- Afropunk Army
- Community Control
- Confederate Symbols
- Cop Watch
- Corporate Accountability
- Criminal Justice Policy
- Drop/Bring Charges
- Economic Justice
- Employment Discrimination
- End The War on Black People
- Environmental Justice
- For-Profit Colleges/Universities
- Gulf Coast
- Housing Rights
- Media Accountability
- Music Industry
- Open Internet
- Police Accountability
- Political Power
- Pop Culture
- Private Prisons
- Right Wing Racism
- School-to-Prison Pipeline
- Voting Rights
- Wrongful Imprisonment
Minimal Sentencing for Wriply Bennet of the #BlackPride4On June 17th, 2017, four Black queer and trans people--now known as the BlackPride4--were violently arrested while peacefully protesting the Columbus Pride Parade to draw attention to the disproportionate murder of trans women of color and the non-indictment of Philando Castile’s murderer, Minneapolis Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez. After months of widespread outrage at the police brutality against the #BlackPride4 and their subsequent arrests, three of them have gone to trial and were found guilty on February 12th, 2018 of charges ranging from disorderly conduct to resisting arrest. With a quickly approaching sentencing date of March 13th, 2018, we must continue the fight to #FreeTheBlackPride4. Their lives and futures hang in the balance, and Judge Ebner is the sole gatekeeper to their freedom. Wriply Bennet and her lawyer have suggested that folks all over continue to show their solidarity in hopes that the Judge is lenient. We really need to keep these Black trans activist home and free from any jail time -- sign the below petition to urge Judge Ebner dole out minimal sentencing to Wriply of the #BlackPride4! -- Here's the petition! Dear Honorable Judge Ebner, We write today in support of Ms. Wriply Bennet and to urge you to deliver the most minimal sentence to her. Ms. Bennet is an asset to our community. Columbus will benefit by Ms. Bennet being allowed to continue the great work she is involved in the community, and our entire community will feel the negative impact should she be required to serve jail time. Ms. Bennet is a nationally recognized artist who has organized around community service efforts for years. In addition, Ms. Bennet has acted as a consultant for local organizations (like Kaleidoscope Youth Center and the Trans/Queer Racial Justice and Transformation Network of the OSU Sexuality Studies Program and others), providing much-needed support to groups working to better our communities. We know that it would be most beneficial to our city and country if she had the opportunity to continue investing her skills and leadership directly into the community instead of serving jail time or navigating restrictive supervision. We respectfully request that you also consider that incarceration is particularly dangerous and traumatizing for Black trans women, who are already faced with the looming threat of violence in their day-to-day lives. For recent context, Ashley Diamond, a Black trans civil rights activist in Georgia, was assaulted, placed into solitary confinement, and denied her medication while incarcerated in 2015. As a direct result of the conditions she experienced, Diamond currently suffers from PTSD and other mental health issues that have hindered her integration back into her communities. We as individuals, join with numerous local and national organizations that have publicly supported Ms. Bennet. In the past eight months, groups from all over Columbus and beyond have offered vocal and material support for the #BlackPride4, from releasing public statements (Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, Equality Ohio) to being present during the week of trial (including BQIC, TransOhio, People’s Justice Project, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Yes We Can Columbus, and former 2017 Stonewall Columbus Pride Planning Committee members who resigned from the Planning Committee due to Stonewall Columbus’ response to the Pride protest). This coordinated, community support demonstrates the interest that has been taken in their case, both locally and nationally, as well as in the defendants’ futures as free people. We understand that as the presiding judge in the case, you have a duty to honor the verdicts given in a court of law. We believe it is imperative that our community’s constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and free speech be protected. Our First Amendment rights enabled so many before us to call attention to social issues and spark lasting change. In light of those interests, the vast network of support for Ms. Bennet, and her history of community service, we urge you to give the absolute minimum sentencing to Ms. Bennet.
