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Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey Should ResignMany of the families of those killed by law enforcement in Los Angeles County, Black Lives Matter, White People for Black Lives, Centro CSO, March and Rally, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Los Angeles Community Action Network, Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, California for Progress, Youth Justice Coalition, Community Coalition, and 40 additional community organizations, and hundreds of individuals – your constituents – have been rallying outside of your office since October 2017. The call to date has been for you to prosecute the police who kill our people. We have attempted to engage you in dialogue; you have refused and we are regularly met with hostility and disrespect. We are now calling on you to step down for refusing to serve “The People” whom you are duty-bound to represent. We began our current efforts by delivering a petition signed by more than 10,000 Angelenos demanding that you prosecute the police who kill our people, beginning with the five officers who were dismissed from Inglewood Police Department after killing Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin while they were sleeping in their car. We then requested a community meeting with you, an invitation that you initially tentatively accepted during a December 2017 phone call and then reneged. A townhall was held, to which you were invited, but did not attend (despite confirming availability), on January 21, 2018. We have submitted hundreds of faxed, mailed, emailed, and telephone requests asking that you engage the community. You have refused. Most recently, on May 30, 2018, we attempted to deliver a letter as part of the national #RealChange campaign to pressure District Attorneys to be accountable to the people. Despite following the delivery instructions negotiated with your office, the Sheriff proceeded to lock us out of the public building that you occupy. More than 400 Los Angeles County residents have been killed by law enforcement on your watch. You have refused to file charges against a single officer, even when they have been found to have acted “out of policy” (as with Ezell Ford), are disciplined or dismissed as a result of their actions (as with Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin), when there is an apparent cover up (as with Wakiesha Wilson), and/or are recommended for charges by their law enforcement units (as with Brendon Glenn). Your record is shameful and is indicative of a clear unwillingness to act on behalf of the people. Moreover, your complete unwillingness to do your job endangers the community that you are supposed to serve. For these, and many other reasons, we call on you to immediately vacate your position as District Attorney of the County of Los Angeles.
Mayor Jacob Frey & MPHA, Don't Auction Off Our Homes to the Highest Bidder!1. The Median Income for majority white families for the Twin Cities region including Minneapolis and St. Paul is $94,300 per year in 2018. 2. The median income for black Minnesotan households is just $33,436 per year in 2018. 3. The average (MPHA) public housing residents, family of four, working households earn $20,656 per year, and can only afford rent of $512 a month at 30% of their monthly income. 4. The average low-income( MPHA) public housing residents earn $14,201 per year, and can only afford rent of $355 a month at 30% of their monthly income. 5. Seniors public housing residents on social security income earn $9,000 per year, which is only $750 a month, and can only afford a rent of $225 a month at 30% of their monthly income. 6. Black and low- income families can't make enough to keep up with rising rents, and they will be forced out of Minneapolis. 7. Average rent for a 2 bedroom in Minneapolis = $1,984 If MPHA and Mayor Frey plans succeed to convert public housing to section 8 private ownership, it is no longer public, and there are no protections for the most vulnerable population of our city. Rents will increase. Investors will make millions. Residents will be displaced by private investors to convert the buildings for high end rentals for wealthier people. Low- income people's homes will be taken away anytime the buildings go up for sale or face foreclosure. Families shouldn't be forced to pick between a roof over their children's heads and food on the table for their children. Between 2000 to 2018, average income for Black Families in Minneapolis dropped by 40% while rents doubled. The vast majority of renters in Minneapolis are people of color, and 80% of public housing residents are Black. By age, majority public housing residents are seniors and children under 17. There are over 11,000 low-income Black, Black Muslim, refugee, senior, people with disabilities who will be forced out of their homes if Mayor Jacob Frey and MPHA’s plans to privatize and auction public housing are approved. We can’t let that happen. Privatizing public housing will deepen the racial and class divides already challenging Minneapolis. Flipping public housing into RAD and section 8 privately owned which will then flip to high end market-rate units hurts low-income families, but all Minneapolis families will feel the pain of less available public and income based which are the real affordable housing options. Private sector shouldn’t use our tax dollars to pad their pockets with profit. Private business and corporations always put profit over people. Private developers want to get their hands on public and low- income rental units and price them to make a windfall off wealthy families and incoming gentrifiers. The most vulnerable among us in Minneapolis – the elderly, poor, people with disabilities, low-income families -- will be displaced. Flooding our housing market with high end market-rate units will fuel gentrification, push out residents and turn Minneapolis into a city catering to the rich. Keeping public housing under public control means that people come first! Resources: https://metrocouncil.org/Communities/Services/Livable-Communities-Grants/2017-Ownership-and-Rent-Affordability-Limits.aspx https://www.hud.gov/topics/rental_assistance/phprog Rental Market Watch: Minneapolis. March 2018. Minnesota Housing Partnership. https://www.mhponline.org/images/stories/docs/research/NOAH-MPLS-final.pdf http://www.startribune.com/how-much-is-rent-for-a-2-bedroom-in-twin-cities-check-out-the-rent-chart/414996293/ https://www.dgphc.org/2018/05/10/ami-housing-deeply-unaffordable-for-low-income-families-part-2/
