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Radical Elders Gather to Support Protesters at Columbia University

A delegation of some 20 members of Radical Elders assembled at the main gate to Columbia University at noon on April 30 at 116th Street and Broadway, and remained for several hours after making a statement in support of the students inside the University’s locked down main quad.

RE’s Dave Lindorff offers our message of solidarity in front of Columbia University’s gates (phone: Angel Roman)

Radical Elders Members Dave Lindorff, Jose Alfaro, and Estela Vazquez spoke, as well as Tom Goghan of Move the Money-NYC. Members came from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and the New York metropolitan area.

The official RE statement said;

“We want to applaud and honor the courage of the young students at Columbia in the face of a callous and cowardly administration that called in the New York Police to try and crush their peaceful and principled protest, libeling the their denunciation of Israel’s ongoing genocidal collective-punishment slaughter of the Palestinians of Gaza as being “antisemitic.”

By the time we had arrived at the campus with our message, which also made the point that the students were following in the steps of the SDS students and supporters who, 56 years earlier on that same April 30 date, had electrified college campuses across the country by taking over several buildings on the Columbia campus, including the university’s administration offices in Low Library, a sub-group of the encampment protesters had broken into Hamilton Hall and, after barricading the doors, were occupying the building.

We stated publicly to other demonstrators and assembled journalists that we understood the protesting students’ frustration with the university administration’s stonewalling and draconian punishment of many of the encampment protesters and its use of New York Police to bust up their encampment. We said we jnderstood and supported their non-violent action in occupying the building (one of the three that SDS students had taken over in 1968).

Among our group were members who are also affiliated with Jewish Voices for Peace, which also supports the pro-Palestinian protest at Columbia and on other campuses across the country where this latest student activism has rapidly spread.

Our action was noted, including with a photo, in an online update in the NY Times online reporting on the protests at Columbia written by NY times reporter Olivia Bensimon. Here is her update:

“Outside Columbia’s gates on Broadway and 116th, members of a group called Radical Elders are giving speeches. Many of them have been participating in anti-war protests for decades, and some of them are Columbia alumni. Pro-Israel protesters behind them yell that the hostages must be freed, and one, with an Israeli flag draped over his shoulders, screams,“No one can hear your lies, Jew Hater!” The crowd chants “Free Palestine” and “Sí se puede!” to drown him out, and N.Y.P.D. officers move him and another pro-Israel protester to a different area.”

This update was accompanied by a photo by Times photographer Ted Heisler, which shows the Radical Elders banner and some of our members holding it.

— submitted by Dave Lindorff

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Radical Elders Statement in Support of Pro-Gaza Protesters at Columbia University

Radical Elders, an organization of over 350 Elders who have been activists and organizers in all the struggles of the past half century or more, and who have banded together to say “We ain’t done yet!” have sent a delegation to Columbia to support the pro-Palestinian protesters and their campus encampment. 

We want to applaud and honor the courage of the young students at Columbia in the face of a callous and cowardly administration that called in the New York Police to try and crush their peaceful and principled protest, libeling the their denunciation of Israel’s ongoing genocidal collective-punishment slaughter of the Palestinians of Gaza as being “antisemitic.”

Undeterred even by arrest, by suspension from the school they and their families paid or borrowed many tens of thousands of dollars to finance, by cancellation of their student jobs and fully paid-for housing, the protesting students have stuck to their tents and their protest. Even foreign student protesters who, once suspended, lose their student visas and face potential deportation, have not backed down. This includes Palestinian students, for whom being deported to their “homeland” in Gaza or the West Bank could be a death sentence.

Their courage and dogged refusal to quit the struggle has rekindled an antiwar movement on hundreds of campuses across the US, just as the SDS building takeovers at Columbia in 1968, 56 years ago today (April 30) ignited the anti-war, anti-racism struggle on US campuses that helped end the US war on Indochina and racist plans for a student gym on public property in nearby Morningside Park.

