Wednesday, November 13, 2013
In the last 24 hours two very principled, brave, young men decided to put their freedom on the line to expose an injustice and create public pressure for policy makers to do the right thing. The two courageous undocumented students - Yovany Diaz and Eduardo Samaniego - were removed from the Georgia Board of Regents' meeting in Atlanta and arrested. They were standing up against the Board of Regents decision to ban undocumented student's from paying instate tuition and attend college in Georgia. They were detained in Fulton County Jail, the same jail where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was held in October 1960.
Happily both of these young men are out of jail because of a very supportive legal team, a strong base of community support, and a little help from the Georgia Civil Disobedience Support Fund.
The fund was created during the successful campaign to defeat 2012 Senate bill 469, which would have made it illegal to picket in front of a non-public building and it would have made it almost impossible for organized labor to exist in the state. A broad coalition was created to defeat the bill, and over 50 people publicly committed to nonviolent civil disobedience if the bill passed. This commitment prompted some of use to prepare to cover bail costs. In the end the bill was defeated!
What were we to do with the money we raised to cover bail costs? It would have been almost impossible to give it back to people, as it was collected in at events, and small contributions online from all kinds of different people. We could have split it up between groups that anchored the campaign, but that seemed messy and in the end wouldn't have amounted to that much once the split was made.
After much discussion the decision to create a new piece of infrastructure to support principled nonviolent direct action and victims of politically motivated targeted arrests was made.
Representatives from the Atlanta Economic Justice Program for the American Friends Service Committee, Atlanta Jobs with Justice, and the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition have taken custodial responsibilities for the fund. It's a fairly new infrastructure piece in Georgia and a process for applying to use the funds is still being developed. As we take time to figure out the best way to promote the fund, replenish and grow the fund, and have a clear simple application process, we continue to make the fund available for crisis situations.
The fund has been used several times in the last few years and we hope that it continues provide support for those engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience.
To contribute to the fund simple click here.