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Tell Ohio Senate: No More Pre-K SuspensionsI am a parent of two Black children. In schools across America, Black children account for 18 percent of preschool enrollment but almost half (48 percent) of children suspended more than once in a school year. My son was one of these students. My son was expelled from school at age of 5 years old, as a pre-schooler, his very first year of school. From the beginning, children are being taught that they deserve the harsh and punitive treatment that first experience in the classroom and will soon confront in the world. We are here to say that Black children matter. For the first time, the state of Ohio has an opportunity to be a leader in changing these policies by passing HB 410 with amendments that would begin making it possible for parents like me to finally have a say in what happens to their children. Several other states are leading the way in banning the suspension and expulsion of students in early grades. From New Jersey to Oregon, states have eliminated suspensions for pre-schoolers and students up to 5th grade. We know that even this is not enough to mitigating the negative impact on children as young as 4 years old. In addition to Amendment 2629 to end pre-school suspensions, we support provisions in HB 410 that prohibit the use of suspensions and expulsions for truancy as well as the following: Amendment 2630 – Tiered discipline: Students should not be suspended for issues that could be easily resolved with a phone call home. Amendment 2639 – Make up work: It goes without saying that suspensions cause students to get behind on work. Education is a human right. No students should be denied classroom instruction because of racist disciplinary policies. Amendment 2605X4 – Tolling of suspensions during the summer: Students who were suspended at the end of the school year should be able to start the new school year with a fresh start. Rather than applying remaining days suspended to the new school year, students will be allowed to participate in community service over the summer instead. We urge you to include language in this amendment stating that participation in any community service or alternative consequence will not require families to incur additional costs, such as transportation costs. The same year my child was suspended, Kylen English, a 20-year-old lost his life while in custody of Dayton police. He was handcuffed in the back of a police car the last time he was seen alive. Within a few months, we started Racial Justice NOW! because we knew that unless we built real political power for Black students and families to change the written and unwritten rules, our lives would continue to be at stake. It will be 5 years this November that I co-founded and became Executive Director of Racial Justice NOW! I also serve as Co-Chair of the Dignity In Schools Campaign, a coalition of over 100 organizations from 27 states dedicated to dismantling the school to prison pipeline. And while we have made strides towards dismantling the school to prison pipeline, the rate at which change is happening is killing our children. My hope is that in this political moment, even more people will join the fight to fight for the futures of Black children. The fight for Black children is the fight for the future.
Tell President Barack Obama: Recognize Black Women Survivors of Rape and Sexual AssaultDear Mr. President, “I just want him to know who I am.” This is what 96 year old Recy Taylor, a civil rights leader who worked with Rosa Parks to address rape in the Jim Crow South and a survivor of sexual violence herself, said after a visit to the White House and being asked what she wished she could say to you, given the chance Mr. President. Recy Taylor’s 1944 rape case is well-documented in books and various online sources. She is an African-American woman from Abbeville in Henry County, Alabama. On September 3, 1944, Taylor, was leaving church when she was kidnapped and brutally gang-raped by six white men. Even though the men admitted the rape to authorities, two all-white grand juries declined to indict Taylor's assailants. Taylor's rape and the subsequent court cases were among the first instances of nationwide protest and activism among the African-American community and ended up providing an early organizational spark for the Civil Rights movement with Rosa Parks at the helm of the anti-rape movement. In 2011, after decades of advocacy efforts put forth by her brother Robert Corbitt, the Alabama House of Representatives apologized on behalf of the state "for its failure to prosecute Recy Taylor’s attackers." The failure to dispense justice in the 1944 case of Recy Taylor is not surprising, but symptomatic of the larger failing of a society where the intersection of racism and sexism has failed Black women and girls for over 400 years. When examined through a gendered lens, it becomes clear how Black women’s unique experiences with violence are often seen as afterthoughts when addressed at all. The result is that violence against Black women and girls, especially sexual violence, often remains invisible and this non-recognition serves to perpetuate the harm being done. But, Mr. President, whether by police or non-state actors, the rape and sexual torture of Black women and the justification of this torture still continue. We see the past replicated today. This was clear with the case of white Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Ken Holtzclaw who was convicted earlier this year of sexually assaulting, raping, stalking, fondling, and exposing himself to at least eight Black women between the ages of 17 and 57 during traffic stops while on duty. We see the continued