Virtual Teach-In: Creating Anti-racist Communities

7:00-9:00 pm, Tuesday October 26, 2021

Please register here to get zoom link for teach-in.

While Ithaca and Tompkins County focus on “reimagining public safety,” many people want to spark deeper conversations and build a movement that goes beyond a government-centered approach. We want genuine transformative and restorative justice! We want real abolitionist strategies! 

This forum will discuss a social movement approach to changing the current system and building relationships in our communities based on principles of equity, justice and healing. Join us! Spread the word!


  • Share practical lessons, building knowledge and solidarity
  • Expand supportive community spaces for people formerly incarcerated and their loved ones to talk about their experiences, needs and visions
  • Build support and recruit members for a new workgroup “Transforming Justice and Abolitionist Organizing”
  • Create an opportunity for antiracist groups, including other SURJ chapters in NYS, to learn about and get involved with initiatives to transform justice systems and organize for abolition

We’ll learn from the  People’s Campaign for Parole Justice, Central NY Alliance of Families for Justice, and from local efforts to build alternatives to policing and incarceration. Speakers will include: Mark Shervington, statewide advocacy associate for Release Aging People in Prison; Khalil Bey, assistant coordinator for the Alliance of Families for Justice; Rochelle Matthews, activist with Ithaca Pantheras, and Carl Williams, social movement lawyer and organizer for racial justice, abolition and liberation. We’ll have break-out groups in addition to the panelists.

Please register here to get zoom link for teach-in.

Co-sponsors: Tompkins County Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and Coordinating Circle, Dryden Groton Plus – Human Dignity Coalition

For more information, contact Beth Harris or Kathy Russell

Cayuga SHARE Farm Fundraiser – please share far and wide

GoFundMe Fundraiser Page to Donate

This fundraiser supports saving the Cayuga SHARE Farm in the interest of the traditional people of Cayuga (Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ- People of the Pipe), a sovereign nation of the Haudenosaunee confederacy. It is an urgent need to ensure that Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ traditional leadership of chiefs and clan mothers can keep SHARE Farm, the only land which they currently have stewardship rights to within their people’s homeland. Donations made through Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming will be used to ensure the farm continues to be a place of education, healing, and Haudenosaunee culture.

New York State still will not recognize Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ sovereignty and the Bureau of Indian Affairs names Clint Halftown (who performed acts of terrorism against his own people last year, during the time when he destroyed their businesses, schoolhouse, and gardens) as the Cayuga Nation “tribal representative”. Because of NYS and BIA’s refusals to recognize Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ as a sovereign people, Cayuga County is claiming, in spite of treaty law, 14 years of unpaid property taxes against the Cayuga SHARE Farm without notifying the traditional chiefs and clan mothers. The total amount demanded by the county is $116,000. The deadline to raise funds in order to keep the farm is April 16th, 2021. Your monetary gift will be used for the purpose of supporting the education, cultural survival, and community development of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ traditional people.

Since the farm resides in a NYS-determined “reservation area”, the traditional leadership can and will use legal means to prevent the county’s tax claims in the future. But there is no future for the SHARE Farm if we don’t raise $116,000 by April 16th. If the SHARE Farm is taken, Halftown could consolidate more power while the traditional people lose educational and cultural opportunities through another separation from their land. Indigenous sovereignty and government needs a homeland in order to function. Raising funds to pay off Cayuga County’s tax claim- which is actually not legally defensible, as taxing Haudenosaunee nations is against treaty law- on the Farm is currently the only viable means to keep the farm. Having land is important for the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ traditional leaders’ continued efforts to gain recognition of their people’s treaty rights by NYS and the US, and the security of their cultural freedom as a sovereign nation.

This fundraiser’s fiscal sponsor is Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming! Groundswell is a 501c3 not for profit. Your donation to support this fundraiser the Cayuga SHARE Farm is tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. 

For more information about the SHARE Farm, please visit their website

GoFundMe FundraiserPage to Donate

January 6, 2021: Together We Are Stronger

On January 6, watching events unfold at the Capitol on my tv screen, I was seized by a visceral need to be connected with the SURJ members I have been growing closer to these past months, most of whom I’ve never met beyond a computer screen.  The Capitol had been breached by thousands of mostly white, mostly male, far-right Trump supporters, whose goal it was to stop congressional certification of the Electoral College vote and to overturn the will of the American voters. 

