Washington, DC (PRWEB) September 10, 2013
Whistleblowers and their advocates descended on Capitol Hill last month for the Whistleblower Summit for Civil and Human Rights. ACORN 8 and Federally Employed Women/Legal Education Fund (FEW/LEF) co-hosted this year’s Whistleblower Summit, previously known as Washington Whistleblower's Week. The event opened with a Whistleblower Assembly at the Stewart R. Mott House on Capitol Hill including a symbolic “Empty Chair” welcome honoring courageous whistleblowers who could not be present due to retaliatory imprisonment, untimely death or increased prosecution under the Obama Administration.
Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) were honored with a Pillar Human Rights Award for International Persons of Conscience. And journalists were also recognized with Pillar Awards this year; Rob Kall was honored for OpEd News (New Media) and a posthumous award went to Ambrose Lane (Journalist) host of “We Ourselves” on WPFW. The Pillar is awarded to notable civil and human rights champions; previous recipients include Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Senator Charles “Chuck” Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
The group met at the National Press Club from 9:00 AM—11:00 AM on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 on “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day” for a frank discussion about whistleblowing under the age of Obama—from Julian Assange and WikiLeaks to Edward Snowden and Prism with Tom Devine, Government Accountability Project; Steve Kohn, National Whistleblower Center, Amanda Farrand, Participant Media and Michael McCray, host of “The Fifth Estate” on Pacifica Radio.
The general public, all whistleblowers and their advocates, as well as the entire civil rights community were invited to participate. The conference theme was Whistleblowing Affects Everyone. From Black Farmers and USDA employees who reported “pink slime” in our food supply, to NSA whistleblowers reporting domestic surveillance on the American people—Whistleblowers Protect People. The Pacifica Foundation continued their historic support of whistleblowers and Gloria Minott, Public Affairs Director for WPFW moderated this year’s event.
Founded over 60 years ago to support Free Speech and First Amendment Rights, the Pacifica Foundation has fought for and vigorously defended these rights all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. A staunch supporter of unfettered free speech, the Pacifica National Board voted unanimously to support legislation that would protect Whistleblowers and Free Speech in 2010.
Consequently, the Pacifica Radio Network was the first national media organization to formalize its support for Whistleblowers. Once again, as in previous years, the Pacifica Foundation actively participated and supported this years Whistleblower Summit in Washington, DC., which included the debut of the "The Fifth Estate" the only radio program about whistleblowers, produced by whistleblowers and told from the whistleblower’s point of view. The Fifth Estate continues in the tradition of free-speech activism, like “Democracy Now!” Pacifica’s iconic news program, and other award-winning radio shows.
“News and information from a perspective that is outside the mainstream, a critical perspective that puts the needs of people first, and holds on to the ideals that are, at best, paid lip service to by those with money and power.” —Andrea Sheer (WBAI)
"Whistleblower are the Fifth Estate protecting freedom and liberty," declares Michael McCray Whistleblower Summit organizer and host of The Fifth Estate.
McCray adds, “I want to thank Pacifica for continuing support of the Whistleblower Summit on Civil and Humans Rights. The Summit was held July 29-31, 2013 in Washington, DC. I am happy to report that this years Whistleblowers Summit was a huge success. Our partners are increasing, growing stronger and more diverse. Their commitment to supporting Whistleblowers and First Amendment Rights advocates is strengthening.”
Marcel Reid, Pacifica Whistleblower Liaison, added, “Gloria Minot, WPFW Public Affairs Director has continued her excellent moderating again this year and helped us achieve so much by running tight panels. We have expanded our media participants to include Participant Media a major Hollywood consortium which previewed clips from the new movie "The Fifth Estate" to Russian Television. Russian Television's Abby Martin, host of RT's "Breaking The Set," participated on one of the panels and invited a fellow panelist, Tom Devine, on her program for an in depth interview.
This three-day event featured Award Presentations, Plenary Session, Workshops and Panel Discussions, Press Conference at the National Press Club, National Whistleblower Appreciation Day Luncheon and Welcome Reception, Whistleblower Book Signing with Film Screening, and Solidarity Dinner. Below is a partial list of highlights from the Whistleblower Summit for Civil Rights.
- Whistleblower and Civil Rights activists came together from across the country: Standing room only attendance .
- Raised public awareness and placed Whistleblowing in its proper historical context i.e., an act of patriotism sanctioned by the Continental Congress.
- Met with Senator "Chuck" Grassley during the week he introduced new legislation dedicating National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.
- Congressional Black Caucus Chair, Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) Pillar Human Rights Award.
- Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) (possible presidential candidate) personally accepted our Pillar Human Rights Award.
- Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) Pillar Human Rights Award.
- Posthumous Pillar Human Rights Award presented to the family of a beloved author, journalist and award-winning radio host, Ambrose Lane
- First ever Pillar Award presented to New Media publisher and Bottom-Up advocate for pioneering work in social media, Ron Kall OpEdNews.com
- Documentary Film Crew covered the conference to submit to Sundance.
- Major Hollywood Film Studio which aired a trailer for the new Julian Assange film "The Fifth Estate" participated at National Press Club.
- Direct participation by an International Television Network, Russia Today (RTTV).
- Premier of Whistleblower Program "The Fifth Estate" on Pacifica
- Whistleblower Book Signing and Film Screening of "War on Whistleblowers" at Busboys and Poets.
- Participation by the "Free Bradley Manning Campaign".
- Announced new strategies for implementing the Whistleblower Protection and Enhancement Act (WPEA).
- Presented EEOC Obstacles to Employment rebuttal report.
- Requested OIG (Office of Inspector General) investigation of USDA and EEOC for Civil Rights violations.
- U.S. Office of Special Counsel panel participation.
- Held National Whistleblower Appreciation Day Lunch and Welcome Reception.
- Enjoyed Whistleblower Solidarity Dinner on Waterfront.
- Day of Action: Demonstration on the National Mall.
McCray concluded, “The Whistleblower Summit on Civil and Human Rights officially ended on July 31st. However, many of our attendees stayed on to contact members of Congress and Senior Members of the Obama Administration. A group of USDA Whistleblowers, Black and Native American Farmers, and Employees contacted many senior members of the of the USDA administration. We even supported a resolution to eliminate the racially offensive term "Red Skins" from usage within the federal government.” (http://www.acorn8.com.hostbaby.com/files/BIG-Resolution.pdf)