Friday, October 22, 2010

Bringing Non-Military Options To Cross Keys High School

Student Career Alternatives Program(SCAP) participated in it's third career fair at Cross Keys High School yesterday. SCAP has had lots of opportunities to set up exhibits at Atlanta area high schools over the past two years but Cross Keys is always a special experience. The school just always seems to do the best they can with little resources, and their counseling staff goes a little farther to make sure the student body has a many options presented for their post high school paths as possible.

It's SCAP's belief that the more opportunities a community has access to, the more they thrive. Presenting those opportunities can be a challenge at Cross Keys these days. They have one of the largest percentages of undocumented students in the Atlanta metro area. With the recent decision to essentially bar undocumented students from attending five of the most popular publicly funded colleges, many Cross Keys students have just had several opportunities taken off the table for them. Sadly the board of regents will likely push for a similar decision on every public university in the state, despite the fact that undocumented students currently pay out of state tuition, and implementing a check on status for all Georgia college students will cost thousands of dollars.

One of the great things about SCAP is that we focus on the many under promoted post high options, options that are almost never talked about on high school campuses. Our "It's My Life"( career guild explores dozens of opportunities to build careers that don't require a social security card, or a college degree.

Yesterday we gave out dozens of copies of "It's My Life" and talked up Atlanta based opportunities with students, faculty, and parents.

We also had the chance to discuss the realities of life in the military, and give folks the real deal on the legalities of the enlistment contract and how the benefits promised by recruiters often play out in real life. Our hope is that young people have all the information before they enlist into military service.

We also had the chance yesterday to award a bright young man, Javier Garcia, with a pair of tickets to the Atlanta Aquarium. The tickets were donated by SCAP organizer Josie Figueroa.

SCAP Needs Your Help

We have more schools to cover then we have volunteers. If you're interested in becoming involved with SCAP please email

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Letter to Attorney General Holder About Recent FBI Raids

In recent weeks, AFSC partners across the country have been the subjects of raids by the FBI, investigations by local police departments, and grand jury investigations. AFSC believes these raids are ominous portents of renewed stifling of domestic dissent, not effective law enforcement. They place a cloud over the public debate that is vital in a healthy democracy.

In an open letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Shan Cretin, general secretary of AFSC, urges an end to these repressive measures and for him to heed the growing call for vigorous action to defend, rather than diminish, our fundamental liberties.

Here's a link to the letter:

Here in Atlanta we are no strangers to government surveillance. Last year we were subject to a breach of security in our email system by Homeland Security.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Take A Bite Out Of Apartheid With One Call/Email!!!


The Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) is a program coordinated by Dr. Robert Friedmann and the GSU Criminal Justice Department. The purpose of the program is to facilitate training exchanges between Georgia police departments and others around the world. While the GILEE program has relationships with several international police agencies,their relationship with the Israeli police is the most intimate and most troubling. Police (as well as other public employees) from across Georgia have attended over a dozen
delegations to Israel in recent yeas to learn
“counter-terrorism” techniques. Likewise,
Israeli police have traveled to Georgia under
the auspices of GILEE to learn drug law
enforcement techniques.

Why should You be concerned?

Israel’s so-called “counter terrorism”
techniques are in reality the protection
and support of an apartheid state. For over
sixty years, Palestinians have lived under a
regime of racial segregation and oppression.
In Palestine-Israel, Palestinians live under:

1. Systemic expropriation of land and property
through laws and unstated practices

2. 5 million Palestinians (not including millions of exiles) can only live in a very small percentage of the land in Palestine-Israel

3. Creation of Bantustans, or Palestineonly ghettos in which Palestinians are deprived of basic survival necessities including food and clean water

4. Creation of Jewish-only areas and roads, which serve to restrict the movement of Palestinians

5. Systematic murders, collective state terror, and mass imprisonment

6. Destruction of Palestinian’s economic means of survival and social infrastructure

7. The ongoing commitment of the Israeli government to continue with racial segregation and ethnic cleansing.

Israeli police are essential
to the carrying out of these
racist and inhumane practices. Their vision
of “counter-terrorism” is a one of torture,
arbitrary arrest and detention, extra judicial
killings, discriminatory profiling of Arabs,
and a military court system that falls short
of international standards for fair trail,
among countless others. The very policemen
conducting these practices in Israel are
teaching them to Georgia police officers so
they can carry them out on Georgia soil.
Georgia International Law Enforcement
Exchange not only supports violations of
human rights against Palestinians, but also
gestures to the goal of implementing them
here in Georgia toward populations already
targeted by discriminatory police practices.
We need not forget that the Atlanta
Police Department has a long and troubling
history of violating citizen’s rights, racial
profiling, and similar though not identical
cases of extra-judicial murder and physical
abuse, with Kathryn Johnston, Tremaine
Miller and Pierre George only a few of the
victims in recent years.*

You Can Help Shut Down GILEE And Take A Bite Out Of Apartheid Right Now!!
We are calling on all of our friends from around the country to take five minutes to do this today, and then tell friends of conscious to do the same!! Let our collective voices amplify into an unstoppable force!

