Black woman

Maryam Sy

Here’s a summary of the January 2022 Free Press Second Saturday Cyber-Salon that happened Saturday, January 8 at 7pm by Zoom.

Watch the video here.

Free Press Board member Mark Stansbery facilitated the salon on Zoom and streaming Live on Facebook. First, he drew attention to the fact that we have lost a beloved and brave leader, Desmond Tutu.

Mark introduced the first speaker, Maryam Sy, of the Ohio Immigrant Alliance. The major project of that organization now is to Reunite Us – holding President Biden accountable for his promise to reunite families separated by our country’s immigration policies. Tell Biden to reunite all families! Submit a comment to the federal government there before Jan 24.

The Ohio Immigrant Alliance also fights for people unfairly deported from the U.S. Seventy-five percent of those she works with in Ohio are from Mauritania, in west Africa. Most were fleeing the genocide in that country in 1989.

The Ohio Immigrant Alliance also works to stop the ICE practices against detainees of using “the Rack” – tying a person up, for up to eight hours; oppressing the right to pray; neglecting medical needs including treatment for Covid; and feeding them dog food.

Maryam asked the Columbus Free Press community to write about immigrant stories that need to be exposed to the public.

Read about Ohio’s immigrant stories in the book Far From their Eyes: Ohio Migration Anthology. Here is a trailer for Episode 6 of the “Living Undocumented” series on Netflix. The Ohio Immigrant Alliance is also working on a new documentary in Ohio. Here is a link to the film The Mauritanian.

Lynn Tramonte of the Ohio Immigrant Alliance joined us a bit later to announce although the number of people being detained is down, there are still many problems to address. The organization has had trouble raising funds during the pandemic. They need money to help an immigrant family retain their home in Reynoldsburg and to hire lawyers. Donate here.

The next speaker was Jessica Stein working in a grassroots effort for reproductive rights and access to health care. Jessica pointed out that if Roe v. Wade is overturned in 2022, Ohio will surely lose all abortion clinics.

She spoke about the Ohio legislature’s bill that mimics the draconian Texas abortion bans, called “trigger bans.” These would severely limit the ability of women in Ohio to have access to an abortion. The same legislators introducing this bill are the ones who also introduce and pass bills against trans people, against protesting, and overturning the need to have a permit to own a gun.

The same legislators also refuse to introduce social programs that would offer sex education and birth control or to help families who have unwanted children, resulting in kids who are abused, neglected and often end up in foster care or the criminal justice system.

She considers their bill as “forced pregnancy” which is technically a war crime.

She noted that although 70 percent of Ohio legislators are Republican, Ohio is NOT a red state. It is because of the gerrymandering of districts that more Republicans are in the Statehouse.

What can we do? Jessica recommends that we remember that politicians work for us, and that they need to be bullied into changing their attitudes and the legislation.

Sandy Bolzenius encouraged people to contact her if they are interested in working to change the Ohio legislature.

Mark reminded us that there has been an international Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty in place for a year now – making all nuclear weapons illegal.

Bryan Curtiss announced a fundraiser to get a new transmitter for WCRS 98.3 community radio.

Connie Hammond announced a Jewish Voices for Peace event “The Future of Palestinian Politics” Tuesday, January 11, 2021, 7:00 PM, a webinar with Khaled Elgindy. Khaled Elgindy is a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute where he also directs MEI’s Program on Palestine and Israeli-Palestinian Affairs. He is the author of the newly-released book, Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians, from Balfour to Trump, published by Brookings Institution Press in April 2019.  Elgindy previously served as a fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution from 2010 through 2018. Prior to arriving at Brookings, he served as an adviser to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah on permanent status negotiations with Israel from 2004 to 2009, and was a key participant in the Annapolis negotiations of 2007-08. Elgindy is also an adjunct instructor in Arab Studies at Georgetown University. Khaled’s writings have a appeared in wide range of publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Register here.

Lynn Stan announced that Comfest is planning a somewhat smaller live event in 2022, but people and groups can submit videos or live workshops all year long for the Spirit and Purpose committee.

Mary Jane Borden encouraged people to read the new book Courage in Cannabis. 18 authors came together to tell heroic stories about their relationship with this remarkable plant. You can order an online copy from Amazon or a paperback copy from the website

Bob Roehm, the Columbus Free Press Calendar Editor, announced an in-person peaceful animal rights protest at the upcoming Nationwide Arena rodeo on January 15 at 6pm.

Chuck Lynd of Simply Living announced two upcoming virtual events: First Fridays at noon starting February 3 with Executive Director Cathy Cowan Becker to connect about positive events in central Ohio and Simply Share, a gathering to share what you’re reading, watching, and talking about locally which will be at 3pm on January 23.

Chuck also talked about the “Elevate Northland” project to bring together people in the Northland area which is one of the most diverse in the city. He also brought up the Home Guarantee program we should bring to Columbus.

Mark mentioned that last month’s speaker has provided us a link to his primer on social policy, particularly for political candidates.

He also encouraged the group to check out the Zinn Education Project offering workshops on a variety of activist issues.

Michael Doody warned us that Nationwide Children’s Hospital continues to expand and has bought up property on East Livingston including the grassroots organization site “Art Outside the Lines.” He talked about the need for affordable housing in the city.

Mark solicited all in the audience to become writers for the Free Press. Send articles or article ideas to Suzanne Patzer at Send activist events for the calendar to Bob Roehm. If you want to speak at a future salon, contact Mark.

The next salon will be February 12 about race and social justice.

Hope to see you at the next one!

Pete Johnson
President, Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism
Contact: 614-253-2571