Interview with Nicholas DeGraff of Peace Fresno

[ Aaron Kilner, known by Peace Fresno activists as Aaron Stokes ]

Nicholas DeGraff of Peace Fresno and I spoke on the evening of April 16, 2004. He was in Santa Cruz for the Northern California Peace Centers Conference, and was a presenter at the conference.

The Fresno-based activist group Peace Fresno was infiltrated by an agent working for the Fresno Sheriff’s Department. Aaron Kilner, known by Peace Fresno activists as Aaron Stokes, died in a motorcycle accident on August 30, 2003. Kilner’s obituary in The Fresno Bee identified him as a member of the Fresno County Sheriff’s department and went on to say that he was “assigned to the anti-terrorist team.” Fresno activists believe that this “anti-terrorist team” is the recently formed Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

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Critical Resistance; Breaking it Down

Critical Resistance’s ‘National Field Organizer’ spoke with people in Santa Cruz that are working to start a local chapter.

Critical Resistance seeks to build an international movement to end the Prison Industrial Complex by challenging the belief that caging and controlling people makes us safe. We believe that basic necessities such as food, shelter, and freedom are what really make our communities secure. As such, our work is part of global struggles against inequality and powerlessness. The success of the movement requires that it reflect communities most affected by the PIC. Because we seek to abolish the PIC, we cannot support any work that extends its life or scope.

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Angela Davis and Others Advocate to Abolish the Death Penalty

In conjunction with the Statewide Day of Action Against the Execution of Kevin Cooper, there was a panel discussion featuring Angela Davis on Tuesday, February 3, 2004, at UCSC’s Merrill Dinning Hall. The room was packed with people that want to free Kevin Cooper, Abolish the Death Penalty, and Shut Down the Prison System.

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School of the Americas Protest in 2003

Immediately after the protest in Miami against the FTAA, many of us headed to the annual demonstration organized by School of the Americas Watch at the main gate of Fort Benning on the weekend of Nov. 21-23, 2003.

The U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA), located in Fort Benning, Georgia, is a military training institution focused on training officers from Latin American countries. Since its creation in 1946, some 60,000 Latin American military officers have graduated from the school.

The mission of the SOA, known as the School of Assassins, is to train soldiers to protect the interests of multinational corporations, and maintain the economic status quo for the few rich and powerful in the U.S. and their cohorts in Latin America. Religions leaders union organizers, and indigenous communities have been the targets and victims of SOA violence.

In 2000, pressure on Congress to stop funding the SOA increased to the point where the Pentagon decided to rename the school the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, abbreviated as WHISC or WHINSEC.

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Demonstrations in Miami Against the FTAA

“In November, 2003, trade ministers from 34 countries met in Miami, Florida, to negotiate the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). FTAA threatens to devastate workers, the environment, and public services like health care, education, and water, and to destroy indigenous rights and cultural diversity across North, Central, and South America.

“Thousands of union members, environmentalists, feminists, anarchists, students, farm workers, media activists, and human rights activists who gathered in Miami to struggle against the FTAA were brutally attacked with rubber bullets, pepper spray, electric guns and shock batons, embedded reporters and information warfare, all coordinated by the new United States Department of Homeland Security.

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