butter sandwiches over the fence for them to fight over. And on top of that, Human Rights Watch found that when they finally got to whatever prisons they were sent to all over the south, that some of them were badly beaten, just because.

I don't try to say that couldn't have happened eight years ago, because it probably could have and would have and maybe it even did. But I think that Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib made it more possible. Because we, the good people of this country, the ones who care, have heard about Guantanamo, and we have seen the pictures of Abu Ghraib, and we have been pretty silent. Not in our houses, not in our cars, certainly not in our hearts, but in the streets, we have been silent.

Guantanamo, and its counterparts in Iraq and Afghanistan and Poland and Romania and wherever, stand out to me for one reason: Auschwitz.

We have not had one major demonstration focused on the enormous erosion of civil rights that is represented by the newly legalized phenomena of indefinite detention, offshore prisons, "renditioning" and torture. I mentioned this recently to some friends, and I was shocked by their response. "Oh, I don't know, I think people have done some things, there's that group that does street theater, and the Center for Constitutional Rights is doing stuff about it." I don't dismiss those actions, some of which I have done myself, but if you heard that as of late 1942 the German left had done a few small theater actions about concentration camps, and some liberal lawyers filed a lawsuit, would you be impressed?

Why do they call Guantanamo a prison? The people held there – apparently for the rest of their lives, are not called prisoners. They are called "enemy combatants"? What is an enemy combatant? Isn't it a prisoner of war? Well, yes, except it's a prisoner of war who is not subject to any of the international covenants, to which this country is signatory, on the treatment of prisoners of war. The people we are imprisoning and torturing all over the world are not subject to these covenants because our government says they don't have to be. End of story. Well the Jews in europe were not called prisoners of war either. They were called “deportees” or “enemy aliens.”

A website dedicated to defining terms related to the nazi genocide explains, “Concentration camps were prisons used without regard to accepted norms of arrest and detention.”

Guantanamo is a concentration camp, and by all accounts, which are pretty sparse because not many people are allowed in there, and not many are trying to go as far as I can tell, it is becoming a death camp. Abu Ghraib, where torture and abuse did not stop when Lyndie England was sentenced, or when Janis Rapinsky was demoted, or when Newsweek retracted its story about the desecration of the Koran, is another concentration camp. Shebergan, in Afghanistan (CIA code name “The Salt Pit”), was another, where at least 43 men suffocated while being transported in closed metal containers, and at least five hundred were in danger of starving to death when the International Committee of the Red Cross “was forced to step in” (Washington Post editorial).

The truth is that we don't know how many more u.s. concentration camps there are around the world. And we don't know partly because we are not trying to find out. Because we are too busy with our lives, and with our other work, trying to stop the death penalty, trying to Free Palestine, trying to educate each other about sex trafficking and publicize the rape of a 22-year-old Filipina by six US marines (see articlesee article).

I grew up on the stories of the nazi holocaust, and how the good people of europe stood by and did nothing. And I always believed that I wouldn't do that. And I wondered how it could be that whole countries allowed people to be rounded up and starved to death and then annihilated.

Now I think I know. It's because it didn't start with millions, it started with a few thousand, and there weren't banner headlines that said, "Nine Million Will Be Killed." They were enemy aliens, they were traitors, they were troublemakers, they were cheats, they were fanatics; they were work camps, they were temporary detention centers, they were transit facilities, they were deportation centers; there was war, there were weddings, there were babies, there was work.

They didn't invade Poland one month and Czechoslovakia the next and France the month after that. They invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 and Syria in 2006 … and in the meantime they had coups in Haiti and Venezuela and the Philippines was reinvaded without anyone really hearing about it.
We the left in this country need to acknowledge the situation we are in. We are not Germany 1929. We are Germany 1939. It's not "Can It Happen Here?", it's not "If It Happens Here," and it's not "When It Happens Here."

A few weeks ago, I was skimming an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about the Democrats. It was titled something like, "Democrats bumble, Republicans fumble," and its point was that the Democrats are against a lot of things but they don't really stand for anything. Now if someone wants to argue that the Democrats are wishy-washy, I'm the last one to disagree. But the premise of this article was the Democrats are against tax breaks for the rich, against privatizing social security and against – um – letting poor people drown, and insofar as that's true, that's actually adds up to being for some pretty important things.

I don't care about the Democrats, because in fact, they never do stand for much. But the argument, that being opposed to enriching the rich and emiserating the poor or to wars of annihilation and weapons of mass destruction, is too negative, is the same one that is often made against the left, even by ourselves. We talk about needing to know what our vision is, that we only critique but don't offer an alternative, needing focused strategic campaigns that we can win. Somehow, when I read that article, I had a revelation:
If you read a news article in a German newspaper from 1938 and it was talking about a group of people who always seemed to be protesting the Nazi government, would you think, "Why are they so negative?" If in the same paper they had an article about another group that was organizing small collective businesses and a barter system for their neighborhoods, which would you think was doing the more important work?

I'm sure that there were Germans who organized summer camps and did cool art with underprivileged kids; some of them doubtless scandalized everyone by inviting a few Jewish kids. I remember reading about Polish Catholic women who took blankets to Auschwitz and threw them over the fence. But the people I grew up learning to honor are the ones who blew up train tracks and sabotaged weapons factories.

We are not in a period like the Paris Commune. We cannot let a hundred flowers bloom. When you live in a country that has concentration camps all over the world, where people are being tortured and imprisoned indefinitely because of their nationality and religion, a country whose government is bent on the destruction of every Muslim country, your job is to mount as much resistance to it on a daily basis as you can.

