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News :: Environment
Racism, Classism, and the BU BioLab
26 Jan 2006
Over 30 members of BU student community and Boston area turned out for a panel discussion of the BU Bio lab on Tuesday night. The joint Federal and University funded level 4 Lab is on track to be built in the South End starting this spring so that viruses and lethal bacteria such as Ebola, anthrax, hemorrhagic fever and other “unknowns” can be researched in sometimes classified experiments. The incalcuable risks, enormous costs and unanswer community concerns has citizens and activist groups vowing to shut the City promoted project down.
biolab forum 003.jpg
Tuesdays Panel: Racism, Classism and the BU BioLab
Long time community organizer Klare Allen of Safety Net gave a moving overview of issues already facing the residents of Roxbury. She showed a map of hazardous waste sites, garbage transfer stations and the diesel bus depots that have degraded the health of residents for decades. Klare gave excellent illustrations of the gross disparities between the jobs and resources available in Roxbury verses other privileged communities.

Klare briefed the audience on the history of organizing in Roxbury and some of its dificulties including the lack of support from church leadership and others who had gotten "touched by the mayor". She also described how years of neglect, exploitation and racist media has been internalized by people living in the neighborhood.

She then gave a powerful list of community concerns about the lab including the delivery of deadly agents by Fed Ex and the impossibility of instantly evacuating an urban community in the event of a plague or other incurable disease release.

Patria Hynes a Professor of Environmental Health and resident of the area near the lab site effectively discredited all of the selling points for the project and gave some terrifying examples of bio lab mishaps. It was pointed out that the anthrax from the attacks that killed 5 including US postmen was traced to the military lab at fort Detrick Maryland.

Norm Faramelli a Social ethics professor continued to raise the alarm of siteing the facility in a densely populated urban area. Norm highlighted that the line between offensive biological weapon development and defensive terror research was blured or nonexistant.

City Counselor Chuck Turner dove into the Larger issues of city funding and planning and opened the forum for questions. There were comments and questions about where labor organizations in trades like construction and service workers stood on the project.

Organized by the Christian Activists United for Social and Environmental Justice and the BU Peace and Justice project this panel is part of a growing and diverse campaign of actions to raise awareness about the BioLab and the ongoing struggle for race, class, community, environmental and economic justice in Boston.

Contact:
CAUSE Justice kdmillay (at) bu.edu
Peace and Justice Project mauraj (at) bu.edu

Upcoming event:
Roxbury Immersion Day
Saturday February 4th, 1pm @ first Church of Roxbury
Meet at BU Marsh Plaza @12pm

Other groups working on the Bio Lab:
http://www.bostonmobilization.org
http://www.sunshine-project.org
http://www.ace-ej.org
http://www.justicewithpeace.org/index.php?target=campaigns&mycampaign=BI
http://www.wilpfboston.org/
http://boston.indymedia.org/feature/display/45115
<
biolab forum 001.jpg
Tuesdays Panel: Racism, Classism and the BU BioLab
biolab forum 004.jpg
Tuesdays Panel: Racism, Classism and the BU BioLab

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Re: Touched by the Mayor: Racism, Classism and the BU BioLab
26 Jan 2006
Whats with the title of this story???? They mayor is decidedly NOT a racist. You could be sued for this sort of thing.
Re: Touched by the Mayor: Racism, Classism and the BU BioLab
26 Jan 2006
Good point... I've removed the first clause "Touched by the Mayor" to make it a better headline. Thanks!
Re: Racism, Classism, and the BU BioLab
26 Jan 2006
"touched by the mayor" is a quote that describes the process by which support has been gotten for the Bio Lab. If the mayor or any other powerful politician, judge, Lobbyist or government official was not a classist, racist they would be in Roxbury right not demanding federal disaster funding and voulenter efforts to rebuild the community as if it had just been hit by a hurricane. Well as if it had been a white campaine contributing neighborhood that had been hit by a hurricane.
Its a good title and should be put back in quotes if the editor is sacred of trolls
Re: Racism, Classism, and the BU BioLab
26 Jan 2006
It's not about being scared of trolls. I actually agree that the headline was not a very good one, specially because the article doesn't go in-depth about how Chuck Turner (or other activists, for that matter) has turned this debate into a racist/classist issue. That is, your good points above are not clarified on the article and therefore, "touched by the mayor" is a bit ambiguous. A quote from Klare Allen on the matter would have, I think, made it clearer.
Re: Racism, Classism, and the BU BioLab
26 Jan 2006
Look if a BIMC editor can title a piece about mass torutre, rape and barbaric murders as "New anti insurgency tecnique gains wide appeal" I can title a piece about the mayor pushing an apaoclyptic biological weapons plant in a poor black and ethnic neighborhood "Touched by the mayor: racism, classism amd the BU bio Lab"
Re: Racism, Classism, and the BU BioLab
26 Jan 2006
wait why the fuck is someone editing the title? the reason you edit those things are if it violates the indymedia code in someway, which it doesnt. what you did is fundamentally against the principles of indymedia and letting people tell their own stories.
Re: Racism, Classism, and the BU BioLab
26 Jan 2006
I wish the author could weigh in on this one. If he would like the title to go back to what it was, it will be...

