In Athens, a Candlelight Vigil held on the steps of Constitution Square, for the 17 victims of the Parkland Florida school shooting, echoed the school walkouts that occurred across the US on March 14th.
Democrats Abroad Greece (DAGR) honored the students and teachers killed on February 14th in Parkland, Florida, victims of another mass school shooting. DAGR joined the groundswell across the globe to push US legislators to better regulate the sale and licensing of guns in the USA. As 17 candles were lit, the names of those gunned down on February 14th, were recited and DAGR members and onlookers huddled around the vigil.
DAGR Chairperson Karen Lee stated: "We're turned our attention from grief to honoring the dead, demanding effective political action to achieve common-sense gun regulation in the US." She added "This is an American problem that will require action by US politicians, but we welcomed any of our friends here who wanted to show their support for our effort."
On March 24th, DAGR staged a Virtual March on their FaceBook and Twitter accounts with the hashtag #MarchForOurLives and #MarchForOurLivesGreece asking members and friends to post their selfies with signs they would carry in an actual March. A few members met at DAGR HQ, while another small gathering took place at L’Ovelha Negra in Moschato suburb, with performance by local musicians.
Although DAGR enthusiastically supported a ‘live’ March For Our Lives, organizers opted for virtual. The march had been set globally for the day before Greek Independence Day, THE MAJOR NATIONAL holiday with patriotic marches and security issues in Athens and Thessaloniki, both on March 24th and March 25th.
For the virtual march, participants posted selfies with signs demanding better gun regulation from US lawmakers. Members were also encouraged to register from abroad and request their absentee ballots for the upcoming midterms and to contact their members of congress with their views on gun control.
The luncheon meeting, held at Hermeion restaurant in Athens and online via WebEx, was quorate plus six guests. Three amendments to the DAGR Bylaws were approved by members voting at the 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM), March 4.
The more controversial amendment set in place a mechanism for dealing with ‘sexual harassment,’ including verbal bullying, among members. That is, it specifically disallows harassment based on gender among board (ExCom), volunteers and general membership and requires ExCom to deal with any complaints received. This amendment was encouraged by global DA, after passage of a similar amendment to the DA Code of Conduct. This amendment was passed with two dissenting votes.
Two other short amendments concerned dates. One tweaked the days ballots are sent in advance of an AGM/election of officers, when mail or electronic vote is used. This brings our date in line with global DA guidance. The other specified that the DAGR AGM in local election years is to be held by 31 January, starting in 2019. This is two months earlier than the previous date, March 31, which may still be observed in even-numbered years. It was proposed in order to minimize the period the bank account is ‘frozen’ at year’s end, until newly elected ‘responsible persons’ are documented to the bank. These amendments were approved unanimously.
Two guest speakers
On the program, Leonidas Gontzes, Associate Dean and instructor of History, Government & Politics, and International Relations, Empire State College, SUNY, led a lively discussion on “Who Americans Vote For Affects the Whole World!” Gontzes brought four of his students – one Greek, two other Europeans, one African – who expressed their positive impression of our transparency and member engagement.
An unexpected bonus was a visit by Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas P. Raptakis, on his way back from the Delphi Economic Forum. After brief remarks on state politics and Dem prospects November, he fielded questions and comments. Raptakis sits on the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee and is vice chair of the Rhode Island Senate Committee on Special Legislation & Veterans' Affairs.
Notes for next year
Overall, this was a warm, lively – and tasty – Sunday luncheon. Is Sunday preferable to a weeknight? Feedback is needed. Our WebEx connection was slightly better than last year’s, but still had audio problems. These arise from connecting our limited equipment into (random) venues’ systems, distance to WIFI hubs, as well as possible interference from nearby WIFI. Dedicated equipment may be a solution. The goal is to make the AGM available and convenient, so as many members as possible can participate!
For the fourth year in a row, Democrats Abroad Greece, will be supporting the LGBTQ community at Athens Pride 2018, which will take place on June 9, 2018, in Athens' Syntagma Square.
DAGR will sponsor an information and GOTV (Voter Registration for US citizens abroad) booth, from 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. on that day. DAGR members will also march behind the DAGR banner in the Pride parade in the evening. DAGR members are encouraged to volunteer to staff the booth in 2-3-hour shifts throughout the day (11-2; 2-5; 5-8), and to join us in the parade. About 15 DAGR members joined us for last year's parade. We'd like to double that number this year.
Interested in volunteering?
Contact: Steve Medeiros -
DAGR Vice Chair
DA LGBTQ Caucus member
via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
SMS at 694 811 9121.
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