• Release Aging People in Prison demands that New York State Bring Our Elders Home!
    The state of New York needlessly confines thousands of senior citizens to cruel and degrading conditions in prison. Since 2000, the number of people over 50 years old in New York State prisons has increased by 98%.The risk of committing a new crime decreases as one gets older, and people over 50 who serve long sentences for serious felonies are the least likely to return to prison after release. Many of the elder populations who are in prison have records of positive achievement in prison and are praised by prison officials as peacemakers and role models. Despite these truths, the vast majority of seniors in prison are routinely denied parole and compassionate release by the state. As this email comes to you, I am on my way to visit Herman Bell in Comstock prison in upstate New York. Herman, just turned 69 and has been in prison for 43 years, he is one of about 20 former Black Panther and Black Power Movement political prisoners aging in U.S prisons. Shocking, but not unique - he is among more than 10,140 people aged 50 and older in New York prisons. The need to free Herman is what motivates me to ask you to sign this petition and support our goal to release aging people in prison, end not only mass incarceration but also the racist system of punishing people of color and poor people in perpetuity. People imprisoned years ago, many due to political involvement and activism during the Black Power movement, are now turning gray. Some suffer from heart disease, hypertension, joint disease, and other age related illnesses. Prisons are looking more and more like nursing homes but with bars, metal detectors, and hyper security used against some of our most vulnerable and valuable populations- our elders. The aging population currently imprisoned is beyond what the prison system can handle. This is why we are demanding that the state of New York adopt a commonsense approach of releasing older inmates who present no danger to the public. In the state of New York it costs $60,000 per year to keep someone in prison, and older prisoners cost taxpayers even more—as much as two to four times that amount—due to added medical costs and the details of armed guards that accompany incarcerated people on trips to hospitals for tests and treatment. As we know there are stark racial disparities in incarceration rates, with Black and Hispanic people arrested at a rate that is 2 to 3 times their proportion of the general population. The well-documented racial disparities in the criminal justice system are also reflected in the aging prison population. A vastly disproportionate percentage of aging people in prison are Black people, many of whom are political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, and many more. Join us in demanding that New York state release incarcerated seniors who have already served considerable time and pose little or no threat to public safety. Doing so will restore the harmony of our communities, fulfill our commitment to the human rights of ALL people, and save New York millions of dollars a year. Aging people returning from prison pose little risk to public safety and are prepared to contribute positively to the society. Together, we reject retribution and perpetual punishment as the drivers of our justice system. Until our elders are freed, Laura Whitehorn Member of Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP) and former political prisoner
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  • Oregon: Fund Education not Executions!
    Oregon is spending millions of dollars on a death penalty system disproportionately invoked against Black people. While Black people only make up 2% of Oregon’s population they make up 9% of the population housed on Death Row. While spending millions of dollars to disproportionately imprison Black people, Governor Brown recently announced a state budget which could increase taxes and cuts services to the same communities who face this unfair criminal justice system. Instead of causing further damage to these communities by cutting vital services, Governor Brown should effectively end the use of the death penalty, save Oregon millions of dollars, and end an unjust practice that disproportionately targets the Black community.
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  • We Demand A New Vision for Criminal Justice in Champaign County
    For five years Build Programs, Not Jails has fought against jail building in our county. It is time for social and racial justice. Our county jail population is 65-70% Black in a county that is 13% Black. Time to end racism, to reduce the jail population and reallocate funding from law enforcement to providing services and creating pathways to success for people in our county.
