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Rock, Rap & Speakout vs Poverty, Prisons & War

by By Ruth Todasco of Global Women’s Strike/LA Sunday, Apr. 13, 2014 at 3:16 PM 323-276-9833

For the 15th year marking International Women’s Day in Southern California, on March 8th a warm and sunny Saturday, a mixed race and enthusiastic crowd of approximately 450 women, men, quite a lot of young people, and lots of children gathered for a free concert and speakout at the MacArthur Park Band Shell in Los Angeles.

Rock, Rap & Speakout...
sany0053.jpg, image/jpeg, 667x500

Background: 15 years of IWD events in LA and globally have a remarkable history: In 2000, women in Ireland asked their national women’s commission to call for a one day women’s strike on International Women’s Day urging governments to count & value unwaged work in the home, on the land and in the community, and the Global Women’s Strike made it international. Women in the Strike had open meetings to develop the demands, which were agreed upon across national boundaries ( demands). Since then, global events have been called annually by the Global Women’s Strike & Women of Color/GWS. The global theme this year was Women Against Repression & Occupation, and events took place in several countries in the Global North & South, including the UK, Guyana, India, and in several US cities, including Philadelphia, Milwaukee WI and LA.

This year: IWD events internationally marked Haiti’s revolutionary legacy, and the continuing courage and resilience of its people, starting with women. From Berkeley, Boston, Claremont, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Springfield (USA), Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Windsor (Canada), Guyana and elsewhere, to Dublin and London, people have gathered in solidarity with the Haitian people. Actions in Haiti and across the world marked the 10th anniversary of the coup (29 February 2004) which overthrew the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide – former liberation theology priest and Haiti’s first democratically elected and much loved and trusted President.

Also on this the first anniversary of the death of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, we were remembering this extraordinary leader of the Bolivarian Revolution which changed Latin America and the world. Chavez was loved by millions of people – he was the first Latin American president we know of to recognize Haiti’s huge contribution to ending slavery and to the liberation of the Americas from imperial rule, and he uniquely kept Venezuela out of the UN occupation which followed the 2004 coup against President Aristide.

The LA Event
Under the banner Women Against Repression and Occupation – Rock, Rap & Speakout - No to Poverty, Prisons & War, the event opened with the Cuauhtemoc Mexica dance, followed by vibrant and talented local performers including rappers Cihuatl Ce and Wil B; drumming and dance which got many in the audience up and dancing with Samba Da MuDanca; the dynamic singer, rocker and guitarist Isabel Valencia and Wonderfox; youth sensation singer Carmen Batres; spoken word artist Fe Eva One of Mujeres de Maiz, poetry and an art installation remembering the Women of Juarez by Consuelo Flores and more. Some of the performers sang in both English and Spanish. DJ Manar Afghani of Visual Sound provided the beats.

A wide range of community groups planned the event, which was co-sponsored by an equally wide range of community based organizations, marking the contribution of the hard work of women, including mothers and other caregivers, to the survival and well-being of Los Angeles, Southern California and the world. Speakers included: Dolores Canales and Daletha Hayden, California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC); Keith Gawith, Veterans For Peace; Debra Burton, Downtown Women’s Action Coalition, LA Community Action Network; Patty Sanchez, DCFS Give Us Back Our Children; Kwazi Nkrumah, Martin Luther King Coalition; Pat Alviso, Military Families Speak Out; Mary Sutton, No More Jails LA and Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB); Willow Katz, Sin Barras, Santa Cruz. Angela Thielen provided Spanish translation throughout for all the speakers. Back up translation was provided by Alex Sanchez of Homies Unidos and offered by Carla and Jasmine identified by Roberto Flores of the Eastside Café.

The thoughtfully prepared décor of the stage and the art installations were beautiful! The hard working planning group members divided themselves into working groups to ensure that all went well, all pitched in and the event started right on time. The band shell was decorated with movement banners in English and Spanish, including Mothers, daughters, sisters, wives: fighting for our loved ones’ lives; No probeza, prisiones y guerra; End Homelessness; Every Mother is a Working Mother; Invest in Life & Welfare Not War & Prisons and more. Face painting and children’s art were created in the childcare area. The grassy area where many sat picnic-style was ringed with art installations and displays including an installation in honor of and remembering the women murdered in Juarez , the violent deaths of hundreds of women and girls in this Mexican city close to the US border, most of which remain unsolved; a life sized mock SHU (Security Housing Unit, solitary confinement cell) brought by CFASC; art by and photos of prisoners in solitary confinement and those who died there by Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes law (FACTS); the Prison Nation Exhibit by Center for the Study of Political Graphics; the Paper Doll Ribbon Project; Veterans For Peace’s Teen Memorial remembering teenagers killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with 400 quiet crosses in rows on the lawn of MacArthur Park; information booths including on getting health coverage through Covered California; water distribution by Michael and friend from skid row. Delicious food was prepared by Food Not Bombs. Colorful signs designating the various areas were made by Cheryl Leader of Long Beach Area Peace Network. Petitions circulated in support of the RISE Out of Poverty Act (H.R.814), reaffirming that every mother is a working mother and prioritizing the elimination of child poverty.

A special honoring of California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC) was part of the event. CFASC was at the forefront in gathering public support for their loved ones and others who participated in the California Prisoners Hunger Strike and against conditions in California prisons that the Supreme Court said were “inhumane.”

The fees to use the MacArthur Park Band Shell amounted to $1706.46 (a reduced fee from $2012.50 after we wrote to and testified before the Board of Commissioners for the Dept. of Recreation and Parks). After a concentrated effort by members of the IWD Planning Group requesting the Mayor and LA City Council support the hard-working women of Los Angeles without whom the city could not flourish, some city officials did come through including friends of Mayor Garcetti, President of City Council Herb Wesson and Councilmember Gilbert Cedillo, in whose district the event was held. The last 4 years the City Council issued Resolutions honoring the caring work of women, this year we got no resolution but at least we got some practical support.

IWD Planning Group for Southern California: Alexandria House; California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement; Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB); Center for the Study of Political Graphics; DCFS Give Us Back Our Children; Every Mother is a Working Mother Network; Food Not Bombs; Feminists Working on Real Democracy (F*WORD), Santa Cruz; Alex Sanchez, Executive Director of Homies Unidos; Long Beach Area Peace Network; Martin Luther King Coalition of Greater LA; Pat Alviso, Rossana Cambron, Jeff Merrick, military family peace activists; Wayne Marchyshyn and Sharon Cotrell, Occupy Long Beach; No More Jails LA; Orange Co. Peace Coal; Sin Barras, Santa Cruz; Bilal Ali, state-wide coordinator Homeless Bill of Rights, WRAP; Women of Color/Global Women’s Strike & GWS/LA; Veterans For Peace Chapters 067 (Long Beach) & 110 (OC).

Co-Sponsors : Anti-Racist Action-LA (ARA-LA/PART); BAYAN; California Coalition for Women Prisoners; CA Prison Moratorium Project; Critical Resistance/Los Angeles; Haiti Action Committee; Interfaith Communities United for Justice & Peace; International Action Center; KidVillage@OccupyLA; LAANE's Child care Campaign; LA Community Action Network; MLK Coalition for Jobs, Justice & Peace; Mujeres de Maiz; Stop LAPD Spying Coalition; Topanga Peace Alliance; Western Regional Advocacy Project; Women in Action committee of UTLA; Youth Justice Coalition

See photos:

For more information contact: 323-276-9833;

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