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Stand with John Lewis: Do Not Attend Donald Trump's Inauguration: Senators Mike Crapo and Jim RischDear Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, On Friday, January 20th, in Washington, D.C., Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America. Congressman John Lewis— longtime ally to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.— announced Saturday that he will not be attending Donald Trump's inauguration. Like many who watched Donald Trump fear-monger throughout his campaign, Lewis asserted "I don't see this President-elect as a legitimate president." For the first time in 30 years, Lewis plans to boycott a presidential inauguration, adding he "cannot be at home with something that [he feels] is wrong." While some will argue attending this inauguration ceremony is tradition, we the people of Idaho, ask that join Lewis and other Congress members in boycotting this celebration of tyranny and racialized violence. More than 30 members of Congress— Barbara Lee (CA), Katherine Clark (MA), Jared Huffman (CA), Luis Gutiérrez (IL), Earl Blumenauer (OR), and Nydia Velazquez (NY)— have already committed to boycotting the inauguration but they have not yet been joined by peers in the Senate. In her statement on attending the inauguration, Congresswoman Barbara Lee warns: “We need look no further than the team he is assembling to find signals that the era of Trump will be one of chaos and devastation for our communities.” “[He named] a white nationalist as his chief strategist, nominated [an] Attorney General, [with a] long career of opposition to civil and human rights, and expedited the process to repeal the Affordable Care Act and make America sick again.” “Donald Trump has proven that his administration will normalize the most extreme fringes of the Republican Party. On Inauguration Day, I will not be celebrating. I will be organizing and preparing for resistance.” Now we’re asking you to join your peers. Like us, they agree that Trump’s campaign to seize the White House relied on repeatedly insulting and villainizing Black, Muslim and Latino communities. This is not the kind of leadership we welcome in Idaho or in this country, so it should be no surprise that we are asking you, a representative of our beloved Idaho, not to attend Trump’s swearing in. Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, we need you to send a clear message to Donald Trump: I do not support your tyranny. When Trump proclaimed himself the “law and order candidate,” he began dog-whistling to conservatives that he would handle all problems occurring in Black and Latino inner cities with an iron first. And to appease his racist constituency, Trump decidedly instigated violent attacks on Black, Muslim, and Latino protesters at his rallies. And on his mark, Trump’s supporters joined in beating, threatening, and forcefully ejecting Black and Latino people from his rallies. The former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke has publicly supported Trump and has partially financed his campaign. That’s why it’s no surprise that Trump’s hate speech, misogyny, anti-Muslim bigotry and racism have ignited a national culture of violence and terror— a culture wherein genocide becomes the solution to a “problem.” His intolerance has fueled an alarming rise in the number of hate crimes committed against Muslims, as well as significant increases in membership to white supremacist groups. Let us be frank, senators: This is not our vision of democracy! Trump’s platform is rooted in racism, misogyny, and xenophobia. His swearing-in marks a grave turnover in power and a shift in political culture that negates the progressive momentum this country has gained over the years. Make no mistake: by attending Donald Trump’s inauguration, you are supporting an administration that seeks to normalize hate. There is no reason to celebrate the transfer of power to a despot. Trump’s hate cannot be contained. But we can firmly and strategically oppose it whenever and wherever it appears. When anti-Black, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, or anti-woman forces show up in democratic institutions, voters and community members need to know that you will stand up to hate and bigotry. Boycotting Trump’s inauguration is a strong step toward earning the trust of the people of Idaho. As sitting officials, your decision to skip Trump’s inauguration sends a critical message: We, Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, will not celebrate the destruction of the values and institutions the American people hold dear. We are asking that you stand in with Idaho. We, the undersigned, respectfully ask that you do not attend the 58th U.S. Presidential Inauguration.
