Update from OccupyEquality Nebraska!

Update from OccupyEquality Nebraska Community Meeting!

We met on January 3, 2012 at 7:30pm at Mcfoster’s Natural Kind Café. We discussed officially building a partnership with the LGBTQ civil rights group Forward Equality. That proposal was tabled until our next community meeting when we have a more diverse meeting. Instead, we took up working with Forward Equality on specific topics such as the LGBTQ Legal Protections rally at the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and the National Gay-Straight Alliance Day. The community meeting agreed to work with Forward Equality on these specific topics.

The LGBTQ Legal Protections rally will be on January 24, 2012 from 12pm to 1:30pm in front of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.  Forward Equality decided to hold this rally at the Chamber of Commerce because last year with City Council member Ben Gray introduced the nondiscrimination ordinance they opposed it. Ben Gray is this year introducing his nondiscrimination ordinance on February 7, 2012. Forward Equality is working on creating a solidarity rally on February 7, 2012 for the actual introduction of the employment nondiscrimination ordinance.

The National Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Day rally will be on January 25, 2012 near the Memorial Park Pedestrian Bridge from 3:30pm to 5:00pm in Omaha Nebraska. GSA Day is a time to strengthen the bond between lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and straight allies (LGBTQA) and in particular recognize and honor student organizations called Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs). These student-led groups work to educate their peers to stop homophobia, biphobia, queerphobia, transphobia, and violence in schools and colleges throughout the country and world. This day will serve as a “day of action” for these student groups employ creative ways to be visible. Honor those who have shown dedication in ensuring all students feel safe and supported, and prepare for the future. GSA day in Omaha is particularly relevant because the city still does not protect persons based on actual or perceived gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Forward Equality and local schools will join the following groups in supporting and celebrating the event: One Colorado, Iowa Pride Network, Washington State GSA Network, GLSEN, Georgia Equality, PFLAG, Campus Pride, GSA Network, Mathew Shepard Foundation, etc.

A member of OccupyEquality Nebraska Ken Riter has organized a protest for Sunday January 8, 2012 at 9am at the UNO Alumni Center because the Dominion Covenant church meets there on Sundays. The Dominion Covenant church is an anti-LGBTQ hate group. He asked OccupyEquality Nebraska to endorse the protest. The community meeting agreed to endorse it. He is some talk from Ken’s event:

“We are protesting the Dominion Covenant Church being allowed to conduct business on or near the UNO campus. Meet on north side of Dodge st directing across Dodge from the UNO Thompson Center.

http://progressiveoasis.com/2011/12/29/anti-lgbt-hate-group-conducts-church-services-at-uno

Signs expressing a distaste for the death penalty, bigotry, hate are welcome. Also, any signs supporting equal treatment for the LGBTQ community would also be greatly appreciated.”

The Community meeting agreed that OccupyEquality Nebraska should have at least two supporters at every Occupy Omaha General Assembly to help ensure the respect and enforcement of the nondiscrimination clause.

Direct Action against the Salvation Army! We consented on the creation of a comprehensive direct action campaign against the Salvation Army. It was discussed how the Salvation Army is a anti-LGBTQ hate group. The first phase of this comprehensive direct action campaign will be a direct action social media campaign against JCPenney for supporting the Salvation Army. It was agreed that we should cut off the Salvation Army’s supporters before we directly attack the Salvation Army for their anti-LGBTQ hateful views and actions.

Mika Covington is the organizer working on leading the campaign action JCPenney as a former JCP employee. Here are some words from Mika Covington:

“In 2011, JCPenney scored a 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index. During 2011, JCP formed a partnership with the Salvation Army that happens to b an Anti-LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) hate group.  Thus, HRC should reduce JCP’s score, nevertheless HRC has not taken any action against JCP, and even worse HRC has not raised any concerns about JCP’s actions!

I propose as an active member of OccupyEquality that we establish a direct action campaign against JCPenney for their support and partnership with the Salvation Army! I believe that this direct action campaign should include a boycott of JCP and a petition against JCP to pull their support and end their partnership with the Salvation Army.

I propose that in addition to the direct action campaign we should establish a social media campaign against JCPenney! I believe that this campaign should include but not be limited to posting on JCP’s Facebook page demanding that JCP remove their support of the Salvation Army and we should share their link while stating what JCP is doing.”

At the end of the meeting, we consented upon working on a Fuck the Police Demonstration and March in Solidarity with Occupy Oakland’s event.  Here is the info from their event:

“Public event for Occupy Oakland Bridge Caucus. Saturday at 7pm until Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 11:30pm. FUCK THE POLICE and fuck failbook for not allowing it to be used as an event name!

*** This event is being called by the Occupy Oakland Tactical Action Committee. It will continue weekly. ***

The Oakland Police Department has harassed and brutalized Occupy Oakland and participants in the vigil. Camps and liberated foreclosed building have been raided and shut down. OOers at the vigil have been arrested for as little as standing nearby when the police decided to raid, all the way up to the ridiculous charge of lynching. People have been physically assaulted by those supposed to protect and serve, but only do so in the interest of the 1%.

With Dozen of our comrades having been arrested in the past couple of weeks, and culminating in the city’s revocation of the vigil’s permit and the immediate threat of another police raid to clear the plaza, the time has come to rise up and let them know what we think of them and that we will no longer meekly accept their violationsof our civil and human rights.

1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612”

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National Gay-Straight Alliance Day

Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) have been around for decades working to keep high school and college campuses safe and welcoming for students regardless of gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation. The persons who start these student run clubs and organizations are extremely brave. They put themselves out there when they confront the ignorance and bigotry that is rampant on high school and college campuses.

Therefore, we all should celebrate and honor those Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) that have pushed towards a more accepting and tolerant environments on high school and college campuses. Thus, the Iowa Pride Network created the Iowa Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Day to celebrate and honor GSAs. This year they have worked to create the first National Gay-Straight Alliance Day. This day is again to celebrate and honor GSAs.

National Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Day is coming up and many organizations and school clubs are going to participate in solidarity.  One of those organizations is Forward Equality. Forward Equality is a regional non-profit (501 (c) 4 pending) that works with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied (LGBTQA) youths/adults to promote civil and economic equality and respect. Forward Equality is hosting a GSA Day rallying in solidarity with National GSA Day. The rally will be in Omaha, Nebraska near the Memorial Park Pedestrian Bridge from 3:00pm to 5:00pm on January 25, 2012. Forward Equality is also asking the Mayor of Omaha to proclaim January 25, 2012 National GSA Day.

GSA Day in Omaha is particularly relevant because the city still does not protect persons based on actual or perceived gender expression, gender identity, or sexual orientation.   Forward Equality and local schools will join the following groups in supporting and celebrating the event: One Colorado, Iowa Pride Network, Washington State GSA Network, GLSEN, Georgia Equality, PFLAG, Campus Pride, GSA Network, Mathew Shepard Foundation, etc. “GSA Day is the perfect time to point out the importance of safe spaces for students. Safe social interaction is key to their educational experience, and their emotional health in and out of school,” said Jon von Kampen the President of UNO’s Queers and Allies.

Update from OccupyEquality Nebraska/Forward Equality

A member from OccupyEquality Nebraska, Mika Covington who also happens to be the Executive Director and acting President of Forward Equality introduced a resolution to the Board of Directors to solidify their support of the occupy movement.  Forward Equality is a (501 (c) 4 pending) nonprofit civil rights organization that works with LGBTQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied) individuals to ensure equality and respect.  The Board of Directors voted 4-0 with one absent on the resolution. Here is the text of the Forward Equality Resolution:

A RESOLUTION

Recognizing and supporting the principle of the Occupy Movement and the peaceful and lawful exercise of the First Amendment as cherished and fundamental right in the effort to seek solutions for economically distressed Americans at the federal, state and local levels; committing to work with the Occupy Movement to take steps to eliminate economic insecurity and destructive disparities in the City of Omaha; and requesting our membership and the elected Board of Directors assist in generating solutions for economically distressed Americans.

