Anti-Trump Protest in Des Moines on Friday

Demonstrators will gather at Java Joe’s coffee house to protest GOP candidate Donald Trump’s scheduled “Morning Joe” TV appearance in Des Moines on January 15.

Activists from American Friends Service Committee, Des Moines for Palestine and other groups are staging a rally to publicly condemn Trump’s “racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rants.”

Critics say the candidate’s “abusive behavior” toward people and his “derogatory comments” toward immigrants, refugees and Muslims are the reasons for Friday’s rally. Others have cited the white nationalist front American National Super PAC’s support of Trump, an endorsement Trump says he rejects.

AFSC Iowa Program Coordinator Kathleen McQuillen told Iowa Free Press the event is loosely organized and organizers are putting out an invitation for people to join them.

“Myself and a few friends decided to be present for the Morning Joe program with a message that we welcome immigrants, refugees, Muslims,” McQuillen said, “and that his messages and hostility are counter to basic human rights and the US premise that ‘all men (read persons) are created equal.'”

According to McQuillen, the main goals for Friday’s demonstration is to “make it clear to our neighbors of color and those who are Muslim, or Sikh, or Jewish or any other religion or ethnicity that we stand with them,” and that “people like Donald Trump do not represent us.”

“[If Trump] chooses to use hateful, abusive language there are people everywhere who will stand up to expose and oppose his hostility,” McQuillen said. “There are people who will resist his racist rants.”

Demonstrators will convene outside of Java Joe’s shortly after 4am, with the doors opening at 4:30am on January 15.

Java Joe’s is a popular coffee shop and eatery located at 214 4th St. in Des Moines. The venue will play host to the MSNBC cable news program “Morning Joe” hosted by political commentators Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist.

To prepare for the event, organizers are asking people to join and invite others to show up, make signs and discuss strategy for Friday’s demonstration the day before (Jan. 14) at the AFSC Des Moines office (4211 Grand Avenue) at 4pm.

“Stand up and be counted in demanding a public discourse that focuses on issues and not on name calling and abusive behavior,” McQuillen said. “Democracy deserves better that what it is getting from Trump.”

For more information, contact Katie Huerter, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Middle East Peace Building Associate at khuerter (at) afsc.org or visit http://afsc.org/

Photo Credit: By Michael Vadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Iowa City to Host First Black Workers’ Conference

The Iowa City Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO is hosting its first ever Black Workers’ Conference on Jan. 16 to “bring together black workers active in their unions or communities.”

Union members and area workers in the Hawkeye State are invited to the conference at the ICFL Hall on 940 S. Gilbert Court in Iowa City if they are interested in learning about “workplace rights, racial justice, and labor issues.”

According to an ICFL news release, the conference is being organized in light of “much-needed national attention to ongoing instances of racial injustice” and “the role it plays in the lives of millions of workers.”

“At the national level, a new AFL-CIO Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice is exploring racial issues within the labor movement, and seeking ways for voices of all working people to be heard on complex racial issues in order to advance the fight for workers’ rights.”

Saturday’s speakers will include UI Law professor Angela Onwuachi-Willig and UAW Region 4 Civil and Human Rights Council president Pamela Davidson, both of whom are University of Iowa Labor Center instructors.

There will be sessions on the following topics at the conference:

Race and labor rights—U.S. labor and civil rights history, and key trends and issues affecting black workers today
Your rights at work—Introduction to legal rights and contract enforcement
Building power for the future—Contemporary roles of the labor movement in struggles for racial justice

The event will be presented by the UI Iowa Labor Center and is sponsored by the ICFL, the Center for Worker Justice in Eastern Iowa and the Iowa City Black Voices Project with assistance from the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

The one-day gathering will last from 9am-3:30pm.

Angela Davis to ‘INSPIRE’ at Fall Fundraiser

Dr. Angela Davis will be the keynote speaker at the Chrysalis Foundation’s 2016 INSPIRED fundraiser in Des Moines on September 29.

The Chrysalis Foundation was founded in 1989 by social activist Louise Rosenfield Noun, Senator Elaine Szymoniak and attorney Barbara Barrett to “provide Iowa women and girls leadership skills, educational and economic opportunities, and a voice within their communities.”

INSPIRED is the foundation’s biggest fundraiser of the year, an event organizers say is an opportunity to “share information and education on issues important to the success of women and girls.”

Author and activist Angela Davis is the Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies Departments at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

“A woman of Dr. Davis’ status will be a tremendous draw for those who lived through the eras, studied or read about the movements, and perhaps have an interest in her perspective on gender and society,” Chrysalis Foundation Executive Director Terry Hernandez told Iowa Free Press.

