Police Brutality Vigil Tonight, 8/14, 7pm Union Sq NYC


What has happened in Ferguson, MO this week, and LA, and I’m sure many other American cities that we aren’t hearing about, is unacceptable. And it is scary, and it is heart breaking.

But the violence in our communities – much of which comes from over armed police forces – is not inevitable, and it is not hopeless.

There is something we can do about it.

It’s time to come together and make a change. Come out if you can. Hold a candle. Hold your neighbor’s hand. Make a statement that this is not ok.

I just received this email from a colleague organizing one of many vigils in NYC tonight:

Here is the event page on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/696125507103287/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

There are multiple locations in Manhattan: Harlem, Union Square, Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. This is a nationwide vigil. Here is the facebook community page: https://www.facebook.com/NMOS2014

The vigil was organized by Blogger @FeministaJones. You can also follow the vigils here at #NMOS14 on twitter. I am the primary organizer for the event tonight in Union and my twitter is @StilettoViper.

This is NOT a protest. It is a peaceful vigil. At 7:20 EST we will be observing 60 seconds of silence. This is a time for people to come together and mourn. This is not a place for violence.

See you in the streets.


Visit the Center for Theory of Change, Tuesday 3/18 in NYC


A few weeks ago, Theory of Change was discovered by the Center for Theory of Change, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting quality standards and best practice for the development and implementation of the Theory of Change model, especially in international development, sustainability, education, human rights and social change. I’m really glad to be in touch with the folks there, as developing and sharing knowledge about how we can most effectively change the world is a particular passion of mine.

So, I’m pleased to share an opportunity for those of you in New York City to meet the team at CTOC and join them on the evening of Tuesday, March 18th for the launch of a new Corelab report, “9 Ways to Change the World?: Theories of change for engaging people on global issues.” If you’re in the city, check out the event details below. (If you’re not, you can still access the report and the great learning from both orgs online.)

I won’t be able to make it – I’ll be over at the Yes Lab that evening – but if you get out to the event, let me know how it went, who you met, and what you learned!

Corelab and the Center for Theory of Change  are delighted to invite you to the:

Launch of 9 Ways to Change the World

A Corelab Briefing on Theories of Change for Engaging People on Global Issues

When: Tuesday 18th March
Time: 6:30-8:30 EST
Where: CUNY Graduate Center
365 5th Ave,  6th floor, Room 6304.01
New York  10016

May Miller-Dawkins, Head of Research at Corelab and Author of 9 Ways to Change the World
Peggy Hicks, Director of Global Advocacy, Human Rights Watch
Jose Luis Diaz, Head of Amnesty International’s New York Office
Hannah Weitzer, Program Manager, Global Nomads Group

Join us for the launch and an evening of discussion and debate about theories of change to engage people on global issues.

RSVP now (to reserve your spot) to:  Zabi Rahat of Center for Theory of Change

Hosted by Actknowledge

Download and Review the Briefing Here

Know Your Rights: Street Harassment & The Law


Happy International Human Rights Day! In celebration, Stop Street Harassment is marking the occasion by releasing our newest resource. And you all know I’ve been working hard on it since June. Read my annoucement post below and join us on Twitter at 1pm EST for a chat about #SSHLaws.

Stop Street Harassment is pleased to announce the release of our newest publication and online resource Know Your Rights: Street Harassment and the Law.

We’ve spent the summer and fall surveying the laws in all 50 U.S. states and D.C. and we have good news: many common street harassment behaviors (such as groping, indecent exposure, and up-skirt photos) are illegal across the U.S. That means you can report street harassment to the police and hold a street harasser legally accountable for his or her actions (when you feel that’s appropriate).

Street harassment is not specifically criminalized the way sexual harassment in the workplace and schools is. However, state laws like Disorderly Conduct, Invasion of Privacy, and Sexual Misconduct prohibit many common street harassment behaviors. Each state has their own set of rules about public behavior and sexual harassment, so we’ve laid out what the relevant crimes are called in each state’s code and let you know exactly what’s legal and what isn’t.

As of today – Human Rights Day – you can find all of this information online or you can download a PDF of the complete toolkit.

We think the Know Your Rights toolkit is a ground-breaking project in the fight against street harassment because, for the first time, all of the state-level criminal law that could be used to stop street harassment has been compiled, analyzed, and made accessible to anyone who needs them. In a society that says street harassment is a compliment, we want you to be able to say, “No, it’s disorderly conduct.”

