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#EndWarOnYouth: Justice for Woodland Hills StudentsOn Monday, April 3, 2017, Que'Chawn Wade, 14, was violently assaulted by Churchill police officer Steve Shaulis at Woodland Hills High School. Officer Shaulis publicly used derogatory slurs, put him in a chokehold, body slammed, and repeatedly punched Que'Chawn in the head, causing him to lose two teeth and sustain bruises and multiple lacerations to his face and neck. Instead of firing, arresting, and charging police officer Shaulis, the Churchill Police Department arrested and charged Que'Chawn. The Woodland Hills School District is notorious for police violence, child abuse, and for the criminalization of Black youth. In November of 2016, a student released a tape of Principal of Woodland Hills High School Kevin Murray threatening to punch him in the face. Principal Murray was allowed to return to the school as Principal in January 2017, just a few months before Que’Chawn was assaulted under his watch. But the student who taped the principal faces wiretapping charges. In 2015, a student was brutally assaulted and tased by Officer Shaulis while being held down by Principal Murray. We are clear that there is a war on Black youth. From the #AssaultAtSpringValley to the #AssaultAtWoodlandHills, school police, and the schools’ and districts’ compliance, reign terror on Black students. Without any justice for Que'Chawn, the Woodland School District, Allegheny County, and the state of Pennsylvania are sending a message to children and families, that we are disposable. Our families know police do not belong in schools. Hold police officer Steve Shaulis and Principal Kevin Murray accountable. End the war on youth.
Serving Life w/ Hard Labor w/o Parole for $20 of MarijuanaFate 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
Fire and Charge the Officers who Killed Desmond PhillipsChico Police Officers Alex Fliehr and Jeremy Gagnebin shot and killed Desmond Phillips. On March 17th, 2017 Desmond's father, David call 911 for medical assistance. David had made such a call twice before in a few months time. At 25 years old Desmond struggled with mental health challenges including PTSD from being beaten by Sacramento police for being unresponsive. That police assault put him in the hospital ICU for 4 days. The Chico 911 dispatch, Chico Police, and Chico Behavioral Health Department were familiar with Desmond's background and had successfully taken him in for mental health treatment twice before. On March 17th the first responders who arrived at David's apartment removed Desmond's headphones and sunglasses which is how he was coping with the crisis he was in. When he became agitated in response, they first responders called in the police. The police arrived at the scene with a non-lethal beanbag gun and shield, but those things were never used. When Desmond saw the police he panicked and locked the front door. The police broke down the door, tased him and within seconds Officers Gagnebin and Fliehr fired 16 shots total from their two semi-automatic handguns. The police claim that Desmond got back up after being tased and charged at them with a knife. But David was there and witnessed the officers murder his son. Desmond's nephews 10 and 12 year nephews were also in the apartment. The neighbors heard what can be heard on the 911 tape as well, the taser was deployed and only a few second passed before the gunshots began, Every shot was in his face and chest area, and the highest blood or bullet holes in the wall were at 4 feet high. Desmond was 6'1', clearly showing that he could not have been standing when he was shot as the police claimed. A couple of the bullets passed through a wall into the neighboring apartment. what they found in Desmond's hand was not a knife but a piece of the door jam that had broken when the police entered. Both officers were rookies, one with 2 years and the other with one year on duty. It was negligent and reckless for Sergeant Lefkowitz to send 2 rookies into a mental health crisis and potentially violent situation. The 911 dispatcher, the first responders, and the police NEVER called in ANY mental health professionals. Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey has ruled that the murder was "justified" and will not be pressing criminal charges. During each public statement DA Ramsey gave during the investigation, his version of what happened has changed in multiple ways. Chico Police Chief O'Brien and DA Ramsey claimed that the Officers involved had gone through Critical Incident Training. Sheriff Duch, who teaches de-escalation training, resigned citing that the Police and DA were lying about the training Officers Fliehr, Gagnebin, and others have had. The two Officers who killed Desmond got a paid vacation (administrative leave, during the investigation) and are now back on duty. The Phillips family and the Community demand that they be fired. They are a danger to the Community. The Phillips family and the Community want the CA State Attorney General to launch an independent investigation and press criminal charges against Officer Alex Fliehr, Officer Jeremy Gagnebin, and Sergeant Todd Lefkowitz. How many Black people must be killed by law enforcement before we see justice for their families, serious consequences for the killers, and changes in policy and procedure that continue to enable these tragedies?
