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LIFE SAVING TREATMENT NOW FOR MUMIA ABU-JAMALMy name is Keith Cook, and I am Mumia Abu-Jamal’s brother. My loss, and my pain, have been constant for three decades since my brother has been in prison. He needs to come home, like so many of the men from our community. Mumia is very ill. I was in the waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit, just feet from where he lay nearly dying, for 28 long hours in Pottsville, PA before the guards would let me see him. He was chained: his right arm and left leg shacked to the hospital bed. Did you know that there is absolutely no reason for him to suffer? There is a cure for Hepatitis C — just one pill a day. I see my brother. But the Department of Corrections and the courts see “a prisoner”. Wasn’t Jesus a prisoner? Wasn’t Nelson Mandela a prisoner? Dr. Paul Noel, Director of Health Care for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and Dr. Carl J. Keldie Chief Clinical Officer of Correct Care Solutions would let incarcerated people die from this disease. Yes, Mumia is supported by Amnesty International and Desmond Tutu, among many others. But he is also just like any other Black man in prison. Together we must stop this shameful practice of denying lifesaving health care to Mumia Abu-Jamal and all prisoners. And we must expose the public health imperative of treating Hepatitis C inside and outside of prisons. As the drug’s inventor Michael Sofia notes, “How can you deny people access to a cure?”. Right now, my brother is in the infirmary at SCI Mahanoy, and he is receiving absolutely no treatment. We are in court, right now with a petition. You can make sure that the U.S. District Court Judge Mariani, and Magistrate Mehalchick see and hear more than the word “prisoner”. We know these folks are our mothers, fathers, and brothers. We know they deserve to be treated with dignity and with respect. We need your voice to be heard. Tell them you know that intentional medical neglect is a violation of the 8th Amendment and their Hippocratic Oath. Medical apartheid must stop. Please join me. - Keith Cook, Retired Command Sergeant; Major, US Army; Former Chairman Orange, County School Board; Past President, North Carolina Caucus of Black School Board; District Director, NC NAACP Conference of Branches
Tell Dayton City Commission to End Censorship and AntI-Blackness!John Crawford was 22 years old when he was shot to death by Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams in a Walmart near Dayton, Ohio when a white customer called 911 on him while in the store. He was holding a toy gun. In Cleveland, Tamir Rice was murdered by police after a neighbor called 911 on him for holding what was “probably a fake gun.” He was only 12 years old. Ohio grand juries declined to indict both of the cops responsible for stealing the young and innocent lives of John and Tamir. And just weeks ago, 35-year-old Kiesha Arrone was shot 15 times by Dayton police because she was seen as a “threat.” This was only months after she was married to her partner in a ceremony that was officiated by Mayor Whaley. No justice has been served. This is what the 9th grade students from the STEM school powerfully uplifted in their artwork, only to be censored by the City. The City’s removal of the student’s artwork from the Dayton Convention Center after only two days on display because it depicts ‘Black Lives Matter’ and remembers the lives lost by police murder is part of a bigger injustice- the persistent anti-Blackness and continued disinvestment of Black communities in Dayton. Dayton is the fourth most segregated city in the state of Ohio. West Dayton, a Black community, has been disinvested from for decades, with no public health facilities and the total absence of economic development as the city allocates ample resources elsewhere. With the history of injustice against Black people in Dayton, it is no surprise that the city has an issue with publically displaying art that asserts Black Lives Matter in the convention center. The city of Dayton has never taken a stand against the state-sanctioned violence, police murder and police brutality of its Black residents. City officials have never stood in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and Racial Justice NOW! The city continues to demonstrate that to them, Black lives don’t matter. These students found a creative and productive way to express their frustration and trauma of seeing these killings happen right in their own communities. We will not stand by and let this happen, we demand their artwork be put back on display and the city works with grassroots organizations like Racial Justice NOW to co-create a community dialogue that encourages students and disenfranchised community members to speak up and actively engage in the decisions that directly impact their lives.