It's not true that we don't have a vision. We know very well what we're for. We are for good jobs and good health care and good housing and respect for every kind of communal or family structure people choose to have. We are for freedom from hunger and freedom to thrive and freedom from arbitrary rule. We're for just and peaceful resolution to conflicts over land, we're for sharing the earth's resources as fairly as possible, and for developing a lifestyle that tries not to destroy so many of them.But let's be clear. That vision cannot simply coexist with the status quo. It's not an alternative vision, it's a counter vision. Sometimes, maybe most of the time, you need to tear down the old house before you build the new one.

I always thought, and I know that most of my friends did too, that If It Happened Here, I would resist to the max. But it is happening, and I'm not doing that, because one, I don't know what to do, and two, I don't want to sound like a nutcase, and three (and if I'm honest I admit that this is the biggest reason), if they don't succeed in wiping us all out, and they probably won't because that's not what they're trying to do, I have to have a life, I have to have a place to live and food to eat and clothes to wear, and money to live on when I can't work any more.

But when history is written, people are going to say, "How could they have known and done nothing?" And I guess maybe someone will read this article and say, "That's how."

Or maybe they will say, "They did do something. They blocked the bridges, they stopped the trains, they interrupted the ballet, they took over the airwaves, they sabotaged military equipment, they protested at the homes of the torturers; they didn't stop it right away, but they kept at it and eventually they made things change."

Hospital Workers Win Healthy Contract

by Tom

CA_Campus_small.jpgHealth Care Workers returned to their jobs victoriously after a 60 day strike against California Pacific Medical Center. In a nearly unanimous vote, 800 striking workers at California Pacific Medical Center on Friday voted to accept a new contract and end a nearly two-month-long strike. Ninety-seven percent of workers voted to accept the agreement.

The workers at the Sutter Health-affiliated hospital, who walked off the job on Sept. 13, mostly serve as licensed vocational nurses, technicians and food service workers, psyc techs and supply personnel and certified nursing assistants. And just to remind people who some how missed the last issue of UV (how could you!?!), I am a nursing assistant and was one of the strikers.

While workers received a raise that was better than management originally offered, the strike was not about wages. We went on strike for a say in staffing, a better education fund and a streamlined election process for organizing other departments.

One of the worst elements of amerikan work place culture is the isolation. Whether you are in an actual cubicle or an emotional one made from stressful working conditions, the constant and often unrealistic demands of the job (any job) create feelings of failure in the worker. If they just worked harder or smarter the work would get done. If they spent their paycheck more wisely, it would go far enough.

One of the best things about striking is the connection and unity you feel with your fellow strikers. Instead of being pitted against one another by the boss, you are working with each other for a common goal. The picketing days are long and you begin to talk. Workers realize it isn’t just them who can’t get all that work done in 8 hours. And everyone realizes the high cost of low wages isn’t their fault. Going on strike is a great way to detonate your inner cubicle.

Originally, several Bay Area Sutter hospitals were going to strike but the union (SEIU-UHW) decided it was a better strategy to have just our 3 campus hospital walk out in San Francisco. Some Workers were mad about this and others agreed that the union would have been spread to thin.

Just as it is interesting to see which coworkers are the loudest on the picket line and which ones will do civil disobedience, it is great to see your fellow strikers talk strategy. Some people felt it was more important to “hold the line” and others wanted to go to rallies and “get media”. Many of the environmental workers and nursing assistants went to Democratic Party events.

Gavin Newsom was surprisingly bold. Calling hospital management several times and telling them he wanted them to settle. My coworker Brenda, a nurse’s aide, met him at three events: a wine tasting fundraiser, a Democratic Committee dinner, and a political breakfast. She is now spreading the word that she had Gavin for drinks, supper and of course breakfast (Girl, you need to set your sights higher!) I think he realized that he got elected with no base. Between his gay marriage work and his support for strikers (both hospital and hotel), he has solidified his base. Whether this will soften his corporate edge or make him more dangerous remains to be seen.

In the age of republicans, how to relate to the democrats is a thorny issue. The Board of Supes kept up pressure on CPMC and Nancy Pelosi helped broker the settlement. Without the Democrats it will be hard to keep any semblance of abortion rights intact and yet the Clinton years were a disaster. So called welfare reform, NAFTA, and not so free Free Trade were murder on working people. Do we reclaim the Democrats? Shun them?

I think the worker’s victory can be divided into three parts. The workers’ resolve to stay out for nearly 60 days. Most workers did NOT cross the line. The union had to hire scabs and expensive security. Also recent changes in union strategy help. SEIU 250 (Nor Cal) merged with SEIU 399 (So Cal) which meant we had vast resources to fund the strike. Every striker got $400.00 a week strike pay as long as the showed up and held a picket sign. And lastly the political pressure of the Democratic politicians. It is no coincidence that the strike ended less than a week after the Democratic Party defeated the Gubernator’s iniative’s in California’s (not so) special election. At CPMC we had a skeleton crew striking on election day. Everyone else did precinct walking to defeat Arnold. And We Did!!!

We are back at work. It is strange going back after 60 days. People were glad to see us back. I have heard that the kitchen and environmental are having stress because those workers who crossed the line and those who supported the strike are now working in close proximity. And the kitchen has all of those knives! The staffing situation hasn’t improved but we have language in the contract to fight for safer staffing. As an Evening shift Nurse’s Aide, I can have up to 18 patients. At Catholic Heathcare West, They only have 8 patients on evening shift. If you needed help going to the bathroom, would you rather be patient number 8 or patient number 18?