Editing an article *without* making it public violates indymedia principles. We're about being public about changes and respecting both our readers and writers wishes, but we're not comatose editors.
Re: Racism, Classism, and the BU BioLab
26 Jan 2006
While it is true that the Mayor could turn this project out on it's ass if he wanted to, it isn't clear that this is exclusively a race issue. He could very easily believe that the benefits to the economy in roxbury outweigh the costs, meaning of course that he downplays the risks heavily.

Just playing devils advocate, but if you're going to call the mayor a racist in the news media, you better have a dman good reason.

Besides the fact that you are a total wimp hiding behind your anonymity and asking the BIMC to take a whack for you. Grow up.

You can talk up and down about environmental racism, which you can make a good case for. But if your going to straight up call somebody a racist you need evidence.

Actually it's kind of funny that the BIMC turns out to be on my side in this. Historically, I've heard, they're fully OK with calling people racist for no reason at all.

A good friend of mine was forced to leave the collective because someone else in the collective was continually acusing racism, sexism and everything else just to push him out.
Re: Racism, Classism, and the BU BioLab
26 Jan 2006
I liked the full title. I dont think its a liability isssue and going after an IMC for slander on this would be politically stupid.
Anyway Im much more interested in discussing this.
"...the article doesn't go in-depth about how Chuck Turner (or other activists, for that matter) has turned this debate into a racist/classist issue. That is, your good points above are not clarified on the article and therefore, "touched by the mayor" is a bit ambiguous. A quote from Klare Allen on the matter would have, I think, made it clearer."
Re: Racism, Classism, and the BU BioLab
26 Jan 2006
But you know what, Pete? I'm thinking that "Touched by the mayor" is still not clear enough. They were touched/influenced by his actions, not by the mayor per se, if you know what I mean. I'm going to consult w/the other editors about this, ok?

We usually recommend authors to include their emails on the posting because then we could be having this conversation via email instead of publicly and agree to something *before* the posting.

I would like to move the discussion to the actual content of the article (BU lab) instead.
Re: Racism, Classism, and the BU BioLab
26 Jan 2006
i don't think there's any legal liability to worry about. even if tom sued, the supreme court, in new york times v. sullivan, ruled that a public official who sues for libel has to show that the author/publisher produced the allegedly libelous statement with actual malice. actual malice means that the statement was made with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard of whether it was true or false. that's pretty tough to prove.
Re: Racism, Classism, and the BU BioLab
27 Jan 2006
let's build the biolab in newton, and not provide an escape plan for that area...
then let's have fun trying to assure them that it's not a bio-terror lab...
Re: Racism, Classism, and the BU BioLab
27 Jan 2006
Pete,
I would like to leave the title the article as is, for clarity purposes, but you are the ultimate owner of the article, so let me know how you would like to proceed.

And I think mocking a BU Lab in front of Mayor Menino's house would something fun to do. kudos for direct action!
Re: Racism, Classism, and the BU BioLab
27 Jan 2006
I think the title for this article is pretty blatantly obious. How could you argue against the racial and class issues in building a laboratory that tests incurable diseases in one of the areas of town populated predominantely by poor, working class and people of color?
Re: Racism, Classism, and the BU BioLab
28 Jan 2006
Out of control so-called public charities go into business and can fund projects without having to worry about paying taxes. And in many cases they get tax credits.
These so-called charities are actually fuedal fifes called 'private colleges'. When the fife gets too large it becomes a burdon on the surrounding community.

The way to go after BU and Harvard and MIT with their Javva the Hut like behavior is to work to return them to the tradition of charity that they are supposed to represent, public education, etc.

The answer is clear: Work to remove any tax break for these organizations for any purpose other than education of American's.

All other activity would be taxed and have to be separated.

IE: If Harvard wants to educate the children of foriegn dictators and bring them into their secret societies, then they must pay tax on the profits.

If BU wants to build a bio-terror lab they can't do this without it being a taxable property.

Only when we convert these institutions back into entities that are not shells pretending to be educational institutions will we be able to stop them from spreading like a plauge.

What it can be considered is a spred of a new form of fuedalism where there is a high-born and heedless elete who pretend to be accademic but are just a new form of organized selfish-interest group.

My idea is that the organization that is purported to be a charity should not grow to such huge size.

