- Afropunk Army
- Community Control
- Confederate Symbols
- Cop Watch
- Corporate Accountability
- Criminal Justice Policy
- Drop/Bring Charges
- Economic Justice
- Employment Discrimination
- End The War on Black People
- Environmental Justice
- For-Profit Colleges/Universities
- Gulf Coast
- Housing Rights
- Media Accountability
- Music Industry
- No Guns in Schools
- Open Internet
- Police Accountability
- Political Power
- Pop Culture
- Private Prisons
- Reproductive Justice
- Right Wing Racism
- School-to-Prison Pipeline
- Voting Rights
- Wrongful Imprisonment
March for Black Women Urges 10,000 Letters to Black LeadersBeloved Community, Black women and girls need you. As we prepare to March on Washington DC, September 30, 2017 we are calling on all of us to show radical love for Black women and girls who are deeply impacted by violence, abuse, health, economic injustice, imprisonment and so much more. Beloved community, find out what is happening at www.MarchforBlackWomen.org HELP US REACH OUR COMMUNITY LEADERS LIKE OUR CLERGY, TEACHERS, HEADS OF ORGANIZATIONS, POLICY MAKERS, AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS BY DELIVERING THE LETTER BELOW TO THEIR EMAIL INBOXES OR A PRINTED COPY TO THEIR OFFICES. ------- Dear (insert name of community leader and/or institution) Caring about racial justice for Black people means caring about everyone in Black communities. For centuries, Black women and girls have assumed the position as pillars of the Black community, while their unique plights have been neglected. Silence prevails and the invisibility is almost complete within our Black communities and in greater society about Black women’s lives, about the level of victimization, the systematic exclusion of their specific gendered experiences in the broader agenda for civil and human rights. Black women's concerns have fallen out of the sight and out of the minds of those who should be stronger advocates and best allies--community leaders, preachers, teachers, heads of organizations and other institutions. Too many in our own neighborhoods are not listening. As thousands of us March for Black Women in Washington, DC on September 30, 2017 to proclaim there can be no racial justice without gender justice; to denounce the propagation of state-violence and the widespread incarceration of Black women and girls, rape and all sexualized violence, the murders and brutalization of transwomen and the disappearances of our girls from our streets, our schools and our homes, we ask that you listen to Black women. We look to you as a leader in our community, to take up the cause and center Black women in all agendas for racial justice. Help end the reluctance to stand up for our girls and all who identify as women, regardless of sexuality, presentation, language, immigration status or identity. Black women are dying at a rate that is 7 times more than our white counterparts during childbirth. They are 4 times more likely to be imprisoned, make up almost 50% of those murdered in domestic violence situations, while our girls make up more than 40% of all those trafficked for sexual exploitation. We need you to love Black women more fiercely. We need you to pay attention. Issue a rally cry when a Black woman is raped, when a Black woman is beaten, when a Black woman is killed or disappears. We need you to organize with Black women and for Black women and ride with Black women and girls. Charleena Lyles, India Clarke, Chyna Gibson, Kiwi Herring, Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Korryn Gaines, Keneeka Jenkins are only a few of the long list of Black women who have been murdered by law enforcement officials AND others who may belong to our own community. Black women have been saying their names - will you? Caden Cotton, Myzjanae Henderson, Bianca Lilly Jones, Demetria Carthens, Anjel Burl, Katherine Hunter, Shaniah Boyd, Chareah Payne, Aniya McNeil are the names among thousands of Black girls still missing as of 2017. Black women have been advocating for them - will you? We call on our beloved Black leaders and institutions to support Black women, fiercely love Black women, March for Black women and girls and issue a public statement that caring about racial justice for Black people means caring about everyone in Black communities. Issue a public statement that now more than ever, there can be no racial justice without gender justice. Sincerely, You May Add Your Name and Contact.