Break Down the Barriers: Bring Automatic Voter Registration to Illinois!There are several attempts to suppress the voices of people of color not only in the State of Illinois, but across the country. With a great deal of confusion around registration deadlines, application errors, long lines at polling locations, and other structural failures, millions of eligible voters are not making their voices heard in our democratic process. At Chicago Votes, we organized a group of high school students (on their Spring Break) to travel to Springfield to advocate for AVR. They advocated on behalf of their families and communities who have, on multiple occasions, faced difficulties registering to vote. In addition, many of the students were first-time voters in the Illinois primaries, and despite having all of the appropriate identification needed to register, they were faced with long lines, confusion, and a great deal of frustration. After listening to the students share their stories with the elected officials, one student asked me what keeps me coming back to this work after three years. He asked, “Why voter registration?” Kevin, a middle-aged Black man with a felony, keeps me coming back to this work. Kevin, who stated, “My parole officer told me that I cannot register to vote because I have a felony, and if I do it anyways, I will go back to jail” is the reason. Kevin, who didn’t know that his right to vote was restored upon his release from prison, is the reason why I keep coming back to this work. I am aware that Kevin is one of many eligible voters in Illinois who are not voting due to misinformation. He is the father, uncle, or cousin of a high school student somewhere in Illinois who is excited about the potential of voting, but are told they cannot. If we pass AVR, we will raise the voices and open the doors for people of color who want to participate in our political process, but are constantly faced with barriers every election cycle. HB4208 and SB250 is currently gaining traction in the IL General Assembly by moving through committees. Join me in telling our elected officials that democracy works best when all voices are included, and Automatic Voter Registration is a step in the right direction. Let’s ensure that this bill is introduced on the Senate floor by signing this petition and showing your support!
Tell the N.C. Chamber of Commerce: Stand Against DiscriminationBusinesses across the country have spoken out against North Carolina’s HB2, the so-called “bathroom bill.” But not the N.C. Chamber of Commerce. Maybe that’s because the Chamber's leadership benefits from provisions hidden inside the law that give bosses a green light to discriminate against African Americans and pay North Carolina workers less than a living wage. HB2 overturns policies that protect North Carolina's lesbian, gay and transgender community, 29% of which is African-American. The new law also overturns local anti-bias ordinances that protect everyone, regardless of race, national origin, age, disability, gender or religion. It bans workers from filing discrimination claims in state court. And it undercuts the ability of local elected officials to guarantee fair treatment for their citizens. In short, it’s a major attack on democracy. It's time to tell S. Lewis Ebert, CEO and President of the N.C. Chamber of Commerce, to join other business leaders and use his influence to call for the repeal of HB2. House Bill 2 uses the inflammatory slogan of “men using a girl’s bathroom” as a cover for a law that takes power away from voters and their local elected officials. The truth is that transgender women have used women’s restrooms for years; the only safety problem has come when they use the men’s bathroom and get attacked. Providing safety was at the heart of Charlotte’s new policy, but scary rhetoric can distract and deceive. The heads of Bank of America, Apple, IBM, Levi Strauss, Kellogg and dozens of other companies have spoken out against HB2, but not S. Lewis Ebert. We saw how the rhetoric of “voter fraud” frightened North Carolinians and provided cover for sweeping legislation that cut early voting, ended several voter protections, increased contribution limits, repealed the public campaign financing program that helped elect African Americans to the state courts, and allowed more corporate money in state elections. We can’t let yet another deceitful attack on democracy happen.
No Grand Jury #Justice4JamarGrand juries consistently fail to deliver justice in cases of fatal police shootings. In grand juries, prosecutors often rely on evidence gained solely from police. Moreover, the process is extremely secretive: the prosecutor and the grand jury members may not reveal what occurred in the grand jury room to the public, including any evidence or videos presented. Since 2000, 142 Minnesotans have been killed by police. Grand juries have returned indictments in zero of these cases. In fact, no police officer in Minnesota has EVER been indicted for a fatal shooting. While Mike Freeman insists grand juries have been a part of Minnesota’s justice system for 35 years, this is exactly the reason to eliminate their use in cases of fatal police encounters. The criminal justice system has been purposefully failing people of color for centuries. It is time to change our approach. Grand juries are neither effective nor required by law. California recently became the first state to ban grand juries in cases of deadly force by police. The governor of New York has appointed a special prosecutor for these cases. Recently, the city of Baltimore directly indicted police officers in the death of Freddie Gray without resorting to a grand jury process. A special prosecutor can and should decide whether to pursue charges directly, without obstructing justice via a grand jury.
