[act-ma] Free Speech Denied: Event Closed by Landlord Action, Pressure Group
suren at fairjobs.org
Tue Mar 18 04:37:06 PDT 2008
Free Speech Denied!
Massachusetts Global Action organized encuentro 5 (e5) as a space for
the free exchange of ideas; we believe that this is a precondition for
movement building and social change. To this end, we have hosted
organizations to discuss issues and matters on a wide range of topics.
As an organization concerned about the welfare of working people, we
believe that this open discussion is both a right and a necessity.
That right was denied to us on Friday, March 7, 2008, when our
landlords at the request of the Jewish Labor Committee (JLC) closed
the building to an April conference. It was alleged that the
conference sponsors—the New England Committee to Defend Palestine
(NECDP)—constituted a hate group. We countered that instead NECDP
advocates for the rights of the Palestinian people, and that, like all
other groups hosting events at e5, the conference organizers had read
the following statements on our webpage, "Who can use e5?":
"e5 welcomes organizations and individuals from a wide range of
progressive viewpoints that reject militarism and neoliberalism
"e5 welcomes organizations and individuals challenging domination and
"e5 does not welcome individuals and organizations that practice
violence in any form"
NECDP's representative confirmed via e-mail that she had read our form
and guidelines when she made the reservation in January.
To honor our commitment to host the conference, over the next week, we
did two things (1) worked with community and labor activists in an
attempt to reverse the decision of the building owners and the Jewish
Labor Committee; (2) offered to help the organizers find an equivalent
venue paid by encuentro 5 (up to $400) for the same dates and times to
ensure the event could be held.
Both efforts failed: (1) the building owners and the JLC refused to
re-open the space and (2) NECDP rejected our offer to find and fund
another venue. After meeting with NECDP on Friday evening, March 14,
2008, we drafted a public statement outlining the facts and told NECDP
that we would release it on Monday, March 17, 2008, after our last
attempt to convince the building owners to open the space to the
conference. On Sunday, March 16, 2008, we received NECDP's public
statement via an e-mail list.
Needless to say, our commitment to host the April conference is but
one of many obligations encuentro 5 has to progressive campaigns and
projects. e5 is a space for organizing human rights, antiwar, migrant
worker, solidarity, woman's, labor, youth, community, and cultural
activities. Each of these have been compromised by the actions of
those who reject free speech and now imply that all other e5
activities must pass a litmus test administered by others.
The promise and the dream that is e5 has been deferred!
An apology is due to both the e5 community and NECDP. We therefore
call on all those who support the free exchange of ideas to stand with
Mass Global Action and sign onto our forthcoming Open Letter.
Telephones: 617-482-6300 (wk); 617-482-7300 (fax); 617-968-0880 (cell)
Projects: encuentro 5 & fair employment
Address: 33 Harrison Ave, 5th floor, Boston, MA 02111
Websites: www.massglobalaction.org; www.fairjobs.org; www.encuentro5.org
Visit: www.reclaimingtheivorytower.org for a handbook on organizing
More information about the Act-MA