How to Get to the 2014 Midwest Regional Conference

Amnesty International Midwest RegionalThis year’s Amnesty International Midwest Regional Conference, if you haven’t yet heard, is in St. Louis at the Sheraton St. Louis City Center. If you’re not from St. Louis, or familiar with the Gateway to the West, then that information just sounds nice. The upcoming event, although awesome, also sounds too far away or too expensive for many in the Midwest to attend.

However, that’s an assumption that simply isn’t true for this year’s regional conference. Fortunately, for Amnesty members and human rights activists, the venue for this year’s conference is RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from a major mass transit center. So, getting to this year’s conference is easier than ever before, no matter the transportation option. Here’s how to get to the 2014 Midwest Regional Conference:

By Plane

Flying is the most expensive way to get to St. Louis, even if your flight is just an hour or two. But, if you choose to get to St. Louis by airplane, then getting to the Sheraton St. Louis City Center from the airport is very easy.

  1. From the airport terminal, follow the signs directing you to the nearest Metrolink station. Lambert International Airport has two terminals, but each terminal has its own station.
  2. Purchase a two-hour ticket to ride the Metrolink. A two-hour ticket costs from the airport costs $4.00 (it will cost half as much when you need to go back to the airport). The ticket machines do accept debit and credit cards, but they also only give you change in $1 coins.
  3. Make sure you validate your ticket at the red validation stands BEFORE getting on the train. The stands are either located next to the ticket machine or at the entrance to the station platform. Security guards do walk through the stations to check your tickets and aren’t very lenient to tourists. Those who ride with unvalidated tickets are fined, so don’t take your chances.
  4. The trip from the airport to the CIVIC CENTER metro station is about 45 minutes, so enjoy the ride until you come to the CIVIC CENTER station (pictured below). The station is right across the street from the Sheraton (you can’t miss it), so simply exit the train at this stop and walk across the street.
  5. Enjoy the Midwest Regional Conference!

Civic Center Regional Conference

By Amtrak

The Amtrak may only be convenient for a few people since St. Louis is directly serviced by three Amtrak routes: two from Chicago and one from Kansas City, Mo. Although Amtrak is one of the more affordable transportation options, many will have to take the train to Chicago or Kansas City first before getting on a direct route to St. Louis.

  1. Find a way to get to Chicago or Kansas City, whichever is closest to you.
  2. Take the right Amtrak route, which would be the Illinois Service (Chicago), Missouri River Runner (Kansas City), or the Texas Eagle (Chicago).
  3. Exit at the St. Louis Gateway Station, also known as Amtrak Station STL, which is pictured below.
  4. Make your way past the Metrolink station to reach 14th street. Cross 14th street to reach the Sheraton, which is pictured above.
  5. Enjoy the Midwest Regional Conference!

Civic Center Metro Station


By Greyhound

The Greyhound buses may have a bad reputation, but the bus is one of the more affordable and convenient ways to travel to the conference this year. The Greyhound station, just like the Amtrak and the Metrolink station, is right across the street from the conference hotel.

  1. Schedule your trip with Greyhound. Our research found that only four cities in the Midwest have direct, express routes to St. Louis: Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Champaign, Ill.
  2. You may have to leave Thursday or early Friday to make it to the conference on time. Those coming from Kansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan will have to leave on Thursday or miss Friday’s activities.
  3. Those coming from Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and other parts of Missouri can leave early Friday morning and still make it on time.
  4. Those in Minnesota and Wisconsin can either choose the express route from Minneapolis or Milwaukee or can choose to leave Thursday if you are coming from another part of the state.
  5. Enjoy the train ride.
  6. Make your way past the Metrolink station to reach 14th street. Cross 14th street to reach the Sheraton, which is pictured above. The bus station and the train station are in the same building, although the loading areas are in two different spots.
  7. Enjoy the Midwest Regional Conference

Hope this Helps

Many Amnesty members may decide against attending this year’s regional conference because the St. Louis location is too prohibitive. Hopefully, our explanation of the various transportation options makes attendance less of a hassle since it’s easy to get to the Sheraton via Amtrak, Greyhound or airplane. None of these options requires city knowledge to navigate the streets. Mass transit will take you to the conference in one trip.

Metro station photo courtesy of NextStop STL.

Amtrak station photo courtesy of Count on Downtown.

Save the Date: The 2014 Midwest Regional Conference

Amnesty International Midwest RegionalMark your calendars to bring human rights home! The 2014 Amnesty International Midwest Regional Conference is in St. Louis this year! The three-day conference is scheduled for October 24-26 as the Sheraton St. Louis City Center in downtown St. Louis, right across the street from the Civic Center Metrolink station on 14th Street.