Sheriff Clarke's Racism and Hate Has No Place in New York StateWe are disgusted and outraged to learn that David Clarke, the highly controversial former Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin from 2002 to 2017 will be the keynote speaker at your May 9th, 2018 at an event being hosted by the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police at the Capital Center in Albany, NY. According to the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police website, Sheriff Clarke speech topics include, “the preparedness of law enforcement in political protests and riots, and the impact of criminal justice reform in an era that has seen the rise of domestic political extremism including from groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter.” David Clarke completely ignores the reality that the perpetrators of violent extremism in the United States include white supremacists; anti-government groups; groups with extreme views on abortion and federal ownership of public lands. Most of the terrorist attacks carried out in the United States are committed by white, far-right violent extremists. According to the United States General Accounting Office (GAO), there were 85 violent extremist attacks in the fifteen years following 9/11. Sixty-two of these were by far right extremists. None were by Black Lives Matter because Black Lives Matter is not an extremist or violent organization. Clarke’s focus on Black Lives Matter is dangerously misplaced. It is part of a false narrative that people who protest against police killings of unarmed black people are a threat. New York’s Chiefs of Police should be meeting to discuss how to lessen hostility between police and communities of color. Instead, by inviting Clarke, NYSCOP is inflaming tensions between police and communities and encouraging more hostility by police forces. Sheriff’s Clarke’s divisive and extreme racist rhetoric and actions are offensive and morally reprehensible. His extreme prejudiced views are not only unwelcome in New York, they pose a danger to New York residents by misinforming law enforcement of the real threats to our society. Community groups and political leaders in New York are actively working to end mass incarceration by exposing the injustices and inequities in our criminal justice system. Sheriff Clarke on the other hand, talks about the “myth” of mass incarceration and he advocates for harsher sentencing for small amounts of drug sales. While he was Sheriff in Wisconsin he cut all programs like GED in his jails. New York’s law enforcement leaders should not be taking directives from Clarke’s reckless beliefs.
Bring Back Good Time in Michigan's Prisons (HB 5666)Twice in April Michigan’s Good Time Bill, HB 5666, was not to voted on by legislators as expected. The Good Time Bill that was originally introduced in the House at the end of February and was scheduled to vote April 10th and was rescheduled for April 17th, legislators still have not voted on the matter and we cannot wait another election cycle for Good Time to be reintroduced again. Michigan is suffering from a clear problem and its hitting us hard. Michigan state keeps inmates much longer in comparison to other states. These extra years of men and women staying in prison is socially and economically expensive, driving up prison costs by millions and millions of dollars a year with incarceration consuming over a quarter of the state’s general fund. Not only is this problem costly economically on a state level but costly on a community level as African American families are heavily effected with over 44% of the states entire prison population being made of of non-white men. That’s almost half! Its more than disappointing, its disgusting to see the lack of the representatives’ interest in the demands of the people on correcting this gross issue. This Initiative petition requires at least 252,523 valid signatures by May 30th in order for the proposed legislation, the Good Time Bill, to override the legislators voting process. After the successful collection of signatures the bill must be put for a vote by legislators to be either adopted or rejected within 40 days. If the proposed bill is not immediately adopted and is rejected by legislators then it is given another opportunity to become a law by moving forward to proposed to the people in the state of Michigan’s next general election which would be November 6, 2018. This is our opportunity to bring Good Time back in the State’s prisons so that rehabilitated prisoners can rejoin society to support their families and communities. Whether the bill is adopted by legislators or voted into law in a general election, it is important that we give this bill a chance to become a law by showing our overwhelming support for the Good Time Bill. There are more than 40,000 men and women incarcerated in the State of Michigan whose sentences deserve to be reassessed according to the magnitude of their good behavior during their incarceration. Michigan is one of the very few states currently that don’t incorporate Good Time policies to allow a rehabilitated inmate to be released after effectively serving a portion of their sentence, this is a policy that is even instituted at a Federal Level. There is absolutely no reason why a person should lose more of their life just because of their misfortune of being incarcerated in Michigan.
