Author: Eleanore Ablan-Owen

Join the Peace & Joy Poll Crew

Join the Peace & Joy Poll Crew

Join Us on November 3 as we do our part to make this election more democratic in process and to make it more fun for those standing in line! Fill out this link to join our crew. We will be sending more details on Monday!

Also, if you are at a polling place that could use our support, please call our helpline (855-VOTE-311) and we will send a team if we have one available.

Celebrate Community & Practice Democracy Count Every Vote!

Celebrate Community & Practice Democracy Count Every Vote!

Rally November 4th ~ 4pm Diag ~ UM Ann Arbor

ICPJ has been working with national, state, and county-wide partners over the last several weeks to organize and advocate to COUNT EVERY VOTE. We are part of the Washtenaw Action Council, a loose newly-formed coalition to protect voter rights, unified and organized to make sure that this election truly represents voter choices.

We want Michiganders to expect that results will not be confirmed on Election Night and reassure them that this should not be equated with fraud, but rather expect that we need to have patience to ensure that every vote is counted. We are preparing for a delayed announcement, and also preparing for the possibility of a contested election.

When everyone’s vote is counted and the will of the people is truly heard, we can have a better future for everyone. However, in recent memory, communities across Michigan, especially Black and brown communities, have had their votes taken from them and ignored. We will not allow that to happen again. 

This fight is about so many things, Black liberation, climate justice, an economy that works for everyone, and basic human rights for all, to name a few. What we are fighting for in this moment is breathing room and a better chance and the space to build the future we want. We need to work together to demand every vote be counted, the voice of the people be respected, and stand side by side to protect each other, our families and our communities.

Organize for Voter Rights Like Our Democracy Depends Upon It!

Organize for Voter Rights Like Our Democracy Depends Upon It!

Image Credit: Fuse Washington

ICPJ and W-PPC Support GEO’s Abolitionist Strike!

ICPJ and W-PPC Support GEO’s Abolitionist Strike!

The Poor People’s Campaign Washtenaw County (PPC), and the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ), are in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) in their strike and demands for a safe, equitable, and just work and community environment at the University of Michigan. GEO’s demands are consistent with ICPJ’s Principles and Practices and the Moral Policy Agenda of the National Poor People’s Campaign. 

GEOs demands specific to COVID-19 and a disarmed and demilitarized workplace are wholly reasonable and should be met as soon as possible by the University by providing:

  • transparent and robust testing, contact tracing, and safety plans for campus;
  • support for graduate employees working remotely and an option to switch to remote from hybrid/ in-person;
  • flexible subsidies for parents and caregivers including those with school-aged children or care obligations for adults;
  • better International Center support for international students and the repealing of the discriminatory, termly international student fee;
  • unconditional support for all graduate students in the form of timeline and funding extensions, an emergency grant, and flexible leases and rent freezes at U-M housing.
  • a demilitarized workplace
  • diversion of funds from campus police (involving a cut of 50% to DPSS’ annual budget)
  • and ending any and all ties to local law enforcement (AAPD) and other agencies (ICE).

The Washtenaw PPC and ICPJ urge our members to support the GEO workers’ strike, to refuse to cross their picket lines, and to join in solidarity with the strikers in the call for the UM to accede to their contractual demands for justice now! 

Report Details Racial Disparities in Washtenaw County Legal System

Report Details Racial Disparities in Washtenaw County Legal System

CREW Releases “Race to Justice: Citizens for Racial Equity in Washtenaw’s Report on Racial Disparities in the Washtenaw County Criminal Legal System”

Download report here.
To easily send letters to elected officials online, go to the letter campaign page here.

Letter from Rev. Joe Summers
Episcopal Church of the Incarnation
ICPJ Board member
Washtenaw Poor People’s Campaign Steering Committee

Dear Friends,

Citizens for Racial Equity in Washtenaw (CREW) was formed to gather public data on the charging and sentencing of individuals in Washtenaw County and to assess whether the data reflected racial disparities and the impact of any disparity on members of our community. Though we have begun to have extensive discussions on problems with discriminatory policing practices in our county, we have had very little data or focus so far on discriminatory practices in our court system. We hope our report will be the beginning of such a conversation.

I was privileged to serve on this committee which was co-chaired by former state Senator Alma Wheeler Smith and Linda Rexer, who for 30 years was the Executive Director of the Michigan State Bar Foundation.

