January 2021 WeROC Meeting of the Whole

Hello WeROC Community–

Despite it all, an incredible year for this organization:  From several very effective voter engagement efforts — to a broad bottom-up Justice Matters campaign where we all learned much about the role of County Prosecutor and the candidates — to new relationships with officials in a position to transform our local criminal justice system…WeROC is hitting the ground running for 2021.  

Join us for our January First Thursday “Meeting of the Whole” on January 7 and help elect officers to the new WeROC Provisional Leadership Team.  Register at this link.

  • The informal WeROC leadership table of the past 2 years, the “Reset Committee,” agreed that a more formal leadership structure will be needed for the exciting but challenging fights WeROC will be taking on in 2021, and for building our capacity.  They commissioned a Nominating Committee (Pastor Jeff Harrold, Cindy Bodewes, and Tad Wysor), who are very pleased to propose the slate below of long-time and connected WeROC leaders who have agreed to serve if elected.
  • The Leadership Team elected January 7 will serve for one year, or less if WeROC is able to pick up where COVID forced us to leave off — when we’ll formalize memberships from local institutions and individuals, delegates from which will then create our first Board of Directors and Executive Officers.

Proposed Slate for the WeROC Provisional Leadership Team (with affiliations for identification), to be voted on at the January 7 meeting:

President:  Cindy Bodewes, Church of the Good Shepherd
Vice President:  Charlotte Tillerson, President, Ypsilanti Community Education Association
Secretary:  Audrey Anderson, Community Church of God
Treasurer:  Rita Turner-Sheerin, Voters not Politicians
Clergy Representative:  Rev. Jeff Harrold, Pastor, New Beginnings Community Church of Washtenaw County
Lead Organizer:  Tad Wysor, First Congregational UCC (Ypsi), AFGE Local 3907 (EPA), Huron Valley Area Labor Federation (AFL-CIO)

Please contact any of us on the Nominating Committee with any questions.

Cindy Bodewes (cbodewes@umich.edu, 734-358-6994)
Pastor Jeff Harrold (revharrold@gmail.com, 734-417-0782)
Tad Wysor (tadwysor@gmail.com, 734-883-3225)

Stay tuned for more about our major upcoming Justice Matters Teach-In on Organizing for Local Criminal Justice Reform

  •  AND let’s all find ways to spread the word about what appear to be safe, effective, and life-saving COVID vaccines — especially among our neighbors who have every reason to be skeptical in light of our country’s past bad failures in providing medical care for all. 

Thanks to Betsy and Jill for keeping our online and social media presence fresh:  Website: werocmi.org;  Facebook Page:  Facebook.com/werocmi.

December 2020 WeROC Meeting of the Whole

Hello WeROC Community–

Please join us for our December monthly Meeting of the Whole, THIS Thursday, Dec 3, 5:30-6:30.  Register before the Zoom meeting here.  We’ll send you the questions we’ll be discussing so you can give them some thought.

Thursday, we’ll follow up together on an incredible election season (OK, not completely over yet, but it WILL be, right?) when so many participated in so many ways — not just with massive voting. We’ll have a focused agenda allowing all of us to reflect on the lessons of the amazing voter engagement work of WeROC, MOSES, and many others — AND how we will keep that momentum going and growing right up until and through the next elections — as we now begin to hold those who were elected accountable.

  • At the meeting we’re hoping to have your input as we continue our cross-racial Justice Matters campaign for a more just local and regional justice system; as we review our progress on equitable community mental health services; and, in general, as we envision how WeROC’s unique grassroots organizing approach can blend with a growing number of local and regional allies to make the most of the historic opportunities facing working families and communities in the coming months.
  • We’ll be live-streaming (Facebook Live) and recording our conversation.  Several other groups in the region will be doing this also in the coming weeks, and we’ll all have access to each other’s learnings and creative ideas.

Also, check out the related event below…

Questions?  –Tad Wysor, WeROC Organizer and MOSES Liaison (734-883-3225) 

Check out our new, improved Website!  werocmi.org …And follow and like us at Facebook.com/werocmi.

Special bonus!  Right after the WeROC meeting, whether you’re a affiliated with a faith community or not, please consider jumping onto this event from our allied organizations ICPJ and Faith Leaders Forum, inviting us to learn more about the sobering new CREW Report, which will be an important resource in our continued Race Matters criminal justice system campaign in Washtenaw County: 

Next Thursday, Dec. 3rd, at 7:00p.m.  The Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice and the Faith Leader’s Forum are hosting an online Town Hall on the CREW report “Race to Justice.”