WHEREAS, Forward Equality Board of Directors and members, like others across the United States, are frustrated by the continuing economic crisis that threatens individual, family, small local business and City finances, and our community’s quality of life, and are participating in Occupy protests to make their voices heard; and

WHEREAS, the economic roots of these protests are varied, including sustained unemployment, growing income disparity, banking system failures, stalled earning power, unjust tax systems, that all contribute to ongoing wealth disparities; and

WHEREAS, the political roots of these protests are also varied, including the growing political power of corporations, influence of money on elections and public policy and inability of average citizens to have their voices heard and needs met through formal political forums, thus contributing to citizens pursuing alternative political arenas; and

WHEREAS, more than 25 million Americans are unemployed and seeking work; more than 50 million Americans are living without health insurance; and, more than one in five American children are growing up in households living in poverty without sufficient resources to meet basic survival needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter [Ref: unemployed defined as unemployed, marginally attached to the labor force, or working only part-time for economic reasons, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-15.Alternative measures of labor underutilization]; and

WHEREAS, one of the largest problems distressing our economy is the prolonged foreclosure crisis, with many owners struggling to obtain loan adjustments and too many banks continuing the use of flawed review procedures which end up flooding the housing market with foreclosures and result in blighted and de-valued housing stock due to the high number of properties being left vacant and abandoned and poorly maintained; and

WHEREAS, local governments are straining under the increasing weight of responsibility to provide for basic support services at a time of declining tax revenues and as a result of budget reductions by the state and federal government; and

WHEREAS, the structural causes of the economic crisis facing our society require decisive and sustained action at the national and state levels. Cities are harmed by the crisis and must play an important role in the development of public policy to address it; and

WHEREAS, Congress must generate solutions for economically distressed Americans by:

1. Supporting job creation, making substantial investments in the nation’s critical physical and technological infrastructure, and reducing the deficit by adopting fiscal policies with equitable corporate and individual taxation;

2. Tightening regulation of the banking and financial sector, including adoption of new rules and vigorous investigation and prosecution of individuals and corporations that violate the fraud, theft, and securities laws; and

3. Retaining or increasing community-building block grants for local schools and social services and protect public education from devastating cuts and prevent tuition levels that block fair access to higher education; and

WHEREAS, Forward Equality does not condone actions that infringe upon the lawful rights of others, obstruct or interfere with the efforts of law enforcement officers to protect such rights, or cause personal injury or property destruction; and

WHEREAS, Americans can and must resolve the divisive economic and social realities facing our nation in a peaceful way that honors our commitment to democracy, equality and justice.

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

Section 1. That this organization recognizes and supports the principles of the Occupy Movement and the peaceful and lawful exercise of the First Amendment as a cherished and fundamental right in the effort to seek solutions for economically distressed Americans at the federal, state and local levels.

Section 2. That this organization commits to working with the Occupy Movement to continue taking steps to minimize economic insecurity and destructive disparities in the City of Omaha.

Section 3. That this organization requests our Congressional leaders generate solutions for economically distressed Americans.

Section 4. The Executive Director is directed to transmit copies of this resolution to local Occupy groups.

Section 5. That this resolution is hereby declared to be a measure and, provided it receives the affirmative vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to Board of Directors, it shall take effect and be in force immediately upon its adoption and approval by the Executive Director; otherwise, it shall take effect and be in force from and after the earliest period allowed by the constitution and bylaws.

This resolution creates the possibility that Forward Equality can now engage in economic advocacy work. This means that Forward Equality would like to officially begin working with OccupyEquality to ensure economic justice for all individuals. Forward Equality does not have a web page yet.  Here is the link to Forward Equality’s facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Forward.Equality

Update from OccupyEquality Nebraska

Occupy Omaha’s General Assembly on Wednesday December 14, 2011 ratified an inclusive nondiscrimination clause. It was added to the agenda early in the meeting and was voted on just after 10:00pm, after about 15-20 minutes of debate. This puts Occupy Omaha on the map as one of the first Occupy groups to ratify such an inclusive nondiscrimination clause. This also comes just weeks before the City Council of Omaha, Nebraska considers another nondiscrimination ordinance.  YAYS for Occupy Omaha!!

Here is the nondiscrimination clause adopted by Occupy Omaha in its entirety:  We will not tolerate discrimination, harassment, and/or bullying against a person based on their actual or perceived race, religion, familial status, physical attributes, physical and mental ability or disability, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, gender expression, gender identity, and political affiliation or beliefs.

During the discussion it was decided to also dictate were the clause would go as part of the proposal.  It will appear on the Occupy Omaha website, newsletters, media and anything else dealing with any Occupy Omaha event sanctioned by its General Assembly.

The nondiscrimination clause was proposed to the General Assembly by local activist and Occupy Omaha member Ken Riter and was previously written by Mika Covington of Forward Equality and OccupyEquality Nebraska.

