• Minimal Sentencing for Wriply Bennet of the #BlackPride4
    On June 17th, 2017, four Black queer and trans people--now known as the BlackPride4--were violently arrested while peacefully protesting the Columbus Pride Parade to draw attention to the disproportionate murder of trans women of color and the non-indictment of Philando Castile’s murderer, Minneapolis Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez. After months of widespread outrage at the police brutality against the #BlackPride4 and their subsequent arrests, three of them have gone to trial and were found guilty on February 12th, 2018 of charges ranging from disorderly conduct to resisting arrest. With a quickly approaching sentencing date of March 13th, 2018, we must continue the fight to #FreeTheBlackPride4. Their lives and futures hang in the balance, and Judge Ebner is the sole gatekeeper to their freedom. Wriply Bennet and her lawyer have suggested that folks all over continue to show their solidarity in hopes that the Judge is lenient. We really need to keep these Black trans activist home and free from any jail time -- sign the below petition to urge Judge Ebner dole out minimal sentencing to Wriply of the #BlackPride4! -- Here's the petition! Dear Honorable Judge Ebner, We write today in support of Ms. Wriply Bennet and to urge you to deliver the most minimal sentence to her. Ms. Bennet is an asset to our community. Columbus will benefit by Ms. Bennet being allowed to continue the great work she is involved in the community, and our entire community will feel the negative impact should she be required to serve jail time. Ms. Bennet is a nationally recognized artist who has organized around community service efforts for years. In addition, Ms. Bennet has acted as a consultant for local organizations (like Kaleidoscope Youth Center and the Trans/Queer Racial Justice and Transformation Network of the OSU Sexuality Studies Program and others), providing much-needed support to groups working to better our communities. We know that it would be most beneficial to our city and country if she had the opportunity to continue investing her skills and leadership directly into the community instead of serving jail time or navigating restrictive supervision. We respectfully request that you also consider that incarceration is particularly dangerous and traumatizing for Black trans women, who are already faced with the looming threat of violence in their day-to-day lives. For recent context, Ashley Diamond, a Black trans civil rights activist in Georgia, was assaulted, placed into solitary confinement, and denied her medication while incarcerated in 2015. As a direct result of the conditions she experienced, Diamond currently suffers from PTSD and other mental health issues that have hindered her integration back into her communities. We as individuals, join with numerous local and national organizations that have publicly supported Ms. Bennet. In the past eight months, groups from all over Columbus and beyond have offered vocal and material support for the #BlackPride4, from releasing public statements (Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, Equality Ohio) to being present during the week of trial (including BQIC, TransOhio, People’s Justice Project, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Yes We Can Columbus, and former 2017 Stonewall Columbus Pride Planning Committee members who resigned from the Planning Committee due to Stonewall Columbus’ response to the Pride protest). This coordinated, community support demonstrates the interest that has been taken in their case, both locally and nationally, as well as in the defendants’ futures as free people. We understand that as the presiding judge in the case, you have a duty to honor the verdicts given in a court of law. We believe it is imperative that our community’s constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and free speech be protected. Our First Amendment rights enabled so many before us to call attention to social issues and spark lasting change. In light of those interests, the vast network of support for Ms. Bennet, and her history of community service, we urge you to give the absolute minimum sentencing to Ms. Bennet.
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    Created by Black Queer & Intersectional Columbus
  • #FREESADAT: Demand the release of a Gay Black Asylum Seeker from Detention
    Sadat Ibrahim is a young gay man from Ghana where homosexuality is a crime punishable by three years in prison. Sadat had been brutally attacked by a homophobic vigilante gang back in Ghana, the ‘Safety Empire’, that hunts down, beats up and kills gay people. Fearing for his life, he planned a long escape route, and finally made it to the Mexican/U.S. border and presented himself at the border requesting asylum. An asylum officer agreed that Sadat had a credible fear of persecution. His family sent videos supporting his claim to Sadat in detention in Georgia, but not only did the officers in the detention center not give Sadat this critical evidence, they never even told Sadat that the evidence had arrived. Without the corroborating evidence, the judge denied Sadat asylum. Sadat faces deportation back to the same situation that may see him incarcerated, attacked and/or murdered for being gay, as his asylum claim was denied. Had Sadat been able to share the video evidence that ICE withheld from him until after the hearing, we believe the judge should have granted asylum to Sadat, and likely would have done so. Sadat’s legal team has managed to win him a temporary stay of removal so why is he still being detained?
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    Created by Deborah Alemu (UndocuBlack) Picture
  • #NoJusticeNoDeal
    We are concerned about ongoing negotiations over a new police contract between the City and County of San Francisco and the San Francisco Police Officers Association (POA). We are requesting that Mayor Farrell direct the Department of Human Resources to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding that prioritizes public safety and police accountability and represents the needs of communities most impacted by over-policing, racial profiling, and police violence. We support workers and unions. Many of us are union members. The POA, however, is not like other unions that focus exclusively on wages and benefits and reasonable working conditions for their employees. The POA exerts far more power and control over the City’s residents and visitors. Further, the POA consistently uses labor law to exert enormous influence on public policy and public safety by blocking or delaying common-sense reforms that would make San Francisco safer. Examples include using meet-and-confer to negotiate a weaker body camera policy and suing the City to block the vastly-improved and unanimously-passed use-of-force policy. The POA has taken hardline stances and used inflammatory tactics that destroy trust between residents and police. It regularly and publicly attacks police accountability champions—including elected officials, prominent athletes like Colin Kaepernick, and its own police members who don’t toe their line. The following represent important priorities that we urge the City's negotiators to consider and incorporate: Given the city charter’s timeline that necessitates negotiating a new MOU prior to the unexpected June 2018 mayoral election, the current MOU should be extended and renegotiated in 2019 once an elected mayor is in office and after current reform efforts are farther along. If a new MOU is negotiated this year, it should be approved for a one-year term and renegotiated in 2019. Given the stated commitment of former Mayor Edwin Lee to implement all of the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) report, the immense investment of time and resources the San Francisco Police Department, many of us, and now the California Department of Justice will have devoted to this implementation process, and the express support for the recommendations offered by POA leadership, any new MOU should require that the POA facilitate the implementation of these recommendations. Specifically, the City should demand that the POA agree not to invoke meet-and-confer or interest arbitration related to any policy arising out of this reform process. The City should demand in any new MOU that the POA agree not to invoke meet-and-confer or interest arbitration when the Police Commission passes any Departmental General Orders related to the following topics: *Use of force *Tasers *Body cameras *Civilian complaints *Police misconduct and discipline Given the aggressiveness with which the POA has resisted the City’s reform efforts, a new MOU should not require the City to pay any portion of the POA President’s salary. This type of payment is not a standard provision in public sector labor agreements. Given the challenges the Police Commission and Chief have faced in keeping police officers accountable for misconduct, a new MOU should not limit consideration of evidence in an officer’s personnel file for purposes of promotion, transfer, or discipline (within the boundaries of state law). This includes removing the current provision preventing the use of evidence over five years old. There is important precedent demonstrating how communities and their elected representatives can work together to increase public safety in the context of MOU negotiations. The Austin City Council recently voted to reject a proposed new contract with their police union after the city’s negotiators failed to address the community’s concerns. And it worked: the police union there announced on January 30th that it would return to the bargaining table to discuss the community's non-economic demands. Over the course of the current San Francisco MOU, we’ve paid our officers among the highest salaries in the country and, in return, the public deserves a professional police force that reflects community values. Police violence, racist and homophobic texts, and rape scandals are not consistent with our values. Instead of acting as a partner to modernize police practices, the City has faced resistance from the POA at every turn. We can’t afford to repeat these mistakes for another decade. #NoJusticeNoDeal
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    Created by Anand Subramanian
  • Animals In Prisons
    There are people who are in jail for very long periods of time, as well as people who will never see how outside looks a day in their lives. There is also a overpopulation of cats and dogs who have no place to go. By giving long term and permanent inmates with good behavior the choice of having and caring for a pet during their time, we can get animals off the streets, as well as a person to care for and love them. This would benefit the jails, due to these animals being a sense of calmness and love the inmates would not feel so hostile all the time and rates of crime in prison would decrease.
