My guest today is Greg Coleridge. Coleridge is director of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization.
Joan Brunwasser: Welcome to OpEdNews, Greg. You've been active in Cleveland this week. Is it merely a coincidence of timing that coincides with the Republican Convention?
Greg Coleridge: I've been politically active in Cleveland for many years before this week's RNC "festivities." This has included engaging in numerous economic and political justice campaigns. Most notably, over the past six years, I have been working with democracy activists who've been successful in many Northeast Ohio communities in passing municipal resolutions and ballot initiatives. They call on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment affirming that only human beings possess inalienable constitutional rights (the shorthand description of this is "ending corporate personhood") and abolishing the legal doctrine that money is free speech and, therefore, can be regulated in political elections.
JB: Sounds good to me. What did you activists have on tap in Cleveland this week, during the RNC "festivities"?
GC: Activists got going early in Cleveland, prior to the RNC. Last Friday night, more than 300 people attended the People's Justice & Peace Convention's opening. The keynote address was given by a prominent and active African American minister, Rev. Jawanza Colvin of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church. We met there Friday night and Saturday and 200 attended the all-day Saturday Convention. It featured 30 workshops and proposed "Planks" in five "tracks:" international justice, racial/social justice, economic justice, political justice and environmental justice. A smaller group attended Sunday to amend, add to and finalize the planks -- our "People's Peace & Justice Platform" that will be presented today to representatives of the RNC and next weekend to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia. The mission statement of the event was this: "Current public policies disproportionately benefit corporations and the wealthiest individuals and promote and expand U.S. militarism, while the concerns of the vast majority of people are ignored, distorted and/or manipulated for political and/or economic gain. The People's Convention will include a diversity of voices and experiences, transcending any one political party or perspective. Its purpose is to lift up issues and problems that the Republican National Convention (RNC) and Democratic National Convention (DNC) will not authentically address and to develop collectively agreed-to solutions, a "People's Justice & Peace Platform," that will achieve just, nonviolent, democratic and sustainable results."
The week of the Convention itself, beginning this past Monday, we had rallies and marches by groups on all sides of the political spectrum -- including multiple pro- and anti-Trump rallies. Many of the demonstrations have focused on particular issues, ranging from immigration, to climate, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and anti-poverty/economic justice. This last event, on Monday, brought out more than 1,000 people who called for many changes to alleviate poverty and injustice -- including single payer health care, support for those facing home foreclosures, raising the minimum wage, immediate attention to resolving crumbling infrastructure like that in Flint, MI, breaking up and taxing big banks responsible for the Great Recession, and ending police brutality.
JB: I love your mission statement and the gamut of issues you've raised. It actually bears a striking resemblance to Sen. Sanders's position on the issues. And it certainly is unlike anything we've heard in Cleveland or are likely to hear at the DNC next week [except, perhaps, for whatever Bernie might say there]. Were you satisfied with the turnout? And how about press coverage? Have you gotten any?