• Minimal Sentencing for Wriply Bennet of the #BlackPride4
    On 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.
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    Created by Black Queer & Intersectional Columbus
  • 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.
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    Created by erik crew
  • #FREESADAT: Demand the release of a Gay Black Asylum Seeker from Detention
    Sadat 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?
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    Created by Deborah Alemu (UndocuBlack) Picture
  • Demand DA Faith Johnson Support Bail Reform
    The cash bail system in Dallas County discriminates against poor Black people in the most harmful ways. Black families are stripped of community, financial resources and a sense of basic human dignity. Black people remain in cages for weeks, months and sometimes years at taxpayer expense. And oftentimes, Black people are jailed with no evidence they have committed a crime. This is a crisis that can no longer continue. In the past, I have had many family members who were forced to serve time simply because they did not have the money to make bail or were not given enough time to produce the money. In many cases, the amount requested for bail did not fit the crime. Families in the Dallas community like mine are tired of losing their loved ones to the criminal “injustice” system. To make matters worse, District Attorney Faith Johnson is routinely locking up Black people for crimes of poverty. It has been reported by multiple sources that Johnson has received thousands of dollars from the bail industry and even sits on the board of the Dallas County Bail Bond Board. Her silence on the bail reform cannot be tolerated. By pressuring District Attorney Faith Johnson to renounce the bail industry and to refuse political donations from these corporations we get one step closer to ending money bail’s exploitation of poor, Black people in Dallas County. There are many in our community who, not only believe in ending money bail, but are also working to make this come true. It is time for Faith Johnson to do right by her constituents. Join us in demanding Faith Johnson to renounce the bail industry and return all political contributions to bail corporations!
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    Created by Tyler Turner
  • #FreeMichaelDuvall: My Brother Is Innocent
    The wrongful yet systematic incarceration of Black people in this country has weakened our community for decades; it’s slavery by another name. This system is causing Michael and others like him, to be jailed while waiting for their case to come to trial. Sometimes, that takes years to happen. Michael has already refused to plea to anything because he is not guilty. The scary thing is; this is the same thing that happened to Kalief Browder. He didn’t want to plead guilty to a crime that he didn’t commit, so this system took his life away in so many ways. I don’t want that to be the case for my brother or anyone. My heart is broken and a part of me is being held in the Upper Marlboro Detention Center with my brother. It is important that we take a stand against this type of abuse from the criminal injustice system so that others in our community do not fall victim to this type of pain and torture.
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    Created by Roxane Johnson Picture
  • Bring Dameon Brome and David Lahoz home
    David Lahoz and Dameon Brome were incarcerated as children and have spent 26 and 30 years in prison, respectively. Each of them has demonstrated rehabilitation, redemption, and remorse. Despite exemplary disciplinary records while incarcerated and plans to continue helping people when they were paroled, both men were recently denied parole on the same day by the same parole hearing examiners. Any review of these men's files will reveal that this is horrible mistake. Dameon and David are rehabilitated and should have been paroled. We call on Board of Probation and Parole Chairman Leo Dunn to correct this error. David and Dameon were juvenile lifers. Montgomery v. Louisiana was a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that declared Dameon and David’s sentence unconstitutional. The ruling in that case stated that juvenile lifers needed to be treated as individuals and, if they were not permanently incorrigible, given a chance to come home. After their resentencings last year, both David and Dameon were made immediately parole eligible; but unfortunately Leslie Grey and Mark Koch denied them parole and told them they would need to wait five years before the board would hear their cases again. David and Dameon have appealed and Leo Dunn, the Chairman of the PA Board of Probation and Parole, can overrule their parole denial and allow them to come home to their families and communities. David was once a lost soul running around in the streets of North Philly living a life that was very disruptive. He believed he was destined to die or get locked up; he was sentenced to life without parole as 17 year-old. After a rocky start to his incarceration, he has been active in a lot of programming: playing sports and learning multiple trades. His passion is being a mentor to young people through softball and basketball. David has worked for years to better himself