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  • Serving Life w/ Hard Labor w/o Parole for $20 of Marijuana
    Fate Vincent Winslow was arrested in the Fall of 2008 for making $5 commission for delivering $20 worth of weed. The man he was delivering weed to was an undercover cop and when asked why Fate Vincent Winslow agreed to deliver $20 worth of weed he said because he wanted to use the $5 commission to buy food. Three months later, Winslow was found guilty of selling a Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substance. Another three months and the sentence lands: life imprisonment at hard labor with no chance for parole. Winslow will now die in prison for being tricked into selling $20.00 worth of weed to a plainclothed undercover cop in Louisiana, the world’s prison capital. Join me in demanding the Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards Free Fate Vincent Winslow immediately! When asked about his sentence Fate Vincent Winslow responded, “life for two bags of weed...people kill people and get five years”. Winslow’s case is one of the most egregious for marijuana violations, but it’s far from an anomaly. The Louisiana Prosecutor who handed Winslow’s case, Prosecutor Brown, views Winslow’s case as a major victory in what he calls “pro-active law enforcement”. A system that uses lesser crimes to lock up people whom he, and other Prosecutors, assume to be guilty of more violent crimes. This goes completely against the way the criminal justice system is supposed to work. Fate Vincent Winslow is currently serving life in prison for a very minor offense, selling weed, a substance that is now legal or at least decriminalized in many states, and something that White people do often without facing any repercussions. Winslow, according to Prosecutor Brown, is also in jail for being suspected of committing other crimes, which there is no evidence of. Fate Vincent Winslow, a 47 year old Black man who was homeless at the time of his arrest is another victim of the unjust criminal justice system that is strategically used to over incarcerate the Black community. Join me in demanding that Fate Vincent Winslow be freed! Winslow wrote about life in prison stating that “there is no life in prison. Just living day by day waiting to die in prison”. Winslow does not deserve to spend another day in prison, we demand that he be freed! Thank You, Korstiaan Vandiver "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?" -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. References: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/27/homeless-life-in-prison-weed_n_6769452.html
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  • Vote NO on California Proposition 66
    My name is Shujaa Graham and in 1973 I was framed for the murder of a prison guard due to my interest in the Black Power movement. I was wrongly placed on death row for a crime that I did not commit however, I was one of the lucky ones and while on death row I was able to fight for my innocence and after a fourth trial I was finally found innocent. I was able to win my freedom however this may not be a possibility for other innocent people on death row if Proposition 66 passes this November. California law enforcement, consisting of the very police departments that are known for their racist practices and numerous killings of Black community members, have raised nearly $5.5 million towards advertising that endorses Proposition 66. California law enforcement agencies want to speed up the death penalty process by limiting the ability to present new evidence of innocence and executing people faster. Some people have been removed from death row within just hours of execution. There is too much at risk here. If a person is killed and later found innocent there is no going back! This is why I need you to join me now and pledge to VOTE NO on Proposition 66. This proposition is unethical, funded by crooked prosecutors, prison guards, and other conservative law enforcement interests that are notorious for disproportionately targeting and killing Black people in California. Now they are working to do the same to those who are incarcerated in California with their attempts to pass of Prop. 66. Poor people and people of color are disproportionately put to death for crimes that bring other folks merely a long prison sentence. Let’s be clear: if Proposition 66 passes innocent Black and Brown people will be at a higher risk of being wrongly executed. California law enforcement agencies are dumping millions of dollars into advertising for Proposition 66 which would make it nearly impossible for innocent people on death row to prove their innocence. 156 innocent people nationwide, including three from California, have been wrongfully convicted of murder, sentenced to death but later exonerated; if Proposition 66 passes it would make it nearly impossible for innocent people on death row to gain their freedom and be exonerated. 61 percent of those exonerated are people of color, like me. This means that people of color, especially Black and Latino men and women, are being wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death at a shocking rate. Join me in in pledging to vote NO on Proposition 66 to make sure that innocent people of color are not wrongly executed in California. In Solidarity, Shujaa Graham California Death Row Exoneree Paid for by No on Prop 66 Californians for Fair Justice, sponsored by social justice organizations. Major funding by ACLU Northern CA and Open Society Policy Center.
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  • STOP ITOA
    ITOA promotes police use of military tactics with toxic racism and Islamophobia. Their keynote speaker this year will be anti-Muslim bigot and Fox News regular Dr. Sebastian Gorka [2], a self-proclaimed counterterrorism expert who has served in an advisory role to countless government and military agencies, from the CIA to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The conference will train local police and EMTs to operate “like tactical squads in the military” and incorporate “new data and surveillance technology” in their work, directly contributing to racialized law enforcement violence against communities of color in the Chicagoland area. While Chicago is still reeling from budget cuts that have resulted in the closure of over 50 public schools, mental health clinics, and severe cuts to social services, the city spends over $4 million a day on the Chicago police alone. ITOA is directly involved in training and arming those police, even using empty school buildings [3] as training grounds [4] for Cook County officers. The impact of ITOA reaches far beyond the Chicagoland area. With police departments from around the country, US Marshalls & DHS agents, and former & active military personnel attending their trainings and conferences, ITOA sets a national precedent for police militarization across law enforcement agencies in the United States. SWAT trainings like those occurring at this year’s ITOA conference take place in cities across the country year round, which lead directly to increased violence against Black communities, immigrant communities, and those already experiencing police violence. Weapons manufacturers from around the world also use the ITOA conference to sell military-grade equipment to local police forces–equipment that shocked the country when it was deployed against civilians in places like Ferguson, Minneapolis, and Baton Rouge. As part of the growing movement against policing, we call on Stonegate to end their contracts with the 2016 ITOA Tactical Training Conference. We are appalled that this venue would participate in the proliferation of arms and anti-Muslim, anti-Black bigotry in Chicagoland. Sign this petition to Stonegate general manager Charles Baptist to remind him that police violence & racism are bad business, and bad for business. This campaign is supported by: ----------------------------------------- Assata’s Daughters For The People Artists Collective American Friends Service Committee – Chicago The People’s Response Team Lifted Voices War Resisters League Council for American Islamic Relations – Chicago Organized Communities Against Deportations Black Lives Matter – Chicago Students for Justice in Palestine – Chicago Arab American Action Network Invisible to Invincible: Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago (i2i) Center for New Community Anakbayan – Chicago Iraq Veterans Against the War National Lawyer’s Guild – Chicago Black and Pink – Chicago Jewish Voice for Peace – Chicago Showing Up for Racial Justice – Chicago Chicago League of Abolitionist Whites Footnotes: [1] http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/How-Cook-County-Officers-Train-for-Active-Shooter-Situations-360426111.html [2] http://thegorkabriefing.com/about/ [3] http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/How-Cook-County-Officers-Train-for-Active-Shooter-Situations-360426111.htm [4] http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/05/30/what-happens-after-a-school-closes/
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  • SUPPORT A MORATORIUM ON TRAFFIC STOPS FOR REVENUE
    My name is Stephanie Findley and I am a longtime resident of Milwaukee. I just started a petition titled “ Support a Moratorium on Traffic Stops for Revenue”. As you probably know the Milwaukee police department stop black and hispanic drivers at a rate drastically higher than white drivers. When black people have interactions with the police violence can escalate quickly and as a Black woman the fear that I feel when a police car pulls up behind me is palpable. Black residents of Milwaukee should not have to live in fear of being unjustly targeted and pulled over by the police when driving. A moratorium will help to decrease the number of interactions Black residents of Milwaukee have with the police. In Milwaukee Black drivers are seven times as likely to be stopped by the police when compared to a white driver. The annual number of traffic stops conducted by police in Milwaukee has nearly quadrupled in the past four years, resulting in almost 200,000 stops last year. Police in Milwaukee stop black and hispanic drivers five times as often as white drivers and they are also five times as likely to be searched when pulled over by the police for a traffic stop. Unsurprisingly, black and hispanic drivers are also arrested at twice the rate of white drivers when pulled over by the police. These statistics further prove what Black Milwaukee residents already know to be true: that the police’s use of traffic stops has a huge racial gap, resulting in the over policing of black and hispanic communities. Black people in Milwaukee live in fear of the police and doing something as simple as driving to work or taking your kids to school can result in a negative interaction with the police. We know all too well that when Black people are stopped by the police during traffic stops violence escalates quickly, sometimes resulting in death as seen with Sandra Bland and Philando Castille. Please join me in demanding that Milwaukee city council introduce a moratorium on traffic stops for revenue.
