• Protect Our Privacy! No More Surveillance for People in Michigan!
    The right to privacy and due process under the law belongs to everyone. Residents, technologists, organizers, activists, artists, educators and legislators are learning the implications of police use of facial recognition technologies. Inaccuracies in the technology for darker skin tones, women, and children place many Americans at risk of having their civil and human rights violated. This is a particularly troubling situation for Detroit, where the population is over 80% Black. This would be the largest experiment on Black people in the United States, in modern times. We don't deserve a justice system regulated by faulty algorithms. We don't deserve a justice system that relies on profiling, and we can’t trust a technology that has proven time and time again that it cannot be trusted. Facial surveillance technology does not keep us safe, in fact it does the opposite. Please support Senator (R) Peter Lucido's Senate Bill 342 (SB342), co-sponsored by Senator (D) Stephanie Gray Chang. The legislation would prohibit law enforcement officials from obtaining, accessing or using any facial recognition technology, along with any information gathered from such technology. Any information obtained in violation of the law would be inadmissible in court “as if the evidence, arrest warrant, or search warrant was obtained in violation of Amendment IV of the Constitution of the United States and section 11 of Article I of the state constitution of 1963.” In effect, the passage of SB342 would impose a total ban on the use of facial recognition technology by Michigan law enforcement. State Rep (D) Isaac Robinson's House Bill 4810, which would create a five-year moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement. HB 4810 will also prevent the use of facial recognition software to obtain warrants or otherwise enforce the law. The prohibition includes footage obtained from surveillance cameras, unmanned aircraft, body cameras, and street and traffic light cameras. The bill was co-sponsored by state Reps. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit) and Jewell Jones(D-Inkster). Recently, the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners tabled a vote on the use of facial recognition technology to monitor city neighborhoods but approved the use of traffic cameras with the capacity to use the technology. Detroit Police Chief Craig recently admitted to using the technology under a standard operating procedure, through their Project Green Light Program for over a year. Until recently, there had been no public discourse around DPD's use of facial recognition technology. The Detroit Police Board of Commissioners is expected to approve the use of the technology despite public opposition. Serious concerns exist regarding the use of facial recognition technology as it has been shown to misidentify African-American faces, darker skin tones, women and children. It’s time for Michigan to show the world that we respect, and will protect our right to privacy and due process under the law. Urge your legislators to support SB342 and House Bill 4810 BYP100 - Detroit Chapter Black Out Green Light Coalition Detroit Community Technology Project Detroit Digital Justice Coalition Detroit Coalition for Peace
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  • Layleen Polanco: Enough is Enough Close Rikers NOW, No New Jails
    Dear Mayor Bill de Blasio, Layleen Polanco Xtravaganza, an Afro-Latina trans woman, died in solitary confinement. This PRIDE month I am saying enough. Layleen should not have been arrested by the NYPD. Even before her arrest as part of a predatory NYPD sting operation, she was struggling with homelessness. From there she was routed through every possible "progressive" criminal court and jail reform project: from a sex work "diversion" court to the Transgender Housing Unit in the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers when a warrant was issued for her arrest after she missed a "supportive" service appointment. None of these "progressive" reforms that were designed to save her life worked. Layleen died in a cage on solitary after being criminalized for being trans, for being poor, and for engaging in sex work. Jails kill people. But now you are planning on keeping Rikers open until 2026, when the next mayor can keep the jails open indefinitely, after having spent $11 billion to build four new jails! We could close Rikers now without building a single new cage in NYC if we ended the unjust and dangerous practice of pretrial detention. Then, we could devote $11 billion to communities, not incarceration. The time is now. We must Close Rikers with No New Jails. Mayor De Blasio, we call on you to stop your jail plan and commit to closing Rikers with no new jails. I want $11 billion for Black trans women and all oppressed and criminalized communities, not for jails. Art Credit: Vienna Rye (@vrye)
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  • Book Companies donate YOUR PROFITS made by Disgraced Central Park Five Prosecutor Linda Fairstein
    Unscrupulous Prosecutor Linda Fairstein should have been FIRED. Instead, she was able to parlay her career as head of sex crimes unit of Manhattan District Attorney from 1976 until 2002 to successful crime author. If she were FIRED because of her disgraceful actions that circumvent justice these prominent book companies would not have done business and donating the profits they made publishing this unscrupulous prosecutor Linda Fairstein must be donated to the Korey Wise Innocence Project.