Gov. Christie: Condemn Hate & Renounce Trump, or Resign!In a desperate final bid for relevance on the national stage, New Jersey Governor Christie is traveling the country in support of Donald Trump's racist and hateful presidential campaign. The Trump rallies Chris Christie now headlines have become beacons for hate groups and hate speech. By standing with them, Christie is turning his back on the millions of constituents who reject the racism and misogyny that Trump's campaign now embodies. Christie's actions sully what is left of his reputation and our state's as a whole. Enough is enough. We deserve a Governor who treats us with dignity and respect, not one who aligns himself with bigotry and violent racism. Governor Christie: renounce Donald Trump or resign!
Stand with Ravi Perry and Luke Harris Against Racial Censorship in Henrico CountyDid you know that school boards across the country have already banned some of the only books cataloguing the experiences of people of color? And it's not just literature that's being suppressed and erased; the African American Policy Forum's “Unequal Opportunity Race” video is the latest educational media suppressed by conservative school boards. As part of Black History Month, the Unequal Opportunity Race, a short animated video produced by AAPF, was shown to students at Glen Allen High School in Henrico County, Virginia. The clip was included as part of a program to facilitate a conversation on structural racism. Despite accurately illustrating historical events and contemporary racial inequities, conservative activists and right-wing outlets, like Fox News, labeled the educational tool as a "white guilt video.” The Board of Education fueled the conservative outrage when it called the video “racially divisive.” Micky Ogburn, the School Board’s Chair, went as far as to apologize to parents and community members who believed the video was "reverse racism.” Let us be clear: labelling multiracial visions of American society as “divisive” is nothing new. The Civil Rights Movement was called divisive. Martin Luther King, Jr. was called divisive. Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court’s landmark school desegregation case, was labelled as divisive. What is truly divisive is a ban that discourages conversations around structural racism, furthering the dangerous myth that Black people’s suffering can be blamed on individual or cultural shortcoming rather than systemic flaws! What is truly divisive is the miseducation of millions of children, leaving them ill-equipped to understand the complexity of race and racism. Join us supporting parents, students and community leaders in urging the Henrico County School Board to lift the ban on the Unequal Opportunity Race! We further call for transparency from the School Board on their decision-making process used to ban the video, and unbiased coverage from the local press on the ongoing dispute. Learning about the systemic roots of modern-day racial inequality is critical for not only Black students, but for everyone. Censorship of this material in response to conservative agitation is a direct expression of racial repression being translated into official policy. We cannot stand by as our stories are labeled as irrelevant to our country’s social reality, while anything that lifts up the struggles of people of color are deemed racist!
Life Saving Treatment Now for Mumia Abu-JamalMy name is Keith Cook, and I am Mumia Abu-Jamal’s brother. My loss, and my pain, have been constant for three decades since my brother has been in prison. He needs to come home, like so many of the men from our community. Mumia is very ill. I was in the waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit, just feet from where he lay nearly dying, for 28 long hours in Pottsville, PA before the guards would let me see him. He was chained: his right arm and left leg shacked to the hospital bed. Did you know that there is absolutely no reason for him to suffer? There is a cure for Hepatitis C — just one pill a day. I see my brother. But the Department of Corrections and the courts see “a prisoner”. Wasn’t Jesus a prisoner? Wasn’t Nelson Mandela a prisoner? Dr. Paul Noel, Director of Health Care for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and Dr. Carl J. Keldie Chief Clinical Officer of Correct Care Solutions would let incarcerated people die from this disease. Yes, Mumia is supported by Amnesty International and Desmond Tutu, among many others. But he is also just like any other Black man in prison. Together we must stop this shameful practice of denying lifesaving health care to Mumia Abu-Jamal and all prisoners. And we must expose the public health imperative of treating Hepatitis C inside and outside of prisons. As the drug’s inventor Michael Sofia notes, “How can you deny people access to a cure?”. Right now, my brother is in the infirmary at SCI Mahanoy, and he is receiving absolutely no treatment. We are in court, right now with a petition. You can make sure that the U.S. District Court Judge Mariani, and Magistrate Mehalchick see and hear more than the word “prisoner”. We know these folks are our mothers, fathers, and brothers. We know they deserve to be treated with dignity and with respect. We need your voice to be heard. Tell them you know that intentional medical neglect is a violation of the 8th Amendment and their Hippocratic Oath. Medical apartheid must stop. Please join me. - Keith Cook, Retired Command Sergeant; Major, US Army; Former Chairman Orange, County School Board; Past President, North Carolina Caucus of Black School Board; District Director, NC NAACP Conference of Branches