The union has signed up many new shop stewards and as usual the battle goes on. I really do feel that the union has made us strong.

Scenes from a Strike

September 13, 2005, Strike, Day 1

As you probably know, I am on strike. My hospital (california pacific medical center) is part of the evil Sutter empire.

The day before the strike they had all of the enviromental workers go to a meeting and told that they were part of a big family. and the Aides got a flyer saying that we were "ordered" to go on strike and that we could resist and show up for work. The RN's (not in the union) got a flyer that they could park in a secret Japan Town garage and take the secret shuttle to the hospital. In other words the Rns would be human shields for management riding the same buses. The Rn Flyer ended with a call for RNs to be "vigilant" and to be on the look out for retaliation by pro union workers. Vigilant is a war on terror term and it is just past the anniversary of Sept 11th.

Originally several Bay Area Sutter hospitals were going to strike but the union (SEIU - UHW) decided it was a better strategy to have just our 3 campus hospital walk out in San Francisco. Some workers are mad about this and others are going along with the program.

Some workers think it will be 2 weeks minimum and others think CPMC does not have the staff coverage.

Some delivery people crossed the line. However, PEPSI, Thomas' English Muffins and the Examiner did not. However I will not eat those "English Muffin Pizzas" my Mother used to make regardless of solidarity.

The scabs are protected by a group of ...( I don't want to give goons and thugs a bad name)...security personnel. Their company is called, PAIN inc., I shit you not.

Our shop steward could not strike with us. Ramiro is very sick and in the very hospital we are picketing. As a result, his friends in the union cannot visit him. Ramiro is a gay guy who will probably need a hear, lung & liver transplant. He is totally OUT about his illness so I do not feel I am violating his confidentiality. Sal Roseslli head of SEIU - UHW visited Ramiro the night before the strike. I thought that was cool.

I worked the night before the strike and noticed that there were less supplies than usual. By law we gave them a 10 day notice and waited 11 days. Had this been a natural disaster it would have been ugly. It makes me think of Katrina and New Orleans and other hard hit areas.

Day 2

After feeling dehydrated but not totally demoralized, I returned for a second day of picketing.

I had ignored an email asking me if my picture was on the Chronicle website. I figured there were ten thousand people in the picture. It turned out to be of 2 people. A female coworker--who works a different shift so her name escapes me--and me in the back ground with my hand on my hip. Okay, if I can't look macho and militant then I can just look good.

There is a division between paid union staff & workers. Just as there is a division between non profit workers and "clients". The workers intellectually get that the union won't screw us out of strike pay but on an emotional level we feel compelled to sign in and out on time. Some times the is a longer line at the book than on the picket line. However this just lasts for 20 minutes. The Union Staff has been good and they intellectually get our attachment to the book but some of them do not emotionally get it. And unless it is one's own money, it is hard to understand the stress.

It was confirmed that no one in my department was a SCAB. Hurray!!!


My coworker Brenda has been a breath of fresh air. She had 5 years of experience in the Psyc ward but was forced out The RN ratio was changed. While fewer patients per RN is a good public health move, many AIDES were forced out of there jobs when the ratio law was enacted. Sutter sends money to Sacramento to try and get the ratio law repealed. Fewer nurses means more short term profits. Although every university and government study in the u.s. and Europe show a good RN to patient ratio reduces injuries and death.

She came wearing a giant piece of purple fabric. Think a 30 foot purple scarf. Brenda goes to Burning Man every year and makes her own costumes --except when she can convince her Mormon Mom to do it. Once she was warm enough, she used her scarf as a giant wind sock. She recruited people to hold the other end and made the Purple (exact same shade as the SEIU shirts) scarf dance. Brenda and someone made it dance in front of the SCAB entrance and the guards called the cops on her. If a scarf is illegal, is it an accessory to a crime?

It was Brenda's day. She also called someone who was just hired and wrongly thought he was too new for strike pay. He had crossed the line. Brenda grabbed her cell phone and commandeered a VP from the union and convinced him to strike tomorrow. We'll see.

The purple thing is kind of cool. It reminded me of the orange revolution in the Ukraine.


Day 3

SEIU has brought in "organizers" from around the country. Many professional organizers did not work in the professions they "organized". This time I have noticed a difference.

Nate, my hospital's union business rep, is a former hospital transport worker. He worked in the Minnesota area and then went to work for his union as an organizer. Mike, who still lives in Minnesota, works for SEIU and is here for the strike. He entered labor politics by trying--not so successfully to organize a retail store where he was employed.

In my past strikes (particularly the nursing home strike), the paid organizers were 22 year old college grads who hadn't had their share of crappy jobs. However, they were big on theory. They were graduates of the OI (organizing institute). As a former AIDS activist, OI always meant "Opportunistic Infection". The irony was not lost on me.

However I feel much better about the newer OI grads. I am not sure if the program is different or the recruiting profile changed. Even the one who is a recent Harvard grad is pretty cool. While she might have been cool on her own, I think being surrounded by worker turned organizers creates a different culture than just being surrounded by professional organizers.


One cool thing is that we have portable propane heaters. You know those ones on patios at fancy restarants. I have zero problem with my dues going to those babies. At 9:30 tonight they kept me warm.

At the Davies Campus they stormed the Hospital. Four people were arrested. What I heard third hand was that the 4 were union staff who blocked the "security" (read: goons) from catching the strikers. It had everyone jazzed.

Most of the supporters from the neighborhood were walking dogs. Do cool people get dogs, do dogs make people cool or is there another explanation?

