Change Agents 9/1/22: Hate Crimes & Training Police

Producer/Host: Steve Wessler

Change Agents: Conversations with Advocates and Social Justice Advocate on WERU FM

This month:
My two guests advocate for reducing hate crimes and for training police on how to respond to hate crimes. Nadia Aziz is the:
Senior Program Director for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, in Washington DC. Dawn Collins became a human right advocate at after her son was murdered on the campus of the University of Maryland. The assailant was white and a white supremacist. 2nd Lieutenant was Black. Dawn and Nadia work to reduce hate crimes and to provide police with information and understanding of the impact of hate crimes. We discuss these issues.

1. Can we reduce the amount of hate crimes in the USA?
2. Why do hate crimes impact victims and families?
3. What works to reduce hate crimes?

Guests:
Nadia Aziz is the Senior Program Director for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, in Washington DC.
Dawn Collins became a human right advocate at after her son was murdered on the campus of the University of Maryland. The assailant was white and a white supremacist. 2nd Lieutenant Lt. Richard W. Collins III, 23 was Black.

About the host:
Steve Wessler will soon will be starting his 28th year of working on human right issues. He founded the Civil Rights Unit in the Maine Attorney’s Office in 1992 and led the Unit for 7 years. In 1999 he left the formal practice of law and founded the Center for the Prevention of Hate. The Center worked in Maine and across the USA. He and his colleagues worked to reduce bias and harassment in schools, in communities, in health care organization through workshops and conflict resolution. The Center closed in 2011 and Steve began a consulting on human rights issues. For the next 5 years much of his work was in Europe, developing and implementing training curricular for police, working in communities to reduce the risk of hate crimes, conflict resolution between police and youth. He has worked in over 20 countries. In late 2016 he began to work more in Maine, with a focus on reducing anti-immigrant bias. He continues to work in schools to reduce bias and harassment. Wessler teaches courses on human rights issues at the College of the Atlantic, the University of Maine at Augusta and at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in northern Virginia.

Change Agents 8/4/22: ACLU of Maine

Producer/Host: Steve Wessler

Change Agents, human right and social justice advocates on WERU FM

This month: Recent decisions by the US Supreme Court indicate a significant move to the right on civil rights issues.
-How to protect civil rights in Maine
-Bringing civil rights cases in State court may lead to different rules between the Supreme Court and state courts
-What is difficult about litigating civil rights cases for clients and for lawyers

Guests:
Zach Heiden and Carol Garvan, are respectively the Chief Counsel and Legal Director at the ACLU of Maine. Zack and Carol discussed their current work to protect the civil rights of all people in Maine. They discussed strategies for strengthening those at the State level.

About the host:
Steve Wessler will soon will be starting his 28th year of working on human right issues. He founded the Civil Rights Unit in the Maine Attorney’s Office in 1992 and led the Unit for 7 years. In 1999 he left the formal practice of law and founded the Center for the Prevention of Hate. The Center worked in Maine and across the USA. He and his colleagues worked to reduce bias and harassment in schools, in communities, in health care organization through workshops and conflict resolution. The Center closed in 2011 and Steve began a consulting on human rights issues. For the next 5 years much of his work was in Europe, developing and implementing training curricular for police, working in communities to reduce the risk of hate crimes, conflict resolution between police and youth. He has worked in over 20 countries. In late 2016 he began to work more in Maine, with a focus on reducing anti-immigrant bias. He continues to work in schools to reduce bias and harassment. Wessler teaches courses on human rights issues at the College of the Atlantic, the University of Maine at Augusta and at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in northern Virginia.

Change Agents 6/2/22: Reducing Anti-immigrant Bias and Harassment

Producer/Host: Steve Wessler

Change Agents, human right and social justice advocates on WERU FM

I interviewed Denise Wright who has been working on reducing anti-immigrant bias and harassment in Belfast, Northern Ireland for over 20 years. She has changed the hearts and minds of many people who were had negative views of immigrants. We discussed some of the work we have done together in Belfast.

Key Discussion Points:
1. Changing the minds and hearts of Catholics and Protestants
2. Protecting immigrants from harm
3. Conducting dialogues

About the host:
Steve Wessler will soon will be starting his 28th year of working on human right issues. He founded the Civil Rights Unit in the Maine Attorney’s Office in 1992 and led the Unit for 7 years. In 1999 he left the formal practice of law and founded the Center for the Prevention of Hate. The Center worked in Maine and across the USA. He and his colleagues worked to reduce bias and harassment in schools, in communities, in health care organization through workshops and conflict resolution. The Center closed in 2011 and Steve began a consulting on human rights issues. For the next 5 years much of his work was in Europe, developing and implementing training curricular for police, working in communities to reduce the risk of hate crimes, conflict resolution between police and youth. He has worked in over 20 countries. In late 2016 he began to work more in Maine, with a focus on reducing anti-immigrant bias. He continues to work in schools to reduce bias and harassment. Wessler teaches courses on human rights issues at the College of the Atlantic, the University of Maine at Augusta and at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in northern Virginia.