“Her expertise on both feminism and civil rights was the ideal perspective, as well as her own life experiences.”

Davis has written many books, including critically-acclaimed works about the “prison-industrial complex.” Her latest book Freedom is a Constant Struggle was published by Haymarket Books this month. This collection of essays was authored by Davis, edited by human rights activist Frank Barat and includes a foreword by Dr. Cornel West.

“Dr. Davis has studied and published a significant body of work on issues of culture, gender, class and poverty, and civil rights, and can deliver meaningful commentary on how to understand and address these issues,” Hernandez said.

These issues align with the mission of Chrysalis, according to Hernandez, and with much of the work of Chrysalis founder Rosenfield, “who was active in civil rights, women’s rights, and personal freedoms.”

Davis is one of the most iconic figures of the 1960s and 70s. She was born in Jim Crow-era Birmingham, Alabama on “Dynamite Hill,” the site of the 1963 bombing of a Black church that killed four Sunday school girls. She grew up with the girls and knew their families. As she grew older, she became active in the Civil Rights movement and other struggles.

Davis traveled for her studies and completed her Ph.D in Philosophy at Humboldt University of Berlin. She was thrust into the national spotlight in 1969 when she was forcibly removed from her teaching post at UCLA’s Philosophy Department due to her political activities.

On October 13, 1970, Davis was arrested on charges of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy from an incident in August. She was the third woman in history to appear on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. The effort was seen by many people as a “frame-up.”

Davis’ cause sparked international protests calling for her release. The General Secretary of the Communist Party USA Gus Hall said in 1971, “We should not underestimate the fact that the Angela Davis case is now the focal point of the struggle against repression and racism.”

The “Free Angela Davis” campaign helped end her 16 months of incarceration and led to her acquittal in 1972. Davis would run with Gus Hall as the Vice Presidential candidate representing the CP USA ticket in 1980 and 1984.

Former California Governor Ronald Reagan famously said that Davis would never teach in the University of California system. History proved Reagan wrong. Not only does Davis still teach in “the Golden State,” but lectures all over the world.

For more information, visit http://www.chrysalisfdn.org/

An Iowan’s Journey To Pakistan

If you are at all curious about the state of international relations you have most likely heard about the recent poll involving the bombing of the fictional city known as Agrabah. Thankfully the sample size from this poll is relatively small. However it is still rather embarrassing and I do feel that the fear mongering in America has been especially strong this year through the largest media outlets. Hot off the latest major party debates military strikes and terrorism have been hot topics and candidates from both the red and the blue have either recently commented on or presided over some rather dubious foreign policy matters. When a young Des Moines woman reached out to me about a trip that she was taking to Pakistan, I was certainly intrigued. Upon her return home I sat down and had a chat with fellow Iowan, Maribeth Savage, about her recent travels.

Marco Battaglia: Well, to start things off how about we start with how you wound up on this visit to Pakistan?

Maribeth Savage: I befriended some people that live in Pakistan while studying abroad in London. I was invited to visit and I decided to go. The mere mention of the name Pakistan was enough for many among my family and friends to oppose this trip. The day that I was to take my first flight of the trip, from Des Moines to Chicago, a Russian plane was shot down along the border of Turkey and Syria. The US Government issued a travel warning and everyone was nervous. Despite some last minute jitters I decided to stick with my travel plans.

MB: How would you describe your journey?

MS: Well, to start off due to the international events the TSA was in full force at the airport. It felt very tense with a ton of agents on duty. The journey was a good twenty-five hours long. My final flight landed in Lahore, the second largest city in Pakistan. The city is known as the heart of Pakistan primarily due to a cultural heritage which influences everyday life for the citizens of the country. I quickly noticed that I was visiting a city where traces of history go as far back as 4000 years. The city has been the capital of various empires over centuries. When I stepped outside of the airport in Lahore I noticed about five hundred people just standing outside of the airport. I also immediately noticed a burning smell. I realized that it was smog. I have lived in London and this pollution struck me as much worse.

MB: What was your first impression of Pakistan?

MS: My first impression of Pakistan was that it was not like the country commonly depicted in the media or in American cinema, certainly not war torn towns and camels roaming around, nor was their language Arabic. The city was lively and full of people.

MB: Can you describe what you noticed about the food and perhaps some of the meals that you ate while in Pakistan?

MS: The first major difference from Iowa was that there were no pigs and no drinking of alcoholic beverages! The first meal that I ate in Pakistan consisted of pulao (a rice dish), cauliflower, daal (a soup), mixed vegetables and chicken curry. It was served with fresh green salad and raita (a yogurt with diced cucumbers, onions, tomatoes and black pepper). During the stay I also enjoyed other dishes like biryani (a spicy rice dish), various types of daal, and potato bhujia (Curry) which I have since learned how to prepare myself. I did notice that they had many food chains that I recognized. I even saw a Sarpino’s pizza! I noticed that the fast food seemed much more like home cooked meals than what we are used to in the states.

MB: Is there a common dress for females in Pakistan?

MS: To my knowledge Pakistani women do not wear hijabs. I would say that most of the younger women that I encountered dressed similar to American women. I did not gather that there was an expected or necessary dress for any women in Pakistan. I visited various shopping centers and was quite impressed by the fancy clothing.

MB: What are some of the sights that you took in during your stay?

MS:  Among the most notable sights that I visited were the Badshahi Mosque, and the Lahore Fort. I also visited the Minar e Pakistan (literally the Tower of Pakistan) a public monument located in Iqbal Park. I visited the recently developed suburb of Bahria Town which has developed various residential sectors inspired by international architecture, including that of ancient Egypt. I also got to see a replica of the Eiffel Tower. One of my trips was a visit to LUMS, Lahore University of Management Sciences. I also encountered a fellow American girl from Chicago who was working for the University. During my stay my friends also took me on a road trip to Murree and Islamabad. The Motorway was a comfortable and interesting drive as we passed through orange producing farms, famous worldwide for their kinnows and citrus fruits. I was also able to journey through the Kallar Kahar region as we reached the capital city, Islamabad. We spent the day in Islamabad visiting the Faisal Mosque, which at one time was the largest in the world. Islamabad was much less crowded and greener than Lahore and had more of the feel of an American city. We reached Kashmir Point Murree late in the evening. Murree is at an altitude of 8000 feet. It is the beginning of mountain ranges in Pakistan which go all the way up to K2, the second tallest peak after Mount Everest. It is one of the two mountains which have never been climbed in the winter, the other, Nanga Parbat, is also in Pakistan.

MB: What vibe did you from the people towards their government?

MS: For having such a huge population there seemed to be a general air of peace. I saw huge political protests that seemed very calm and appeared very civil. They seemed commonplace.

MB: Can you describe the power outages that are common in the country?

MS: The power goes out five times a day for an hour at a time. The wealthier people have generators that kick in during these outages. When generators were available it took from two to five minutes to go from the start of the outage until the generators kicked in.

MB: What did you notice in terms of pop culture?

MS: I noticed that they have access to many of the same Hollywood movies, television, and video games that we do. Game of Thrones appeared to be a popular television program.   I was able to experience the Pakistan cinema. The most popular sports appeared to be cricket and squash. It did not appear to me that there was any interest at all in the most popular American sports.

 

MB: During your stay in Pakistan do you think that there was anyone besides your friends that knew for certain that you were American? Where you always with your friends or did you have someone looking out for you at all times?

MS: I had a plenty of people that seemed intrigued by me and some that asked me where I was from. I had kids that would look at me because of my light skin. But I did not encounter any major issues due to being an American or light skinned. I was with at least one of my friends every time that I ventured out and about. There are security people everywhere. It seemed like there was armed security at least every five houses. There were guns everywhere. I went into multiple houses that had walls full of guns. The gun laws appeared very loose or nonexistent. I did not notice crime or drugs that are common in the states at all. I never saw anyone noticeably drunk. I saw people smoking tobacco.

MB: What did you gather the religious sentiment was like in Pakistan?

MS: I did some personal research on the peoples views of religion. I found out that the majority want the same peace and harmony that we seek in the west. They also have many of the same aspirations despite living in a lesser developed region of the world. The people in Lahore were generally friendly and never hostile. Very few Pakistanis and Muslims from Pakistan are terrorists or their abettors. In fact they and their religion despise the terrorists of the world as well. I heard the call for prayer, the “Azaan”, when I arrived in Lahore and also when I was departing. The call for prayer was five times a day. It did not feel like prayer was expected or forced.

I found this conversation to be quite fascinating. I have always been interested in the locale. I took some time to research Pakistan on my own and here is some of what I learned. Pakistan has a 1,046-kilometre (650 mi) coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by India to the east, Afghanistan to the west, Iran to the southwest and China in the far northeast respectively. It is separated from Tajikistan by Afghanistan’s narrow Wakhan Corridor in the north, and also shares a maritime border with Oman. With a population exceeding 199 million people, it is the sixth most populous country on Earth and it is the 36th largest country in the world in terms of area. Pakistan is the second most populous Muslim-majority country and has the second largest Shia population in the world after Iran. About 97% of Pakistanis are Muslims. The majority are Sunni, with an estimated 5–20% Shia. The government is a Federal Parliamentary Republic and more than sixty languages are spoken in Pakistan, including a number of provincial languages. Urdu is the national language and it is understood by over 75% of Pakistanis and the main source of nationwide communication. English is the official language of Pakistan and it is primarily used in official business, government, and legal contracts; the local dialect is known as Pakistani English.

Pakistan is a rapidly developing country and is one of the “Next Eleven”, the eleven countries that, along with the BRICs, have a high potential to become the world’s largest economies in the 21st century. At this juncture 21.04% of the population lives below the international poverty line of US $1.25 a day. The Constitution of Pakistan requires the state to provide free primary and secondary education. In October 2014, Pakistani education activist, Malala Yousafzai, became the youngest ever person in the world to receive the Nobel peace prize. Pakistan currently hosts more refugees than any other country in the world. Pakistan has active professional wrestling and live music communities. World renowned Japanese professional wrestler, Antonio Inoki, has a storied relationship with Pakistan going back almost forty years.  In 2013, Inoki offered to lead peace negotiations between the Pakistani government and the Taliban. “I feel bad seeing Muslims fighting against each other, which is why I decided to travel back to Pakistan and offer my services in facilitating talks,” Inoki said at the National Press Club in Islamabad. Inoki also expressed his desire to meet with the Taliban: “If someone wants to fight, he should do it inside a ring.” Inoki’s gesture was not dismissed. A former minister from the federally administered tribal region, a Taliban stronghold, joined Inoki at the press conference.

Maribeth Savage would highly suggest a visit to Pakistan and she would be happy to answer any questions that you may have about the country. Feel free to contact her with questions via email at (Poogles234 (at) gmail.com)


 

“Burke said that there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate, more important far than they all.“  Thomas Carlyle

Marco Battaglia writes for the Iowa Free Press and is a proud member of The Fourth Estate

 

Autumn Steele Remembered in Burlington

To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the police shooting of 34-year-old Autumn Steele, demonstrators gathered outside the Burlington Police Department on January 6.

The “Justice for Autumn Steele-One Year Later” rally has been promoted by organizers as “A Walk through Burlington to Remember Autumn on the Day Burlington Iowa Cop Jess Hill Took Her Life.” Steele was accidentally shot by Burlington Police Officer Jesse Hill on the morning of January 6, 2015.

At 1 pm on Wednesday, nearly a dozen demonstrators assembled in front of the Burlington Police Department, located at 424 N. 3rd St. in Burlington, Iowa, to share memories of Autumn, discuss the circumstances of her death and show solidarity with victims of police brutality.

Organizers say that they are honoring Steele’s memory not only through words but through action as well. They have called for Hill’s resignation and full disclosure of what happened on that day.

Illinois-born animal rights activist Marsha Soto, who has participated in over 30 anti-police corruption demonstrations, has participated in nearly event Steele event since the Iowa Animal Board ruling in February 2015. Soto was unable to attend today’s rally, but told Iowa Free Press she was pleased with the turnout.

After being asked why Steele’s story has received international attention in recent months, Soto said it was because her story was kept “in the public eye.”

Vern Ancelet is an activist who has been chronicling Justice for Autumn Steele events over the last year.

“The main objective today was to let individuals know about what happened with Autumn Steele,” Ancelet said.

Ancelet, a filmmaker currently working on the documentary Project Autumn, said there were both displays of support and opposition at the rally.

There was a reporter from KBUR who did not appear “to be too happy with the protesters but sure liked to talk and joke with an officer that was leaving out of the building,” Ancelet told Iowa Free Press.

“We had one heckler driving in a beat-up blue vehicle shortly after the event belittling the protesters,” Ancelet said. “Sort of ironic that the people who are against the protests either hide in their vehicle giving a finger or yelling slurs in the past who don’t want a dialogue in the matter. It’s pretty closed-minded if you ask me.”

The Cop Block Network announced in a series of public statements alleging that Des Moines County Attorney Amy Beavers, who cleared Hill of any wrong-doing, “protects the system” and not “the people the system is supposed to protect.”

Cop Block is a non-profit grassroots project “committed to highlighting the double standards often granted to those with badges.”

Iowa City-based writer and activist Joshua Hotchkin was in Burlington as a demonstrator. Equipped with aBambuser camera, he said he was ready to record if anything happened or went wrong.

As a contributor and journalist for Cop Block, Hotchkin has been following the case since January 2015.

Supporters who were not able to attend the rally showed their respect through personal messages and posting photos of Steele and lit candles on social media outlets.

As reported by Iowa Free Press, “Iowa received a ‘D+’ grade in a 2015 nationwide assessment of ‘state government transparency and accountability’ conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity.” The report cites the aftermath of the Steele shooting as a primary example.

Iowa Free Press reached out to the Burlington Police Department for their response, but they have been unavailable for comment.

Democratic Liberty Caucus Endorses Lloyd Kelso for President

The Democratic Liberty Caucus endorses North Carolina-born attorney Lloyd Kelso as their 2016 candidate for president.

The DLC originally planned to host a series of presidential debates in seven cities, including one in Des Moines. The DLC then cancelled the remaining debates to endorse Kelso with their “full support.” The decision was passed in November by a 9-3 vote and support from 5 state chapter leaders.

Other DL candidates who were scheduled to debate include educator Robby Wells and entrepreneur Dr. Willie Wilson.

“We are still helping all candidates fight for a fair shot even through the endorsement,” DLC Vice Chair Nichole Dunham told Iowa Free Press.

DLC was founded on December 14, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia to promote “Progressive Libertarian principles to members and office holders in the Democratic Party and supports candidates that closely relate to those principles.”

Not satisfied with the direction of the Democratic Party, DLC members announced they are in the process of forming a “New Democratic Party.”

“The New Democratic Party will allow for this election to be fair and allow each candidate to run for the party nomination with an equal shot at being nominated and having a voice.”

DLC supporters are challenging the national leadership of the Democratic Party. The organization recently announced it support to unseat Debbie Wasserman-Schultz from her position as Democratic National Committee Chair.

Members are citing Wasserman-Schultz’s “failed leadership” and her controversial connections to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, where she served as the co-Chair of Clinton’s campaign in 2008.

“We stand by calling on Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to resign,” the DLC announced in a public statement.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/DemocraticLibertyCaucus or email the DLC atDemocraticLibertyCaucus@gmail.com

Letter To The Editor: Hop off the Hillary Bus, and board the Bernie train back to reality

It’s been fun, the past 6 or so months, watching the GOP fall apart and pick itself back up again. Extreme candidates with extreme views made for interesting coffee talks, but as time is ticking down to the all important caucuses here in Iowa, I see the same mistakes being made in my party, the so called people’s party(the Democrats), fall prey to the same mistakes and because of this the GOP has been making ground while we flounder and fight amongst ourselves.

For many years I proudly flaunted my own independent voting status, I felt like no party represented me. I considered myself a civil libertarian. I am very socially liberal on issues of personal freedoms –  rights from gay marriage to marijuana legalization. But also fiscally conservative – as in quit wasting our money on stupid garbage and spend it where it needs to go. Now I quaintly refer to myself as a democratic socialist.

I understand there is a need for government and I believe it should be for the people, by the people. That’s really the easiest way to describe democratic socialism. Friends and colleagues who don’t support my chosen candidate, you know who, seem either completely inept or intellectually lazy when it comes to embracing this term, as it should be one we should proudly brandish.

In years past I didn’t like the term liberal or progressive for that matter. I abhorred everything about it, mostly because it carried a stigma. Now I relish it, it’s become a tool for debate for trolling weaker arguments and feeding logical fallacies. But back then I wasn’t a democrat and now literally just over two years later I am now.

Although I had been working with Democrats locally and volunteering with them campaigning, I wasn’t one of them, but I made a choice.. Now I am proud to say I’m a county, district, and state delegate for the party. I’m also on a couple platform committees. Now I’m even a volunteer caucus chair and I’ve never even participated in one.

I joined the democrat party after discovering it was more closely aligned with what I believed in. Minimum wage increases, healthcare and college expenses are way out of control, corporations are not people, and medical marijuana is also a huge issue of mine, and civil rights to minorities also. Did you know that buried in the Iowa Democratic Party platform we do support recreational marijuana and also here in Iowa blacks have the worst racial disparity in marijuana arrests than anywhere in America? You do now, be proud fellow Iowans – of at least one of those things.

Now the field of Republican candidates is growing smaller, on the Democrat side it wasn’t that big to begin with – but since the beginning to many of the “establishment” there has only been one “real” candidate. Supporting the underdog for all the right reasons is a mental pain in the bottom too. As I stated, many folks had their minds made up from the beginning and it’s been quite the uphill battle for someone like me keeping my sanity intact.

Talking to fellow democrats not supporting the same candidate I often feel like I’m a Ron Paul supporter, I should know because I was one. My dream ticket at the time as a civil libertarian was Paul/Nader. Some people will throw their arms up and say those two aren’t even close to the same people ideologically, but it’s the mix that attracted me the most. I want to help the poor but I think we should also audit the fed and so on. That’s the combination I like to see, and up until my current chosen candidate ran, he and Ron Paul actually made a fantastic tandem, just like fellow conservative and war hero John McCain. Hooray for bipartisan efforts!

Have you figured out who I support yet? Yea, Bernie Sanders, the one candidate that people trust more so than any other candidate in the field. That’s a high honor, how do you expect a candidate nobody says they trust to be considered electable? Well not everybody is going to like a candidate, look at what the republicans are doing to Hillary.

This brings me to two points, keep in mind also that I prefer to write free flow from my head to my fingers so I won’t conform to your contemporary writing styles, no side is free of conspiracy. Sure maybe the GOP is after Hillary, but they are also after every Democrat, it’s part of their job description. There’s Benghazi, there’s those damn emails, there’s all kinds of things. There is no question that throughout her entire career she has been mired in some sort of controversy. Don’t even try to argue with me on this one or tell me how she’s evolved, devolved, or whatever because I don’t care. I prefer consistency, I like knowing that the person that I support was right from the beginning and it comforts me that Bernie was there first for almost everything Hillary supposedly tries to champion now, especially when it comes to things like civil rights issues and legalization.

As stated before Democrats have tried to make Bernie supporters akin to Ron Paul supporters with all of our conspiracy theories. Like the “rigged” debate schedules, which I heard complaints from people on all sides about things we could do, which is nothing. Or how about the NGPVAN incident. Yea it happened, and it was handled appropriately by Bernie Sanders firing the peeker. The DNC and the Hillary camp still called for blood and tried to assassinate his character. You want to talk about people being after people?. NGPVAN stated immediately that no data was taken, saved or imported but supporters on Hillary’s side, including her campaign, and some of the higher ups in the DNC called for blood sacrifice to satiate their need for vengeance from the former independent.

What happened isn’t what was expected either. Firstly, the Sanders campaign put a lawsuit against the DNC. According to many Iowa pundits that was a faux pas, just something completely unthinkable. This riled up the Hillary supporters and many said this was going to finish him for the running, they said that this was going to be the end of his campaign. It turned to be quite the opposite. While shut out, he raised over a million dollars AND he rose in the polls and his opponents both dropped. Wow, seasoned Iowa “experts” were wrong. Mainstream media was wrong. Thin skinned locals were wrong. The garbage that people from the HRC campaign and people like DWS were spewing was wrong too. Bernie came out shiny.

All this together is very telling, if you ask a nobody like me, this tells me that people are sick of the establishment. It sounds like the status quo of moderate democrats days are numbered and that people need to start changing their tune. To me it sounds like the party’s future is at stake, the youth is overwhelmingly in support of Bernie, you would know that if you paid any attention to the youth caucuses held here in Iowa in November. Hillary was found not even viable by our youth by not even getting the 15% needed. If that were grown ups, her campaign would be history. On another level nationally independent voters overwhelmingly support Bernie over any other candidate, that is including Trump, and for most states they make up the majority of voters in most states including our own here in Iowa.

Are you still paying attention, because you should be. Democrats seem to be planning an election where they win an election based on getting the most Democrat votes. It seems most of them made up their minds way too early and underestimated the underdog candidate that refuses to take corporate money. Without doing so, Bernie is doing a hell of a job of keeping up with her, and to kind of quote another successful progressive, people actually like him. I mean that, they actually like him, and they trust him too! Don’t overlook that, please. Some people don’t like polls nor do they pay much attention but even the polls where HRC leads Bernie by ten or twenty points, Bernie beats HRC by a much larger margin when it comes to the trust factor. Even in one poll ran by one of her own PACs, Bernie blew HRC away when it came to the trust factor.

One thing I will agree with though when it comes to Hillary supporters is that the GOP will do anything to keep her from winning. They will dredge up any old controversy, or new, to drag her through the mud. That’s the kink in her armor, and it’s huge, I’m not going to intentionally try and drag her through the mud, however there are a number of attacks that I’ve seen and it will get ugly if she’s nominated and all that crap will distract from the real issues that are plaguing real Americans today. That’s not a kink that Bernie has, that’s his strength. We saw it in the first debate, every candidate on stage was frothing at the mouth to attack her about those damn emails. Bernie shut that down fast, he wanted the focus to be on the issues, the important stuff. That’s one of the many reasons so many of us love Bernie. He’s a man of honor and substance. A caucus win for Hillary could snowball into a primary win that could turn into a TV show called “The Next Presidential Apprentice” where at the end Trump says “You’re Fired”. Let’s be frank here, only one Democrat consistently polls ahead of that xenophobic monster and it’s not her.

Bernie even recently outpolled every candidate on a Fox News online poll(including GOP candidates), well almost every poll if we want to be honest, with HRC getting close to 15%. That seems to be about her average when it comes to online polls. She simply does not churn the base like Bernie does, or Obama did. But Bernie supporters rig those polls and vote multiple times and etc. etc. etc. right? ANY supporter of any candidate can do just the same. That’s the name of the game, that’s why grassroots is going to win this election. That’s why people like myself have been working across borders with other groups from different states to come up with strategies to win Bernie in Iowa, especially starting in the caucuses. I want you to look at what I consider Jimmy Carter v2.016, the following link is a Google form and completely anonymous and safe. If you want to participate please fill it out. If not, I want you to admire what grassroots can do and what we are trying to do without aid of the campaign.

Please click here.

This is a link we are sharing both locally and nationally. What is it and what is the goal? It’s a form built to import data directly to the site www.ridewithbernie.com which is a site originally designed for people to give rides or receive rides to Bernie Sanders rallies across the USA. Working side by side with their team we have been working on a version that would Iowa caucus specific. By the time of the caucuses we will have a working map for drivers that are coming from out of state, and yes there are some signed up already, for designated areas to help folks to get to the caucuses. Those that have room in their car, you should sign up too. Those of you that are fair sports, you should sign up as a driver and see if you can help a fellow voter too. Many Bernie supporters are first time voters of all ages, not just millennials.

To me this election represents many things. A secure future for my daughter, free if not a much more affordable college. Real healthcare reform, the ACA has helped many people including myself but it’s my opinion it hasn’t gone far enough. The truth that a tax increase of a whopping $1.50 per person is not really an increase, it’s a huge DECREASE from what I’m paying now for me and my daughter – sorry Hillary from the last debate. Campaign reform NEEDS to happen. I’ve ran for office 3 times, unsuccessfully, but I’ve seen many of my ideas implemented, but I’ve seen what happens when there is too much money in politics in small areas like mine. Eventually people like myself won’t be able to run for elections because of that simple fact. Money dominates most elections and when someone pumps tens of thousands of dollars into a county that doesn’t even have tens of thousands how do you compete with that? A clean and better environment for my daughter and her children and theirs as well. Bernie seems to be one of the only electable candidates that truly understands the impact of what is going on with the environment and is completely committed to helping fix it. Minding our own damn business when it comes to stupid wars and conflicts, Bernie voted no to Iraq. There is another well known democrat candidate voted yes, I’m glad she thinks that’s a mistake, tell that to all the friends I went to school with that joined the national guard and had to go to Iraq and came back in shambles. Big mistake, thanks. At least I know Bernie has their back. Wall Street, I don’t even know where to start here but Bernie does, he’s committed to start an investigation on them on DAY ONE. And I guess I could end on minimum wage. The combination of student loans and medical costs can leave a person literally enslaved in debt for years and years. I don’t want to hear your stories about how 40 years ago you worked minimum wage 60 hours a week and graduated with perfect GPA because I just don’t care. If you don’t care about my argument, I don’t care about yours. The current wage per hour is not enough and the level of productivity is much higher than what minimum wage is, even if you’re just “flipping burgers”. Some people enjoy that kind of work, for others it shouldn’t matter. No person working 40 hours a week should have their employer subsidize poor wages from the government with food stamps and the likes. Corporate welfare must end. That money should go to education and infrastructure. National parks and green energy initiatives. If we want America to be great we need to invest to make it great and not reward the greedy and placate the fearmongers.

To conclude, it just needs to be said that my particular chosen candidate has a lot to offer everybody. He’s not a candidate that is bought nor sold. He represents the people and always has. He’s an honest and trustworthy character and a one of a kind. We need to pay attention and give him the attention he deserves or else there might not be  more like him in the future.

By Quinn Symonds 

E-mail: quinn.symonds@gmail.com

Marijuana Activist, Civil Rights Activists, Fathers Rights Activist, Democrat Activist

Bernie Sanders Grassroots Leader in Iowa

Head of Iowans for Bernie(Facebook)

Head of Iowa4Bernie(Twitter)

Photo Credit: By Phil Roeder [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Autumn Steele Documentary Slated for 2016 Release

A new documentary about the unarmed police shooting of Autumn Steele will be released in 2016.

Currently titled Project Autumn, filmmakers have advertised the film as a documentary that will explore “the story of Autumn Steele who was shot and killed on Jan. 6 2015.”

On the morning of January 6, 34-year-old Autumn Steele was shot by Burlington Police Officer Jesse Hill when he slipped and his weapon accidentally fired two shots, including the fatal round that would take Steele’s life.

As reported by Iowa Free Press:

“After Steele was killed, family members sought official records from local and state agencies regarding the shooting. Their efforts were stonewalled by authorities for months.

“Gina Colbert, Steele’s mother, described her treatment by the Burlington Police Department, the state Division of Criminal Investigation and Des Moines County Attorney Amy Beavers as ‘cruel and disrespectful.'”

Activist Vern Ancelet has participated in numerous “Justice for Autumn Steele” events within the last year. He is currently attached with filming and editing duties for Project Autumn. He said the film will explore Steele’s story “through a variety of media such as audio, video, images, and documents.”

Ancelet said that he has been getting help from Steele’s mother, who has been providing him with “home movie clips or other information.”

“I’m including recordings and statements made by Gina in the past for the film,” Ancelet said.

He added that long-term collaboration might become difficult over time due to the fact that Ancelet lives in Iowa and Colbert lives in Georgia.

According to the Project Autumn Facebook page, “The project is too early to tell whether donations are needed. You can help by spreading the word about the project.”

The Unarmed Shooting of Autumn Steele: One Year Later

The community of Burlington, Iowa will commemorate the one-year anniversary of the accidental shooting of 34-year Autumn Steele by police officer Jesse Hill on January 6, 2015.

Steele’s family, friends and supporters will gather at the Burlington Police Department, located at 424 N. 3rd St. 52601 in Burlington, at 1 pm in their call for justice.

As reported by Iowa Free Press, Steele was shot by Burlington Police Officer Jesse Hill. The officer was attempting to fire his weapon at the Steele family dog, named Sammy, saying he feared for his safety. Hill slipped, causing two rounds to discharge.

The memorial will be hosted by Marsha Soto, an animal rights advocate who has participated in over 30 demonstrations against police corruption. Soto, a native of Illinois, has traveled to Burlington on numerous occasions since Steele’s death in January 2015.

Soto has been involved in the effort since February when the Burlington Animal Hearing Board ruled unanimously that Sammy, the family dog, was not dangerous and was allowed to be returned to the family on February 25.

Soto told Iowa Free Press, “If Hill is so afraid of dogs, he needs to find another means of support.”

“Autumn should have went back to jail,” Soto said, instead of “being killed in cold blood.”

Organizers are trying to reach out to the hacktivist collective Anonymous and the grassroots organization Cop Block to help support their cause. According to Soto, members of both groups have joined past demonstrations.

Soto said that she and others want Hill and Des Moines County Attorney Amy Beavers, who dropped the charges against Hill on February 27, to understand, “We will not be silent and we are not going away anytime soon.”

Anti-Trafficking Fundraiser in the Quad Cities

Braking Traffik and The Quad Cities Lodging Association are hosting “an evening of fun and entertainment to stop human trafficking in the Quad Cities area” on January 28.

As reported by Iowa Free Press, “The Davenport non-profit group Braking Traffik and the Quad Cities Lodging Association are teaming up to continue the fight in eradicating human trafficking, one of the largest criminal enterprises in the world.”

The “Mission Possible” fundraiser will be hosted at the Holiday Inn Rock Island in Rock Island, Illinois from 5:30-8:30 pm. Organizers say activities will include “dinner, live and silent auctions, live painting of artwork by local Quad City artist Nana Noriega and a viewing of Braking Traffik’s award-winning documentary, Any Kid Anywhere: Sex Trafficking Survivor Stories.”

This will be the QCLA’s first annual fundraiser. QCLA Gala Committee member Jessica Waytenick told Iowa Free Press in November that when her group wanted to initiate a fundraiser, they also wanted to partner with another local charity.

“Braking Traffik was a natural fit to grow awareness of human trafficking within the local hospitality community and local residents,” Waytenick said.

Braking Traffik is a non-profit group based in Davenport, Iowa whose goal is to “support and enable the discovery of and response to incidents of sex trafficking through a victim-centered, multidisciplinary, and collaborative community effort in the Quad City area of Iowa and Illinois.”

According to a public statement, the organizers of Braking Traffik are “honored to be chosen as their charity partner for this event.”

Tickets for the “Mission Possible” fundraiser are available at www.qclodging.org