In the midst of all my tumultuous feelings, all of this chaos broadcasted in living color, an email landed in my inbox from national SURJ director Erin Heaney. There was to be a call at 8pm with The Frontline, a black-led, multiracial, working class coalition of social justice movement groups of which SURJ is a member. Joining in a call with like-minded fellow accomplices who felt the joy of the Georgia run-off election and the rage and disbelief of the attempted coup in DC seemed to be the sensible thing to do. Just the ticket.

Almost as soon as I got on the Zoom call, I imagined being encircled with comrades, sharing the weight of these deeply mixed emotions that were also reflected on the faces of the panelists: joy that the hard work of decades of organizing on the part of POC in Georgia resulted in flipping the Senate; and anguish at witnessing  the naked display of white supremacism at the Capitol. I dashed off an email to the LC listserv — “I hope some of you are able to tune in…” — and heard from four others who were watching the Zoom event. I visualized us sitting in front of the glow of the computer screen, maybe alone, maybe with a two-legged or four-legged companion, alone but not alone, taking courage from Rev. Sekou, Ash-Lee, Nelini, and the others. Not alone!

Rev. Osagyeto Sekou, noted activist, theologian, and musician, called on our ancestors for courage and joy.  He said, “There is a well…We come from a people that have seen and understood and endured; there was darkness but they never let the darkness have the last word…Their music would always lament but they never let the lament have the last word, that is what the blues is about… we can not allow the worst of this place to steal our joy. This joy that I have the world did not give to me and the world can’t take it away…”

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, co-founder of the coalition The Frontline, co-executive director of the Highland Center, whose words and humor and biting intellect move me to tears every time, had this to say: “Let’s take a moment to just acknowledge all that we’re holding in this moment, to recognize that in this space there is room for all of our feelings. There is importance in taking the time to feel them. So for those of you that are coming to this call, anxious, scared, terrified, pissed off because of what you saw today, we see you. For those of you that are still riding the highs of what it means that we built a people’s movement powerful enough to get Trump out of office, that is committed to continuing to do that until we see it through fruition, we see you. For our comrades in Georgia, and all of us around the country and around the world on this call that are celebrating the power of a black-led, multiracial, working class-led coalition that just flipped the Senate, y’all, in the South — as the South goes [so goes the country], we see you. There is space for all of the feelings of uncertainty. All the gratitude for the work that’s been done and will continue to happen. There is space for you on this call. “

Nelini Stamp of the Dream Defenders and the Working Families Party, her heart so visibly on her sleeve — these BIPOC and the other panelists *are* the change they want to see in the world.

Again I encountered the strange vertigo of a white person, a person complicit in white supremacy, being encouraged, reassured, exhorted by people of color who are in the very thick of the war against racial capitalism. To consider the strength of a person with tears of joy and anguish intermingled on her face, head held high, taking a moment from the battle to offer succor — this is a very inspiring thing. I want to do better, I must do better in 2021. And together, there’s more than a fighting chance that we will. Be better.

I invite readers to watch the video and share the inspiration it offers in these chaotic times.

Link to the Zoom event 
The webinar closed with the following opportunities for taking action:
— Every night at 6 pm starting 1/6 to bang pots for democracy #6for46
— Join The Frontline for a mass online organizing meeting during inauguration week, save the date 1/16
— Text FRONTLINE to 30403 to join The Frontline
— Sign up for eviction defense training, starting January 27
— Visit to learn more about the THRIVE agenda and to contact your members of Congress

Organize with New Local Coalition to Stop A Coup

The JUST DEMOCRACY COALITION is a new informal alliance of organizations, groups and individuals in and around Tompkins County, NY. We are organizing ourselves to do everything we can to stop an illegitimate power grab by the Trump administration.  We see nonviolence as the effective strategy that will enable us to connect broadly with all who share our concern for protecting democracy – so that we can continue to work on transforming it. 


“We have a president who has openly said he might not respect the outcome of our election. We have to be ready if he claims victory before votes are counted, tries to stop counting, or refuses to accept a loss.” – The Washington Post, July 19, 2020

Stealing the election by any of these means is a coup, a power grab, a violation of the democratic process. Trump’s violations of power and law throughout the country has made this potential coup possible. The suppression and criminalization of protest, the deployment of unidentified troops accountable only to himself, the deliberate creation of chaos and violence, and the use of propaganda and outright lies that the Trump Administration has engaged in are just a few of numerous examples of abuse of power. This is unacceptable.