Sign Onto The People's Budget: Break The Cages, Fund The PeopleOn May 1st, at 5pm at City Hall, The Philadelphia Coalition for a Just District Attorney is gathering our movement under a call to end mass incarceration and reinvest in the communities most affected. For too long, “tough on crime” policies have deliberately targeted our black, brown, and working class communities -- ICE is tearing apart families, our youth are being criminalized in school and treated as adults by our overzealous criminal justice system, and the legal system's reliance on cash bail continues to overcrowd our prisons, keeping the House of Correction facility open despite its notoriety for its decrepit conditions. While District Attorney Larry Krasner has made significant progress in his mandate to challenge mass incarceration, our coalition recognizes there are other political actors who hold the power to divest from prisons and invest in people. In the upcoming months, the School District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Police and Prison Departments, and the First Judicial District will be presenting their fiscal year budgets to City Council for approval. On May 1st, both the Police and Prison Department will be presenting their budgets. We need Philadelphia City Council to support a "People's Budget" and use these hearings to advocate for increased funding for our public school system and decreased spending on incarceration.
Protect Baldwin Hills Elementary Pilot School from Charter GrowthWe are concerned community members of Baldwin Hills Elementary Pilot, a school doing amazing things with and for our Black and Brown babies, 80% Black. 1. Local, Black District officials (one of whom went to Baldwin) and local, Black LAUSD Board office heads are laying low, doing nothing to protect our school’s programs. 2. Charter school needs space, wants to move to another LAUSD campus with space, while LAUSD is actively NOT pursuing this alternate agreement to move the charter. 3. What space on Baldwin Hills campus does LAUSD want to give to the charter? a). Our music room b). Our arts room c). Our technology lab d). Our parent run after school childcare room, where one our mothers pays LAUSD rent, to house her program on our campus for our families 4. What makes Baldwin Hills a special place, one worth preserving? a). 2 out of 3 students score near/at/above standards in mathematics b). 3 out of 4 students score near/at/above standards in language arts c). We’re a Pilot school with autonomies to innovate. We focus on culturally responsive teaching, STEAM, and project based learning. d). We are a highly rated arts program school. e). Multiple Excelling Magnet Awards f). National Board Certified Teachers alongside LAUSD Rookie of the Year Teacher 5. We’re doing this with children that nationally are underserved and underperforming: Black and Brown students. So, while the District lays low, we stand up! Do what's right! Move the charter to another site! #westandupforbaldwinhills #whoarewebhep
Affordable Housing for Miami Families Affected by SlumlordsIn 2014, low-income residents forced to live in slum-like conditions due to lack of resources began to organize for their rights to affordable, dignified housing and formed the "Smash the Slumlords" campaign. The women organized community meetings, educated other residents about their rights, garnered support from the city mayor and sought out legal action against slumlords. Conversations focused on the collective need and partnership with other grassroots organizations recruited allies from outside their community and helped bring the campaign into public light. Legal action against one slumlord led to his prosecution and the City of Miami placed his property under their control. Afterwards, the residents of Liberty City rightfully demanded that the slumlord face greater consequences and that the buildings be repaired. However, when it became apparent that the buildings were so woefully neglected that they could only be condemned and destroyed, the City faced a new challenge: where to relocate the families in a city where there is a chronic shortage of affordable housing stock? In response to this dilemma, SMASH has tasked itself with developing expedited affordable housing units for these families on a Community Land Trust (CLT). Unlike other affordable housing projects, this one would be unique for its prioritization of extremely low-income families, and the community driven design and management process through the CLT model. This would not only provide the slum affected families of these buildings with the transitional housing units they need, but it could also be re-used for every set of families that find themselves in similar circumstances. Once they are relocated, their original buildings can be condemned, destroyed and rebuilt into permanent affordable housing where the families have a right to return.