Investigate the Bail Bond Industry in New YorkDear Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Schneiderman, Each year in New York State, as many as 100,000 people are imprisoned for their inability to afford bail. For some families, the only way to buy a loved one’s release from jail is through the for-profit commercial bail bond industry. The commercial bail bond industry is inherently exploitative, and bail agents take advantage of lax regulations to gouge vulnerable consumers in a moment of crisis, desperate to get a loved one out of jail. They charge a nonrefundable fee of about 10 percent of the bond amount, may require unlimited amounts of collateral, and often impose onerous and invasive check-in requirements as well as illegal fees and conditions. No one should be profiting off the hardship of others, or relying on people in jail for a revenue stream. The commercial bail bond industry is highly profitable, in large part because it is virtually unregulated, leaving unscrupulous bail agents free reign. Bail corporations prey on some of our most vulnerable communities that have the least political power- specifically people of color and those too poor to afford a lawyer. Similar to payday loans, the bail industry extracts millions of dollars a year from the neighborhoods that can least afford it. Bail bondsmen are lobbying elected officials regularly to ensure that bail and mass incarceration remain the status quo. However, we are fighting back and we’re gaining momentum. With an investigation into this industry, the Governor and Attorney General will have the opportunity to expose an industry that is working to hurt their constituents. The bail bond industry has corrupted our constitutional freedoms for the purpose of profit. By investigating the bail bond industry the state of New York can unwind one of the most unjust aspects of the criminal justice system. By signing the petition you will be telling Gov. Cuomo that we will no longer allow the bail bond industry to prey on Black communities without any oversight. Due to how vulnerable of a position people are placed in when being in jail for even a short amount of time the bail bond industry is using this as an opportunity to make huge profits off the backs of poor people. Investigate the bail bond industry today! Thank you, Brooklyn Community Bail Fund and VOCAL-NY
Implement the People’s Demands for California’s Proposition 57!Last November, Californians overwhelmingly passed Prop 57 with 64% of the vote. Among other things, Prop 57 expands credit earning opportunities for most people in California prisons and allows people convicted of nonviolent offenses to be eligible for early parole consideration. On July 14, 2017, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) released its draft “Regular Regulations,” which outline how they plan to implement this proposition. While there are many good things in the proposed regulations, such as increased credit opportunities for good behavior and completion of educational and rehabilitative programs, we are concerned that many aspects of the proposed regulations are far too narrow and exclude too many groups of people from opportunities for rehabilitation or early parole consideration. So, Initiate Justice conducted a survey of more than 2,000 incarcerated people to get their input on how they think Prop 57 should be implemented, since these rules will have direct impacts on their lives. Based on those survey results, and in collaboration with Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), developed the following recommendations: 1. Include Third Strikers in the non-violent early parole: The proposed regulations state that any person who is “Condemned, incarcerated for a term of life without the possibility of parole, or incarcerated for a term of life with the possibility of parole” is not eligible for nonviolent early parole consideration under Prop 57. We strongly believe that this population should not be excluded from this opportunity. The language of Prop 57 states: “Any person convicted of a non-violent felony offense and sentenced to state prison shall be eligible for parole consideration after completing the full term for his or her primary offense” and that “the full term for the primary offense means the longest term of imprisonment imposed by the court for any offense, excluding the imposition of an enhancement, consecutive sentence, or alternative sentence.” Since a Third Strike is considered an alternative sentence under California state law, it is clear that the voters enacted legislation that included Third Strikers in the nonviolent early parole process. 2. Allow all people in prison to earn 50% good time credits: The proposed Prop 57 regulations increase good time credits on a graduated scale, depending on the offense the person was convicted of. People serving time for a violent offense will see an increase from 15% to 20% good time credit; people serving time for a serious offense under the Three Strikes Law will see an increase from 20% to 33.3%; and people currently serving time for a non-serious or nonviolent offense will see an increase from 33.3% to 50%. We believe that the incentive for good conduct should be uniform across the board, by equally rewarding all people who remain disciplinary-free, regardless of their conviction. The length of one’s sentence already reflects the severity of the offense, so we do not believe it is necessary to further punish people by limiting their access to good time credits as well. 3. Make all good time credit earning retroactive: The proposed Prop 57 regulations state that good time credits will be prospective beginning May 1, 2017. We believe this is unjust and fails to recognize the many incarcerated people who have remained disciplinary-free for years without increased incentives. This recommendation is consistent with criminologist James Austin’s 2013 declaration in response to the Three Judge Panel order to reduce CDCR’s population. Here, Austin recommended that all credit earning be retroactive and found that this recommendation could be “implemented without having an impact on public safety or the operation of the state or local criminal justice systems. In fact, they would provide large cost savings that could be used to offset any local criminal justice costs and increase the level of effective programs at the state and local levels.” 