Hello, and happy Festivus!

In an unfortunate development, in a Facebook message posted on Dec 19th, a group calling itself "Commn Decency" has announced a boycott of the Brooklyn Commons Cafe and Event Space. Here's the link to the FB post and to their (new) website.

Brooklyn for Peace has posted a very good Statement of Support for the Commons on its website, which I and many other Greens and WBAI folks have signed. Feel free to sign it and to publicize it more widely.

So-called "Common Decency" is continuing in its "let me sell you some protection" approach: If you don't say what we want you to say we'll destroy you.

That approach includes disruption of discussions at The Commons (in one case, four white people -- including an NYU grad student and author of a new book on the Occupy movement -- disrupted a meeting of mostly people of color); physically attacking The Commons' owner and threatening her home; sending messages to her teenage relatives in other states and their classmates saying that their aunt is a Nazi-supporter and trying to isolate them as a pressure tactic from their classmates; spraypainting the outside of the building; and more.

I don't think we should allow Common Decency's thuggish behavior to go unchallenged.

A number of people in disparate (and sometimes oppositional) organizations are uniting to support the Commons against such attacks.

So I am urging you to sign the Brooklyn for Peace statement, get your groups and organizations to sign it, and if you are a member of any of the groups listed for Common Decency (I have in the past supported one of them) try to get them to reverse course.

Thank you.

Mitchel Cohen

To sign on, please email [log in to unmask] .


Statement in Support of Brooklyn Commons and Melissa Ennen

We are extremely concerned about the threat to the Brooklyn Commons as a space which has housed and nurtured progressive groups, such as ours (see below for signers), as well as the personal attacks on the integrity of Melissa Ennen. This threat has arisen as a result of the controversy over her decision to allow Christopher Bollyn to speak at the Commons on Wednesday September 7. Since that time, we are aware that there is an effort to convince groups which use the space at the Commons to cancel events or even to move their offices out. Furthermore, rumors are being spread that Melissa herself holds anti-Semitic, racist or neo-Nazi views.

Melissa has made clear her commitment to the principle of free speech. (See Statement “Who We Are”  posted on Commons website) We may or may not agree with her about how this principle applies to a non-governmental space such as the Commons. However, her stand on this, and her decision to allow Bollyn to use the space, does NOT mean that she is in agreement with any of his ideas or views. We understand that there are progressive allies who consider it necessary to erect a “firewall” against speakers such as Bollyn, who promote anti-Semitism or white supremacy, often in subtle forms which may be initially difficult to distinguish. But we believe it is open to question whether these views can be counteracted most effectively by not allowing speakers such as Bollyn to speak, or by protesting outside his appearances, or by attending and challenging his statements during events at which he does speak. 

Many of us have known Melissa Ennen for as long as 14 years.  During that time, her actions have spoken louder than any words
. Some of us met her in the aftermath of 9/11. She came to a Forum (January 2002) sponsored by Brooklyn For Peace attempting to mobilize community response to the disappearances of our Muslim neighbors, and their incarceration at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park.  She joined us at weekly demonstrations in Sunset Park for several months.  Nothing that she has ever said or done has in any way indicated that she has any sympathy for anti-Semitic, racist, or neo-Nazi views.

Since 2010 Melissa has worked tirelessly to develop the Brooklyn Commons as a community center and a home for progressive groups, offering office and working space, as well as space for events. This is an extremely important resource for all of us in Brooklyn. We can not allow it to be undermined or destroyed, or allow the questioning of Melissa Ennen’s integrity to remain unchallenged. 