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    Created by danielle davis
  • Demand DA Faith Johnson Support Bail Reform
    The cash bail system in Dallas County discriminates against poor Black people in the most harmful ways. Black families are stripped of community, financial resources and a sense of basic human dignity. Black people remain in cages for weeks, months and sometimes years at taxpayer expense. And oftentimes, Black people are jailed with no evidence they have committed a crime. This is a crisis that can no longer continue. In the past, I have had many family members who were forced to serve time simply because they did not have the money to make bail or were not given enough time to produce the money. In many cases, the amount requested for bail did not fit the crime. Families in the Dallas community like mine are tired of losing their loved ones to the criminal “injustice” system. To make matters worse, District Attorney Faith Johnson is routinely locking up Black people for crimes of poverty. It has been reported by multiple sources that Johnson has received thousands of dollars from the bail industry and even sits on the board of the Dallas County Bail Bond Board. Her silence on the bail reform cannot be tolerated. By pressuring District Attorney Faith Johnson to renounce the bail industry and to refuse political donations from these corporations we get one step closer to ending money bail’s exploitation of poor, Black people in Dallas County. There are many in our community who, not only believe in ending money bail, but are also working to make this come true. It is time for Faith Johnson to do right by her constituents. Join us in demanding Faith Johnson to renounce the bail industry and return all political contributions to bail corporations!
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    Created by Tyler Turner
  • #FreeMichaelDuvall: My Brother Is Innocent
    The wrongful yet systematic incarceration of Black people in this country has weakened our community for decades; it’s slavery by another name. This system is causing Michael and others like him, to be jailed while waiting for their case to come to trial. Sometimes, that takes years to happen. Michael has already refused to plea to anything because he is not guilty. The scary thing is; this is the same thing that happened to Kalief Browder. He didn’t want to plead guilty to a crime that he didn’t commit, so this system took his life away in so many ways. I don’t want that to be the case for my brother or anyone. My heart is broken and a part of me is being held in the Upper Marlboro Detention Center with my brother. It is important that we take a stand against this type of abuse from the criminal injustice system so that others in our community do not fall victim to this type of pain and torture.
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    Created by Roxane Johnson Picture
  • STOP Criminalizing Poverty Through Use of Criminal Justice Fines, Fees, and Penalties
    It Is Time for Clark County to Stop Criminalizing Poverty Through Its Systematic Use of Criminal Justice Fines and Fees. Courts throughout Clark County, armed with state statutes and local ordinances, have imposed a variety of fines, fees, and assessments that punish the poor for offenses as trivial as jaywalking. Municipal courts in Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas, as well as the Las Vegas Justice Center, are tasked with handling traffic violations and misdemeanor offenses. They have used fines and fees to fund their own systems on the backs of those least able to pay for it. They disproportionately harm communities of color, locking them into a cycle of poverty and perpetuating mass incarceration. They also have a uniquely damaging effect on juveniles and their families. Defense attorneys have challenged the fines and fees in court, and advocates and lawmakers have proposed legislation aimed at reducing these injustices. Nevertheless, officials have resisted reforms. It is time for Clark County to stop penalizing the poor through its systematic use of criminal justice fines and fees. The Las Vegas Criminal Justice System Imposes a Series of Fines and Fees on Anyone Who is charged with a Crime. ● Individuals convicted of crimes—even low-level misdemeanors and traffic violations—often must pay fines, which are monetary penalties meant to punish someone for the crime. The average fine is $300-$400. ● Between 2010 and 2015, the Las Vegas Municipal Court collected $130 million from traffic violations alone. This amounted to approximately 89% of its total revenue, pointing to the troubling reality that the municipal court system has essentially been built on these fines and fees. ● Individuals who are unable to pay the full amount of their debt are given the option of a payment plan, which comes with a $50 fee for financial counseling. Individuals on a payment plan automatically have a warrant issued for their arrest if they miss a payment. The threat of jail time is accompanied by a “warrant fee” that can range from $85-$200 depending on the number of missed payments. The average person goes into warrant at least once. And as time goes on and a defendant continues to miss payments, fees can become exponentially more than the fines. For instance, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that one individual ended up paying $1,500 on a $187 speeding ticket. ● Defendants who are completely unable to pay their fines may do community service. This also comes with a $50 fee. For every hour of community service, there is a $10 credit toward their fines. Using the example above that correlates to 19 hours of community service (almost 3 full time work days), in a community where most people work 2 or 3 part time jobs just to make ends meet. Excessive Fines and Fees Lock Communities of Color in a Cycle of Poverty and Perpetuate Mass Incarceration. ● In Las Vegas there is currently no official mechanism in place to allow for an individualized determination of a defendant’s ability to pay the fines. As a result, many people leave the justice system with crushing debt that can make it even harder for them to get back on their feet. Or, in many cases, they are jailed for their inability to pay fines as little as $100. In 2014, law enforcement officials arrested over 16,400 people for failing to pay fines for offenses ranging from jaywalking to illegal parallel parking. ● A Las Vegas Review-Journal analysis of nearly 39,000 court payment plans between 2009 and 2015 revealed gross racial and economic disparities in the impact of Las Vegas’s fines and fees, where residents in the poorest areas, who are predominantly black and Latino, owed over six times more than residents in the richest areas. These communities are subject to over policing, resulting in higher rates of violations. ● Nevada statutes also impose a wide array of fines and fees on families and children when children are deemed delinquent. According to the Juvenile Law Center, 76% of Nevada families reported that they were unable to pay. Failure to make these payments plunge families into debt, increases the need for court appearances causing children and family members to take time away from school and work, and risks incarceration for juvenile offenders. The impact of these fines and fees have the perverse effect of leaving families worse off, and feed the school to prison pipeline at disproportionate rates. Let's keep families together and stop criminalizing the poor.