No Power Grab in NC: End the Special SessionAfter failing to win the governor’s race the through laws suppressing Black voters, the Republican officials in North Carolina.have decided they’re just going to nullify the results of the election. The Republican controlled NC General Assembly is stripping the election results of their meaning by drastically reducing the power of incoming Governor-elect Roy Cooper with an outrageous package of bills that include: - Having Republican control of the Board of Election during even years -- the years in which most NC elections are held -- and Democrats relegated to odd years. - Rigging the court process so fewer cases are able to be decided by the now-Democratic State Supreme Court appeals and all cases have to go through the full court of appeals, which is controlled by Republicans. - Limiting the number of members the governor can appoint to powerful board of trustees at the University of North Carolina school system and the state Board of Education It is outrageous that a legislature elected by what the federal courts declared to be deliberately racially-gerrymandered districts are further perverting the system to diminish Black political power in the state. The NC General Assembly is denying voters their right to decide who governs state by seizing power from the Governor’s office, cutting its staff to the bone, requiring their final approval on all appointments, and maintain control of the Board of Elections in all election years. This is a naked attempt to maintain supremacy in a state despite the decision of the voters. That this incredible abuse of power is set to happen in a special session of the General Assembly that is supposed to address Hurricane Matthew relief only shows how low they’ll stoop to maintain control. This is the same Republican Party that had the "Monster" Voter suppression laws thrown out this year by federal judges who saw that Republicans wrote their laws only after receiving data on how Black people exercised their right to vote in the state. Help stop this outrageous move that will waste your tax dollars, undermine the independence of the courts, and overthrow the will of North Carolina voters.
We Demand A New Vision for Criminal Justice in Champaign CountyFor 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.
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
Vote NO on California Proposition 66My 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.
STOP ITOAITOA 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 , 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  as training grounds  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:  http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/How-Cook-County-Officers-Train-for-Active-Shooter-Situations-360426111.html  http://thegorkabriefing.com/about/  http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/How-Cook-County-Officers-Train-for-Active-Shooter-Situations-360426111.htm  http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/05/30/what-happens-after-a-school-closes/
Tell President Barack Obama: Recognize Black Women Survivors of Rape and Sexual AssaultDear Mr. President, “I just want him to know who I am.” This is what 96 year old Recy Taylor, a civil rights leader who worked with Rosa Parks to address rape in the Jim Crow South and a survivor of sexual violence herself, said after a visit to the White House and being asked what she wished she could say to you, given the chance Mr. President. Recy Taylor’s 1944 rape case is well-documented in books and various online sources. She is an African-American woman from Abbeville in Henry County, Alabama. On September 3, 1944, Taylor, was leaving church when she was kidnapped and brutally gang-raped by six white men. Even though the men admitted the rape to authorities, two all-white grand juries declined to indict Taylor's assailants. Taylor's rape and the subsequent court cases were among the first instances of nationwide protest and activism among the African-American community and ended up providing an early organizational spark for the Civil Rights movement with Rosa Parks at the helm of the anti-rape movement. In 2011, after decades of advocacy efforts put forth by her brother Robert Corbitt, the Alabama House of Representatives apologized on behalf of the state "for its failure to prosecute Recy Taylor’s attackers." The failure to dispense justice in the 1944 case of Recy Taylor is not surprising, but symptomatic of the larger failing of a society where the intersection of racism and sexism has failed Black women and girls for over 400 years. When examined through a gendered lens, it becomes clear how Black women’s unique experiences with violence are often seen as afterthoughts when addressed at all. The result is that violence against Black women and girls, especially sexual violence, often remains invisible and this non-recognition serves to perpetuate the harm being done. But, Mr. President, whether by police or non-state actors, the rape and sexual torture of Black women and the justification of this torture still continue. We see the past replicated today. This was clear with the case of white Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Ken Holtzclaw who was convicted earlier this year of sexually assaulting, raping, stalking, fondling, and exposing himself to at least eight Black women between the ages of 17 and 57 during traffic stops while on duty. We see the continued abuse in the Black Women’s Blueprint study (2014) showing that 60 percent of Black girls experience sexual assault before the age of 18 and when Black women are raped on their college campuses. We see it in the 64,000 missing Black girls across the country. We feel it walking down the street and entering spaces of worship and supposed sanctuary. And we ask, Mr. President, do you see it, too? As Farah Tanis, executive director of Black Women’s Blueprint reminds us, “the U.S. is one of the few places in the world where rapes have occurred systematically against an entire race of people, especially the Black women among these people, and there has been no outcry, no processes for justice, and still little to no acknowledgement of such violations officially and its impact on Black women and girls today.” As the nation that is looked upon as a beacon and model for human rights, we in the United States have also witnessed you, Mr. President, acknowledge Black women and girls’ plight during your 2015 remarks at the 45th Annual Congressional Black Caucus Phoenix Award Dinner. We have also read about your position on feminism in Glamour Magazine with a declaration that “this is what a feminist looks like.” We know that never before has a president of the United States been such a champion of women’s human rights. No other president has come so close to the much needed