The report has just been released. The data shows clear patterns of the kinds of racial disparities that we find in our criminal justice system throughout our country. Our report is not an easy or quick read though there is an executive summary at the beginning with our key conclusions and recommendations.

My hope is that those of you who want to overcome these forms of discrimination in Washtenaw County will take the time to read through it so that we can come together as a community to determine how to transform our local justice system so that it might be more equitable and restorative in its practices.

Thank you,
Rev. Joe Summers

p.s. As I was writing this I learned that Chief Judge Carol Kuhnke, of the Washtenaw County Trial Court and Eli Savit–who is running unopposed for Washtenaw County Prosecutor–released a joint statement expressing “appreciation for the CREW report, and broad support for its recommendations.” Their joint statement can be found on Eli Savit’s twitter here.

Email, Call, Message Washtenaw elected officials

For years elected leaders have shrugged and claimed they lacked the data to do anything about the racial bias we know exists in the criminal legal system here in Washtenaw County. We don’t lack the data anymore.

Citizens for Racial Equity in Washtenaw (CREW) spent months documenting felony case records from the Washtenaw County Court website. They analyzed thousands of charging decisions by prosecutors and sentencing decisions by judges and found harmful racial disparities. The data is discussed in CREW’s just-issued report, “Race to Justice: Citizens for Racial Equity in Washtenaw’s Report on Racial Disparities in the Washtenaw County Criminal Legal System”. Download here.

ICPJ is supporting CREW’s call to action. Please contact elected Washtenaw County officials and urge them to act immediately on the recommendations in “Race to Justice”.

To easily send letters to elected officials in the legal system, go to the letter campaign page here, where we provide sample text (that you can modify as you see fit).
Support A2’s Proposal C to Fund Affordable Housing

Support A2’s Proposal C to Fund Affordable Housing

Thursday, October 15 ~ 6-7:30pm
Registration Required:

Flyer here

ICPJ joined the Partners for Affordable Housing and we strongly advocate for passing Proposal C on November’s ballot — the millage would support construction, rehab, maintenance, and acquisition of affordable housing units, and provide funding for related supportive services, for the lowest-income households in Ann Arbor – those earning between 0-60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI).

  • At 1-mill for 20-years, approximately $6.5 million would be raised per year for a period of 20 years.
  • It would support the development of approximately 1,500 units of affordable housing, housing up to 3700 people.
  • For every $250,000 in market value and $125,000 in taxable value, the millage proposal would increase taxes for homeowners by $125 per year.
Supreme Court Rules Against Trump on DACA #FAITH4DACA

Supreme Court Rules Against Trump on DACA #FAITH4DACA

The Supreme Court has ruled, against the Trump administration, that the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) must be vacated. SCOTUS ruled that the administration’s rescission of DACA was arbitrary and capricious. For now, DACA will remain in place and more than 700,000 DACA recipients have temporary relief from deportation.

This is a very important victory! And there is more organizing to do!

DACA is only temporary relief, and it does not protect more than 11 million other immigrants that do not have documentation.

Since 2012, more than 825,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children have obtained protection from deportation and work authorization through DACA. Nationwide, 1.5 million individuals live with a DACA recipient, including more than a quarter-million U.S.-born children who have a DACA recipient parent.

This administration will continue to threaten immigrants and their families through policy, stoking anti-immigrant hatred, continued detention and deportations, and by continuing to deny asylum seekers entry.

This country’s policies and inhumane treatment of immigrants are rooted in our racist systems. We must defend immigrants’ rights by changing policies, policing, and deportations now. And we must also dismantle the deeper culture and systems that enable administrations to walk back gains and renew anti-immigrant policies.

ICPJ supports permanent status and a pathway to citizenship for all immigrants. We urge the community to speak up and continue to organize for safety, justice, and citizenship for all immigrants. #FAITH4DACA


On June 18, 2020:

  • Sign up for United We Dream webinars, including HomeIsHere Digital Rally, Community Webinar for Undocumented & DACA Individuals, Webinar for Educators. Exact webinar times and instructions will be sent to participants.
  • 7 pm:  United We Dream will tentatively conduct a community call for DACA individuals. Text “dacadecision” to 877-877.

On June 22, 2020, congregations, organizations, and individuals in the ICPJ network tentatively will join at:

  • 1 pm:  A national HomeIsHere digital rally for all DACA individuals and supporters. Text “dacadecision” to 877-877.