Some of us delivering this message of support were in the occupied buildings of the campus that year when then-President Grayson Kirk first called NYPD tactical cops with their clubs onto the Columbia campus to brutally drive out and arrest the students holding them. Kirk, who had to resign a few months later, is remembered today as a failure and a traitor to higher education. President Nemat Shafik will fare no better in the history of Columbia. 

The new McCarthyism in Washington, the media and university administrative offices, where the smear of “Anti-Semite!” has replaced the old ’50s and ’60s smear of “Communist!,” in an effort to crush anti-war protest, will be similarly defeated, as courageous people like the students on the quad here at Columbia stand against the war-makers, zionists, racists and imperialists.

Radical Elders salutes you!

We ain’t done yet!

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Events

The Elders’ Day of Action Gathering

Video of the entire day’s activities.

Part 1

Part 2

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Elders’ Day of Action!!

We’re making some history and you can be part of it. You’ve made it possible; come and enjoy it.

We’re asking people to register for the March 16th Day of Action. It will help us plan our activities and the technology we need.

https://radicalelders.net/day-of-action-march-16/

March 16, Noon to 8:00 pm U.S. Eastern time.

Here’s what’s in store:

Opening Ceremony — Owl, representing the Ramapough Lenape Nation

Safety Net Panel — Alex Lawson, Executive Director, Social Security Works; Evelyn Jones Rich, NYC Municipal Retiree; Ana Malinow, National Single Payer Network; Jose R. Sanchez, Board Chair, National Institute for Latino Policy; Phil Warlick, Labor Leader, Coordination Team – Radical Elders

Triggered Action

Movement Exercise — Choreographer Rosalind Newman

Writing as Activism — Writer, Educator and Radical Elders leader Maritza Arrastia

Dance Performance — CUMBE Center for African & Diaspora Dance

Mapping the Future — workshop led by Makani Themba

Triggered Action

Performance — NYC Labor Chorus; Ted Glick & Solidarity Singers

Mini-Concert — Vibraphonist Kevin Norton and friends

Musical Performance — Luci Murphy and friends

Shout-outs from prominent activists all over the country;

Live broadcasts from various local events and actions by elders in cities nationwide.

Some of our members are planning their own activities: leafletting on some issue or getting together in someone’s house for a group viewing and conversation or…well…whatever you want to do. If that’s the case, let us know at info@radicalelders.net so we can support you and arrange to broadcast a few minutes from your action.

Otherwise, just tune into the Zoom link we’ll be sending out the week before the action and the leave your computer connected to the Zoom. You’ll be linked to the entire day’s activities and can participate whenever you want and can.

Finally, spread the word. Everyone’s invited, whatever age. You belong to other organizations? Invite them. This is an effort every member should be part of.

We’ll be in touch from now on pretty regularly with more information including a half-page leaflet for you to distribute among friends For now, though, we’re just asking that you register.

https://radicalelders.net/day-of-action-march-16/

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Ready?

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On the Situation in Gaza

a statement by Radical Elders

November 2, 2023

Radical Elders adds our voice to the worldwide outcry for an immediate ceasefire in the Israeli government’s genocidal war against Palestinians in Gaza. The insanity of our imperialist, racial capitalist world continues to explode. We add our voice to the world’s outrage at this most recent eruption, in one of the last settler colonialist struggles. The world must not remain silent to what Jewish Israeli historian Ilan Pappe calls the “incremental genocide” Israel has been inflicting on Gaza for the last 16 years.

We call for an immediate end to U.S material military support for the government of Israel; an end to the gigantic material support we, as taxpayers, give the Israeli government, which before the current crisis amounted to $10.4 million every day; a bill has been introduced in Congress to send an additional $14.3 billion to Israel.

We call for an end to U.S. political support for Israel’s current escalation of its long war on Gaza, and its 75 year war on the Palestinians.

We demand that our government call on our declared ally IMMEDIATELY to end the criminal shutdown of all food, water, fuel, electricity and medical supplies to Gaza, and demand an IMMEDIATE and complete ceasefire.

Some of our members criticize the actions of Hamas and other Palestinian organizations in their October 7, 2023 attack on Israel. Other members believe that sometimes people fighting for their freedom have no other option. In all cases, we mourn all deaths, believe that violence is an insane solution to this situation and absolutely reject war as an answer to this crisis.