Taking Food out of people’s mouths does not create jobs, it leaves entire communities hungry!Under the 1996 welfare law, able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) are limited to three months of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly food stamps) in a three-year period unless they are working 20 hours a week or enrolled in a job training program for 20 hours a week. But the same law that created the time limit allows states to request a waiver for areas with high unemployment where jobs are scarce. Louisiana is eligible for a statewide waiver in 2016 given our high unemployment rate. Louisiana has added 51,000 jobs since January 2013, but at the same time the labor force grew by 102,000 job seekers. Louisiana now has a higher unemployment rate than the nation. Unfortunately, Governor Jindal has chosen not to apply for a statewide waiver. Their position is that a wavier conflicts with a policy of promoting "self-sufficiency." Of course, we all agree that a job paying a living wage is preferable to public assistance. But we also are aware of the reality that jobs--much less good-paying jobs--are scarce in our state. Rates of food insecurity in Louisiana remain high. Surveys averaged over three years show 17.6 percent of Louisianans lacked food security over the 2012-2014 period, a huge increase from the 11.8 percent who were food insecure a decade ago and higher than the 14.1 percent in 2009-2011. Nationally, the rate is 14.3 percent. Denying SNAP to the unemployed will do nothing to increase the rate of job creation, but will increase food hardship and the burden on local food banks already struggling to serve the hungry. People who will be cut off from food assistance because of this harsh rule are some of the poorest people in the state who are generally not eligible for any other type of assistance. Now, it will be harder for them to eat. Taking SNAP benefits away from unemployed workers will also create desperate situations that can increase the crime rate in the state of Louisiana. If DCFS refuses to apply for a waiver targeting high-need areas, the state should at least commit itself to providing a job training spot to every single person who wants one so that they can keep their SNAP benefits while building their skills. Unfortunately, given budget constraints, that isn’t likely to happen. With a lack of jobs, no training opportunities, and limited places to perform community service, thousands will be punitively cut off from basic food assistance. Please sign on to tell Jindal that you will not stand by as he makes people starve.
Democracy Requires Real (and more) Debate: Demand a #BlackLivesMatter Presidential DebateUPDATE 10/22/15 regarding DNC response to our campaign (Full Statement Linked Below): It is a given that our network, in collaboration with our allies and supporters, will conduct issue forums and town hall meetings at the local, regional and national levels to help our communities make informed choices in 2016 that help advance our collective interests. We want a debate supported by the DNC that will speak directly and proactively to the issues impacting black people in this country. Debates that are shaped by the corporate media will never adequately address the issues we care about. We urge the DNC to work with movements and core constituency groups that can help generate substantive conversation beyond the talking points that you can easily find on the websites of candidates. The DNC must commit to not punish candidates that choose to participate in other debates beyond those sanctioned by the DNC. The issues we care about include but are not limited to: over policing and blue on black violence; violence and economic disenfranchisement of transgender people; patterns of incarceration leading to the world's most bloated prison industry; systemic and historic forms of economic policies that level black communities; attacks on organized labor and the dismantling of the safety net, the criminalization of immigrants, and more. ***** It is not enough to poll the Presidential candidates on whether or not they think "Black Lives Matter" or "All Lives Matter" -- we deserve substantive responses and policy recommendations. We deserve substance and not rhetoric. In fact, we demand it. Limiting the number of debates unfairly privileges some candidates over others, and cheats voters out of the opportunity to fully engage candidates on issues we care about. Black voters, in particular, constitute a significant proportion of the potential voting bloc. Those of us who (reluctantly) give our votes to the Democratic Party deserve more robust forums on issues of particular concern to our communities, at home and abroad. According to the Center for American Progress (CAP), in 2012, Black women voted at a higher rate than any other group, across ethnicity, gender and race. In fact, more than 70% of registered Black women voted in the 2012 Presidential election, and overwhelmingly voted Democrat. More than 61% of registered Black men voted in the 2012 Presidential election--less than 1% shy of voting turnout for white men. This last year alone has demonstrated clearly that Black lives are under attack--from police violence to the murders of black trans women to economic disenfranchisement and neoliberal polices. It's time to extend the public conversation beyond the status quo. We want to hear candidates debate and offer tangible solutions to the myriad issues impacting Black people. Lifting the unfair restriction on the number of debates and supporting a Black Lives Matter Presidential debate is a step in the right direction. -Elle Hearns, Robbie Clark, Anita Moore and the rest of the BLM team Full statement link: https://www.facebook.com/BlackLivesMatter/posts/504518409719409
