& ADOPTS UNITED NATIONS PEACEBUILDING RESOLUTION
By Nancy Merritt
“This is one of the most important testimonies I have ever given,” said Captain Shawn Terris after urging the California Democratic Party (CDP) Legislation Committee to endorse the 2015 Department of Peacebuilding Act (DoP/ HR1111), sponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s (CA-13).
On August 16, 2015, at its statewide Executive Board meeting, the CDP endorsed the 2015 U.S. Department of Peacebuilding (DoP/ HR1111) legislation and adopted a “Resolution Urging the United Nations and All Member States to Support Infrastructures for Peacebuilding Within and Among Nations.” The CA Peace Alliance/ Department of Peacebuilding Campaign submitted both items for CDP consideration. Attendees also signed over 500 letters asking members of Congress to cosponsor HR1111. And, we made many valuable connections, including with Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), who co-sponsored DoP legislation four days after the Executive Board meeting in Burlingame, CA.
OVERVIEW OF THE CDP EXECUTIVE BOARD MEETING
Equality, inclusion, and violence prevention — key components of peacebuilding — were prominent themes at the CDP Executive Board meeting. Creating a cabinet-level U.S. Department of Peacebuilding will address root cause of violence and conflict and will make violence prevention a national priority. The United States incarcerates 2.3 million individuals, including a disproportionate number of people of color. One in 3 American women is a victim of domestic violence. Children are subjected to bullying at alarming rates. Twenty-two American veterans commit suicide every day. Thousands and thousands in this world are refugees from war and violence in their countries.
During her testimony, Captain Terris said, “The Veterans Caucus unanimously supports the Department of Peacebuilding Act. As veterans, we have a unique perspective because the President of the United States only calls on us to go to war when he and Congress want to “resolve” conflict. We believe our country is way too quick to address conflict or violence with more violence and more conflict. This is America’s culture. It’s the way we think. We need to change that. We need to change the way we think about conflict and resolve it.”
“Just creating the Department of Peacebuilding would automatically give legislators and the public the option of giving
priority to resolving conflict without using force and without causing more violence and conflict. Wouldn’t that be great if our legislators thought first of asking the Department of Peacebuilding to reduce conflict and violence instead of the Department of Defense? Do we really want to continue to militarize our police departments across the U.S. to resolve violence? Because we have proven that doesn’t work. Why don’t we try something else? Let’s try Peacebuilding!”
The CDP endorsed the DoP legislation and adopted the resolution after CDP Chair John Burton paid tribute to Julian Bond, for his many years of work on civil rights, peace, justice and equality issues. Burton said Bond was always there — he always supported the many struggles to make this a better world. Bond, who passed away while the Executive Board met, helped start the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960, served in the Georgia House and the Georgia Senate, and was Chairman of the NAACP for ten years. Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center said the nation had lost one of its most passionate voices for justice. “He advocated not just for African Americans, but for every group, indeed every person subject to oppression and discrimination, because he recognized the common humanity in us all.”
In 2013, the CDP, as a statewide party, endorsed DoP 2013 legislation. With the new 114th Congress the slate was wiped clean. New Congress. New bills. New legislation requests to the CDP. Renewed efforts to build CDP support for a DoP. Congresswoman Barbara Lee re-introduced legislation to create a cabinet-level Department of Peacebuilding on February 26, 2015. DoP supporters have been and continue to lobby members of Congress to cosponsor HR1111 and are building support among other groups and organizations, including the CDP.
CDP endorsement of the 2015 DoP legislation, and the related resolution, is a story of determination, cooperation and collaboration to make peacebuilding a national priority. Kudos to CA Peace Alliance and CDP supporters of DoP legislation and to those who are working to make ours a more peaceful world.
BUILDING SUPPORT – OUR ROAD TO THE EXECUTIVE BOARD MEETING
Leading up to the Executive Board meeting, the CA Peace Alliance Democratic Endorsement team, others from the CA Peace Alliance and allies in the CDP covered the state, by email/ phone calls and/or by attending meetings to seek support and endorsements from CDP clubs, the 58 CA county central committees (DCCs), the 21 CDP regions and others, including the San Fernando Valley Democrats and the CDP Veterans Caucus.
