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January 30, 2015 5

BDS Passed at UC Davis, Other BDS Campaigns Also Occurring

Last night at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Davis, a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion was passed by The Asso­ci­ated Stu­dents, Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia (ASUCD) with a vote of 8–2-2. The res­o­lu­tion, which calls on the UC Board of Regents to divest from com­pa­nies that allegedly “aid in the Israeli occu­pa­tion of Pales­tine and ille­gal set­tle­ments in Pales­tin­ian ter­ri­to­ries,” tar­gets spe­cific cor­po­ra­tions such as Cater­pil­lar, G4S, Veo­lia Envi­ron­ment and Raytheon.

Students from Davis Divest celebrate after their BDS resolution was passed with an 8-2-2 vote.

Stu­dents from Davis Divest cel­e­brate after their BDS res­o­lu­tion was passed with an 8–2-2 vote.

Sev­eral other Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions cam­paigns are simul­ta­ne­ously occur­ring on other col­lege cam­puses across the U.S. This is con­sis­tent with our pre­dic­tions in our “Anti-Israel Activ­ity on Cam­pus After Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge” report about upcom­ing chal­lenges on cam­puses where student-groups are look­ing to con­vince their uni­ver­si­ties to divest from cor­po­ra­tions that they believe per­pet­u­ate or profit from the Israeli occupation.

In some cases, new stu­dent groups have been founded to launch these cam­paigns and in other cases, estab­lished anti-Israel stu­dent groups such as Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP), have taken the lead. In many cases, these stu­dent groups have attempted to form part­ner­ships with other groups on their cam­puses to build broad coali­tions and to latch onto other social jus­tice causes. For exam­ple, these groups have spon­sored events such as “From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine and the Wall,” which took place in mid-January at Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity and described as an oppor­tu­nity to “dis­cuss the specifics and con­nec­tions between the move­ments for jus­tice in Fer­gu­son, the US-Mexico Bor­der and Palestine.”

Dur­ing the first semes­ter of the cur­rent aca­d­e­mic year, the UCLA SJP chap­ter was able to get “A Res­o­lu­tion to Divest from Cor­po­ra­tions Engaged in Vio­lence Against Pales­tini­ans” passed by their stu­dent gov­ern­ment. The res­o­lu­tion, which was spon­sored by 15 stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions and endorsed by another 17, was voted on with an 8–2-2 mar­gin. In addi­tion, at the end of last semes­ter, the UC Student-Workers Union, UAW Local 2865, voted in favor of a res­o­lu­tion urg­ing the UC Board of Regents to join the BDS move­ment against Israel.

In addi­tion to UC Davis, there are another six cam­puses in the U.S. that are cur­rently engaged in BDS cam­paigns. Below is a run­down of their activ­i­ties:  

  1. DePaul Uni­ver­sity – The DePaul Divest coali­tion sub­mit­ted a request to the Fair Busi­ness Prac­tices Com­mit­tee (FBPC) to uphold a deci­sion made last spring when DePaul stu­dents voted on a ref­er­en­dum in favor of divest­ment dur­ing Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment elec­tions. The com­pa­nies that they were tar­get­ing for divest­ment included Hewlett-Packard, Boe­ing, Lock­heed Mar­tin, Veo­lia, and Cater­pil­lar, but the pro­posal was report­edly rejected by the FBPC.
  1. North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity – A newly-founded group called NU Divest has been host­ing pro-BDS events to inform their student-body about BDS and they are plan­ning to sub­mit a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion for vote to their stu­dent gov­ern­ment at some point this semester.
  1. Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity – A new stu­dent group called Stan­ford Out of Occu­pied Pales­tine has been host­ing pro-BDS events on cam­pus and plans to sub­mit a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion to their stu­dent gov­ern­ment this semester.
  1. SDSU – A group call­ing itself SDSU Divest recently launched a divest­ment cam­paign and has been cir­cu­lat­ing a peti­tion to cur­rent stu­dents, alumni, fac­ulty, staff, and com­mu­nity mem­bers that calls for divest­ment “from com­pa­nies that profit from vio­lence against the Pales­tini­ans.” The group is also host­ing its “First Open Forum for Divest­ment” next Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 3.
  1. Uni­ver­sity of South Florida – The USF SJP chap­ter recently put a bill­board up near their cam­pus that claims that “10,000 stu­dents were silenced” and calls on USF to divest from cor­po­ra­tions allegedly prof­it­ing from the Israeli occu­pa­tion. They claim that stu­dents were silenced because the uni­ver­sity did not pur­sue divest­ment after they cir­cu­lated a pro-BDS peti­tion that report­edly received over 10,000 signatures.
  1. Ohio State Uni­ver­sity – A newly-founded group called OSU Divest started a divest­ment cam­paign on their cam­pus and dis­sem­i­nated a press release which calls for OSU to divest from com­pa­nies that allegedly “engage in or oth­er­wise profit from poli­cies that oppress and mar­gin­al­ize Palestinians.”

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December 5, 2014 10

Beyond Ferguson and Staten Island: Where Do We Go From Here?

In the wake of two grand jury decisions—in Fer­gu­son, MO and Staten Island, NY—not to indict the police offi­cers who were involved in the killing of black men, the time has come to ask our­selves: Where do we go from here? There are a myr­iad of ideas and leg­is­la­tion on the table–diversity train­ing for the police, fund­ing to pro­vide body cam­eras for police offi­cers and leg­is­la­tion to tighten stan­dards on military-style equip­ment for local police depart­ments. These are all wor­thy ideas and should be pur­sued with both care and speed.NYC Protests

At the same time, as Amer­i­cans, we need to come to grips with the con­cept of implicit bias and how it works its way into the small and big things in life.