  • The Citizens for Racial Equity Washtenaw (CREW) is a group, co-chaired by Alma Wheeler Smith and  Linda Rexer, that investigated whether there are racial disparities in sentences by judges in Washtenaw County.  This one hundred page report found that Washtenaw County appears to have the same kinds of disparities in sentencing that we find nationally.
  • We hope you will join us as we discuss the report and how our faith communities might best work to bring an end to this kind of discrimination. We would also appreciate your  sharing this invitation with others that you think might be interested in joining us..

Please register for the forum at this link https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMucuCtrj4vH9PFXaSnoJnMpKsgDAyk6u4a.

November 2020 WeROC Meeting of the Whole

WeROC Community: Thurs Nov 5 meeting at 5:30? Really??

Another virtual meeting??  After the election??  Well, yes, but please don’t overthink it, just go ahead and register at this link for our November meeting (5:30pm Nov 5)!  You’ll be glad you did. Yes, it’s 2 days after Election Day.  Yes, we’ll all be exhausted, and probably dealing with a million emotions.  But the WeROC Leadership Team decided that we should have our First Thursday meeting anyway…especially because if shenanigans are happening with the election, the enemies of community and democracy will be counting on our exhaustion to let them do their worst.

Soooo….even if not for a whole hour, let’s get as many of us together as we can next Thursday.  We’ll be able to see some faces we’re missing, do a little celebrating of some victories, and share what we know about what’s happening with the vote counting by that time.  And if needed, we can be prepared to bring WeROC along to join with others potentially taking massive action together as necessary — some good trouble — to make sure every single vote is counted.

  • Hard as it is to see past Tuesday, we’ll also take just a few minutes to begin looking forward.  WeROC leaders believe that we HAVE to make sure we keep the hard-won momentum we built throughout this history-making year — so we can immediately start next year winning real, fundamental change, toward a Washtenaw County justice system where all the parts are transparent, competent, and fair to every single resident — including building a major 3-hour Teach-In on organizing around real criminal justice reform in January.

Let’s keep leaning on each other as we create a massive turnout for the election — and then keep on leaning in and out of collective work as our personal lives require, to keep the overall movement-building going and growing.

–Tad Wysor, WeROC Organizer and MOSES Liaison (734-883-3225)

More on our new, improved Website at werocmi.org and at Facebook.com/werocmi

October 2020 Meeting with Prosecutor-Elect Eli Savit – Justice Matters Campaign

WeROC members and supporters —

Our Justice Matters campaign in Washtenaw County takes the next step we promised, after getting public commitments from County Prosecutor candidates at our July Townhall.  This Sunday, October 11, 3:30-4:30pm, we’ve arranged for County Prosecutor-elect Eli Savit to spend some serious (virtual) time with WeROC members and friends to go deeper into how he plans to be a part of making real, major changes happen toward racially just policing, prosecution, and judging actually be implemented, and quickly, as he takes office next year.  Register here to listen and learn with us.

  • We know that most of you and our allies agree that yes, this election is a key part of how we need to work together at this historic moment to build broad,healthy bottom-up power.  But we also think you’ll agree that we can’t keep making the mistake of failing to keep looking beyond the election, too —toward how whoever is elected begins to immediately use their offices to respond to the loud calls this summer for real racial and economic justice and community involvement.
  • And getting smarter together is key to that — creating opportunities for more and more of us to understand more about a complex and unaccountable criminal justice system that too many of us have thought too little about — but that we are now, together, committing to change with and for those who have been left out.

Hope to have you with us as we hear from Prosecutor-elect Savit…and then stay with us in the coming weeks and months as we all prepare to use what we hear Sunday to clarify and focus how we hit the ground running as he and others take office early next year.

–Tad Wysor, WeROC Organizer and MOSES Liaison (734-883-3225) for the WeROC/MOSES Justice Matters Campaign Organizing Team

October 2020 WeROC Meeting of the Whole

Dear WeROC Members, Friends, Supporters…

WeROC October Meeting of the Whole — THIS Thursday October 1, 5:30-6:30 pm: REGISTER here: After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

We all know we need to be stronger and more organized than ever going into this electionas well as immediately AFTER the election when whoever is elected needs to get busy working with and for our community to make big changes we and our neighbors have needed for years. 

  • WeROC leaders are looking forward to a solid turnout Thursday as WeROC prepares the next steps in our grassroots Justice Matters Prosecutor Accountability campaign AND as we get an update on our uniquely-focused voter outreach.

