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Midwest Digest November 27, 2019

Highlights of AFSC's work from around the region

Siwatu Freedom Team
From left: Siwatu, Senator Geiss, Miesha, and Ashley Photo: / AFSC

Collaboration leads to a step forward in Michigan

The AFSC Michigan Criminal Justice Program has been working closely with the Siwatu Freedom Team and others advocating for improvements in the care of and conditions of confinement for incarcerated people who are pregnant, incarcerated caregivers of children, and women in prison in general. Most recently, direct advocacy from this collaboration resulted in an amendment added to the 2019 budget bill which allows for a family member to be present while women are in labor and after they give birth. This is a huge step forward in the continuity of care for both birthing people and infants. Read more about AFSC’s work in Michigan.


Iowans join nationwide effort to defend DACA

As the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the unlawful termination of DACA, AFSC Iowa joined dozens of supporters in Des Moines at a rally organized by DACA recipient and former AFSC staffer Kenia Calderon (above) and Iowa Dream Coalition. “We’re here to defend DACA, and at the same time acknowledge that that is not the solution we need today,” Kenia said. “The solution we need is citizenship for all.” Check out this great TV coverage and these photos. Earlier, AFSC organized a workshop on messaging with The Opportunity Agenda.



Advocates for Palestinian human rights head to the Hill

Last week, AFSC organized briefings for members of Congress on Gaza and Rep. Betty McCollum’s bill, HR 2407, which would stop US tax dollars from funding the detention of children by any country, including Israel. Read more about the briefing. Jennifer Bing joins other AFSC staff in calling for an end to child detention of any kind, anywhere.

Earlier, Jennifer, Rabbi Brant Rosen and others sat in at Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s office in Chicago. This coming Saturday at the American Muslims for Palestine’s national convention, Jennifer will serve on a panel looking at “Faith-Based Organizing for Justice in Palestine.” 


More resources from AFSC Chicago

Policing and surveillance are happening in schools everywhere, so it’s important for students to know what rights they have and the difference between their rights in school vs outside. Students, teachers, youth workers, parents, and community members can use this poster to help spread the word.

Click to see the catalogue of art from the recent Chicago exhibit of FOUND: Love Letters of Muslim Resistance and Community. The exhibit “celebrates Muslim communities and their creativity through radical art, workshops, screenings and activities.”


Making a difference in St. Louis

People involved with AFSC’s Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR) work in St. Louis are making a difference in their communities. After completing YUIR's Alternative Spring Break, T'Mya Pulphus went on to lead a successful campaign against her school's racially insensitive dress code policy. Kevin Backstrom is helping his school, Northwest Academy of Law, wrestle with public safety around gun violence. And a third young person, Lauryn Holmes, co-facilitated an anti-gun violence rally in partnership with Deaconess Foundation and Action St. Louis.

Students in Indy rally for Gaza

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Butler University in Indy rallied last week following ongoing Israeli attacks on people in Gaza. “Israel has murdered 34 Palestinians in the past five days,” they write. “Gaza will not be silenced, and we will have our voices heard…. Gaza will continue to live on despite all it has endured. We mourn the lives that have been lost and pray for the injured to heal and continue to fight for our liberation. We stand in solidarity with Palestinians worldwide in their fight for the right of return, and we will continue to work towards the liberation of Palestine and justice for Gazans who have suffered through atrocities.”

Grateful farewells to Brant and Matt

Rabbi Brant Rosen (above left) is completing five years of service with AFSC as Regional Director in the Midwest. Sharon Goens-Bradley, the ARD for the Midwest, writes: “During my nearly two years of working more closely with Brant, I have grown to appreciate his humor, honesty and clarity. I have been privileged to witness first-hand Brant’s passionate advocacy for the Midwest Region. He has mastered the skill of speaking truth to power while maintaining good relationships with those he’s challenging. Brant’s commitment to social justice issues and willingness to put himself on the front line of a variety of actions have been commendable. Please join us in wishing Brant all the best both personally and professionally.”

Meeting in Chicago last month, the Midwest Region Executive Committee approved a minute for Matt Burton (above right), an outgoing co-clerk who began his service with AFSC many years ago as an intern with the Kansas City program. The minute read, in part: “Matt will be remembered for his positive outlook, fairness, youthful energy and humor.”

Bits and Peaces

AFSC has a new set of resources available for people to help #SaveAsylum….The Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) shares this Summer School application…. December 3 is Giving Tuesday, so be sure to share your AFSC story and check out AFSC’s updated Alumni page….Take action now to end felony disenfranchisement and curb military spending.

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