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Stop Locking Up Our Children: Shut Down Lincoln Hill and Copper Lake Now!Our children deserve more than what these prison facilities are serving them. Over the last two years, several lawsuits have been filed against Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prison facilities documenting severe abuse. Some of the lawsuits filed include; a young person whose toes had to be amputated after a guard smashed his toes in a door; a guard who actually assisted a young woman as she attempted to hurt herself; and allegations of suffocation, strangulation, and sexual assault. Locking up youth in these facilities is the most expensive option with the worst results, guaranteeing that every young person sent there will be put in harm’s way. It's time to leave behind the old outdated ways of criminalizing and punishing young people without holistic support. Theses youth prisons continue to perpetuate extreme racial and ethnic disparities. This is another key reason why Milwaukee County needs to undertake comprehensive juvenile justice reform. They need to address and tackle the persistent racial and ethnic inequities in Wisconsin’s juvenile justice system. Wisconsin still ranks in the top five least equitable states, with disparities that far exceed the national average. The vast majority of youth committed to Wisconsin state facilities are Black children. In 2014, young Black people made up almost 70% of youth committed to juvenile prison facilities in the state, but only about 10% of Wisconsin’s total youth population. Most of these young people are coming from Milwaukee County, where the majority of Black folks live in Wisconsin. Milwaukee County spends over $100,000 a year to send one youth from Milwaukee to Lincoln Hills or Copper Lake. Milwaukee should abandon the youth prison model and replace it with less costly and more effective non-residential, community-based alternatives to incarceration. Locking up young people in cages does not ensure public safety in any way. Over 60% of the young people who go to Lincoln Hills or Copper Lake re-offend within three years of release, largely due to the intense trauma young people experience while incarcerated. To have a safer community, it is critical that Milwaukee County stops sending youth to Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake and instead invest in a range of effective community programs that offer targeted supervision and services. Programs that include restorative justice, intensive mentoring, mental health treatment, family therapy and other interventions that are proven to lower risk and sustain long-term behavior change among adjudicated youth. WI and Milwaukee County should invest in community-based solutions that work for young people, their familiies and the communities they come from.
Tell The FBI: Preserving Black Lives is NOT Terrorism! White Nationalism Is Terrorism.http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/10/06/the-fbi-has-identified-a-new-domestic-terrorist-threat-and-its-black-identity-extremists/ In August of 2017, the FBI's Counter-Terrorism Division report entitled, “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement.”, obtained and released released by "Foreign Policy", stated: “The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.” Incidents of “alleged police abuse” have “continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE movement”. This issue proliferates as racial tensions have increased and become more mainstream during the Trump Administration. This would be an optimal time for the President to utilize his platform and leadership to condone racism while utilizing the FBI to dismantle actual domestic terrorists and their racist and detrimental practices. Instead, efforts are spent deflecting the legitimate criticism of policing and labeling citizens exercising their 1st amendment right to protest as domestic terrorists- an organized faction that now pose threat to police officers. The Black Lives Matter movement is not a domestic terrorist movement. Martin Luther King Jr. was not a communist. But if we do not hold our government and its agencies accountable, history will repeat itself. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has a history of implementing Draconian and often illegal and/or immoral practices within the black community. Similar to the use of COINTELPRO in the 1960's, the actions of black activists are criminalized and, consequently, the narrative focuses on isolated violent responses instead of the organized peaceful tact of official movements. With intrusive surveillance legislation such as CISPA and The Patriot Act, it is imperative for the black community to protect itself from political persecution by galvanizing lawmakers and applying political pressure on government agencies and officials.
