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Beloved Syracuse Beacon

"Strong people stand up for themselves. Stronger people stand up for others"


Chris Gardner

ACTS is dedicated to social justice work that aims to dismantle structural racism and poverty, creating a better Syracuse for all. “Action Alerts,” details upcoming events, while “Weekly Victories” covers our recently completed events. Should you have any questions or an upcoming social justice event, please email Ryan Ivers, at rivers2@oswego.eduIf the Email Newsletter arrives in your "Promotions" or "Spam" email folders, simply add to your contact/address list.


Feel free to share or redistribute any content found in this newsletter.

Action Alerts

This week in our work to transform Syracuse, eliminate poverty, and create equality:

1. Legislative Session to Vote on Youth Solitary Confinement Resolution

September 05, 2017

When: Tuesday, September 5th, 1:00 pm Where: Onondaga County Courthouse, Legislative Chambers, Room 407 Address: 401 Montgomery St, Syracuse, NY 13202

The Onondaga County Legislator's "Public Safety Committee" has voted to place the Resolution to End Youth Solitary Confinement on the September 5th Legislative Session agenda.  The resolution, which was written with input and collectively approved by the County Executive's Office, The Onondaga County Sheriff's office, County Legislature attorneys, and other County Legislators, seeks the end of Youth Solitary Confinement in all Onondaga County facilities. It is expected to be discussed and called to a vote during the September 5th Legislative Session. If the resolution is passed, we may see dramatic reform to our local criminal justice system and, perhaps, the end of youth solitary confinement in all of Onondaga County. 

This resolution must be passed to abolish the use of youth solitary confinement countywide, suffered by dozens of children over the past years. Without the resolution, our progress with this issue may slip away. Members of the Syracuse community who stand for sensible criminal justice reform have been called to attend the Legislative Session to advocate for passage of this resolution. The ACTS Criminal Justice Task Force will be present at the session with its allies, and implores you to appear as well. Please show up and support the well-being of our youth!


The resolution was introduced by Legislator Chris Ryan of the 8th District with co-sponsorhips from Legislators Linda Ervin, Monica Williams, Peggy Chase, and John Dougherty.  The Criminal Justice Task Force of ACTS has worked tirelessly with County Legislators and other allies to end this abhorrent practice since January, 2015 when the issue was first brought forward by The Grace Project, a ministry of Grace Episcopal Church.

Why Reform to Youth Solitary Confinement is Vital:

The United Nations has widely condemned the use of solitary confinement, denouncing any internment longer than 15 days as “cruel, inhuman, and degrading torture.” The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture is even less forgiving in cases involving children, and advised that youth solitary confinement receive an incontrovertible ban. Yet, somewhere in the world, there was a jail that locked children in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, and weeks or months at a time.


In this jail, unconvicted youth who could not afford bail were tossed into cells smaller than an elevator for infractions as trivial as “wearing the wrong shoes.” The dark-green walls of the cells were covered in scratch marks from previous occupants, and the floors were often strewn with feces and urine. Through small openings, youth heard the threats of nearby adult prisoners to sexually harass them, and cover them in excrement.


“It’s like the cells are designed to make you act crazy,” said a 16-year-old prisoner, “I tried doing crossword puzzles but kept thinking about killing myself.”

2. A Wonderful Opportunity for Leadership Training is now Available!

October 29, 2017

When: Sunday, October 29 until Saturday, November 4 Where: Rochester, New York Price: Training is offered free of charge. Participants must only pay the week's room and board, which can be co-sponsored by congregations, organizations, or employers (more details below)

"We Central New Yorkers have been offered a great opportunity to acquire new tools and to realize our full potential to affect change. The international "Gamaliel" institute with which ACTS is affiliated is offering a full week of leadership training only 90 minutes away from us in Rochester, NY! This training will be offered starting Sunday, October 29 and concluding on Saturday, November 4. We can take advantage of this training for only the cost of room and board for the week. 


Many of us have been asking recently for more training. And I know from people who participated in past Gamaliel training programs that this year's will be a transformational experience for many.


The purpose of this leadership training is to build "strong, stable, and effective institutionally-based power organizations" to in turn strengthen and transform congregations, organizations, and communities. Community organizing is essential to bring about much-needed change in our policies and community practices.


Some of the topics to be covered in this training include tools for community organizing, methodology for building power, tools to begin and sustain relationships, and the importance of self-interest as a source of energy and motivation and as a tool for public exchanges. This training will teach people to unleash the power within themselves. This training is meant for all of us who are working for change in our society. 


Several people from Central New York have participated in this training in recent years and have felt empowered by it. The Gamaliel trainers are experienced and have successfully conducted many previous trainings. 


Is your personal growth and ability to make a difference worth one week of your time? Perhaps your employer can provide credit or time off for this training based on its purpose, methods, and goals. 


