Home the Peace
activists attended a United for Peace and Justice conference
in Chicago and brought home peace of mind as well as new strategies
for peaceful protesting in the area.
Five hundred fifty activists (including four from the Capital
Region) from more than 325 organizations met from June 6 to
8 to develop a structure and a set of priorities for United
for Peace and Justice to operate under for the next 18 months.
Although the main goal of the conference was to formalize
the structure, leadership and framework of the organization,
which was established temporarily prior to the conference,
local attendees also will take home information and ideas
to share with other local activists.
biggest benefit was that [the conference] gave us an opportunity
to meet with organizations that are national, international
and grassroots, and coming up together with a strategy,” said
Erin O’Brien, organizer of Women Against War, who spoke at
the conference. “All our voices are equal, which helps us
in solidarity around certain actions.”
The national conference gave local attendees ideas for an
Albany conference to be held in early November. The local
conference will give upstate organizations the opportunity
to talk about goals and strategies from a grassroots perspective.
Although currently only in the planning stages, the local
conference will feature planning sessions, workshops and keynote
speakers on the subject of war, said Maureen Aumand, who represented
Capital District for Peace and Justice, Moral Response to
Terrorism and Women Against War in Chicago.
of the things that made the conference [in Chicago] very valuable
is that we’re working with a broad coalition of many justice
groups to put together a [local] conference in the fall,”
said Aumand. “Our hope is to strengthen our roots and build
on our connections and unite the cause of peace with the cause
hasn’t changed the way we are going to organize and plan,”
said O’Brien. “We’re going to be signing on with a lot of
the national protest dates.” On July 4, local supporters will
gather at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia
to protest President Bush.
work has only just begun,” said Aumand.
just did my job,” said Mark Bobb-Semple, youth and teen director
for the Albany YMCA. And doing it got him an 11th Annual Jim
Perry Progressive Leadership Award.
On June 19, at the Albany Quality Inn, Capital District Citizen
Action gave awards to Bobb-Semple, Frank Mauro, Irene Miller,
Erin O’Brien and Eleanor Stein for their commitment to making
a difference in the community.
Bobb-Semple has spent years working with Albany youth as the
program manager of the Liberty Partnership Program, a dropout
prevention program focusing on keeping middle- and high-school
students in school and sending them to college. Twenty children
with whom he has worked came to the event to support and thank
him. Bobb-Semple said he works for the children, not the big
On Oct. 17, 2002, Eleanor Stein invited 22 women to her home
to talk about the possible war with Iraq. These women, ranging
in race, ethnicity and age, expressed their antiwar sentiments
and formed an antiwar group, Women Against War, now an international
organization with 1,500 members. Stein believes women have
played a “very strong role in this antiwar movement.”
Erin O’Brien, an organizer of Women Against War, led the mall
walk for peace, which opposed the arrest of a Selkirk man
in Crossgates Mall for wearing a “Give Peace a Chance” T-shirt,
organized a fast for peace, and created the Flower in the
Gun, an online newsletter to inform WAW members about
issues. She is also the executive director of the Women’s
Building, at 79 Central Ave. in Albany, which provides recreational
and educational programs for women.
Irene Miller has been working on publicly funded elections
only since 2001, but since then she has become the founder
and chair of New York Citizens for Clean Elections, which
has grown to three chapters in Woodstock, New Paltz and Rensselaerville.
Miller is trying to pass the clean money/clean elections bill
in New York state and has been working with Senate Minority
Leader David Paterson (D-L-NYC), Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn),
and statewide organizations Citizen Action and Democracy Matters
(a politically active college group).
As the executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute,
Frank Mauro provides research for the Alliance for Quality
Education, among other organizations. However, his work in
raising consciousness about progressive taxation finally paid
off when, for the first time in more than 30 years, New York
state added brackets back into the income tax, which makes
taxes more specific to income.
Nominations are made by members of Capital District Citizen
Action, and its board votes on the recipients. Jon Bartholomew,
organizer with Capital District Citizen Action, said they
look for leadership qualities and going above and beyond what’s
Jim Perry, whom the awards were named after, was a lesbian/gay
rights leader and founding member of Capital District Citizen
Action. He died of AIDS-related complications in 1991.
Perry brought people together,” said Bartholomew.