Change Agents 5/5/22: Mental Health Risks and Help for Trans and Non-binary Youth

Producer/Host: Steve Wessler

Change Agents, human right and social justice advocates on WERU FM

Guest, Emma Wynne Hill, a queer and non-binary psychotherapist currently working in Waterville for UCP of Maine, specializes in serving LGBTQIA+ young people.
Emma discusses the mental health risk for trans and non-binary youth and the work they do in helping youth navigate a sometimes hostile climate.

Discussed the emotional and physical harms that Trans and Non Binary youth navigate
Discussed the impact on Trans and Non Binary youth from new laws around the nation relating to transgender youth
Discussed Emma’s work that can provide help for transgender and non-binary youth

About the host:
Steve Wessler will soon will be starting his 28th year of working on human right issues. He founded the Civil Rights Unit in the Maine Attorney’s Office in 1992 and led the Unit for 7 years. In 1999 he left the formal practice of law and founded the Center for the Prevention of Hate. The Center worked in Maine and across the USA. He and his colleagues worked to reduce bias and harassment in schools, in communities, in health care organization through workshops and conflict resolution. The Center closed in 2011 and Steve began a consulting on human rights issues. For the next 5 years much of his work was in Europe, developing and implementing training curricular for police, working in communities to reduce the risk of hate crimes, conflict resolution between police and youth. He has worked in over 20 countries. In late 2016 he began to work more in Maine, with a focus on reducing anti-immigrant bias. He continues to work in schools to reduce bias and harassment. Wessler teaches courses on human rights issues at the College of the Atlantic, the University of Maine at Augusta and at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in northern Virginia.

Change Agents 4/7/22: The Work of the Maine People’s Alliance

Producer/Host: Steve Wessler

Change Agents: Conversations with Human Rights Activists

Steve Wessler’s guests are Jesse Graham, co-Executive Director of the Maine People’s Alliance and Ben Chin, the Deputy Director

They discussed the current and future work of the Maine People’s Alliance. We also asked when and why they decided to work on human rights and social justice work. We also discussed the following issues:
-Jesse Graham discussed the 20 years of advocacy to reduce mercury in the Penobscot River
-Ben Chin discussed the campaign to continue same day voting
-Both Jesse and Ben discussed possible advocacy efforts in the future.

Jesse Graham is co-director of Maine People’s Alliance & Maine People’s Resource Center. He has been with the organizations for more than 20 years. Under Jesse’s leadership MPA has more than tripled in membership. With over 32,000 members reaching one of every 17 households across the state and involving more than 9000 volunteers in a variety of campaigns each year. Through door-to-door canvassing, community organizing and strategic communications MPA is building the power for shifting worldview and concreate policy wins. Jesse is proud of corporate polluters accountable for mercury pollution in the Penobscot River and organizational victories to expand Clean Elections, raise the minimum wage, pass Medicaid expansion and win earned paid sick days.

Ben Chin is the Deputy Director of Maine People’s Alliance, where he has worked for grassroots social change since 2005. He helped build the teams that won minimum wage increases, expanded Medicaid, and guaranteed workers paid sick days. As a community organizer, he focused on immigrant rights. As a political director, he lobbied on many issues, especially those related to taxes and the state budget, and helped elect dozens of candidates to office. He published Maine’s first racial justice policy guide, and a white paper outlining a plan for universal childcare, home care, and paid family and medical leave. He co-hosts the Beacon Podcast, and received the Frederick Douglass 200 award for his contributions to racial justice by the Guardian and Ibram Kendi’s Anti-racist Research and Policy Center.

About the host:
Steve Wessler will soon will be starting his 28th year of working on human right issues. He founded the Civil Rights Unit in the Maine Attorney’s Office in 1992 and led the Unit for 7 years. In 1999 he left the formal practice of law and founded the Center for the Prevention of Hate. The Center worked in Maine and across the USA. He and his colleagues worked to reduce bias and harassment in schools, in communities, in health care organization through workshops and conflict resolution. The Center closed in 2011 and Steve began a consulting on human rights issues. For the next 5 years much of his work was in Europe, developing and implementing training curricular for police, working in communities to reduce the risk of hate crimes, conflict resolution between police and youth. He has worked in over 20 countries. In late 2016 he began to work more in Maine, with a focus on reducing anti-immigrant bias. He continues to work in schools to reduce bias and harassment. Wessler teaches courses on human rights issues at the College of the Atlantic, the University of Maine at Augusta and at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in northern Virginia.

Change Agents 2/3/22: Race on College Campuses

Producer/Host: Steve Wessler

-Discussion about micro-aggressions
-Has the murder of George Floyd changed the views of college students?
-Does bias impact the level stress for Black people?