Day 5

I arrived on Saturday the 17th at about 9:00AM. The wealthy residents of Pacific Heights had already thrown eggs at the striking workers.

To paraphrase Marie Antoinette: Let them eat Crepes!


There is always someone who is the first to get arrested. Lily in the environmental Services Department. She always gets arrested at strikes and is taken to the closest precinct---where her son is a cop! In the past her coworkers would call him and say, "Guess who we've got?" And of course he would respond, "Not Again!"

There is the noise maker. One of them is Gloria. She is also from EVS. She has an unusual capacity to make noise. She sits on a box and bangs on one of those huge water cooler bottles with a stick while simultaneously blowing her whistle--for HOURS!!! She brings her whistle to the Porto Potty. I have heard of "whistling while you work" but that seems beyond the call of duty....

Today was payday. We were all paid a $400.00 strike check which the union claims is tax free. I guess we will be paid weekly. They were efficient at getting everyone their checks.

I was worried about one older striker who came to the picket line every day, but could not handle the 6.5 hours in very cold weather. She still got paid--which she did not expect. It was a good move on the union. They beat a letter by management saying that workers who received regular paychecks from work done before the strike would have to pick them up at the security office in the bank of America bldg. And they can only enter one person at a time. I have direct deposit but might still go on a trip to the bank if we do it as a group. It would be good to rattle the cages of The Bank Of Apartheid....

We have a charcoal grill which is some how legal. If you saw the smoke you would understand my doubts.

We had hot food today. That hit the spot with the icy breeze and occasional rain drops.

September 21 (Day 9)

In between rounds of chants and bullhorns people come up with little games to avoid getting bored. One is wrong way lottery. The portion of Clay Street leading to the east side of the hospital is one way. At least 5 or 6 cars an hour drive up the wrong way including the CPMC hospital shuttle. We spent a good deal of time trying to come up with a prize worthy of guessing the exact amount of cars that go the wrong way....

Day 12

While it appears the rumor that CPMC might employee Katrina victims (read: Bush & FEMA apathy victims) as SCABs might not be true, the union is still assembling an SEIU volunteer crew to give relief to over burdened health workers in Louisiana and Texas. One of the Psyc Techs is considering going to Texas to aide the refugees. If she goes she will get strike pay....

GI Rape in the Philippines

On November 1, 2005, six US servicemen raped a 22-year-old young woman in Subic, Zambales – the site of the former military base. She was leaving a karaoke bar when the 6 took her to a van and repeatedly attacked her. An eyewitness saw her a few hours later being dumped on a road, unconscious and wearing only her panties.

Following the rape, the suspects – Keith Silkwood, Daniel Smith, Albert Lara, Dominic Duplantis, Corey Barris and Chad Carpenter – were taken into US (not Philippine) custody. The six were in the Philippines as part of joint US-Philippine military exercises that have been held regularly over the last five years.

The six remain in US custody: the US claims it is their right under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). However the VFA grants the US jurisdiction over army personnel only if they commit a crime while on official duty. Clearly, visiting a karaoke bar is not official. Also the VFA Art II states: It is the duty of the US personnel to respect the laws of the Republic of the Philippines…The US government shall take all measures within its authority to ensure that this is done.

Moreover, under the Philippine Constitution anyone who commits a capital offense cannot be released on recognizance and must remain in Philippine custody. Under Philippine law, rape is a capital offense.

The rape has engendered mass demonstrations throughout the country demanding full Philippine jurisdiction and the repeal of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). Activists have called the rape an act of “sexual terrorism.”

“When a Filipina is defiled of her honor in her own country by a foreign military visitor, there should be no doubt nor delay in assessing that this is an issue of particular importance and national interest, “ said Cristina Palabay, the Secretary General of the GABRIELA Women’s Party. “This is clearly a heinous act and they should be surfaced, arrested and kept in the custody of Philippine authorities, given no special treatment, and prosecuted in the courts. We must at all times assert our sovereignty in attaining full justice for a Filipino woman who has been defiled.”

The VFA , approved in 1999 between the US and the Philippines, established a system of 20 “visiting” bases throughout the archipelago. It granted both extraterritorial and extra judicial rights to US military personnel while “visiting” for military exercises. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) was one of the supporters of the VFA, which she later extended to include the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA), which allows US troops to bring military equipment and supplies into the country from any point. In effect, this agreement abrogates the constitution, which does not allow the establishment of permanent military bases. For all practical purposes these two agreements have turned the Philippines into one mega military base.

While calling for the termination of the VFA, the Ecumenical Women’s forum said the rape is another “display of gross disrespect, contempt and machismo” by US forces. “The rape of one woman is not a rape of only one woman, but a completely dishonorable offense against the whole nation! “

All of this comes at a time of increased human rights violations. Over the last month seven activists ranging from the president of the Nestle Workers Union to four Bayan Muna Party list leaders have been murdered. (a total of 67 Bayan Muna –People First - party workers have been killed.) This brings to 125 the number of activists who have been assassinated in just the last ten months. (This does not include the killing of14 journalists .) The government is particularly focusing on the mass party lists - grassroots electoral parties - which brought seven progressive candidates into the congress last year (including former GABRIELA leader, Liza Maza .) The joint GMA-Bush alliance is determined to silence dissent and is targeting activists in the provinces. It is no exaggeration to say they are creating a reign of terror.

Here in the US, women’s and Philippine support organizations are joining those in the Philippines calling for the servicemen to be taken into US custody and demanding the “junking” of the VFA agreement. Demonstrations are continuing at federal buildings and Philippine consulates nationwide.

