Category: Events

Reproducing Ourselves for a New Society: Fighting the Police at School and in the Streets

The following is a short piece by Florence Johnston Collective, who have been participating in the anti-police activity here in New York following the acquittals of Darren Wilson and Daniel Panteleo.

“This Stops Today”

Since August of this year (2014), people in Ferguson, Missouri have been in the streets, experimenting with a wide variety of resistance against police violence, spurred by the murder of 18 year old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson.  A little over two weeks ago, Darren Wilson was acquitted through a secretive Grand Jury trial of the murder, and last week another police officer, Daniel Panteleo, was similarly acquitted following his murder of Staten Island resident Eric Garner.

For the past two weeks, thousands of people all over the country have engaged in some of the most militant protests this country has seen in decades.  In cities where the norm is for protests to be per-approved by the police and for marches to stay on the sidewalk, protestors are taking over and shutting down major highways and bridges.  In situations where six months ago people may have been frightened or scattered by the police, they are fighting back, using the cops’ tools of violence against them–throwing back barricades and tear gas canisters, and forcefully releasing their fellow protesters from arrest and incarceration.

At least one New York City march last week began with a reading of Garner’s last words.  Before gasping “I can’t breathe” eleven horrific times before Panteleo and his fellow officer made sure Mr. Garner would never breathe again, he said this:

“Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. Why would you…? Everyone standing here will tell you I didn’t do nothing. I did not sell nothing. Because every time you see me, you want to harass me. You want to stop me (garbled) Selling cigarettes. I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone. please please, don’t touch me. Do not touch me.”

What these words reveal, beyond the complete disregard of human life by the police, is the history of harassment Garner faced as someone allegedly involved in the informal economy (the police were supposedly harassing him for selling loose cigarettes, although he was not arrested nor charged), living in a mostly black and working class neighborhood.  What they also reveal is that despite the threat of state violence, Garner took a stand against this abuse.

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Protestors in New York take the entire West Side Highway

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Join us for an FJC Mixer and Dinner, Sun 9/28 @6PM

Where: 16 Beaver St, 4th Floor, Manhattan

When: 9/28/14 @ 6PM

What is the future of struggles around social reproduction? As 2014 winds down, capital continues its offensive against reproductive labor conditions, women and trans* power, social programs, and overall quality of life for working class people in New York and beyond. Where are people pushing back? And how can we forge meaningful connections capable of linking these struggles without glossing over their particularities?

Florence Johnston Collective is an autonomous and unfunded group by and for working class people, dedicated to advancing struggle and generating analysis around issues of social reproduction.

Over the past year we have met countless inspiring people who share our desire for radical change in social reproduction. In our pickets, flyering, public meetings, movie screenings, reading groups, and door to door campaigns, we have met folks of every stripe who share a common desire for a society based on human need, and capable of human care.

As we plan our next steps, we want to hear from you.If you share our vision, want to discuss the future, or just want to hang out and see what we’re all about, join us for a dinner event to welcome the Fall and plan for the spring ahead. Bring your friends, co-workers, family, children, lovers, and let’s put our heads together toward a meaningful way forward.

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Rally 4PM 7/25 (Friday) at Bellvue Hospital, NYC2Gaza!

As Palestinians engage in massive protests, in NYC we are calling for solidarity.  We are inseparable from the Palestinians injured, and the healthcare workers struggling not just to survive but to resist, as Israel bombs hospitals and ambulances to the ground in an attempt to break their spirit.  In NY, we face, slower, every day assaults–overwork, lack of healthcare, silent deaths and ongoing mental and emotional trauma.  The fight of Gaza is our fight!  We will gather outside Bellevue Hospital, which is one of the largest hospitals serving poor populations in the city, and which treats patients in and out of Riker’s Island (a small version of the open air prison that is every day life in Palestine).

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Movie Screening: The Waiting Room on Sun July 13 @5PM, Commons in Brooklyn

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Second screening of the movie series hosted by Flo Jo!

