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14 Year Old George Stinney Jr. the youngest person executedI have a personal inquiry regarding the dark shadow that has hangs over the town of Alcolu; SC namely the execution of 14 year old George Julius Stinney, Jr. was exoneratied 72 years later.. In June of 1944, the bodies of the two young white girls were found 300 yards from the back door of my great-great grandfather’s church. On the night of that horrible incident, many of my family members fled Alcolu, by foot from the Klan and their lynch mob. Today, a memorial headstone sits on private property located on highway 521. I would like the State of South Carolina to rename a state highway, bridge or state park in honor of George Julius Stinney, Jr. Just as the private residents on highway 521 pay their respect daily, the world should never forget this innocent, of young George. Stinney Jr.
Investigate the Bail Bond Industry in New YorkDear Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Schneiderman, Each year in New York State, as many as 100,000 people are imprisoned for their inability to afford bail. For some families, the only way to buy a loved one’s release from jail is through the for-profit commercial bail bond industry. The commercial bail bond industry is inherently exploitative, and bail agents take advantage of lax regulations to gouge vulnerable consumers in a moment of crisis, desperate to get a loved one out of jail. They charge a nonrefundable fee of about 10 percent of the bond amount, may require unlimited amounts of collateral, and often impose onerous and invasive check-in requirements as well as illegal fees and conditions. No one should be profiting off the hardship of others, or relying on people in jail for a revenue stream. The commercial bail bond industry is highly profitable, in large part because it is virtually unregulated, leaving unscrupulous bail agents free reign. Bail corporations prey on some of our most vulnerable communities that have the least political power- specifically people of color and those too poor to afford a lawyer. Similar to payday loans, the bail industry extracts millions of dollars a year from the neighborhoods that can least afford it. Bail bondsmen are lobbying elected officials regularly to ensure that bail and mass incarceration remain the status quo. However, we are fighting back and we’re gaining momentum. With an investigation into this industry, the Governor and Attorney General will have the opportunity to expose an industry that is working to hurt their constituents. The bail bond industry has corrupted our constitutional freedoms for the purpose of profit. By investigating the bail bond industry the state of New York can unwind one of the most unjust aspects of the criminal justice system. By signing the petition you will be telling Gov. Cuomo that we will no longer allow the bail bond industry to prey on Black communities without any oversight. Due to how vulnerable of a position people are placed in when being in jail for even a short amount of time the bail bond industry is using this as an opportunity to make huge profits off the backs of poor people. Investigate the bail bond industry today! Thank you, Brooklyn Community Bail Fund and VOCAL-NY
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.
Expungement and releasing of Black men convicted of Marijuana chargesMarijuana has become much more socially acceptable in every retrospect except when black men and women are involved in the conversation. African Americans have been booked and slapped with records because of a Marijuana charge they may have recieved years ago. With that being said, Marijuana has catapulted into mainstream media. It has been legalized in many states as well as heralded hip as far as pop culture is concerned. Marijuana moms have landed a segment on the Today show while black men and women with non-violent offenses sit in prison for it. The negative connotation Marijuana holds when associated with a person of color creates this notion that it is only illegal in areas with a lower socio-economical backgrounds: i.e. the hood and low income neighboorhoods where mostly blacks and minorites reside. If Marijuana moms are being celebrated then black men and women with non-violent charges should be released from jail and have their records expunged for their Marijuana charges.
