On today's show...
<li> As spring arrives, students across the US are engaging in nonviolent direct action to force change on their campuses. Rustbelt Radio has updates on the sit-ins, protests and more going on this month.</li>
<li> We hear from Terry Composte, forest defense activist who won a major court victory in a civil suit concerning police abuse of pepper spray.</li>
<li> And we speak to this week's featured grassroots group, Ohio Valley Peace in the Wheeling West Virginia and South Eastern Ohio area.</li>
Welcome to this week's edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news from the grassroots, news overlooked by the corporate media. The show airs every Monday from 6-7pm on WRCT 88.3FM in Pittsburgh, PA and every Saturday from 5-6pm on WVJW Benwood, 94.1 FM in the Wheeling, West Virginia area. And we're also available on the internet, both on W-R-C-T's live webstream at W-R-C-T dot ORG and archived at radio dot I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot org.
On today's show...
As spring arrives, students across the US are engaging in nonviolent direct action to force change on their campuses. Rustbelt Radio has updates on the sit-ins, protests and more going on this month.
We hear from Terry Composte, forest defense activist who won a major court victory in a civil suit concerning police abuse of pepper spray.
And we speak to this week's featured grassroots group, Ohio Valley Peace in the Wheeling West Virginia and South Eastern Ohio area.
but first, these news stories from the local Independent Media Center.
New South Africa Freedom Day in Pittsburgh
On this past Saturday, April 30, the African Continental Community Programs of Pittsburgh, Afrikan Continental & Diaspora Leadership Institute and Azania (ah - ZAY - ne - ah) Heritage International presented an all-day celebration of political freedom and commitment to economic liberation in South Africa and in Pittsburgh. Held at the Bloomfield-Garfield Community Activity Center, the theme was "Batho Pele: People First Before Private Profits" and "The Blasck of Ideas: From Pittsburgh to Johannesburgh."
The morning featured discussions about trade between the U.S. and Africa, as well as issues of community development, public education, healthcare and housing, science and technology, and transit in South Africa and the connections to those same issues here in Pittsburgh. After a lunchtime keynote address, the afternoon had workshops and a community forum to discuss topics such as African culture, performing arts, economics, and the politics
of local and global apartheid.
Rustbelt Radio spoke to Biko Agozino, who came from Philadelphia to attend the celebration of South African freedom day in Pittsburgh.
[ safricaday_1minclip.wav: biko clip - 1:01 ]
POG Shuts Down Army Recruiters at CMU [3:30]
On Tuesday, April 26th, thirteen members of Pittsburgh Organizing Group shut down two Army recruiters tabling at the Carnegie Mellon's University Center.
The action kicks off Pittsburgh Organizing Group's counter-recruitment campaign. The group plans to visit high schools, organize protests and take non-violent direct actions at recruiting stations to counter the government's onslaught of pro-military enlistment propaganda. For more information visit www.organizepittsburgh.org.
MoveOn rally to save the courts [2:45]
Over one hundred people gathered at the Federal Building in downtown Pittsburgh last Monday afternoon for a rally protesting the Republican plan to change the rules for the confirmation of judicial appointees by congress. The Republican proposal, championed by Senate Majority leader Bill Frist, would eliminate the use of the filibuster during Senate confirmation of appellate and high court judicial appointees. Debate could be ended by a simple majority vote, rather than the 60-vote majority needed to end debate under current rules.
The protesters lined the sidewalks and chanted “Save our courts” in an energetic and coordinated demonstration amidst the afternoon rush-hour. Many protesters saw the Republican proposal as a deep threat to democracy in America, which they perceived as already gravely compromised. Rally participant Georgene Gallo said she attended the rally because quote “It’s getting scarier. Filibuster is our last defense against their absolute power. Our votes don’t count anymore, and if they get the courts they’ll have all three branches of government.” Endquote. Another protester,Dar Thomas, stated: “My husband and I are former republicans, but we’re very distressed about the way the country is going, very concerned about signs of censorship. If these judges get in, there will no longer be any debate, and debate is the most American thing there is. If you shut it down, it shuts down the voice of the ordinary person. Unless your politics are right, unless you belong to the right church or the right corporation, you’ll have no voice.” Endquote. Jess Summer, a 3rd year law student at the University of Pittsburgh, said she attended the rally because the Republican proposal is opposed by a clear majority of Americans; quote “A small minority of extremist, fundamentalist Republicans want to short circuit the process so they can get their judges in power.” Endquote. Others echoed the fear that Republicans pushing for the change were motivated by a desire to impose their religious convictions into American law through judicial appointees.
