The mass incarceration of people in Kansas and the constant militarization of this city and country are issues that the Peace and Social Justice Center of South West Kansas decided to focus on this coming year.
Issues were hammered out at this year’s board meeting and retreat, last Saturday. One issue that held almost everyone’s interest was mass incarceration. That one ties into other related issues the board is dealing with such as police brutality, recent police shootings of unarmed young people and poverty issues.
The US has more of its citizens locked behind bars than any other country in the world. The majority of those inmates are minorities—non-whites. Members discussed this issue being in the news a lot recently.
For example CNN;
“This comes at a time when soaring costs of prisons are wreaking havoc on federal, state and local budgets, as schools, libraries, parks and social programs are slashed. When I graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1983, my state spent more on higher education than prisons, a lot more. That equation is now reversed. Money that could have gone into reducing skyrocketing tuition and cuts to education has instead gone to prisons and inmates.”
The board decided that some issues, such as Women’s rights and environmental problems are being address by other groups in the area. It was decided to work with these other groups rather than duplicate their efforts. .
Many board members took an interest in inequality due to the actions of Governor Sam Brownback, the Koch brothers, David and Charles and other people and groups promoting inequality to the state of Kansas.
Another category the board will use is the constant militarization of our society. The board already has an Opt-out program to let high school students know they can refuse to let the military have all their personal information. The military uses the information to push military recruitment.
This year Board Member Steve Otto ended up attending a school assembly at Mead Middle School and said “it was the most jingoistic crap I ever saw.” All classes were let out for this event fist hour.
This event was put on mostly by the “cadets” from the “leadership Class,” which is nothing more than an indoctrination class for the US military and our perpetual wars. Otto and some other board members would like to challenge having those “leadership” classes with out giving the students a right to opt out of them.
The center’s members also want to deal with Latin American issues. This includes peace groups past efforts to shut down the SOA(Schools of the America’s, a school teaching Latin American Leaders who to Torture and assassinations political dissidents). The board also wants to keep an eye on Iran in case the US makes military moves against that country.
The board is hoping to have an active year and addressing a lot of issues, both international and local. The boars also want to reach out and involve more young people. This will also be a priority.