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    Created by Clark County Black Caucus Picture
  • Bring Dameon Brome and David Lahoz home
    David Lahoz and Dameon Brome were incarcerated as children and have spent 26 and 30 years in prison, respectively. Each of them has demonstrated rehabilitation, redemption, and remorse. Despite exemplary disciplinary records while incarcerated and plans to continue helping people when they were paroled, both men were recently denied parole on the same day by the same parole hearing examiners. Any review of these men's files will reveal that this is horrible mistake. Dameon and David are rehabilitated and should have been paroled. We call on Board of Probation and Parole Chairman Leo Dunn to correct this error. David and Dameon were juvenile lifers. Montgomery v. Louisiana was a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that declared Dameon and David’s sentence unconstitutional. The ruling in that case stated that juvenile lifers needed to be treated as individuals and, if they were not permanently incorrigible, given a chance to come home. After their resentencings last year, both David and Dameon were made immediately parole eligible; but unfortunately Leslie Grey and Mark Koch denied them parole and told them they would need to wait five years before the board would hear their cases again. David and Dameon have appealed and Leo Dunn, the Chairman of the PA Board of Probation and Parole, can overrule their parole denial and allow them to come home to their families and communities. David was once a lost soul running around in the streets of North Philly living a life that was very disruptive. He believed he was destined to die or get locked up; he was sentenced to life without parole as 17 year-old. After a rocky start to his incarceration, he has been active in a lot of programming: playing sports and learning multiple trades. His passion is being a mentor to young people through softball and basketball. David has worked for years to better himself and to help those around him. He has been misconduct free for 15 years and he had institutional support for his parole. Dameon has spent the greater portion of his life incarcerated but refused to accept that it was what would define him. He decided that he would find a way to grow even within the confines of prison. He acquired his GED and worked briefly tutoring others. He's worked in various positions within the institution from the Cook for Specialized Diets to the Law Clerk in the library helping others with legal problems. He has founded, been part of, and facilitated numerous groups to change the hopeless, lost, or disenfranchised perspectives of other incarcerated people, while simultaneously trying to advance his own education and understanding of what it means to be human. He took to Mechanical Drafting and CAD and studied Print Media. Dameon has written books and stories not just to "fill a void I saw that existed" but also to try to show other incarcerated people that there was another way and more possibilities for them even behind bars. Both Dameon and David have loving and supportive families and both plan to continue helping people and bettering the world if released. Their parole denials each listed multiple errors. For example, Dameon’s denial states that he lacked a home plan but he submitted an 11-page home plan. He planned to be paroled to a halfway house in Philadelphia, something the Department of Corrections has encouraged for juvenile lifers but he was questioned about this decision and believes this plan was held against him. They went on to say that Dameon was denied due to misconducts and poor institutional adjustment. Dameon hasn’t had a misconduct in over 9 years and hasn’t had a misconduct relating to fighting in over 23 years. David’s denial stated that he needed to get a GED but he received a GED in the Department of Corrections. His denial went on to say that he had a misconduct at his minimum which was one year ago. He hasn’t had a misconduct in 15 years. A modern professional parole board shouldn’t be making these mistakes. We call on you, Chairman Dunn, to correct them and do the right thing. We believe that Dameon and David should be with their families and communities on the outside. They are rehabilitated. We call on you to grant parole for Dameon Brome and David Lahoz and grant them relief after decades of incarceration.