One more thing:  As our members and supporters know, a stronger and more bottom-up democracy is really what WeROC has always been about, right?  So isn’t it almost unbelievable how some powerful people, at all levels, are feeling so threatened by everyday people getting organized?  And so threatened by people here and across the country just getting together — and caring about each other and acting like grown-ups in a time of grave dangers — that they’ll try every trick in the book to see if they can strangle and destroy our hard-won democracy? 

  • It’s horrible, but you know what?  Doesn’t it just make it crystal clear that we and people like us must be doing something RIGHT together?  Let’s keep doing our part Thursday to build a big, broad, united, and winning movement for real change!

–Tad Wysor, WeROC Organizer and MOSES Liaison (734-883-3225) 

Check out our new, improved Website!  werocmi.org

And follow and like us atFacebook.com/werocmi

September 2020 WeROC Meeting of the Whole

Dear WeROC Members, Friends, Supporters…

WeROC September Meeting of the Whole — THIS Thursday September 10, 5:30-7:00 pm (delayed from first Thursday this month): REGISTER at this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwuc-CvqzkvHdevaoCUPjNzjRwYhvcrxL_W

  • After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Lots going on, for sure!  As most of you know, the special “lane” that WeROC and our allies try to stay in — especially in frightening yet exciting times like these — is to build the grassroots power to win much-needed changes, while, at the same time doing deep, cross-racial, cross-zip-code organizing for the long term.

  • That is, to creatively blend our congregations, unions, and community groups powerfully together to win major, systemic changes — WHILE bringing many more everyday people into leading the conversations and actions that will set our collective course for the future.  We believe these two purposes are always closely entwined.

So by joining in Thursday’s virtual meeting, you (and maybe others from your organization?) can be a part of creating WeROC’s next steps:

  • Building on the July 30 Townhall and last week’s Teach-In, and moving forward on the regional Justice Matters Campaign for prosecutorial accountability that WeROC and MOSES are continuing, including preparing for the meeting later this month that Prosecutor-elect for Washtenaw County, Eli Savit, agreed to have with us at our Townhall.
  • Joining with other organizations to make sure we do the large-scale and serious people-to-people outreach to voters, especially less-regular voters and those in communities of color — and end up with historic numbers of committed, smart voters this year.

ONE MORE THING:  As someone who learned a few guitar chords during the 60’s and 70’s, I’ve always been excited about how important music and culture are in times of rapid social change, to keep us motivated and our eyes on the prize.  So when I heard an interview this weekend on NPR with this singer AND criminal justice reform activist Danielle Ponder from Rochester, NY (yes, where she’s now organizing to deal with the death of Daniel Prude in police custody), I thought some of you might like to hear this powerful song of hers — take a listen to the song and interview if you can, and see if she doesn’t help bolster your resolve to keep up the good fight!

It’s hard and it’s tiring…but let’s keep physically distancing, AND socially connecting! 

–Tad Wysor, WeROC Organizer and MOSES Liaison (734-883-3225) 

Check out our new, improved Website!  werocmi.org

And follow and like us at Facebook.com/werocmi

August 2020 WeROC/MOSES Teach-In – for Justice Matters Prosecutorial Accountability campaign

It’s worth a moment of celebration, in a time when there’s not much to celebrate.  Over 200 folks from 4 counties helped plan and hold, and participated in, our successful MOSES/WeROC Justice Matters Virtual Townhall in late July.  Because of our unity, our numbers, our research, and our direct questions, we got solid public commitments from those candidates for District Attorney and County Prosecutor who went on to win their Primary elections in August in Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland, and Macomb Counties.  NOW we need to plan smart, powerful (virtual) meetings with each of them in September, with lots of participants in each!

Please help keep the momentum going by attending a special “Teach-In” next Tuesday, 6:00-730, where we’ll learn more about how we’ve done powerful meetings like this in the past, and plan our next steps together — both as a region AND in each of our four counties.  Register in advance at this link:  https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYvdumrqjooHdJJn40psTyKPM6mylNYT6jJ

In addition to agreeing to support the planks of our Prosecutorial Accountability Platform, the Primary-winning candidates agreed to meet with delegations from each of their counties during September, ahead of the November 3 General Election.  Make no mistake: They said YES because of all of  YOUand that’s DEFINITELY worth celebrating, yes?  But with another grim reminder of what remains to be done in wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, it’s our job now to seriously follow up on those commitments and make them real.  To make sure that whoever wins in November in each county really steps up to the new community expectations that the Black Lives Matter movement and allied activists have set for all of us — for what a healthy, effective, and humane public safety and criminal justice system can — and must — immediately begin to look like.