As Dorotea Mendoza the Secretarty General of the US based GABRIELA Network put it: “The history of US servicemen raping Philippine women is a long one. Over 3000 rape cases against Americans in Subic Bay have been dismissed. The rapes will continue if US troops remain on Philippine soil. Many more women will be attacked if these six are allowed to get away with it. The six must be placed in Philippine custody. They must be judged according to Philippine law and if found guilty must serve their sentence in Philippine jails. They must be an example to all other military personnel that any form of sexual harassment or rape will not be tolerated”.

For more information contact GABRIELA Network: www.gabnet.org. A good source of information for the Philippines is: www.bulatlat.org.

Woman War Resister Speaks Out

On November 17, 2005 SPC Katherine Jashinski became the first woman in the military to publicly declare resistance to participation in the current war against Iraq.

Supported by activists from Courage to Resist and Code Pink, she made the following statement:

My name is Katherine Jashinski. I am a SPC in the Texas Army National Guard. I was born in Milwaukee, WI and I am 22 years old. When I graduated high school I moved to Austin, TX to attend college. At age 19 I enlisted in the Guard as a cook because I wanted to experience military life. When I enlisted I believed that killing was immoral, but also that war was an inevitable part of life and therefore, an exception to the rule.

After enlisting I began the slow transformation into adulthood. Like many teenagers who leave their home for the first time, I went through a period of growth and soul searching. I encountered many new people and ideas that broadly expanded my narrow experiences. After reading essays by Bertrand Russel and traveling to the South Pacific and talking to people from all over the world, my beliefs about humanity and its relation to war changed. I began to see a bigger picture of the world and I started to reevaluate everything that I had been taught about war as a child. I developed the belief that taking human life was wrong and war was no exception. I was then able to clarify who I am and what it is that I stand for.

The thing that I revere most in this world is life, and I will never take another person's life.

Just as others have faith in God, I have faith in humanity

I have a deeply held belief that people must solve all conflicts through peaceful diplomacy and without the use of violence. Violence only begets more violence.

Because I believe so strongly in non-violence, I cannot perform any role in the military. Any person doing any job in the Army, contributes in some way to the planning, preparation or implementation of war.

For eighteen months, while my CO status was pending, I have honored my commitment to the Army and done everything that they asked of me. However, I was ordered to Ft. Benning last Sunday to complete weapons training in preparation to deploy for war.

Now I have come to the point where I am forced to choose between my legal obligation to the Army and my deepest moral values. I want to make it clear that I will not compromise my beliefs for any reason. I have a moral obligation not only to myself but to the world as a whole, and this is more important than any contract.

I have come to my beliefs through personal, intense, reflection and study. They are everything that I am and all that I stand for. After much thought and contemplation about the effect my decision will have on my future, my family, the possibility of prison, and the inevitable scorn and ridicule that I will face, I am completely resolute.

I will exercise my every legal right not to pick up a weapon, and to participate in the war effort. I am determined to be discharged as a CO, and while undergoing the appeals process; I will continue to follow orders that do not conflict with my conscience until my status has been resolved. I am prepared to accept the consequences of adhering to my beliefs.

What characterizes a conscientious objector is their willingness to face adversity and uphold their values at any cost. We do this not because it is easy or popular, but because we are unable to do otherwise.

Thursday, December 1, 2005, 7:30pm
La Pena Cultural Center
3105 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley
music by the La Pena Community Chorus
Photo Report (slides) from the EZLN's Other Campaign with
Subcomandante Marcos in his 1st public appearance in 4 years.
T-Shirts, Chiapas Crafts, Posters, and more on sale for Holiday gifts
Requested Donation $7 - $15 (Sliding Scale)
A Benefit for Zapatista Autonomous Health Care
Sponsored by: Chiapas Support Committee
For more information: (510) 654-9587, www.chiapas-support.org
Wheelchair Accessible
Near Ashby BART

National Days of Absence
December 1-3
50th Anniversary of Rosa Parks’ Arrest
Against Poverty, Racism and War
No School – No Work – No Shopping
Oakland Speakout
Saturday, December 3, noon
14th and Broadway, Oakland
sponsored by the troops out now coalition; for info contact actioncenter-sf@action-mail.org

The MOCHA Column


Capote (reviewed by Chaya)
Yes, it is a tour-de-force by Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote during the early 1960s when Capote researched and wrote In Cold Blood. But it’s so much more. The writing was excellent [for all you Judging Amy fans, who knew that whenever Amy’s brother Vincent (actor Dan Futterman) was writing his novel on t.v., he was really working on the screenplay for this film?]. The film was very well acted, including Catherine Keener as Harper Lee, Chris Cooper as the agent investigating the murders, and Clifton Collins as Perry Smith, one of the men who murdered the Clutter family in Kansas. At the heart of the movie are the complex portrayals of Capote and Smith as individuals, and the intricacy of their relationship. The film, directed by Bennett Miller, doesn’t try to reduce it all down to a Hollywood sound byte we can easily understand. See it.

