Activism in Action: Marijuana Legalization, Immigration Reform, and Education Cuts Protests – PA Headlines 6/6 Counterpoint PA 8/25-31/2013
And now, PA Headlines concludes for the first time with a new segment that will now regularly conclude PA Headlines called Activism in Action with a lightning round update on the latest progressive protests in Pennsylvania.
Activism in Action starts this week with a pro-marijuana legalization protest in Reading, PA. Elyssa Cherney of the Reading Eagle reports:
Luke Shultz suffers from chronic back pain that prevents him from sitting down for more than a few minutes, but feels that doctors can’t do everything in their power to treat him. With about 60 others in downtown Reading on Saturday, he called for statewide legalization of marijuana for medical and personal use. â€˜I am disabled, and there’s a treatment that could possibly help me; but I can’t even find out because it’s illegal to possess,â€™ said Shultz, 51, of Bernville. â€˜It’s a human rights issue that people cannot use something that could help them.â€™ The activist group Pennsylvania Hempland Security organized the rally in Penn Square following two similar gatherings in Lancaster and York counties this year. About 25,000 people are arrested each year due to Pennsylvania’s marijuana laws, costing taxpayers $325 million dollars, said Les Stark of Ephrata, the group’s founder.
Moving onto Allentown, PA, where progressives rallied for federal immigration reform. Will Lewis writes for Lehigh Valley News that:
A group rallying for immigration reform is taking its message to Lehigh Valley Congressman Charlie Dent and other Republicans. … â€˜I am one of millions of children that had to be separated from their parents because of a broken immigration system,â€™ said Tatiana Tooley, a community activist speaking to the group. This group hopes Senate Bill 744, immigration reform, is the first topic Congress discusses. â€˜If the GOP supports this, the GOP is making a statement that they truly value family unity,â€™ added Tooley. … â€˜If they have another bill it will take more time,â€™ said organizer, Fernando Vazquez. â€˜The new leader could be Charlie Dent and one way to show leadership is passing this bill.â€™
And finally, a public teachersâ€™ protest in Philadelphia. Reuters reporter Hilary Russ writes:
Hundreds of teachers in Philadelphia voiced their outrage on Thursday [August 22] at proposed pay and benefit cuts as public school officials demanded $133 million in concessions from employees because of a financial crisis. With the teachers’ labor contract due to expire on August 31 and school set to start about a week after that, the district and union leaders are still far apart on terms, according to George Jackson, spokesman for the Philadelphia Federation ofÂ Teachers. Teachers are being asked to take salary cuts of between 5 and 13 percent next year and to pay more for health coverage. More than 200 teachers held a march and then rallied outside the school board offices on Thursday to protest the demands.
… Scott Knoflicek, a middle school science teacher protesting with his two young daughters in tow, said he goes dumpster diving for the bottles, cans, furniture and other supplies he needs to teach his lab classes. … the school district had to shutter 30 schools over the past two years. In June, it laid off about 3,800 teachers, assistant principals, aides and other staffers to close a $304 million shortfall.
Keep on keeping up the fight Pennsylvania progressives, and Iâ€™ll keep reporting Activism in Action.
August 31, 2013
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Posted in: Activism / Protests, Activism in Action, Budget Cuts, Economy / Budget, Education, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Labor / Unions, Local / City / County Government, Marijuana Legalization, PA Headlines, State / Federal Crossover, State Government, US House/Senate Members from PA, War on Drugs