recognition and national apology for the systematic sexual humiliation and dehumanization of Black women and girls in the United States. To make a public statement means to acknowledge that the violence needs to stop. If we as a nation refuse to talk about it, if we as a nation continue to be silent, we as a nation cannot move forward. For you see, Mr. President, one of the horrors of rape is the silence of victims and survivors. Another is the silence of bystanders and loved ones. However, one of the most deafening horrors is the silence of a nation and its leaders. Silence only serves to support the ones who cause harm. First Lady Michelle Obama has already broken one silence, inspiring us during the Democratic National Convention when she said that “every morning, I wake up in a house that was built by slaves.” Everyday Black women and girls wake up, exist, live, survive and thrive in a nation built by our enslaved ancestors’ hands and birthed by their wombs. Everyday Black women and girls walk in the world, get up every morning, go to school, and work believing that their truth is too ugly, too shameful, too painful to be acknowledged. Imagine believing that your pain has cut lines too deep into your soul for you to be considered beautiful or valued. Imagine being told that your trauma negates your ability to love or to be loved, your ability to comfort and be comforted, to see others and be seen. As one testifier wrote “I was so scared that [my truth] was too ugly and too shameful to talk about.” Mr. President, that is what too many rape survivors carry—that pain, the silence, and an erasure of their humanity. We the undersigned, understand that recognition does not equate with justice, and for many survivors, justice in the form of of the legal system will never be adjudicated. However, recognition does facilitate healing, both personally, and collectively as a nation and is absolutely necessary to move forward. Read the full Open Letter here: http://www.mamablack.org/single-post/2016/09/13/President-Obama---Recognize-the-Sexual-Assault-and-Rape-of-Black-Women-and-Girls
Stand Up Against Police Militarization: Say No to Urban Shield!Black people are 40 times more likely to be impacted by SWAT raids than white people. Decades since the War on Drugs began, our homes, schools, and neighborhoods have become sites for the war on Black communities, and other communities of color. Urban Shield is a 4-day SWAT training and global weapons expo that will be held in the Pleasanton, CA September 8-12th. Hosted by the Alameda County Sherriff's Office, Urban Shield is an example of how the war on Black communities has built a billion dollar industry to roll out military tactics against people here in the U.S. and all over the world. Urban Shield brings together law enforcement agencies from across the world- from the Apartheid State of Israel to the Ferguson Police Department. Created by Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern in 2007, Urban Shield has been hosted by the Alameda County Sherriff’s Office every year since. Although proponents of Urban Shield claim that it provides police departments with emergency response training, we know that these weapons, training, and tactics become normalized and broadly used against our communities, such as in drug raids, to issue search warrants, and against protesters. The same forces backed by US imperialism to oppress people across the world are coming together to train people with police forces in our local neighborhoods. It has only been 7 years since Oscar Grant was shot to death while handcuffed at the Fruitvale BART station by police officer Johannes Mehserle. Across the Bay, the family of Mario Woods is still fighting for justice for their son, an unarmed young man who was murdered by a firing squad of 16 San Francisco police officers in front of his own community last year. Despite years of oversight, the Oakland police department continues to come under fire for its racist abuse and killings targeting Black and Brown communities, what we understand as the daily violence of policing that must be stopped. In a time where nationwide we are all fighting against the murder of Black people and other people of color by police- the last thing we need is an expo that encourages the use of military tactics against civilians. We cannot stand by while the Alameda Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff’s Office make policing deadlier and the killing of our community members easier. We demand the Alameda County Board of Supervisors put an immediate end to Urban Shield and use funds from the Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative intended for emergency preparedness to focus on real community-based emergency preparedness and health response and not militarizing police. Tell the Alameda County Board of Supervisors: Stand with our communities in the Bay Area and everywhere, and rein in the Sheriff’s unchecked attempts at increased militarization by cutting all ties with Urban Shield! What can I do? Sign this petition to join Stop Urban Shield, a coalition of grassroots and community organizations, in demanding that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors stop hosting Urban Shield and decline all collaborations in the future. While the Alameda County Sheriff, the main figure responsible for putting together Urban Shield, is an elected official with a certain level of autonomy, the Board of Supervisors has the authority to regulate, supervise, and approve or deny how funding to the County is spent. As stated in an April 2015 ACLU memo to the Board of Supervisors, California Government Code § 25303 gives the Board broad authority to “supervise the official conduct” of the Sheriff. As a national and international event, Urban Shield is not only increasing militarization in Alameda County, but across the country and world. To the Alameda County Board of Supervisors: Stand with our communities in the Bay Area and everywhere, and rein in the Sheriff’s unchecked attempts at increased militarization by cutting all ties with Urban Shield! What do we want? If our public officials want greater emergency preparedness and response, it will not come from Urban Shield’s militarized war games and blatantly racist and violent weapons expo. Our communities are demanding investment in real community-based emergency preparedness and health response that do not depend on militarization. Key emergency preparedness needs projected for the future revolve around drought, flooding, earthquake preparedness and other environmental disasters. The Board of Supervisors must prioritize this type of preparedness which has wide reaching impacts on communities, rather than investing in terrorizing communities through increased policing. Join us in demanding an immediate end to Urban Shield!
