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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
Fund Public Transit: People of the CityUnderfunding public transportation forces poor residents to own a car in order to work, shop, or take their children to school. With proper funding and regular routes along main streets the city can benefit Black communities by making it much less expensive to live here. If public transportation is properly funded, then more working citizens in the Black community will have access to quality education for their children and a more stable living condition altogether. We need proper funding for everyone, for the city to operate better at large. Support this petition for a good example of a powerful narrative that highlights an impact on the Black community.
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.
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
#ResignBrannigan : Hate Has No Home In Our Community, Palos Township!The hate rhetoric spewed on social media over the past few years by current Palos Township Trustee, Sharon Brannigan, is alarming. These false and misleading allegations, and the spewing of hateful, racist rhetoric, are not only concerning to the Arab and Muslim residents of the Township, but to all residents who value diversity and the many contributions our diverse communities bring to U.S. society. Ms. Brannigan launched her most recent assault on Middle Eastern students over social media, writing, “What is Palos doing? Why are all our schools filling with Middle East [sic] students without proper documentation?” In another post on Facebook, she wrote, “In the 3rd district here in Illinois, our demographics include 25% Muslims of which very few integrate within the communities keeping themselves and their activities hidden from the general population. Everywhere you turn, from Orland Park to Bridgeview, those numbers are increasing in leaps and bounds. We are allowing these people whether they have peaceful intentions or not into our country without question.” Make no mistake, hate rhetoric spewed from our elected officials during our current political climate is contributing to the spike of hate crimes against Arabs, Muslims, LatinX, Black, LGBTQIA and many other marginalized communities. We are demanding Brannigan’s immediate resignation, and are asking you to join us! Let's take a stand against hate and make it clear, Hate Has No Home In Our Community! #TakeOnHate #ResignBrannigan This effort is led by the Campaign To TAKE ON HATE along with AM Vote, Arab American Action Network (AAAN), Arab American Democratic Club, Arab American Family Services (AAFS), OrganizeFor powered by Color Of Change, Kiswani Law, P.C., along with concerned community members, residents and activists.
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.
Keep Pre-existing Conditions Covered under Health InsuranceThis affects everyone in the U.S. who rely and depend on proper health care for a sustainable life. Keeping pre-existing conditions covered under all insurance plans will stop people from being charged rates they can not afford. Making two markets for people who've had pre-existing conditions, and for people who have not would make insurance unaffordable for some, and useless for others. Anyone can become sick or injured, covering pre-existing conditions is the only way to make sure that we're all covered when we may need care. By taking away coverage for pre-existing conditions we're making insurance for everyone less useful. There's no reason to go back to the way things were with people getting thrown off of their insurance because of rescission. Keeping pre-existing conditions covered under our health insurance programs is important for Black folks. Our access to health care is important to battle the inequality in life outcomes that sees our people consistently dying younger than everyone else.
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.
No HUD Cuts!Donald Trump and Paul Ryan are threatening to cut more than $7 billion in HUD funding and plan to eliminate the CDFI fund. These programs are essential to supporting low-income people across the country. These cuts will specifically target low-income people, especially people of color and immigrants living in public housing or receiving rental subsidies. The cuts are mainly toward public housing, but programs like Housing Choice Vouchers, CDBG, and HOME that low-income people in both rural and urban areas rely on will also be targeted. Treasury's CDFI fund that helps low-income people become homebuyers will be completely eliminated. For specific data how these cuts will affect your city: https://affordablehousingonline.com/FY18-hud-budget-cuts#1 For more information: nocutscoalition.org How you can get involved (besides signing this petition): 1. Call or email your Senators and Representatives for your region. http://whoismyrepresentative.com/ 2. Join us for the Tenant March on Washington on July 12th! https://goo.gl/EgMq3n
Justice For Jocques: Fire Officer Lippert!The officer who killed Jocques Scott Clemmons, Joshua Lippert, is still collecting a pay check from the Metro Nashville Police Department. Lippert was let off from charges after a very questionable investigation by MNPD and the TBI. Nashville's District Attorney, Glenn Funk, decided that the killing was justified. Joshua Lippert has been suspended several times within his five years of being a police officer in Nashville. We have to make sure he is terminated from the Metro Nashville Police Department. He has proven that he is not capable of being a "Nashville Guardian." Our community cannot risk allowing him or any other officer who continues to attack, harass, disrespect, and target black communities to go freely. We cannot allow him to continue to be compensated for killing Jocques and attacking us in the streets.
Boycott NFL & Sponsors if Kaepernick is not SignedAs a national organization of Black Law Enforcement Professionals, we have always supported Colin Kaepernick stance on bringing awareness to social justice issues of Black people. It is our duty as peace officers and members of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America to continue the battle for freedom, justice, and equality for all citizens. After reading the USA Today article: “What does it say about the NFL, and about us, when at least a half-dozen men who have been accused of physical or sexual assault have been welcomed into the NFL over the past week, while Colin Kaepernick still has not? While some NFL teams were busy drafting names from the police blotter last weekend, Kaepernick was standing outside a New York City parole office, handing out two boxes of his own custom-made suits to men who needed them for upcoming job interviews. He has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to charity. In March, it was reported by several news media outlets, including USA TODAY Sports, that Kaepernick will not protest the national anthem this coming season. And yet he’s still a free agent, so far unwanted by all 32 NFL teams.“ As a national organization of Black Law Enforcement Professionals, we have asked that same question, but we already know the answer. The NFL is sending a serious message to the rest of their Black athletes that they better not cause any more trouble, even if you’re bringing awareness to the many injustices to your own people. As Black Law Enforcement, we recognize this tactic; it’s even used in Law Enforcement when Black Officers stand up against the institution for police brutality and civil rights violations of our people. The NFL is also broadcasting a message to people throughout the world that Black issues do not matter. It is uncommon that our children see athletes standing up for issues in their communities, especially for the many black men that have been unjustly killed by Law Enforcement. As conscious persons, we must send the same message to the NFL and their Sponsors that our dollars matter by boycotting the NFL and their products for basically punishing Kaepernick for his position on social justice issues. We are asking all Black Law Enforcement Organizations, civil rights organizations, grass root organizations to do the same. NFL SPONSORS TO BOYCOTT Anheuser-Busch, Barclaycard US, Bose, Bridgestone, Campbell’s Soup Company, Castrol, Courtyard Marriott, Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI/National Dairy Council), Dannon, Extreme Networks, FedEx, Gatorade, Hyundai Motor America, Mars Snackfood, McDonald’s, Microsoft (XBOX, Surface and Windows), Nationwide, News America, Papa John’s, Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Quaker, SAP Americas, TD Ameritrade, Verizon, Visa,
Tell Gov. Cuomo: No more racist Parole Board!New York's Parole Board is devastating the lives of tens of thousands of people. In 2015, the Board denied release to over 80 percent of parole applicants, despite the fact that the majority of the applicants were ready for release and posed no risk to public safety.¹ Fewer than one in six Black or Latino men was released at his first parole hearing, compared with one in four white men, according to an analysis by The New York Times of thousands of parole decisions from the past several years.² Three of the five commissioners whose terms expire this year were appointed decades ago by Republican Governor George Pataki, whose racist “tough-on-crime” policies led to today’s mass incarceration crisis. The Parole Board is keeping thousands of parole-ready people locked up indefinitely, and it’s happening on Governor Cuomo’s watch. ------ 1. http://www.doccs.ny.gov/Research/Reports/2016/Parole_Board_Dispositions_2015.pdf 2. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/04/nyregion/new-york-prisons-inmates-parole-race.html