The Movement to End Israeli Apartheid and the Progressive Student Alliance demand that GSU President Becker shut down the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange. We ask that you join this critical national effort to put pressure on President Becker to SHUT GILEE DOWN.

***On Tuesday, October 19th from 9 am to 5 pm please call 404-413-1300, email and fax 404-413-1301 with the following message***

"My name is _________ and I am calling from _________. Dr. Becker, I strongly urge you to shut down Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange. With GSU’s growing international reputation, the university cannot afford to be associated with Israel, a country that consistently violates international law. One such example is the May 2010 killing of nine unarmed civilians in international waters carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. I urge you to move toward Shutting GILEE Down and to meet with your students and concerned community members to discuss this matter. Thank you."

AFSC Atlanta is proud to support this effort, we thank you in advance for your willingness to take the time to make the call, to witness for peace, to work against inequities, and build a more just world.

For More Information about the Movement to End Israeli Apartheid's(MEIAG) GILEE campaign visit:

*Taken From MEIAG's, "What You Need To Know About Georgia State Universities Involvement With Human Rights Abuses" pamphlet.

At 5:11pm today(10/19) Dr. Becker's office confirmed that he will be meeting with students to discuss concerns about GSU's connections to human rights abuses through GILEE! This is a major victory! Thanks to all who added their voice to the choir by calling/faxing/emailing Dr. Becker's office today. This is your victory!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Be The Change Tour Day 5: Atlanta

So every good thing must come to an end, and I must say that although I was pretty tired rolling into Atlanta, I was also pretty sad that the tour was coming to an end.

I do want to take one more opportunity to speak to how moved I was to get to see AAC perform over and over again. Each poet on the tour poured so much heart, talent, and emotion into their performances. I'm sure everyone has their personal favorite piece to the performance. I really thought Tameka Dean was all sunshine during her, "Reintroduction" piece, Paul Grigsby was heartachingly heartful during his, "Mic Stand Revolution", and Mike Scott knocked the crowd out everyday with, "TV Box".

Anyway, back to our last stop, Atlanta. Thatnks to Dawn Gibson we ended up at the speakers auditorium in the student center at GSU. Awesome space!

Turnout was good with members of campus groups including, Progressive Student Alliance, MESPA, Amnesty International at GSU, Georgia Students for Public Higher Education, CaribSA, and community groups including Cop Watch, Food Not Bombs, the International Action Center, and many others also came out.

The discussion after the performances was lively and insightful, students and community members took turns pointing out the connectings between various systems of oppression and economic exploitation. We then discussed several helpful models for community organizing, campaign development, and movement/issue cross pollenation.

I should mentioned that Eldon Baines, The Dalton State Student that organized our stop there and organized peers to ride up to Atlanta for the Board of Regents meeting the past Wednesday, showed up in a velvet blazer. Eldon was asked to share his experience at the board of Regent meeting to the group, I've posted some of Eldon's reflections on the meeting in below blog posts.

I was happy to see so many people from the audience networking after we ended the program.

Everyone was invited to join us for dinner, after which we all were faced with the tough job of saying goodbye:(

But no real goodbyes. Be The Change Tour was actually just a pilot. A chance to get the performance out in front of folks, and explore what the talk back session should look like. All of us on the tour felt the experiement we really well. So we'll be developing a new audio visial component to the tour, some new companion literature, changing up the talk back session, and hitting the road in a much bigger way next fall......anyone wanna help book a tour stop in you town, or on you campus???

I wanted to give a special thanks to John Reynolds, who jumped on the tour very last minute, volunteering to take pictures, record video, and just help out in general. We would have no picture, and the tour would have been much more difficult with out John, thanks dude!

Check out Johns Site:

Here's some footage from the GSU event:

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Be The Change Tour Day 4 Pt 2: Statesboro

We showed up in the boro just in time to set up. We were booked in the best venue in Statesboro, it was a HUGE beautiful stage and auditorium. The turnout was small in relativity of the capacity of the space, which was close to 1000, but it was the right crowd. We had a group of organic farmers who use their farm as a way to start discussions about economic injustice, a teaching major who plans to get 600 signatures in defense of public education in the next month, several librarians(we love librarians), and several community organizers.

