• 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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  • Tell the Federal Government: Create an Interagency Task Force to Hold Police Accountable!
    American politicians point to the Constitution as the standard -bearer of law and order, but as the 14th Amendment is (and has historically been) violated as pertains to the treatment of black, brown and poor people, it is important to point out that black, brown and poor people are being denied "due process of law." The impulsive shootings and killings of African Americans by police officers are a violation and represent actions of misconduct in direct opposition to the United States' June 12, 2013 claim to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Until the laws and policies of police departments across this nation change, laws which in effect protect law enforcement officers regardless of evidence which has shown officers to be in the wrong, the indiscriminate killings of African Americans will continue. The killings themselves are repulsive and regrettable, but the fact that so few officers are held accountable when evidence shows them to be guilty, adds to the mental distress and emotional trauma of family members who are left to deal with both their grief and anger because of the lack of justice they receive. The trauma that African Americans have experienced because of excessive police force with little to no accountability has been proven to be genetically passed on, meaning that African Americans today are not only coping with present-day violations of their rights, but with the historic miscarriage and lack of justice which has been part of their narrative. We know that working to eliminate the trauma experienced by Black people in the United States is hard but we believe that establishing a task force, to police the police, will help. Please join us in demanding the immediate establishment of this task force!
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  • Take the Pledge: We Are the Movement for Black Lives
    Guided by love, we continue to stand together for justice, human dignity and our shared goal of ending all forms of state violence against Black people. We organize, occupy, demonstrate, march and chant for a new future: A future we can be proud of. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, who fought for their freedom and ours. Like them, we want a world where our lives matter. We want an end to the war being waged on Black people, in all its forms. Some people fear change, and that's ok. Many will attempt to halt our progress. That is not ok. Some will continue their attempts to undermine us, but we will remain undeterred. For far too long, our unjust deaths have meant business as usual in this country. No more. Our work remains undone until our lives are free of violence. That is the future we imagine. Until that day comes: We pledge togetherness--- we will not allow ourselves to be divided. We pledge to allow our thinking and actions to be guided by love. We pledge to bring courage and power into our communities, and stop their flow out. We pledge not to be controlled by fear, but instead by our dreams. Join us, and pledge to do the same: Stand with the Movement for Black Lives.
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  • LIFE SAVING TREATMENT NOW FOR MUMIA ABU-JAMAL
    My name is Keith Cook, and I am Mumia Abu-Jamal’s brother. My loss, and my pain, have been constant for three decades since my brother has been in prison. He needs to come home, like so many of the men from our community. Mumia is very ill. I was in the waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit, just feet from where he lay nearly dying, for 28 long hours in Pottsville, PA before the guards would let me see him. He was chained: his right arm and left leg shacked to the hospital bed. Did you know that there is absolutely no reason for him to suffer? There is a cure for Hepatitis C — just one pill a day. I see my brother. But the Department of Corrections and the courts see “a prisoner”. Wasn’t Jesus a prisoner? Wasn’t Nelson Mandela a prisoner? Dr. Paul Noel, Director of Health Care for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and Dr. Carl J. Keldie Chief Clinical Officer of Correct Care Solutions would let incarcerated people die from this disease. Yes, Mumia is supported by Amnesty International and Desmond Tutu, among many others. But he is also just like any other Black man in prison. Together we must stop this shameful practice of denying lifesaving health care to Mumia Abu-Jamal and all prisoners. And we must expose the public health imperative of treating Hepatitis C inside and outside of prisons. As the drug’s inventor Michael Sofia notes, “How can you deny people access to a cure?”. Right now, my brother is in the infirmary at SCI Mahanoy, and he is receiving absolutely no treatment. We are in court, right now with a petition. You can make sure that the U.S. District Court Judge Mariani, and Magistrate Mehalchick see and hear more than the word “prisoner”. We know these folks are our mothers, fathers, and brothers. We know they deserve to be treated with dignity and with respect. We need your voice to be heard. Tell them you know that intentional medical neglect is a violation of the 8th Amendment and their Hippocratic Oath. Medical apartheid must stop. Please join me. - Keith Cook, Retired Command Sergeant; Major, US Army; Former Chairman Orange, County School Board; Past President, North Carolina Caucus of Black School Board; District Director, NC NAACP Conference of Branches
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  • LIFE SAVING TREATMENT NOW FOR MUMIA ABU-JAMAL
    My name is Keith Cook, and I am Mumia Abu-Jamal’s brother. My loss, and my pain, have been constant for three decades since my brother has been in prison. He needs to come home, like so many of the men from our community. Mumia is very ill. I was in the waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit, just feet from where he lay nearly dying, for 28 long hours in Pottsville, PA before the guards would let me see him. He was chained: his right arm and left leg shacked to the hospital bed. Did you know that there is absolutely no reason for him to suffer? There is a cure for Hepatitis C — just one pill a day. I see my brother. But the Department of Corrections and the courts see “a prisoner”. Wasn’t Jesus a prisoner? Wasn’t Nelson Mandela a prisoner? Dr. Paul Noel, Director of Health Care for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and Dr. Carl J. Keldie Chief Clinical Officer of Correct Care Solutions would let incarcerated people die from this disease. Yes, Mumia is supported by Amnesty International and Desmond Tutu, among many others. But he is also just like any other Black man in prison. Together we must stop this shameful practice of denying lifesaving health care to Mumia Abu-Jamal and all prisoners. And we must expose the public health imperative of treating Hepatitis C inside and outside of prisons. As the drug’s inventor Michael Sofia notes, “How can you deny people access to a cure?”. Right now, my brother is in the infirmary at SCI Mahanoy, and he is receiving absolutely no treatment. We are in court, right now with a petition. You can make sure that the U.S. District Court Judge Mariani, and Magistrate Mehalchick see and hear more than the word “prisoner”. We know these folks are our mothers, fathers, and brothers. We know they deserve to be treated with dignity and with respect. We need your voice to be heard. Tell them you know that intentional medical neglect is a violation of the 8th Amendment and their Hippocratic Oath. Medical apartheid must stop. Please join me. - Keith Cook, Retired Command Sergeant; Major, US Army; Former Chairman Orange, County School Board; Past President, North Carolina Caucus of Black School Board; District Director, NC NAACP Conference of Branches