OccupyEquality Nebraska/Occupy Omaha

“News Release – For Immediate Release

Occupy Omaha to Hold Solidarity Rally
Action in Solidarity with Occupy Oakland

Contact: Inter-Occupy Communication working group of Occupy Omaha about this press release at occupyomahasolidarity@gmail.com

December 10, 2011 – Omaha, Nebraska – Occupy Omaha will be holding a rally this upcoming Monday, December 12th 2011 near the Monument to Labor sculpture at the Lewis and Clark landing at 515 N Riverfront Drive in Omaha, Nebraska. This event will  run from the hours of 4-7pm.

Occupy Omaha would like to challenge local media to attend and be a part of this event.

This release has been approved by the Occupy Omaha General Assembly December 10, 2011 for immediate release.”

OccupyEquality Nebraska members will be in attendance at this Solidarity Rally.  The community meeting (GA) has not approved a proposal to endorse this event for that the event was created after the last community meeting and there was not support to hold a special community meeting to cover this event.

Update from OccupyEquality Nebraska

OccupyEquality Nebraska members have been very busy building community and networking with other Occupy groups such as Occupy Omaha and Occupy Lincoln. Mika Covington, lead organizer, has been working with a couple of Occupy Omaha working groups to establish official dialogue between OccupyEquality Nebraska and Occupy Omaha. Covington traveled to Lincoln, Neb. to network with occupiers there and to find out if there is support for OccupyEquality Nebraska to have events in Lincoln.

Coviington has been working with Christina Bailey of Occupy Omaha’s InterOccupyCommunications working group to establish an OccupyOmaha/OccupyEquality Nebraska Crosstown March – #GlobalChange Dec. 10.

Here is an excerpt from the Crosstown March event announcement:
“Omaha – Our city has been segregated for far too long! We have been kept apart by racist governments, racist economic policies and forced busing. Our working class has been divided and our children are forced to attend schools far away from their neighborhood. THIS MUST END AND NOBODY WILL END IT FOR US!! WE MUST CHANGE THIS WORLD OURSELVES!!

Please join  us in creating a Cross-town March on Saturday Dec.10! The march will reclaim 24th Street as our main North-South artery. It will begin at two locations in North and South Omaha, as well as at the Gene Leahy Mall as our weekly Saturday march begins there at 11am!”

OccupyEquality Nebraska as of Dec. 1 received this Memo of Understanding from Occupy Omaha’s InterOccupy Communication working group:

“Hello! Occupy Omaha thanks you for your support! We, in the InterOccupy Communication working group recognize the international OccupyEquality movement ,which contains the autonomous OccupyEquality Nebraska, which adopts the statements of the #ows international movement. Occupy Omaha had created a disclaimer to other groups, amended on 29 October 2011, which reads, “We appreciate and humbly accept your group’s support. As a consensus driven movement, however, we reserve the right to withhold our support from any ideologies or positions that do not match our group’s stated goals.”

Occupy Omaha has not, as of the writing of this letter from this working group on Dec. 1 , 2011, created a list of goals or ideologies separate from the #ows Statement(s) and therefore, as an autonomous association of the #ows movement, we must assume that all points within the #ows Statement(s) are adhered to by Occupy Omaha.

We, the InterOccupy Communication working group, understand OccupyEquality Nebraska’s need for an anti-discrimination clause to be adopted by Occupy Omaha in order for OccupyEquality Nebraska to endorse Occupy Omaha as a populist movement with similar goals. As our working group understands, the anti-discrimination clause that OccupyEquality Nebraska proposes is an interpretation of several points within the #ows statement of grievances. The points under consideration by OccupyEquality Nebraska are as follows:

Point 3: They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

The anti-discrimination clause that OccupyEquality Nebraska requests of Occupy Omaha to adopt reads, “We will not tolerate discrimination, harassment, and/or bullying against a person based on their actual or perceived race, religion, familial status, physical attributes, physical and mental ability, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, gender expression, gender identity, and political affiliation or beliefs.”

We understand that OccupyEquality Nebraska justifies this clause based on these interpretations of point three [Actual or perceived] … Physical and mental ability incorporate “age”; Race incorporates “color of one’s skin”; – how to encompass “religion, familial status, physical attributes, socioeconomic status, gender expression, gender identity, political affiliation or beliefs.”

OccupyEquality Nebraska activists continue protesting in Omaha alongside Occupy Omaha.