• Don't Let Lynne Abraham Become Philly's Interim District Attorney
    Former 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.
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  • Keep Pre-existing Conditions Covered under Health Insurance
    This 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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
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  • 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.
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  • Boycott NFL & Sponsors if Kaepernick is not Signed
    As 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,
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  • 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
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  • Stop College Administration From Unjustly Punishing Student Activists
    Claremont McKenna College is currently investigating and attempting to charge student activists with conduct violations for their alleged participation in a nonviolent campus protest. This will punish student protesters on campus and infringe on their right to expression and to association. This investigation is in a response to a group of students protesting a talk by Heather Mac Donald at the College on April 6, 2017. Mac Donald had previously published books that support and justify the hyper-criminalization and extrajudicial killings of Black folks, which made students concerned for their safety and lead to a campus protest for the duration of her scheduled talk. The College should drop all charges and immediately cease this Conduct Investigation and Review against student activists for the following reasons: 1. Students have a right to organize, protest, and demonstrate under the US and California Constitutions. 2. Student activists maintained a peaceful, nonviolent protest, despite facing physical violence from professors and other students, most notably by Professor Anthony Fucaloro. The Student Life (the Consortium’s student news publication) has video evidence of Fucaloro physically assaulting students. To our knowledge, the College has not investigated or taken action on any of these incidents. 3. The College is investigating students through a “Conduct Investigation and Review.” According to the Student Conduct Process, this procedure is “reserved for the most significant and serious cases,” which include “physical injury or threatening to harm another and distribution of illegal drugs.” 4. The College has been denying the students’ rights to due process and violating its own policies and procedures throughout this conduct case. This includes an unprecedented attempt to prevent graduating seniors from participating in Commencement and a notation on student transcripts that indicates that students are currently involved in a conduct case. Neither of these actions are listed under the Student Conduct Process. 5. The College knew about the protest beforehand, as evidenced by campus communication, but did not issue a dispersal order or inform students that they could be facing a potential conduct violation before and during the protest. Therefore, the administration gave the impression that the students were engaged in permissible action and properly exercising their First Amendment rights. 6. The College has a history of institutionalized racism and of antagonizing students of color, including recent deaths of two students of color at Colleges in the Consortium and negligence in fully investigating a death threat against students of color in December 2015. This pattern of behavior must be stopped. The College is still moving forward with the Conduct Investigation and Review. Our goal is to make sure that the College does not continue their attempt to punish students for protesting by sending the administration a petition that addresses these concerns. Here is the petition that we will send on your behalf: “Dear President Chodosh and the Claremont McKenna Board of Trustees: I am writing to you to protest the punishment of student activists, and I urge you to drop all charges and the investigation against students involved in the conduct case for the Mac Donald protest. I find it distressing that the College is resorting to punitive measures to resolve issues resulting from their own negligence. I believe that there will be significant consequences if the College chooses to continue with a Conduct Investigation and Review, including an impact to the public reputation of the College. The College should be encouraging civic engagement from its students, instead of attempting to curtail student protests by penalizing their participation, especially if it claims “to educate its students for thoughtful and productive lives and responsible leadership.” We hope that the College responds to this matter appropriately by prioritizing the humanity of these students and by removing them from this investigation. Sincerely, [YOUR NAME]”
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  • Karl Oliver has gotta go! Tell MS Rep. who advocated for lynching to step down.
    Yesterday, Republican lawmaker, Karl Oliver— representing the community where Emmett Till was hanged— made it clear that anyone advocating to remove Confederate statues “should be LYNCHED!” and vowed to do everything in his power to keep up these shrines to slavery in Mississippi. Oliver’s tirade, posted to his personal Facebook account, came hours after the City of New Orleans celebrated the removal of its last Confederate statue, one of the notorious Robert E. Lee. Oliver’s conduct is not only disgraceful to his district and its history, the State of Mississippi, and the legislature. He must resign! . The Mississippi State flag bears on it a Confederate banner, and over the years much debate around making changes to the symbol has spiked. Oliver’s comments have turned a national spotlight onto Mississippi, and now the state’s Legislative Black Caucus has begun calling for Karl Oliver’s resignation. Caucus chair Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes told Mississippi Today that Rep. Oliver’s “shameful, but seemingly extremely comfortable, choice of words were offensive to me as the act of lynching was commonly used and most targeted toward African American men, women and children in the south and especially in our state.” Rep. Williams-Barnes elaborated to note that Oliver’s conduct will forever blemish the work of leaders in Mississippi to reconcile the state’s sordid history of racial violence. Oliver’s unprofessional behavior goes further than his racist threats. When a constituent wrote to Oliver to express her concerns around a new tax-cut bill, Oliver responded: “I appreciate you going to the trouble to share [your views] with me, but quite frankly, and with all due respect, I could care less. I would, however, recommend that there are a rather large number of like minded citizens in Illinois that would love to see you return.” To echo Legislative Black Caucus chair Williams-Barnes points out, lawmakers already wrestle with “working across party, racial and gender lines.” Oliver represents the kind of inflexibility that so many other legislators are trying to overcome in order to shape a stronger Mississippi. Please sign this petition to demand Karl Oliver resign immediately. Mississippi deserves better!
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  • Justice For Olivia Pearson!