Say No to Richard SpencerNeville Pinto and Mayor John Cranley, We will not tolerate racism, hatred and violence on our campus! I can’t understand for the life of me why you would allow a person such as Richard Spencer to speak at the University of Cincinnati knowing his background and the destruction and death he caused with his rallies. You all keep bringing up this whole freedom of speech B.S., but not allowing him to book a facility is not denying him freedom of speech. He shouldn’t be allowed to book a facility at the University and use it to incite violence and hate! You have majority of the students and faculty saying they do not want him there, but yet you are still allowing this. What about the voices of those who make the University of Cincinnati what it is today? If it weren’t for those students you would not have the position you call “president”. I am a concerned parent and when I attended UC’s orientation I was assured that safety was top priority when it came to students and staff. But clearly this was a lie or a tactic in order to get your student population up or flat out just about money! I am absolutely sure that freedom of speech does not include the right to incite actions that would harm others, and if your lawyers didn’t know that, then you need to get new lawyers! I would like for the University of Cincinnati to change it’s decision and not allow Richard Spencer to book a facility to speak at the University. If you allow this man to speak, then you are aiding in the harassment of your students and staff along with placing everyone there in a hostile environment. You will be destroying the integrity of the school should you allow this event to take place! Keep in mind that Richard Spencer is taking full advantage of your lack of strength and unity you have with the school and all of its occupants! This is not about the freedom of speech that everyone has, but about inciting violence and hate by threats of fake lawsuits that you are buying into! Again no one is denying freedom of speech but you do not have to facilitate any speech! We all know Richard Spencers background, why would we want to host someone who want to cause a criminal disturbance? You have to know that violence is inevitable if you’re in preparation of extra safety and security measures! Do not facilitate Richard Spencer, stand by your University and choose love! Thank you Parents, Family, Friends, and Supporters
Tell Florida to Close ALL of its Juvenile Prisons AKA "Fight Clubs"Right now, the challenges our communities face are many. Imprisonment is a big one. Corporations and their politician friends have made it their life’s work to enact policies that keep our families and communities in jails. Every time someone in our neighborhoods is locked up, someone at a corporation makes money. These corporations, like Florida-based GEO and CCA, operate in the dark, away from public view and work hard to keep it that way. Their lavish vacations and retirement funds depend on it. On top of that, most people aren’t aware of how the prison industry operates and thus feel powerless to change it. We want to change that. Dream Defenders is a small, young organization with limited resources in the face of a goliath, seasoned system of paper pushers with unlimited resources. The prison system is tearing up our families, communities, and future generations. According to Miami New Times writer Jerry Ianelli: "Investigative reporters Carol Marbin Miller and Audra D.S. Burch obtained stomach-churning video of Florida juvenile offenders fighting one another after being groomed as attack mobs by state guards. Scores of surveillance videos show groups of teenage boys sucker-punching, stomping, and beating up other kids, breaking noses, eye sockets, and a host of other bones in the process. The Herald uncovered tales of rape, molestation, children beaten to death, and a justice system that let almost every guard involved walk free without consequence. The list of nightmarish allegations in the series is too long to fully recount. The Herald noted cases where staffers set up fights and bet on them; instances where the DJJ hired guards who had formerly been caught having sex with inmates; other cases where guards showed a teen pornography and watched him ‘fondle himself’; raped a transgender inmate; had sex with a child detainee in a closet; and abused one female detainee by using her head as a ‘toilet plunger.’ One Broward County youth counselor was allegedly so brazen about having sex with teen inmates she became known as the ‘cradle robber.’ The 12 juvenile deaths the Herald noted seem due to state negligence." In 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice condemning the state of juvenile detention in the country. A report of the National Institute of Justice, research arm of the Justice Department, added: “This ill-conceived and outmoded approach is a failure, with high costs and recidivism rates and institutional conditions that are often appalling… Every youth prison in the country should be closed, and replaced with a network of community-based programs and small facilities near the youths’ communities.” We agree. The Dream Defenders goal is to end the prison system's hold on our states’ policies, profits, priorities and people. We work in classrooms, communities and prisons to educate and organize to end this incredible threat to our lives. We can’t continue to watch this happening to the people in our communities, we have to act. If we can do this; if we can begin to break this massive machine by freeing our children from it's hold, then we can begin to collapse it in our lifetime. If we do not, we risk losing many more generations.