Pencil in the Dates Today

The registration page for the conference isn’t available yet, but if you are sure that you want to attend the conference, then make sure to book your rooms at the hotel now! Hotel rates for the conference are $85 per night, but the rate only lasts until Sept. 20 and are subject to availability. Besides the discounted room rate, conference attendees will also receive free Internet access in the room and discounted parking at the rate of $10 per day.

If you’re perhaps interested in volunteering, then we will be announcing when the volunteer sign-up page is live on the Facebook event page as well.

If you want to know when the registration page goes live, which should be before the end of the month, then please pledge your commitment to attend on our Facebook event page. This page will feature any and all updates regarding the conference, including when the registration page goes live and when we finalize speakers and sessions for the conference.

What to Expect from This Year’s Conference

Speaking of the sessions and workshops, the final agenda for the conference is still being determined. However, we already know of a few topics that will be covered, whether through a panel discussion, a workshop, a main speaker, or through a community action that will take place over the weekend. Those topics include:

  • Gun Violence
  • The Death Penalty
  • Write for Rights and prisoners of conscience around the world
  • Identity and Discrimination with women and/or the LGBT community
  • Security and Human Rights, such as Guantanamo Bay, Torture, Drones or Surveillance (it’s possible more than one of these topics will be featured)
  • Immigrants’ Rights, Criminal Justice, Environmental Justice or Worker’s Rights (it’s possible more than one of these topics will be featured)

Our Chapter is Participating!

Not only is the Amnesty International St. Louis chapter attending the conference, but many members of our chapter are also on the Planning Committee for the conference. This means the success of the conference rests with the local chapter, and we are proud of that responsibility. Our goal is to make this conference the best Midwest Regional Conference yet, and the best regional conference this year of all the regions. We believe we can achieve this goal, but reaching our goal won’t be possible unless you attend!

Please mark your calendars today for the last weekend in tomorrow! Please help us bring human rights home!

Upcoming Execution in MO, Vigils to Be Held to Spread Awareness

death penalty abolitionMissourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (MADP) will hold vigils on Tuesday, November 19 to protest the execution of Joseph Franklin, scheduled for Wednesday, November 20.”While there’s no issue of innocence, Franklin retains as a human being a fundamental right to life,” according to MADP chair Rita Linhardt. He has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic with delusions. He left a number of victims in the course of several years of murders; MADP offers condolences to the families and friends of all those victims.

Also, MADP asserts, the growing secrecy behind executions is ominous: state law forbids making known the identity of the physician, the anesthesiologist who supervises the execution, although the American Society of Anesthesiologists has spoken out strongly discouraging anesthesiologists from taking part in executions. Also, the new drug protocol for the lethal injection calls for pentobarbitol acquired from a compounding pharmacy, a type of pharmacy under much less regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and thus cause for worry, but the state refuses to make public the identity of the pharmacy.

Vigils Scheduled Around the State

Springfield: Tuesday, Park Central Square, 11.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information call Donna, 417-459-2960. Cancelled if a stay is issued by 11/17.

St. Louis: Tuesday, St. Francis Xavier Church at the corner of Grand and Lindell, prayer service from 7:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Vigil on church steps from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Then, we will travel to Bonne Terre to vigil outside the prison from 11 p.m. onwards. For information call Margaret, 314-322-5159.

St. Joseph: Tuesday, The Civic Center Park at the Statue of Liberty at 5 p.m.

Kansas City: Tuesday, JC Nichols Fountain in the Plaza, 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. For information call Cathleen, 816-206-8692

Columbia: Tuesday, Boone County Courthouse in front of the columns, corner of Walnut and 8th, 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. For more information contact 573-449-4585.

Jefferson City: Tuesday, across from the Supreme Court Building at 207 West High Street, 11 p.m. to midnight. For more information contact 573-449-4585. (Cancelled: 10:30 prayer service at St. Peter’s due to renovation.)

Bonne Terre: Tuesday November 19 – Wed. No. 20, candlelight vigil outside the Bonne Terre Prison, 2727 Hwy K, 11:00 p.m. until the end of execution. Contact Margaret Phillips at 314-322-5159.

August Business Meeting Recap

business meeting recapLast night’s meeting was very productive, as we made progress with our upcoming events. If you happened to miss the event, then here’s what you need know about what’s happening with the chapter and the decisions we made:

Reggie Clemons Actions

As of writing this post, we do not have any additional actions regarding the Reggie Clemons decision. Although that may change in the next few days (depending on what the national organization or what our coalition partners want to do), it seems that we have another waiting game on our hands, where we now need to wait for the Missouri Supreme Court to hear the case. If we are notified of any actions that need to be taken, then we will certainly update you and advise you on how to take action.