Sunday July 13, 5PM-8PM

At The Commons 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY  (between Hoyt and Bond)

Subway: A/C/G to Hoyt-Schermerhorn or 2/3/4/5 to Nevins St

Free


“The Waiting Room” presents an ordinary day in an Oakland public hospital emergency room, from both the workers’ and patients’ perspectives. The film asks workers what they do on a daily basis to deal with the constant (over)flow of patients, and shows them in action as they redress and remedy endless ailments and afflictions, doing some of the most demanding work in our society: care work. Simultaneously, the film depicts patients, mostly uninsured and poor, as they navigate the hospital and insurance bureaucracies and struggle to survive and be healthy another day. Join us as we bear witness to these struggles, discuss how it applies to our own lives and situations, and develop some ideas about how to fight for a society with human care at the center, for workers and patients alike.

We will have a special introduction with a former employee of the hospital, who now works in the ED of a busy New York hospital, and as always, discussion and refreshments!

For more information on Florence Johnston Collective, check this blog or contact us at florencejohnstoncollective@gmail.com

Movie Screening: Born in Flames on Thurs June 12 @7PM, the base in Brooklyn

We in Florence Johnston Collective love the 1983 film Born in Flames because of its complex treatment of politics in society!  A “science fiction” film based ten years after a “social democratic revolution”, the film portrays two organizations of women struggling in a world that despite a “revolutionary” government, still faces exploitation, wage labor, sexism, rape, racism, homophobia, and state repression.  The film raises a lot of great questions about state led vs. grassroots led political movements, and about the possibilities for liberation in a world that is still dominated by class divisions along race and gender lines.

We hope to see you there!

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LICH’s Last Day – People Speak Out!

Rain or Shine – Thursday 5/22, 6pm at Van Voorhees Park. (Hicks St & Amity St)!

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Flo-Jo members spoke with LICH workers this morning. Many people stopped by for a chat on their way to the beloved coffee vendor on the corner of Henry and Amity Streets – who said he’d only stay there to sell coffee for another week. And the workers had a lot to say about the “situation” – or there isn’t any clear situation as many are kept in the dark about their jobs, their lives, and the fate of the community. However, we are facing a fact that today many people are being laid off from LICH.

One worker said: “We know SUNY came in for the real-estate [value] when they bought LICH.”

“And they are leaving us now just for that purpose.”

Another criticized the lack of unions’ support for workers in the struggle:

“Unions, they are with the management and they’re not communicating with us, don’t even look at us in the eye!”

As the bidding game for the hospital site continues to leave many in the LICH family in limbo, we see people’s anger turn into amazing energy for protecting and caring for each other. We need to make sure that people’s voices will not be silenced, to struggle against profit-centered healthcare. We want to hear from patients, workers, neighbors, and anyone with something to say.
Join us today, Thursday, 6pm at Van Voorhees Park. (Hicks St & Amity St)!

RAIN OR SHINE! We’ll have extra umbrellas and refreshments.

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Last Day Of LICH? Speak Out: Thursday 5/22, 6pm

ImageBy all accounts this Thursday 5/22 is the last day of any service at Long Island College Hospital. FJC has been watching these events unfold all year, along with the similar story playing out at Interfaith. We see the struggles to save these hospitals as connected, not only to each other, but to the bigger struggle for health care based on human needs, not profits.

The campaign to save LICH has worked very hard to raise awareness, earn politicians’ attention, boost the unions, and wage a court battle. But these avenues have not saved LICH.

When the politicians fail, the courts fail, and the unions’ strategy doesn’t work, its time to admit we need a better plan.

Join us this Thursday for a speak out event, to talk about the LICH experience. We want to hear from patients, workers, neighbors, and anyone with something to say.

Regardless of the outcome at LICH, we need next steps for making sure that the next battle we fight for health care based on need and not on profit will be a victory. The Florence Johnston Collective wants to help combine the energies that have been fighting individual battles in isolation, into a citywide force capable of going on the offensive, not simply defending the latest hospital on the chopping block. That is how we’ll start to win.