Protesters Are Not Criminals! Drop The Charges Against The Jacksonville 19On Monday December 8, 2014 during a national protest demanding justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown, 19 activists and organizers in Jacksonville, FL (The Jacksonville 19) were arrested and charged with obstruction of traffic and were threatened with an egregious restitution fine. State officials in Florida join a sickening trend that is spreading across the nation, where protesters face harsh penalties for speaking out against police violence. From the 70k restitution charge against protesters in Oakland, CA (1) to a Baltimore protester who has a 500K bail (2), it becomes all too clear that our 1st amendment rights are under attack. We won't stand for it. And we need widespread public pressure to expose and stop State Attorney Angela Corey’s discriminatory and the outrageous attempts to profit off and punish the growing movement for Black liberation. Instead of working to end the discriminatory pattern of police violence that continues without pause, Angela Corey wants monetary reimbursement from those standing up for the inviolability of their lives. There’s something terribly wrong with this picture. How is it that protesters are being criminalized for speaking out against grave injustices and killer cops continue to walk free with no consequences for the lives they have stolen? The answer is simple. The entire criminal justice system is entrenched with discriminatory practices that further perpetuate white supremacy, which couldn’t be more true for the state of Florida who has struggled with decades and decades of racism and brutal violence against Black people. The Jacksonville 19 was arrested on December 8th, handcuffed, placed in a police cars, and driven to jail where they waited for four hours while State Attorney Angela Corey decided her plan with what to do with them. Now, State Attorney Corey has decided to harshly penalize 19 peaceful protesters with misdemeanor charges and high restitution fines for exercising their first amendment rights. This is not the first of State Attorney Corey’s abuses. Angela Corey tried to convict Christian Fernandez, a 12-year-old child, to a life time in prison; Angela Corey did not support the true judgment for Zimmerman in defense of Trayvon Martin and Angela Corey unjustly tried to convict Marissa Alexander with 60 years for defending herself in her home. This is a crisis of integrity in the Florida justice system that requires your intervention. This case is also the first time that a Jacksonville social change group comprised of organizers, mothers, students, and women are being charged and asked to pay restitution for an action calling for an end to discriminatory policing that severely impacts the lives of Black residents in Florida. We cannot allow the State Attorney to repeat this treacherous, autocratic Southern narrative model anymore. Florida has a long history of deep seated racism which has produced rampant brutal violence against Black people.The history of a young man, Jordan Davis, being shot at a gas station in Jacksonville in 2012 for playing his music too loud is an echo of white racist violence from 1960 when up to 200 members of the Ku Klux Klan carried ax handles, baseball bats and other kinds of clubs, threatening to organize citywide boycotts if the stores made an agreement to serve food to Black customers in downtown Jacksonville. The police stayed away until members of a group known as the Bomerangs began assisting the demonstrators. The Jacksonville 19 reflects the courage of that group, coming together to stand up for communities under attack. Let’s start by demanding that State Attorney Angela Corey, Mayor Lenny Curry, and Governor Rick Scott dismiss the charges against the Jacksonville 19! Shut it Down! Support the Jacksonville 19 during their trial and demand that Florida officials #DropTheCharges! This petition is also supported by: Burnpile Press, Veterans for Peace, Jacksonville, Chapter 174, Strengthen Our Sisters, Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign, Black Women's Lives Matter, Project South, Mad Moms, The CHESS Foundation, The New Jim Crow Movement - Jacksonville, Malcolm X Center for Self Determination, SCLC, Free Marissa Now (FMN), Black Lives Matter, Ferguson Actions, Southern Movement Alliance, and New South Network of War Resisters. References, 1) Bart Directors: When It Comes to Ending The War On Black Communities, Which Side Are You On?, 01-2015 http://bit.ly/1AfqfUG 2) Baltimore rioter slapped with $500k bail as cops charged in Freddie Gray murder walk free, 05-03-2015 http://bit.ly/1G88tsL