Veto Bill to Fund Militarization of Florida SchoolsThe state of Florida needs change to prevent more tragedies, but it will not come with more children staring down the barrel of a gun. Three weeks ago, 17 students and school staff were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and Florida was shaken to its core. The Florida legislature followed Governor Rick Scott's lead in drafting "solutions" that involve filling Florida schools with even more guns. Our state's elected officials have approved a bill that provides funding to arm school staff, including teachers, coaches, librarians and counselors, while dramatically increasing funding for police and high level surveillance security in schools. At Governor Scott's direction, this bill will make Florida schools a lot scarier for students, particularly students of color, across the state. After Columbine, 10,000 school police officers were hired to prevent another mass shooting. Two decades later and more police presence in school has not proven to be an effective solution and has not stopped a single mass shooting. Instead, police in Florida have locked up 1 million children, mostly black children, for routine behavior disruptions, like talking back to a teacher or getting into schoolyard scuffles. The proposed bill allots $400 million to make our schools feel more like prisons when they should feel sanctuaries. This bill will have catastrophic consequences for insurmountable numbers of black, brown and poor youth in Florida. Our representatives have a responsibility to act in a way that keeps all Florida children safe. Tell Governor Rick Scott to veto any bill to allocate resources for more police and guns in schools. Supporters Dream Defenders Power U Center for Social Change Advancement Project National Office Color of Change Florida’s Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199 New Florida Majority Miami Worker's Center Alliance for Education Justice National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Demand FL State Attorney Arrest & Charge Gardner Kent Fraser for the murder of DJ BroadusOnce again, our community in Macclenny, FL is reeling from another loss of Black life. Dominic Jerome Broadus II, a father, son, musician and our family’s storyteller, met an untimely death at the hands of a racist neighbor. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) continues to disrespect our family with non-answers and heavily redacted statements, further demonstrating a complete lack of regard and interest to thoroughly investigate this case. To this day, my family has not received any information about what happened to DJ and continues to suffer. In numerous cases, from Trayvon Martin to Keegan Von Roberts, racist killers are allowed to walk free and families are expected to move on without any closure. The persistent denial of justice causes communities to live under a cloud of racist terror. Most fear retaliation from local law enforcement each time a new story of state-sanctioned violence occurs. In spite of it all, the community is coming together to say, no more. State Attorneys can shift this paradigm and demand accountability from police departments instead of enabling the continued disregard for Black life. Cervone can begin to set a precedent by righting this terrible wrong and bringing justice to my family.
Minimal Sentencing for Wriply Bennet of the #BlackPride4On June 17th, 2017, four Black queer and trans people--now known as the BlackPride4--were violently arrested while peacefully protesting the Columbus Pride Parade to draw attention to the disproportionate murder of trans women of color and the non-indictment of Philando Castile’s murderer, Minneapolis Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez. After months of widespread outrage at the police brutality against the #BlackPride4 and their subsequent arrests, three of them have gone to trial and were found guilty on February 12th, 2018 of charges ranging from disorderly conduct to resisting arrest. With a quickly approaching sentencing date of March 13th, 2018, we must continue the fight to #FreeTheBlackPride4. Their lives and futures hang in the balance, and Judge Ebner is the sole gatekeeper to their freedom. Wriply Bennet and her lawyer have suggested that folks all over continue to show their solidarity in hopes that the Judge is lenient. We really need to keep these Black trans activist home and free from any jail time -- sign the below petition to urge Judge Ebner dole out minimal sentencing to Wriply of the #BlackPride4! -- Here's the petition! Dear Honorable Judge Ebner, We write today in support of Ms. Wriply Bennet and to urge you to deliver the most minimal sentence to her. Ms. Bennet is an asset to our community. Columbus will benefit by Ms. Bennet being allowed to continue the great work she is involved in the community, and our entire community will feel the negative impact should she be required to serve jail time. Ms. Bennet is a nationally recognized artist who has organized around community service efforts for years. In addition, Ms. Bennet has acted as a consultant for local organizations (like Kaleidoscope Youth Center and the Trans/Queer Racial Justice and Transformation Network of the OSU Sexuality Studies Program and others), providing much-needed support to groups working to better our communities. We know that it would be most beneficial to our city and country if she had the opportunity to continue investing her skills and leadership directly into the community instead of serving jail time or navigating restrictive supervision. We respectfully request that you also consider that incarceration is particularly dangerous and traumatizing for Black trans women, who are already faced with the looming threat of violence in their day-to-day lives. For recent context, Ashley Diamond, a Black trans civil rights activist in Georgia, was assaulted, placed into solitary confinement, and denied her medication while incarcerated in 2015. As a direct result of the conditions she experienced, Diamond currently suffers from PTSD and other mental health issues that have hindered her integration back into her communities. We as individuals, join with numerous local and national organizations that have publicly supported Ms. Bennet. In the past eight months, groups from all over Columbus and beyond have offered vocal and material support for the #BlackPride4, from releasing public statements (Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, Equality Ohio) to being present during the week of trial (including BQIC, TransOhio, People’s Justice Project, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Yes We Can Columbus, and former 2017 Stonewall Columbus Pride Planning Committee members who resigned from the Planning Committee due to Stonewall Columbus’ response to the Pride protest). This coordinated, community support demonstrates the interest that has been taken in their case, both locally and nationally, as well as in the defendants’ futures as free people. We understand that as the presiding judge in the case, you have a duty to honor the verdicts given in a court of law. We believe it is imperative that our community’s constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and free speech be protected. Our First Amendment rights enabled so many before us to call attention to social issues and spark lasting change. In light of those interests, the vast network of support for Ms. Bennet, and her history of community service, we urge you to give the absolute minimum sentencing to Ms. Bennet.