The rally was one of many that took place simultaneously across the country, coordinated by MoveOn?.org. Michele Feingold organized the rally after she got an email from MoveOn? describing the plan to demonstrate across the country against the court-packing scheme, but then found no events planned for Pittsburgh. She said quote “MoveOn is a grass-roots organization. I kept checking back, and no one had done it, and then I realized, Oh my gosh, I’m going to have to do it.” The vote on the republican proposal was originally scheduled for last week, but has not yet occurred.
May Day at PNC Park
On May 1, the international workers’ holiday of May Day, members of the local group Pittsburgh Anti-Sweatshop Community Alliance, or PASCA, spoke to Pirates fans outside PNC Park about making concienscious sports-fan apparel choices. They distributed a new edition of their anti-sweatshop baseball cards as a part of the campaign to pressure the Pittsburgh Pirates and Major League Baseball to enforce labor standards for their licensed merchandise in the same way that many Universities have done.
Ken Miller, a founding member of PASCA, described a bridge linking labor and civil rights activists in Pittsburgh to the fight against international sweatshop labor conditions.
[ kenmiller.ogg: Ken Miller @ PNC Park - 0:47 ]
For more on all of our local news stories, visit pittsburgh dot I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot O-R-G.
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You are listening to Rust Belt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news overlooked by the corporate media. We turn now to headlines from Independent Media Centers around the world.
UFPJ march and rally [1:00]
Yesterday as many as 40,000 protesters marched through Midtown and rallied in Central Park to call for the end of nuclear proliferation and the occupation Iraq. The impetus for the march was a conference at the United Nations on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that started earlier today. It comes at a time when the United States and Great Britain recently announced plans to further develop and expand their nuclear arsenal despite their concerns about nuclear weapons research by North Korea, Iran and elsewhere.
The march was organized by United for Peace and Justice as well as the nuclear disarmament coalition, Abolition Now. Mayors from Nagasaki and Hiroshima participated in the rally, as did sixty survivors of the 1945 atomic bomb attacks on those two cities. Other speakers included Daniel Ellsberg, a former Defense Department official and anti-nuclear activist, and Dr. Helen Caldicott, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and anti-nuclear activist.
At Central Park, demonstrators gathered together to form a gigantic human peace sign visible from the air.
[4:00] HIV restrictions
President George W. Bush has just approved a new policy that may be undercutting the fight against HIV. The new policy, similar to the so-called "global gag rule" against abortion, would prevent global HIV prevention organizations from recieving U.S. government funding if they do not denounce prostitution. Darby Hickey of the D.C. Radio Co-op has the full story
[ HIV funding 3:48 hivfunding.mp3: HIV funding 3:48 ]
You can read more about our global news stories by visting I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot O-R-G. We'll be back after a brief break.
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Bad Cop, No Donut
In this week's Bad Cop, No Donut clip, we have news about anti-FTAA arrestees changing florida policy with a class action lawsuit, a police officer in Coaldale, PA sentenced with the illegal sale of a handgun, and this week's tazer news. Here's CKLN's Ron Anicich (AN - uh - sich) with the details:
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Welcome back to Rust Belt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news overlooked by the corporate media.
Pepper Spray 8 case [11:00]
In the midst of widespread reports of taser abuses by police seeking to gain compliance of their subjects, a landmark case on the police abuse of so-called less than lethal weapons concluded last week.