4. Award retroactive Education Merit Credits for each achievement: Award 6-month credit for every vocation, college degree, and G.E.D. obtained by people in prison. Imprisoned people should be able to get at least 6 months off per year per academic and vocational achievement retrospectively since many have completed multiple associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and certification programs. Educational advancement has been shown to be one of the top factors in reducing the recidivism rate and should be treated with as much importance while further incentivizing people to enroll in academic and vocational programs. 5. Allow people with a Youth Offender / Elderly Parole Date to earn time off their earliest parole date: The expanded Good Time and Milestone credits made possible should apply to these Youth Offender Parole or Elder Parole Hearing dates, not their original sentence. SB 260 and SB 261 were passed by the Legislature recognizing that many young people were victims of extreme sentencing; therefore, credit earning opportunities made possible by Prop 57 should be applied to their amended hearing dates in order to ensure that participation in rehabilitative programming and remaining disciplinary-free are adequately incentivized. Additionally, Elder Parole is a program that seeks to meet the court deadline to reduce the prison population. Every incarcerated person who wrote to us expressed deep willingness to embrace their rehabilitation—if given the opportunity to do so. The opportunities presented to people inside will help set them up for success once they are released, and this will ultimately create safer communities for all. Therefore, we request CDCR incorporate these recommendations in drafting the Prop 57 regulations.
Tell Gov. Cuomo: Return Racist Donor's Money"The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman,” Malcolm X once stated. Fifty-five years later, women leaders of color are still under attack, from Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Senator Kamala Harris, to the racism and Islamophobia launched at the women of color that co-chaired the Women’s March. As a Black Muslim woman, mother of 7 daughters and 2 granddaughters, I will not sit idly by and allow attacks on Black and Brown women to continue. And now a hedge fund billionaire has accused the highest ranking African American elected official — the highest-ranking African-American woman to hold elected office in the history of New York State — of being worse than the Ku Klux Klan. As reported in the New York Times on August 10, Dan Loeb, one of the wealthiest men in America, launched a viciously racist attack against New York State Democratic Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, saying she has done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood.” Loeb is a hedge fund billionaire who has contributed over $170,000 to Governor Cuomo’s campaign accounts, according to The New York Times, and this does not even include pass-through donations from political action committees. This attack on Senator Stewart-Cousins is nothing new for him. From public education to the economy, Loeb has repeatedly used his wealth to promote an agenda that has devastated communities of color and working families. Governor Andrew Cuomo positioning himself to run for President in 2020. If Cuomo wants us to believe he has what it takes to challenge Donald Trump and his racist worldview, he needs to have the political courage to break ranks with Loeb now! If he wants have Democratic Party support, he needs to stand with the most important and dedicated bloc of Dem voters: Black women! There is no place for Cuomo’s alliance with Dan Loeb in American politics. From the State House to the White House, from Main Street to Wall Street, NO MORE! Join me in demanding that Governor Cuomo immediately break all ties with Loeb, and refund every dollar he has ever received from Loeb and from political action committees that Loeb finances.
Expungement and releasing of Black men convicted of Marijuana chargesMarijuana has become much more socially acceptable in every retrospect except when black men and women are involved in the conversation. African Americans have been booked and slapped with records because of a Marijuana charge they may have recieved years ago. With that being said, Marijuana has catapulted into mainstream media. It has been legalized in many states as well as heralded hip as far as pop culture is concerned. Marijuana moms have landed a segment on the Today show while black men and women with non-violent offenses sit in prison for it. The negative connotation Marijuana holds when associated with a person of color creates this notion that it is only illegal in areas with a lower socio-economical backgrounds: i.e. the hood and low income neighboorhoods where mostly blacks and minorites reside. If Marijuana moms are being celebrated then black men and women with non-violent charges should be released from jail and have their records expunged for their Marijuana charges.