Boycott Companies that Advertise on Fox News: Who support racism in exchange for profitAs a person of color, my life is regularly made more difficult and unpleasant due to the nature of the content propagated by Fox News. Fox News brings out the worst in people by preying on their fears and prejudices, bolstering people's preexisting stereotypes, and espousing and encouraging racist, homophobic, islamophobic, misogynistic, and ignorant behavior. I will not support any company that supports an entity such as Fox News that seems to be in direct opposition to all of my values and thinks of me--and tries to convince others to think of me--as lesser, dangerous, lazy, and unintelligent due to the color of my skin. People may think it is not worth it and they are only making their own lives harder by boycotting because so many companies advertise on Fox News and nothing will change that, but my life is already made difficult by Fox News, including all the companies that support it, so I have no problem taking it upon myself to make decisions that align with my self-interest and may be difficult. If we do nothing, what is going on in society and politics will only continue, so we might as well speak up for ourselves and hit the companies where they'll notice it: the wallets!
#RenameKeithFamilyYMCAThe YMCA of Greater Charlotte should not be uplifing prison profiteers! In March 2017, the University City branch of the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, under the approval of its board of directors, was dedicated and renamed to the Keith Family branch, in honor of a family who, since 1999, has aggressively pursued private maintenance contracts in North Carolina state prisons where Black people represent 22% of the population yet make up 55% of state prison population. In Mecklenburg County, where privately held company, The Keith Corporation, is headquartered, Black people represent 30% of the county population yet make up 67% of the Mecklenburg County jail population. Graeme Keith, Sr., a Charlotte developer and retired banker held three contracts totaling $3M in 2014. During October of that year, Pat McCrory, then NC Governor and longtime friend of Keith, convened a meeting at his Charlotte office where Keith told prison officials and McCrory that “he had been working on ‘private prison maintenance’ projects for over ten (10) years and during that time he had given a lot of money to candidates running for public office and it was now time for him to get something in return.” He further stated that he had worked with state legislators to expand private maintenance to additional prisons and seemed very pleased that he no longer had to go through the NCGA to expand his business. His blatant use of quid-pro-quo political tactics to influence lawmakers to privatize prison maintenance contracts is both reprehensible and illegal at best. Although a federal investigation of the governors office concluded in 2016, just months before the branch was renamed, there remains no known legal action against Keith. His continues to profit from prisons. In the University City area surrounding the Keith Family YMCA, residents are mostly non white: 40% Black, 9% Hispanic, and 8% Asian, whereas Whites represent 43%. Communities of color in Charlotte would rather see representations of the great contributions made by African Americans and other people of color adorn neighborhood institutions like the YMCA. In a city that ranked last in economic mobility according to a 2014 Harvard study, bold actions that challenge the generational hierarchy of white supremacy and structural racism should be embraced and modeled regularly, and not idolized and rewarded. We will no longer stand on the sidelines and allow our families to be subjected to legacies of wealth and power made off the backs of marginalized communities of color. The name must come down. References: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article42020100.html http://media2.newsobserver.com/static/content/multimedia/interactive/prison/prison-summary.pdf http://www.doc.state.nc.us/admin/page1.htm https://www.prisonpolicy.org/profiles/NC.html https://universitycitypartners.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/UCity-Market-Area-Demographics.pdf
Get the Corrupt Bail Industry Out Of Maryland PoliticsEveryday, thousands of people who haven't been convicted of a crime are separated from their families as they languish in jails just because they can't afford to pay bail. The commercial bail industry will go to any length to undermine reform and now they being implicated in an FBI bribery investigation. The news about bail-bonds industry lobbyists offering illegal bribes to Sen. Oaks and at least one other target in the state legislature underlines the corrupting influence that the industry’s money has had on the legislative process. These illegal bribes are in addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the industry has spent in Maryland on campaign contributions, as detailed last year in a report by Common Cause report. All of this money - reported and under the table - is intended to reverse the progress Maryland can make under a new Judicial Rule intended to have more people released without subjecting them to the debt-trap set up by the bail industry. Maryland is one of the top states for campaign donations by the bail industry coming in behind only California and Florida. In order to get this corrupt industry out of our lives and communities, we must disrupt the dangerous relationship between the bail industry and elected officials.
