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News and reports

August 26, 2005 | Pages 10 and 11

Stand up to anti-Arab racism
South Central farmers

Defend abortion rights
By Justin Powers and Alden Eagle

SAN FRANCISCO--About 70 people met August 14 to kick off the Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights (BACORR). Many activists were fresh from several Bay Area clinic defenses organized recently to thwart the bigoted anti-abortion group "Crusade for Life" from shutting down local Planned Parenthood clinics.

Participants discussed the urgency of opposing Proposition 73, a state constitutional amendment that would require girls 17 and younger get parental permission before obtaining an abortion, which is scheduled to be on California's special election ballot in November. They also discussed how to protest Bush's nomination of right winger John Roberts for the Supreme Court.

The initial points of a unity document circulated at the meeting stated in part that "BACORR is committed to help build a militant broad-based activist women's movement, like the one that won abortion rights in 1973."

The mood in the room was serious as everyone agreed that, over the course of the next couple of years, a woman's right to have an abortion and Roe v. Wade hang in the balance. "The thought of loosing my ability to have an abortion scares me to death," said a participant named Susan. "I have to do something. We have to do something."

Tentative plans have been made for a September Abortion Rights conference, a fall demonstration against Prop 73 and in support of Roe v. Wade, emergency clinic defenses if needed, and outreach into the community through tabling and letter-writing campaigns.

For more information about BACORR, contact: [email protected].

-- In Providence, R.I., more than 20 pro-choice activists held a lively picket outside the office of Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee on August 19. Although Chafee is a pro-choice Republican and is even endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America, he has sent strong signals that he's voting for Bush Supreme Court nominee John Roberts.

Protesters chanted "Not the church, not the state--women must control their fate!" and a few passersby who saw the picket joined in immediately.

Activists plan to launch a coalition to defend abortion rights out of this protest. The need for grassroots pro-choice activism in Rhode Island is clear. The state's two clinics are constantly patrolled by right-wing bigots, and a woman was recently refused emergency contraceptives at a CVS pharmacy.

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Stand up to anti-Arab racism
By John Osmand

PROVIDENCE, R.I.--On August 10, more than 30 people attended a meeting by University of Rhode Island (URI) professor Nasser Zawia sponsored by the RI Community Coalition for Peace (RICCP). Zawia covered a gamut of topics, from the history of Western imperialism in the Middle East and Zionism to the scapegoating of Arabs and Muslims.

Less than a week before the meeting, a fire at the home of a Muslim chaplain at URI raised concerns that his family may have been the target of anti-Arab violence, although the investigation is still pending. Ali Hassan of the RI Council for Muslim Advancement (RICMA), who was at the discussion, has since met with authorities in an effort to ensure a full investigation into the fire.

Several members of the Arab and Muslim community were present at the lecture. Several attendees agreed to promote the September 24 march on Washington against the occupation of Iraq, pledging to publicize RICCP's bus transportation to D.C. at every area mosque. Contributions totaling over $100 were raised at the meeting to help fund the mobilization effort.

For information about RICCP, go to For information about RICMA, go to

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South Central farmers
By Bill Neal

LOS ANGELES--About 100 protesters representing South Central's urban farmers gathered at City Hall July 29 to prevent the city's sale of their land.

Developers with connections to city council member Jan Perry recently won the legal right to buy the property from the city. But low-income community members have farmed the public land for a decade and a half under an agreement going back to the administration of Mayor Tom Bradley. If evicted, organizers say 347 families will be affected.

The 14-acre tract of land has been the site of nearly 20 years of struggle between the community and developers. The land was originally slated for construction of a trash incinerator, but protests halted the project.

After the 1992 LA Rebellion, permission to use the land for gardens was granted after a deal struck with a local food bank director. The land came to be widely used for growing supplemental food for poor residents, many of whom are from Latin America, especially Mexico.

The gardeners are fighting back through protest and a legal strategy that is taking them to the California Supreme Court. The South Central farmers deserve everyone's support.

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