We spoke at meetings throughout California’s 163,696 square miles – from the far northern part of the state in Red Bluff to the far southern area in Escondido and places in between such as Nevada City, Windsor, San Rafael, Davis, Hayward, Burlingame, Monterey, Newhall, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles. Thank you to at least the following who advocated for DoP legislation at these CDP meetings: Bobbi Jo Chavarria (San Bernardino), Marilee Eusabio (Davis), Brian Gibbs (San Diego), CJ Jawahar (Placer), Daniel Kenney (Santa Clara), Maggi Koren (Sonoma), Dotty LeMieux (Marin), Richard Matthews (Chatsworth), Lily Marie (Nevada County), Nancy Merritt (San Francisco/ East Bay Area), Steve Preminger (Santa Clara), David Sonneborn (Orange), Jerilyn Stapleton (Los Angeles), and Igor Tregub (Berkeley).
By the time of the Executive Board meeting, DoP supporters/ endorsers included at least 12 regions, 14 DCCs, 19 clubs, the Democratic Party of San Fernando Valley, the CDP Veterans Caucus, and many individual Democratic Party delegates and office holders. The 25-member CDP Legislation Committee from all parts of the state unanimously endorsed DoP 2015. Others have supported since the Executive Board meeting. For a detailed list, see the Endorser/ Supporter Sidebar.
LEGISLATION COMMITTEE – DoP and Other Legislation
Prior to the final CDP vote on its endorsed legislation, the Legislation Committee makes recommendations on state legislation and on a handful of federal bills. Going in to the Legislative Committee hearing on 8/15/15, DoP had broad support. Darren Parker (Chair of the CDP African
American Caucus), Captain Shawn Terris (Chair of the CDP Veterans Caucus), and others were ready to testify in support of the DoP legislation.
As it is became apparent the Legislation Committee would recommend DoP endorsement, the Committee asked us to limit testimony to one individual. Captain Terris spoke eloquently on behalf of the CA Peace Alliance and the many supporting CDP regions, DCCs, clubs and individuals. Margie Joehnck, a long-time supporter and representative from the Nevada County DCC, attended the hearing, as did CA Peace Alliance volunteers Nancy Merritt, Jerilyn Stapleton and Stephanie Thomas.
The Legislation Committee also endorsed bills relating to money/taxes, violence and the environment – for example: Limiting Solitary Confinement in Juvenile Facilities (SB124 Leno), Firearms: Gun-free School Zone (SB707 Wolk), Crisis Care for Youth (AB741 Williams), Our Children’s Success – the Early Intervention Attendance Pilot Grant (AB1014 Thurmond), Second Chance Program for Community Re-entry (AB 1056 Atkins), and Building Homes and Jobs Act (AB1335 Atkins).
The most controversial issue in both the Legislation Committee hearing and in the general session was End of Life legislation (SB128 Wolk), relating to making California a “right to die in dignity” state, similar to Oregon law, where this has been a right for 20 years. There was heartfelt testimony on both sides of this issue. The Party endorsed.
RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE – UN Peacebuilding & Black Lives Matter
The CDP adopted a number of resolutions, including our UN peacebuilding resolution and a ‘Black Lives Matter’ resolution.