Post-SCOTUS’ decision:

  • Call/write Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow to support H.R. 6 American Dream & Promise Act of 2019, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring H.R. 6 to a vote. Demand the administration to:
    • Extend DACA renewals.
    • Reject any proposal that used DACA recipients as bargaining chips to militarize border communities, expand the deportation agencies, build a racist wall, and create additional barriers to immigrants and refugees.
    • Include in COVID-19 relief packages benefits for all immigrants, documented or undocumented, such as free COVID-10 testing and treatment, extension of employment authorization for DACA and TPS recipients, and financial benefits, etc.
  • Social media campaign:
    • Tweet and post on Facebook to support DACA. Tag @senatemajldr, @SenStabenow, @SenGaryPeters, @interfaithimm, and use #HomeIsHere, #Faith4DACA, #DACA, #HR6
    • Record a video of support, and upload to Twitter with hashtag #Faith4DACA and tag Interfaith Immigration Coalition (@interfaithimm) and tweet to members of Congress.
    • Post video also Facebook and Instagram with #Faith4DACA.
Continuing to Organize During the Covid-19 Crisis

Continuing to Organize During the Covid-19 Crisis

Dear ICPJ Community,

We hope you and your loved ones are doing well and have the support you need during these uncertain times.

Staying isolated can cause loneliness, anxiety, and grief ~ this can also be a time for reflection and closer connection. We would like to continue to share opportunities to remain connected, to practice radical compassion, and lead from our hearts toward a more just future where more peace allows us to be our best selves. (Please scroll down to find calls for action.)

In the spirit of ICPJ’s Principles and Practices, we must focus on the most vulnerable. We will address the most urgent needs and also advocate for systemic change. Now is an important time to connect across differences, whether generational, socio-economic, or faith-based. It is an important time to organize to prevent crises like we are experiencing now – when communities of color are again hardest hit and decision-makers are prioritizing profit and politics over people.

Communities have formed more mutual aid networks. Nurses are striking. Activists are demanding shelter for the houseless and an end to evictions. People not active in organizing are seeing the humanity in demanding housing, food, shelter, and water for all. Communities are fighting for the release of immigrant detainees and prisoners living in institutions that cannot possibly keep them safe from such a contagion. And we are also preparing for even deeper threats to democracy and civil liberties in the months to come.

This is a very difficult, terribly sad time for so many. It’s also the time – for those of us with the capacity – to breath, dig deep, and lead with our values of compassion and love toward change.

ICPJ will continue to mobilize to take critical action, build community capacity to organize, help members navigate technology tools, and expand our network’s relational organizing. We will continue to strengthen the organization’s sustainability by building our base, improving communications, and deepening our partnerships.

We also want you to know that, as with most organizations now, ICPJ is facing significant fundraising challenges. We have needed to cancel or postpone our two spring fundraising events and seven fee-for-service engagements. We have also seen at least one grant that we rely on cancelled. In addition, our strongest fundraising month is typically May; we know that this will be a very challenging time for many of our annual contributors.

ICPJ is responding to the fundraising challenges by reducing the Co-Directors’ hours and compensation by 25% and also intensively looking for other funding sources.

ICPJ’s financial sustainability depends upon our generous members who are able to donate. We are grateful for all of your contributions and are working hard to adjust to new organizing needs as well as prioritize the long-term sustainability of ICPJ.

Thank You,
Desiraé and Eleanore

Support the Immediate Release of Immigrant Detainees

Support the Immediate Release of Immigrant Detainees


Please consider taking action in this urgent campaign. Instructions here.

The current COVID-19 crisis is posing a particular danger to immigrant detainees in ICE detention centers and in local jails on contract with ICE nationwide, where the effective preventative measure of social distancing is non-existent. An open letter signed by over 3,000 medical professionals has been addressed to ICE to that effect. A COVID-19 outbreak in these facilities will create a health crisis for the detainees, staff, and surrounding communities.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Michigan’s prison population has doubled in late March 2020. In New York, three migrant children in government custody have tested positive for COVID-19. The federal court also ordered the release of a number of immigrant detainees in California and New Jersey.

Efforts have recently been galvanized across the country to seek the release of immigrant detainees. ICPJ is sponsoring a statewide letter-writing campaign toward that goal.

