Why should Metro Justice be Best Activist Group?

city.jpgIn only a couple of days, the voting for City's "Best of Rochester" contest will come to a close and we will have to wait until the end of October to hear the results.  Metro Justice is on the ballot this year for "Best Local Activist Group" and we really hope that we can win the the 2013 title.  You might be thinking--why does this matter?  It matters because we need more people to hear our name, know our mission, and join us in the quest for social justice.

Currently, our Fight for Economic Justice campaign addresses the extreme inequality happening in our country.  We demand:

  • An end of illegal bank foreclosures in the City of Rochester
  • The passing a single payer health care bill in New York State
  • A living wage and stronger unions
  • Improvements to Social Security, the American Worker’s safety net

Do you think these issues are important?  Do you want more people to mobilize around Economic Justice?   This is why winning Best of Rochester is important.  

Now I have a job for you--are you ready for this?  We need you to fill out City Newspaper's Best of Rochester ballot and be sure to pick Metro Justice as "Best Local Activist Group."  Now don't stop there! Next, forward the link to your friends, family members, and others and ask them to vote for MJ too--our members and supporters are the reason we are stronger than we were in 1965.  Thank you!

Vote here! Voting ends this Friday at 5pm! 

MJ welcomes the new ELDER JUSTICE Subcommittee

Rochester is the birthplace of a national nursing home culture change movement called the Pioneer Network, whose goal was to change the nature of nursing homes from hospital-like holding institutions into meaningful and fulfilling homes for elders. Unfortunately, Rochester also currently contains the nursing home Blossom South, labeled as “Worst in the Nation.” The NYS Department of Health and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is attempting to close it after more than three years of violations and “special focus” by NYS inspectors.

[More after the jump!]

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Happy Birthday Medicare!

SM_IMG_7102CS.JPGThis old gray Granny splits all her pills in half. The drug companies just laugh; Their profits are off the graph. But granny can’t afford to pay for her pills, and so I guess we’ll have to shoot her now. The Raging Grannies recently sang these lyrics with MJ members in celebration of Medicare’s 48th birthday. Members visited both the Monroe County Democratic Committee office and the office of NY State Assemblymember Harry Bronson to show their support for the program.

[More after the jump!]

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Parallels that bring peoples together

The Rochester area is justly proud of the role it played in the abolitionist movement, through heroes like Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Amy and Isaac Post, and lesser-known figures like William Clough Bloss. Of course, we remain deeply divided by race and plagued by racism. Still, the question of justice for African-Americans is high on the local agenda. And Latinos/Latinas are similarly having their voices heard and their issues addressed.

But another aspect of racism and historical injustice gets less attention here, even though you might say it’s more firmly rooted in our soil than even slavery used to be. I’m talking about the long oppression and continuing dispossession of Native Americans.

It’s often taken for granted that what’s now the city of Rochester was, as they say, off the beaten path for Native peoples in pre-Contact and Colonial times. True, this wasn’t the epicenter of Native populations, mostly because more productive and inviting lands were to the south. Nonetheless, there’s an “Indian Trail” that runs through Mount Hope Cemetery, marking an ancient upland footpath that circumvented the Genesee River wetlands. And the University of Rochester has placed a historical marker near the Interfaith Chapel that acknowledges, however patronizingly, that an Algonkin village once was located there in a so-called “primitive wilderness.” But most attention to Native culture in the region focuses on centuries-old Seneca Nation population centers in the upper Genesee Valley and the Finger Lakes, with special emphasis on Ganondagan, the state historic site in Ontario County.

Lately, however, the city and at least one inner-ring suburb have come to terms with local Native history. Unfortunately, this results from a proposal to build a Seneca Nation casino here under the rubric of “development.” Some business interests and politicians have lusted after a casino downtown; the Senecas themselves and an entrepreneur have floated the idea of building one in Henrietta, near the Thruway. Any such plan involves all kinds of treaty issues, of course – never mind planning and zoning. But progressives are, or should be, united in opposition to a casino, which in economic terms just shifts money from one pocket to another, benefiting a few but addicting many patrons – and draining economic activity from other local businesses. [More after the jump]


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Coming soon! The 2013 MJ Alternative Fair

alt_fair.jpgAs we are reaching the colder months ahead, I wanted to take the time to share with all of you some interesting information about our next big event—the Metro Justice Alternative Fair.

