Dear JPS Shareholder,
Can you feel it? Can you see it? This is a unique and critical moment in history. People are coming together from all different backgrounds and identities to stand up for ourselves, our neighbors, and our communities. Voices crying out on the streets for true justice are being heard, and are igniting a passion and hope that is spreading throughout the country for an end to structural racism and state violence.
The organizations within Justice and Peace Shares are a critical part of the movement here in St. Louis. You, as a shareholder supporting the mission and work of JPS, are a critical part of the movement here in St. Louis. Together we can do what none of us can do alone. Together we can impact not only our local community, but also our country as a whole. In solidarity, we share with you all of the work we’ve been able to accomplish together
The Peace Economy Project and Instead of War have been active in addressing militarization at home through our involvement with the newly formed Don’t Shoot Coalition and Drone Free St. Louis. Both groups have a strong focus on keeping weapons of war out of our community, holding the police accountable, and upholding racial and social justice for all. Since Drone Free’s creation in response to St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson’s request to purchase a police drone, we have gained a lot of traction in the community. We successfully kept the proposed police surveillance system, the Real Time Intelligence Center, from being included in a proposed city bond bill. We continue to stand vigilant in ensuring taxpayer dollars aren’t spent on tactics of war like surveillance, drones, tear gas, and tanks in our city. At the same time, we have maintained our absolute commitment to educating and advocating for a Federal budget that minimizes military spending and emphasizes human needs. Instead of War’s other project, St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee has also had a busy year.
It has been an incredible year here at IFCLA! Along with all the other JPS organizations, IFCLA is a proud and active member of the Don’t Shoot Coalition. True to our roots, IFCLA members were key in organizing and staffing Sanctuary spaces for protestors, organizers, and community members to utilize following the no-indictment announcement. IFCLA supporters also organized several profound and collaborative actions in solidarity with the missing students of Ayotzinapa. In the fall, we organized several incredible events – including a feminist panel and discussion entitled, “The Art of Resistance,” which was co-organized with the Yeyo Arts Collective, Latinos en Axion, and Sistahs Talking Back. This event highlighted the voices of women artists and organizers, and was a powerful community building event for IFCLA and many others. We also hosted an organizer from the Immigrant Youth Justice League, who met with IFCLA and Latinos en Axion to talk about his experience organizing the national “Undocumented, Unafraid, and Unapologetic” movement. Overall, this year has been a year of growth, challenge, and transformation for IFCLA. We have done some incredible work, and have been pushed farther than we would have imagined. Now is a wonderful time to be organizing and active in St. Louis.
ILSI spent a year working with other legal charities for immigrants and MIRA in presenting Document Preparation meetings, providing a checklist of documents they will need to comply with President Obama’s Executive Order. I want to share Norma’s story with you, as one story that captures the work that we do. Norma left Mexico as a child because she saw her father, a police officer, killed by a member of the drug cartel. Norma and her mom crossed the river for safety. Norma was 13, traumatized, learning English, and fearing deportation. Yet, she persevered, her two beautiful children were born here and she wanted to provide them a better life than she had but she was always fearful of deportation and separation from her children. Her children were fearful that they would lose their mom. An ILSI attorney let her know the legal risks of being deported or detained if she applied for a green card. Norma never hesitated, she wants a secure and safe future for her children, America is her home. With your help, she has her green card. At the court hearing, she cried tears of joy and went home to hug her children and tell them, “you don’t have to be afraid anymore, I will never be sent away.”
The Catholic Action Network is proud to be one of the few Catholic voices speaking up and taking action around issues of structural racism and state violence in our community. At the start of the year, CAN partnered with The Ethics Project to co-found and lead the Coalition to Abolish the Prison Industrial Complex. Since then we have joined with the St. Louis Solidarity Economy in efforts to abolish the bench warrant system and incorporate time banking as an alternative to heavy traffic fines. We are also a member of the Don’t Shoot Coalition along with other JPS organizations. In the Catholic Church there has also been a lot of positive movement of lay people, theologians, and priests speaking out about Church reform. We continue to grow and expand our group of Welcoming Catholic Communities and our LGBTQ Circle, promoting the full inclusion of our LGBTQ family in the life of the church. We lift up women’s voices in our church through our monthly Women Led Prayer series. And we celebrated prophetic voices in our community speaking out by inviting Fr. Roy Borgeouis and Fr. Tony Flannery as well as honoring Mary and Jerry Wuller, long time JPS and CAN supporters, with our inaugural Prophetic Voice Award.
As always we are interested in your ideas for campaigns, concerns, constructive critiques and affirmations. We would also like to ask shareholders to continue giving to Justice and Peace Shares, and if possible, consider increasing your share by $5, $10 or even another share. Your ongoing support is an important part of the growing movement for peace, justice, and equality. We couldn’t do it without you!
Knowing what a difference you are making as a shareholder, please think of a friend who might also like to be part of this growing grassroots movement for change, and ask them to consider becoming a shareholder today! New and old shareholders can get to know more about JPS and becoming a shareholder at our Friendraiser on February 8, 2015 from 3:00pm-6:30pm at the Royale (3132 S. Kingshighway Blvd). We hope to see you there!