Kick Killer Cops Out of Our Community! Tell MPD To Fire The Gun Recovery Unit!On August 9, 2017, Law for Black Lives–DC members viewed a publicly-posted photograph of seventeen members of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Gun Recovery Unit (GRU), including Officer Michael Vaillancourt inside of what appears to be an MPD stationhouse in police-issued uniforms and tactical gear. The GRU officers are proudly posing in front of a disturbing logo threatening the residents of the District of Columbia with violence and murder. District of Columbia (“D.C.”) residents have seen members of the Gun Recovery Unit, prominently displaying this murderous logo on their police uniforms while armed, patrolling the community, stopping and frisking individuals, and effectuating arrests. Some of these same officers have been seen wearing hooded sweatshirts printed with this violent logo inside of the DC Superior Courthouse while waiting to testify in criminal cases. Perhaps nothing makes this logo more abhorrent and repulsive than placing it in its appropriate context: Gun Recovery Unit members have been responsible for the recent shootings of Raphael Briscoe, Darius Jamal Murphy, and Mark George; tragically killing both Mr. Briscoe and Mr. Murphy. According to the Metropolitan Police Department’s Annual Reports, between 2009 and 2015, twenty-nine people have been killed and twenty-eight have been injured by the intentional firearm discharge of an MPD police officer. After police shootings and killings, MPD often demands that the community not rush to judgment. It is unconscionable for the MPD to expect the benefit of the doubt when their officers shoot and kill Black and Brown citizens while boldly wearing a logo reflecting their cavalier attitudes towards police brutality and murder. The disturbing Gun Recovery Unit logo prominently features a skull and crossbones, universally understood to be a symbol of death. Through the center of the skull is a single bullet hole—indicating the individual had been shot in the T-zone, a virtual guarantee of death on the first shot. Directly above the skull and crossbones are not one, but two handguns, with handcuffs on either side of the image. Below the image of the skull is a flag reading “vest up one in the chamber”—an admonition to officers to put on a bulletproof vest and to load their firearm with a bullet in the chamber, ready to shoot civilians. By placing “NSID” (the acronym for the Narcotics and Special Investigations Division of MPD) and the “Gun Recovery Unit” on the graphic, the logo clearly sends the message that the Metropolitan Police Department endorses the message captured in the logo. The use of this logo is part of a broader campaign designed to inflict terror on low-income communities of color. For the longest, community members have voiced their fear of the Gun Recovery Unit and concern with their policing tactics. For many in the community, the Gun Recovery Unit has become synonymous with “jump outs”—a policing tactic involving officers literally jumping out of unmarked vehicles, often with their weapons drawn, to illegally stop individuals without justification. “Jump outs” happen at any time, leaving individuals with no recourse against them. This maligned practice ensures that Black and Brown communities live amidst intimidation and an ever-present threat of violence because, as the community well knows, and these officers proudly announce, the officers are “vest[ed] up, [with] one in the chamber.” This provides corroboration to what communities of color in DC have long experienced—the policing of their community through intimidation and violence leading to the killing of community members at the hands of the police. On behalf of a number of community organizations and community members, Law4BlackLives-DC has formally filed complaints with both the Internal Affairs Division of the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of Police Complaints regarding this logo and the message it propagates. This logo explicitly associates MPD with threats of death, violence, and the celebration of a climate of police brutality. We are asking concerned community members to let Mayor Bowser know that she must step in to check this culture for the people of Washington D.C. We also ask that the Office of Police Complaints and the Metropolitan Police Department conduct a thorough investigation into all threats of violence and murder by members of MPD against the residents of the District of Columbia. Officers who endorse and flaunt symbols of violence and murder are a threat to public safety. Silence by Mayor Bowser, the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of Police Complaints is nothing less than a full endorsement of this logo’s murderous message. Further inaction makes the Mayor, MPD, and OPC complicit in the killing of Black and Brown people by the police. Thank you, Law4BlackLives-DC