abuse in the Black Women’s Blueprint study (2014) showing that 60 percent of Black girls experience sexual assault before the age of 18 and when Black women are raped on their college campuses. We see it in the 64,000 missing Black girls across the country. We feel it walking down the street and entering spaces of worship and supposed sanctuary. And we ask, Mr. President, do you see it, too? As Farah Tanis, executive director of Black Women’s Blueprint reminds us, “the U.S. is one of the few places in the world where rapes have occurred systematically against an entire race of people, especially the Black women among these people, and there has been no outcry, no processes for justice, and still little to no acknowledgement of such violations officially and its impact on Black women and girls today.” As the nation that is looked upon as a beacon and model for human rights, we in the United States have also witnessed you, Mr. President, acknowledge Black women and girls’ plight during your 2015 remarks at the 45th Annual Congressional Black Caucus Phoenix Award Dinner. We have also read about your position on feminism in Glamour Magazine with a declaration that “this is what a feminist looks like.” We know that never before has a president of the United States been such a champion of women’s human rights. No other president has come so close to the much needed recognition and national apology for the systematic sexual humiliation and dehumanization of Black women and girls in the United States. To make a public statement means to acknowledge that the violence needs to stop. If we as a nation refuse to talk about it, if we as a nation continue to be silent, we as a nation cannot move forward. For you see, Mr. President, one of the horrors of rape is the silence of victims and survivors. Another is the silence of bystanders and loved ones. However, one of the most deafening horrors is the silence of a nation and its leaders. Silence only serves to support the ones who cause harm. First Lady Michelle Obama has already broken one silence, inspiring us during the Democratic National Convention when she said that “every morning, I wake up in a house that was built by slaves.” Everyday Black women and girls wake up, exist, live, survive and thrive in a nation built by our enslaved ancestors’ hands and birthed by their wombs. Everyday Black women and girls walk in the world, get up every morning, go to school, and work believing that their truth is too ugly, too shameful, too painful to be acknowledged. Imagine believing that your pain has cut lines too deep into your soul for you to be considered beautiful or valued. Imagine being told that your trauma negates your ability to love or to be loved, your ability to comfort and be comforted, to see others and be seen. As one testifier wrote “I was so scared that [my truth] was too ugly and too shameful to talk about.” Mr. President, that is what too many rape survivors carry—that pain, the silence, and an erasure of their humanity. We the undersigned, understand that recognition does not equate with justice, and for many survivors, justice in the form of of the legal system will never be adjudicated. However, recognition does facilitate healing, both personally, and collectively as a nation and is absolutely necessary to move forward. Read the full Open Letter here: http://www.mamablack.org/single-post/2016/09/13/President-Obama---Recognize-the-Sexual-Assault-and-Rape-of-Black-Women-and-Girls
It's Not Over, The County Has Appealed! #LetMIAVoteMy name is Michelle Davis. I am an African-American mother of three, and I've been a registered voter since the day I turned 18. I am sick and tired of feeling like my vote doesn't matter. This cause is important to me because special interests shouldn’t have a bigger say just because they have bigger bucks. I want to be able to see people in my community running for office, even if they don’t have big money from big donors. I worked for months in the hot Miami sun to share this initiative with the citizens of Miami-Dade County. We talked to hundreds of thousands of people and together, gathered 127,000 signatures in support of campaign finance reform. I believe in a Miami where all voices are heard and where the will of the people is respected. Last week, after strong opposition from both county commissioners and the county attorney, the courts sided with the will of the people and ordered that the initiative be placed on the November 8, 2016 ballot “immediately, without delay.” Immediately after the ruling, the county attorney appealed and asked that the Judge’s order be suspended. We’re now in a critical period. We must not let the County Attorney run the time out on getting this initiative printed on the ballot. We must ask the Mayor to stick to his word and direct the Supervisor of Elections to continue her perpartions to put this on the ballot, so that when we are sustained, the election department has this on the ballot. We must act now so they don’t disrupt our democratic rights through legal tricks. Our communities often don’t exercise their rights because they often feel that the political process is rigged, corrupt or not in their interest. Inaction by the mayor and county commissioners is a prime example of the ways in which the voices of voters, the very people who elected them into office, continue to be ignored. It is time for our elected officials to do their jobs. 127,000 voters deserve to be heard. Join me in directing the mayor to enforce the laws of the court and order the supervisor of elections to place the initiative on the ballot immediately. Let’s take a stand against big money in politics and ensure that the will of the people prevails. Sign and share our petition!