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    Created by hiphopadvocate(dot)org Tara J., advocate with a hip hop twist Picture
  • Free Nipsey’s Friend Kerry Lathan
    Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom was a beloved rapper, community member and Black entrepreneur who was gunned down in cold-blood in front of his store, while trying to make sure his friend, Kerry Lathan, newly out of prison after a decades-long sentence, had the right clothes to see a family he had been separated from for nearly twenty years. What happened next prompted the mourning of an entire nation - both Nipsey and Kerry were shot multiple times after a dispute with another man who felt shunned by Nipsey. Nipsey did not survive the shooting, and on Thursday his memorial service brought thousands of Los Angelenos out into the street to celebrate the life of a family man and artist who was well-known for pouring resources and positivity back into his chronically-underserved community. Shortly afterwards, Kerry Lathan, who because of his injuries has been relegated to a wheelchair, was arrested at the half-way house he now lives in. The reason? According to authorities, by associating with Nipsey Hussle, “a known gang member” Kerry was in violation of the terms of his parole. Across the nation and the world, well-respected artists and leaders, including former President Barack Obama, have offered condolences to Nipsey’s family and loved ones and have lauded his contributions to art and to the culture of Los Angeles. According to Obama, “He set an example for young people to follow and is a legacy worth celebration.” Nipsey was renowned for his music, which chronicled the violence that he grew up with as a child and teenager in an area plagued by poverty and structural racism. He was honest about the systems he participated in to survive and used his success to cultivate a different set opportunities than the ones that were available to him for the young people growing up in his neighborhood. That he was killed helping a friend who grew up in similar circumstances is a testament to the strength of his commitment to community. The arrest of Kerry Lathan, days after he was the victim of an extraordinary act of violence, has made a mockery of that commitment - sending a clear message that in the eyes of LA authorities, Nipsey was nothing more than a “gang member.” The cruelty of the logic behind a decision like this one is astounding. Kerry is still recovering from grievous injuries, and was ready to begin his life outside of prison when the unthinkable happened. Parole terms like this one in a state that has one of the highest prison populations in the nation, reflect a commitment not to accountability or rehabilitation, but to the incarceration of Black people whose every movement and relationship is surveilled and then criminalized. This is not what justice looks like. Kerry and Nipsey’s friendship represented a bond of care and a commitment to one another’s survival We cannot allow LA authorities to use that care as the very justification for Kerry’s reimprisonment. Take action now. Demand that Governor Newsom and the Division of Adult Parole Operations not revoke Kerry Lathan’s parole, and that he release him immediately.
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  • Thank You For Pledging “No Executions in California”
    On Wednesday, March 13, California Governor Gavin Newsom made history by announcing that he would not allow the state to execute anyone on his watch. “Our death penalty system has been – by any measure – a failure...And as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual.” Sign our message to Gov. Newsom, thanking him for championing criminal justice reform, and join social justice, faith, and human rights leaders in calling on other officials to follow suit. This is a historic step. With 738 people, California has the largest death row in the Western Hemisphere. 738 people were waiting to know if and when the government would execute them. Two out of every three prisoners on death row are people of color. At least one-third have serious mental illnesses. More than half were 25 or younger when they committed their crimes. Many of them may be innocent. Many more come from just a small handful of counties that happen to have bloodthirsty District Attorneys. No one should be sentenced to death – let alone executed – under such circumstances, and Gov. Newsom ensured that will never happen as long as he is in office. Governor Newsom’s order gives indefinite reprieves to all 738 people on death row. It also withdraws the state’s lethal injection protocol, and instructs officials to close the execution chamber at San Quentin prison. This is an example of just and moral leadership, and one that the country badly needs in this time of division and anger. While many in power call for reactionary and oppressive policies – often accompanied by thinly-veiled racism and calls to vigilante violence – Gov. Newsom is charting a more just and humane course.
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  • #Free21Savage Stop the Deportation of She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph
    The hundreds of ICE assaults and detention of Black immigrants is an endemic in the United States, and is too often carried out with the assistance of local law enforcement. On February 3rd in the early afternoon, organizers were alerted to the arrest and detention of rapper, father, community activist and friend She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph -21 Savage. The circumstances of Mr. Abraham-Joseph's detention stand as a testament to the consistent and historically under-reported harassment and targeting of Black immigrants. The US' violent history of criminalizing Blackness intersects with its deadly legacy of detaining and deporting Black and Brown immigrants. This needs to stop today! There are around 4.2 Million Black immigrants in the U.S. - 619,000 are undocumented. Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been in the United States since he was a young child. Atlanta is his home. He has no current or prior criminal convictions and he is beloved by his friends, fans and family. It is shameful that he and so many Black immigrants are separated from their families on a daily basis as part of the US's heartless and racist immigration policies. Demand that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stop the deportation of She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph - 21 Savage NOW!