    I have dedicated my life to serving as a leader, an activist, and longtime city commissioner. Now I am being targeted and used as an example to intimidate the Black community in the City of Douglas from building political power and voting. Prosecutor Ian Sansot has decided to make an example of me as a Black woman in order to scare Black people away from the ballot here in Georgia. Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Ian Sansot want to send me to prison for assisting voters during the 2012 Presidential election. I have attended hearings and answered every question asked. I did nothing improper. Despite the lack of evidence I have been charged with two counts of "Improperly Assisting an Elector" and two counts of "False Swearing." The State of Georgia is attacking me because I’m a Black woman unafraid to advocate for our community! The original attempt to send me to prison was unsuccessful when the original case was declared a mistrial on March 29th. Ian Sansot turned around and immediately placed my case back on the trial calendar for June 5, 2017. This relentless assault on my freedom is causing me financial hardship through trial costs. The attack on my character has caused me severe emotional distress and mental anguish. My life is being torn apart simply for doing my civic duty helping Black people exercise their freedom to vote. The State of Georgia has a long history of attacking our voting rights. Now instead of meeting Black voters with dogs, hoses, and lighted crosses they’re using the courts to scare and intimidate us. Since my arrest, people have simply stopped voting in Douglas, Georgia. In Coffee County in 2012 80% of registered Black women voted and 65% of registered Black men. In 2016 only 68% and 53% of registered Black women and men voted. Those who would assist voters in the past, no longer do so. It breaks my heart to see my community suppressed, to personally see that fear has been placed in a lot of people. Democracy as we have known it is diminished in Douglas, this is exactly what Prosecutor Ian Sansot and Secretary Brian Kemp wants happening to the Black communities they’re supposed to serve. We will not be silenced : We have a right to vote. We will not allow our votes to be suppressed. The freedom to vote will not be silently taken in Georgia!
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  • Call Fired FBI Director James Comey to set a date for testifying on Russia's connections to Trump.
    On Tuesday May 9th, Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. It is widely speculated that this is because Comey was directing the FBI to seriously investigate Trump's ties to Russia and was scheduled to testify on the matter on May 11th. It is an attack on the foundation of our democracy and the workings of our government for Donald Trump to fire James Comey under these circumstances. Comey was directing the FBI investigation on whether Russia worked to secretly manipulate our presidential election. That Trump fired him as the investigation was heating up is suspicious at best and at worst an intentional cover-up of Trump's wrongdoing. The American people deserve to know if Trump or anyone affiliated with his administration or campaign are secretly colluding with the Russian government. Comey's firing today makes it clear that the only way for the American people to get the truth is to demand answers in a public forum. For generations, Black people have fought to protect the freedom to vote and to force the US government to live up to the promise of our democratic ideals. Foreign governments colluding with US campaigns to impact the outcome of our elections disrespects the years of tireless work voting rights advocates have fought and died for and cheapens the value of their struggle. We owe it to the past and to the future to ensure the integrity of our elections and have a public airing of the facts about foreign influence into our elections and Trump's involvement. The safety of our country may be at risk and the future of our democracy is at stake. The Senate Intelligence Committee has a responsibility to the American people to air these facts in the light of day and compel Former Director James Comey to testify about the status of the FBI's investigation.
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  • Betsy DeVos has no place at our HBCU
    My alma mater, Bethune-Cookman, a historically black university in Florida, has invited U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to deliver this year’s commencement speech and receive an honorary degree. But the policies DeVos pushes would have terrible consequences for future generations of Bethune-Cookman students—and for historically black colleges and universities themselves. Bethune-Cookman has historically served students from challenged backgrounds, with the lion’s share of these students coming from public schools throughout America. But DeVos is no fan of public education, calling our public schools a “dead end,” and using millions of dollars of her family fortune to promote private school vouchers; unregulated, for-profit charter schools; and other policies that defund, destabilize and privatize the public schools our communities rely on. DeVos’ ideology and advocacy are especially harmful to students of color—the very students Bethune-Cookman and other HBCUs were created to serve. And the recent budget proposed by President Trump and DeVos would slash billions of dollars in federal funding for programs that help students of color reach, attend and graduate from college. Graduates of Bethune-Cookman’s school of education understand the value and importance of public education, and overwhelmingly return to teach in public schools—a path I took myself after graduation. And it’s not just DeVos’ antipathy to public education or willingness to slash resources HBCUs rely on that raise concerns about this invitation but also her seeming indifference to the history and role of HBCUs in the first place. Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune founded Bethune-Cookman to provide African-American students with the opportunity to receive the highest level of academic quality at a time when black students were refused entrance into colleges and universities across America. But on Feb. 28 of this year, DeVos released the following statement after meeting with presidents and chancellors of HBCUs at the White House: “HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.” At best, this is an outrageous assertion that black students had opportunities to study where they chose; at worst, this is a failed attempt to use HBCUs to push an educational reform movement that continues to disenfranchise children throughout this country, especially in her home state of Michigan and specifically in Detroit. The students graduating this year and their families deserve to celebrate their achievement without controversy—and future generations deserve the opportunity to attend high-quality public schools and reach for their dreams at institutions like Bethune-Cookman. Inviting Betsy DeVos creates an unnecessary and unwelcome distraction for students who have worked hard to earn a degree, and elevating DeVos and her radical ideas threatens the future of public education and the vision and mission of Bethune-Cookman and all HBCUs nationwide. Please join me in asking university President Edison O. Jackson to reconsider and rescind DeVos’ invitation.
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