Upcoming Fundraiser

Unfortunately, we aren’t going to have a fundraiser any time within the next few months. Not only were we unable to set a date for the event, but there were many more rules and regulations regarding our ability to raise funds as a chapter than we have anticipated. It’s not something that we want to take on at this time.

However, we aren’t without an event. We are partnering with Peace Economy Project and other organizations to host a showing of the Dirty Wars documentary. If we can make this event happen, the it’s very possible that someone from the movie might attend to speak and to answer questions. Since we have help and movement on this event, we are going to work toward this event instead and continue our work on drones and security and human rights.

Dirty Wars Reminder

We have scheduled the discussion of our latest book club reading for our October business meeting on Oct. 8. This book is over 500 pages, so don’t wait to get started. Although it’s okay if you’ve only read 100 or 200 pages, you certainly can’t contribute to the discussion if you haven’t taken the time to read it at all. Make sure to pick up a copy as soon as possible! Reading this book will also augment what’s featured in the documentary, so don’t treat this book club reading like high school, where watching the movie is an equivalent to reading the book. It’s not equivalent, so don’t think that showing up to the documentary will be the same thing as reading the book.

Big August Planning Meeting Tomorrow

amnesty business meetingIf there is an Amnesty business meeting to attend, then tomorrow is it. With school starting soon and the big holiday months on their way, this meeting is the one where the major decisions will be made. There are many events to coordinate for the rest of 2013, so if you want to be a part of the planning, or even part of the final event, then it’s best to be at Hartford Coffee Company at 7 p.m. Here’s what’s in store:

Midwest Regional Conference

We learned this week that our annual Midwest Regional Conference will be at the University of Cincinnati Law School between Nov. 8 – 10. During our meeting, we will get a head count of who wants to attend. We will also spend time sorting out our transportation options. If this is something that you want to be a part of, then please come so we know that you’re interested.

Reggie Clemons

As you may have heard, Judge Michael Manners finally made a decision on the Reggie Clemons case. This means that our fight will continue to ensure Clemons receives a new trial and that the death penalty is not used in this case (or in any case in Missouri). At tomorrow’s meeting, we will discuss the news and the avenues that we have for action and for building awareness on this issue.

Fall Fundraising Event

If you’ve attended previous meetings, then you probably know that we are in the middle of planning a fall fundraising event. Since we’d like this event to happen in late October or early November, then we will make some major decisions regarding this event tomorrow, such as the date, venue, and the exact type of event. Please attend if you want to do more than just talk about human rights or write letters, as this event will involve doing something we don’t normally do but also has a huge impact on human rights and on countless lives.

Meeting Details

Who: Amnesty International members and human rights advocates

What: A meeting to discuss upcoming events and current affairs.

When: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Hartford Coffee Company on the corner of Roger and Hartford. We meet in the very back past the patio.

Why: Because there’s much to talk about and much to be done!

Free China Screening Next Tuesday

Free China screeningAmnesty International isn’t the only group out there working on human rights, or on issues related to human rights. Although we don’t have many big plans coming up in the next few months, others are putting on some great events. One of those awesome events is happening next Tuesday, and it’s a movie screening! Please attend if you can.

Free China: The Courage to Believe

A special screening on June 25, 7 p.m., at Plaza Frontenac Cinema will feature an awarding-winning documentary “Free China: The Courage to Believe“.

With more than one hundred thousand protests occurring each year inside China, unrest among Chinese people is building with the breaking of each political scandal. As China’s prisoners of conscience are subjected to forced labor and even organ harvesting, this timely documentary exposes profound issues such as genocide and unfair trade practices with the West. The film also highlights how new Internet technologies are helping bring freedom to more than 1.3 billion people living in China and other repressive regimes throughout the world.

This film is co-produced by awarding-winning director Michael Perlman and NTDTV. It highlights human rights abuses from organ harvesting prisoners of conscience to the making of Homer Simpson slippers inside slave labor camps and how internet technologies is bringing greater freedoms to 1.3 billion people inside China.

In the past year, this film has been screened in more than 400 private venues across the world, including Amnesty International chapters at Yale University, University of California, Berkeley, etc. Recently, it has also garnered support from Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and blind dissident Chen Guangcheng who co-authored an open letter entitled “One Year for Human Rights in China”.  This open letter was published on the front page of Huffington Post on June 4th.

If you can attend, please do so!