#NoNewNYPD PetitionWe have calculated that with $100 million in many of these priority areas, we could accomplish the following: - $100 Million could be invested to employ 310,000 youth this summer. - $100 Million could be invested to hire 2,000 social workers or special education teachers. - $100 Million could be invested to provide 62,500 people in low-income households with free transportation. - $100 Million could be invested to increase resident association budgets by $281,437 in all 334 NYCHA buildings. Our communities are defining safety beyond policing. New York’s elected officials have the opportunity and duty to do the same. Communities of color are being systematically over-policed while also being displaced by rising rent and gentrification. Mayor de Blasio, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and City Council -- We demand that you serve the best interests of the people and redirect the $100 million currently in the proposed budget for additional police, to programs that will make our communities stronger. For more information go to www.safetybeyondpolicing.com
Governor Nixon: Don't let officer Darren Wilson get away with murder; secure justice for Mike BrownIt’s been nearly two months since Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old, unarmed Black teenager, Mike Brown, and County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch has done everything in his power to avoid holding Wilson accountable, while state Governor Jay Nixon stands idly by. We at the Organization for Black Struggle have been working day and night demanding justice for Mike Brown and so many others who have been unjustly killed as a result of systemic racial bias and violence against black and brown communities. Black lives matter, and we can’t let Wilson get away with murder! And now, reports have surfaced that a jury member has broken the grand jury secrecy rules by tweeting that there is not enough evidence to arrest Wilson.(1) Public discussion of confidential jury proceedings is serious misconduct, and now it's up to Governor Nixon to show that justice is possible in Missouri. He must get rid of McCulloch for his disgraceful and corrupt handling of this national tragedy. McCulloch could have charged Wilson immediately, but chose to convene a grand jury instead. He then refused to recommend charges to the grand jury, a move that discourages jurors from indicting.(2) In 23 years as County Prosecutor, McCulloch has not prosecuted a single police shooting.(3) Given this shameful history of denied justice, it’s clear that McCulloch is incapable of securing justice for Mike Brown. The world is watching, and the one person with the power to do something is Governor Nixon, who has a responsibility to the Black voters that supported him. It’s time for him to act. Join us in demanding that Governor Nixon remove McCulloch from this train wreck of a case, and appoint a special prosecutor to take over. Since Brown’s death, we’ve been out on the streets facing Ferguson’s militarized police as we peacefully demand justice for Mike Brown. Time and again, local officials have shown us that Black lives don’t matter. We refuse to accept that message. An indictment could happen by October 15, so we must act now to change the story here in Ferguson. Governor Nixon has been given enough time to intervene and restore integrity and justice in the case against Officer Wilson. Help us create enough widespread public pressure to ensure that Governor Nixon appoints a special prosecutor by October 15. We demand Justice! P.S. Join OBS, ColorOfChange.org, and thousands of others standing shoulder to shoulder in Ferguson, Missouri for a Weekend of Resistance Oct. 10-13: http://fergusonoctober.com References 1. “Grand jury considering the Ferguson shooting is being investigated for misconduct,” Washington Post 10-01-2014 http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/10/01/grand-jury-hearing-ferguson-shooting-is-being-investigated-for-misconduct/ 2. “Ferguson tragedy becoming a farce,” Washington Post 09-12-2014 http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-ferguson-tragedy-becoming-a-farce/2014/09/12/e52226ca-3a82-11e4-9c9f-ebb47272e40e_story.html 3. See reference 2.