Gov. McCrory: Release Emergency General Election Funds NowNorth Carolina's Governor Pat McCrory and legislative leadership have spent millions of our taxpayer dollars to defend unconstitutional legislation like the 2013 Monster Voting Law. Now that the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down this law designed to disenfranchise Black voters and others, it's time they use our tax dollars to help everyone vote. They lost their bid to suppress the vote. Now it's time to pay the price and release the funds to support fair elections. During this hot, high-turnout election season that now has no photo ID requirement and allows Same-Day Registration during the 17 days of Early Voting, election officials in every county are scrambling to craft new Early Voting plans and staff them for an extra week. In addition, they must recruit and train more poll workers, and update vital voting resources – all to prevent long lines and mass confusion at the polls. We’re heading for a train wreck in the 2016 General Election unless counties have the resources to staff the extra week of voting and educate voters about their options in this new landscape. Tell Gov. McCrory that he needs to take swift action and release special funds to help our county election officials do their job of administering fair elections.
Tell The North Carolina Board of Elections to Support Early VotingIncredible! Republican leaders who complain about “rigged elections” are trying to do exactly that in North Carolina by making it harder for Black people and students to use early voting. Dallas Woodhouse, Executive Director of the NC Republican Party, sent instructions to Republicans who hold the majority on all 100 county boards of elections to “make party line changes to early voting.” He specifically told them to close early voting sites on Sunday, remove them from college campuses, and open more in Republican areas, according to emails obtained by the Raleigh News & Observer. More than half of NC’s voters used early voting in 2008 and 2012; it was used most by Black and young voters. Closing sites and reducing hours will mean longer lines and discourage voters on Election Day. Fortunately, many Republicans are ignoring Woodhouse and obeying their oath to serve all voters. But in Raleigh, Fayetteville, Wilmington, and many other areas, they are opposing Sunday voting where it was used as recently as the March primary. Black churches organize Sunday “Souls to the Polls” programs which help church members with transportation to the polling place. The reduced early voting plans of these counties will come before the State Board of Elections later this month. The State Board has the power to restore them and repudiate the deliberate anti-Black, anti-youth strategy of Republican Party leaders. Sign the petition to ask Mr. Grant Whitney Jr., board chair, and other board members to restore early voting on Sunday afternoons and, on college campuses where those options were eliminated by Republican county election boards. Last month, the federal Court of Appeals overturned a state voting law it said would suppress voting and had discriminatory intent. We will not let local officials ignore the spirit of this momentous ruling by implementing weak and even discriminatory early voting plans for the November election.. Thanks for fighting for voting rights for everyone! Bob Hall, Democracy North Carolina
SUPPORT A MORATORIUM ON TRAFFIC STOPS FOR REVENUEMy name is Stephanie Findley and I am a longtime resident of Milwaukee. I just started a petition titled “ Support a Moratorium on Traffic Stops for Revenue”. As you probably know the Milwaukee police department stop black and hispanic drivers at a rate drastically higher than white drivers. When black people have interactions with the police violence can escalate quickly and as a Black woman the fear that I feel when a police car pulls up behind me is palpable. Black residents of Milwaukee should not have to live in fear of being unjustly targeted and pulled over by the police when driving. A moratorium will help to decrease the number of interactions Black residents of Milwaukee have with the police. In Milwaukee Black drivers are seven times as likely to be stopped by the police when compared to a white driver. The annual number of traffic stops conducted by police in Milwaukee has nearly quadrupled in the past four years, resulting in almost 200,000 stops last year. Police in Milwaukee stop black and hispanic drivers five times as often as white drivers and they are also five times as likely to be searched when pulled over by the police for a traffic stop. Unsurprisingly, black and hispanic drivers are also arrested at twice the rate of white drivers when pulled over by the police. These statistics further prove what Black Milwaukee residents already know to be true: that the police’s use of traffic stops has a huge racial gap, resulting in the over policing of black and hispanic communities. Black people in Milwaukee live in fear of the police and doing something as simple as driving to work or taking your kids to school can result in a negative interaction with the police. We know all too well that when Black people are stopped by the police during traffic stops violence escalates quickly, sometimes resulting in death as seen with Sandra Bland and Philando Castille. Please join me in demanding that Milwaukee city council introduce a moratorium on traffic stops for revenue.