Eliminate Cholera In Haiti!Now that Donald Trump’s budget bill has passed through Congress, the Budget Appropriations Committee has a month to decide where the money will be allocated. The Budget Appropriations has a moral obligation to include $12 million towards the UN’s Haitian cholera fund. Appropriations Committee Representatives Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Hal Rogers, as key decision makers in this, should vote yes in supporting this funding and help save thousands of cholera victims in Haiti. The rest of the world is looking to the U.S. for leadership around providing aid to cholera victims in Haiti who have been unnecessarily affected by this lethal virus. Over the past seven years, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have fallen victim to cholera due to the United Nations reckless sewage disposal on their peacekeeping base in 2010. Cholera is an infectious and often fatal bacterial disease, typically contracted from infected water supplies and causing severe vomiting and diarrhea. Today, at least 10,000 Haitians have died, and over 800,000 had been sickened, after years of the U.N. denying and covering up what they did. Cholera has ruined Haiti’s poorest communities, leaving families who lost breadwinners destitute and children orphaned. The epidemic continues to ravage Haiti today and still spikes following large rainfall, such as during Hurricanes Irma and Matthew. In 2016, the then United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon finally acknowledged their responsibility in the outbreak of cholera in Haiti and issued a public apology to the Haitian people. Unfortunately, an apology will not bring 10,000 people back to us, it will not bring mothers and fathers back to the children and it certainly will not provide treatment for the thousands still suffering. Public health actors on the ground strongly believe that with enough funding, the cholera virus can be eliminated in Haiti this year but we need UN member states to step up, including the U.S. The U.N. has proposed a New Approach to Cholera in Haiti, which seeks to eliminate the virus and provide assistance for people who have been directly affected. However, only 4% of the funds have been generated to make this “New Approach” a reality. If the New Approach continues to be underfunded, there could be another outbreak of the devastating disease . The United States has an opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the world by granting money to the U.N’s fund. This money will save the lives of so many Haitians and put an end to this deadly epidemic. Please join us in this fight to eliminate cholera in Haiti.
#FREESADAT: Demand the release of a Gay Black Asylum Seeker from DetentionSadat Ibrahim is a young gay man from Ghana where homosexuality is a crime punishable by three years in prison. Sadat had been brutally attacked by a homophobic vigilante gang back in Ghana, the ‘Safety Empire’, that hunts down, beats up and kills gay people. Fearing for his life, he planned a long escape route, and finally made it to the Mexican/U.S. border and presented himself at the border requesting asylum. An asylum officer agreed that Sadat had a credible fear of persecution. His family sent videos supporting his claim to Sadat in detention in Georgia, but not only did the officers in the detention center not give Sadat this critical evidence, they never even told Sadat that the evidence had arrived. Without the corroborating evidence, the judge denied Sadat asylum. Sadat faces deportation back to the same situation that may see him incarcerated, attacked and/or murdered for being gay, as his asylum claim was denied. Had Sadat been able to share the video evidence that ICE withheld from him until after the hearing, we believe the judge should have granted asylum to Sadat, and likely would have done so. Sadat’s legal team has managed to win him a temporary stay of removal so why is he still being detained?