Tell George Mason To Comply with VA Law & Make Donor Agreements Public!GMU’s largest donor, the Charles Koch Foundation, has entered into grant agreements with other universities and non-profits in exchange for influence over hiring, research and curricular decisions. We believe transparency of George Mason's relations with private donors is of the utmost importance. The agenda of private donors should not take precedence over service to the public. The Charles Koch Foundation and its donors have ties to ALEC, the shadowy right-wing organization responsible for writing model legislation designed to attack Black communities like voter ID and Stand Your Ground laws. They have also contributed to Americans For Prosperity which has undertaken voter suppression efforts designed to attack Black communities' freedom to vote by running disinformation campaigns in states like North Carolina. While doing so they also have funded scholarships to Black organizations which require paternalistic directions stipulating students must study under only professors they approve. As students concerned for the integrity of our university with concern about this pattern of attack and control, we demand to you make your grant and gift agreements with private donors transparent! George Mason University is a public university dedicated to public service and that means we must know what agreements are made with donors that have a clear desire to influence the bounds and rights of the public. That one of the largest university donors has funded organizations that have actively worked to erode the rights of Black people while being shielded from scrutiny by George Mason University is disturbing. We demand transparency!
Tell Congress: Transgender Americans Deserve Protection from Hate CrimesThe National Center for Transgender Equality reports that, according to its figures, between August 2013 to August 2015, around 33 trans women have been killed across the U.S. Investigating that further, the majority of those victims have been women of color, specifically Black women. The NCTE goes on to say that in every case where a perpetrator has been identified, all have been men. According to the NTCE: “Yet, what is clear is that transgender women are killed at a disproportionate rate compared to their overall number in the population (less than one percent). The national homicide rate is 4.7 per 100,000—yet at a little more than halfway through the year, we have seen at least 11 killings among an estimated 350,000 adult trans women, almost all of them among trans women of color, who probably number fewer than 135,000.1 Whether they were killed by a date or a boyfriend, a neighbor or acquaintance, a complete stranger, or by a client while engaged in sex work, their transgender status almost always plays a role in why they are targeted and the brutality directed against them. ”In the United States, as in other Western countries, misogyny is still a huge problem. While this often creates subtle biases that manifest in non-lethal ways, such as fewer education and employment options for women, it also underpins intimate partner violence, rape and violent murders. When we have politicians and even judges who routinely overlook violence and exploitation of women, and treat violating women for the purposes of fighting abortion as a matter of collateral damage, we do not tackle that misogyny but give it room to grow. In addition, there is no escaping that the United States still has a serious problem with race. For trans women, who already face transphobia and the sexualization and objectification of their bodies, racial prejudice can compound the difficulties they face and prevent them from being able to get help when they need it. For example, after the death of Sandra Black in police custody, many women of color voiced their feeling that they wouldn’t feel safe talking to a police officer. Imagine adding that to the fact that trans women have been arrested for simply being trans–under the guise of “manifesting prostitution” among other trumped up charges–and we begin to see a huge gulf opening up between the public and the police who are meant to protect them. When trans people–of whatever gender or race–are assaulted, raped or murdered, they are routinely misgendered by both police and by the press. This means that tracking the numbers of trans people being murdered, and in particular being killed in a bias motivated attack, is incredibly difficult.
Tell police unions: stop defending Trump for encouraging police brutality.When Trump gave a speech encouraging police to brutalize suspects, the crowd of officers laughed and cheered. Police departments and law enforcement officials across the country responded by condemning Trump’s comments. But the Fraternal Order of Police -- the largest police union in the country -- defended Trump. So did the leader of Cleveland’s police union. Dozens of police unions across the country have remained completely silent, while their police chiefs speak out. Only two police unions have said anything that even comes close to disagreeing with Trump’s comments -- and their statements were weak and made excuses for Trump. Police unions have a long history of defending cops who brutalize, kill, and abuse their power. They fight against common sense reforms and any kind of accountability for police. Now, on top of that, they’re sending a dangerous message to the police officers that make up their membership -- that cops should be even more violent than they already are. It threatens the communities that police are sworn to serve and protect, and it puts officers themselves in more danger by further eroding trust in police. By calling them out, we can expose how police unions are cheerleaders and enablers of police brutality, and one of the biggest enemies of police accountability and reform. It’s the first step to reducing their political power, their ability stop the common sense policing reforms we desperately need, and their practice of shielding officers who brutalize, kill, and break the law.