Appoint a Special Prosecutor NOW!Over and over we have seen state prosecutors put on weak cases to assure an acquittal when the defendant is a police officer. State prosecutors routinely work with police on cases to secure a conviction, but when the officer is the defendant, prosecutors have the delicate task of prosecuting the very people and agency that they work closely with daily. It is even more politically treacherous to prosecute an officer as the State Attorney General. Therefore, if the State wants to build confidence in the process and conduct an unbiased investigation, the prosecutor to handle this case must be independent of the District Attorney’s Office, the State Attorney General’s Office, or any other agency beholden to the state. The appointment of a special prosecutor is in the public’s best interest based on the amount of civil unrest that has ensued subsequent to the increased number of African American killings by white officers and the lack of (I would suggest lack of charges being brought against officers not convictions) convictions regarding these killings. Further, the appointment of a special prosecutor is crucial to bringing back integrity to the criminal justice system and to provide the level of professionalism and deference the Sterling family deserves, but was deprived of during the DOJ investigation and announcement. We were asked to have confidence in the criminal justice system and trust the process. However, we have lost confidence in the ability of agencies of justice to conduct investigations without prejudice, bias, or political conflict of interest. Given the growing number of protests, riots, and now, police murders, the time to set the tone for untainted justice is NOW. We are not dealing with isolated incidences of police officers’ mishaps and mistakes; we are dealing with a culture of racism, blatant acts of racism, and civil, criminal, and constitutional violations. We are at a critical juncture in this country and in our history, and one of the first steps in rectifying this overwhelming disproportionate number of violent deaths of blacks by white police officers is to appoint special independent counsel to investigate the death of Alton Sterling. We fear that without this appointment, this country will experience many darker days ahead, marked with an overwhelming rise in violent acts committed by both blacks and whites out of fear, frustration, retaliation, and just plain hatred, akin to what we have experienced since the death of Alton Sterling. Therefore, we believe the appointment of a special independent prosecutor is now warranted to restore civil order, ensure fairness and integrity, serve public interests, and ensure justice for each party involved in the death of Alton Sterling.
Demand Mayor Bowser discipline officers who beat, arrested & overcharged inauguration day protestorsOn January 20th, 30 Black activists from the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) took a stand against Donald Trump's bigotry and hatred. As an organizer with Black Lives Matter DC it was an honor to help blockade an entrance to Trump’s inauguration, making it impossible for racist Trump supporters to hear their KKK endorsed President spew his hateful rhetoric. On that day, as we were joined by a multiracial coalition of chosen family, movement family, and allies, I knew that this was both the culmination of three years of organizing and the start of something even more beautiful and powerful than what we've seen recently. In the past few weeks, as thousands of people in this country are becoming politicized, radicalized, and moved to action in ways they never have before, I am more confirmed in faith that the resistance will only continue to build. We have to make sure this protest continues, and I know it will, so does Trump, Mayor Bowser, and the Metro Police Department which is exactly why on Inauguration day the Metro Police Department carried out random mass arrests of more than 200 people- including medics, legal observers and journalists- and took the extraordinary step of charging them with a felony rioting statute that hasn’t been used in DC in more than 25 years. A felony record can have grave consequences for a person’s future including being denied loans, refused jobs and in many states denied the right to vote. We know that these draconian enforcements are no surprise from Trump who tweeted that burning the american flag, a legal act, should be punished with “perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail”. We also know that this type of policing is the status quo for the Metro Police Department and Mayor Bowser, under whose watch police have continued to terrorize youth in Black Communities. Bowser is known to talk about defending rights and market herself as a progressive Mayor, however she does this only when it suits her. Join us in demanding that Mayor Muriel Bowser pick a side- will she enable Trump's hateful, fascists agenda by suppressing dissent in the District of Columbia or will she permit protests to his regime. Charging protestors with a felony riot statue was a strategic tactic used with the hopes of scaring people and to discourage dissent. Felony rioting is rarely used and is a severe statute in DC law that carries up to 10 years in prison. The last time this many people were charged with felony rioting in D.C was when MLK was assassinated- making it very clear to what Trump wants to do to the country when he says “make america great again”. At the Women’s March Mayor Bowser denounced Trump saying that she wants him and the federal government to “leave us alone” however, as she stated this most of the 200 inauguration day protesters were still held in jail. Despite her rhetoric she is taking the side of Trump by refusing to protect the right to protest in her city. As we continue our resistance to Trump we need to demand that Mayor Bowser is either with us or against us, with a Trump administration there are no sidelines for politicians, they can no longer flip flop, they are either with the people, with Black people, or with Trump. Due to her previous record it is not surprising that Mayor Bowser has allowed this to happen in her city but if she continues to do this we will make it clear that she is siding with Trump, and allowing Trump's vision of America to reign in her city. Demand D.C Mayor Bowser pick