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  • Stop Los Angeles From Building a $4 Billion Mental Health Jail
    The #JusticeLA campaign, a broad coalition made up of local and national stakeholders and community members and born from the work of family members in Los Angeles who have had loved ones harmed and killed by the Los Angeles jail system has been struggling with the Board of Supervisors on their dissonant plan to invest at least $4 billion dollars into jail expansion in Los Angeles County for almost a decade. The #JusticeLA campaign is partnering with health workers from across the spectrum of service and health advocacy to demand the long overdue end to caging as a response to public health issues. Jails and all forms of incarceration are bad for human health. Achieving humane, high quality and accessible health care for the roughly 170,000 people who are incarcerated every year in Los Angeles, the largest jail system in the world, is an urgent task, specifically because jails and other forms of incarceration are not health care institutions. On the contrary, jails are fundamentally harmful to human health. Understanding people inside primarily as criminals, not patients, jails isolate people from their families and communities, deprive people of control and agency over their bodies, subject people to unsafe environments and cause long-lasting trauma. Recent scholarship has outlined many of these harms on incarcerated people and their communities, showing, for example, how incarceration worsens mental health disabilities (Schnittker 2015) and shortens lives (Nosrati et al 2017). The previously approved $4 billion jail plan poses a significant and urgent threat to the health of those most criminalized, including Black and Latinx people across Los Angeles. The county is already home to the largest mental health facility in the country, Twin Towers jail. Eighty percent of the current jail system population is either Black or Latinx and an alarming 70% of the current jail population reports having a serious medical, mental health disability, or substance use condition. Over one thousand people per year die in local jails across the country. Half of all deaths of people incarcerated in local jails are the result of some type of illness including heart disease, liver disease, and cancer. As the largest jails system in the world, the Los Angeles County jail system contributes to all of these trends as reported by incarcerated people, their families, and by health workers themselves who provide services in the jails and as loved ones return home. Expansion of the function, scope, geography, or size of the current jail system will continue to result in both the reproduction of these harmful trends and/or the reliance of law enforcement contact and justice system involvement for what has historically proven to be inadequate and harmful “treatment.” Negative health outcomes in jails disproportionately affect marginalized communities. For example, roughly one out of every three deaths of Black people in local jails is the result of a heart attack which could be prevented in community-based treatment. While Black people make up less than 9% of the Los Angeles County population, Black people constitute 30% of the County jail population and 43% of those incarcerated with a serious mental health disability. Additionally, 75% of incarcerated women in Los Angeles are women of color. In the seven-year period between 2010 and 2016, Black women were sentenced to 5,481 years of jail time for charges that can be solved using public health strategies that build our communities rather than law enforcement which often undermine them. The construction of a women’s jail will exacerbate these trends and other negative health outcomes as incarcerated women of color will be further isolated from their families and communities. On Febraury 12th, The County has a historic opportunity to break away from the public health crisis of criminalization and incarceration by stopping this jail construction plan and diverting resources towards community-based alternatives that prioritize the dignity and wellbeing of our families and loved ones throughout Los Angeles.
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  • Tell Mayor Bill de Blasio to End Arrests, Summons, and Juvenile Reports in Schools
    New York City (NYC) must reverse policies that have proven ineffective at creating safe and supportive environments for students. Policing in schools promotes the exclusion and criminalization of Black and Latinx students, rather than their education. NYC should end arrests, as well as the issuance of summonses and juvenile reports, in schools for non-criminal violations and misdemeanors. Research shows that policing in schools fails to make schools safer or reduce bullying or fighting. The presence of police criminalizes typical adolescent behavior, such as disorderly conduct, which is the number one reason for summons in our schools. Experiencing an arrest for the first time in high school nearly doubles the odds of the student dropping out, and a court appearance nearly quadruples the odds of the student dropping out. Police in NYC schools largely police low-level offenses, including normal youthful behavior. In the last year, nearly 85 percent of all arrests, summonses, and NYPD juvenile reports of young people in NYC schools were for misdemeanors and violations. For Black and Latinx students our schools continue to be an on-ramp into the criminal justice system. Policing in schools creates extreme and persistent racial disparities. -Black girls are 10.4 times more likely to be arrested and 6.3 times more likely to be issued a summons than their White peers. -Black boys are 5.6 times more likely to be arrested and 9 times more likely to receive a summons than White boys. -Black and Latinx students account for 92% of all summons and 89% of all arrests. To end racial disparities in arrests, summons, and juvenile reports, the city must commit to ending these practices altogether. Instead of criminalizing young people, New York City should invest in supportive services like restorative justice, mental health supports, guidance counselors, and social workers.