Protect DC's Black Communities from Police Violence: Say NO to Mayor Bowser's Crime BillBill 21-0357 will effectively criminalize entire Black neighborhoods in the District. It seeks to flood communities with police endowed with the power to conduct illegal aggressive and dangerous searches and seizures, and to incarcerate people almost at will for minor and non-violent offenses. Without the support of any data, the Mayor places the blame on returning citizens for the District’s recent spike in crime and seeks to target people on parole probation or supervised release for surveillance and broken windows policing. The Mayor does not understand the issues that affect the District’s most underserved areas. Instead of responding with knee-jerk proposals that will only increase the rates of arrests and incarceration without reducing crime, the Mayor and the DC Council should invest resources in creating jobs with living wages, support “ban the box” measures to help eliminate obstacles to employment and housing for Returning Citizens, create and protect truly affordable housing, prohibit displacement, significantly improve access to healthy and affordable food and other services that make our community safer. In Solidarity, Black Lives Matter DMV and Stop Police Terror Project #TakeBackOurStreetsDC
SUPPORT BLACK YOUTH: LOCKED OUT OF KATRINA RECOVERY/PUSHED OUT OF SCHOOL!Why is this important? If we believe children are our future, ALL children, then it is our duty to ensure that each and every one, even those with challenging behaviors are given every opportunity to grow and thrive. In the predominately black, still storm ravaged Eastern New Orleans, Collegiate Academies operates 3 schools. Each school has chosen to suspend children at rates over 40, 50 and 60% or more each year, when other alternatives are available. Children can’t learn if they are not in school. Schools do a great job of having zero tolerance and accountability for our children and we want more accountability from our schools. High suspension rates do not reflect the use of positive reinforcement methods, rather oppressive discipline. Collegiate Academies does a great job at showcasing its successes in annual reports, however, there is no mention of suspension rates, infractions youth are suspended for, the number of teachers who receive professional development training for restorative practices, conflict resolution or positive behavior supports as per ACT 136 of 2010 or your attrition rates. Recognizing that African-American students in Louisiana public schools are suspended and expelled at disproportionately high rates, according to a report from the Education Department, families want to be assured that Collegiate Academies is following best practice in order to educate our children and not pushing out children who need the most support. If the Louisiana Department of Education’s goal is to provide learning environments and experiences, at all stages of human development, that are humane, just, and designed to promote excellence in order that every individual may be afforded an equal opportunity to develop to his full potential as per our Preamble, Article 8, Louisiana State Constitution, in New Orleans we are failing our children. For the 2013 school year, 46,625 out-of-school suspensions were doled out, which was more than the total number of children enrolled in New Orleans public schools that year. Recovery from harsh discipline polices for some children and families leaves them feeling as though they are still in the midst of a storm. Collegiate Academies promotes itself as a national model stating – “we seek perfection in everything we do”. Children are not perfect and neither is a model that suspends, at times, more than half of their students. The same year Collegiate Academies was suspending more than ½ of their school population; Pope Francis knelt before 12 children and washed their feet, choosing to perform the Holy Thursday ritual at a juvenile detention facility in Rome. One of the most important men in the world showed his willingness to serve troubled children, to exhibit the values of compassion and forgiveness that we hold dear in our society. He didn’t just preach to the children and give them guidance about how they can live better lives. He didn’t suspend them or push them away; he knelt down and washed their feet. He cared and took action. Please join with FFLIC today in taking action for ALL children, sign this petition and demand that Collegiate Academies cease suspending children and ensure teachers are properly trained.