- UN Peacebuilding Resolution
California Resolution. The CDP adopted the CA Department of Peacebuilding ‘Resolution Urging The United Nations and All Member States To Support Infrastructures For Peacebuilding Within and Externally Among Nations,’ which provides:
WHEREAS the California Democratic Party supports the creation of a Department of Peacebuilding, and adopted language to the 2014 Party Platform to “actively promote national institutions based on the organizing principles of violence prevention and nonviolent conflict resolution, utilizing and developing a network of ‘best practice’ peacebuilding policies and programs both within United Nation member states and externally among nations”; and
WHEREAS delegates from civil society, governments and UN institutions and agencies from more than 50 countries of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace (GAMIP), which include Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the USA, and many countries within Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, who since 2007, have a United Nation’s liaison working with NGOs to create a United Nations global resolution to urge the establishment of infrastructures for peace within the governments of the 196 United Nations Member States; and
WHEREAS nations within the GAMIP coalition have already begun to institute government networks of peacebuilding practices which will address conflicts at home and abroad saving lives and money, such as Nepal’s 2007 Department of Peace and Reconstruction, Costa Rica’s 2009 Department of Justice and Peace, and the Canadian Liberal Party, which adopted a resolution in their 2014 Party Platform to establish a government institution dedicated to promote a culture of peace, with a mandate that includes the creation of a permanent Canadian Civilian Service of professionally trained men and women, to work toward violence prevention, peace education and nonviolent conflict resolution at every level of society.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the California Democratic Party urges the United Nations and all Member States to promote and support the establishment of peacebuilding infrastructures in order to facilitate the gathering and creation of best practices and policies, improving communication, cooperation and collaboration to save future generations from the atrocities of violent conflict, poverty and human-induced environmental disasters, advanced by passage of the global resolution; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the California Democratic Party encourages support from the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, and all Democratic Party organizations in California.
GAMIP Resolution. This CA resolution was inspired by an action urging the United Nations General Assembly to pass a resolution for “Establishment of Infrastructures to Support a Culture of Peace” in all nations, which is posted at PeaceNow.Com by its co-founders Scotty Bruer and John Viscount. The online petition evolved from ideas that have been brewing over many years and related actions, including: 1) work at the United Nations, its 1998 UN Resolution for a Culture of Peace and the 1999 UNESCO Resolution for a Decade of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World; 2) collaborations at various summits over the years of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures of Peace (GAMIP); and 3) a connection between John Viscount (www.peacenow.com) and some in the GAMIP / National Peace Academy / Peace Alliance community such as Mike Abkin, Anne Creter, Maggi Koren, Dot Maver. That connection with John began when his film Admissions premiered at the 2011 GAMIP summit in Cape Town, South Africa. To sign the petition and watch Admissions, go to www.PeaceNow.com.
- ‘Black Lives Matter’ Resolution
Other adopted resolutions included “Resolution in Support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ Movement,” which provided, in part:
WHEREAS, the California Democratic Party upholds the ideals of equal justice under the law, racial justice, police accountability, and human dignity for all people … the recent killings and deaths (while in police custody) of unarmed Black men, women and children … are indicative of a growing racial division that threatens the current and future well-being of our country; and
WHEREAS, there is a “widening gap of trust” between law enforcement and the African American community; and closing this “widening gap of trust” requires that we address the underlying inequities that continue to divide people in this country along racial lines … we believe that the institutional racism in American society undermines the realization of the concepts of racial justice and equal justice under the law; that the problems still exist; and that improvements are needed in order to protect lives;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the California Democratic Party supports the Black Lives Matter movement, community meetings, and peaceful demonstrations … calls for the creation and dissemination of a national model for community policing, well-funded and thoughtful programs that will provide marginalized young people access to academic and career programs, and an end to institutionalized racism …”
TABLING, LETTERS, & CLOSE ENCOUNTERS
At our booth, we talked with people about peacebuilding and distributed literature and “Department of Peacebuilding” fans. We also collected over 500 letters to various members of Congress urging them to cosponsor DoP legislation. During this Executive Board meeting, we focused on three Northern CA and three Southern CA members of Congress: Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Eric Swalwell (CA-15) and Mark Takano (CA-41). Many of our region, DCC, club, caucus and Legislation Committee supporters also came by our booth to sign these letters.
Since our booth was located between the booths of two candidates who are vying for retiring Senator Barbara Boxer’s seat – CA Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez – we offered, should it be necessary, to work on building peace between the two.
We also talked about peacebuilding with members of Congress, state officials and staffers, including:
- Attorney General Kamala Harris – We talked with her about the connection between Restorative Justice and a DoP.
- CA State Senator Mike McGuire (SD-2) – He encouraged us to keep going on our work to create a DoP.