New Vital Signs and Event on ACA

**Please Note! We have changed locations for the ACA event to Barnard College, Barnard Hall Room 409, same time and date!**

Florence Johnston Collective wants to announce our new issue of Vital Signs!  This issue features reports on Interfaith, Greece, and the impacts of the Affordable Care Act. To go along with the release of this issue, we will be hosting an event on March 22, 2014 at 2 PM at the Barnard College in Harlem (at Broadway and 117th St).  Please come, and we welcome any healthcare professionals and patients to share their experiences with the NY State of Health, Medicaid, Medicare, and being uninsured.

And as always, we want to hear from you.  If you want to contribute to the event or to our next issue of Vital Signs, please email us.

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Reportback from “Body & Soul” and Thank You!

We wanted to say thank you to Cleo Silvers and to everyone who came out last Saturday, as well as to the workers at Morningside Heights NYPL for being so supportive.

Cleo’s talk was incredibly inspiring, and everyone there raised crucial questions about organizing, healthcare, and what we do to move forward.  We  focused on a mix of discussion of strategy and tactics–such as worker inquiries, occupations, and the importance of building long term relationships that are rooted in struggle–and broader political question—such as the role of unions and non-profits in holding struggle back and managing the decline of the working class, moving beyond “identity” to think about the material class positions that we need to struggle from as workers, and the relationship. between the medical system and the rest of capitalism.

Also, in case you missed it in our newsletter, below is the text of the interview with Cleo about the Think Lincoln organizing.  Enjoy and hit us up if you want to get invovled!  We are currently doing the kind of surveying Cleo mentioned and it is a great experience.

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Think Lincoln!  And Then Occupy It:  The Legacy of the Think Lincoln Committee

Florence Johnston Collective had the opportunity to interview C.S., a former member of the Think Lincoln Committee (TLC). In July of 1970, TLC occupied an abandoned Nurses Residence building at Lincoln Hospital.  Below is an edited version of our conversation.

Could you tells us a bit about the groups you were involved in during 1960s and 70s?

I was in the Black Panther Party (BPP) and the Young Lords Organization (YLO). YLO was the Puerto Rican equivalent to the BPP whose major focus was New York City and between Puerto Rico and New York City. The goal was Puerto Rican freedom and independence, and equality and justice for people of Puerto Rican descent in the U.S. In the 1960s-70s, black people, Puerto Ricans, and people of color couldn’t get jobs that made enough money to survive on. Sometimes it was because you didn’t speak the language, or you didn’t have education, or you didn’t have equality in housing or health care. There was simply no justice. Young people saw the Civil Rights Movement’s strides in fighting for justice and equality and began to see that in order to gain equality, justice, respect, dignity, you had to fight for it. YLO was a very young group. The average age was somewhere between 16-18 years old. We were young, but committed and courageous. The Think Lincoln Committee (TLC) was a coalition of doctors, nurses, community members, hospital workers from Lincoln, and orgs like YLO and BPP. We all came together around a single issue: quality, free health care is a right. We came together because health care conditions were so horrendous we could not ignore it. Lincoln Hospital was (and still is) in South Bronx. In the South Bronx and Harlem, asthma rates were extremely high because of the environmental situation and housing conditions. Infant mortality rates in South Bronx and Harlem were (and are) higher than many third world countries. You could go to the hospital to the ER on Saturday evening and be left waiting for 72 hours. You could go into surgery and have the wrong kidney taken out, easily. We heard stories of people with surgical instruments left inside their bodies. Mental health treatment meant giving out psychotropic drugs and keep just keep people drugged up. 1/4  of the people in South Bronx and Harlem were addicted to heroine. 1/4 of the population! There was no program for drug addiction treatment. There were other environmental issues like lead poisoning and sickle cell anemia. It was an uncaring form of health care delivery; it was essentially racist. The service and treatment at Lincoln Hospital would never have been allowed in a rich community. So it just seemed to us that this was a logical thing to work around.  

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