Skip to content Skip to navigation

Midwest Digest May 25, 2018

Midwest Digest May 25, 2018

Published: May 24, 2018
AFSC Freedom School in St. Louis

Young people take part in the AFSC Freedom School in St. Louis.

Photo: AFSC

Welcome to some highlights of work from around the region.

Sanctuary Spaces: AFSC Freedom School in St. Louis

The AFSC Peace Building program in St. Louis helps young people understand their own power to change systems. AFSC provides sanctuary by partnering with schools to help students build peace and go deeper into social justice issues at their school, understanding internalized racism and how it affects schooling. 

The program also holds AFSC Freedom Schools twice a year with two to four-day workshops where young people get a deeper and clearer understanding of what racism is and how it impacts their community today. In this interview with Christina Elcock, Program Director Joshua Saleem talks about how sanctuary is created through groups like Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR), which work to change systems and policies to create a more racially just environment.

Young people in Chicago delay vote on cop academy, demand justice

Debbie Southorn of AFSC continues to work with young people in opposing a $95 million police academy while pushing for accountablity and funding for communities. Activists successfully delayed a Council vote a couple days ago (above, via Shadowproof) and are keeping up the pressure. If you live in Chicago, or know someone who does, take action now in support. Learn more at #NoCopAcademy.

On May 30, join AFSC and our partners for an event at the AFSC office entitled "Students Not Suspects: Anti-Muslim Racism and Surveillance in Schools, a Discussion for Teachers and Community Members." Check and share these Do's and Don'ts for Bystander Intervention and learn how you can support Muslim friends and family and counter Islamophobia during Ramadan.

Iowans stand up to ICE as raids and arrests tear families apart

When Erica Johnson graduated from Mt. Pleasant High School a few years back, it's unlikely that the AFSC Iowa program director thought she'd return to her hometown one day to help organize the community's response to a decidedly unnatural disaster. But so it was earlier this month when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted a military-style raid on a concrete plant in Mt. Pleasant, arresting 32 people and sending shock and fear throughout the state. Media included this front-page piece, this follow-up news article, a radio spot and this TV report (from Philly). These photos portray a solidarity rally in Des Moines, pictured above.

"Young people aren't interested in being scared."

Mary Zerkel recently interviewed Ahmed Abbas and Umaymah Mohammed with AFSC's Communities Against Islamophobia project in Indianapolis. They've been training allies in recognizing and countering anti-Muslim racism, and recently began offering trainings on political education within the Muslim community in response to requests from Muslim-led organizations that  partner with AFSC.

There's a lot of good work happening in Indy, from a Nakba Day vigil to a Gaza solidarity action. Learn more about upcoming events, including a June 1 Palestinian Solidarity Fast, on the AFSC Indiana Facebook page.

Speaking up for people in Gaza and children in Israeli military detention

Jehad Abusalim and Jennifer Bing (above) of AFSC were recently interviewed on a Spanish-radio station about the situation in Gaza. In this post, Jehad says the essential message of the Gaza protests is that Palestinians are human beings. Help raise awareness about Gaza by checking out this webinar.

Hanna Alshaikh has created this guide for interviewing Palestinian elders, and Jennifer has compiled these resources about Israeli Military Detention: No Way to Treat a Child.

Poor People's Campaign tackles poverty, systemic racism and more

AFSC has endorsed and is supporting the Poor People's Campaign, which is active in 30 states. Quaker blogger Jeff Kisling sums up Iowa work; click for more photos and a video of weekly actions.

AFSC Freedom School set for June 26-29 at the Twin Cities Friends Meeting in St. Paul

Contact Dominique Diaddigo-Cash at or 202-820-0810 for more information. Check out these photos from a 2017 AFSC Freedom School.

"Good time" bills stalled in Michigan

AFSC Michigan Criminal Justice Program staff write that they are "glad that state Reps. Howrylak and LaGrand care about people in prison. The 'good time' bills they introduced are most likely not going to move anywhere. We do need to confront truth in sentencing in Michigan, and many of us have been doing this for years and years. AFSC supports working toward an earned credit system that has various pathways to getting credits and taking time off of a minimum sentence. Good time itself is still very much rooted in the prison discipline system."

See these related posts on the need to end felony disenfranchisement and the need to tranform the criminal justice system.

AFSC Centennial Exhibit visits Dayton

Migwe Kimemia writes about AFSC's Centennial Exhibit visting the Dayton International Peace Museum for a month. He also passes along this good news about the Ohio Governor's decision to create an Office of Opportunities for New Americans. Migwe writes: "I am very glad to note that our community voices on immigrant justice in Ohio over the past 15 years have not been in vain. That is the reason why African immigrants and students should lift up their voices and change the so-called 'dark continent narrative' to eliminate xenophobia against the people of African descent in this country."

Bits and Peaces

The Movement for Black Lives has issued this statement in solidarity with people in Gaza and all Palestinians....Dina El-Rifai reflects on Ramadan and the trauma of resisting Islamophobia....Rabbi Brant Rosen writes on Gaza and false charges of anti-Semitism....Mike Merryman-Lotze shares this view on the 70th anniversary of the Nakba....This Sanctuary Everywhere webinar asks, do police keep us safe?....Sign up for AFSC's next Changing Systems/Changing Ourselves webinar on June 5; the topic will be accompaniment....Learn more about the Diversity Visa lottery and read AFSC's statement opposing the ending of TPS for Hondurans.

Thanks as always for your support

Your gifts of time and money help AFSC shine a bright light. Please consider supporting AFSC by donating now and sharing this subscription link for the Midwest Digest. Please like AFSC Midwest on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Thanks!