As a US-based national organization of Radical Elders, united by our mini-program, we take stands on issues directly connected to our mini-program:

Racism and white supremacy: Our mini-program recognizes the importance of supporting struggles against “colonialism and imperialism, and … their enabling forms of oppression such as racism and white supremacy” as well as “the dehumanization of systematically excluded or oppressed populations.”

We oppose the racism structured into the apartheid Israeli state. We believe those structures underlie the settler colonialism that the Palestinians have been resisting since the Nakba. Further, we believe that opposing an ideology of white Jewish supremacy in Israel’s apartheid regime, connects to our struggle against racism in our country, whether it is the many United States police departments who train in Israel and learn how to “mow the lawn” here, or the impunity with which the Israeli regime has functioned in the world. We cannot eradicate the oppression of racism in our country while it flourishes anywhere in our world.

Further, the US government is supporting the racism of the Israeli apartheid regime both ideologically, and materially.

Impact of Militarism on elders: When all resources are cut off and a people are carpet-bombed, as in Gaza, elders are among the highest casualties.

As Radical Elders we have seen time and time again that by funding the military this country’s resources that should be used to provide its citizens with a sustainable productive life and clean renewable energy, are directed toward a criminal militarist foreign policy. We see the impact of that destructive waste of resources throughout the society and, as elders, we feel it particularly.

As our mini-program makes clear, we consider military aid an immoral, destructive scam that channels the resources that should be used to address our own problems and society’s deficiencies, into the hands of the arms industry. We see too many of our compatriots without decent shelter, medical care, and we need our government to pivot from supporting the arms contractors to supporting our citizens and residents. Instead of improving our society, they facilitate the destruction of lives and societies world-wide.

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Events Information

RE was there!

Radical Elders was part of the Elders hub (contingent) at the highly successful, huge March to End Fossil Fuels in New York City on September 17.

We helped lead the hub, carried its banners (pushing to make sure one of the two was in Spanish, btw) and made our presence (and position) felt in so many ways: including our t-shirts.

The spectacularly successful march of what some media are saying were 75,000 people was part of a Climate Change week of activities as the U.N. discusses that existential threat and what countries can do about it. Our mini-program makes it clear: stop using fossil fuels, start pushing sane energy solutions and start organizing our communities and lives to deal with this new normal capitalist greed has created.

This is the first of many public activities RE is planning so let’s get on board and tell the world: “We ain’t done yet!”

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Announcements Events Information

We’re Marching on Sept. 17!

On September 17, a Sunday, thousands of activists will take to the New York City streets in a march and demonstration to end fossil fuel use. The action coincides with the United Nations’ Climate Ambition Summit and its demand is simple: stop the use of fossil fuels, a major driver of the climate change and environmental instability that is threatening the continued existence of the human race.

Radical Elders is organizing a contingent for this march because, as activists, we’re deeply concerned about the issue. But we also feel we have a responsibility to point out to our movements and to the world that climate change, driven by fossil fuel, is an elder issue and that elder presence in these demonstrations and in their programs is essential.

  • We are quickest to die from climate instability and rapid temperature change events.
  • Disruption of our communities and destruction of our homes, devastating for all, particularly threatens us with permanent homelessness since it’s already tough for elders to find housing. Forcing elders out of a community is highly impactful since we, more than anyone else, depend on our neighbors for our sustainability.
  • The progressive homicidal deterioration of the quality of food, air and water kills us first because we’re older and more vulnerable.
  • After we’ve worked our whole lives for our children and grand-children, climate change will make their lives impossible.

It hurts everyone. It hurts us first. Everyone must act to contain it. We must be on the front-lines.

If you’re in or near the New York metropolitan area or can travel to it on September 17, consider joining us at this demonstration. We’ll have banners and leaflets and everything needed to make our statement and to support the demonstration’s statement. We’re also organizing with other elders groups to make a large elders contingent.

So…first step…sign up so we know you’re coming and can start organizing our participation.