Kick Racist Cops Out of Our Community! Tell MPD To Fire Officer Vincent Altiere!On June 2, 5, and 13, 2017, Officer Vincent Altiere, Badge #4440, of the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department, was seen in the DC community and at the DC Superior Court (where he was present to testify in a criminal case), wearing an offensive, racist, and threatening shirt. The shirt displays symbols of police harassment, hate, and death while prominently displaying the symbols and emblems of the Metropolitan Police Department. We're asking that you join us, together we can voice our extreme concern about this offensive shirt and demand that Mayor Bowser's administration, Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of Police Complaints take immediate disciplinary action against Officer Altiere and any other Officers who have worn this or similar shirts. Our effort is already having an effect, the Metropolitan Police Department has already stated that they're taking Officer Altiere off the street for the time being. We are also demanding that officials take proactive measures to address a department culture that allowed this type of misconduct to go unchecked. The shirt displays a “sun cross,” replacing the letter “O” of “PowerShift” with a notorious white supremacist symbol adopted by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist hate groups. Immediately below is the image of the Grim Reaper, a personification of death in the form of a hooded skeleton, holding an assault rifle and a Metropolitan Police Department badge. Below, the shirt reads “Let me see that waistband jo,” referring to “jump outs” and the routine practice of demanding to see the waistbands of individuals, who are disproportionately young Black and Brown men, often for no legitimate reason. Given the prominent placement of MPD logos and a badge number, the shirt does not appear to be attributed to Officer Altiere alone, but instead, appears to have been designed for a group of officers associated with the MPD Seventh District. Ninety-five percent of the residents in MPD’s Seventh District are black and too many Seventh District residents have experienced harassment and abuse at the hands of the police. It is time for the leadership of this city to acknowledge and address the systemic violation of rights, and threat of violence to Black people here in Washington D.C. White supremacy and insinuated threats of death should never be associated with or tolerated in police departments who are sworn to protect and serve. Such ideologies are dangerous and demonstrate a blatant disregard for Black and Brown life. They are at the root of rampant police abuse and result in the unconstitutional terrorizing of Black and Brown communities and the callous murder of Black and Brown men and women at the hands of the police, both in Washington, DC and across the country. On behalf of a number of community organizations and community members, Law4BlackLives-DC has formally filed complaints with both the Internal Affairs Division of the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of Police Complaints regarding this shirt and the message it propagates. The shirt stands alone as an affront to the community. It also embraces ongoing patterns of constitutional violations and constitutes a blatant disregard of MPD’s own general orders, including MPD General Orders 110.11, 201.26, 304.10, and 304.15. We are also asking concerned community members to let Mayor Bowser know that she must step in to check this culture for the people of Washington D.C. Such Officers are a threat to public safety and erode public trust in the police. Inaction by the Metropolitan Police Department, Office of Police Complaints, and the Mayor's office would be an endorsement of this shirt’s hateful message and an acceptance of a policing culture infected by racism and violence. We're going to keep pushing until we win substantive change, we won't rest until he is fired and everyone who has taken part in this disgraceful conduct is gone. Thank you, Law4BlackLives-DC
Don't Let Lynne Abraham Become Philly's Interim District AttorneyFormer District Attorney Seth Williams was convicted on multiple charges, and now is in jail awaiting sentencing. But in the months remaining of former District Attorney Seth Williams’ term, thousands of Philadelphians will be arrested by the police, arraigned and tried, and sentenced. This past electoral cycle made clear that Philadelphia’s history of mass incarceration - one made measurably worse by Abraham - is one that the vast majority of voters want to unwind. The Board of Judges, made up of 88 members of Philadelphia's Court of Common Pleas, will appoint an interim DA from the 14 candidates that have applied for the position - by the end of the week. One