Justice for Charles KinseyIt has been since 1986 that Miami-Dade has held an officer accountable for violating the police department's use of force policy. The failure to terminate and criminally prosecute the officer sends a troublesome message to Mr. Kinsey and the general public of whom the department has taken the oath to protect and serve. The real problem facing our communities is that we undergo trauma when officers violate reputable policies and do not suffer reasonable consequences. As taxpayers and concerned citizens, we want justice and not rhetoric. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE CALL TO ACTION FROM CHARLES KINSEY: https://youtu.be/itIv6hlHzT4
#FrankRizzoDownFrank Rizzo was a Philadelphia police commissioner, from April 10, 1967- February 2, 1971. He was also the 119th Mayor of Philadelphia, from January 3, 1972 - January 7, 1980. Rizzo was an unrepentant racist who stopped at nothing to torture and hold Philadelphia's African-American community as his personal hostages. Rizzo used his authority to stop resistance against racist and unconstitutional injustices by using attack dogs on African-American college students as they protested on Temple University's campus. He consolidated his powers of abuse as a former officer and then police Commissioner in the City of Philadelphia, while his brother, James Rizzo, was the city's Fire Departments Chief. The police and fire departments were highly segregated, and allowed racism to take fold and shape. While claiming to implement Affirmative Action as a way to end racial discrimination, these institutions were used to promote anti-black violence against the African American community. Rank and file officers were used to implement harsh punishments, brutal beatings, cover-ups, deception, internal crime, turf drops (the body-snatching and dumping of black "suspects" in racist white communities, which subjected them to violent attacks from that community) and racially profiled stop-and-frisks that continue to stain our communities in contemporary times. Frank Rizzo's racist relationship towards Philadelphia's African-American community has always been one of violence, devastation and despair. Two of his most violent legacies to date involve members of Philadelphia's local chapter of the Black Panther Party being publicly stripped. The display of their naked bodies appeared on the Daily News' front page in August 1970, while the organization was preparing for a Peoples Revolution Convention to address police violence in the city and throughout the country. The forceful eviction of the MOVE family from their home in 1978 is another one of Rizzo's racist legacies. The city waged a violent attack against the MOVE family, which led to the framing of the MOVE 9. As a result, Delbert Africa was brutally beaten. Images from the period show Delbert being dragged by his hair, being kicked and punched by the Philadelphia Police Department, as well as being struck with an officer's helmet. This incident of racist violence has left the MOVE 9 incarcerated for over thirty years, and not one local governmental official has been held accountable. Frank Rizzo publicly made racist comments about Philadelphia's African-American communities; he openly used the term "niggers" when referencing black Philadelphians. Rizzo actively supported the historically racist views, values, and practices of Philadelphia's Police Department, which has left a lasting legacy of brutality and violence against the African American citizens of the city. Frank Rizzo's abuse of the African-American community was supported by Richard Nixon, despite Rizzo being investigated by the Civil Rights Commission, regarding complaints involving police brutality. The removal of this statue would be the first step in acknowledging Rizzo's crimes against the African-American community. It would be a much needed step towards truth and reconciliation, and holding police accountable for misconduct. This is something that is long overdue in this city. The removal of the Rizzo statue would also remove the constant reminder that our city actively supported a racist demagogue and then immortalized him as someone worthy of honor. The black community would rather see representations of the great contributions made by African Americans and other people of color to this city's development. These statues should be erected in place of the constant representations of Christopher Columbus, war heroes, Frank Rizzo and others who have held communities of color in subjugation. We will no longer allow our taxes and other city resources to be used to erect and maintain monuments of white supremacist figures.