The cost for you to participate in this training is the cost for room and board for one week ($700) which can be shared between your congregation/organization, ACTS, and yourself based on ability to provide financial support. The cost for trainers' time for the entire week is being offered free of charge by Gamaliel for Gamaliel affiliate members.

I will go to this training I hope you and/or others in your congregation or organization can join me. Feel free to contact me for more information about this wonderful opportunity! You can register on the Gamaliel Website or by contacting me." 

David Babcock

ACTS President

(315) 263-9023

3. Transformative Reading Group Initiative: Addressing White Privilige

September 06, 2017

What/When: Informational meeting/ Wed., September 6, at 7:00pm Where: Temple Concord Address: 910 Madison Street, Syracuse Contact for Info: Co-Interim Director Peter Sarver at

ACTS is expecting more than 2 dozen congregations to participate in its Transformation Reading Group Initiative this Fall. The reading groups will grapple with issues of systemic racism and white privilege as they read and discuss America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis or Waking Up White by Debby Irving.


Each congregation is following its own schedule and format for this experience.  Study Guides for both books are available.  Congregations already committed to this engagement are University United Methodist Church, Plymouth Congregational Church, Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church, 1st Unitarian Universalist Society and St. Lucy’s Catholic Church. St. Lucy’s has signed up more than 30 people and will run 3 separate groups reading Wallis’ book. St. Augustine Catholic Church in Baldwinsville, Liverpool First Presbyterian Church and Temple Concord will be reading Irving’s book.


In light of the continuing racial conflicts, especially in Charlottesville, there is enormous interest on the part of white people to reflect on their complicity in systematic racism through the dominance of whites in our society and preeminence of white cultural values. Difficult introspection is expected to lead to changed attitudes and behavior.  Social change will be helped to emerge when more whites are grounded in a better understanding of these dynamics.


There will be an information meeting of the congregations participating or having an interest in participating by having a Transformation Reading Group on Wednesday September 6 @ 7 PM at Temple Concord, 910 Madison Street (at corner of University Avenue) in Syracuse. 


Access to the meeting site of Frensdorf Room will be at the rear entrance to the facility at the back of the parking lot. Parking in Temple Concord’s lot is permitted for this event. There is no cost for participation.  Copies of “America’s Original Sin” will be available for $14 per copy. Plans are underway for an area wide event for all participants on Tuesday evening, November 21. 


Congregations need not be a member of ACTS to participate, contact us to get involved.

Contact for Info: Co-Interim Director Peter Sarver at

4. Call-In to Defend the DACA Immigration Program

September 01, 2017

Call Today, Or As Soon As Possible

From the CNY Solidarity Coaltion: 

The CNY Solidarity Coalition, an ally in the fight for social justice, has a call to action for the Syracuse Community: 


"Reports are circulating that Donald Trump is getting ready to eliminate the DACA program. Created in 2012, the program has allowed 800,000 young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to live and work lawfully. They are American, they are a part of our communities, and they belong here.


Let our members of Congress know that you oppose elimination of the DACA Program, and ask them to sign on as co-sponsors to their House or Senate bills: HR 3591


Please call: 

Rep. Katko’s Syracuse office (315-423-5657) and ask that he co-sponsor the bill.S1615

Sen. Gillibrand at her Syracuse office 315-448-0470 to ask her to sign on as a co-sponsor.

Sen. Schumer is already a co-sponsor. Please call his Syracuse office at 315-423-5471 and thank him for his support."

5. Interfaith Works' Events in Support of Refugees

Welcoming Refugees to CNY: Information Session

September 21, 2017

When: September 21st @5:00pm Where: Interfaith Works Address: 1010 James St., Syracuse NY

Join Interfaith Works as they host an engaging and informative dialogue about refugees and the refugee experience in Syracuse. There will be three opportunities to participate in this event, the first being September 21st. One can find the times, dates, and locations for each of the other sessions by clicking the "Learn More" button below. 


Each session will feature a video presentation; We Are Human, followed by an overview of the refugee resettlement process, current issues related to resettlement, stories presented by new Americans, and a Q&A. 


Refreshments will be provided, but seating is limited. Please register for this event by clicking the "Learn More" Button below:

Run For Refugees

September 30, 2017

When: September 30th, 8:30am-1:00pm Location/Cost: Long Branch Park/$25 Address: 3813 Longbranch Park, Liverpool

"On Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, a Run for Refugees will be held at Long Branch Park, 3813 Longbranch Park, Liverpool. This event is organized by Adrian Mellinger and InterFaith Works of Central New York.


This is a day to raise awareness and celebrate refugees in the Syracuse area and all throughout the nation. All money raised will go to benefit the Center for New Americans through InterFaith Works in Syracuse, NY. The Walk/Run is a USATF certified course; however, this is not a timed race. Children (and strollers) are welcome. Feel free to bring your dogs (on leashes only). Come enjoy beautiful fall weather and have some family friendly fun!"

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Weekly Community Events

If you are an ACTS Member Organization and have an upcoming social justice event please email Ryan Ivers at

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