14 Year Old George Stinney Jr. the youngest person executedI have a personal inquiry regarding the dark shadow that has hangs over the town of Alcolu; SC namely the execution of 14 year old George Julius Stinney, Jr. was exoneratied 72 years later.. In June of 1944, the bodies of the two young white girls were found 300 yards from the back door of my great-great grandfather’s church. On the night of that horrible incident, many of my family members fled Alcolu, by foot from the Klan and their lynch mob. Today, a memorial headstone sits on private property located on highway 521. I would like the State of South Carolina to rename a state highway, bridge or state park in honor of George Julius Stinney, Jr. Just as the private residents on highway 521 pay their respect daily, the world should never forget this innocent, of young George. Stinney Jr.
#WeRiseWhen National Petition For Police AccountabilityWhy you should sign: In an effort to contribute to the momentum started by Colin Kaepernick and bravely expanded upon by more and more NFL Players and to combat the recent attempt to hijack the narrative by President Trump from police brutality to patriotism, we are setting forth a call to action to the community to rally our voices by SIGNING & SHARING THIS PETITION and connecting our collective protests and frustrations to a list of demands. It is our hope that fighting to reach 200,000 signatures on this petition we can show the wide array of support from throughout the community and country to support the protesting of NFL players to, 1. Effectively leverage their unified efforts 2. Aid in obtaining these initial but necessary police reforms in NFL cities across the country 3. Create a central point of support for those who have put their livelihood on the line to raise awareness and facilitate change
Prosecute Police Who Kill Our PeopleDuring her terms in office, nearly 300 Los Angeles County residents have been killed by police, including #EzellFord, #KendrecMcDade, #JohnHorton, #NephiArreguin, #MichelleShirley, #RedelJones, #WakieshaWilson, #JRThomas, #KeithBursey, #JesseRomero, #EdwinRodriguez, #KennyWatkins, #BrendonGlenn, #BrotherAfrica, #ZelalemEwnetu, #CarnellSnell and literally hundreds of others. In the case of Brendon Glenn, the officer was actually recommended for charges by the Los Angeles Police Department. NO OFFICER HAS EVER BEEN CHARGED FOR THE KILLING OF A RESIDENT BY LACEY. Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriffs, and the policing units throughout the County lead the nation in the killing of community residents. For at least the last five years, LAPD and LA County Sheriff have led the nation in police killings. Yet, the District Attorney has not charged a single officer in any of these killings. The message sent to Los Angeles County law enforcement units is that they can kill residents and get away with it. Police cannot be relied on to hold themselves accountable, this is the work of the District Attorney. We are demanding that Jackie Lacey do her job and prosecute corrupt, abusive, and murderous police.
Tell Democrats to Return Money From Donor at Center of Scandal Involving the Death of Gemmel Moore26-year-old Gemmel Moore died July 27, 2017, of a crystal meth overdose in the West Hollywood home of prominent Democratic donor Ed Buck. Moore was a Black gay male who worked as an escort. His death, was immediately classified as an accidental methamphetamine overdose by the coroner, but now the Sheriff’s Department’s homicide bureau is taking a closer look after his personal journal was published. In addition, numerous young Black gay men have stepped forward making allegations against Buck recounting similar stories about a man who they say has a Tuskegee Experiment like fetish which includes shooting drugs into young Black men that he picks up off the street or via dating hookup websites. In his journal, Gemmel Moore wrote, “I honestly don’t know what to do. I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that,” a December entry reads. “Ed Buck is the one to thank. He gave me my first injection of crystal meth it was very painful, but after all the troubles, I became addicted to the pain and fetish/fantasy.” “My life is at an alltime [sic] high right now & I mean that from all ways. I ended up back at Buck [sic] house again and got munipulated [sic] into slamming again. I even went to the point where I was forced to doing 4 within a 2day [sic] period. This man is crazy and its [sic] sad. Will I ever get help?” His last entry, dated Dec. 3, 2016, reads: “If it didn’t hurt so bad, I’d kill myself, but I’ll let Ed Buck do it for now. Buck has given hundreds of thousands of dollars of Democratic causes and candidates over the years. His Facebook page boasted dozens of photos of him with everyone from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Governor Jerry Brown, Los Angeles County Democratic Party and California Democratic Party chairman Eric Bauman and even Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. In online ads soliciting young Black gay men, Buck has referred to them as being a “6-foot” n-word. On his Facebook page, he joked with friends using the n-word. Most of Los Angeles’ Democratic and LGBT community–which are often one in same–has had nothing to say publicly about Moore’s death. Politicians who have received thousands of dollars from Buck over the years have been curiously silent. Democrats are often the first to call on Republicans to return money at the slightest hint of impropriety — there seems to be a double standard when a Democratic donor is involved in the wrongdoing. It’s troubling to see that so many Los Angeles-area Democrats who have taken donations from a man who has allegedly stalked and preyed on the most vulnerable of society have nothing at all to say. Just the fact that the allegations have been made and reported on in the news that these politicians are most influenced by should — and normally would — be enough for Democrats to return their donations and issue statements distancing themselves from the accused. But for the most part, nothing. Is it because Ed Buck is white? Is it because he is white and gay? Is it because he often maxes out on contributing to their campaigns? Is it because the accusers are black gay men? Is it because the accusers are black? As Democrats we are often the first to call on Republicans to return money at the slightest hint of impropriety — there should not be a double standard when a Democratic donor is involved in the wrongdoing. There can be no conflict of interest in the quest for justice for Gemmel Moore and all of Ed Buck’s victims. Gemmel Moore’s life and the lives of all of Ed Buck’s victims should matter more than a political contribution. The Black LGBTQ community deserves better.
Investigate the Bail Bond Industry in New YorkDear Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Schneiderman, Each year in New York State, as many as 100,000 people are imprisoned for their inability to afford bail. For some families, the only way to buy a loved one’s release from jail is through the for-profit commercial bail bond industry. The commercial bail bond industry is inherently exploitative, and bail agents take advantage of lax regulations to gouge vulnerable consumers in a moment of crisis, desperate to get a loved one out of jail. They charge a nonrefundable fee of about 10 percent of the bond amount, may require unlimited amounts of collateral, and often impose onerous and invasive check-in requirements as well as illegal fees and conditions. No one should be profiting off the hardship of others, or relying on people in jail for a revenue stream. The commercial bail bond industry is highly profitable, in large part because it is virtually unregulated, leaving unscrupulous bail agents free reign. Bail corporations prey on some of our most vulnerable communities that have the least political power- specifically people of color and those too poor to afford a lawyer. Similar to payday loans, the bail industry extracts millions of dollars a year from the neighborhoods that can least afford it. Bail bondsmen are lobbying elected officials regularly to ensure that bail and mass incarceration remain the status quo. However, we are fighting back and we’re gaining momentum. With an investigation into this industry, the Governor and Attorney General will have the opportunity to expose an industry that is working to hurt their constituents. The bail bond industry has corrupted our constitutional freedoms for the purpose of profit. By investigating the bail bond industry the state of New York can unwind one of the most unjust aspects of the criminal justice system. By signing the petition you will be telling Gov. Cuomo that we will no longer allow the bail bond industry to prey on Black communities without any oversight. Due to how vulnerable of a position people are placed in when being in jail for even a short amount of time the bail bond industry is using this as an opportunity to make huge profits off the backs of poor people. Investigate the bail bond industry today! Thank you, Brooklyn Community Bail Fund and VOCAL-NY
Implement the People’s Demands for California’s Proposition 57!Last November, Californians overwhelmingly passed Prop 57 with 64% of the vote. Among other things, Prop 57 expands credit earning opportunities for most people in California prisons and allows people convicted of nonviolent offenses to be eligible for early parole consideration. On July 14, 2017, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) released its draft “Regular Regulations,” which outline how they plan to implement this proposition. While there are many good things in the proposed regulations, such as increased credit opportunities for good behavior and completion of educational and rehabilitative programs, we are concerned that many aspects of the proposed regulations are far too narrow and exclude too many groups of people from opportunities