You can be part of the Coalition by signing the Tompkins Area Online Pledge to Choose Democracy. As signers we agree that:

1. We will vote.

2. We will refuse to accept election results until all the votes are counted.

3. We will nonviolently take to the streets if a coup is attempted (or support those that do.)

4. If we need to, we will shut down this country to protect the integrity of the democratic process.

Wednesday, Nov 4, 7PM. Join the conversation and hear about actions being planned locally. You can join a team to help plan events, become a trained peacekeeper, get your organization to sign on to the Choose Democracy pledge, help with social media, lead us in songs and chants, make beautiful banners and signs… whatever your skills, there’s a way you can help. To register for this meeting and get the Zoom Link, click HERE

Text CHOOSE to 50409 to be linked to national organizing efforts, and to receive a call to action the moment a coup is declared.

Whatever the election results so far, let’s come together in a massive show of Peaceful People-Power on Saturday, November 7 at 1 PM at the Bernie Milton pavilion on the Ithaca Commons. We will gather in solidarity to demand that every citizen’s vote be counted, and that there will be a peaceful transfer of power. Register HERE.

5) LEARN THESE SIMPLE NEW SONGS by the Peace Poets— and get ready to share our people power, love and positivity at upcoming events!



  • Build connections and collaborations among diverse groups and organizations with a shared commitment to stopping an attempted coup and building a more just democracy
  • Enable fast and flexible responses to changing situations
  • Organize events, actions, persuasion campaigns, and gatherings both in person and online 
  • Build a collective culture of effective, discipline
  • Encourage preparation and planning for rolling strikes, general strike, or other forms of widespread noncompliance with illegitimate authority, if necessary


  • Building a database of people in and around Tompkins County who want to be informed of actions (in person and online) that are happening around this year’s election and the aftermath
  • Sharing the Choose Democracy Pledge and encouraging organizations, elected officials, faith groups, and others to sign on
  • Encouraging everyone to lean on elected officials to demand that every vote be counted    
  • Sending timely emails to our members to keep you informed of actions you can take from home and on the street

In solidarity and joy!


Demands for an Anti-Racist Cornell

More than 700 people connected with Cornell have already co-signed a letter that demands anti-racist change from the administration. The letter points out a central tension in the way the university operates. On one hand, the letter identifies the ways that Cornell is complicit in perpetuating structural racism and white supremacy. And on the other, it invokes Cornell’s history of activism, liberal self-image, and stated focus on justice–including its egalitarian founding motto about “…any person …any study.”

This contradiction underscores the fact that Cornell is not doing enough to work toward meaningful change both on and off campus. As the letter says, “diversity” initiatives are commonplace at Cornell—but they fall miles short of the uncomfortable, structural change that is necessary to dismantle the academic systems that have built up over centuries to favor privileged, white people and systematically disadvantage Black people, indigenous people, and other people of color.

The letter distills the message into demands: 10 “immediate” demands, including changes to hiring and grad student recruitment, and 29 “long-term” demands, including eliminating the GRE requirement for graduate programs and ensuring pay equality for BIPOC faculty. One long-term demand, to name a building after alumna Toni Morrison, will be fulfilled next year when new residential halls open. The demands are detailed but represent only the beginning of a major realignment that Cornell needs to put its stated commitment to racial justice into actual practice.

You can sign the letter now to convey your support for the demands, especially if you have some connection to Cornell.

Sign Demand Letter & Join Campaign to Defund Ithaca Police

TC SURJ is working with the Tompkins Antiracist Coalition to drastically shrink the budget of the Ithaca Police Department and use local public funds to invest in true safety and community needs. As first steps, our multiracial coalition is gathering signatures for a demand letter and launching a popular education and agitation campaign. We invite you to sign our letter (a place to sign is linked in the demand letter above) and encourage other members of our community to sign, too.

Below the letter is the list of our specific demands.  For more information about the demands, see this FAQ sheet.


Sign on form:

Please add your name today! If you are part of an organization that wants to be a part of the coalition and help strategize moving forward, or have questions/comments, reach out at