a side! This week we are gearing up for demonstrations on President's Day, a National Holiday to honor those that serve as President, however, Donald Trump is not our President and we will be in the streets making that clear! We need you to take action now so that when President's Day comes on Monday Mayor Bowser knows that we are watching her and demanding that the Metro Police Department no longer charge protestors with any form of crime while simultaneously demanding that all charges are dropped for the inauguration day protestors. We will not allow Mayor Bowser and the Metro Police Department continue in their efforts to normalize their use of teargassing, throwing concussion grenades, aggressive beating of protestors, or mass arrests. While we know these tactics aren't new they are exactly what Trump envisions and we must fight back! Still it is important to remember that these overcharging fear tactics, carried out by Mayor Bowser’s D.C police, are an extension of the policing that Black communities in DC have faced for years. People in power have the ability to change public perception of what is normal but we can not let them do that. Join me in demanding Mayor Muriel Bowser have her police department drop all charges for inauguration day protestors, that she discipline the Metro Police Department Officers who teargassed, aggressively beat, and arrested protestors, and that moving forward the Metro Police Department will no longer charge protesters with anything, because protesting is not a crime! Thanks you, Aaron Goggans Black Lives Matter D.C
End Cash Bail In PhillyWe must end cash bail if we want to significantly decrease Philadelphia's overreliance on incarceration. Every day, there are thousands of people held in Philadelphia's jails solely because they cannot afford to pay for their release. Over 75% of people in Philadelphia's county jails are being held pretrial, often for many months, denying their fundamental right of the presumption of "innocent until proven guilty". Removing this barrier of cash bail allows a person to pursue their own legal defense while minimizing potential collateral consequences of their arrest. As bail reform sweeps the country, we want to see our city step up and put an end to the human rights violation of cash bail. The Department of Justice has already announced that our nation's current money bail system is unconstitutional, and our neighbors are leading the way for us -- New Jersey recently passed comprehensive bail reform policies, and Washington DC ended their use of cash bail years ago. Other cities have successfully changed their pre-trial detention process without an adverse impact on public safety, while at the same time protecting the rights of the accused and providing accountability to ensure appearance in court. Cash bail only serves as a tool of oppression against the poor and against Black and Brown people who are disproportionately impacted, and perpetuates the machine of mass incarceration. We believe nobody should have to pay for their freedom, and we urge Philadelphia City Council, Mayor Kenney and the District Attorney's Office to take action now to put an end to cash bail.
Boycott United AirlinesOn Sunday night, United Airlines ordered security guards to remove a Chinese passenger traveling on Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville. When passenger David Doa refused to give up his seat to standby passengers, United Airlines security pulled Doa from his seat, punched him unconscious, and dragged his limp body down the plane aisle to eject him from the aircraft. Moments before Chicago Department of Aviation Security Officers ripped Doa out of his seatbelt, Doa told fellow passengers that he felt that he was selected because he is Chinese. Dao, a doctor flying from Chicago O’Hare airport to Louisville, protested saying that he needed to be on that plane to see his patients the next day. Join me in calling for a boycott of United Airlines! While what happened to David Dao may feel like an isolated incident, it is not! It represents a trend in the excessive use of force being used by police, security guards, in this case Chicago Department of Aviation Security Officers, and other departments that are said to keep the public safe. In addition to asking you to Boycott United Airlines we also demand that United Airlines: - Pay reparations to David Dao - Fully reimburse all customers who were on Flight 3411 and had to witness such violent and racially charged treatment of a customer - Fire all security guards involved David Dao was punched, knocked unconscious, and then dragged through the aisle creating an absolute violent spectacle. Not only is this wrong it was racist, it’s what happens when police and security guards feel like they have the right to use excessive force and when they know that they will not be punished for doing so. United Airlines must be stopped, join me in boycotting this airline until all of our above stated demands are met! The response from United Airlines President about this incident was so bizarre that it seems like their might be a more systemic problem here. CEO Oscar Munoz said "This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accomodate these customers...". Mr. Dao was forcibly removed from the plane, bloodied, and publicly embarrassed. This is not what "re-accommodating" looks like! Black folks know all to well the violence that police forces inflict on people, police forces and violence should not be used for corporate profit! Join me in boycotting United Airlines until they are truly held accountable for this racist and violent action toward David Dao!
Don't Prosecute #BlackLivesMatter ProtestorsOn December 23, 2015, 9 #BlackLivesMatter members were arrested for taking part in non-violent direct action that briefly stalled traffic on the 405 freeway in order to lift up the names of Black people who have been killed by law enforcement. This was a part of a #BlackXmas synchronized action which occurred in 6 cities around the United States. ONLY IN LOS ANGELES are demonstrators facing felony charges…including felony conspiracy charges, typically used in political prosecutions. It is especially important on the eve of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday and moving into Black History Month that we celebrate the tradition of non-violent protest not prosecute it.