Guests:
Marcus Bruce, Professor at Bates College
Roy Partridge, Senior advisor to the President of Bowdoin College

About the host:
Steve Wessler will soon will be starting his 28th year of working on human right issues. He founded the Civil Rights Unit in the Maine Attorney’s Office in 1992 and led the Unit for 7 years. In 1999 he left the formal practice of law and founded the Center for the Prevention of Hate. The Center worked in Maine and across the USA. He and his colleagues worked to reduce bias and harassment in schools, in communities, in health care organization through workshops and conflict resolution. The Center closed in 2011 and Steve began a consulting on human rights issues. For the next 5 years much of his work was in Europe, developing and implementing training curricular for police, working in communities to reduce the risk of hate crimes, conflict resolution between police and youth. He has worked in over 20 countries. In late 2016 he began to work more in Maine, with a focus on reducing anti-immigrant bias. He continues to work in schools to reduce bias and harassment. Wessler teaches courses on human rights issues at the College of the Atlantic, the University of Maine at Augusta and at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in northern Virginia.

Change Agents 1/6/22: Kristalalnacht, the book “The Night of Broken Glass” & anti-Semitism in USA schools including Maine schools

Producer/Host: Steve Wessler

Conversations with Human Right Activists: Discussion of Kristalalnacht, the book “The Night of Broken Glass” & anti-Semitism in USA schools including Maine schools

CONTENT WARNING: During our interview we read experts from the book The Nights of Broken Glass. The book contains many first person accounts of Kristtalnacht. The readings are deeply disturbing.

In the second part of the interview we discussed the disturbing level of anti-Jewish comments and so-called jokes about Jews in middle and high school. Many of the jokes are about the Holocaust. We ended the interview by discussing how to reduce the incidence of degrading comments and jokes about Jews and also about people of color, girls and women, LGBTQ people, Muslims and immigrants….

Guests:

Amy Sneirson has been the Maine Human Rights Commission’s Executive Director since late 2011. Prior to that, Amy practiced law with a focus on employment, education, and civil rights issues in private firm, nonprofit agency, and state attorney general settings in both Maine and Missouri. Originally from Massachusetts, Amy received her undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester in New York and her law degree from the School of Law at Washington University in St. Louis.

Mike Levey, a retired lawyer from Winthrop ME. In 1976, Michael J. Levey began private practice in Winthrop, Maine, as a primary care general practice lawyer, , principally under the name of Levey and Wagley, PA (now Levey, Wagley, Putman and Eccher, PA).. In mid-2019, after 43 years in that practice, he transitioned into full retirement.
He served on Maine’s Family Law Advisory Commission for nine years, having been appointed to the Commission by Chief Justices Daniel Wathen and Leigh Saufley of the Supreme Court of Maine. He also served on Maine’s Commission on Domestic and Sexual Abuse for three years, having been appointed to the Commission by Governor Angus King.
In 2006, he was awarded the MSBA Family Law Section’s Outstanding Achievement Award and the Maine Judicial Department’s Advocate for Justice Award. He was awarded the Volunteer Lawyers Project Director’s Award in 2017.

About the host:
Steve Wessler will soon will be starting his 28th year of working on human right issues. He founded the Civil Rights Unit in the Maine Attorney’s Office in 1992 and led the Unit for 7 years. In 1999 he left the formal practice of law and founded the Center for the Prevention of Hate. The Center worked in Maine and across the USA. He and his colleagues worked to reduce bias and harassment in schools, in communities, in health care organization through workshops and conflict resolution. The Center closed in 2011 and Steve began a consulting on human rights issues. For the next 5 years much of his work was in Europe, developing and implementing training curricular for police, working in communities to reduce the risk of hate crimes, conflict resolution between police and youth. He has worked in over 20 countries. In late 2016 he began to work more in Maine, with a focus on reducing anti-immigrant bias. He continues to work in schools to reduce bias and harassment. Wessler teaches courses on human rights issues at the College of the Atlantic, the University of Maine at Augusta and at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in northern Virginia.

Change Agents 12/2/21: American Jews Advocating for the Rights of Palestinians

Producer/Host: Steve Wessler

This December edition of Change Agents focuses on American Jews supporting the rights of Palestinians. Stefanie Fox is the director of Jewish Voice for Peace. JVP advocates for the rights of Palestinians. JVP supports the call of Palestinians to boycott, divestiture and sanctions against Israel. Rabbi Brant Rosen founded a non-Zionist synagogue in Chicago. He is a member of JVP. Both guests are anti-Zionist.

About the host:
Steve Wessler will soon will be starting his 28th year of working on human right issues. He founded the Civil Rights Unit in the Maine Attorney’s Office in 1992 and led the Unit for 7 years. In 1999 he left the formal practice of law and founded the Center for the Prevention of Hate. The Center worked in Maine and across the USA. He and his colleagues worked to reduce bias and harassment in schools, in communities, in health care organization through workshops and conflict resolution. The Center closed in 2011 and Steve began a consulting on human rights issues. For the next 5 years much of his work was in Europe, developing and implementing training curricular for police, working in communities to reduce the risk of hate crimes, conflict resolution between police and youth. He has worked in over 20 countries. In late 2016 he began to work more in Maine, with a focus on reducing anti-immigrant bias. He continues to work in schools to reduce bias and harassment. Wessler teaches courses on human rights issues at the College of the Atlantic, the University of Maine at Augusta and at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in northern Virginia.