Tell Florida to Close ALL of its Juvenile Prisons AKA "Fight Clubs"Right now, the challenges our communities face are many. Imprisonment is a big one. Corporations and their politician friends have made it their life’s work to enact policies that keep our families and communities in jails. Every time someone in our neighborhoods is locked up, someone at a corporation makes money. These corporations, like Florida-based GEO and CCA, operate in the dark, away from public view and work hard to keep it that way. Their lavish vacations and retirement funds depend on it. On top of that, most people aren’t aware of how the prison industry operates and thus feel powerless to change it. We want to change that. Dream Defenders is a small, young organization with limited resources in the face of a goliath, seasoned system of paper pushers with unlimited resources. The prison system is tearing up our families, communities, and future generations. According to Miami New Times writer Jerry Ianelli: "Investigative reporters Carol Marbin Miller and Audra D.S. Burch obtained stomach-churning video of Florida juvenile offenders fighting one another after being groomed as attack mobs by state guards. Scores of surveillance videos show groups of teenage boys sucker-punching, stomping, and beating up other kids, breaking noses, eye sockets, and a host of other bones in the process. The Herald uncovered tales of rape, molestation, children beaten to death, and a justice system that let almost every guard involved walk free without consequence. The list of nightmarish allegations in the series is too long to fully recount. The Herald noted cases where staffers set up fights and bet on them; instances where the DJJ hired guards who had formerly been caught having sex with inmates; other cases where guards showed a teen pornography and watched him ‘fondle himself’; raped a transgender inmate; had sex with a child detainee in a closet; and abused one female detainee by using her head as a ‘toilet plunger.’ One Broward County youth counselor was allegedly so brazen about having sex with teen inmates she became known as the ‘cradle robber.’ The 12 juvenile deaths the Herald noted seem due to state negligence." In 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice condemning the state of juvenile detention in the country. A report of the National Institute of Justice, research arm of the Justice Department, added: “This ill-conceived and outmoded approach is a failure, with high costs and recidivism rates and institutional conditions that are often appalling… Every youth prison in the country should be closed, and replaced with a network of community-based programs and small facilities near the youths’ communities.” We agree. The Dream Defenders goal is to end the prison system's hold on our states’ policies, profits, priorities and people. We work in classrooms, communities and prisons to educate and organize to end this incredible threat to our lives. We can’t continue to watch this happening to the people in our communities, we have to act. If we can do this; if we can begin to break this massive machine by freeing our children from it's hold, then we can begin to collapse it in our lifetime. If we do not, we risk losing many more generations.
Implement the People’s Demands for California’s Proposition 57!Last November, Californians overwhelmingly passed Prop 57 with 64% of the vote. Among other things, Prop 57 expands credit earning opportunities for most people in California prisons and allows people convicted of nonviolent offenses to be eligible for early parole consideration. On July 14, 2017, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) released its draft “Regular Regulations,” which outline how they plan to implement this proposition. While there are many good things in the proposed regulations, such as increased credit opportunities for good behavior and completion of educational and rehabilitative programs, we are concerned that many aspects of the proposed regulations are far too narrow and exclude too many groups of people from opportunities for rehabilitation or early parole consideration. So, Initiate Justice conducted a survey of more than 2,000 incarcerated people to get their input on how they think Prop 57 should be implemented, since these rules will have direct impacts on their lives. Based on those survey results, and in collaboration with Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), developed the following recommendations: 1. Include Third Strikers in the non-violent early parole: The proposed regulations state that any person who is “Condemned, incarcerated for a term of life without the possibility of parole, or incarcerated for a term of life with the possibility of parole” is not eligible for nonviolent early parole consideration under Prop 57. We strongly believe that this population should not be excluded from this opportunity. The language of Prop 57 states: “Any person convicted of a non-violent felony offense and sentenced to state prison shall be eligible for parole consideration after completing the full term for his or her primary offense” and that “the full term for the primary offense means the longest term of imprisonment imposed by the court for any offense, excluding the imposition of an enhancement, consecutive sentence, or alternative sentence.” Since a Third Strike is considered an alternative sentence under California state law, it is clear that the voters enacted legislation that included Third Strikers in the nonviolent early parole process. 2. Allow all people in prison to earn 50% good time credits: The proposed Prop 57 regulations increase good time credits on a graduated scale, depending on the offense the person was convicted of. People serving time for a violent offense will see an increase from 15% to 20% good time credit; people serving time for a serious offense under the Three Strikes Law will see an increase from 20% to 33.3%; and people currently serving time for a non-serious or nonviolent offense will see an increase from 33.3% to 50%. We believe that the incentive for good conduct should be uniform across the board, by equally rewarding all people who remain disciplinary-free, regardless of their conviction. The length of one’s sentence already reflects the severity of the offense, so we do not believe it is necessary to further punish people by limiting their access to good time credits as well. 3. Make all good time credit earning retroactive: The proposed Prop 57 regulations state that good time credits will be prospective beginning May 1, 2017. We believe this is unjust and fails to recognize the many incarcerated people who have remained disciplinary-free for years without increased incentives. This recommendation is consistent with criminologist James Austin’s 2013 declaration in response to the Three Judge Panel order to reduce CDCR’s population. Here, Austin recommended that all credit earning be retroactive and found that this recommendation could be “implemented without having an impact on public safety or the operation of the state or local criminal justice systems. In fact, they would provide large cost savings that could be used to offset any local criminal justice costs and increase the level of effective programs at the state and local levels.” 4. Award retroactive Education Merit Credits for each achievement: Award 6-month credit for every vocation, college degree, and G.E.D. obtained by people in prison. Imprisoned people should be able to get at least 6 months off per year per academic and vocational achievement retrospectively since many have completed multiple associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and certification programs. Educational advancement has been shown to be one of the top factors in reducing the recidivism rate and should be treated with as much importance while further incentivizing people to enroll in academic and vocational programs. 5. Allow people with a Youth Offender / Elderly Parole Date to earn time off their earliest parole date: The expanded Good Time and Milestone credits made possible should apply to these Youth Offender Parole or Elder Parole Hearing dates, not their original sentence. SB 260 and SB 261 were passed by the Legislature recognizing that many young people were victims of extreme sentencing; therefore, credit earning opportunities made possible by Prop 57 should be applied to their amended hearing dates in order to ensure that participation in rehabilitative programming and remaining disciplinary-free are adequately incentivized. Additionally, Elder Parole is a program that seeks to meet the court deadline to reduce the prison population. Every incarcerated person who wrote to us expressed deep willingness to embrace their rehabilitation—if given the opportunity to do so. The opportunities presented to people inside will help set them up for success once they are released, and this will ultimately create safer communities for all. Therefore, we request CDCR incorporate these recommendations in drafting the Prop 57 regulations.
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
VOTE YES TO TAX PRIVATE PRISONSEducation NOT Incarceration! California Assembly Bill 43 taxes companies that profit from the prison industry to fund preschool and after school programs that prevent incarceration in the first place. We want our kids to go to college, not jail! But Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas is blocking the bill from moving out of his Revenue and Tax Committee. We're ONE VOTE AWAY from getting this important bill out of that committee. Has Sebastian been bought out by the prison lobby? Call him and tell him to VOTE YES to taxing private prisons and funding school programs that prevent incarceration. BACKGROUND California spends huge amounts to incarcerate prisoners. Current active contracts between for-profit companies and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation total approximately $4.5 billion. In comparison, the state spends relatively little on programs known to prevent incarceration. Attempts to invest heavily in incarceration prevention programs have been stymied by budget concerns. Without a permanent non-budgetary funding source, these efforts are unlikely to experience continued success. Companies continue to profit as a result of high state incarceration rates. These for-profit companies provide necessary goods and services to state facilities, often at a markup. In effect, taxpayers are stuck footing the bill, enabling companies to see large profits for goods and services due to California’s prison population. SOLUTION Assess a tax on companies that contract with state prison facilities to provide goods or services. The tax targets those companies that profit financially from an individual’s incarceration and causes those companies to give revenue back to the state that will be used to prevent and/or reduce future incarceration. Funds collected will be deposited into the State Incarceration Prevention Fund in order to provide prevention services. This tax is structured to come from company revenue and is not simply passed along to the state through increased bid prices. Language has been included that 1) requires contracting companies to certify under penalty of perjury that the cost is not being passed along to the state, 2) calls for oversight and potential audit by the Board of Equalization and 3) institutes a civil fine for companies found to be violators. Fines too will be deposited into the fund, further increasing the amount of available money for incarceration prevention. ENDORSEMENTS California Teachers Association (sponsor) Anti-Recidivism Coalition California Federation of Teachers California Nurses Association Californians for Justice First 5 Association of California Partnership for Children and Youth SEIU California
Serving Life w/ Hard Labor w/o Parole for $20 of MarijuanaFate Vincent Winslow was arrested in the Fall of 2008 for making $5 commission for delivering $20 worth of weed. The man he was delivering weed to was an undercover cop and when asked why Fate Vincent Winslow agreed to deliver $20 worth of weed he said because he wanted to use the $5 commission to buy food. Three months later, Winslow was found guilty of selling a Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substance. Another three months and the sentence lands: life imprisonment at hard labor with no chance for parole. Winslow will now die in prison for being tricked into selling $20.00 worth of weed to a plainclothed undercover cop in Louisiana, the world’s prison capital. Join me in demanding the Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards Free Fate Vincent Winslow immediately! When asked about his sentence Fate Vincent Winslow responded, “life for two bags of weed...people kill people and get five years”. Winslow’s case is one of the most egregious for marijuana violations, but it’s far from an anomaly. The Louisiana Prosecutor who handed Winslow’s case, Prosecutor Brown, views Winslow’s case as a major victory in what he calls “pro-active law enforcement”. A system that uses lesser crimes to lock up people whom he, and other Prosecutors, assume to be guilty of more violent crimes. This goes completely against the way the criminal justice system is supposed to work. Fate Vincent Winslow is currently serving life in prison for a very minor offense, selling weed, a substance that is now legal or at least decriminalized in many states, and something that White people do often without facing any repercussions. Winslow, according to Prosecutor Brown, is also in jail for being suspected of committing other crimes, which there is no evidence of. Fate Vincent Winslow, a 47 year old Black man who was homeless at the time of his arrest is another victim of the unjust criminal justice system that is strategically used to over incarcerate the Black community. Join me in demanding that Fate Vincent Winslow be freed! Winslow wrote about life in prison stating that “there is no life in prison. Just living day by day waiting to die in prison”. Winslow does not deserve to spend another day in prison, we demand that he be freed! Thank You, Korstiaan Vandiver "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?" -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. References: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/27/homeless-life-in-prison-weed_n_6769452.html
#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.
No New Prisons In MinnesotaCrime in Minnesota is at a 50-year-low. Yet our prison population is at an all-time high after years of unnecessary jail time for victimless crimes through sentencing practices that disproportionately target Black and Native American people. In response to the boom in our prison population, some Minnesota lawmakers have proposed opening a prison in Appleton, Minnesota. Under their current proposal, the prison would line the pockets of Corrections Corporation of America, a for-profit prison company with a long history of abuses. The proposal to allow CCA, whose business model is to profit off of the imprisonment of Black and brown bodies, to operate in Minnesota adds insult to injury. But Minnesota doesn’t need ANY new prisons, whether privately or publicly owned. Minnesota’s systemic imprisonment of Black and brown people is interwoven in every part of our worst-in-the-nation racial disparities. We must address the root causes of poverty and education and policing disparities that result in high rates of imprisonment, as well as access to housing, jobs, and voting rights for people with criminal records. Our tax dollars should be interrupting the cycle of our racial disparities and addressing the root causes, not exacerbating them with more prison beds. The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission has proposed a series of common sense sentencing reforms for low-level drug offenses that will reduce the need for 560 prison beds, and additional sentencing reforms could eliminate the need for hundreds more. The legislature should adopt these reforms and consider this the beginning of a conversation for how we can reduce our prison population, not increase it. Instead of adding new prison beds, the Minnesota legislature must prioritize reducing our prison population and giving our communities the support we need to thrive.