Good Night and Good Luck (reviewed by Deni)
One of the earliest villains I learned about growing up as child in the 50’s was Joe McCarthy, of anti-communist “witch hunt” fame. So the idea of a movie opposing and exposing him that featured David Strathairn (a favorite actor of mine) as Edward R. Murrow promised to be quite a treat. I really wanted to like this movie (made by George Clooney) but, alas, it left me feeling unsatisfied and disappointed. An excellent review online (filmthreat.com) cited many omissions and inaccuracies: the role of HUAC (the House on Un-American Activities Committee) was underplayed; the role of “liberal” support for McCarthy (i.e. Robert F. Kennedy) was ignored as was the role of Murrow’s network CBS in blacklisting many creative artists of the time. Why wasn’t there any mention of the support given to McCarthy by Henry Luce’s magazines Time, Life and Fortune? Could it be because Warner Pictures, the film’s distributor, is owned by Time Warner? And then there was the smarmy cheap shot at Liberace while no mention was made of Roy Cohn, Senator McCarthy’s gay aide. In this day of even more concentrated corporate media control and the tremendous erosion of civil liberties, something more hard-hitting was needed. Tory thought it was still worth seeing because it's better to learn a little than nothing at all.


Be the First ‘Trusted Traveler’ on Your Block: Register now with Homeland Security. Once you successfully pass the background check (ok, that might be a problem for some) and get your biometric ID card (ok, that might be slightly scary) you will be able to whiz through airport security. You might not have to take off your shoes! That’s worth the $30 to $50 fee, no? And you will help the folks at airport security focus on those no-goodniks who haven’t registered to be a Trusted Traveler (nyah nyah to them!). The program may have run out of funding at five major airports but with a little support from UltraViolet readers it could rise again.

Lorrie Heasley, Don’t Bother Applying: Speaking of troublemakers, did you hear about Lorrie Heasley? She was kicked off a Southwest flight for wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Bush, Cheney and Condi that said “Meet the Fuckers.” When some passengers complained, she was ordered to wear the t-shirt inside out or leave. According to Southwest, they are entitled to deny boarding for clothing that is “lewd, obscene, or patently offensive.” We don’t love United but they said they would not remove a passenger over language on a shirt. Lorrie is planning on suing Southwest but according to the NY Times article, “constitutional law experts say that as private companies, airlines are well within their rights.”

Penguin Redux (or is that Re-ducks?): Reports from NYC in September told of the breakup of the 6-year relationship of Silo and Roy, the gay penguins at the Central Park Zoo. (You may remember our in-depth interview with them in the last Mocha Column.) PlanetOut named a female penguin, “Scrappy,” as the homewrecker who has taken up with Silo, but who knows? Maybe Silo was hanging around with agent provocateurs from PETA and Roy didn’t like it. And of course now there’s a big problem for the authors and illustrator of the children’s book And Tango Makes Three - the story of the penguin chick raised by Silo and Roy. Will they have to write a sequel: Turmoil for Tango? We have more questions… Were Silo and Roy legally married? Will this be the first gay divorce in the Central Park Zoo? What position will PETA take on this? What position will LAGAI take on this? What position will Roy take with his next penguin boyamour? (You won’t hear this on Democracy Now!).

Rumors of a Mocha Column Corporate Takeover are totally unfounded. But we were excited to learn about a small San Francisco dot com upstart that makes secure web pages for small companies because its name is E. Mochila. A merger/takeover would become The Mocha-Mochila Column and think of how great the website could be. So far E. Mochila has shown no interest in affiliating but hey, you never know. They haven’t read this column yet…

Hey, UltraViolet readers: Love us? Hate us? Want to send us your comments? We’d love to hear from you, so email us at themochacolumn@yahoo.com. We are on the verge of getting a form letter from Yahoo that they send to all losers who never get email.


Critical Resistance is a national grassroots organization that works to end the reliance on prisons and policing as responses to what are social, economic and political problems. We have three U.S. offices – one of which was in the Mid City neighborhood of New Orleans – and 11 chapters, one of which is in New Orleans. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we know that prisoners and prisoners’ family members have been among the most adversely affected.

Prisoners were left to drown in jail cells.

Thousands of people in New Orleans area jails were separated from their families, not knowing whether their loved ones are alive or dead.

Prisoners were refused the right to call their loved ones or held at gunpoint on freeway overpasses.

Thousands of prisoners were moved to at least 35 different prisons across, many are facing the prospect of not being released as scheduled, and an unknown number have had their cases thrown into chaos by lost evidence and records.

Nearly 230 people have been booked in a makeshift jail set up in a New Orleans Greyhound Station, the vast majority for the ‘crime’ of feeding and clothing themselves during the hurricane. The jail has been called “a real start to rebuilding this city.”

And, the city is under immense lockdown.

The criminalization of people taking care of themselves and their communities during and after Hurricane Katrina mirrors the larger criminal legal system. The re-building of New Orleans must challenge that system to address genuine public safety and community needs.

We believe a first step demands amnesty for those arrested in the aftermath of Katrina for the ‘crime’ of trying to take care of themselves and their families and for those whose cases have been impacted by Katrina.

Join the call for amnesty:

We the undersigned demand unconditional amnesty for people impacted by Hurricane Katrina who were, or might be, arrested or charged for trying to take care of themselves and their families and friends, and that those already in the system, whose cases are potentially affected by Katrina, be released immediately. We further demand that all records of their criminalization be permanently erased from the records of all municipal, state, federal, credit, and employment agencies.

We make these demands with the long-term goals of rebuilding New Orleans in a way that fosters genuine public safety and addresses real community needs.

By "Amnesty" we mean that no one should be arrested, charged, tried, sentenced, fined, imprisoned, jailed, detained, involuntarily relocated, or deported.

TO SIGN ON TO THIS STATEMENT ONLINE, go to www.criticalresistance.org. FOR MORE INFORMATION, please contact Critical Resistance at 510-444-0484 or crnational@criticalresistance.org

Amnesty International: Cops Mistreat Queers

In September Amnesty International released a report stating that police mistreatment and abuse of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is widespread in the u.s., and that youth and people of color are most likely to suffer. The following is taken from their September 22 press release.