and to help those around him. He has been misconduct free for 15 years and he had institutional support for his parole. Dameon has spent the greater portion of his life incarcerated but refused to accept that it was what would define him. He decided that he would find a way to grow even within the confines of prison. He acquired his GED and worked briefly tutoring others. He's worked in various positions within the institution from the Cook for Specialized Diets to the Law Clerk in the library helping others with legal problems. He has founded, been part of, and facilitated numerous groups to change the hopeless, lost, or disenfranchised perspectives of other incarcerated people, while simultaneously trying to advance his own education and understanding of what it means to be human. He took to Mechanical Drafting and CAD and studied Print Media. Dameon has written books and stories not just to "fill a void I saw that existed" but also to try to show other incarcerated people that there was another way and more possibilities for them even behind bars. Both Dameon and David have loving and supportive families and both plan to continue helping people and bettering the world if released. Their parole denials each listed multiple errors. For example, Dameon’s denial states that he lacked a home plan but he submitted an 11-page home plan. He planned to be paroled to a halfway house in Philadelphia, something the Department of Corrections has encouraged for juvenile lifers but he was questioned about this decision and believes this plan was held against him. They went on to say that Dameon was denied due to misconducts and poor institutional adjustment. Dameon hasn’t had a misconduct in over 9 years and hasn’t had a misconduct relating to fighting in over 23 years. David’s denial stated that he needed to get a GED but he received a GED in the Department of Corrections. His denial went on to say that he had a misconduct at his minimum which was one year ago. He hasn’t had a misconduct in 15 years. A modern professional parole board shouldn’t be making these mistakes. We call on you, Chairman Dunn, to correct them and do the right thing. We believe that Dameon and David should be with their families and communities on the outside. They are rehabilitated. We call on you to grant parole for Dameon Brome and David Lahoz and grant them relief after decades of incarceration.
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    Created by Kris Henderson Picture
  • Get the Corrupt Bail Industry Out Of Maryland Politics
    Everyday, thousands of people who haven't been convicted of a crime are separated from their families as they languish in jails just because they can't afford to pay bail. The commercial bail industry will go to any length to undermine reform and now they being implicated in an FBI bribery investigation. The news about bail-bonds industry lobbyists offering illegal bribes to Sen. Oaks and at least one other target in the state legislature underlines the corrupting influence that the industry’s money has had on the legislative process. These illegal bribes are in addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the industry has spent in Maryland on campaign contributions, as detailed last year in a report by Common Cause report. All of this money - reported and under the table - is intended to reverse the progress Maryland can make under a new Judicial Rule intended to have more people released without subjecting them to the debt-trap set up by the bail industry. Maryland is one of the top states for campaign donations by the bail industry coming in behind only California and Florida. In order to get this corrupt industry out of our lives and communities, we must disrupt the dangerous relationship between the bail industry and elected officials.
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    Created by Progressive Maryland Picture
  • Stop Racist Advertising
    This is important because this contributes to racial stereotypes and racial bias found throughout the world. This continues to spread the false message that black men are dangerous due to their inherent nature, and says that black men are inferior to other races, especially to white people. This advertisement sends the message that black men are a danger to society and that they must control themselves in order to be “normal”. Historically, this has been said of black men-that they are violent predators (especially of white women), and because of this, people tend to have more fear when walking down the street and encountering a black man. This is why people are more defensive and and tend to react more violently when they believe, falsely or not, that a black man is a threat to themselves. This was seen in the George Zimmerman case, and has been seen in many cases of police brutality across the country. I saw this sign in Hong Kong just last week, but have not seen it where I live in the US, and this may be because they do not think people in Hong Kong would care about something like this or notice. While Adidas is a German company, they still have a lot of influence here in the US and, I am assuming, around the world. While historically this has been the portrayal of African American men in the US specifically, this same racial stereotyping and bias occurs throughout the world, and this kind of advertising needs to stop.
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    Created by Kelly Ng Picture
  • #OurVoiceOurChief: Demand transparency and inclusion in Police Chief search
    A fair, open and transparent selection process that is guided by the needs, concerns and experiences of a broad spectrum of residents – particularly youth and people of color – will ensure that the City of San Diego hires a police chief who is equally committed to upholding the dignity of all San Diegans as s/he is with upholding the law. A 2016 SDSU study* on racial profiling determined that Black and Latino drivers were twice as likely to be stopped and searched by San Diego police officers, but less likely to have contraband than White drivers. SDPD is currently facing litigation** for illegally stopping a Black minor and obtaining his DNA without a warrant. These and other troubling issues of over-policing and unfairly biased policing are among the challenges our next Chief of Police must address. Building the necessary public trust to meet these challenges starts with how impacted communities are engaged in the selection process. Decades of secret back room deals and broken promises have eroded public trust and confidence in our elected representatives. If Mayor Faulconer is truly committed to the vision and values of “one San Diego,” he will ensure that members of impacted communities have a real voice and consequential role in this selection process. He will be transparent and inclusive by allowing concerned San Diegans, especially youth and people of color, to hear from the final candidates before a hiring decision is made. Mayor Faulconer: provide full transparency in the search for San Diego’s next Chief of Police and include the public from start to finish. * https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/sdpdvehiclestopsfinal.pdf ** https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/public-safety/teenager-sued-sdpd-documented-gang-member-soon/
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    Created by Coalition for Police Accountability and Transparency
  • #OurVoiceOurChief: Demand transparency in the Police Chief search
    A fair, open and transparent selection process that is guided by the needs, concerns and experiences of a broad spectrum of residents – particularly youth and people of color – will ensure that the City of San Diego hires a police chief who is equally concerned with the dignity of all San Diegans as s/he is with upholding the law. A 2016 SDSU study [link to study] on racial profiling determined that Black and Latino drivers were twice as likely to be stopped and searched by San Diego police officers, but less likely to have contraband than White drivers. SDPD is currently facing litigation [link to VOSD coverage] for illegally stopping a Black minor and obtaining his DNA without a warrant. These and other troubling issues of over-policing and unfairly biased policing will be among the challenges our next Chief of Police must address. Building the necessary public trust to meet these challenges starts with how impacted communities are engaged in the selection process. Decades of secret back room deals and broken promises have served to erode public trust and confidence in our elected representatives. If Mayor Faulconer is truly committed to the vision and values of “one San Diego,” he will ensure that members of impacted communities have a real voice and consequential role in this selection process. He will be transparent by identifying the selection panelists; he will be inclusive by adding community members and youth to the currently exclusive panel of mayoral staff and unidentified law enforcement experts; and he will be fair by allowing the community and youth to meet with the final three candidates before a final decision is made. Mayor Faulconer, keep your promise: include the community in this important process.
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    Created by Ferchil Ramos
  • Stop Locking Up Our Children: Shut Down Lincoln Hill and Copper Lake Now!
    Our children deserve more than what these prison facilities are serving them. Over the last two years, several lawsuits have been filed against Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prison facilities documenting severe abuse. Some of the lawsuits filed include; a young person whose toes had to be amputated after a guard smashed his toes in a door; a guard who actually assisted a young woman as she attempted to hurt herself; and allegations of suffocation, strangulation, and sexual assault. Locking up youth in these facilities is the most expensive option with the worst results, guaranteeing that every young person sent there will be put in harm’s way. It's time to leave behind the old outdated ways of criminalizing and punishing young people without holistic support. Theses youth prisons continue to perpetuate extreme racial and ethnic disparities. This is another key reason why Milwaukee County needs to undertake comprehensive juvenile justice reform. They need to address and tackle the persistent racial and ethnic inequities in Wisconsin’s juvenile justice system. Wisconsin still ranks in the top five least equitable states, with disparities that far exceed the national average. The vast majority of youth committed to Wisconsin state facilities are Black children. In 2014, young Black people made up almost 70% of youth committed to juvenile prison facilities in the state, but only about 10% of Wisconsin’s total youth population. Most of these young people are coming from Milwaukee County, where the majority of Black folks live in Wisconsin. Milwaukee County spends over $100,000 a year to send one youth from Milwaukee to Lincoln Hills or Copper Lake. Milwaukee should abandon the youth prison model and replace it with less costly and more effective non-residential, community-based alternatives to incarceration. Locking up young people in cages does not ensure public safety in any way. Over 60% of the young people who go to Lincoln Hills or Copper Lake re-offend within three years of release, largely due to the intense trauma young people experience while incarcerated. To have a safer community, it is critical that Milwaukee County stops sending youth to Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake and instead invest in a range of effective community programs that offer targeted supervision and services. Programs that include restorative justice, intensive mentoring, mental health treatment, family therapy and other interventions that are proven to lower risk and sustain long-term behavior change among adjudicated youth. WI and Milwaukee County should invest in community-based solutions that work for young people, their familiies and the communities they come from.
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    Created by Jeff Roman
  • FIRE Paul Hagan!
    Paul Hagan recently threatned the life of one of his african american male students in his class on video. In the video he tells the student..."thats why yall get shot..I bet by the time you are 21 you will have a bullet in your brain and I may be the one to do it". This is unacceptable from anyone but especially from the educators we trust to teach our children and help them grow. I am demanding he be released from his postion immediately.
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    Created by April Carr