Flying Focus Video Collective
August 2020 Newsletter
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March for Justice Predates George Floyd Uprising by Four Months
On January 20, 2020, the annual march for human rights and dignity organized by Don't Shoot Portland's Children's Art and Social Justice Council honored Martin Luther King, Jr. People of all ages, races and ethnicities marched over five miles from Peninsula Park to the statue of MLK at the convention center. There were countless varieties of signs with positive messages for police accountability and justice. The chants included "No Justice, No Peace, No Racist Police," "Hands Up, Don't Shoot!" and the rallying cry from the death of Eric Garner: "I can't breathe." Sadly, that chant became prominent again four months later with the death of George Floyd. Our show, "Reclaiming Martin Luther King Day 2020" (VB #115.10) lets you feel the positive energy as videographer PC Peri recorded the march from beginning to end. The marches that began in late May with thousands of people carrying these messages forward, risking their lives under the pandemic (and at the hands of the police) illustrate we are in a moment of great opportunity for change.
Connecting Climate Change and WarFor too long, the movements to stop climate change and to end wars have not seen their struggles as one. A November 5 event coordinated in Portland by the Peace and Justice Works Iraq Affinity Group set out to change that. Local Code Pink staff person Cody Urban appeared as part of a panel discussion to link the issues of climate change and war. Sahar Yarjani Muranovic, Executive Director of Oregon NOW, addressed US policy in Iran, bringing a historical and personal perspective. Dan Shea of Veterans for Peace Chapter 72 talked about Venezuela, having visited that country in March 2019 (and in the 2000s). Host Theresa Mitchell of KBOO gave brief updates on the US' ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The show "Stop the Climate Crisis: End War" (VB 114.1&2) was recorded by PC Peri and produced/edited by Dan Handelman and is streaming online at flyingfocus.org/ClimateWar_streamingpage.html.
The State of the ClimateBlack Lives Matter protests continue since the deaths of George Floyd and too many others. COVID19 rages on. Meanwhile, the climate crisis continues unabated. Recent FFVC programs cover aspects of the crisis.
First, "Climate Emergency Town Hall" (VB #114.13/115.1) features a September 2019 event hosted by Nasty Women who Get Sh*t Done, with a panel discussing work being done around climate change at the federal, state and local levels. Panelists are: State Representative Karin Power, climate activist Suzie Kassouf of Sunrise Movement PDX, Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, and Jenny Lee of APANO (Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon). The panel was moderated by Andrea Valderrama, of Coalition of Communities of Color. These elected officials and community activists talk about the urgency of addressing climate change and what they are doing to take action.
The second climate show is "Zenith 5 Trial: Deke Gundersen Testimony" (VB #115.6&7). Five activists were arrested in April 2019 for building a garden on the tracks of Houston-based Zenith Energy's railroad terminal in Portland to protest expansion of the fossil fuel infrastructure. The landmark trial of the "Zenith 5" in February 2020 ended in a mistrial when five of the six jurors refused to convict them. This was the first time the "climate necessity defense" was used in Oregon, meaning it is at times necessary to break the law to combat the planetary crisis. At the trial, several experts were called to the witness stand to explain the existential threat of climate change and the need to take action. This two-part program features Deke Gundersen, PhD, Professor and Director of Environmental Studies at Pacific University. He explains the impact of climate change on the environment, the economy and society. This program was recorded by PC Peri acting as the pool photographer for the entire trial. It was produced by Barb Greene.
"It's hard to believe that we actually have a good chance to witness the downfall of human
civilization"-- from "Zenith 5 Trial: Deke Gundersen Testimony" (VB #115.6&7)
Animals' SuperpowersIngrid Newkirk, co-founder and president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), spoke at Powell's Books in January 2020. PETA is the largest animal rights organization in the world. Ms. Newkirk has led the movement that has brought about victories for animals, including ending crash tests on animals by car companies internationally, convincing companies to stop cosmetic testing on animals and securing felony convictions of factory farm workers. Their undercover investigations led to government sanctions against companies, universities and entertainers who use animals. In "Animal Superheroes" (VB #115.12), Newkirk presents some new findings on the intelligence and amazing abilities of animals as explained her book "Animalkind: Remarkable Discoveries about Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassion," co-authored with Gene Stone.