We hope you will use this information to exercise your right to protection from the police when you experience illegal street harassment and to encourage your local lawmakers to further protect women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community in public spaces.

Of course, we know that reporting harassment to the police or criminalizing harassment are not the only ways to end street harassment. In some cases, these may not even be the best ways. Criminalizing behavior can be problematic when laws are disproportionately applied to low-income communities and communities of color. With that in mind, Stop Street Harassment encourages you to engage with your local law enforcement to ensure the law is always applied fairly and that your community handles street harassment in the most constructive way possible. We endeavor to provide you with information so that you can advocate for your rights to safe public spaces and to the other freedoms you are entitled to under the law, such as due process.

As we’ve said before, there is no best way to deal with street harassment – every person and situation differs. Ending street harassment for good will require a multi-pronged approach, including education, awareness campaigns, and engaging the legal system. If a street harasser does commit a crime against you, we want to equip you to make an informed decision. Armed with that knowledge, you can then decide whether or not to report harassers to law enforcement, especially for crimes like up-skirt photos, public masturbation, stalking, and groping.

Take a look at your state’s section of the toolkit to get an idea of the kinds of street harassment that are illegal – or to report a crime that has already happened. You’ll also find useful information in the Introduction, including what to expect when you report street harassment and how to deal with harassment from police officers themselves.

Finally, we’d like to add one important takeaway from our work on the project: in speaking with several police officers around the country, we learned that you can engage a police officer or call 911 any time you feel threatened, even before a crime has been committed. This seems obvious in retrospect, but 75% of women report they have been followed and yet few report it to the police. If you think someone is following you, or you feel otherwise scared, intimidated, or threatened, you have the right to help from the police.

They say knowledge is power, friends, so here’s a nation’s worth.

Have you reported street harassment to the police? What happened? What did you learn about your local laws from our toolkit? How do you plan to use this knowledge? Share your story in the comments.

From the Drug War to Peaceful Markets


An exciting event coming up! If you’re in the NYC area, I hope you’ll join me as I present my research at the New York Peace Institute on Friday, October 26th. Flyer and a link to RSVP below. I hope to see you there!


New York Peace Institute and PACT invite you to a PeaceTalk

What is Peace Economics? From the Drug War to Peaceful Markets

with Talia Hagerty

Ojuelos de Jalisco, México, September 2012

Friday, October 26th 2012 (6-8pm)

Do markets build peace? Can economic structures support ongoing violence? The emerging conversation about peace economics explores these and other timely questions. New York Peace Institute and the Center for Global Affairs Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation (PACT) group cordially invite you to add your voice to the conversation and debate, “What is Peace Economics” on Friday, October 26th 2012. Talia Hagerty, a Masters candidate at the Center for Global Affairs, will lead the talk and present her provocative research on peace economics in México.

The PeaceTalk will include an overview of the most recent work in the emerging concept of peace economics and a presentation of Talia’s research in México. In addition to México’s complicated economic history, approximately 50,000 lives have been lost to the drug war since 2006. In light of both the violence and poverty experienced there, México makes an important and fascinating case for understanding peace economics. Without specific warring parties, but with large-scale and organized violence, México’s conflict is difficult to understand and address. Talia argues that México is experiencing violence as market activity – a new framework with significant implications for economic policy, development and human rights work, and peacebuilding. The event will include ample time for discussion of this timely issue.
RSVP Required:

This PeaceTalk is free and open to the public; however, because space is limited, please be sure torsvp here.

Please email Chantal Kim at ckim@nypeace.org if you have any questions about the event.

Date & Time: Friday October 26th, 2012 (6:00PM – 8:00PM)

Location: New York Peace Institute, Brooklyn Mediation Center

210 Joralemon Street, Suite 618, Brooklyn, NY 11201 (located between Court and Adams Streets)

Conveniently located near Subways 2,3,4,5 to Borough Hall, M,N,R to Court Street; G to Hoyt-Schermerhorn Street; A,C,F to Jay Street


Speaker Bio:

Talia Hagerty is a Masters candidate at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, with a concentration in peacebuilding and peace economics. Her research focuses on informal and illicit economies globally, and the drug trade in Latin America specifically. After completing her master’s thesis – an exploration of economic opportunity and markets in México – Talia aims to work toward peaceful economic structures and opportunities in the Americas. Talia earned a BA in Economics from Eckerd College in 2008, and spent two years working in fair trade at the Center for Cultural Interchange and Greenheart in Chicago. Since moving to New York City in 2010, Talia has worked on violence containment research at the Institute for Economics and Peace and collaborated with regulators, civil society, and the private sector at the environmental consulting firm Matthiessen Strategies.