Use this registration form:

You have questions? info@radicalelders.net

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Statements

The NYT and the “New McCarthyism”

Responding to a horrible article in the New York Times that included an attack on the People’s Forum, a group of organizations and people have signed a statement reprinted below. Radical Elders is one of those co-signers.

McCarthyism Is Back: Together We Can Stop It

We stand together against the rise of a new McCarthyism that is targeting peace activists, critics of US foreign policy, and Chinese Americans. Despite increased intimidation, we remain steadfast in our mission to foster peace and international solidarity, countering the narrative of militarism, hostility, and fear.

As the US government grapples with a major crisis of legitimacy, it has grown fearful of young people becoming conscious and organized to change the world. Influential media outlets like The New York Times have joined right-wing extremists in using intimidation tactics to silence these advocates for change, affecting not only the left but everyone who supports free speech and democratic rights.

The political and media establishments, both liberal and conservative, have initiated McCarthy-like attacks against individuals and organizations criticizing US foreign policy, labeling peace advocates as “Chinese or foreign agents.” This campaign uses innuendo and witch hunts, posing a threat to free speech and the right to dissent. We must oppose this trend.

Scientists, researchers, and service members of Chinese descent have been falsely accused of espionage and unregistered foreign agency, often with cases later collapsing due to insufficient evidence. Similar to the old “Red Scare” and McCarthy periods, when scores of organizations and leaders like W.E.B Du Bois, Eugene Debs, Emma Goldman, Paul Robeson and Martin Luther King Jr and others were attacked with fact-less accusations, today, prominent organizations and individuals, including CODEPINK, The People’s Forum, and Tricontinental Institute have been targeted, with smears and accusations propagated by outlets like The New York Times.

Their strategy paints a sinister image of a secret network funding the peace movement. However, there’s nothing illegal or fringe about opposing a New Cold War or a “major power conflict” with China, views shared by hundreds of millions globally. Receiving donations from US citizens who share these views is not illicit.

Media outlets have tried to scandalize funding sources of several organizations that are on the frontlines working with anti-racist, feminist, anti-war, abolitionist, climate justice, and other movements throughout the United States and globally. Meanwhile, when white neoliberal philanthropists flood the non-profit complex with significant funds to support their political agendas this is rarely scrutinized or made accountable to the communities they impact.

From The New York Times to Fox News, there’s a resurgence of the Red Scare that once shattered many lives and threatened movements for change and social justice. This attack isn’t only on the left but against everyone who exercises their free speech and democratic rights. We must firmly resist this racist, anti-communist witch hunt and remain committed to building an international peace movement. In the face of adversity, we say NO to xenophobic witch hunts and YES to peace.

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A Win in NYC — for now!

A Manhattan judge temporarily blocked the city Friday from switching all public sector retirees to a privatized healthcare plan.  Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank sided with retirees, issuing a temporary restraining order that prevents the city from proceeding with a plan to move the city’s 250,000 retirees to a Medicare Advantage plan managed by Aetna.

Radical Elders oppose NYC from switching NYC public sector retirees to privatized Medicare Advantage  plan.

Radical Elders members have been making calls, writing letters, testifying and participating in  rallies,marches and demos. They include (in alphabetical order) Jose Alfaro, Lizette Colon, David Forbes, Bobby Greenberg, Ana Juarbe, Kathe Karlson, Andrea Lyman, Angel Roman, Barbara Turk, and Blanca Vazquez
NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees : https://www.nycretirees.org/

The organization—along with a number of city unions and retiree groups—are opposing the change and advocating for retirees to maintain their current coverage through original Medicare and city-funded supplemental insurance. We are mobilizing both city retirees and active workers to advocate for maintaining the benefits to which they are entitled and are in the process of preparing legal actions to support this outcome.

PRESS:

1) Labor This Week (Video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zWJVhUSRxo

2) Daily News:https://www.yahoo.com/news/judge-temporarily-blocks-mayor-adams-193000605.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuYmluZy5jb20v&guce_referrer_sig=AQA

3. Gothamist: https://gothamist.com/news/judge-blocks-medicare-advantage-switch-for-250k-nyc-retirees-days-before-crucial-deadline