Protesting War in Iran and VenezuelaIn July, 2019, 36 organizations cosponsored a march and rally to oppose threatened US wars in Iran and Venezuela, as well as other policies such as sanctions, environmental injustice, and criminalizing of immigrants. Our show "No Wars in Iran or Venezuela-- 7/19" (VB #115.4) includes speakers from the rally at Waterfront Park and clips from the beginning of the march as it headed out. Speakers include Sahar Yarjani Muranovic, an Iranian American and president of Oregon's National Organization for Women; Olivia Katbi Smith, co-leader of Portland Democratic Socialists of America; investigative reporter Arun Gupta; Candy Herrera, co-founder of Hands Off Venezuela PDX; Antonio Zamora of Demand Utopia, and Marco Mejia, a human and immigrant rights activist. The main organizer of the event was Peace and Justice Works Iraq Affinity Group. Emma Lugo from that group, who also hosts radio shows on KBOO-FM, hosted the rally. Nine months after it took place, we produced this show during the COVID-19 pandemic. Don't let the lack of social distancing distract you from the still-relevant information.
Unequal Impacts of Nuclear WeaponsOn August 6, 2019, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility coordinated their annual Hiroshima and Nagasaki memorial event, marking 74 years since the US dropped atomic bombs in Japan. The theme of the event and our show covering it, "The Unequal Impacts of Nuclear Weapons: Hiroshima Day 2019" (VB #114.9&10) refers to the disproportionate impacts atomic weapons have on women, children, indigenous communities, and communities of color. The show begins with a traditional Native American drum and song performance by John Edmo, a welcome from host Kurt Ikeda of Oregon Nikkei Endowment, and a non-denominational invocation from Andrea Cano, a local chaplain. A connection to Native American land and traditions was presented by Shoshone-Bannock poet and storyteller Ed Edmo. Michiko Kornhauser, a hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor), discussed her experiences as a young girl living near Hiroshima in 1945, then performed songs with the Ikoi-no-kai House Band. There are also presentations by Hanford Downwinder Patricia Hoover and Portland-Area US Representative Earl Blumenauer.
McCarthyism and Labor Then and Now
In "McCarthyism vs Clinton Jencks: Is It Happening Again?" (VB #114.5&6), Raymond Caballero and Barbara Dudley treat us to a fascinating discussion of labor history and the criminalization of political points of view. They spoke in September, 2019 at Powell's Books in Portland. This is a story about the repression of labor, a white union organizer who (with his wife) helped found the modern Chicano rights struggle and a long fight for justice and freedom of speech. Jencks was blacklisted based on his answer to a "loyalty oath" where he said he was not a member of the Communist Party. Caballero, former El Paso mayor, wrote a book about Clinton Jencks' labor organizing during the 1940s, Jencks' legal troubles and trial, and the important Supreme Court case that ensued. Barbara Dudley, former Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild and Greenpeace, talked with Caballero about his book "McCarthyism vs. Clinton Jencks." This story is very relevant, as labor rights are eroded every day and activists are labeled as threats to America.
Flying Focus in Times of Social ChangeAs a group that has been around since 1991, Flying Focus has an extensive catalog of programs on police and racial justice issues, dating back to responses to the beating of Rodney King. Some video on these topics are streaming online. See our short clips on multicultural issues at www.flyingfocus.org/ videoclips.html#Multi and our full length shows on police issues at flyingfocus.org/videostreaming2.html#police . Shows that are available on DVD can be found i n our full catalog at www.flyingfocus.org/catalog.html.
While we work through footage collected prior to the coronavirus outbreak, we're also continuing to gather new video at internet-based events and in the field. We've survived 29 years thanks to the support of people who believe in promoting social change through video. If you can donate $75 to support one of the above shows being put on our YouTube channel for the world to see, that benefits both our audience and us. Any amount helps us keep doing our work. It is a challenging time, with the facilities at Open Signal/Portland Community Media mostly shut down (except for playback). We're still bringing voices you don't hear most anywhere else to TVs and the web. Thanks for your ongoing affirmation of alternative media!