As before, the Fair will take place at the First Unitarian Church, 220 S. Winton Rd., on December 6th and 7th. And as always, our members and the community can shop there for the best fair-trade and locally-made products in Rochester.

Since this is my first year leading the charge, I am very excited to work with our committee of fantastic volunteers who organize the fair each year, and I am excited to get more people involved in volunteer roles!

We are looking for volunteers to work at the craft table, the kitchen, and in other various roles.  If you are interested in helping out—call Sami at 585-325-2560 or go onto our Alternative Fair web page where you can learn more about the Fair and even sign up to volunteer.

Remember, events like these can’t take place without the generous help of our volunteers.  We need your help to make it happen!

New high-tech takeover at MJ!

Our outdated organizational and communications technology is now going to be a thing of the past! We just converted to a new system that makes our website easier for members to donate, sign up for volunteer roles, and become even more involved with Metro Justice.

Also, with this system, our database will be easier to update, which will allow us to bring more volunteers into the office to help us with day-to-day tasks.

The NationBuilder software not only makes us more efficient but makes it easier for you to share our articles, petitions, and membership sign-up with your friends and family over Facebook.

The most important new feature, our membership pages, are now easier to fill out, making online donations to join Metro Justice a snap! Plus, once you donate, you can even share with your Facebook friends that you contributed!

We already identified a need to have more original content by our members available online. With an easier-to-update website, we can easily add more of this content to our website.

If you are interested in helping with this change by either providing feedback or suggesting content, email [email protected] 

Colin O'Malley urges NY to "Raise the Age!"


“The impact might not be just spending time in jail, it might not be just spending more time in jail, it could be loss of section 8 housing possibilities, it could be loss of college aid, it could be decreased job potential once you’re out.” MJ Organizing Director explained at the "Raise the Age" Press Conference at the Center for Youth yesterday morning.

Teenagers in New York who are 16-year-olds and get in trouble with the law can be tried as an adult. But some want to see that age go up. The “Raise the Age Movement” wants teens 18-year-olds and older to be tried as adults.

80 percent of teens who end up in adult jails will re-offend. When they get out of these jails, those children will have less of a chance of getting education, a good job and even affordable housing. 

New York State and North Carolina are the only states in the country that treat children 16-year-olds and older as adults in the legal system.

Other Media Sources:

City Magazine Article



Education is liberation: Metro Justice Speakers Bureau


Later this month, Metro Justice will be announcing to dozens of community organizations, block clubs, unions, churches, and schools the creation of our Speakers Bureau.

We know that building movements for social justice requires a shift in consciousness among many of the people in our city. While many of our core values are incredibly popular, the specifics of some arguments are lost, and often members of the public are easily manipulated because they lack awareness of many important details of policy decisions being made or proposed. [More after the Jump]

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Voting Rights Attacked, but also Defended

By Rosemary Rivera, Metro Justice Member

VRA.jpgThe March on Washington, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act changed the American landscape 50 years ago allowing more access to the ballot. Yet in June of this year, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by eliminating section five.

Sections 4 and 5 (Section 4 is still in effect, but without Section 5 it is useless) constitute what Rep. John Lewis calls the heart and soul of the act. They require nine states (most of them in the Old South, plus a few others outside this region, and also smaller jurisdictions like Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx) with a history of racial discrimination to get federal approval before changing their election procedures. This requirement, dubbed “pre-clearance,” came under attack by Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Scalia, et al., who claim that our country has changed and that pre-clearance has become an undue burden for these states and localities and that the formula for determining how the law applies is outdated and unconstitutional. Eliminating Section 5 lifts the restrictions on states, so now they can determine their own voting regulations without federal approval. Justice Roberts has been on the warpath with a long term strategy about lifting restrictions for these states for quite some time. [More after the jump]


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Racist violence, White privilege – and real solutions

Racist violence, White privilege – and real solutions

By Pat Mannix

All over the country stories of police misconduct in the performance of their duties are reported online Facebook and YouTube. In Rochester, we have recently followed the story of Benny Warr, a physically disabled man who, while waiting for a bus, was maced, dumped out of his wheelchair, and viciously kicked by the RPD. The attack was not only caught on video but was personally witnessed by the Commissioner on the Board of Education. Justice was not served for Benny and he, suffering from PTSD from the attack, finally took an ACD (Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal) just to put the whole thing to rest.

This incident was closely followed by another when a family dispute was interrupted by the police which resulted in a 16 year old boy and his pregnant sister being viciously beaten by officers, then arrested. [More after the jump] 

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