Paul Garner

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Paul Garner


Paul Garner is a Tennessee activist. He is now Organizing Coordinator at Memphis United, former Organizing Coordinator for Homeless Organizing for Power & Equality (HOPE) & Memphis United at Mid-South Peace and Justice Center.

Activism

Paul Garner is a native of Shreveport, Louisiana. He relocated to Memphis in 2006 to attend Memphis College of Art where he graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts. Paul got involved with the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center in January of 2011 and began working with different organizations to coordinate teach-ins and actions in solidarity with the Arab spring. In March of the same year, Paul and six others were arrested at the Tennessee State Capital in Nashville while taking a stand against bills that would diminish the rights of public employees. In 2011 Paul collaborated on a street-art project called, Face Homelessness, to help raise awareness and support for the Ten-Year to End Homelessness. He was deeply involved in the Occupy Memphis encampment, creating promotional flyers for meetings and spending his nights on site at Civic Center Plaza before going to work at a paint store each morning. There, he helped co-found the Homeless Caucus, with the goal that those without homes had an equal voice in conversations around solutions to rampant social and economic inequality, ensuring that homelessness was not just a 'backseat' issue. During this time Paul also worked with the Transportation Task Force, organizing and facilitating town hall meetings that lead to the founding of the Memphis Bus Riders Union, a group made up of transit riders and allies organizing for safe, affordable, and reliable public transportation. Eventually, the Occupy Memphis Homeless Caucus joined forces with a discussion group made up of people experiencing homelessness and this group became the core membership of H.O.P.E. (Homeless Organizing for Power & Equality). In 2012, Garner quit his job selling paint to accept a position, working full-time with H.O.P.E. through the Americorps VISTA program. The next year, Paul joined the MSPJC staff as Organizing Coordinator. [1]

Protests

A 2011 graduate of the Memphis College of Art, Paul Garner got his start with Mid-South Peace and Justice Center early that same year while organizing “From Cairo To Memphis.” Held at the school’s auditorium, the event evolved from an earlier street protest in favor of the revolutionary movement later known as the Arab Spring.

Garner designed the promotional materials for the event, which was assembled by an ad hoc group called the Memphis International Solidarity Committee. The meeting featured a variety of radical speakers, including Justin Sledge, a phd student studying “radical political philosophy” (specifically Marxism) at the University of Memphis; Neal Gammill, a Vice Presidential candidate for Socialist Party USA; and James Raines, an instructor at the University of Memphis, adviser of the Marxist Student Union and contributor to Communist Party USA’s People’s World.

A few months later Garner, wearing a hand-made communist t-shirt, joined Sledge, Gammill and MSPJC Executive Director Jacob Flowers in storming the Tennessee State Capital and totally disrupting a legislative committee meeting.

Garner, Sledge and five others were eventually subdued and arrested, and later became known throughout radical leftwing circles as the “Capitol 7.” A sympathetic judge later acquitted the seven, comparing their actions to early civil rights activists, saying, “same problem, different time.”

Later that year Flowers, other MSPJC staff, most members of the Capitol 7 and the Marxist Student Union regrouped under a new name, Occupy Memphis, with promotional materials again designed by Garner (who later recycled many of the same design elements for the Socialist Party USA organizing conference).[2]

"Nashville 7"

March 2011, U of M students Justin Sledge, philosophy graduate student, and Sally Joyner, U of M law student, were among the seven protesters released from jail on bond Tuesday night following their arrests at a Nashville protest at the state capitol.

The two students, as well as Paul Garner and Leah Shoaf, students at Memphis College of Art, Jeffrey Lichtenstein and Bennett Foster, Memphians, and Ash-Lee Henderson of Chattanooga, were charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

The incident has drawn polarized reactions from across the state, with some applauding the efforts of the protesters and others condemning their behavior, including elected officials.

Thursday, state senator Randy McNally said he was "dismayed" when he learned that some of the arrestees were members of The U of M's registered student organization Progressive Student Alliance, calling for disciplinary action from The University.

Sledge is the vice president of The U of M chapter of Progressive Student Alliance, which helped organize the rally with unions and labor groups from across Tennessee.

Lichtenstein, though not a U of M student, is also a member of the group.

PSA issued a statement Thursday night addressing its role in the protest and the seven "unjustly" arrested Tennesseans, lauding the "scores of people who stood against empty rhetoric and for real democracy" during the protest.

The group said the actions of protestors during Tuesday's Senate committee meeting, for which Tennessee state troopers forcibly removed them, were not organized or planned in advance.

Of their criticism from elected officials, PSA said:

"If Nashville politicians spent as much time listening to the demands of workers and students as they do slandering PSA in the press, our democracy would be in better shape, and we could find more productive things to be doing on a Thursday night than writing press releases."

Lichtenstein and Sledge declined to comment individually on the incident.

Matthew Meiner, state treasurer of Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature and student at Vanderbilt University, was at the hearing when the protesters began shouting down legislators and refusing to leave.

"I understand their position, and I respect the right to protest, but it was kind of disappointing to see them disrupt the system," he said. "They made their points, but there are more orderly ways to do it."[3]

Progressive Student Alliance arrests

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In 2011, six of the people arrested in a protest James Sledge, 30, Jeffrey Lichtenstein, 25, Paul Garner, 22, Bennett Foster, 25, Leah Shoaf, 19 and Sally Joyner, 26 were with the Progressive Student Alliance at The University of Memphis.

Ash-Lee Henderson, 25, is from Chattanooga and an organization called Chattanooga Organized for Action.[4]

Memphis Socialist Party

Sally Joyner, Bennett Foster, and Paul Garner, were all members of the Memphis Socialist Party.[5]

People's Conference on Equal Justice

On Saturday, October 18 2014, members of the Memphis Socialist Party USA joined Memphis United and the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center for The People's Conference on Equal Justice at Lemoyne Owen College in Memphis. The conference featured workshops and discussions on Ferguson, private prisons, and grassroots organizing.

Members of the Memphis local of Socialist Party USA presented workshops on grassroots organizing, effective canvassing, and lady justice. Ace Madjlesi, co-chair, led a discussion on incarceration of women, which led the call to end shackling laws for incarcerated mothers giving birth in Tennessee. Co-chair Bennett Foster and Paul Garner taught students and community members how to strengthen grassroots movements, while secretary Brooke Shannon gave workshop-goers the tools they will need to coordinate their own door-to-door canvasses.[6]

SPUSA

In 2014 Ace Madjlesi, Brooke Shannon, Bennett Foster, Sam Rodgers, Paul Garner and Schaeffer Mallory. were members of the Memphis Chapter of the Socialist Party USA.[7]

In 2015 Paul Garner and Ace Madjlesi from Memphis, TN were members of the Socialist Party USA.[8]

Memphis Socialist Party - Members Only Facebook group

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Memphis Socialist Party - Members Only Facebook Closed Group, as of August 10 2017;[9]

Admins

Prayer Vigil

Nour Hantouli March 27, 2016 ·

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Just stumbled across this from La Prensa Latina. Prayer Vigil for the victims of slumlords from Global Ministries Foundation here in Memphis. Vigilia y oración por justicia de vivienda en la Fundación Global de Ministros, 19 de febrero. See Translation — with Ceylon Mooney, Paul Garner, Brad Watkins and Stan Polson.

Revolutionary Strategies to Beat the Rising Right Wing

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Revolutionary Strategies to Beat the Rising Right Wing, was a nationwide conference call organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Sunday October 30, 2016.

What's the nature of this right-wing threat? What has this election cycle changed about the political terrain we're fighting on? How do we need to prepare for whats coming after the election? Hear about these crucial questions from our panel of top political strategists, including Nelini Stamp, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Linda Burnham, and Sendolo Diaminah.

Those invited, on Facebook included Paul Garner.[10]

Now What? Defying Trump and the Left's Way Forward

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Now What? Defying Trump and the Left's Way Forward was a phone in webinar organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization in the wake of the 2016 election.

Now what? We’re all asking ourselves that question in the wake of Trump’s victory. We’ve got urgent strategizing and work to do, together. Join Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson of the Movement for Black Lives and Freedom Road, Calvin Cheung-Miaw, Jodeen Olguin-Taylor of Mijente and WFP, Joe Schwartz of the Democratic Socialists of America, and Sendolo Diaminah of Freedom Road for a discussion of what happened, and what we should be doing to build mass defiance. And above all, how do we build the Left in this, which we know is the only solution to the crises we face?

This event will take place Tuesday November 15, 2016 at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central/6pm Pacific.

Those saying they would attend, on Facebook included Paul Garner.[11]

References