Org Pushing for Syrian Refugees In Asheville Associated With Black Lives Matter

An organization that is pushing for Syrian refugees in Asheville, North Carolina is associated with Black Lives Matter. Lady Liberty 1885 reports that the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, an affiliate of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), has been active in promoting “Moral Monday throughout the state of North Carolina, including busing in protesters to various Moral Monday events through the UUA offshoot called Standing On The Side of Love (SSL).”

Campaign Director Caitlin Breedlove states that SSL partners with Black Lives Matter and other “communities experiencing identity-based violence.”

On its website Black Lives Matter states that it “goes beyond extrajudicial killings of black people by police and vigilantes” and “affirms the lives of black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, folks with records, women, and all black lives along the gender spectrum.” It states that it serves as an entity that “centers those that have been marginalized within black liberation movements,” and it serves “to (re)build the black liberation movement.”

Ms. Breedlove states that SSL is “willing to activate and mobilize for love and justice.” This includes the Unitarian Universalists who are “using their places of worship to fortify and lead social movement efforts,” as they bring courage for the “backlash” they have been receiving.

Breedlove points out that SSL’s acts of “speaking out, pushing back, and loving ourselves out loud,” are “causing a dragon of cultural backlash in the United States against these communities.” She points out that although they have had their “sacred Black Lives Matter banners desecrated” at their churches,” SSL is calling for “collective love.” She states that SSL stands to “nurture, buffer, and protect the movements as they are under attack.”

Further, regarding the recent House Bill 2 decision, Breedlove states that North Carolina “became arguably the most anti-LGBTQ state in the country with a piece of legislation that makes it illegal for trans people to use bathrooms in public.” She calls for escalating the movement.

Breedlove seeks to expand the SSL campaign and have it become a “balm of fortification.”

A fortification for its “social justice movement,” and “for our activists and faith leaders who are tired, afraid, alone, and spiritually depleted in the face of such a Dragon.”

Ms. Breedlove’s bio states that she is the former co-director of Southerners On New Ground (SONG), whose purpose is for “building a political home across race, class, culture, gender, and sexuality.” SONG states, “We believe that Community Organizing is the best way for us to build collective power and transform the South.”

During her tenure with SONG she trained “a large cohort of new LGBTQ organizers in the South,” as well as “led countless political education processes” for the SONG constituency.

Breedlove states, “If we awaken a Dragon, we need the courage to face a Dragon.”

Image via Durham Solidarity Center

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Org Accused of Bid-Rigging, Bribery Pushes For Syrian Refugees In Asheville

Aid organization accused of bid-rigging, and bribery is pushing for Syrian refugee placement in Asheville, North Carolina according to Lady Liberty 1885. International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a humanitarian aid organization based in New York with a presence in 20 countries in Africa where it rebuilds communities, as well as ships refugees “almost exclusively to the United States.” The organization has been meeting with the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, Unitarian Universalist Congregation, and other stakeholders.

IRC is a federal contractor, paid with Americans tax dollars through grants to “place refugees in as many states as possible, including North Carolina,” which is currently ranked 9th in the nation for number of resettled Syrian refugees.

The article goes on to say that IRC’s 2014 tax filing contained a grant of over $51 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), over $40 million from the Department of Health and Human Services. Further, according to IRS filings, in 2016 IRC’s total revenue was $456,122,865. In 2014 its gross receipts grew to over $600,000,000.

IRC CEO David Miliband is a former British politician and member of the Labour Party, a center-left political party, now resides in New York. He receives a salary in in excess of $570,000.

Lady Liberty 1885 goes on to say that IRC is part of an ongoing investigation of multiple aid organizations for bribery and bid-rigging, and has had millions of pounds in funding withdrawn in the United Kingdom over the alleged misuse of funds. The organization is accused of allowing “corrupt operators in Turkey and Syria embezzle US taxpayers’ cash under the guise of helping victims of the region’s devastating civil war.”

USAID Inspector General’s office named IRC and two other charities in a report that alleges the organizations were involved in a “scam whereby aid workers swapped humanitarian supplies for inferior knock-offs, and kept the difference in price as a kick-back.” USAID has since withdrawn funds from the organization.

Citizen-Times reports, IRC Atlanta’s Executive Director JD McCrary said that the first household of refugees could come as early as next spring, with others arriving in ensuing twelve months. He went on to say that IRC “strives to provide refugees with furnished homes or apartments upon arrival,” whose goal “households to gain economic self-sufficiency within four to six months.”

The article states that IRC “provided $11.8 million in cash and asset transfers to more than 75,000 refugees and displaced households last year. In the United States, the agency helped resettle nearly 10,000 refugees in 2015.” The majority of the refugees are currently being resettled are Congolese, Bhutanese, Burmese, Afghani, and Iraqi, although there are likely to be more Syrians in the near future.

At the helm of the initiative in the Asheville area is Western North Carolina Refugee Challenge that started working with IRC several months ago. Founding member, Joanna Bliss of Brevard, said that there was ugly rhetoric and talk of closing borders, which became the impetus for her to take action. She said, “I heard that, and I thought, we have to change this conversation.”

Image via Western North Carolina Refugee Challenge