Legality and justice: Hate speech, property defacement, or freedom of expression?


So, this controversial video is going around the internet, in which a woman is arrested for spraying pink paint over an NYC subway ad that reads “In a war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

While Mona is spraying the ad, another woman, Pamela, attempts to physically prevent her from painting over it and at one point uses her camera equipment to try and shove her away from the ad.

I originally read of the incident on Political Fail Blog, via a Facebook post. Today, I read over a long Facebook comment thread between my classmates that inspired me to write about the incident. A lot came up in this thread, but I’d like to explore an issue that I think of often: does legality equal justice? How about legitimacy? This ad was legally sanctioned by a NYC judge; defacing a subway ad is illegal. But many people find the ad offensive, and onlookers as well as internet commentators applaud Mona’s action. So who’s right, and what does the whole incident mean for social justice?

Two Facebook posters noted that breaking the law, and doing so with graffiti, are historically accepted and even successful means of activism. Mona contends that her action is “freedom of expression, just as [the ad] is freedom of expression.” But nonetheless, one is legal and the other isn’t. I contend that legality is as fallible as the humans who created it, and therefore does not automatically equal justice or legitimacy. Now, in the interest of a peaceful and orderly coexistence, I am not suggesting we all treat the entire governing structure as illegitimate whenever we don’t like it and just do whatever the hell we please. But I will assert that it is our responsibility as citizens to think critically about the law, to discuss when it does and does not appropriately protect our freedoms, and, when we determine it is unjust, to use our full range of means to have it changed. In this case, our freedom to express religious and cultural opinions is juxtaposed with our desire to live free from hate speech. Mona implied they were both rights, and exercised her right to the later.

When legality sides with injustice there are a number of historically accepted and successful tactics available to activists, including the similar but distinct civil disobedience, noncooperation, and nonviolent direct action (NVDA).

Civil disobedience involves directly breaking a law that the activists finds to be unjust. Ex: Entering a public space, such as a school, that your are legally excluded from based on your race, gender, sexual identity, etc.

Noncooperation involves not cooperating with a law or norm in order to draw attention to a cause and/or express opposition to injustice. Ex: Staging a sit-in that disrupts normal activity. While a demonstration may be illegal, it is often directed at a different legal or normal injustice, such as marriage inequality.

NVDA includes a wide range of tactics that are often noncooperative and civilly disobedient, and also intended to put direct pressure on actors who uphold unjust laws or norms. Ex: Blocking the entrance to the NY Stock Exchange to prevent the ringing of the opening bell. While possibly illegal and definitely noncooperative, this action also directly disrupts and pressures actors at the major corporations on Wall Street to change their actions or experience further disruptions.

I would label this NVDA, in that Mona was taking direct action against a practice she finds unjust. It could also be said that she was engaging in civil disobedience by breaking a law she felt is unjust: the law that says one can buy hate speech in the NYC subway for $6k. (Also at issue: $ = speech?) And for those who have said that, no matter how offensive the ad, she shouldn’t have defaced it: that’s the point. Mona, like many activists before her, refused to cooperate with the social norm and the legality that says this hate speech is acceptable while her pink spray paint is not. All of these tactics are indeed accepted and historically successful means for bringing about social change. In fact, statistically, nonviolent tactics are twice as successful. (An interesting discussion is whether or not property defacement constitutes violence, especially public property.) What’s my point here? If Pam can rightfully buy that add for $6k why can’t Mona rightfully spray paint over it?

Grito de la Independencia (Cry of Independence)


On September 16, 1810, four months before the planned start of Mexico’s war of independence but in response to discovery by local authorities, Father Manual Hidalgo y Costilla cried

la muera el mal gobierno (the death of bad government) from a church in the town of Dolores. Today, this moment is celebrated as the start of Mexican Independce and the gritois repeated throughout the country. But in many ways, it seems this nation is still fighting for its independence 200 years later.

Continue reading

México ahora: “A widespread youth movement similar to what happened in the Arab countries.”


Angela Meléndez shared this video on Twitter. Professor John M. Ackerman from Universida Autonoma de México speaks about the protests in reaction to México’s July 1 elections:

Peña Nieto protesters take over Mexico City

Worth taking a look. Angela correctly noted that “this is how BBC and CNN should have reported.”

Do you think we, as a global community, should respond to the protestor’s sign “United Nations Help Us!” If so, how?