Signed, as of December 22, 2016:
(see below if you wish to add your name or the name of an organization)

Brooklyn For Peace (See statement)
Ann Fawcett Ambia
, Brooklyn For Peace Board
Annette Averette, Sixth Street Community Center, Manhattan
Charlene Barker, Brooklyn For Peace Board
George Bartenieff, Theater Three Collaborative
Howard Brandstein, Executive Director, Sixth Street Community Center, Manhattan
John Brinkley, Former Chair, WBAI Local Station Board* (for identification only)
Brooklyn Greens
Linnea Capps,M.D.,
Doctors for Global Health* (for identification only)
Mitchel Cohen,
Brooklyn Greens; Organizer of “Phil Ochs Birthday Bash” at The Commons
Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism – CODZorg.net
Randy Credico, Political Comedian (WBAI)
Ken Diamondstone, Brooklyn For Peace Board
Roy Felshin, Antiwar Activist
Henry Florsheim, Brooklyn For Peace Advisory Board
Jaki Florsheim, Brooklyn For Peace Advisory Board
Julianna Forlano, The Julianna Forlano Show (WBAI)
Jim Freund, Producer/Host of Hour of the Wolf on WBAI-FM; Exec. Curator of New York Review of Science Fiction Readings (NYRSFR)
Ken Gale, Eco-Logic (WBAI)
Terri Ginsberg, Assistant Professor of Film, The American University in Cairo, Panel Organizer at The Commons
Robert Gold, Former Listener Delegate to the WBAI Local  Station Board (2007–2010)
Ed Goldman, Fort Greene Peace* (For identification only)
Arnold Gore, Consumers Health Freedom Coalition
Granny Peace Brigade
Naomi Paz Greenberg,
Flushing Interfaith Council* (for identification only)
Kevin Gunderson
Abdeen Jabara,
Past President, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Jennifer Jager, Former Director, Pacifica Foundation* (For identification only)
Reggie Johnson, From the Soundboard / Liquid sound Lounge (WBAI
John Kane, Host of “Let’s Talk” (WBAI)
Deborah Kapell, Jewish Voice for Peace* (for identification only)
Fran Luck, Producer/Host: Joy of Resistance, Multicultural Feminist Radio (WBAI)
Alex Mallis, Filmmaker
Karen Malpede, Theater Three Collaborative
Matt Meyer, War Resisters International; International Peace Research Association
Frances Minichiello, Brooklyn For Peace
Michael Montella, Ishmail Shabazz Defense Fund
No Spray Coalition against pesticides
Bertell Olman, Professor, Deptartment of Politics, NYU; Speaker on Marxism and Dialectics at The Commons
Charlotte Phillips, M.D., Brooklyn For Peace (Chairperson)
Berthold Reimers, General Manager, WBAI Radio* (For identification only)
Rev Billy & Savitri D., “The Earth Wants YOU” radio show, WBAI
Roberto Rivera, Retired Professor of Mathematics, C.U.N.Y; Resident of Atlantic Avenue community for over 40 years
Max Schmid, Engineer for WBAI radio; Host of the show “Golden Age of Radio” for many decades* (For identification only)
Jack Shalom, WBAI volunteer, Commons Cafe customer
Alice Shields, Board of Directors, Association for the Promotion of New Music (APNM.org)
Ann and Ahmad Shirazi, Anti-War Activists
Carolina Cositore Sitrin, Author
Michael Steven Smith, Law and Disorder Radio (WBAI)
Paul Stein, Musician
Tony Stanzione, Organization Stanzione Studio
Meg Starr, Resistance in Brooklyn
Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory** (See below for their statement)
Marilyn Vogt-Downey, WBAI Volunteer; student in Marxist Education Project classes
Matthew Weinstein, Brooklyn For Peace Board
Wheels Collective
Sue Yellin

*For identification only

**Joint Statement from Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory and The Indypendent:
“While TOPLAB and The Indypendent opposed having Christopher Bollyn as a speaker at The Commons, we view the choice made by Melissa Ennen as a political decision. We disagreed with that decision, yet we nonetheless see the entire issue as simply that: a political disagreement. To condemn her, to seek reprisals, to advocate for a boycott–and possible shutdown–of The Commons is unfair, politically misguided and gives tangible support to reactionary right-wing forces who would seek to eliminate all venues of the left. For folks who disagree with Melissa’s choice, keep in mind the numerous areas of shared affinity and solidarity, over the years, between left/progressive communities and organizations and Melissa and The Commons–particularly the providing of valuable physical space in which to educate, organize and move forward. Please do not allow one disagreement to undermine or sabotage this important left resource.”

In Solidarity-
Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory
The Indypendent

NOTE: If you want to add your name as an individual, or the name of an organization, please e-mail [log in to unmask]