Walmart Retaliates!

Community stands with fired worker

Ismael Nunez and Jennifer Sanchez

Ismael Nunez and Jennifer Sanchez address a press conference outside Walmart Supercenter in Meford.


While Walmart claims publicly that they respect the rights of workers to speak out, according to complaints, managers at stores in southern Oregon and across the country are doing just the opposite – firing or disciplining employees who participated in legal protests.

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Missing Oregon teenager Hannah Thomas Garner: finding few facts among fear

Ashland is a vibrant community in southern Oregon just about fourteen miles north of the California border along the 1-5 corridor. It’s a little city of about 21,000 people that lies nestled in a valley surrounded by hills and mountains in an area that seems to draw a fair number of dreamers, artists, poets and writers. Much of Ashland’s charm is that it’s a place where imaginations are encouraged to wander– the world renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival is located here, as well as Southern Oregon University.  Tourists fill the sidewalks underneath the bright red flags which line Main Street and for many locals, life in Ashland is zesty, colorful and fun.

It’s a close knit community where neighbors get to know one another and there’s a sense of safety even though terrible things do happen from time to time– some of which go unsolved, like the murder of Dave Lewis whose burnt body was discovered on Memorial Day weekend in 2008. Three years later, twenty-three year old David Grubbs was walking home along a well used bike path and was brutally murdered. Both families await an elusive visitor called justice, which seems to be an infrequent guest in this tourist driven town.

Somehow, even still it’s a magical place to live, work and raise a family.

Just as if it played out on stage, at first the people in this story didn’t feel any sense of alarm in late November 2014. On Thanksgiving Day, Jeff Garner of Kilgore, Texas talked to his 17 year old daughter, Hannah Thomas-Garner by phone. She’d just celebrated her birthday the month before and the teenager spoke of her plans to continue to hunt for a part-time job. An Ashland high school junior and an honors student, Hannah did not have a history of getting into trouble.



Two days later, she disappeared.

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Community seeks answers for missing Ashland teen

Nearly a month after Hannah Thomas-Garner disappeared at a rave party on the outskirts of Ashland, Oregon, community members gathered to ask the police to step up their investigation.

December 29 Press Conference

Community members, Ashland Police Deputy Chief Tighe O’Meara and media gather to share the latest details of the disappearance of Hannah Thomas-Garner.

A crowd of about 35 people assembled in front of the Ashland Police Station on December 28 and were met by Deputy Chief Tighe O’Meara who answered questions for most of an hour.

Volunteers from the BringHannahHome Facebook page called for the meeting after changes in weather affected their plans to search the area where Thomas-Garner was last seen on November 30.  They asked the Ashland police department to launch a criminal investigation of the teenagers disappearance after stating that they didn’t believe that Thomas-Garner is a runaway.

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Candlelight vigil to bring Hannah home

hannahA candlelight vigil will be held on Wednesday December 17th at 7:00 PM in the middle of the Ashland Plaza in downtown Ashland. The community is invited to come together and shine some light for 17 year old Hannah Thomas-Garner who has been missing since November 29. Candles will be provided.

On the evening of November 29th, seventeen year old Hannah Thomas-Garner left home, stopped at a high school party that was being held near mile marker 13 on Dead Indian Memorial Road in Ashland, Oregon and went missing. Her damaged vehicle was found on December 1st in Mt. Shasta City, California.

The Ashland Police Department reported that Thomas-Garner planned to run away with two other girls. A credible witness reported to Law Enforcement that he picked up Hannah on Interstate 5 South at 10AM on 12/01/14 in the Mt. Shasta Area and gave Hannah a ride to a nearby coffee shop in Dunsmuir California.  Hannah was reported to be healthy, in good spirits and traveling south to the Fresno area or somewhere warm.  A second witness reported seeing a girl matching Hannah’s description hitchhiking on Interstate 5 South at 11AM in the Dunsmuir area.

There have been several possible sightings of Hannah in communities throughout Northern California (Dunsmuir, Mt. Shasta City and Red Bluff), but nothing since early December.

Hannah is 5-feet 6” tall, weighs 137 pounds and has blonde hair and blue eyes.

There is a Facebook page BringHannahHome and on Twitter #BringHannahHome #HannahThomasGarner.

Press inquiries can be directed to:
Vanessa Houk (541) 622-9483. Or email sunriver@gmail.com

Southern Oregon Walmart workers strike for raises, rights and protection from retaliation

walmart-protests.jpeg9-1280x960Walmart Associates (workers) seeking higher wages will strike at their stores nationwide on   Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year in the U.S. Several Walmart workers in Southern Oregon will walk off their jobs to join the nationwide protests during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Associates want fair pay, respect and the end of retaliation that can happen whenever they speak out or act together. Discipline and firings must stop according to Federal Labor Law or the workers will have serious grounds for workplace complaints.

Associates are calling on Walmart to increase wages and to give them access to full-time hours. Walmart reports $16 billion in annual profits, while at the same time many of its workers are relying on public programs, including food stamps and health care assistance programs to help support their families.   Walmart’s poverty employment drains our economy.

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5th annual Ashland Zombie Walk brings the undead to downtown Ashland, benefits Ashland Emergency Food Bank (AEFB)

tumblr_lsqd7vpIAo1qmxh4mo4_1280Not just the antagonists in horror movies, zombies have risen to capture pop culture appeal and have lurched their way into the minds and imaginations of people of all ages. Going on it’s fifth year here in southern Oregon, the Ashland Zombie Walk is a celebration of the undead and it has evolved into an effort to draw attention to the issue of food insecurity.

As the sidewalks near the Ashland Public Library begin to fill with costumed participants and the sights and sounds of the downtown merge together to create spooky performance art for First Friday in October, zombies will move towards the Ashland Plaza. “Do not be alarmed, for they mean no harm to tourists and locals alike, as they search for brains throughout the downtown,” says Jason Houk, event organizer.

The Ashland Zombie Walk is an annual event to celebrate the zombie genre, for folks to dress in their favorite undead apparel and celebrate the First Friday in October in a spooky fashion.

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Lesson and legacy of Ferguson

Militarization of police threatens community peace

In Ferguson Missouri, a black youth is shot dead by police.  It is a tragic scene that plays out across America in big cities and small towns.  But when Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old was killed by a police officer in a St Louis suburb, it touched off a week of protests and violence and brought national attention to long-simmering racial tensions in a city of predominantly black residents.
Protests began almost immediately as the story went viral on social media with images of Brown’s body left at the scene for several hours after the shooting.

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Staying active this summer

Summer has always been a slow season for social justice organizing. Students are out of school.  The political campaigns are over and the November races have not yet begun. Organizers are tired and folks are more interested in scheduling vacations than organizing direct actions.

But the work for social justice doesn’t take a vacation. This summer proves to be hot one with many interesting issues and causes to engage in.  Whether you are interested in staying informed about your favorite issues, getting connected with your city government or hitting the bricks by canvassing for the November election, this article can help you get started.

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May 2014 Issue Online

Rogue Valley Community Press - May 2014

via Archive.org

Fundraiser THANK YOU!!!!

Anna Cassilly arrived at the celebration with a bunch of balloons Our March 1 fundraiser was a great success.  Over 100 neighbors joined us at the Talent Community Center for a wonderful afternoon of food, music and celebration. With your support the Rogue Valley Community Press will continue to publish for the years to come.

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