• Bring Abdi Home! #FreeAbdi
    On December 13, 2017, Abdi was traveling home to his family in Columbus, Ohio when he was detained at JFK airport. Abdi, a legal permanent resident, had just passed through two levels of customs and immigration inspection, and his passport was stamped "admitted" when he was stopped by an officer who asked if he was from Mogadishu. CBP officers detained Abdi for fifteen hours and interrogated him without a Somali interpreter, even though he repeatedly asked for one. During his interrogation, Abdi was surrounded by armed CBP officers and threatened with years of imprisonment and deportation. Abdi was then transferred to Elizabeth Detention Center where he has been detained ever since, ten hours from his family. Due to Abdi’s unjust detention, his wife has been forced to raise their two baby daughters by herself, without his support. Despite being admitted with a green card, Abdi is now forced to fight for asylum to save his life. On November 12, 2018, three days before one of his multiple immigration hearings, Abdi was sent to a hospital in New Jersey because he was in excruciating pain, unable to get out of bed to eat, use the bathroom or see a doctor. Abdi had complained of pain in his chest to the medical staff at the detention center for eight months, but was only given pain medication and antacids. During his ten-day hospitalization, Abdi was chained to the bed by his legs and an arm, with two armed guards at the door at all times. His lungs were drained several times. Without an interpreter, he understood the doctors to be telling him he had a lung infection. He was tested and diagnosed with active TB. Had ICE doctors properly treated Abdi, they could have easily avoided this result. Instead, Abdi is now on a course of TB medications, some of which have serious side effects including fatal liver damage. None of these risks were explained to him. Abdi is back at the Elizabeth Detention Center, but his wife and attorneys are concerned that he is being held in the same place he developed his condition. He has not received the proper follow-up care as directed by the hospital. Despite the fact that the hospital recommended he get daily blood tests to check his liver function, Abdi does not know if he’s had his liver tested, and he has only had blood drawn a few times since leaving the hospital more than 125 days ago. As of now, neither ICE nor CoreCivic have been held accountable for Abdi’s lack of medical treatment. He has permanent scarring in his lungs, and still feels pain in his chest -- a pain he could live with for the rest of his life, thanks to ICE’s neglect. We’re asking that you and your organization consider signing on to our letter of support for Abdi to demand he be released to his family so that he may receive that life saving care he needs. You can sign our petition bit.ly/BringAbdiHome as an individual. If your organization is interested in supporting you can sign our statement of support bit.ly/Letter4Abdi
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  • Chanel Lewis Deserves A Fair Trial
    Under Queens DA Richard A. Brown's watch, a local judge has denied three motions that have brought new evidence of racial profiling and prosecutorial misconduct to the case of Chanel Lewis - a Black, disabled man from Howard Beach who was convicted of murder on April 1st and is facing the possibility of life without parole.  Chanel, who recently graduated from the Michael De Porres School for developmentally delayed children, was handed a guilty verdict after just five hours of jury deliberation in his second trial, the first having been declared a mistrial with a hung jury. One of the jurors from his second trial has already come forward anonymously to say he is concerned they may have convicted the wrong man, claiming that they were never given access to Chanel’s taped confessions, and that when the jury alerted Judge Michael Aloise that they were deadlocked, he pressured them to come to a verdict that night, anyway. Chanel’s conviction comes on the heels of an anonymous tip that has revealed the existence of a previously unreported NYPD database of DNA swabs of over 350 Black men from the neighborhood. Many of these men, like Chanel, had no prior contact with the criminal justice system and were questioned and swabbed despite the fact that the NYPD’s investigation named two “‘jacked up’ white men” as its initial suspects. Months after Vetrano’s murder, Chanel became a suspect after being profiled by an officer in the neighborhood who followed him for ‘looking suspicious.’ In both trials, Chanel’s defense has pointed to the ways that the collection and transportation of DNA samples from the crime scene were mishandled by the NYPD. And they say that during both trials, they were not alerted to the existence of the DNA database by the prosecution at all, a clear Brady violation. To anyone who followed the Central Park Five case in Chanel’s very own city three decades ago, this will sound painfully familiar. There is a long history of faulty, inconsistent DNA testing and coerced confessions being used to secure the false convictions of Black people in this country.  As a Black man and a disabled person who was not granted access to the support or advocacy that was his constitutional right, Chanel Lewis' case sets a precedent for continued profiling within a racially biased and unbalanced judiciary system. This is not right. Despite the prosecution’s mishandling of this case and despite the fact that Judge Aloise was given credible evidence that pointed to the possible existence of another suspect, both he and the Queens DA’s office have insisted that they have found Karina Vetrano’s killer. Those of us who have watched countless Black people criminalized and convicted on insufficient or shaky evidence say that this is not enough. We demand that Queens DA Richard A. Brown go on the record and give a public accounting of the prosecutorial misconduct related to Chanel’s case now! Judge denies motion for mistrial in Karina Vetrano case | WPIX 11 New York https://pix11.com/2019/04/01/judge-denies-motion-for-mistrial-in-karina-vetrano-case/ https://queenseagle.com/all/2019/4/2/exclusive-i-was-only-white-person-that-didnt-rush-to-find-him-guilty-vetrano-juror-says https://www.newsweek.com/police-dna-database-nypd-swab-testing-collection-new-york-1326722 Chanel Lewis, 22, is currently on retrial accused of raping and strangling 30-year-old Karina Vetrano - Buzz News 24 Hours https://www.buzznews24hours.com/chanel-lewis-22-is-currently-on-retrial-accused-of-raping-and-strangling-30-year-old-karina-vetrano/ Case of Jogger’s Murder Hinges, in Part, on Questions Over a Police Stop - The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/22/nyregion/case-of-karina-vetrano-murder-hinges-in-part-on-questions-over-a-police-stop.html Questions Around the Chanel Lewis Conviction | The Brian Lehrer Show | WNYC https://www.wnyc.org/story/questions-around-chanel-lewis-conviction/ Brady Rule | Wex Legal Dictionary / Encyclopedia | LII / Legal Information Institute https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/brady_rule
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  • #Free21Savage Stop the Deportation of She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph
    The hundreds of ICE assaults and detention of Black immigrants is an endemic in the United States, and is too often carried out with the assistance of local law enforcement. On February 3rd in the early afternoon, organizers were alerted to the arrest and detention of rapper, father, community activist and friend She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph -21 Savage. The circumstances of Mr. Abraham-Joseph's detention stand as a testament to the consistent and historically under-reported harassment and targeting of Black immigrants. The US' violent history of criminalizing Blackness intersects with its deadly legacy of detaining and deporting Black and Brown immigrants. This needs to stop today! There are around 4.2 Million Black immigrants in the U.S. - 619,000 are undocumented. Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been in the United States since he was a young child. Atlanta is his home. He has no current or prior criminal convictions and he is beloved by his friends, fans and family. It is shameful that he and so many Black immigrants are separated from their families on a daily basis as part of the US's heartless and racist immigration policies. Demand that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stop the deportation of She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph - 21 Savage NOW!
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  • Demand Gov. Cuomo Free Criminalized Survivors of Gender Violence
    Valerie Seeley is a survivor of domestic violence and in 1988 she was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison for killing her abusive partner while defending herself from a violent attack. In 2017, Valerie was granted clemency and released from Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, New York. Her release came after spending 17 years in prison for protecting herself. Governor Cuomo, like all state governors, has the power to grant clemency to people who have been convicted under state law. Valerie is the ONLY domestic violence survivor that has been granted clemency by Gov. Cuomo. In the last eight years Gov. Cuomo has ONLY commuted 12 sentences in total. Survived & Punished, has joined forces with Color Of Change to demand that Gov. Cuomo free all criminalized survivors of gender violence. In New York state history only three survivors have been granted clemency. Gov. Cuomo has the power to change that immediately. Today, there are many people behind bars in NY state prisons simply for fighting to survive. We must protect, not criminalize survivors of domestic and gender based violence. Women and gender nonconforming (GNC) folks have historically been incarcerated for domestic violence and Black women and GNC survivors of abuse are rarely granted the right to protect and defend themselves against their abuser, even less than other people. Throughout the country millions of women, girls and GNC people who are incarcerated are also survivors of domestic/ gender based violence. We must end the criminalization of survivors, we must protect Black women and we must free all people incarcerated for simply surviving. Demand Gov. Cuomo #FreeThemNY. Learn more about #FreeThemNY--http://freethemny.com/
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  • Tell U.S. Attorney Berman - Drop the Charges Against Therese Patricia Okoumou!
    I, the undersigned, am aware that Therèse Patricia Okoumou was found guilty at her trial on December 17th of three federal misdemeanors: trespassing, disorderly conduct and interference with government agency functions. Despite the real prospect of spending 18 months in prison, “We stand on the right side of history. I am not discouraged,” Patricia said after being sentenced. Our Lady Liberty remains steadfast in her mission to continue campaigning against the immoral and inhumane family separation policies of the Trump administration. Since Patricia's trial, new information has revealed that the extent of the Trump Administration's outrageous “zero tolerance” policy, which it has consistently LIED to the court and the American people about, is even worse than previously known. The federal government has ripped apart tender-aged children from nursing mothers. It has flown thousands of young children across the country away from their families and placed them in cages. Some of The Children are being forcibly drugged and others sexually molested in internment camps. There have been deaths of asylum seekers, as young as 7 years old, under the care and custody of border patrol agents and Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). As part of our basic right to protest, outlined in the constitution, Patricia climbed the Statue of Liberty to increase awareness of this injustice, and I stand in solidarity with her! When we fell low as a country, Patricia went as high as she could to raise consciousness about these atrocities.
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  • Stop Children from Dying During Divorce and Custody Proceedings
    A mother who is a veteran had to return home from Iraq and fight the battle for her children. The children were taken from her safe and sustainable home, and 50/50 custody order. The mother was falsely arrested. The charges where dismissed but the ramification lingered. Nine years later the mother and her children have no relationship. The children were forced to live full-time with their abusive father leaving them vulnerable to mental, physical and emotional abuse at critical developmental stages in there lives. The court's decision has traumatized the mother and placed the children in danger. As of September 24, 2018, at least 657 children have been murdered by a parent involved in a divorce, separation, custody, visitation, or child support situation in the U.S. since 2008. Abusive parents are often granted custody or unprotected parenting time by family courts—placing our nation’s children at ongoing risk. Researchers who interviewed judges and court administrators following some of these tragedies found that most believed these were isolated incidents. Needed reforms have not been implemented. Many court-related child homicides occurred after family courts granted dangerous parents access to children over the objections of a protective parent. We recognize that the women's right's movement is still a work in progress. Marginalized women face multiple oppressions, and we can only win freedom by bringing awareness on how they impact one another. The women of color need a national movement to uplift the needs of the most marginalized women and children. As women of color we need to stand for our human rights to parent the children we have in a safe and sustainable community.
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  • Bring Back Good Time in Michigan's Prisons (HB 5666)
    Twice in April Michigan’s Good Time Bill, HB 5666, was not to voted on by legislators as expected. The Good Time Bill that was originally introduced in the House at the end of February and was scheduled to vote April 10th and was rescheduled for April 17th, legislators still have not voted on the matter and we cannot wait another election cycle for Good Time to be reintroduced again. Michigan is suffering from a clear problem and its hitting us hard. Michigan state keeps inmates much longer in comparison to other states. These extra years of men and women staying in prison is socially and economically expensive, driving up prison costs by millions and millions of dollars a year with incarceration consuming over a quarter of the state’s general fund. Not only is this problem costly economically on a state level but costly on a community level as African American families are heavily effected with over 44% of the states entire prison population being made of of non-white men. That’s almost half! Its more than disappointing, its disgusting to see the lack of the representatives’ interest in the demands of the people on correcting this gross issue. This Initiative petition requires at least 252,523 valid signatures by May 30th in order for the proposed legislation, the Good Time Bill, to override the legislators voting process. After the successful collection of signatures the bill must be put for a vote by legislators to be either adopted or rejected within 40 days. If the proposed bill is not immediately adopted and is rejected by legislators then it is given another opportunity to become a law by moving forward to proposed to the people in the state of Michigan’s next general election which would be November 6, 2018. This is our opportunity to bring Good Time back in the State’s prisons so that rehabilitated prisoners can rejoin society to support their families and communities. Whether the bill is adopted by legislators or voted into law in a general election, it is important that we give this bill a chance to become a law by showing our overwhelming support for the Good Time Bill. There are more than 40,000 men and women incarcerated in the State of Michigan whose sentences deserve to be reassessed according to the magnitude of their good behavior during their incarceration. Michigan is one of the very few states currently that don’t incorporate Good Time policies to allow a rehabilitated inmate to be released after effectively serving a portion of their sentence, this is a policy that is even instituted at a Federal Level. There is absolutely no reason why a person should lose more of their life just because of their misfortune of being incarcerated in Michigan.
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  • Sign Onto The People's Budget: Break The Cages, Fund The People
    On May 1st, at 5pm at City Hall, The Philadelphia Coalition for a Just District Attorney is gathering our movement under a call to end mass incarceration and reinvest in the communities most affected. For too long, “tough on crime” policies have deliberately targeted our black, brown, and working class communities -- ICE is tearing apart families, our youth are being criminalized in school and treated as adults by our overzealous criminal justice system, and the legal system's reliance on cash bail continues to overcrowd our prisons, keeping the House of Correction facility open despite its notoriety for its decrepit conditions. While District Attorney Larry Krasner has made significant progress in his mandate to challenge mass incarceration, our coalition recognizes there are other political actors who hold the power to divest from prisons and invest in people. In the upcoming months, the School District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Police and Prison Departments, and the First Judicial District will be presenting their fiscal year budgets to City Council for approval. On May 1st, both the Police and Prison Department will be presenting their budgets. We need Philadelphia City Council to support a "People's Budget" and use these hearings to advocate for increased funding for our public school system and decreased spending on incarceration.
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  • #FREESADAT: Demand the release of a Gay Black Asylum Seeker from Detention
    Sadat Ibrahim is a young gay man from Ghana where homosexuality is a crime punishable by three years in prison. Sadat had been brutally attacked by a homophobic vigilante gang back in Ghana, the ‘Safety Empire’, that hunts down, beats up and kills gay people. Fearing for his life, he planned a long escape route, and finally made it to the Mexican/U.S. border and presented himself at the border requesting asylum. An asylum officer agreed that Sadat had a credible fear of persecution. His family sent videos supporting his claim to Sadat in detention in Georgia, but not only did the officers in the detention center not give Sadat this critical evidence, they never even told Sadat that the evidence had arrived. Without the corroborating evidence, the judge denied Sadat asylum. Sadat faces deportation back to the same situation that may see him incarcerated, attacked and/or murdered for being gay, as his asylum claim was denied. Had Sadat been able to share the video evidence that ICE withheld from him until after the hearing, we believe the judge should have granted asylum to Sadat, and likely would have done so. Sadat’s legal team has managed to win him a temporary stay of removal so why is he still being detained?
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  • Demand DA Faith Johnson Support Bail Reform
    The cash bail system in Dallas County discriminates against poor Black people in the most harmful ways. Black families are stripped of community, financial resources and a sense of basic human dignity. Black people remain in cages for weeks, months and sometimes years at taxpayer expense. And oftentimes, Black people are jailed with no evidence they have committed a crime. This is a crisis that can no longer continue. In the past, I have had many family members who were forced to serve time simply because they did not have the money to make bail or were not given enough time to produce the money. In many cases, the amount requested for bail did not fit the crime. Families in the Dallas community like mine are tired of losing their loved ones to the criminal “injustice” system. To make matters worse, District Attorney Faith Johnson is routinely locking up Black people for crimes of poverty. It has been reported by multiple sources that Johnson has received thousands of dollars from the bail industry and even sits on the board of the Dallas County Bail Bond Board. Her silence on the bail reform cannot be tolerated. By pressuring District Attorney Faith Johnson to renounce the bail industry and to refuse political donations from these corporations we get one step closer to ending money bail’s exploitation of poor, Black people in Dallas County. There are many in our community who, not only believe in ending money bail, but are also working to make this come true. It is time for Faith Johnson to do right by her constituents. Join us in demanding Faith Johnson to renounce the bail industry and return all political contributions to bail corporations!
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  • #FreeMichaelDuvall: My Brother Is Innocent
    The wrongful yet systematic incarceration of Black people in this country has weakened our community for decades; it’s slavery by another name. This system is causing Michael and others like him, to be jailed while waiting for their case to come to trial. Sometimes, that takes years to happen. Michael has already refused to plea to anything because he is not guilty. The scary thing is; this is the same thing that happened to Kalief Browder. He didn’t want to plead guilty to a crime that he didn’t commit, so this system took his life away in so many ways. I don’t want that to be the case for my brother or anyone. My heart is broken and a part of me is being held in the Upper Marlboro Detention Center with my brother. It is important that we take a stand against this type of abuse from the criminal injustice system so that others in our community do not fall victim to this type of pain and torture.
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  • 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.
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