Fire Police Chief Charlie Beck for Leading the Most Murderous Police Force in the United StatesHundreds of Black Lives Matter activists and allies have been sitting-in at Los Angeles City Hall since July 12, 2016, prompted by the ruling of the Los Angeles Police Commission that the killing of 30 year-old Black mother, Redel Jones, was “in policy.” Redel Jones, who stood 4'10" tall, was accused of stealing $80 with a kitchen knife from a local pharmacy on August 12, 2015. By witness accounts, she was running away from police when she was spotted in an alley and shot as she fled; her body laid on the pavement for hours and her family was not notified of her death for more than a week. Redel was the mother of a 7 year-old girl and a 13 year-old boy; her husband, Marcus Vaughn, travelled to Los Angeles by bus to be present for the ruling. Her family is still reeling from her death and outraged by the ruling. Sadly, Redel Jones is one in a long list of victims killed by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). For the last three years, LAPD – under the “leadership” of police chief Charlie Beck – has killed more of its residents than any other law enforcement unit in the country, killing 21 in 2015 and 10 so far this year, many of whom were unarmed people of color and/or people with mental health challenges. With only one exception, the chief has refused to condemn the acts of officers who kill residents, fire/discipline them, or recommend them for criminal prosecution. Moreover, he has refused to release information to the families of victims, most recently with the in-custody death of Wakiesha Wilson, killed in an LAPD jail cell on Easter Sunday 2016. Beck is also on-record as referring to former LAPD chief Darryl Gates (who headed LAPD during the Rodney King era) as his mentor and role model. This is not who we want in charge of the police force. For more than a year, Black Lives Matter and ally groups have been calling upon the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, to fire Chief Beck. Every moment that Beck remains in his post, brings grave danger for community residents.
Take the Pledge: We Are the Movement for Black LivesGuided by love, we continue to stand together for justice, human dignity and our shared goal of ending all forms of state violence against Black people. We organize, occupy, demonstrate, march and chant for a new future: A future we can be proud of. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, who fought for their freedom and ours. Like them, we want a world where our lives matter. We want an end to the war being waged on Black people, in all its forms. Some people fear change, and that's ok. Many will attempt to halt our progress. That is not ok. Some will continue their attempts to undermine us, but we will remain undeterred. For far too long, our unjust deaths have meant business as usual in this country. No more. Our work remains undone until our lives are free of violence. That is the future we imagine. Until that day comes: We pledge togetherness--- we will not allow ourselves to be divided. We pledge to allow our thinking and actions to be guided by love. We pledge to bring courage and power into our communities, and stop their flow out. We pledge not to be controlled by fear, but instead by our dreams. Join us, and pledge to do the same: Stand with the Movement for Black Lives.
Attorney General Lynch: America’s Most Murderous Police Force Doesn’t Deserve Awards!The US Department of Justice has chosen the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to receive an award for model policing, citing its exemplary use of “Technology and Social Media.” However, with 21 people killed in 2015 – more than any other law enforcement agency in the country – along with one of the nation’s most intrusive surveillance programs, LAPD should not be getting awards, they should be getting a federal investigation. Tell United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch that LAPD is NOT a model police force and should not be recognized and awarded. In 2015, President Obama convened the “President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing” following several high profile cases of police misconduct and the killing of unarmed Black citizens. The task force issued recommendations for ways police departments should improve accountability, transparency, and community relationships. Six police departments from across the country, including LAPD, were identified as models of 21st Century Policing. Later in June, Attorney General Lynch will visit Los Angeles to recognize LAPD. Urge her to reconsider. LAPD has a long and deep history of corruption that continues in their current practices. In 2015 LAPD was the most murderous law enforcement agency in the nation, killing 21 people, many of whom were unarmed people of color and/or people with mental health challenges. Officers who kill people are rarely fired or disciplined, and not one has been criminally charged in these killings. Moreover, with one of the nation’s largest urban homeless populations, LAPD has adopted practices that criminalize homelessness, citing and arresting individuals for having their possessions on the streets. The irony of LAPD receiving an award for “Technology and Social Media” is particularly outrageous. LAPD operates a massive surveillance, spying, and infiltration program, gathering vast amounts of data on the City’s residents. LAPD uses body cameras, automatic license plate readers, street cameras, Stingray devices and DRT boxes (used to track cell phones and jam signals). They also have two drones in their arsenal of military style hi-tech weaponry. Pervasive police misconduct has been documented with officers tampering with in-car recording equipment, breaking police car antennae used to monitor them, and creating Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) on residents who engage in activities as innocent as taking photographs in public; Black people, people of color, and poor people are particularly targeted. A growing number of Angelenos are recognizing LAPD’s repressive tactics and are calling for the firing of the police chief in a #FireBeck campaign. Tell Attorney General Loretta Lynch not to award one of the most authoritarian and delinquent police forces in the nation. Other police departments should not be encouraged to emulate LAPD. In fact, its policies, practices, and procedures should be recommended for federal intervention, not cited for excellence.
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