“The police are not here to serve; they are here to get served - every night I’m taken into an alley and given the choice between having sex or going to jail.”
-- Amnesty International interview with a Native American transgender woman, Los Angeles

(New York) – In the most comprehensive report of its kind to date, Amnesty International (AI) reveals that police mistreatment and abuse of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are widespread nationwide and go largely unchecked due to underreporting and unclear, under-enforced or non-existent policies and procedures.

In its 150-plus page report, Stonewalled: police abuse and misconduct against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the United States, AI focuses on four cities – Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Antonio – surveys the 50 largest police departments in the country, as well as Washington, D.C., about LGBT policies and practices, and includes information from several hundred interviews and testimonies. AI’s findings strongly indicate that there is a heightened pattern of misconduct and abuse of transgender individuals and all LGBT people of color, young people, immigrants, the homeless and sex workers by police. At times, the mere perception that someone is gay or lesbian provokes physical or verbal attacks.

The mistreatment and abuse documented in the report includes targeted and discriminatory enforcement of statutes against LGBT people, including so-called “quality of life” and morals regulations; profiling, particularly of transgender women as sex workers; verbal abuse; inappropriate pat-down and strip searches; failure to protect LGBT people in holding cells; inappropriate response or failure to respond to hate crimes or domestic abuse calls; sexual harassment and abuse, including rape; and physical abuse that at times amounts to torture and ill-treatment.

While it is impossible to obtain accurate statistics, the AI study showed that transgender people, particularly women and the young, suffer disproportionately. A large percentage of transgender people reportedly are unemployed or underemployed, leaving the population more vulnerable to homelessness or situations that leave them exposed to police scrutiny and abuse. Meanwhile, 72 percent of police departments responding to AI’s survey said they had no specific policy regarding interaction with transgender people.

However, the AI report demonstrates that despite initiatives such as these, police departments nationwide need to do more to protect LGBT people – something that was reflected in responses to the AI survey of police policies and practices with regard to LGBT people. Of the 29 departments that responded to the survey, only 31 percent instruct their officers on how to strip search a transgender individual; two thirds (66%) of police departments reported providing training on hate crimes against LGBT individuals; and while most departments provide training regarding sexual assault (86%), about half (52%) do not include LGBT-specific issues.

Under international law, everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, is guaranteed the fullest enjoyment of his or her civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The United States is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the principal international treaty that lays out fundamental rights such as freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention and torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as the Convention Against Torture and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The full report is available at AI’s website: http://www.amnesty.org

Queeruption Crosses Line

Let me be the first to admit that I may have had a head start when it comes to boycotts. I don’t think I saw a shopping bag in my first 7 years of life that didn’t say “Don’t Buy Judy Bond Blouses.” I finally saw a Judy Bond blouse for sale when I was about 35. I didn’t buy it.

So maybe I shouldn’t be so critical when I hear that “radical queers” who “oppose the occupation” want us to travel to Queeruption in tel aviv in August 2006. This despite the call in July by over 200 organizations from Palestinian civil society to boycott israel. The July call reinforced the international boycott/divestment movement which is demanding the right of return for all Palestinians, israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories, and the abolition of the apartheid system.

Queeruption is described as a “DiY radical queer gathering,” which has previously been held in London, New York, San Francisco, Berlin, Amsterdam, Sydney and Barcelona. The Queeruption is intentionally planned to coincide with, and “spice up” the rescheduled world pride in jerusalem.

To recap – in 2003, InterPride decided to hold a world pride event in Jerusalem in 2005, with the theme Love Without Borders. QUIT! initiated a call for a boycott on travel to world pride, consistent with the international divestment movement. This call has been endorsed by a number of Palestine solidarity and LGBT groups. Other groups, such as No Pride in Occupation, in New York, have stopped short of calling for a boycott, but have been critical of the decision to hold the event in occupied Jerusalem. The israeli LGBT anti-occupation group Black Laundry, and the Palestinian lesbian group Aswat had planned events for the 2005 march that were aimed at pointing out that “love without borders,” is particularly ironic in a city broken by a wall constructed to keep Palestinians out. The 2005 event was postponed to 2006 due to fears of right wing civil unrest related to the Gaza “disengagement.”

As the travel boycott movement has gathered steam, the “radical queers,” of queeruption have this to say about the boycott, “We are aware of the fact that for some people Israel, as a state that uses apartheid methods, is a target for boycott. We respect people's decision to boycott. In fact, some of us support the campaign for boycotting Israeli goods and Israeli academic figures. Others among us believe boycotting Israel while both the UK and the US are themselves illegally occupying Iraq, and employing repressive methods in their war against terror, is a little hypocritical. But we all agree that visiting here can give people more information and a more rounded argument against Israel’s colonialism.”

Collective Action

Here’s the thing. A boycott isn’t about individual intentions, it’s about collective action. If you support the farm workers, you don’t buy the grapes, even if they’re for a gay brunch. If you support desegregation, you don’t take the bus, even if you’re heading to an NAACP meeting. If you don’t want the bar to discriminate against African Americans, you don’t cross the picket, and if you want to get rid of apartheid, you don’t travel to South Africa and play at Sun City.

Boycotts are not built over night. Even the relatively successful UFW grape boycott took years to build and a huge organization to maintain. The Palestine divestment movement is self-consciously modeled after the South Africa movement, which most people seem to remember as having started in about 1987 or so, and having brought about a negotiated end to apartheid in 1992 leading to the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994.