Stop Black Lives Matter activists from being monitored and attacked by NYPDThe Black Lives Matter movement is working to dismantle structural and institutional racism and white supremacy. Unfortunately the police and the current criminal justice system serve and uphold these institutions. It is our duty and our right to demand accountability from our criminal justice system, and from the police that are supposed to protect and serve us, but instead terrorize, harm and kill us. We will not remain silent while police remain violent and we must protest in order to affect change.
Release McKinney Police Corporal Eric Casebolt’s full disciplinary record.The public deserves to know if Corporal Casebolt has any previous incidents of brutality. Demand the McKinney Police Department release his disciplinary record. This is important because this incident is one in a long line of incidents that continue to demonstrate that Black youth are routinely dehumanized in our society. Implicit bias and perceptions of Black youth directly impact they way that they are engaged. Because these youth were seen to not belong in the area, the officers did even attempt to engage them as residents or even guests but rather as intruders. This is evidenced by the fact that the teenager who filmed the incident was white and therefor was not engaged by the police at all - despite capturing the entire event on camera. We have seen in past, how these interactions can quickly turn deadly. The community can not begin to heal until these issues are exposed and confronted in a honest and transparent fashion.
Mall of America: Show you believe that Black lives matterOn December 20th, 2014, over 3,000 people gathered in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, to protest the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and the thousands of other Black Americans brutally killed by police. Chanting “Black Lives Matter!” and reaffirming the value of Black humanity, the protestors challenged our law enforcement and legal system to own up to and stop their racist attacks on Black lives. Unfortunately, what protestors got in response was a declaration of war. The police showed up in full riot gear, shut down parts of the mall and arrested 25 protestors. Since then, the mall owners, Canada-based Triple Five Group, have been working with the Bloomington city prosecutor to “make an example” of 11 “ringleaders” of the protest (1). This is a clear example of why protestors were in the mall in the first place: discriminatory, militarized policing and the criminalization of people of color by both law enforcement and the justice system. Bloomington city authorities have a chance to continue in this racist tradition or reverse these practices going forward. 70,000 educators, 170,000 Amalgamated Traffic Union members, 100+ clergy members, and the Minnesota AFL-CIO have urged for change, asking the city prosecutor, Sandra Johnson, to drop the charges against the protestors (2). They point out that peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our democracy and the precedent that this prosecution sets is both shameful and dangerous for the future of dissent in this country. When private property is legally valued over Black lives, we know our country has a problem. Instead of wasting public funds quashing this critical voice, Johnson could be engaging in an effort to make the justice system work for those who do not receive fair and equal treatment. Despite all of these calls from the public to stop heavy-handed tactics used against these protestors, Sandra Johnson has maintained that she will prosecute the defendants no matter what (3). Indeed, eleven of the purported organizers were arraigned on March 10th and charged with six misdemeanors, including trespassing and disorderly conduct. Perhaps most disturbing is that Johnson is demanding $40,000 in restitution for police overtime and lost revenue (4). This is dangerous to our democracy and our first amendment right to protest. When public protest, shown throughout history to be one of the most effective forces for social change, is criminalized and monetized, how can we hope to address major inequities in our society? This is why we are hoping you will join in asking the mall owners, the Triple Five Group, to tell the prosecutor to drop the charges against the Black Lives Matter protestors. If the Group tells the attorney to discontinue this aggressive, unjust pursuit, she will be forced to stay true to her word or listen to the overwhelming voice of the people and back down. Yes, Johnson has said that she must do her job without paying attention to public opinion; she must uphold justice and the law, immune to outside influence. But what about when our laws are unjust? When “justice” consistently, negatively, and disproportionately affects people of color? This is a crucial moment in our nation’s movement for racial justice, and the justice system is a crucial site of struggle. That is why we all must collectively put pressure on the system. It is time for change. Join me in urging the Mall of America owners to demand that Sandra Johnson drop