These schools run tax free everything from food-service to housing. They eat up too many resources and the professors and workers in this system get huge tax-free benifits that the rest of us do not.

All of this should be taxed. Only the educational part of the bussiness should be tax free.

Also, if they are a public charity then the officers of that should only recieve so much compensation per year total from all of the charities on which they hold seats.

IE: If Fud Fudington the third is on ten charity boards and should get $100,000 for his 'work' on each, then he would only get a ceiling amount and not more. The rest would be used for other charitable purchases.

Also all trustees meetings should be audited. If they hold a charity meeting at a ski slope then the trip should be taxable if it is provided free.
Get these slugs to pay for their own meals and their own travel and their own hotel rooms. Audit every nickel.
Limit the total 'charity' part of an income. Open their books.

It isn't just stopping a biolab that needs to be done but leading these people away from the idea that a 'charity' is their own private piggy bank. If they have the urge for public service that is good. But too many of these 'trustees' are living the free life, like the mideval fuedal lord did, without accountability and without being that charitable.

I am sure that most who are involved in charity work are sincere. But when a public charity decided to build a bioterror lab in the midst of a populated area then what story does that tell? I say tax them.

One more point: Any patents that they produce should be donated to the public domain and free to use for anyone.

And so concluding:
1. Very stern review of the so-called charity system and reform of it so that these organizations don't become tax-free fiefdoms of privledge without accountability
2. Patent reform so that whatever these organization patent is now in the public domain
3. Compensation reform for charities so that serving on multiple boards doesn't result in windfall income for 'charitable' person.
4. Universities should be taxed for any activities that do not involve education.

Harvard and BU and MIT have become anti-democratic fifes that need to be brought into the modern age of democracy.

Just the fact that someone will start calling these privledged sots to account and threatening to look deeper into their compensation schemes will scare these free-loaders to capitulating on various issues. They don't want the public to know just how privledged they are, their activities in hedge funds and outsourcing. They are afraid that the public will know. So resist them by exposing the real deal. Audit where their officers get their income and you will see a festering mess of privledge and heedless unaccountability.

We have an obligation to reform and recreate these institutions and it goes far beyond a biolab. The biolab is just a symptom of a much bigger disease: The charitiable urge of public Universities being channeled into money-mongering schemes of corporate fascists.

Maybe it is time to bust the trust and divest the various parts of these bloated pig institutions.
Re: Racism, Classism, and the BU BioLab
29 Jan 2006
The last poster sounds suspiciously like the NIMBYs who lived near the school I attended for my undergraduate education. Yet these were the same people who came fleeing to the protective arms of the university when the urban poor locals threatened to take back their turf. I'm sure that the NIMBYs also appreciate the economic and prestige-related benefits that living near a university confer.

I love hypocrisy!
Re: Racism, Classism, and the BU BioLab
31 Jan 2006
It wasn't me. I didn't live near you. That was someone else.

When I wrote my description of a worst case charity as being currupt, I present this as a worst case stereo type which I hope is not a correct description.

What I get instead is fear from people who are afraid that somehow I am describing them.

I assure you that you do not know me and I don't go running into the arms of any university.

I have no problem with charities being tax free as long as all that they do is charitable. But too often non-profits are actually just benificial for a very wealthy select group who launder money through the non-profit for the benifit of their progeny.

Pretty discusting if it is true. Hope it isn't for everyone.

So, don't be like that. Actually be for the public good and the public will not be outraged, like they are about the Biolab.

Public trusts need to be placed under greater scrutiny by activists so that we can know that they aren't just fleecing the public and the government.

And, what, poster, do you think that we should reduce the auditing and accountability of public trusts? Is that how you would counter what I say?

It would be nice if it were just the ravings of a paranoid, that there aren't people bleeding money out of charities for their own benefit and not for the public good. I would love to live in a world like that. We don't seem to be in that world. And so I point out the potential because I see abuse, not just to be mean. I grew up around all the tax free privledge, but I get no benifit from it. So don't expect me to be mum, and hush up when I see how bloated and out of control Harvard or BU are.

They need more, not less, scrutiny.

Natuarlly parts of those organizations do benefit the public, but how much of their activity is just the behavior of people hiding in their privledge and hoping not to be found out?

I am calling them to be better citizens. And if they already are, then I am a busy body. But I am doing this semi-anonymously and only asking that people be aware of the idea that maybe we don't have to think of these groups as fuedal fiiffdoms, but accountable institutions that actually do listen to the public and try and be good neighbors. Both BU and Harvard fail that test and so should, obviously, be put into fuller scrutiny.
Action to Stop the BU Bio Terror Lab!
06 Feb 2006
Check the local section for a post on action to take against the BU Terror Lab: http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/51742/index.php