Implicit bias is a pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive (usu­ally neg­a­tive) men­tal atti­tude toward a per­son or group that we hold at an uncon­scious level and with­out inten­tional con­trol. The notion of implicit bias was con­ceived by Anthony Green­wald and Mahzarin R. Banaji in 1995 and there is now sub­stan­tial and empir­i­cal sup­port for the idea that most peo­ple hold implicit biases about minor­ity and mar­gin­al­ized groups such as peo­ple of color, women, LGBT peo­ple and others.

Implicit bias hap­pens when two job applicants—one named Ayesha and the other, Alli­son sub­mit the exact same resume for a job and Alli­son is 50% more likely to get a call. Implicit bias fuels the school to prison pipeline that dis­pro­por­tion­ately dis­ci­plines, sus­pends and expels stu­dents of color in our nation’s schools. Implicit bias pro­pels the microag­gres­sions many peo­ple expe­ri­ence on a daily basis, which can often “feel like bro­ken glass.” The fact that African Amer­i­cans are dis­pro­por­tion­ately rep­re­sented in all lev­els of the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem can be seen as implicit bias.

When schools want to address bias in the class­room, they tend to focus on dis­crim­i­na­tion and overt forms of racism, sex­ism and other injus­tices. This is crit­i­cal. How­ever, in order for our soci­ety to make a fun­da­men­tal change, we need to also talk about, explain, teach, under­stand and do some­thing about implicit bias.

Some ideas for edu­ca­tors and parents:

  • When chil­dren are very young, in school and at home, make sure that their lives are filled with a diver­sity of peo­ple, activ­i­ties, cur­ricu­lum and books that reflect our larger soci­ety. Help them explore prej­u­dice, fair­ness and bul­ly­ing.
  • Teach about Fer­gu­son and beyond, help­ing stu­dents to under­stand the racial dis­par­i­ties in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem and solicit their ideas for turn­ing this around.

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November 26, 2014 1

Arrested Black Panther Also Involved in Sovereign Citizen Movement

Fed­eral agents arrested two New Black Pan­ther Party mem­bers (NBPP) in St. Louis on Novem­ber 21, accus­ing Ola­ju­won Ali and Bran­don Bald­win of ille­gal straw pur­chases of hand­guns.  Some media have cited anony­mous sources alleg­ing that the pair also attempted to pur­chase pipe bombs.olajuwon-ali-document

One of the accused, Ola­ju­won Ali, 22, is the head of the NBPP’s St. Louis Chap­ter, but he also has been active in a very dif­fer­ent extrem­ist move­ment:  the anti-government “sov­er­eign cit­i­zen” movement.

The sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment has expe­ri­enced rapid recent growth, par­tic­u­larly in its Afro-centric “Moor­ish” off­shoot.  “Moor­ish” sov­er­eigns emerged in the mid-1990s when mem­bers of the Moor­ish Sci­ence Tem­ple (MST), a reli­gious sect, attempted to meld their beliefs with that of the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment.  Sov­er­eign beliefs have since spread widely among MST adher­ents, and later to other African-Americans, bring­ing new adher­ents to what his­tor­i­cally has been con­sid­ered a right-wing extrem­ist movement.

Ali is typ­i­cal of many new recruits to the “Moor­ish” move­ment.  Although there is evi­dence that Ali may have encoun­tered sov­er­eign cit­i­zen ide­ol­ogy as early as 2010, when still a teenager, it was in April 2013 that he for­mally joined the move­ment, fil­ing an “Abju­ra­tion of Cit­i­zen­ship” doc­u­ment declar­ing him­self  an “aboriginal/indigenous, free Sov­er­eign Moor – Nat­ural Per­son of the Land.”

The doc­u­ment, as well as a Moor­ish iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card that Ali has used, appear to come from an influ­en­tial New Jersey-based Moor­ish group led by R. V. Bey.  One of the sig­na­tures on the doc­u­ment seems to be that of one of R. V. Bey’s promi­nent disciples.

Another sig­na­ture on Ali’s doc­u­ment belongs to Kusu ra Kush Bey, aka Chester Wil­son, a St. Louis-based Moor­ish sov­er­eign.  In the same month that Ali filed his “abju­ra­tion,” the FBI arrested Wil­son for his alleged involve­ment in a major multi-state car theft ring.

Ali him­self had a brush with the law only months after declar­ing his sov­er­eignty.  In June 2013, St. Louis police arrested Ali for tres­pass­ing, resist­ing arrest and dis­turb­ing the peace fol­low­ing an inci­dent in which Ali allegedly attempted to use a Moor­ish iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card at a con­ve­nience store to demand “tax-free” pur­chases.  Ali, tased dur­ing the inci­dent, later described his arrest as “unlaw­ful” and him­self as a “vic­tim of police brutality.”

Ali’s legal trou­bles took up much of his time, but he found a new source for activism fol­low­ing the fatal shoot­ing of Michael Brown in Fer­gu­son in August 2014.  That month, Ali, call­ing him­self a “Min­is­ter of Jus­tice and Law,” offered a “Lessons of Law Class (Post-Mike Brown)” to inform African-Americans of their “Con­sti­tu­tional, Uni­ver­sal Human, and Indige­nous Rights.”

The shoot­ing also gave Ali an oppor­tu­nity to join NBPP activism with Moor­ish activism.  On August 13, Ali com­posed a lengthy, sovereign-style “Affi­davit of Fact” directed to the mayor of Fer­gu­son  in which he asserted that claims the NBPP had encour­aged vio­lence were “false pro­pa­ganda [sic]” released by “Euro­pean owned” media sta­tions.  He also accused the city of Fer­gu­son with the “GENOCIDE AND MURDER OF Abo­rig­i­nal Indige­nous Amer­i­can Michael Brown Jr.”

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