- Nicole Nablusi – Nicole, a former Student Peace Alliance activist, and current Finance Aide to Congressman Mike Honda, spent some time with us at our booth and at the Arab American caucus.
- Gov. Gavin Newsom – He attended the Executive Board meeting with his young daughter, Montana. CA DoP Lead Kendra Mon knows Gavin Newsom through his friendship with her moms – activists in the gay rights movement. Kendra told the Lt. Governor she has been honoring their tradition of activism for many years by working to create a DoP. When he said he did not know about the DoP legislation, we gave him a copy of DoP key highlights to prepare for his upcoming lunch with Rep. Barbara Lee.
- Nancy Skinner – This former CA Assembly member (AD-15) and candidate for CA Senate (SD-9) was happy to hear about our activities at the CDP Executive Board meeting.
- Eric Swalwell – After he addressed the CDP general session, we thanked him for recently agreeing to cosponsor the Youth PROMISE Act and talked with him about DoP legislation.
- Norma Torres – Members of her staff and family stopped at the table and were very interested in DoP.
- Maxine Waters – CA State Coordinator/ No. CA Nancy Merritt spoke with Rep. Waters about signing on again as a DoP cosponsor, as she has done in all sessions of Congress since 2001, and we gave her a “Department of Peacebuilding” fan. The Congresswoman spoke at the African American Caucus and at Progressive Caucus. Four days after the Executive Board, Rep. Waters signed back on as a DoP cosponsor.
CAUCUS & OTHER MEETINGS
We attended several caucus and standing committee meetings, and connected with members of other caucuses others before and during the Executive Board meeting, including: African-American Caucus, Arab American Caucus, Chicano Latino Caucus, Children’s Caucus, Disabilities Caucus, Irish American Caucus, Labor Caucus, Native American Caucus, Progressive Caucus, Veterans Caucus, and Women’s Caucus. In addition to the Legislation Committee and the Resolutions Committee, we attended the Platform Committee meeting. At the Children’s Caucus, Josh Roebuck (Oakland) updated the group about DoP. At the Veterans Caucus, Doug Merritt (El Cerrito) thanked the caucus for endorsing DoP legislation.
Thank you to the many CA DoP supporters who donated time, energy and money toward our successes at the CDP Executive Board meeting:
Bobbi Jo Chavarria (San Bernardino), Marilee Eusabio (Davis), Corinne Florek (Oakland), Brian Gibbs (San Diego), Maggi Koren (Sonoma), Lily Marie (Nevada County), Doug Merritt (San Francisco Bay Area), Nancy Merritt (San Francisco Bay Area), Kendra Mon (Petaluma), Nancy Montier (Castro Valley), Lorrie Norby (Mill Valley), Josh Roebuck (Oakland), David Sonneborn (Orange), Jerilyn Stapleton (Los Angeles), Stephanie Thomas (Berkeley), Cathi Thoorsell (San Mateo County), Igor Tregub (Berkeley), and Emily Wikman (Marin County).
On Behalf of the CA Peace Alliance/ Democratic DoP Endorsement Team
Brian Gibbs (San Diego), Maggi Koren (Sonoma), Lily Marie (Nevada County), Nancy Merritt (San Francisco Area), Lorrie Norby (Marin County), Josh Roebuck (Oakland) and Jerilyn Stapleton (Los Angeles)
2015 Department of Peacebuilding
Endorser/ Supporter List – Thank You
By the time of the Executive Board meeting in Burlingame, CA, and shortly thereafter, the following endorsed and/or supported HR1111:
The CDP divides CA into 21 regions, with numbering starting in Northern CA at 1 and Southern CA regions having higher numbers. Most endorse or make legislative recommendation, a few do not. Regions which supported DoP 2105 include: 1E, 1W, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 15, 16 (Supports Concept), 17, 18 (AD75, 76).
A few regions do not make endorsements or support specific legislation, but many of those regions had “good discussions” about peacebuiiding. At region meetings in San Luis Obispo, Camarillo and Santa Barbara, DoP information was distributed and Debra Broner spoke about this legislation during the social hour of the Santa Barbara Democratic Central Committee (DCC). There was an extensive discussion about DoP legislation at the Region 11 meeting in Los Angeles.