the charges against the protestors so that she is forced to listen to the call for racial justice. (1) https://www.minnpost.com/glean/2014/12/bloomington-city-attorney-wants-make-example-out-moa-protesters-filing-charges (2) http://educationminnesota.org/news/education-headlines/black-lives-matter-resolution https://www.facebook.com/BlackLivesMatterMinneapolis/photos/pcb.891246207585840/891244177586043/?type=1&theater http://theuptake.org/2015/03/02/city-of-bloomington-100-faith-leaders-want-a-word-with-you/ http://www.mnaflcio.org/press/minnesota-afl-cio-calls-bloomington-city-attorney-not-prosecute-blacklivesmatter-activists (3) http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_27682265/11-mall-america-black-lives-matter-protesters-plead (4) http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2015/03/10/black-lives-matter-calls-boycott-mall-america-following-first-hearing
BART Directors: When it comes to ending the war on Black communities, which side are you on?Across the country, hundreds of thousands of people have made a resolution to fight for Black lives. Now, businesses, police departments, and other government agencies are trying to make us pay. Sign the petition, then take a selfie of yourself holding a sign that says, “Not one dime” or “We’ve already paid with our lives” and tweet it to @SFBart on Twitter. On Black Friday, November 28, 2014, in response to a call to action from the Black community of Ferguson, Missouri, a team of 14 members of the #BlackLivesMatter network, dubbed the Black Friday 14, joined hundreds of thousands of others nationwide using civil disobedience to protest a discriminatory pattern of police and vigilante violence that has taken too many Black lives – including, most recently, the lives of Michael Brown, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson, Antonio Martin, and Eric Garner.(1) Instead of citing and releasing protesters, or charging them with the same minor infraction applied to the thousands of multiracial allies that have blocked busses, trains, and traffic -- the Alameda County Deputy District Attorney has capitulated to aggressive pressure from the BART Board of Directors to apply a harsher penalty, that of misdemeanor criminal trespass, which requires these 14 protesters to pay tens of thousands of dollars -- up to 70,000 -- in “restitution” to BART. The BART Board of Directors claims they are owed payment for lost fares on Black Friday 2014, but for decades the Bay Area Rapid Transit system has cost local Black communities our homes, jobs, safety, and even our lives. Who will pay for that? In the 1950’s, Eminent Domain was used to displace Black businesses and homes along the once vibrant Black community of 7th street to build the BART system. (2) More recently, BART police have recklessly endangered and stolen Black lives. In January 2014, BART police attacked and tasered an unarmed Black man twice, then dragged him off the train. (3) In March, BART police beat and arrested Nubia Bowe, a 19-year old student and a Black woman suspected of dancing on the train; and in September BART police slammed a Black woman to the ground and charged her with resisting arrest. (4) (5) On January 1st, 2009, BART Police shot and killed Oscar Grant, a 24-year-old unarmed Black man. (6) Since then, BART police officers have taken little to no corrective action, joining police departments and their representatives across the nation in escalating a war against Black communities instead. (7) Now, as justice-seeking people sing out on every street corner "which side are you on?" the Bay Area Rapid Transit is targeting courageous Black people who put their bodies on the line to fight for their lives, and unjustly fining them thousands of dollars for exercising their constitutional right to free speech. We won't stand for it. And we need widespread public pressure to expose and stop BART's discriminatory and outrageous attempts to profit off and punish the growing movement for Black liberation. Instead of working to end the discriminatory pattern of police violence that continues without pause, the BART Board of Directors wants financial compensation from those fighting for the sanctity of their lives. There’s something terribly wrong with this picture. This isn’t the first time BART has been targeted for its crimes -- but it is the first time an all Black group comprised of organizers, mothers, students, queers and women are being charged and asked to pay restitution for an action calling for an end to the war on Black lives. We cannot allow the BART Board of Directors to set this dangerous, undemocratic precedent. References: 1. Breaking: Black Lives Matter Protesters Shut Down BART at West Oakland Station, 11-28-14 http://goo.gl/ibbgis 2. Eminent Domain in West Oakland, http://goo.gl/e8Snd6 3. Depressing video: Black Man Tased and Dragged Off BART , 02-10-14 http://goo.gl/L3N1wn 4. BART police arrest, assault young woman for riding train while black, 04-29-14 http://goo.gl/e2jhYz 5. VIDEO: BART Police Officer Slams Woman to Floor, Incident Captured on Video, 09-05-14 http://goo.gl/V3OcB9 6. Oscar Grant’s Mother: ‘We Have to Be Relentless in the Vindication of Our Slain Sons’, 08-26-14 http://goo.gl/GQSjeX 7. BART Director: Cell Phone Shutdown Didn't Go Through Proper Channels, 08-11-13 http://goo.gl/4JEnTy