of the applicants is former District Attorney Lynne Abraham. Lynne Abraham not only earned her title of “Deadliest DA,” she was perversely proud of it. While in office, she obtained over 100 death sentences; a disproportionate number of those sentenced to die were Black. Many of her convictions are under question, and as a result of an era of overcharging and heavy sentencing that she helped create, Philadelphia is missing over 30,000 Black men. And Abraham’s office was notorious for prosecuting free speech protest with the heaviest charges. All of the candidates who vied for the Democratic and Republican nominations - and both of the candidates battling in the General election - have pointed to inequities and the need to decarcerate, here in the city with the highest per capita jail population of any big city in the United States. We pushed every candidate to hold themselves to a platform that keeps people in our communities, stops the targeting of kids, immigrants, and Black and Brown people, and promotes the kind of radical transparency on the workings of the DA office that Lynne Abraham fought. Survivors of crime who are looking for a DA’s office to respect their needs, and the thousands of people who will be prosecuted by the DA’s office in the next six months and their families, deserve a leader who will work toward decarceration, not someone with an extensive history of expanding mass incarceration in the poorest big city in America. Judges: please do not appoint Lynne Abraham to the District Attorney’s seat.
Let NYC Dance: Repeal No-Dancing Law to Create Safe Spaces for Black NYers!New York City brands itself as an entertainment capital, but uses a 90-year-old Cabaret (No-Dancing) Law to keep Black New Yorkers out of dancehalls and to retaliate against restaurant and bar owners who welcome Black patrons. Black New Yorkers are already over-policed in public spaces, and with few private spaces to call our own, we are constantly battling for safe spaces. New York City was built on the creative genius of Black folks, but the city council's enforcement of this law effectively demotes Black people to second class citizens. The Cabaret Law bans dancing in venues that do not have licenses, which are nearly impossible to come by. As of 2016, the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs reported that of NYC's more than 25,000 bars and restaurants, only 118 had Cabaret Licenses. This means that venue owners that support Black culture and allow us dancing without a permit run the risk of being fined, harassed or shut down. These days, because of the No-Dancing Law, Black New Yorkers have even fewer safe spaces. The result: Black people are painted as perpetual “outsiders,” and that puts us in stiffer competition for space in the rapidly gentrifying boroughs. The No-Dancing Law suggests Black people, who are severely over-policed, have just as little right to occupy private space as they do to public space. It implies that Black people are bad for a business’s image or are a financial burden. It also discourages business owners from welcoming Black patrons and encourages hostile behavior toward Black customers. The 1926 Cabaret (No-Dancing) Law The Cabaret Law was originally enacted in 1926 to crack down on African American jazz clubs and kill a legitimate, money-making culture of the Harlem Renaissance. In the 1990s, former mayor and Trump-supporter Rudy Giuliani used the law to crack down on Black and Latino safe spaces as part of his racist “Quality of Life Campaign.” Giuliani wanted to grow the city’s tourism industry and attract more real estate investors, so he he weaponized these laws against Black communities to make out of towners feel "comfortable" Today, the law is a reminder that the City Council and racist mayoral leadership sabotaged Black New Yorkers’ opportunities to create safe spaces for themselves. The law was bundled with a multitude of racist regulations that have since been repealed (or found unconstitutional). But the core of the Cabaret Law is still on the books, and Mayor de Blasio is still enforcing. We are asking our council members to repeal the Cabaret Law and lift this ban on dancing; furthermore, lift the unspoken ban on Black people in private spaces in New York. We are asking the New York City Council to repeal the Cabaret Law and lift this ban on dancing. It's hard to believe that our city government bans an act of expression as basic and universal as dancing--it sounds like the behavior of a repressive regime and certainly has no place in a city as tolerant, diverse, and respectful of human expression as ours is. That’s why we are asking our government to repeal it immediately. Let's take one more step towards becoming the progressive cultural capital all New Yorkers can believe in.