Alpine, Amador, Lake, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Napa, Nevada, Placer, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Sonoma, Sutter, and Yuba. Individuals from many other DCCs also endorsed.
CDP clubs from many parts of the state endorsed DoP 2015 – from the north and south, the Central Valley and the coast, and from rural and urban areas:
· Auburn Area Democratic Club
· Beverly Glen Democratic Club (Los Angeles)
· Central Valley Hmong Democratic Club (Fresno)
· Coastside Democratic Club (Half Moon Bay)
· Culver City Democratic Club
· Democracy for America (Marin)
· Democratic Alliance for Action (Santa Clarita)
· Democratic Club of Kern River Valley
· Democratic Club of Orange
· Democratic Club of Santa Maria Valley
· Democratic Club of Southern Sonoma County
· Democratic Club of Vista
· Democratic Service Club (Santa Barbara)
· Democratic Women’s Club of San Diego
· East Area Progressive Democrats (Los Angeles)
· Feather River Democratic Club
· Nevada County Democratic Women’s Club
· Oakhurst Democratic Club
· Santa Rosa Democratic Club
· Turlock Democratic Club
· Stonewall Democratic Club (Los Angeles)
· Windsor Democratic Club
Democratic Party of San Fernando Valley, a regional CDP group, endorsed.
The CDP Veterans Caucus not only unanimously endorsed DoP 2015, but also sent a letter to Congresswoman Lee, and CDP Chair Shawn Terris testified before the Legislation Committee in support of the legislation.
Many CDP delegates and/or party office holders signed on as individual supports:
· Karen Bernal (Past Chair, Progressive Caucus, CDP, & DSCC Delegate, Sacramento County Democratic Party, AD7)
· Sandra Cottell (Delegate AD38)
· Bonnie Eaton
· Cindy Ellsmore (Chair, Sierra County Democratic Party)
· Joyce Evans (AD38)
· Harold Fong (Elected Member Sacramento County Central Committee & Delegate to CA Dem Party Convention)
· Stacy Fortner (AD38)
· Kristin Ingram-Worthman (President, Democratic Alliance for Action, AD38)
· Michael Kulka (Past President, Democratic Alliance for Action, AD38)
· Carole Lutness (Member, LACDP, AD38)
· Stephen Murray (CDP Delegate AD54)
· Nanette Meister
· Julie Olsen (AD38)
· Thomas A. Romero (Chair, Modoc Democratic Central Committee)
· Susan Rowe (Madera County DCC Chair, Vice Chair of South Central Region 8, CDP Rural Caucus)
· Lawson C. Stuart (Chair Emeritus, Veteran Caucus of the California Democratic Party)
· Patricia “Patti” Sulpizio (Chair LACDP AD38)
· Barbara Wilson (Delegate AD38)
G. CDP LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
The CDP Legislation Committee unanimously endorsed HR1111. That committee includes Cecile Bendavid (Woodland Hills), Trish Suzuki Blinstaub (Napa), Barry Broad (Sacramento), Joanne Climie (San Diego), Veronica Diaz (Sacramento), Margie Granado (Whittier), Channing Hawkings (Compton), Lynette Henley (Vallejo), Brian King (Sacramento), Elizabeth Linnerman (Stockton), Richard Matthews (Chatsworth), Dan McCroy (Northridge), Celestine Palmer (View Park), Harpreet Sandhu (Richmond), Loren Scott (Los Angeles), Susie Shannon (Los Angeles), Navneet Singh (Yuba City), David Sonneborn (Orange), Jai Sookrasert (Sacramento), Igor Tregub (Berkeley), Katherine Underwood (Moreno Valley), Guadalupe Valdez-Schoenberger (Alamo), Dr. Bonnie Wheatley (Piedmont), Mark Williams (Castro Valley), and Lowell Young (Mariposa).
Special thanks to Darren Parker (African American Caucus Chair) who agreed to testify at the Legislation Committee hearing and to our lead Legislation Committee witness Shawn Terris (Veterans Caucus Chair).