On Thursday, April 29th, an eight-person federal jury found the California County of Humboldt and City of Eureka liable for excessive force in violation of the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in a long-awaited verdict concerning the use of pepper spray for "pain compliance." The excessive force was used by Humboldt County Sheriff's Deputies and Eureka Police Officers when they applied pepper spray with Q-tips directly to the eyes of the eight nonviolent forest defense protesters in three incidents in 1997. Three of the activists were also sprayed directly in the eyes from inches away. Two of the young women were juveniles.
On Saturday, Rust Belt radio spoke with one of the plaintiffs, Terry Composte.
pepper8.ogg: Terry Composte of the Pepper Spray 8 [10:10]
That was Terry Compost, one of the eight forest defense activists who were tortured with pepper spray in 1997 and who successfully sued the State for violating their 4th amendment rights. Thanks to Earth Films for the excerpt from their documentary about the Humboldt County case, called "Fire In The Eyes," which can be viewed online by visiting earthfilms.org.
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[5:00] Ohio Valley Peace, Wheeling WV
Every week Rustbelt Radio features an interview with a local grassroots activist organization called the light at the end of the Fort Pitt Tunnel. This week, we take the light all the way through the Wheeling Tunnels to the Fort Henry Bridge across the Ohio River in Wheeling, West Virginia. We spoke to two members of Ohio Valley Peace, and organization made up of peace activists from the area along the Ohio River in West Virginia and Ohio.
[ wheeling_edit_part1.ogg: wheeling group interview - 2:26 ]
Despite facing hostility in their town, the group says over time the attendence at their events has grown rapidly, and the anti-war movement there is evolving.
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You've been listening to an interview with the group Ohio Valley Peace in Wheeling West Virginia and surrounding areas, and this is Rustbelt Radio.
[16-30 minutes] Update on Santa Cruz Tent City, St. Louis sit-in, and Kent State U. sit-in report
Across the US every year, student activists on high school and college campuses organize their fellow students and youth to form a powerful voice for change. Students have been organizing for equal opportunity and universal access to education, for financial aid for students, and for living wages and healthcare for campus workers. Students have taken a stand against cuts in education funding, increasing tuition, corporate takeovers and privatization on campus, military recruiters on campus and the militarization of university research. Also students are taking on larger issues like opposing the war in Iraq and sweatshop labor around the globe.
This past month has seen an explosion of student organizing.
We begin with California. Two weeks ago Rustbelt Radio reported on the one-day strike of University of California workers across the state. Later that week, UC Santa Cruz students, staff, and faculty converged on the fields at the base of the campus to form Tent University Santa Cruz, one of the largest political gatherings in the recent history of UCSC.
The action is part of a nationally coordinated effort called "Tent State University," that involves at least four other schools calling for full funding for public higher education and a re-evaluation of our state and national spending priorities.
The UCSC effort has integrated issues of workers rights on campus, student outrage against state funding cuts, and concerns about the environmental harm caused by expansion of the UCSC campus. Calling their occupation a "free speech zone," UCSC activists created a tent city where over two hundred students and supporters camped out and set plans for many days of teach-ins, workshops and live music.
But the next monday evening, university authorities sent UC Police to declare the tent city an unlawful assembly. Vinny Lombardo reports from the Tent City.
[ 2:45 FSRN report ]
Since then, on the afternoon of April 29, the DA announced that the charges brought against the 19 people arrested at Tent University the night of April 18th have been dropped.
V-Man from Freak Radio Santa Cruz has more on the last week's statewide walk-out action on April 20 to protest budget cuts to education.
[ rtb_student_walkout.mp3: UCSC student walkout - 4:22 ]
And again at UCSC, on Friday April 22nd, the group Students Against War kicked off a weekly "Weapons Inspections" tour to raise awareness about the presence of the military-industrial complex at UCSC. The Weapons Inspections tour seeks to educate students about the 35 military-funded research projects being conducted by University of California staff and the UC's ongoing management of the nuclear labs at Los Alamos, NM and Livermore, CA.
Another college participating in Tent State University was the University of Texas at Austin. The Austin Independent Media center has more.