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  • Tell Oakland City Council: Put Police Accountability Measure on Ballot
    For the past thirteen years, Oakland tax payers have spent OVER $30 MILLION on Federal oversight of the Police Department because rogue police officers profiled, harassed, abused, and planted drugs on hundreds of Black people in our city. When people experience this kind of police violence, trust is broken. And without that trust, community members are unlikely to report crimes or work with police to apprehend suspects, compromising the safety of everyone. That's why a coalition of organizations is working to pass a measure that will create a community-based Police Commission with the power to discipline officers and hold them accountable to ALL communities. This kind of community oversight will lead to more trust, more fair and equitable treatment, and greater police responsiveness to the community. We need the City Council to place this police accountability measure on the 2016 ballot by July. That's why we need massive public support to convince the City Council to do the right thing and help make policing fair and equitable for all of Oakland.
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  • No New Prisons In Minnesota
    Crime in Minnesota is at a 50-year-low. Yet our prison population is at an all-time high after years of unnecessary jail time for victimless crimes through sentencing practices that disproportionately target Black and Native American people. In response to the boom in our prison population, some Minnesota lawmakers have proposed opening a prison in Appleton, Minnesota. Under their current proposal, the prison would line the pockets of Corrections Corporation of America, a for-profit prison company with a long history of abuses. The proposal to allow CCA, whose business model is to profit off of the imprisonment of Black and brown bodies, to operate in Minnesota adds insult to injury. But Minnesota doesn’t need ANY new prisons, whether privately or publicly owned. Minnesota’s systemic imprisonment of Black and brown people is interwoven in every part of our worst-in-the-nation racial disparities. We must address the root causes of poverty and education and policing disparities that result in high rates of imprisonment, as well as access to housing, jobs, and voting rights for people with criminal records. Our tax dollars should be interrupting the cycle of our racial disparities and addressing the root causes, not exacerbating them with more prison beds. The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission has proposed a series of common sense sentencing reforms for low-level drug offenses that will reduce the need for 560 prison beds, and additional sentencing reforms could eliminate the need for hundreds more. The legislature should adopt these reforms and consider this the beginning of a conversation for how we can reduce our prison population, not increase it. Instead of adding new prison beds, the Minnesota legislature must prioritize reducing our prison population and giving our communities the support we need to thrive.
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  • Dutchess County Legislators: We Don't Need a New $300 Million Jail!
    The rush to build a 569-room jail and Sheriff’s complex in Dutchess County will end up costing taxpayers approximately $300 million over 30 years. This threatens the county’s fiscal stability and does little to address criminal justice priorities. Declining crime and reform efforts are leading to less prison facilities, lower incarceration rates and evidence-based, fair and effective diversion programs in New York and around the country. It doesn't make sense that Dutchess’ plan goes the opposite direction. The county's population is going down, but the proposal still calls for a 15% increase in jail beds. More disturbing is the fact that Dutchess saw its incarceration rate increase 41% between 2006 and 2015 when most other counties in New York saw their rate remain flat or decrease. The human cost of incarceration is also disproportionately borne by Dutchess County’s black residents, who make up 11% of the county population but 39% of the inmate population. The jail proposal sends a terrible message to black youth that they are seen as threats rather than valued residents and future leaders. This project is moving too fast and without appropriate safeguards and disclosure. We call on you to to reject the jail expansion project in current form and work with the community on reforming Dutchess County's criminal justice system first.
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  • No Grand Jury #Justice4Jamar
    Grand juries consistently fail to deliver justice in cases of fatal police shootings. In grand juries, prosecutors often rely on evidence gained solely from police. Moreover, the process is extremely secretive: the prosecutor and the grand jury members may not reveal what occurred in the grand jury room to the public, including any evidence or videos presented. Since 2000, 142 Minnesotans have been killed by police. Grand juries have returned indictments in zero of these cases. In fact, no police officer in Minnesota has EVER been indicted for a fatal shooting. While Mike Freeman insists grand juries have been a part of Minnesota’s justice system for 35 years, this is exactly the reason to eliminate their use in cases of fatal police encounters. The criminal justice system has been purposefully failing people of color for centuries. It is time to change our approach. Grand juries are neither effective nor required by law. California recently became the first state to ban grand juries in cases of deadly force by police. The governor of New York has appointed a special prosecutor for these cases. Recently, the city of Baltimore directly indicted police officers in the death of Freddie Gray without resorting to a grand jury process. A special prosecutor can and should decide whether to pursue charges directly, without obstructing justice via a grand jury.
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