The South Africa boycott actually started before Nelson Mandela began serving what became a 27 year sentence. In 1960, south african police opened fire on marchers in Sharpeville who were protesting the pass laws. Sixty-nine people were killed, and several hundred were wounded. There were calls for an international boycott of South Africa. Some of the early boycott efforts included “We Say No To Apartheid,” a campaign that started in 1965 and encouraged artists, writers and entertainers not to visit South Africa or allow their works to be distributed there “until the day when all its people – black and white – shall equally enjoy the education and cultural advantages of this rich and lovely land.” The campaign included Tallulah Bankhead, Leonard Bernstein, Harry Belafonte, Victor Borge, Diahann Carroll, Sam Davis Jr., Henry Fonda, Julie Harris, Langston Hughes, Burgess Meredith, Arthur Mller, Sidney Poitier, Ed Sullivan and Eli Wallach.

Other boycott efforts in the 1960s included a conference on economic sanctions in 1964, which led to a campaign to end investments and loans. After several years of this work, the united methodist church withdrew a portfolio of $10 million from first national city bank, because the bank refused to end its participation in a revolving loan fund for south africa. The loan fund was finally terminated in 1969. In 1960, an all-white south african team competed in the Rome olympics. But when south africa ignored the international olympics committee’s demand in 1963 to integrate its athletics program, the south african team was barred from the 1964 Tokyo games, and did not compete again until the end of apartheid. The boycott in international athletics grew to such strength that 25 African countries withdrew from the 1976 games in Montreal to protest the olympic participation of new zealand, which had continued sports links with south africa.

Throughout the 1960's to1980's there were also boycotts of companies that profited from the apartheid regime, or did business with the government there. Several boycotts targeted companies that provided the government’s identification card system (pass system), including kodak, polaroid, and later, IBM.

Constructive Engagement

In the mid-1980s, Queen, Rod Stewart, and Status Quo, all broke the entertainment boycott and played Sun City, a big music complex in Bophutswana (one of 10 South African Bantustans). Here’s what Brian May of Queen said about it, “The truth is we thought very carefully about going and we considered that it was right because for the first time we were going to be able to play to non-segregated audiences, which we did, and it's absolutely true, whether people believe it or not...We feel that by going there and by stating very clearly our point of view, which was that we were utterly opposed to apartheid, that we did a lot more to accelerate the end of that way of thinking in South Africa than many people have done by staying away...By going there we feel like we helped them, and I know a lot of them there feel the same way...Nevertheless, we've now had so much pressure from people, the UN committee, Little Steven and all his friends, that it's better to stay away that we've said "OK, we'll go along with you, we'll do it your way", and we've said we won't go back.”

Many LGBT individuals and groups, including LAGAI, were active in opposing apartheid in South Africa. However, until the late 1980s the participation of white south african gay organizations was not challenged in the mainstream gay movement. Scottish Activist Brian Dempsey, recalled that, “in 1987 SHRG [the Scotland Homsexual Rights Group, which later became Outright] did take a leading position in the successful campaign to have the Gay Association of South Africa (GASA) excluded from ILGA on the grounds that GASA was a predominantly white group which did not take an anti-apartheid stance (Gay Scotland, #27 & 30). SHRG had opposed GASA's membership from 1983, and in the struggle to expel GASA, SHRG supported other South African groups such as the Rand Gay Organisation (RGO) as having a "genuine multi-racial membership and clear opposition to apartheid" (Gay Scotland 30). They also publicised and urged support for, the case of Simon Nkoli, an RGO member on trial for his life for protesting against apartheid (Gay Scotland 28). At the 1987 ILGA conference the vote to suspend GASA was won and shortly after this GASA collapsed thus removing the issue from the agenda. This campaign is seen as one of the most effective of SHRG's in the international gay movement although the work done on it was limited to a few leading members of the group.” (Taken from Brian Dempsey (1995) Thon Wey (USG, Edinburgh)).

The call to boycott world pride is now provoking response from mainstream organizations that are usually quite comfortable in ignoring everything we say. At a workshop at the recent creating change conference, a board member of the national lesbian and gay task force (NGLTF) a sponsor both of CC and world pride, justified their position by saying that the invitation to go to israel had not come from the government, but from queers in israel. However, as even queeruption points out, “The organizers of the Parade cooperate with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism, in order to bring many tourists to Israel on the occasion of the World Pride.” Meanwhile, neither Jerusalem Open House (the sponsors of the event) nor interpride, nor queeruption, have demanded that israel open it’s checkpoints and borders to allow Palestinians and other queers from the area to attend these events.

Picket lines mean...

I understand that the people who support israeli apartheid and the brutal occupation of the west bank and gaza, will gleefully cross this picket line, the way that I would go out of my way to cross a picket line set up by operation rescue. But for the LGBTIQ movement as a whole, for peoples who consider ourselves part of the international human rights movement, to figuratively march en masse across the Palestinians’ picket line to attend, as Brian Dempsey put it, “a party in the sun,” is an appalling spectacle.

In 1982, one of the first “gay positive” mainstream movies, Making Love (starring Kate Jackson, Michael Ontkean and Harry Hamlin) opened an exclusive San Francisco engagement at a movie theater that was part of the struck UA theater chain. So queer people set up a huge picket line, complete with music from the Carry It On Marching Band, and ran buses to a non-struck theater in San Mateo. Because picket lines mean...DON’T CROSS.