October2011 protest, one week and counting

“October 2011 is the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan and the beginning of the 2012 federal austerity budget. It is time to light the spark that sets off a true democratic, nonviolent transition to a world in which people are freed to create just and sustainable solutions.”

These words describe the mission behind a “Human Needs, Not Corporate Greed” protest beginning October 6th in Washington, D.C.’s Freedom Plaza. One week from today, I will be participating in this protest with a small group of students and faculty from Tulane’s School of Social Work.

I have joined several committees and coalition meetings since starting my Master’s program one month ago, but this will be my first “hands-on” experience as a social worker in training. While my knowledge of protests until now has involved little more than taking pictures from the sidelines, I feel both fortunate and excited about being involved in this experience. Our group has the opportunity to represent our school and mission as social workers, while also gaining new insights from the many leaders and organizations who will also be involved in the event nationwide.

Below are 15 core issues that ultimately represent the “October2011” vision toward creating a peaceful, just and sustainable world:

1. Corporatism– firmly establish that money is not speech, corporations are not people, only people have Constitutional rights, end corporate influence over the political process, protect people and the environment from damage by corporations.

2. Wars and Militarism – end wars and occupations, end private for-profit military contractors, reduce the national security state and end the weapons export industry. War crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace must be addressed and those responsible held accountable under international law.

3. Human Rights – end exploitation of people in the US and abroad, end discrimination in all forms, equal civil rights and due process for all people.

4. Worker Rights and jobs – all working-age people have the right to safe, just, non-discriminatory and dignified working conditions, a sustainable living wage, paid leave and economic protection.

5. Government – all processes of the three branches of government should be accountable to international law, transparent and follow the rule of law, people have the right to participate in decisions which affect them.

6. Elections – all citizens 18 and older have the right to vote without barriers, all candidates have the right to be heard and to run and all votes should be counted.

7. Criminal justice and prisons –end private for-profit prisons, adopt evidence-based drug policy, prisoners have the right to humane and just conditions with a focus on rehabilitation and reintegration into society, abolish the death penalty.

8. Healthcare – create a national, universal and publicly financed comprehensive health system.

9. Education – all people have the right to a high quality, publicly-funded and broad education from pre-school through vocational training or university.

10. Housing – all people have the right to affordable and safe housing.

11. Environment – adopt policies which effectively create a carbon-free and radio-active free energy economy.

12. Finance and the economy – end policies which foster a wealth divide and move to a localized and democratic financial system, reform taxes so that they are progressive and provide goods, monetary gain and services for the people.

13. Media – airwaves and the internet are public goods, require that media be honest, accurate and accountable to the people.

14. Food and water – create systems that protect the land and water, create local and sustainable food networks and practices.

15. Transportation – provide affordable, clean and convenient public transportation and safe spaces for pedestrian and non-automobile travel.

Future posts will include Tulane’s mission for attendance as related to these issues, as well as a statement we hope to leave as our “footprint” on the weekend when we head back to New Orleans.

In addition to the protest, our group will have the opportunity to tour the Capitol Building as well as visit the office of Mary Landrieu, the U.S. Senator for Louisiana.

Stay tuned for updates throughout the week, and please feel free to contribute comments and ideas to each post. This will be an experience involving knowledge, controversy, excitement, anxiety and new visions.

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