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  • De-prioritize low-level marijuana arrests in Buffalo #BuffaloLLEP
    New York state decriminalized possessing small amounts of marijuana 40 years ago, but a disproportionate number of black people continue to be arrested in Buffalo every year. The unequal enforcement is a result of the "war on drugs." Exposure to the criminal justice system has severe impacts on employment, mental health, family stability and financial security. Mayor Byron Brown has the ability to make marijuana the LLEP, or "lowest level enforcement priority" for the Buffalo Police Department. This means that instead of arresting black and brown folks for marijuana, police will be able to focus on building positive, trusting relationships with communities of color, making us all safer. On the commemorative year of decriminalization, tell Mayor Brown that you support him in LLEP (#BuffaloLLEP)!
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  • Calling for the Removal/Resignation of sitting U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi
    Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith's comments on November 2nd, 2018, regarding her willingness to sit “on the front row” at a “public hanging” if invited are not only deeply offensive, they provide further evidence of her blatant disregard for her oath to uphold the Constitution. Senator Hyde-Smith’s failure to stand up to the injustice of hanging deaths in the past and her approval of such violence presently, should bar her from serving as a U.S. Senator or in any government position in the state of Mississippi. She has refused to acknowledge the insensitive and deeply offensive nature of her remarks. A leader who cannot thoughtfully reflect on her actions and their potential harm is unfit to lead.
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  • Keep Your Promises to Black Voters!
    The people of New Jersey need your help. In 2017, 94 Percent of Black voters cast their ballots for Governor Murphy. Without this support from the Black community, it is unlikely that Phil Murphy would be New Jersey’s governor—53 percent of white voters supported his opponent. But nine months into his administration, Governor Murphy has not focused on critical issues facing the 94 percent: 1) Transforming New Jersey’s youth justice system: New Jersey has a shameful system of youth incarceration in which a Black child is 30 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white child—the highest disparity in the nation. 2) Restoring the right to vote to people with criminal convictions: New Jersey denies the right to vote to nearly 100,000 people who are in prison, on parole, or on probation. Although Black people make up 15 percent of New Jersey's total population, Black residents represent over 60 percent of the people who lost the right to vote due to a criminal conviction. 3) Closing the racial wealth gap: In New Jersey, one of the wealthiest states in America, the median net worth for New Jersey’s white families is $271,402—the highest in the nation. But the median net worth for New Jersey’s Black families is just $5,900. We must ensure that Governor Murphy keeps his promises to the Black voters that put him in office.
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  • Demand Gov. Cuomo Free Criminalized Survivors of Gender Violence
    Valerie Seeley is a survivor of domestic violence and in 1988 she was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison for killing her abusive partner while defending herself from a violent attack. In 2017, Valerie was granted clemency and released from Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, New York. Her release came after spending 17 years in prison for protecting herself. Governor Cuomo, like all state governors, has the power to grant clemency to people who have been convicted under state law. Valerie is the ONLY domestic violence survivor that has been granted clemency by Gov. Cuomo. In the last eight years Gov. Cuomo has ONLY commuted 12 sentences in total. Survived & Punished, has joined forces with Color Of Change to demand that Gov. Cuomo free all criminalized survivors of gender violence. In New York state history only three survivors have been granted clemency. Gov. Cuomo has the power to change that immediately. Today, there are many people behind bars in NY state prisons simply for fighting to survive. We must protect, not criminalize survivors of domestic and gender based violence. Women and gender nonconforming (GNC) folks have historically been incarcerated for domestic violence and Black women and GNC survivors of abuse are rarely granted the right to protect and defend themselves against their abuser, even less than other people. Throughout the country millions of women, girls and GNC people who are incarcerated are also survivors of domestic/ gender based violence. We must end the criminalization of survivors, we must protect Black women and we must free all people incarcerated for simply surviving. Demand Gov. Cuomo #FreeThemNY. Learn more about #FreeThemNY--http://freethemny.com/
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