Support Ann Arbor’s A2Zero Carbon Neutrality Plan

Support Ann Arbor’s A2Zero Carbon Neutrality Plan

Please considering asking the Ann Arbor City Council to take two actions:
1) Approve the new A2Zero Carbon Neutrality Plan

2) Approve the first-year budget to implement that Plan

These issues will be discussed at virtual City Council meetings now scheduled for April 20, May 6, and May 20. Here is the plan itself, the slide presentation, Missy Stults’ videotaped presentation to Council, and the M-Live article about it.

Typically there would be opportunities for members of the public to formally address the Council during those meetings. With the shelter-in-place order, the best ways to communicate with Mayor Taylor and City Council are through petition, email, phone, and social media.

1. Please sign and circulate this petition as widely as possible. The petition is being circulated by the Ann Arbor Climate Partnership, a coalition of environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, the Ecology Center, the Huron River Watershed Council, and Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice. We would like to have hundreds of signers on it to share with City Council as early as April 20, and no later than May 20.

2. Please contact City Council members and the Mayor to express your support for the plan and related budget and to stress the importance of this plan, even during the COVID-19 emergency. If you live in Ann Arbor find email addresses and phone numbers for your Councilpersons at If you don’t live in A2, you can still contact Council and the Mayor at [email protected]. Greenhouse gases don’t recognize city borders, and other communities are affected by the action or lack of action that Ann Arbor takes. For more information, contact Jan Wright ([email protected])

*There is a new process to publically speak to City Council by phone. As with the usual process, you must call right at 8:00 a.m. on the day of the council meeting to get one of the ten allotted spots. More information about public participation in virtual meetings here.

More Information about the Draft Plan:

This will not be easy. Some of the plan can be done by the City but much of it will require help from individuals (such as us!) and groups (such as ones we are a part of!) as well as changes in state legislation (which we will need to lobby for). We will continue to communicate with you about ways you can be part of these efforts.

Key Elements of the Draft Plan:

  • Power our electrical grid with 100% clean and renewable sources of energy
  • Switch appliances and vehicles from gasoline, diesel, propane, and natural gas to electric
  • Significantly improving the energy efficiency of homes, businesses, schools, places of worship, government buildings, and recreational sites
  • Reduce the miles we travel in our vehicles by at least 50%
  • Significantly change the way we use, reuse, and dispose of materials
  • Enhancing resilience

Suggested Talking Points in addressing Council:

  • Thank you for voting last year to make Ann Arbor “carbon neutral” by 2030 — a timeframe consistent with what scientists have told us needs to be done.
  • But a goal is not enough. Ann Arbor needs a plan and adequate resources to get us there.
  • The climate crisis demands urgent action, and “business-as-usual” will not do the job.
  • Discuss one area of climate action that is especially important to you personally.
  • The City’s draft carbon neutrality plan is extremely ambitious, but it is also do-able, and it meets the scale of the challenge.
  • It will take leadership from every one of us to make Ann Arbor carbon neutral, and to rise up and solve the climate crisis. We look to you to be a leader in your Ward and engage your constituents about it.
  • Please vote YES to approve the City’s carbon neutrality plan. And please vote YES to fully resource the City’s climate work.
ICPJ Principles and Practices

ICPJ Principles and Practices

This is a living document that grew out of the passions of our network.

We are an interfaith and intergenerational collaborative network of individuals and organizations who share values of peace and justice. We continually strive to be more multi-racial and intersectional so we can all be our authentic selves. In pursuit of building this space together, we center anti-racism as well as the perspectives of feminism, anti-classism, and spirituality in its multiple forms.

While our network is diverse in our focus areas, lived experiences, and ways of doing the work, we share values that bind us together. We believe our actions show our values so we practice radical love in all we do. We aim to change structural systems by focusing on the interconnected root causes that continue the status quo. This means recognizing the self-determination of all peoples and the interdependence of all species. This means working to eradicate inequity in the large and small ways while being mindful of our collective and individual impact.

We will listen more, advocate for human rights, empower people to create their own change, proactively share our resources, and act with intention and humility. As we dismantle white supremacy and other oppressive power systems, we will show care for one another. As we reform the whole justice system, we will respect and value others. As we oppose military repression, occupation, and exploitation, we will respect our ecosystem.

