The argument of the broken pane of glass is the most valuable argument in modern politics.–Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst
By Doug Porter
Women’s Equality Day (August 26th) marks anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, giving women the right to vote.
There are observances this week in San Diego, including a re-enactment of an early-century Suffrage march in Balboa Park.
Organizations including the League of Women Voters, the United Nations Women’s Equity Council, the Older Women’s League and others, will join members and supporters of the Women’s Museum at 5pm for a Rally on Thursday, (Aug 27th) at the Kate Sessions Statue, at the 6th Avenue end of the Cabrillo Bridge, followed by a parade across the bridge info the Organ Pavilion where the last free concert of the summer will be held at 6:30pm.
While this commemoration will be celebratory in nature, it’s important to remember, as Frederick Douglass once said, “Power never concedes nothing without a demand.” In many sanitized versions of US history, the struggle leading up to that victory is depicted as controversial only because women left their roles as wives and house-makers to protest. The reality of what transpired is considerably different.
A more militant and confrontational wing of the women’s suffrage movement emerged in the early 1900s. New leadership, inspired by British protests (which did include violence), urged supporters to use more radical tactics to work for a federal suffrage amendment languishing since its introduction in 1878: picketing the White House, staging large suffrage marches and demonstrations, going to jail.
One of the largest protests of the suffrage movement happened the day before Woodrow Wilson was to be inaugurated as President in 1913. Between 5,000 to 8,000 suffragists marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, past the White House — and hundreds of thousands of onlookers.
Organizers Alice Paul and Lucy Burns had secured a permit to march, however, many protesters were assaulted by those in the crowd who opposed the women’s right-to-vote campaign. Attacks ranged from spitting and throwing of objects to all-out physical assaults. While many women were injured, public outrage at the violence translated to wider support for the suffrage movement.
Other protests included incidents where President Woodrow Wilson was hung in effigy, and printed copies of his speeches were burned. There were daily pickets at the White House, featuring volunteers from throughout the country. Arrests were frequent.
Fast Forward to the Present (for a second)
Can you imagine how Fox News would have covered these events? I can see the morning lineup shows discussing how these women were hurting their cause.
Here’s a montage of sexist tidbits gathered from other programs at Fox:
Non-Violent Protest Meets the Violence of the State
While the Women’s movement in United States was largely non-violent in its tactics, that didn’t prevent violence from being directed at them. Many considered them to be traitors for daring to point out the hypocrisy of fighting in World War One to save democracy while so many Americans were disenfranchised.
From the University of California, San Francisco:
The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden’s blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of ‘obstructing sidewalk traffic.’
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.
Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.
Thus unfolded the ‘Night of Terror’ on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered hisguards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food – all of it colorless slop – was infested with worms.
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.
Congresswoman Bella Abzug (who was quite the fighter herself) introduced legislation in 1971 to commemorate the granting of the vote to women throughout the country.
Recapping the Rally
Today, women continue to empower our electorate and democracy. In every presidential election since 1996, voter turnout rates for women have exceeded the rates for men, with women casting between 4 and 7 million more votes than men in recent elections. Yet women remain underrepresented in elected office and women are disproportionately affected by discriminatory voter photo ID law.
WHAT: Suffrage Rally and Parade
WHEN: Thursday, August 27 at 5 pm
WHERE: Starts at the Kate Session Statue at the 6th Avenue end of the Cabrillo Bridge followed by parade across the bridge
WHY: To celebrate the 95th year of women’s right to vote
Challenging the Role of Police
Three significant news stories have appeared recently serving to remind us of the challenges society faces in our expectations and the performance of the people we pay to enforce our laws.
Former CityBeat reporter Kelly Davis makes her debut at The Intercept with an outstanding overview of the relationships between police agencies and the mentally ill.
Starting with the chronicle of Oceanside resident Elwood Edwards White, a young, black and mentally ill man in the middle of a psychotic episode killed by a San Diego County sheriff’s deputy in 2012, the article goes on to detail the paucity of both data and training for such circumstances.
In the absence of good data, we’re left with what research tells us about policing and race and policing and mental illness. Experts say no research exists that examines the overlay of race and mental illness in confrontations with law enforcement.
Research shows that the less experience an officer has in dealing with someone who’s mentally ill, the more likely the officer is to view that person as a threat. Training in this area tends to be minimal, with most officers getting no more than eight hours of academy training, according to a recent survey conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum. At Elwood White’s wrongful death trial, Astorga testified that his training was limited to eight hours. The sheriff’s deputy whom White purportedly lunged at, who had his gun drawn but didn’t shoot, had participated in 24 hours of voluntary post-academy training in handling psychiatric emergencies. That officer said in a deposition that though he was pressing the trigger of his gun, he had “no intention” of shooting White.
In the same way experts believe that “black crime implicit bias” has led to a disproportionate number of black people being killed by police, so too might that bias lead some people to view certain groups as more dangerous, said Lorie Fridell, an associate professor in the Department of Criminology at the University of South Florida, who’s considered a top expert on the subject. “This can occur even in those individuals who reject stereotypes and prejudice.”
Meanwhile, NBC7 News ran a story last night about another shooting:
San Diego Police officer Cristopher Grip thought he was responding to a burglary call but found Philip Anthony McMahon naked and staring at the window he had just smashed with his head.
The scuffle that ensued lead to a shooting that nearly killed McMahon.
The suspect’s parents are left wondering how their unarmed naked son was a threat to a police officer.
The young man’s parents are not suing the SDPD, but they are campaigning to change how police handle emotionally/mentally disabled people.
Clear as Mud at the SDPD
At Voice of San Diego, reporter Liam Dillon tells us that the San Diego Police Department, despite years of scandal, is still as secretive as ever, giving four examples of that agency’s unwillingness to share data with the public:
From fatal police-involved shootings, to high-profile political investigations to federally recommended reforms, San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman has sent a clear message: She’s going to try and keep as much information from the public as she can.
During Zimmerman’s 18 months as chief, the department has been ranked near the bottom of national studies on police transparency and, at least once, she ignored the policies of her boss, Mayor Kevin Faulconer, on openness.
UNITE HERE Protests Immigration Breaks for the 1%
Employees with UNITE HERE Local 30 staged an event yesterday calling attention to the special immigration privileges granted to wealthy overseas investors.
Despite all the bleating about “building a wall” and “anchor babies” on Capitol Hill, there is one piece of immigration legislation likely to pass through Congress this year- reauthorization of the EB-5 regional center program.
This measure benefits two groups: wealthy foreign investors who can afford to put up $500,000 to get green cards for themselves and their families, and wealthy developers.
According to UNITE HERE, some U.S. real estate developers use the EB-5 regional center program to secure cheap, subsidized financing for hotels and other businesses without delivering on the promise of large numbers of jobs, or even good jobs, in true areas of high unemployment and economic need.
As an example, they point to the Pendry, a 317 room hotel under construction in the Gaslamp Quarter, scheduled for completion in summer of 2016. According to a profile of the project by the Jin Lee Law Group, the Pendry was aiming to receive $56 million in EB-5 investment from 112 investors. Assuming the investors met that investor target, the project should create 10 permanent, full-time jobs per investor, or a total of 1,120 jobs — either direct, indirect, or induced. Chances are good to excellent that isn’t going to happen.
Yesterday’s event was part of a nation-wide effort, whereby UNITE HERE and immigrant advocates are taking action, saying immigration reform should focus on revitalizing border communities by protecting immigrant workers, keeping families together, building community trust with laws such as the CA Trust Act, and providing proper mechanisms to ensure that Customs Border Patrol is transparent and accountable to the communities in which it operates.
The say “immigration reform should benefit all – not just the 1%.”
On This Day: 1919 – Fannie Sellins and Joseph Starzeleski were murdered by coal company guards on a picket line in Brackenridge, Pa. Sellins was a United Mine Workers of America organizer and Starzeleski was a miner. 1939 – The first televised major league baseball games were shown. The event was a double-header between the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers. 1945 – The Japanese were given surrender instructions on the U.S. battleship Missouri at the end of World War II.
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