Here's what happened at the
Free Press Second Saturday Cyber-Salon

There was unexpected good news at the January 2021 Free Press Second Saturday Cyber-Salon! On Saturday night, January 9, about 45 local and national community activists met through Zoom from 7-8pm to hear about local and national social justice issues.
View video of Cyber-Salon
Showing Up for Racial Justice
The first to speak was Ginnie Vogts of
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). She talked about SURJ’s mission and activities and how to get involved. SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals working to undermine white supremacy and to work for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. They work to connect people across the country while supporting and collaborating with local and national racial justice organizing efforts. SURJ provides a space to build relationships, skills and political analysis to act for change.
The local group is an outlet for white people who want to be allies in the Black Lives Matter movement and other efforts toward fighting racism. One of their recent initiatives is working to convince white people to stop calling the police when they feel fear when seeing black people. Many of the recent police murders of black men and boys originated from 911 calls by an unduly frightened white person. Andre Hill was shot and killed after a 311 call.
Some comments from the salon audience: the Cleveland SURJ group works with prisoners, that a good question to ask ourselves is “How am I racist?” to lead to our own self-reflection, that whites need to concentrate on listening and learning and much less on talking or making noise, and that a good book to read on the subject is
How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. Another good book is Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad.
Death Penalty Action
Abe Bonowitz of
Death Penalty Action joined us from a car driving back to Columbus from a press conference, with his fellow anti-death penalty activist friend Gary Witte. They had just delivered half a million signatures on a petition to stop the federal executions to lawmakers in Washington DC. He told us that the last federal execution will be of a black man who did not kill anyone.
He had good news – more than 400,000 have joined Death Penalty Action and the abolition movement is growing!
The “Squad” in US Congress is proposing an abolish the death penalty bill. They thanked Death Penalty Action for mobilizing the movement. Biden declared that he will work to abolish the death penalty.

And there’s been a major shift in Ohio’s capital punishment: Governor DeWine signed a bill to stop the execution of people with mental disabilities.
Also, House Rep. Larry Householder is no longer in support of the death penalty in Ohio.
Joyce Beatty signed on to get rid of the death penalty – if anyone has contacts with her, please let Abe know.  
Death Penalty Action has openings for organizers,
contact Abe for information.
Event this week:
The End of Executions virtual anti-death penalty conference FB page
Register for the conference
Esther Flores of
1DivineLine2Health joined us for a very exciting update. Her group received funding (some from the City of Columbus!) for their 40-hour a week drop-in center on the Hilltop, 2424 Sullivant Ave., to serve victims of human trafficking. They also got a second “Love Bug” – their vehicles to drive around and bring food, medical and other supplies and to people on the streets. They are also planning to open another drop-in center on the east side. You can donate to help this very worthy group!
Public Banking

Chuck Lynd told us about the Simply Living Public Banking initiative. Public banking localizes the economy and keeps the wealth among regular folks. It is much more sustainable for communities, investing in small businesses to strengthen and revitalize the economy. North Dakota is the only state to have a state public bank and Youngstown, Ohio is working to start one. Public banking can help kick-start renewable energies, refinance student loans, and give low interest loans to small business. Cash strapped cities and states need to invest in affordable housing, local businesses suffering from the pandemic, infrastructure projects, renewable energy and more. In Columbus, one quarter of every tax dollar is allocated to service the debt – to repay the bonds borrowed from Wall Street investors.
Next event February 2:
Bring on the Power of Public Banking for Ohio Town Hall.
2021 People’s Forum
Mark Stansbery brought up his ideas for a People’s Agenda for an event in March or April:
  • Economic Justice
  • Human Rights
  • Civil Rights
  • Peace
  • Ecological Balance
  • Participatory Democracy
We need to propose policy, use media and hold actions. Contact the Community Organizing Center to get involved.
Pat Marida of the Ohio Sierra Club announced that January 22 is the Global Day of Action to Enforce the Nuclear Ban Treaty – declaring nuclear weapons to be illegal under international law (the US resisted, of course).

Free Press article on the UN Treaty is at this link. 
Locally there will be a rally at Battelle, 505 King Ave., at 1 pm on Friday, Jan. 22 at 1pm.
Also, a horrible nuclear proliferation bill was able to be stopped House Bill 104,
Free Press article here.
Sandy Bolzenius gave us the date for the next
Move to Amend event on Speaking of Democracy ... Citizens United v. FEC: Its History and Its Consequences.
Bryan Curtiss let us know that
WCRS 92.7/98.3FM community radio is back on the air after an antenna problem and you can catch his DJBC Happy Hour Mondays at 8pm, celebrating their 10th year on the radio!
The Free Press thanks Steve Caruso for being our technical guru for these cyber-salons!
Hope to see you at the next one!
Pete Johnson
President, Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism

Contact: 614-253-2571

[email protected]
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Please support the Free Press Network -- the Free Press newspaper, websites, WGRN and WCRS community radio and our other media ventures -- with a monthly donation!
Become a patron on Patreon!
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