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
Tell Gov. Cuomo: No more racist Parole Board!New York's Parole Board is devastating the lives of tens of thousands of people. In 2015, the Board denied release to over 80 percent of parole applicants, despite the fact that the majority of the applicants were ready for release and posed no risk to public safety.¹ Fewer than one in six Black or Latino men was released at his first parole hearing, compared with one in four white men, according to an analysis by The New York Times of thousands of parole decisions from the past several years.² Three of the five commissioners whose terms expire this year were appointed decades ago by Republican Governor George Pataki, whose racist “tough-on-crime” policies led to today’s mass incarceration crisis. The Parole Board is keeping thousands of parole-ready people locked up indefinitely, and it’s happening on Governor Cuomo’s watch. ------ 1. http://www.doccs.ny.gov/Research/Reports/2016/Parole_Board_Dispositions_2015.pdf 2. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/04/nyregion/new-york-prisons-inmates-parole-race.html
Boycott United AirlinesOn Sunday night, United Airlines ordered security guards to remove a Chinese passenger traveling on Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville. When passenger David Doa refused to give up his seat to standby passengers, United Airlines security pulled Doa from his seat, punched him unconscious, and dragged his limp body down the plane aisle to eject him from the aircraft. Moments before Chicago Department of Aviation Security Officers ripped Doa out of his seatbelt, Doa told fellow passengers that he felt that he was selected because he is Chinese. Dao, a doctor flying from Chicago O’Hare airport to Louisville, protested saying that he needed to be on that plane to see his patients the next day. Join me in calling for a boycott of United Airlines! While what happened to David Dao may feel like an isolated incident, it is not! It represents a trend in the excessive use of force being used by police, security guards, in this case Chicago Department of Aviation Security Officers, and other departments that are said to keep the public safe. In addition to asking you to Boycott United Airlines we also demand that United Airlines: - Pay reparations to David Dao - Fully reimburse all customers who were on Flight 3411 and had to witness such violent and racially charged treatment of a customer - Fire all security guards involved David Dao was punched, knocked unconscious, and then dragged through the aisle creating an absolute violent spectacle. Not only is this wrong it was racist, it’s what happens when police and security guards feel like they have the right to use excessive force and when they know that they will not be punished for doing so. United Airlines must be stopped, join me in boycotting this airline until all of our above stated demands are met! The response from United Airlines President about this incident was so bizarre that it seems like their might be a more systemic problem here. CEO Oscar Munoz said "This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accomodate these customers...". Mr. Dao was forcibly removed from the plane, bloodied, and publicly embarrassed. This is not what "re-accommodating" looks like! Black folks know all to well the violence that police forces inflict on people, police forces and violence should not be used for corporate profit! Join me in boycotting United Airlines until they are truly held accountable for this racist and violent action toward David Dao!
Free The Children of Kiarre HarrisIn November of 2016, Kiarre Harris, an African-American single mother, chose to homeschool her children and remove them from a failing school in Buffalo, New York. Ms. Harris properly withdrew her children from the public school and fully complied with NYS regulations regarding homeschooling. The Buffalo Public Schools District notified Child Protective Services that the children were not attending school. Without the knowledge or notice to Ms. Harris, Child Protective Services secured a removal order from a Family Court Judge---based on educational neglect. When police first notified Ms. Harris of the removal order (which they did not provide a copy of), Ms. Harris refused to turn her children over to the police. She was arrested for obstruction. Two days later, on January 18, 2017 the children of Ms. Harris were taken away from her and placed into foster care. An ongoing Family Court has now been triggered and Ms. Harris has been granted only limited supervised visitation of her two children. This entire incident began with Ms. Harris' decision to homeschool her children and the Buffalo School District calling Child Protective Services with baseless allegations of educational neglect. Jailing a mother who has complied with the law; taking her children away, and subjecting the family to ongoing legal proceedings can not be allowed to happen. This sends a chilling message to parents who choose to fight for the betterment of their children's education. We need to make it clear: the policies and practices of the Erie County unit of Child Protective Services are racially discriminatory and adversely impact parents of poor and minority children. Kiarre Harris should be admired for doing all in her power to make sure her children have the best education possible. #KiarraHarris #HandsOffHarrisChildren
Demand Mayor Bowser discipline officers who beat, arrested & overcharged inauguration day protestorsOn January 20th, 30 Black activists from the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) took a stand against Donald Trump's bigotry and hatred. As an organizer with Black Lives Matter DC it was an honor to help blockade an entrance to Trump’s inauguration, making it impossible for racist Trump supporters to hear their KKK endorsed President spew his hateful rhetoric. On that day, as we were joined by a multiracial coalition of chosen family, movement family, and allies, I knew that this was both the culmination of three years of organizing and the start of something even more beautiful and powerful than what we've seen recently. In the past few weeks, as thousands of people in this country are becoming politicized, radicalized, and moved to action in ways they never have before, I am more confirmed in faith that the resistance will only continue to build. We have to make sure this protest continues, and I know it will, so does Trump, Mayor Bowser, and the Metro Police Department which is exactly why on Inauguration day the Metro Police Department carried out random mass arrests of more than 200 people- including medics, legal observers and journalists- and took the extraordinary step of charging them with a felony rioting statute that hasn’t been used in DC in more than 25 years. A felony record can have grave consequences for a person’s future including being denied loans, refused jobs and in many states denied the right to vote. We know that these draconian enforcements are no surprise from Trump who tweeted that burning the american flag, a legal act, should be punished with “perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail”. We also know that this type of policing is the status quo for the Metro Police Department and Mayor Bowser, under whose watch police have continued to terrorize youth in Black Communities. Bowser is known to talk about defending rights and market herself as a progressive Mayor, however she does this only when it suits her. Join us in demanding that Mayor Muriel Bowser pick a side- will she enable Trump's hateful, fascists agenda by suppressing dissent in the District of Columbia or will she permit protests to his regime. Charging protestors with a felony riot statue was a strategic tactic used with the hopes of scaring people and to discourage dissent. Felony rioting is rarely used and is a severe statute in DC law that carries up to 10 years in prison. The last time this many people were charged with felony rioting in D.C was when MLK was assassinated- making it very clear to what Trump wants to do to the country when he says “make america great again”. At the Women’s March Mayor Bowser denounced Trump saying that she wants him and the federal government to “leave us alone” however, as she stated this most of the 200 inauguration day protesters were still held in jail. Despite her rhetoric she is taking the side of Trump by refusing to protect the right to protest in her city. As we continue our resistance to Trump we need to demand that Mayor Bowser is either with us or against us, with a Trump administration there are no sidelines for politicians, they can no longer flip flop, they are either with the people, with Black people, or with Trump. Due to her previous record it is not surprising that Mayor Bowser has allowed this to happen in her city but if she continues to do this we will make it clear that she is siding with Trump, and allowing Trump's vision of America to reign in her city. Demand D.C Mayor Bowser pick a side! This week we are gearing up for demonstrations on President's Day, a National Holiday to honor those that serve as President, however, Donald Trump is not our President and we will be in the streets making that clear! We need you to take action now so that when President's Day comes on Monday Mayor Bowser knows that we are watching her and demanding that the Metro Police Department no longer charge protestors with any form of crime while simultaneously demanding that all charges are dropped for the inauguration day protestors. We will not allow Mayor Bowser and the Metro Police Department continue in their efforts to normalize their use of teargassing, throwing concussion grenades, aggressive beating of protestors, or mass arrests. While we know these tactics aren't new they are exactly what Trump envisions and we must fight back! Still it is important to remember that these overcharging fear tactics, carried out by Mayor Bowser’s D.C police, are an extension of the policing that Black communities in DC have faced for years. People in power have the ability to change public perception of what is normal but we can not let them do that. Join me in demanding Mayor Muriel Bowser have her police department drop all charges for inauguration day protestors, that she discipline the Metro Police Department Officers who teargassed, aggressively beat, and arrested protestors, and that moving forward the Metro Police Department will no longer charge protesters with anything, because protesting is not a crime! Thanks you, Aaron Goggans Black Lives Matter D.C
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
Vote NO on California Proposition 66My name is Shujaa Graham and in 1973 I was framed for the murder of a prison guard due to my interest in the Black Power movement. I was wrongly placed on death row for a crime that I did not commit however, I was one of the lucky ones and while on death row I was able to fight for my innocence and after a fourth trial I was finally found innocent. I was able to win my freedom however this may not be a possibility for other innocent people on death row if Proposition 66 passes this November. California law enforcement, consisting of the very police departments that are known for their racist practices and numerous killings of Black community members, have raised nearly $5.5 million towards advertising that endorses Proposition 66. California law enforcement agencies want to speed up the death penalty process by limiting the ability to present new evidence of innocence and executing people faster. Some people have been removed from death row within just hours of execution. There is too much at risk here. If a person is killed and later found innocent there is no going back! This is why I need you to join me now and pledge to VOTE NO on Proposition 66. This proposition is unethical, funded by crooked prosecutors, prison guards, and other conservative law enforcement interests that are notorious for disproportionately targeting and killing Black people in California. Now they are working to do the same to those who are incarcerated in California with their attempts to pass of Prop. 66. Poor people and people of color are disproportionately put to death for crimes that bring other folks merely a long prison sentence. Let’s be clear: if Proposition 66 passes innocent Black and Brown people will be at a higher risk of being wrongly executed. California law enforcement agencies are dumping millions of dollars into advertising for Proposition 66 which would make it nearly impossible for innocent people on death row to prove their innocence. 156 innocent people nationwide, including three from California, have been wrongfully convicted of murder, sentenced to death but later exonerated; if Proposition 66 passes it would make it nearly impossible for innocent people on death row to gain their freedom and be exonerated. 61 percent of those exonerated are people of color, like me. This means that people of color, especially Black and Latino men and women, are being wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death at a shocking rate. Join me in in pledging to vote NO on Proposition 66 to make sure that innocent people of color are not wrongly executed in California. In Solidarity, Shujaa Graham California Death Row Exoneree Paid for by No on Prop 66 Californians for Fair Justice, sponsored by social justice organizations. Major funding by ACLU Northern CA and Open Society Policy Center.