• 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
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  • VOTE YES TO TAX PRIVATE PRISONS
    Education 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
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  • Serving Life w/ Hard Labor w/o Parole for $20 of Marijuana
    Fate 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
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  • #FrankRizzoDown
    Frank 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.
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  • No New Prisons In Minnesota
    Crime 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.
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  • Dutchess County Legislators: We Don't Need a New $300 Million Jail!
    The rush to build a 569-room jail and Sheriff’s complex in Dutchess County will end up costing taxpayers approximately $300 million over 30 years. This threatens the county’s fiscal stability and does little to address criminal justice priorities. Declining crime and reform efforts are leading to less prison facilities, lower incarceration rates and evidence-based, fair and effective diversion programs in New York and around the country. It doesn't make sense that Dutchess’ plan goes the opposite direction. The county's population is going down, but the proposal still calls for a 15% increase in jail beds. More disturbing is the fact that Dutchess saw its incarceration rate increase 41% between 2006 and 2015 when most other counties in New York saw their rate remain flat or decrease. The human cost of incarceration is also disproportionately borne by Dutchess County’s black residents, who make up 11% of the county population but 39% of the inmate population. The jail proposal sends a terrible message to black youth that they are seen as threats rather than valued residents and future leaders. This project is moving too fast and without appropriate safeguards and disclosure. We call on you to to reject the jail expansion project in current form and work with the community on reforming Dutchess County's criminal justice system first.
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  • Divest from Wells Fargo! University of California (UC) Prison Divestment!
    We, the undersigned community members and justice seekers, are excited by the Afrikan Black Coalition's recent victory in getting the University of California to divest $25 million from the private prison corporations Corrections Corporations of America (CCA), The Geo Group, and G4S. The victory was historic because private prisons have exacerbated America's mass incarceration regime, are implicated in gross human rights violations, and should be outlawed. However, we share the Afrikan Black Coalition's outrage and frustration resulting from the UC system's startling $425 million investment in Wells Fargo, one of the largest financiers of private prisons. According a report from Enlace, Wells Fargo facilitates access to over $1.2 billion capital for private prisons. As of their latest filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Wells Fargo owned nearly 1.5 million shares in private prisons. It bears noting that Wells Fargo is a bank that practiced discriminatory lending and maneuvered people of color (primarily Black and Latino) into subprime mortgages that led to the financial meltdown of 2007-2008; and in response to accusations of racial discrimination in its lending practices, Wells Fargo settled for $175 million in 2012 with pending litigations from several U.S cities (Los Angeles and Oakland) about discriminatory practices. It is for these reasons that we stand in solidarity with the Afrikan Black Coalition in its call for justice for those who are systematically dehumanized by an unforgiving and unfair judicial system that continues to criminalize Black and brown bodies. We acknowledge these cases illustrate the evolution of America's legal institution to uphold race, gender, and class hierarchies. By investing in Wells Fargo Bank, the University of California is actively supporting a legacy of historical emphasis on profit margins at the expense of human beings, and the continued mass criminalization of Black existence. It is an ethical embarrassment and a clear disregard for Black and immigrant lives for the UC to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Wells Fargo as a financier of private prisons. In the age of Black Lives Matter and a reinvigorated Black Freedom Struggle, the UC should NOT be bankrolling the inhuman mass incarceration regime that has gripped America.
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  • End ICE’s Unjust Indefinite Detention of Kwesi Amuzu!
    It has been more than a year and Kwesi Amuzu is still unjustly locked up! Kwesi was detained by immigration authorities at the U.S./Mexico border in August 2013. He spent six months in immigration detention while his asylum case was adjudicated. Although he was denied asylum in March 2014 and received a final order of removal, it cannot be carried out because there is no documentation of his birth in Ghana. In effect, Kwesi remains imprisoned because he is stateless. Most recently, he was transferred from West County Detention Facility in Richmond, CA to a for profit prison in Bakersfield, CA that is run by one of the world's most abusive private prison companies. In effect, Kwesi remains imprisoned for profit because he is stateless. ICE’s ongoing imprisonment of Kwesi is deeply inhumane and unjust. If enough people take action, we can pressure ICE to do what is right and release Kwesi immediately. Will you join us? Instead of releasing Kwesi to his support network in the Bay Area who has been following his case and advocating for his release, ICE has chosen to hold him indefinitely with no end in sight. Kwesi’s case highlights a disturbing and systemic problem; low income immigrant and Black people are being incarcerated in wildly inhumane prisons to meet the 34,000 detention bed quota. This disturbing and discriminatory practice sends a chilling effect to communities of color in the U.S. who are disproportionately impacted by mass criminalization. (1) Every year, over 400,000 people disappear and are bought and sold into the U.S. immigration detention system. Private Prison corporations lobby Congress to ensure themselves a steady stream of profit, at taxpayer expense. The immigration detention bed quota requires that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detain 34,000 people every day. No other law enforcement agency operates under a quota that is mandated by Congress. Kwesi’s case reminds us that Black Lives Matter in the Migrant Rights Movement. Black Immigrant populations have been made invisible while being targeted and terrorized by ICE, police, and other law enforcement agencies at significantly high rates given their population size within the larger Immigrant community in the U.S. Black Immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America are overrepresented in immigration detention and deportation proceedings at a rate 5 times their actual presence in the undocumented community. (2) African Americans are also impacted by ICE terror and violence which was made evident in the recent killing of Terrence Kellor who was murdered in his home by an ICE agent part of an inter-agency enforcement team in Detroit. (3) We are not for sale! Our bodies should not be used to boost the profits of the prison industry and meet an unjust bed quota! Fighting for Kwesi’s release is about centering the struggle of Black Immigrants in the Migrant Rights Movement in order to strengthen the fight against the criminal-immigration system and special interests, both public and private, who profit and sustain power by criminalizing our communities. References: 1. The Drug War, Mass Incarceration and Race: http://www.drugpolicy.org/resource/drug-war-mass-incarceration-and-race 2. BAJI, The Real Crime: http://www.blackalliance.org/therealcrime/ 3. Terrence Kellor killed in his own home by ICE agent: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/4/29/terrance-kellom-shot-dead-in-detroit-by-ice-agent.html?utm_content=main&utm_campaign=ajam&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=SocialFlow
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  • #NoNewNYPD Petition
    We have calculated that with $100 million in many of these priority areas, we could accomplish the following: - $100 Million could be invested to employ 310,000 youth this summer. - $100 Million could be invested to hire 2,000 social workers or special education teachers. - $100 Million could be invested to provide 62,500 people in low-income households with free transportation. - $100 Million could be invested to increase resident association budgets by $281,437 in all 334 NYCHA buildings. Our communities are defining safety beyond policing. New York’s elected officials have the opportunity and duty to do the same. Communities of color are being systematically over-policed while also being displaced by rising rent and gentrification. Mayor de Blasio, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and City Council -- We demand that you serve the best interests of the people and redirect the $100 million currently in the proposed budget for additional police, to programs that will make our communities stronger. For more information go to www.safetybeyondpolicing.com
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  • FL GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES: How will you end youth criminalization?
    Florida is home to some of the worst policing practices in the country. Described as "New York City stop-and-frisk on steroids," Miami Gardens Police have stopped and questioned more than half of the city's population, thousands of them kids, some of them as young as 5 deemed "reasonably suspicious" while playing outside. (1) Often, unjust police stops turn violent and deadly. Florida also leads the country in youth criminalization. Second only to Texas in the highest number of private prisons, Florida's entire youth prison system is privatized. Every day, Black and brown teens targeted by a deeply racist and discriminatory criminal justice system are forced to face abuse, torture, and neglect at the hands of private companies. (2) We don't want to live in a world where you have to put a bullet proof vest on your child in fear of fatal police or vigilante violence. We must take action to address this devastating criminalization targeting Black and brown Florida youth. Florida's important Governor election is fast approaching and our state's next leadership must be committed to addressing these key issues facing our communities. On October 21st, Gov. Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist will hold a debate, and moderators Jake Taper and Kent Justice are will have an opportunity to clarify the candidates position on Florida's for-profit prisons and systemic police violence. During last week's debate, we succeeded at garnering enough widespread public pressure to ensure that candidates were asked about Florida's notorious "Stand Your Ground Law," but we need candidates to answer to much more. The stakes are high. To ensure youth criminalization is on our next Governor's agenda and to secure transformative change after Election Day, we must call on Jake Tapper and Kent Justice to ask the questions that matter to our community. References: 1. "Florida City’s ‘Stop & Frisk’ Nabs Thousands of Kids, Finds 5-Year-Olds ‘Suspicious,’" Fusion 09-22-14 Fusion http://fusion.net/story/5568/florida-citys-stop-frisk-nabs-thousands-of-kids-finds-5-year-olds-suspicious/ 2. "Too Good to be True: Private Prisons in America," (.pdf) Sentencing Project, 01-2012 http://www.sentencingproject.org/detail/publication.cfm?publication_id=384
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