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  • Stop Legislation to Militarize Nashville Police
    This is important because the logic behind the legislation is faulty. Black folks are being murdered by the police every 28 hours and Metro Nashville has yet to immediately dip in to the reserves for black folks and or poor people. All of a sudden the mayor feels a need to dip in to metro Nashville's reserve fund for militarized weaponry that will only widen the racial divide and create massive distrust of police moving forward? In addition, Mayor Barry and Chief Anderson is doing this in honor of a police officer who died of natural causes. Come out Sept 6th at 6:30pm Metro Nashville Courthouse, to demand this legislation be turned down and the monies be used for body camera's!!!!!!! http://www.nashvillescene.com/news/pith-in-the-wind/article/20830899/metro-to-spend-1-million-on-body-armor-helmets-face-shields-for-police http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/2016/08/16/mayor-megan-barry-proposes-ballistic-armor-nashville-police/88840740/
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  • A CALL TO DECRIMINALIZE THE U.S. IMMIGRATION SYSTEM
    Since the nation’s inception, immigration policies have been used to maintain white supremacy, stifle dissent, and as a social control tool, silencing alternative voices seeking social, economic, and racial justice and equality. The 1990s brought us a wave of laws which pulled the rug out from under the advances made by people of color in the U.S., including immigrants, during the Civil Rights movement. As part of this attack on Black and Brown communities, Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (“the 1994 Crime Bill”), which re-classified less serious offenses, including drug offenses, as federal felonies, created long mandatory sentences, required state sex offender registries, and provided for $9.7 billion dollars in funding for prisons along with 100,000 new police officers on the street. Fresh off the 1994 Crime Bill, Congress passed the “1996 Immigration Laws”. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (“IIR-IRA”) and Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”), expanded the grounds for deportation by broadening the definition of “aggravated felony,” which was first defined in the 1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Act; establishing harsh sentences for numerous offenses and classes of mandatory detention; stripping away judicial discretion and the right to due process; and retroactively punishing those who already served time for their offenses. These laws also created a perverse incentive for local and federal law enforcement agencies to criminalize communities of color and created the private prison contracting sector. Amongst all immigrants, Black immigrants are nearly three times more likely to be detained and deported as a result of an alleged criminal offense. Moreover, many Black immigrants are ineligible for any form of relief, including a green card, executive programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Temporary Protected Status, or citizenship as a result of criminal contact. As a result of these laws passed twenty years ago, and a political climate that marginalizes and promotes state violence against immigrant, Black, Brown, and poor communities, the number of immigrants deported has increased ten-fold, tearing apart millions of families. Moreover, the U.S. mass incarceration and immigrant detention and deportation systems have become the largest in the world.
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  • Tell Obama: Defund Police Departments that lack reform
    Politicians can’t keep promising the change we need in local police departments and quietly maintain the status quo by failing to take real action. Pres. Obama and Congress have real power to hold police departments accountable with their funding—if they are really about stopping police terror in Black communities, this is how they show it. Baton Rouge PD, the very police department that killed Alton Sterling, has been under investigation by the Department of Justice for civil rights violations TWICE—including for its harassment of Black people following Hurricane Katrina. Yet, federal officials continue to give them money--in fact, Baton Rouge PD has received 3 million dollars from the DOJ over the past five years. In the aftermath of his death, it was revealed that Philando Castile had been stopped by police 52 times in 14 years—and subject to the same profiling, criminalization, and extraction of wealth detailed in the Department of Justice’s report on Ferguson police and replicated everywhere in the US. The federal government knows exactly how police departments are terrorizing Black communities—it’s past time they do something about it and hold these police departments accountable. The reforms we’re calling for are simple ones that President Obama himself has supported and funded research to create with the 21st Century Policing Task Force.7 It’s time for Pres. Obama to step up and ensure these critical reforms actually happen—and he can do that by withholding funds from any police department that doesn’t do the following: Embrace a culture of transparency -Make all department policies available for public review, and publish demographic data on all stops, frisks, summonses and arrests. -Collect, maintain, and analyze demographic data on all officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths. Hold the police accountable -Adopt policies that require all officers to seek written consent before any search & provide their name, reason for stop or search, and contact information for the civilian complaint board. -Police cannot and should not police themselves. Require independent criminal investigations into all officer-involved fatalities and in-custody deaths. -Enforce policies prohibiting profiling and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, housing status, occupation and/or language fluency. With four Black deaths in a matter of days, we're in—and have been in—a state of emergency. We can't afford to spend millions of dollars on police departments that will continue killing, criminalizing, and incarcerating Black people.
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  • Let's Remove Racial Bias From Policing
    Last year, my brother was shot in the chest, while unarmed and seeking treatment in the hospital, by two police officers who could not see that a young Black man could be a person in need of help. We know that what happened to my brother was not an isolated experience. At least 9 people were killed in recent weeks as a result of our policing crisis. CDC data shows that Native Americans, Blacks, and Latinos are killed during police interactions at higher rates than whites. Perceived criminality and implicit racial bias are significant drivers of this problem. Implicit Racial Bias Training is a proven tool can help police officers see Black men as fellow human beings, worthy of protection, instead of a threat that needs to be eliminated. I come from a family of physicians. We follow the best research for our patients, and our police are capable of doing the same for the communities that they serve. The International Association of Chiefs of Police knows that implicit bias training has been shown to make police officers aware of their biases. This awareness can help correct their behavior, and it is a cornerstone of safe community policing. My family is joining Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc., in asking the White House to make implicit bias training mandatory for ALL police departments. Far too many lives have been lost, and it only seems to be getting worse. How many of these tragedies could have been prevented by more comprehensive, evidence-based training? Why should our federal government provide grants to police departments that are unable or unwilling to remove bias from their ranks? We have the tools to remove racial bias like the cancer that it is, and rebuild trust between law enforcement and communities of color; please sign the petition and share it with friends, family and colleagues. Join Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (www.pfcjreform.org) in calling for the federal government to require Implicit Racial Bias Training for police departments nationwide as a condition of eligibility for federal grant funding.
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  • #FrankRizzoDown
    Frank Rizzo was a Philadelphia police commissioner, from April 10, 1967- February 2, 1971. He was also the 119th Mayor of Philadelphia, from January 3, 1972 - January 7, 1980. Rizzo was an unrepentant racist who stopped at nothing to torture and hold Philadelphia's African-American community as his personal hostages. Rizzo used his authority to stop resistance against racist and unconstitutional injustices by using attack dogs on African-American college students as they protested on Temple University's campus. He consolidated his powers of abuse as a former officer and then police Commissioner in the City of Philadelphia, while his brother, James Rizzo, was the city's Fire Departments Chief. The police and fire departments were highly segregated, and allowed racism to take fold and shape. While claiming to implement Affirmative Action as a way to end racial discrimination, these institutions were used to promote anti-black violence against the African American community. Rank and file officers were used to implement harsh punishments, brutal beatings, cover-ups, deception, internal crime, turf drops (the body-snatching and dumping of black "suspects" in racist white communities, which subjected them to violent attacks from that community) and racially profiled stop-and-frisks that continue to stain our communities in contemporary times. Frank Rizzo's racist relationship towards Philadelphia's African-American community has always been one of violence, devastation and despair. Two of his most violent legacies to date involve members of Philadelphia's local chapter of the Black Panther Party being publicly stripped. The display of their naked bodies appeared on the Daily News' front page in August 1970, while the organization was preparing for a Peoples Revolution Convention to address police violence in the city and throughout the country. The forceful eviction of the MOVE family from their home in 1978 is another one of Rizzo's racist legacies. The city waged a violent attack against the MOVE family, which led to the framing of the MOVE 9. As a result, Delbert Africa was brutally beaten. Images from the period show Delbert being dragged by his hair, being kicked and punched by the Philadelphia Police Department, as well as being struck with an officer's helmet. This incident of racist violence has left the MOVE 9 incarcerated for over thirty years, and not one local governmental official has been held accountable. Frank Rizzo publicly made racist comments about Philadelphia's African-American communities; he openly used the term "niggers" when referencing black Philadelphians. Rizzo actively supported the historically racist views, values, and practices of Philadelphia's Police Department, which has left a lasting legacy of brutality and violence against the African American citizens of the city. Frank Rizzo's abuse of the African-American community was supported by Richard Nixon, despite Rizzo being investigated by the Civil Rights Commission, regarding complaints involving police brutality. The removal of this statue would be the first step in acknowledging Rizzo's crimes against the African-American community. It would be a much needed step towards truth and reconciliation, and holding police accountable for misconduct. This is something that is long overdue in this city. The removal of the Rizzo statue would also remove the constant reminder that our city actively supported a racist demagogue and then immortalized him as someone worthy of honor. The black community would rather see representations of the great contributions made by African Americans and other people of color to this city's development. These statues should be erected in place of the constant representations of Christopher Columbus, war heroes, Frank Rizzo and others who have held communities of color in subjugation. We will no longer allow our taxes and other city resources to be used to erect and maintain monuments of white supremacist figures.
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