for rehabilitation or early parole consideration. So, Initiate Justice conducted a survey of more than 2,000 incarcerated people to get their input on how they think Prop 57 should be implemented, since these rules will have direct impacts on their lives. Based on those survey results, and in collaboration with Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), developed the following recommendations: 1. Include Third Strikers in the non-violent early parole: The proposed regulations state that any person who is “Condemned, incarcerated for a term of life without the possibility of parole, or incarcerated for a term of life with the possibility of parole” is not eligible for nonviolent early parole consideration under Prop 57. We strongly believe that this population should not be excluded from this opportunity. The language of Prop 57 states: “Any person convicted of a non-violent felony offense and sentenced to state prison shall be eligible for parole consideration after completing the full term for his or her primary offense” and that “the full term for the primary offense means the longest term of imprisonment imposed by the court for any offense, excluding the imposition of an enhancement, consecutive sentence, or alternative sentence.” Since a Third Strike is considered an alternative sentence under California state law, it is clear that the voters enacted legislation that included Third Strikers in the nonviolent early parole process. 2. Allow all people in prison to earn 50% good time credits: The proposed Prop 57 regulations increase good time credits on a graduated scale, depending on the offense the person was convicted of. People serving time for a violent offense will see an increase from 15% to 20% good time credit; people serving time for a serious offense under the Three Strikes Law will see an increase from 20% to 33.3%; and people currently serving time for a non-serious or nonviolent offense will see an increase from 33.3% to 50%. We believe that the incentive for good conduct should be uniform across the board, by equally rewarding all people who remain disciplinary-free, regardless of their conviction. The length of one’s sentence already reflects the severity of the offense, so we do not believe it is necessary to further punish people by limiting their access to good time credits as well. 3. Make all good time credit earning retroactive: The proposed Prop 57 regulations state that good time credits will be prospective beginning May 1, 2017. We believe this is unjust and fails to recognize the many incarcerated people who have remained disciplinary-free for years without increased incentives. This recommendation is consistent with criminologist James Austin’s 2013 declaration in response to the Three Judge Panel order to reduce CDCR’s population. Here, Austin recommended that all credit earning be retroactive and found that this recommendation could be “implemented without having an impact on public safety or the operation of the state or local criminal justice systems. In fact, they would provide large cost savings that could be used to offset any local criminal justice costs and increase the level of effective programs at the state and local levels.” 4. Award retroactive Education Merit Credits for each achievement: Award 6-month credit for every vocation, college degree, and G.E.D. obtained by people in prison. Imprisoned people should be able to get at least 6 months off per year per academic and vocational achievement retrospectively since many have completed multiple associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and certification programs. Educational advancement has been shown to be one of the top factors in reducing the recidivism rate and should be treated with as much importance while further incentivizing people to enroll in academic and vocational programs. 5. Allow people with a Youth Offender / Elderly Parole Date to earn time off their earliest parole date: The expanded Good Time and Milestone credits made possible should apply to these Youth Offender Parole or Elder Parole Hearing dates, not their original sentence. SB 260 and SB 261 were passed by the Legislature recognizing that many young people were victims of extreme sentencing; therefore, credit earning opportunities made possible by Prop 57 should be applied to their amended hearing dates in order to ensure that participation in rehabilitative programming and remaining disciplinary-free are adequately incentivized. Additionally, Elder Parole is a program that seeks to meet the court deadline to reduce the prison population. Every incarcerated person who wrote to us expressed deep willingness to embrace their rehabilitation—if given the opportunity to do so. The opportunities presented to people inside will help set them up for success once they are released, and this will ultimately create safer communities for all. Therefore, we request CDCR incorporate these recommendations in drafting the Prop 57 regulations.
