Gray Panthers of San Francisco
May, 2006 Newsletter

Mona Cadena, Amnesty International Field Organizer, Speaks at Gray Panther General Meeting

Mona Cadena at Oct 22 protest against police brutality. Indybay media photo


Amnesty International Speaker at May Meeting

According to Mona Cadena, the featured speaker at our May general meeting, Amnesty International (AI) began 45 years ago as a small group protesting the incarceration of a political activist in Great Britain. It has grown into an organization with offices in 62 countries and a membership in the millions (350,000 in the U.S.). Mona Cadena, who worked for AI for several years in Washington, recently moved here to head up its western office.

For most of its existence AI has focused on freeing prisoners of conscience. Since its inception it has obtained the release of 40,000 prisoners—a success rate of 80%. But now its broader agenda includes economic, social and cultural causes as well. The plan for this summer is to focus on two issues: the use of torture, and the plight of women in Darfur.

In SF, AI’s role is to support grassroots efforts. The first issue Cadena became involved with was the use of tasers by the police. (As a result, both the San Francisco and San Jose police forces have agreed not to use them.) AI is also involved in bringing human rights education to the schools.

Cadena is supportive of our own proposed human rights amendment to the California constitution. She cautions that the main argument used against it will be that such an amendment would spawn too many costly programs. But she adds that the very process of trying to sell our idea to other organizations and various lawmakers will broaden people’s understanding of human relations.

More on Mona Cadena and Amnesty International.

Read SF Gray Panthers proposed human rights amendment to the California Constitution.

(back to June 2006 Newsletter front page)