Enough! Justice for John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson & an end to OH police violenceOhio elected officials need to send a message that they believe #BlackLivesMatter. After the tragic deaths of John Crawford III, Tanisha Anderson, and Tamir Rice here in our state, Attorney General Mike Dewine's silence has sent a message that police officers can kill black people with impunity in Ohio. John Crawford III was killed by Officer Sean Williams .36 seconds after seeing him with a toy gun that he picked up from the shelf at a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio. His last words were "it's not real."1 Not only was Sean Williams not indicted, Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine failed to act and change this brutal shoot-first protocol and just a few months later, a 12 year old boy named Tamir Rice was killed by Cleveland Police in a similar situation. Will you join us to help build power behind structural changes to Ohio's political system to help end militarized, discriminatory police violence? In a harrowing video, with haunting similarities to the killing of John Crawford, Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir as he played in the playground in front of his house with a BB gun and then told his mother to "calm down" as she tried to reach her son. (2) It was also the Cleveland Police who killed Ms. Anderson who suffered from schizophrenia. She was threatened with a taser and slammed into the pavement as her brother looked on in horror. (3) Just this week her death was ruled a homicide. (4) If Attorney General Mike DeWine had listened to Black Ohio youth and taken action after John Crawford was killed he could have prevented these tragic deaths at the hands of law enforcement. Justice for John Crawford, Tamir Rice, and Tanisha Anderson means accountability for their deaths and a fundamental change in the relationship of power between law enforcement and communities. Secret grand juries are held and produce the same outcome time and time again — prosecutors systematically do not prosecute to the full extent of the law when it comes to white officers taking Black lives. We need increased oversight, fair and equal justice for Black and brown communities, and systemic reforms to end discriminatory and abusive policing practices across the state. Join me in turning up the pressure on Attorney General DeWine and US Attorney Stewart to take immediate action to secure Justice for John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson and an end to the policies and police culture that led to these tragic killings. Enough is enough. The challenges we face are deep seated and we need widespread public pressure to hold our politicians accountable for protecting our communities and taking concrete action to end Ohio’s discriminatory policing crisis. Gov. Kasich recently announced a policing task force; but we need more than commissions. We need systemic change to end the killing of Black and brown youth, and justice for those who we have lost. Outraged and devastated by John Crawford’s death, I and countless others led by the Ohio Student Association joined together to stand up proclaim that Black lives matter. We stood vigil, led a 12-mile pilgrimage, and a three-day occupation of the Beavercreek Police station. Since, we have organized ongoing actions to build power and catapult the growing national movement to end anti-Black policing and systemic police brutality; we met with President Obama in December. (5) It will take nothing short of a massive, people-powered movement to transform the role of police in today's society. Our power in the past few months has been in our perseverance. We refuse to stop, or to go away quietly, as politicians hope we will. Please join us to move our state leaders to action. Together, we have the power to create the transformative change we need to end racist, police brutality. 1. "No Charges in Ohio Police Killing of John Crawford as Wal-Mart Video Contradicts 911 Caller Account," Democracy Now, 09-25-14 http://www.democracynow.org/2014/9/25/no_charges_in_ohio_police_killing 2. "Tamir Rice's mom: "I'm looking for a conviction," CBS News 12-08-14 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tamir-rice-shooting-mom-of-boy-shot-dead-by-cleveland-cop-looking-for-a-conviction/ 3. "Daughter of mentally ill Cleveland woman who died in police custody hopes for change," Cleveland.com 11-18-14 http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/11/daughter_of_mentally_ill_cleve.html 4. Tanisha Anderson Death Ruled Homicide; Cleveland Woman Died In Police Custody," Huffington Post 1-02-2015 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/02/tanisha-anderson-homicide_n_6407416.html 5. "Breaking: Ferguson activists meet with President Obama to demand an end to police brutality nationwide," Ferguson Action 12-01-2014 http://fergusonaction.com/white-house-meeting/