Tell The North Carolina Board of Elections to Support Early VotingIncredible! Republican leaders who complain about “rigged elections” are trying to do exactly that in North Carolina by making it harder for Black people and students to use early voting. Dallas Woodhouse, Executive Director of the NC Republican Party, sent instructions to Republicans who hold the majority on all 100 county boards of elections to “make party line changes to early voting.” He specifically told them to close early voting sites on Sunday, remove them from college campuses, and open more in Republican areas, according to emails obtained by the Raleigh News & Observer. More than half of NC’s voters used early voting in 2008 and 2012; it was used most by Black and young voters. Closing sites and reducing hours will mean longer lines and discourage voters on Election Day. Fortunately, many Republicans are ignoring Woodhouse and obeying their oath to serve all voters. But in Raleigh, Fayetteville, Wilmington, and many other areas, they are opposing Sunday voting where it was used as recently as the March primary. Black churches organize Sunday “Souls to the Polls” programs which help church members with transportation to the polling place. The reduced early voting plans of these counties will come before the State Board of Elections later this month. The State Board has the power to restore them and repudiate the deliberate anti-Black, anti-youth strategy of Republican Party leaders. Sign the petition to ask Mr. Grant Whitney Jr., board chair, and other board members to restore early voting on Sunday afternoons and, on college campuses where those options were eliminated by Republican county election boards. Last month, the federal Court of Appeals overturned a state voting law it said would suppress voting and had discriminatory intent. We will not let local officials ignore the spirit of this momentous ruling by implementing weak and even discriminatory early voting plans for the November election.. Thanks for fighting for voting rights for everyone! Bob Hall, Democracy North Carolina
SUPPORT A MORATORIUM ON TRAFFIC STOPS FOR REVENUEMy 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.
REOPEN THE CASE! RENAME WASHINGTON PARK PLAYGROUND AT 53RD & KING TO RONALD JOHNSON PARK!On October 12th, 2014 Ronald “RonnieMan” Johnson was shot and killed by George Hernandez, Chicago police officer, on the city’s South Side. He was 25 years old and a father of five. On the night of the murder, witnesses have said that police officers did not identify themselves before opening fire on unarmed Johnson, killing him from multiple gunshot wounds. His death has been ruled a homicide. his murder by the hands of the state was captured on police dash-cam video. The lawyer representing RonnieMan’s mother, Dorothy Holmes, was forced to file a Freedom of Information Act request with the Chicago Police Department for the dash-cam video that captured the shooting after multiple attempts at retrieval were denied. Only after a lawsuit was filed by Chicago activists which forced the City of Chicago to release video footage of the murder of Laquan McDonald by CPD officer Jason Van Dyke, did the City finally release the video of the murder of Ronald Johnson. Immediately, following the release of the video, the former state’s attorney, Anita Alvarez, announced that she would not press any charges against police officer, George Hernandez. Alvarez represents the face of deep seated corruption that pervades every aspect of government in Chicago. Alvarez, CPD and the entire City government are guilty of covering up evidence of the murder of Ronald Johnson. The inept and corrupt handling of both Laquan McDonald’s and Ronald Johnson’s cases, reveal complicity in cover ups that go all the way to the Mayor’s and State’s Attorney’s offices. We demand the case be reopened. Why A Playground? RonnieMan was killed on 53rd and King Drive, in front of a playground at the entrance of Washington Park. To commemorate RonnieMan’s life, reclaim the land on which his blood was lain, and permanently memorialize his and all lives taken by police and state violence, we are are seeking to rename the park in his honor. For too long, those killed by police and state violence have been erased, invisibalized rendering their lives disposable. By reclaiming the land in which RonnieMan’s last breath was taken, we seek to disrupt the pattern of sweeping Black death into the annals of history, and instead will create a public permanent memorial to celebrate his life, Black life and our full humanity.
A CALL TO DECRIMINALIZE THE U.S. IMMIGRATION SYSTEMSince 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.