Kick Killer Cops Out of Our Community! Tell MPD To Fire The Gun Recovery Unit!On August 9, 2017, Law for Black Lives–DC members viewed a publicly-posted photograph of seventeen members of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Gun Recovery Unit (GRU), including Officer Michael Vaillancourt inside of what appears to be an MPD stationhouse in police-issued uniforms and tactical gear. The GRU officers are proudly posing in front of a disturbing logo threatening the residents of the District of Columbia with violence and murder. District of Columbia (“D.C.”) residents have seen members of the Gun Recovery Unit, prominently displaying this murderous logo on their police uniforms while armed, patrolling the community, stopping and frisking individuals, and effectuating arrests. Some of these same officers have been seen wearing hooded sweatshirts printed with this violent logo inside of the DC Superior Courthouse while waiting to testify in criminal cases. Perhaps nothing makes this logo more abhorrent and repulsive than placing it in its appropriate context: Gun Recovery Unit members have been responsible for the recent shootings of Raphael Briscoe, Darius Jamal Murphy, and Mark George; tragically killing both Mr. Briscoe and Mr. Murphy. According to the Metropolitan Police Department’s Annual Reports, between 2009 and 2015, twenty-nine people have been killed and twenty-eight have been injured by the intentional firearm discharge of an MPD police officer. After police shootings and killings, MPD often demands that the community not rush to judgment. It is unconscionable for the MPD to expect the benefit of the doubt when their officers shoot and kill Black and Brown citizens while boldly wearing a logo reflecting their cavalier attitudes towards police brutality and murder. The disturbing Gun Recovery Unit logo prominently features a skull and crossbones, universally understood to be a symbol of death. Through the center of the skull is a single bullet hole—indicating the individual had been shot in the T-zone, a virtual guarantee of death on the first shot. Directly above the skull and crossbones are not one, but two handguns, with handcuffs on either side of the image. Below the image of the skull is a flag reading “vest up one in the chamber”—an admonition to officers to put on a bulletproof vest and to load their firearm with a bullet in the chamber, ready to shoot civilians. By placing “NSID” (the acronym for the Narcotics and Special Investigations Division of MPD) and the “Gun Recovery Unit” on the graphic, the logo clearly sends the message that the Metropolitan Police Department endorses the message captured in the logo. The use of this logo is part of a broader campaign designed to inflict terror on low-income communities of color. For the longest, community members have voiced their fear of the Gun Recovery Unit and concern with their policing tactics. For many in the community, the Gun Recovery Unit has become synonymous with “jump outs”—a policing tactic involving officers literally jumping out of unmarked vehicles, often with their weapons drawn, to illegally stop individuals without justification. “Jump outs” happen at any time, leaving individuals with no recourse against them. This maligned practice ensures that Black and Brown communities live amidst intimidation and an ever-present threat of violence because, as the community well knows, and these officers proudly announce, the officers are “vest[ed] up, [with] one in the chamber.” This provides corroboration to what communities of color in DC have long experienced—the policing of their community through intimidation and violence leading to the killing of community members at the hands of the police. On behalf of a number of community organizations and community members, Law4BlackLives-DC has formally filed complaints with both the Internal Affairs Division of the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of Police Complaints regarding this logo and the message it propagates. This logo explicitly associates MPD with threats of death, violence, and the celebration of a climate of police brutality. We are asking concerned community members to let Mayor Bowser know that she must step in to check this culture for the people of Washington D.C. We also ask that the Office of Police Complaints and the Metropolitan Police Department conduct a thorough investigation into all threats of violence and murder by members of MPD against the residents of the District of Columbia. Officers who endorse and flaunt symbols of violence and murder are a threat to public safety. Silence by Mayor Bowser, the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of Police Complaints is nothing less than a full endorsement of this logo’s murderous message. Further inaction makes the Mayor, MPD, and OPC complicit in the killing of Black and Brown people by the police. Thank you, Law4BlackLives-DC