[ 3:33 Austin report ]
In another update from last week's Rustbelt report on campus sit-ins, the admissions office occupation at Washington University in St. Louis ended on Friday. The 19-day sit-in ended in success for students: after breaking the stalemate in negotiations between students and administrators, protest organizer Danielle Christmas yelled "We've just signed a deal!" out the window of the admissions office to supporters gathered on the lawn.
In the agreement, Washington University agreed to commit one million dollars over the next two years to increase wages and benefits for subcontracted workers, improve workers' health care, and join the Workers Rights Consortium which monitors apparel manufactuers for universities to ensure goods are not made in sweatshop conditions.
At the conclusion of the sit-in, protest organizer Ojiugo Uzoma said "The battle is won, but we haven't won the war yet."
In the DC area, from George Washington University to University of Mary Washington, students have been demanding that service workers on their campus receive living wages and better working conditions. Now that fight is heating up on the campus of Washington, DC's Howard University, a historically black college.
Selina Musuta of the DC radio co-op reports from the District of Columbia.
[ Howard sit-in, DC co-op 121787_notfsrn20050421howardlivingwage_selina.mp3: 2:00 ]
At the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, a group of nonviolent protesters entered the administration building just last Thursday and have demanded an end to the University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) project, which would establish a secret military research facility to conduct Navy weapons development. The group -- consisting of students, faculty, and concerned community members -- has prepared a formal statement of legal, moral, health, cultural, and political reasons why UARC should be dropped. The nonviolent protesters have stated that they will not leave Bachman Hall until the University's interim president publicly declares the end of UARC.
And finally, wrapping up Rustbelt Radio's coverage of recent student protests around the US, we look close to home in Kent, Ohio. At Kent State University several groups on the campus have organized to stop the ongoing discrimination against African Americans, homosexuals and people with disabilities in Rosie’s diner. Rosie's Diner is a campus dining facility and students are demanding that the university make changes to stop the discrimination against patrons and employees of Rosie’s diner.
Cleveland Indymedia has this report from a sit-in held earlier this month at Rosie's at Kent State University.
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That was Cleveland Indymedia's report on efforts to combat racial and gender discrimination at Kent State University's dining facility, Rosie's.
That was ... on WRCT Pittsburgh. You're listening to Rust Belt Radio.
Calendar of events
And now we present the Indymedia calendar of events:
On Tuesday May 3rd at 5:30 PM Just Harvest Presents: A Pittsburgh Mayoral Candidates Forum
on Hunger, Homelessness, and Poverty. This forum is located at the First Baptist Church at
Bellefield and Bayard Streets in Oakland
Also on Tuesday May 3rd, the film "Regret to Inform" will be screened at Taza d'Oro in Highland Park at 7pm. Taza d' Oro is located at 1125 N. Highland Ave. This film is part of the "Women Say No to War" Film Festival, presented by The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Code Pink, and The Palestinian Solidarity Committee. The films are free of charge and will be screened Tuesday nights throughout this month. For more information call 412 487 6509.
On Saturday, May 7th, the Thomas Merton Center will hold its annual "New Person Awards" to honor peace and justice activists in Southwestern Pennsylvania. This year’s ceremony will honor people and organizations that demonstrate labor and community solidarity in their work for social change. The event will be held at the Teamsters Temple, 4701 Butler Street in Lawrenceville from 7:00 – 10:00 pm. For more information call 412-361-3022.
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Thanks for tuning in to Rust Belt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh and WVJW Benwood.
Our hosts this week are [ Gwendolyn Schmidt ] and [ Carlin Christy ] with contributions from [ David Meieran, Matt Toups, Jessica McPherson and Ian of Cleveland Indymedia ]. This week's show was produced by [ Andlusia Knoll and Matt Toups ]. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.
Your audio submissions are welcome! To get involved with Rust Belt Radio, or to send us your comments, email RADIO at I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot ORG. All of our shows are available for download on our website at RADIO dot INDY-P-G-H dot ORG
Tune in next week at this time for another edition of Rust Belt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news from the grassroots.