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    Created by Kris Henderson
  • Get the Corrupt Bail Industry Out Of Maryland Politics
    Everyday, thousands of people who haven't been convicted of a crime are separated from their families as they languish in jails just because they can't afford to pay bail. The commercial bail industry will go to any length to undermine reform and now they being implicated in an FBI bribery investigation. The news about bail-bonds industry lobbyists offering illegal bribes to Sen. Oaks and at least one other target in the state legislature underlines the corrupting influence that the industry’s money has had on the legislative process. These illegal bribes are in addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the industry has spent in Maryland on campaign contributions, as detailed last year in a report by Common Cause report. All of this money - reported and under the table - is intended to reverse the progress Maryland can make under a new Judicial Rule intended to have more people released without subjecting them to the debt-trap set up by the bail industry. Maryland is one of the top states for campaign donations by the bail industry coming in behind only California and Florida. In order to get this corrupt industry out of our lives and communities, we must disrupt the dangerous relationship between the bail industry and elected officials.
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    Created by Progressive Maryland Picture
  • #OurVoiceOurChief: Demand transparency and inclusion in Police Chief search
    A fair, open and transparent selection process that is guided by the needs, concerns and experiences of a broad spectrum of residents – particularly youth and people of color – will ensure that the City of San Diego hires a police chief who is equally committed to upholding the dignity of all San Diegans as s/he is with upholding the law. A 2016 SDSU study* on racial profiling determined that Black and Latino drivers were twice as likely to be stopped and searched by San Diego police officers, but less likely to have contraband than White drivers. SDPD is currently facing litigation** for illegally stopping a Black minor and obtaining his DNA without a warrant. These and other troubling issues of over-policing and unfairly biased policing are among the challenges our next Chief of Police must address. Building the necessary public trust to meet these challenges starts with how impacted communities are engaged in the selection process. Decades of secret back room deals and broken promises have eroded public trust and confidence in our elected representatives. If Mayor Faulconer is truly committed to the vision and values of “one San Diego,” he will ensure that members of impacted communities have a real voice and consequential role in this selection process. He will be transparent and inclusive by allowing concerned San Diegans, especially youth and people of color, to hear from the final candidates before a hiring decision is made. Mayor Faulconer: provide full transparency in the search for San Diego’s next Chief of Police and include the public from start to finish. * https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/sdpdvehiclestopsfinal.pdf ** https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/public-safety/teenager-sued-sdpd-documented-gang-member-soon/
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    Created by Coalition for Police Accountability and Transparency
  • #OurVoiceOurChief: Demand transparency in the Police Chief search
    A fair, open and transparent selection process that is guided by the needs, concerns and experiences of a broad spectrum of residents – particularly youth and people of color – will ensure that the City of San Diego hires a police chief who is equally concerned with the dignity of all San Diegans as s/he is with upholding the law. A 2016 SDSU study [link to study] on racial profiling determined that Black and Latino drivers were twice as likely to be stopped and searched by San Diego police officers, but less likely to have contraband than White drivers. SDPD is currently facing litigation [link to VOSD coverage] for illegally stopping a Black minor and obtaining his DNA without a warrant. These and other troubling issues of over-policing and unfairly biased policing will be among the challenges our next Chief of Police must address. Building the necessary public trust to meet these challenges starts with how impacted communities are engaged in the selection process. Decades of secret back room deals and broken promises have served to erode public trust and confidence in our elected representatives. If Mayor Faulconer is truly committed to the vision and values of “one San Diego,” he will ensure that members of impacted communities have a real voice and consequential role in this selection process. He will be transparent by identifying the selection panelists; he will be inclusive by adding community members and youth to the currently exclusive panel of mayoral staff and unidentified law enforcement experts; and he will be fair by allowing the community and youth to meet with the final three candidates before a final decision is made. Mayor Faulconer, keep your promise: include the community in this important process.
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    Created by Ferchil Ramos
  • Free Javan Thompson
    This man was protecting his family when 4 men came with intent to kill this man in front of his daughter his mother and his father.
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    Created by Shatrice Stafford Picture