It’s our unity and strength in numbers across the region that will translate the calls for long-overdue changes into real policies and a better life for so many of our neighbors.  Join us Tuesday as we keep working together to find the best roles for our grassroots organizing projects at this time and place — and then act on them.

DeJuan Bland, Ross Harris, and Tad Wysor for the MOSES/WeROC Justice Matters Campaign

August 2020 “Justice Matters” Reflection & Celebration / WeROC Meeting of the Whole

Hello, WeROC Members, Friends, Supporters…

The team of 30+ members and allies who put together our big WeROC/MOSES virtual “Justice Matters” event last Thursday feels that, despite some minor bumps in the road, it was a big success — hope you do, too!  After this Tuesday’s primary, we want to hit the ground running to build on what we made happen, and you can be a part of that, too:  Our next meeting (combined with our August WeROC meeting of the Whole) will be a region-wide Celebration (don’t we need some of that!) and some Reflection on what to do now, locally and regionally, with this powerful cross-racial momentum we’ve built.  This Thursday, August 6, 6-7pm –Register Here:

Also, before you leave this email, please scroll down to briefly learn about two more ways that our strength in numbers is needed right now–

  • A call from our founding institution and partner EMUFT for community support in their contract negotiations.  
  • A County Commission meeting considering a public health/senior services millage for the November ballot.

More on those items below.  But first, a bit more about the Townhall, which you can view if you missed it (or go back for seconds!) at this link.

  • So, 390 of us participated from 4 counties (that’s 400 in organizer-speak!) by Zoom and Facebook Live, and we all showed once again that numbers of organized people who care really shows our power and gets serious results.  At the Townhall, and in the weeks of organizing leading up to it, we met all our goals and then some —
    • spreading understanding of the critical office of County Prosecutor/District Attorney,
    • getting commitments from candidates that we’ll be able to hold them accountable to if they win Primary, including a promise to meet with us county-level events in September, AND
    • helping build the broader movement for serious criminal justice system changes, the broad, united movement that we’ll need to turn the urgent calls from the streets into solid, systemic changes.

We can’t thank those of you enough who found time in your busy lives to help our collective experiment in democracy to happen!

August 4 (Tuesday!) Primary election.  PLEASE make sure you and those around you VOTE.  And if you’re not already helping get out the vote, an easy way to do that from home Monday is to join in our WeROC/MOSES mass phone bank effort, for as much time as you can manage.  Just email Jeremy at jeremywaechter@gmail.com to quickly get plugged in for a last push for calls from home…and THANKS for being a part of this rewarding and effective people-to-people outreach.

And two more easy things you can do right now that can make a big difference:

  • EMUFT (EMU Federation of Teachers), representing lecturers at EMU, was one of the institutions that created WeROC years ago, and has been a faithful partner over the years. Now THEY need OUR help:  After months of what seemed like constructive negotiations for their next contract, EMU’s Administration threw a wrench in the process with an unexpected demand to remove the remaining opportunity for part-time lecturers to move toward full-time positions.  
    • EMUFT has decided that they just can’t accept that, and is asking for allies in the community to show that we’re watching and that we care, and we expect better of a key institution in our community as the bargaining now gets tougher.  Two things they’re asking as many of us as possible to do:
      1. Take a selfie of yourself with a sign that says “#IamEMUFT” and send it to Matt: cooper492@yahoo.com or text it to 734-536-8891 (See mine below!) so they can show tangible community support, AND
      2. Join an in person rally by the Ypsilanti Water Tower on Thursday August 13, 11 am – 12:30 pm, weather permitting and with social distancing and masks.  Example signs to bring: “I support the Part-time lecturers” or “Job Security for EMUFT!”
        • Also, if you prefer, drive around in a circular route around the Water Tower protest area, with supportive horn beeping!
  • ONE MORE THING: Tune into the Washtenaw County Commission meeting this Wednesday, August 8, at 6:30pm:
    • The Board plans to vote at their August 5th Board of Commissioners meeting on a resolution that would add a Public Health and Senior Services millage to the November ballot. If the resolution passes, it will add ballot language asking voters to approve a new levy of .5 mills for six years.  Much needed services at a time of COVID-related financial crisis, but there are also concerns about the extra tax burden, especially on residents of Eastern Washtenaw and other lower-income residents.
      • More about this issue, and the link to join the County Commission meeting, here.  

Questions?  Contact Tad Wysor, WeROC Organizer and MOSES Liaison (734-883-3225) 

Check out and share our new, improved Website:  werocmi.org —  including the section on “COVID-19 Resources.”

And follow and like us at Facebook.com/werocmi.