I was especially impressed with how the group dealt with several tough questions and assertions regarding race from other audience members.

AAC was of course a huge hit, as always. I know that everyone has their favorite moments but I was really moved by Paul's Mic Stand Revolution, Mikes T.V. box, and Tameka's reintroduce myself.

After the performance we, along with several of the attendees were treated to dinner and hospitality by Dr. Rosemarie Stallworth.

Jeremy Foreman (Statesboro's organizer of a 1000 hats) and Emma Marie Tracy(Statesboro's kid genius) roped several of us into going out to some karaoke night in he boro. There was a bonfire outside, and country covers of MIA's paper planes, surreal for sure.

After not getting enough sleep we got up and where treated to breakfast by Rosemarie at the famed Snooky's. The restaurant is definitely a throwback, way back. I must say the service was amazing, everything you would imagine in a folksy southern breakfast joint in the 1970's.

Then it was back to the road!
Thanks Statesboro! Can't wait to come back!

Photos by,
John Reynolds

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dalton Organizers Witness Board of Regents Enactment Of Racist Policy

I Met Eldon Baines this week at the first stop of the Be The Change Tour. During the talk back session Eldon purposed that student join him in Atlanta for the Board of Regents meeting where one of the agenda items was a purposed ban on undocumented students at several publicly funded Georgia colleges. Eldon wrote up his experienced and gave me permission to put it on the blog.

Eldon's words:

We had very short notice that this policy change was going to come up for vote
so soon. Even without much time to prepare, we gathered a few people together
who could afford to miss a day of their classes to help us speak out against
this discriminatory policy. We made it to the meeting on time, but when the time
came to vote on this issue, we were shocked. Nobody, not students, not
professors, not representatives from the ACLU, nobody was allowed to speak. The
facts discovered by the committee were put forward in a direct manner before the
policies were voted upon. Every single item in the list reiterated the same
basic facts: There is no need for policy change in this area and the
unreasonable fears of undocumented students somehow obstructing the education of
documented students were false. Despite this, all four recommended provisions
were voted in with little further discussion.
Our group was appalled at the blasé attitude the Board of Regents adopted
during these proceedings. They appeared unconcerned with the real effects of
blocking deserving students from an education and totally unfazed by the
numerous protesters against this proposal. It’s really very disheartening to see
how inattentive the system seems to be toward those people who need its
protection and encouragement most.

Be the Change Tour Day Four Pt 1: Milledgeville

Well, Milledgeville was a trip on several different levels, I don't even know where to start. It should be said that Art as an Agent for Change did start at Georgia and College State University, a school that is 90% white....and one can no doubt feel the whiteness of the campus.

It goes without saying that a tour that focuses on exploring systems of oppression was likely to spark some discomfort not only amongst attendees but anyone that was aware of the tour stop. That didn't stop us from trying to get folks in the room. In fact we shut down the dinning hall in an attempt to create last minute buzz, check out the video below!

AAC did their thing well as usual, rocked the crowd and John caught a little footage I'll
share with ya'll.

During the performance we all noticed that there was a man in a nice suit sitting in the back of the room. After the performance he approached Paul and I. After telling us he enjoyed the performance and supported our alternative views he let us know the AAC was not welcomed to perform at the upcoming fall fest that they had been asked to perform at. He said that it just wasn't the right crowd and that there were elements in the admissions office that were not ready for AAC's message. It suddenly became painfully clear why Milledgeville is over 50% percent black and GCSU is 90% white. Good luck on "diversifying"!

After that mind numbing experience we hit my favorite coffee joint in Milledgeville, BlackBird coffee, and got a honey latte to take the edge off before hitting the road to Statesboro.

Photos by,
John Reynolds

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day Three: Athens

So we actually rolled into Athens the night before Wednesday just in time for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Georgia, the Grit! Mmmm...stuffed peppers and gravy with a side of succotash!

We were lucky to have several local folks that were down to put us up for the night, thank you Allie McCullen and Laura Estrada for being such gracious host:)
......although Mike was stalked and attacked by a cat who went by the name of Falcor, he's still recovering for the trauma.

Wednesday presented all of us on the tour an opportunity to have half a day to chill, take care of personal stuff, catch up on emails, and check out Athens. John got to catch up with sleep, Tameka got some studying in, Mike caught up with school work, Paul did some work work, and I got to check out the best comic shop in Georgia(that's right, Athens has the best restaurant and the best comic shop), Bizarro.

We also received some pretty troubling news. The Board of Regents decided to check the immigration status of all college students in the Georgia college system. Undocumented student already have to pay out of state tuition and have difficulty receiving. The move by the BOR will not only mean an end of higher education for thousands of youth in Georgia, it will also add another layer of bureaucracy to the school system that will cost tens of thousands of dollars to implement. It's a move by the BOR that appears to be purely punitive and racist in nature.

When it was time for us to head over to the miller learning center at GSU and set up we noticed a ton of buzz in the area. Apparently Ludacris had been hired to headline a concert for homecoming week. His sound check could be heard all over campus.

Turn out to our Athens stop was not our biggest crowd but it was a spirited one. There was no extra credit provided for attendence so we got only the most committed folks, folks that were for the most part actively engaged in campaigns on campus. Students fighting against education budget cuts, poverty, gender inequities, racial inequities, and more. The event actually ran longer then any of the other cities so far.

After the event Allie and Mitch Roper took us out for Jamaican food. Toward the end of our meal we somehow ended up going around the table sharing our stories of how we each have felt called speak out against oppression and exploitation in our perspective communities. What was it that opened our eyes to problems in our neighborhoods, in our world, and what are we doing about it.

Here's some footage of Mike Scott talking about his artistic process:

After dinner we said our goodbyes and hit the road to Milledgeville. When we pulled into Paul Place, which is part of the GCSU student housing(where Paul is on staff), GCSU student flocked around Paul with warm greetings for him, which thankfully extended to us as well!

Photos by,
John Reynolds

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Be The Change Tour: Day Two Kennesaw

We were originally going to take the day off on Tuesday to relax and prepare for the rest of the busy week but plans quickly changed when Tori Wester, KSU student and up and coming activist, messaged the Georgie Peace & Justice Coalition facebook page and said,"If there are any efforts that could be aided by the Kennesaw State University Peace and Justice Coalition, please email me via facebook or through We would be more than happy to join forces and help promote justice throughout Georgia!"

Of course we couldn't ignore the invitation! So with less then a week before the tour started Tori reached out to her professor, Tom Pynn, and booked a room and outreached the tour stop, not an easy task.

Though the crowd was much smaller then Dalton they made up for it with their vocal cords. KSU students had a lot to say, and they were excited to explore opportunities to strengthen their work, increase the volume on their collective voices, cross pollenate with other movements, and develop stronger analysis around the issues their working on.

We were super excited to hear about the peace conference they're working on for next March, which they invited us to be a part of:)

It must be said the AAC is amazing, I'm so excited to be on tour with this crew.

Oh, and we got some exciting news for those that are outside of Georgia or can't make any of the tour stops for whatever reason. The event Friday night at Georgia State(7pm) will be streamed live on the interwebs for all to see!

...and If you're a student at KSU you need to get with Tori....

Photos by,
John Reynolds

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Be The Change Tour: Day One Dalton

So day one! We all met at my place to load in our shuttle bus, which we've been lovingly calling RosaII, and hit the road to Dalton

When we were putting together Be The Change Tour we wanted to go out of our way to reach out to rural schools that often get passed over by other tours. Dalton State has about 6,000 students and only 15 active student groups and many of those groups are not very active or engaged in any sort of community service. I've honestly never seen a school that is more difficult to organize on. Most of the students are working one of two jobs, it's the most economically depressed city in the state, close to 30% of students who enroll don't complete, and on top of that there is a extremely rigid bureaucratic procedure for student groups to post do anything.

That being said we were amazed that the rather small group, Students United for Peace, was able to secure an auditorium and pack over 100 people in to see the tour! Our hats are off the SUP! AAC really brought it, they honestly exceeded my expectations and I'm sure each stop will inspire a slightly different performance. Many in the audience we there for the extra credit points offered for attendance with is both exciting and risky.
Exciting because it's a chance to create dialogue with new faces, to really plant a seed.
Risky because if you don't reach folks or turn them off it could your stuck with a totally unresponsive crowd.
The crowd was reponsive, and he talk back session went very well. Students were able to identify a number of issue that need to be addressed in the community including climate change, bicycle lanes, extreme poverty, and immigration reform.
AAC's performance is impossible to ignore, no one has the option to disengage. If the tour is anywhere near you this week, go! If you're been feeling burnt out of disempowered lately you must make it a priority to come! If you have a friend that's expressed a desire to create change in the community but never does anything, grab their arm and drag then to one of the tour stops this week!

So Dalton was an amazing experience for all of us. Thank you again Students United for Peace, thank you Dr Kenneth Ellinger for providing so much support for students motivated to organize and buying us dinner!!

Oh, and check this video I shot of a the president of SUP Eldon Baines literally being the change

Photos by,
John Reynolds

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee