GEO Statement Against the Proposed ICE Detention Center in Dwight, Illinois

February 28, 2019

We, the Graduate Employees Organization at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign IFT/AFT Local 6300 AFL-CIO, strongly condemn the proposed construction of a private prison in Dwight, Illinois. The Dwight Planning Commission met on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 to discuss the annexing of private land for a privately run, federal immigration detention center. The detention center would serve to detain up to 1,200 undocumented immigrants. The Dwight Planning Commission voted in favor of annexing the private land for an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center. The Dwight village board will be meeting on Monday, March 11, 2019 to have a final vote on whether to approve the contract with the Immigration Centers of America. More than 100 protestors, including Dwight residents and activists from across the state of Illinois, attended the February 19 meeting to voice their opposition to the proposed plans. Continue reading

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The Labor Problem

Eugene V. Debs (1885-1926) was a trade unionist, a founding member of the IWW, and candidate for President of the Socialist Party five times. In his last run, in 1920, he got almost a million votes while in a prison cell.

by Eugene V. Debs – unsigned editorial in Locomotive Firemen’s Monthly Magazine, vol. 3, no. 5 (May 1879), p. 146.

Whatever politicians may say to the contrary, however much they may attempt to lead the masses away from the truth, the fact remains that the labor question is the great problem of the immediate future. Politicians may howl over the Southern question; so-called statesmen may cry “revolution” at each other, but the thinking man knows that most of it is done for effect; he knows, further, that the future outlook is ominous for peace and prosperity, if the wants of the laboring man are not met as they should be. Like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, the labor issue looms up, prominent, awful, grand; and he only is a true friend to his country, who understands the great difficulty, and will use his honest endeavors to solve it. The solution, we hope, will come steadily, peacefully, but come it must, though it be necessary to bring it here on the terrible wings of revolution. Not the revolution of bloodshed, but a revolution that will overwhelm the enemies of the laboring classes beneath ruin unutterable. God hastens the day, say we. Organization is the great secret of success. A body of men—no matter who they are, or for what purpose they come together—if they are well organized, they will succeed. Our readers will recognize the truth of this by looking at our own grand Brotherhood. We are as one man, from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon—East, West, North, South—the same great body of honest, hard-working men. One great body, with one noble heart, beating responsive to the wishes of every member. Let us persevere in our objects, let us organize more fully, and we shall become more of what we are already: a power in the land for good. Brothers, gird on the armor, the whole world is a battlefield, and we must be the heroes in the fight for our rights.

Edited by Tim Davenport, 1000 Flowers Publishing, Corvallis, OR · February 2017 · Non-commercial reproduction permitted.

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Chief Illiniwek: A Brief History and Call to Action

Former U of I President Michael Hogan (2010-2012) with pro-Chief students.

On March 13, 2007, the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, after approximately 20 years of debate on the Illiniwek tradition, directed

“… the immediate conclusion to the use of Native American imagery as the symbol of the University of Illinois and its intercollegiate athletics along with the related regalia, logo, and the names ‘Chief Illiniwek’ and ‘Chief, and … [that] the Chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus manage the final disposition of these matters.”

Many Trustees acted not out of concern for American Indians but because the NCAA, after seven years of careful study, established a policy prohibiting the use of American Indian imagery in intercollegiate sports. The Trustees had been warned both from within and outside their ranks to resolve this issue through their own initiative, but they lacked the will to do so. The 2007 policy was a resounding repudiation of those Trustees and politicians who had undermined the will of the university’s administration, faculty and students for decades. As the News-Gazette stated at the time, “If it wasn’t for a few well-placed politicians the mascot would have been gone by now.” Continue reading

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Attacks on the Campus Left Then and Now: Fighting Student Activists on Illinois’ Campus in the 1930s

In the 1930s, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was home to a thriving anti-war and anti-imperialist community of different radical, socialist, and communist groups. The National Student League (NSL), later called the American Student Union (ASU), the Communist Youth League, the Left Forum, the Socialist Study Club, and the Womens International League for Peace and Freedom formed a consistent opposition to the university’s support of US imperialist warmongering through its mandatory Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs; promoted progressive economic responses to the Great Depression, like unemployment benefits and minimum wage laws; and fought racial, ethnic, and gender oppression.

Thirty years before the massive wave of campus activism in the 1960s, these students formed an alternative to the liberal capitalism that had allowed the Great Depression to destroy millions of lives, supported and reproduced class, racial and gender oppression, and was increasing the likelihood of another global war. In response to the students’ efforts, the liberal-bourgeois establishment—university leaders, business and community members, and, on occasion, even other students and student groups—fought to crush the student left with a variety of tools. This article will discuss a few of these tactics, and it will highlight the historical continuity between these attempts to dismantle the student Old Left and those against the contemporary Left on campus. Continue reading

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The value of community

By Molly Zupan, representing UIUC Urban Planning 478 Spring 2019 students

This spring semester, a group of urban planning and architecture students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have collaborated on creating visual, physical and written representations of the public history and urban landscape of the Champaign-Urbana area, and of the residents that live, work and play beyond campus boundaries. This is our call to action.

Facilitated by Professor Ken Salo, of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, our class dove into the cultural, political and historical dynamics that lie beneath the Champaign-Urbana community and continue to impact how it is structured today, as well as the daily lives of its residents. Continue reading

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On the Topic of Islamophobia and Nationalism

From the time we are little until we are fully grown, most of us are taught the basic saying “treat others the way you want to be treated.” It represents the action of being courteous and kind, to not disrespect or belittle another, because one wouldn’t want that to happen to oneself. But what happens when not everyone behaves that way, when there are those that would rather bring about entire ideologies that dehumanize and attack specific groups of people based upon an aspect of their identity?

White supremacy. Islamophobia. Xenophobia. All words synonymous with hatred and bigotry. And they form a rising epidemic in today’s world, as seen by the global shift towards supporting right-wing politicians, perhaps best exemplified here in the US by the election of Donald Trump as president. When people in power fail to denounce white supremacy for what it is, an ideology of hate, they allow nationalists the platform to continue to grow and spread their message. Continue reading

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Unacceptable Levels—Our Body Burden, Our Planet Burden

Our planet is drowning in synthetic chemicals. Our bodies have become synthetic chemical processing plants. A 2005 Environmental Working Group study of umbilical cord blood revealed that babies are born already pre-polluted with over 200 industrial contaminates. Hundreds of the more than 80,000 pervasive, toxic, man-made concoctions make their way into our bodies every day, but only a handful have been tested for safety. Our government thinks this is an “acceptable level of risk.” Innovations from World War II, chemistry originally designed to kill for warfare, were unleashed after the war to meet the public’s ever-increasing demands for consumer conveniences to fill busy, prosperous lifestyles. The material basis of our society is built on fossil fuel feedstocks. 90% of man-made chemicals come from oil, coal, and gas. Hydrocarbons are plentiful and easy to work with. We eat, drink, breathe, wear, touch, and slather our bodies with petrochemicals every day. “We live in a sea of chemicals.”

In February, the Sierra Club and Peoples Climate Movement, with other local organizations, screened the film Unacceptable Levels at the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign. In 2009, the smell of chlorine in a glass of water led an everyday guy named Ed Brown to start asking serious questions about how polluted the world around him and his family just might be. Over two years, Brown asked a lot of questions and traveled thousands of miles. He spoke with experts, authors, doctors, scientists, CEOs, and environmental advocates who helped open his eyes to the magnitude of this unrealized threat to our collective health. (Industry reps and government officials refused his invitations to speak with him.) He shares this journey with us in his film because he feels that “we are all in this together.” Continue reading

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Welcome to the IMC

Come in.

I am writing to invite you deeper into the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center. I lead a lot of tours of the IMC. Some of you know more of the history than I do. The IMC has been around, in various forms, for almost 20 years. The IMC has been at 202 S. Broadway in Urbana since 2005, but you would be surprised how many people have never been inside. Continue reading

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No Time to Wait: Let’s Make a Green New Deal!

New Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rallies support for the Green New Deal

As a series of intergovernmental panels and the March 15 global wave of student strikes remind us, the environmental crisis is no longer a thing of the future. It is our here and now, exacting a toll on the world’s citizens of shocking proportions. Against a backdrop of catastrophic droughts, forest fires, and abnormally intense hurricanes and heat waves, the arguments of climate change deniers seem ever more absurd, as does the view that human activity is not the major contributor to a warming earth. Today, sixty-nine percent of Americans are “somewhat worried” or “very worried” about climate change, according to late-2018 surveys conducted independently by Yale and George Mason Universities. This percentage represents the highest level recorded since these surveys were first fielded back in 2008.

Gratifyingly, with grassroots activism serving as a key factor in the election of numerous left-of-center Democrats and even democratic socialists to Congress in the 2018 midterms, policy prescriptions for addressing the crisis are at last garnering serious attention in Washington. Multiple approaches have been put forward, but perhaps the most progressive framework and that receiving the most attention is the one embodied in the Green New Deal resolution recently introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY and a democratic socialist) and Senator Edward Markey (D-MA). Importantly, this effort is non-binding, ideally representing only the opening skirmish in an ongoing two-year effort to translate resolution goals into specific legislative items. Passing such legislation will, of course, also require continued grassroots organizing and public education at the local level, thereby increasing the odds that a more amenable Congress will be elected in 2020 and that those elected will not buckle to counterpressure from the fossil fuel industry and its allies, as well as from right-wing “anti-big government” factions. Continue reading

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Open Rebuttal to Sen. Duckworth

In a February 7 letter responding to my concerns about Senate Bill 1 (S.1), the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019, Senator Tammy Duckworth offered a defense of her support for this bill. I believe that through her support of this bill and the rationale she offers for such support, the Senator violates her oath to uphold the Constitution, demonstrates a failure of responsibility and ethics as a US senator, and displays inconsistent if not hypocritical attitudes regarding human rights abuses around the globe.

The Senator’s support for three of the four S.1 provisions is suspect: (1) banning pro-Palestinian BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) activities violates the First Amendment; (2) applying sanctions to Syria on the basis of “human rights abusers” but disallowing the same against Israel is hypocritical; and (3) appropriating billions of taxpayer dollars to the Israeli military is not only unnecessary but unethical in supporting Israel’s ongoing violations of Palestinian human and civil rights. Continue reading

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