We invite you to join us in these practices so we may achieve peace and justice for all:

  • Reject systematic poverty and violence
  • Invite the most impacted to help guide our work
  • Build a system of equity
  • Learn about the power structure
  • Practice physical and emotional nonviolence
  • Seek common ground for dialogue and understanding
  • Recognize your privilege and how you are accountable to others
  • Encourage multiple strategies in alignment with one another
  • Promote truth & reconciliation with empathy for yourself and others
  • Act locally too!
ICPJ Gears Up for 2020!

ICPJ Gears Up for 2020!

Collaborative Action Campaigns

As we deepen our network and prioritize the needs in our community that we are well-situated to respond to, these five campaign areas are ready to launch in 2020! Our projects are emergent and generative and we will develop and share clear goals so we can measure our progress. 

Housing is a Human Right

We are collaborating with Legal Services of South Central Michigan (LSSCM) to pilot a series of tenant’s organizing meetings modeled after work being done at City Life/Vida Urbana in Boston. We are focused on building community power to insure housing for all no matter the income and to providing access to relevant community resources. 

Local Climate Crisis Actions

We are part of a coalition working to draft Ann Arbor’s carbon neutrality plan. We are focused on centering equity and our impact on surrounding areas. We will also advocate for accountability throughout the process as we mobilize our network to address the climate crisis. 

Youth as Cultural & Civic Leaders

ICPJ, Youth Arts Alliance, the Dispute Resolution Center, and the Michigan Juvenile Justice Youth Advisory Board are joining together to add capacity in areas of restorative justice, cultural healing and loving spaces, and civic and community action with partner youth-serving organizations and groups. We will use intergenerational support and organizing practices and focus on issues of juvenile justice, anti-gentrification, and climate change.

Community Power & Practicing Democracy

In partnership with community advocates and local organizations, we will identify communities most disenfranchised by inequitable policies using social determinants of health and voting behavior in order to launch a grassroots empowerment and education campaign focused on building community power for low-income and racially-marginalized people.

Justice & Safety for Immigrants & Asylum Seekers

We will join Movimiento Cosecha Ann Arbor in its Driver’s Licences for All campaign and help organize allies to work in coordination with their efforts. We will also build capacity for the new Network to Support Asylum Seekers that formed to fill a gap in services. 

Organize for Immigration Justice

Organize for Immigration Justice

With the increasing raids and deportations; the deplorable conditions in concentration camps; the pervasive child abuse and human rights violations against those seeking refuge in this country, and the need to advocate for immediate change by our Congressional representatives in Washtenaw, we have a lot of work to do.

Currently, we are organizing to support existing local organizations that have long been directly supporting immigrants. And we are organizing to fill the gaps needed. For instance, we are working with more than a dozen organizations and congregations to build a Network to Support Asylum Seekers. Through this network, we are supporting asylum seekers in detention, fundraising to assist with bail, organizing housing, and supporting organizations that provide for basic needs.

There are many ways to get involved. Contact [email protected] today if you would like to connect to our Immigration Justice Caucus and current organizing work.

2019 Spring / Summer Newsletter

2019 Spring / Summer Newsletter

The 2019 ICPJ Spring/Summer Newsletter is available for download. Check it out for updates on Immigration Justice, Affordable Housing, Youth Arts Alliance, Colombia Peace Accords, Delegation to Honduras, and more.

Support Asylum for Emilio and Oscar Gutiérrez Soto

Support Asylum for Emilio and Oscar Gutiérrez Soto

We are calling on the ICPJ community to take a moment to send letters to your representatives to support asylum for Emilio and Oscar Gutiérrez Soto, members of the Ann Arbor community. We have made it easy – follow this link, enter your information, modify the suggested letter if you like, click, and send the letter(s).

Emilio Gutiérrez Soto is a Mexican investigative journalist who exposed military corruption in Mexico. Since then Emilio and his son, Oscar Gutiérrez Soto, had to flee to the US due to the active and imminent death threats targeted against them. They have been living in the US for ten years, always abiding by immigration regulations. Despite their compliance and strong case for asylum, their asylum petition has been denied.

Emilio and Oscar Gutiérrez Soto have become an important part of our community in Michigan. Help us support their efforts to seek asylum in the US and prevent them from being deported to Mexico, one of today’s deadliest countries for journalists. Please reach out to your representatives and speak up for Emilio and Oscar through the letter campaign.

See more information: