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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.
Life Saving Treatment Now for Mumia Abu-JamalMy name is Keith Cook, and I am Mumia Abu-Jamal’s brother. My loss, and my pain, have been constant for three decades since my brother has been in prison. He needs to come home, like so many of the men from our community. Mumia is very ill. I was in the waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit, just feet from where he lay nearly dying, for 28 long hours in Pottsville, PA before the guards would let me see him. He was chained: his right arm and left leg shacked to the hospital bed. Did you know that there is absolutely no reason for him to suffer? There is a cure for Hepatitis C — just one pill a day. I see my brother. But the Department of Corrections and the courts see “a prisoner”. Wasn’t Jesus a prisoner? Wasn’t Nelson Mandela a prisoner? Dr. Paul Noel, Director of Health Care for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and Dr. Carl J. Keldie Chief Clinical Officer of Correct Care Solutions would let incarcerated people die from this disease. Yes, Mumia is supported by Amnesty International and Desmond Tutu, among many others. But he is also just like any other Black man in prison. Together we must stop this shameful practice of denying lifesaving health care to Mumia Abu-Jamal and all prisoners. And we must expose the public health imperative of treating Hepatitis C inside and outside of prisons. As the drug’s inventor Michael Sofia notes, “How can you deny people access to a cure?”. Right now, my brother is in the infirmary at SCI Mahanoy, and he is receiving absolutely no treatment. We are in court, right now with a petition. You can make sure that the U.S. District Court Judge Mariani, and Magistrate Mehalchick see and hear more than the word “prisoner”. We know these folks are our mothers, fathers, and brothers. We know they deserve to be treated with dignity and with respect. We need your voice to be heard. Tell them you know that intentional medical neglect is a violation of the 8th Amendment and their Hippocratic Oath. Medical apartheid must stop. Please join me. - Keith Cook, Retired Command Sergeant; Major, US Army; Former Chairman Orange, County School Board; Past President, North Carolina Caucus of Black School Board; District Director, NC NAACP Conference of Branches
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.
Protect DC's Black Communities from Police Violence: Say NO to Mayor Bowser's Crime BillBill 21-0357 will effectively criminalize entire Black neighborhoods in the District. It seeks to flood communities with police endowed with the power to conduct illegal aggressive and dangerous searches and seizures, and to incarcerate people almost at will for minor and non-violent offenses. Without the support of any data, the Mayor places the blame on returning citizens for the District’s recent spike in crime and seeks to target people on parole probation or supervised release for surveillance and broken windows policing. The Mayor does not understand the issues that affect the District’s most underserved areas. Instead of responding with knee-jerk proposals that will only increase the rates of arrests and incarceration without reducing crime, the Mayor and the DC Council should invest resources in creating jobs with living wages, support “ban the box” measures to help eliminate obstacles to employment and housing for Returning Citizens, create and protect truly affordable housing, prohibit displacement, significantly improve access to healthy and affordable food and other services that make our community safer. In Solidarity, Black Lives Matter DMV and Stop Police Terror Project #TakeBackOurStreetsDC
Drop Confederate Names & Symbols!We should not have to attend schools or walk streets named after traitors who fought to keep others in bondage or profiteers who grew their wealth and power on the backs of those they saw as less than human.<strong>They are not heroes! Naming institutions and streets after Confederate Generals and slave peddlers contributes to the myth of the noble Confederacy and the romanticizing of slavery as being "not that bad."</strong>This works to harm Black Americans by creating a false perception of just how far anti-Black racism reaches from past actions to present policies and stands in the way of having honest dialogue about what system level changes need to happen to truly give America the courage to battle entrenched racism and truly become exceptional.This must end.<strong>It is time that we honor the lives and deaths of those who came before us in the fight for the humanity of Black people.</strong>#HonorThem
Release data about the McKinney Police Department's engagement of Black youthThe videos from McKinney show Black youth clearly being targeted by police while white youth are left alone. We deserve to know from the City of McKinney if this is a longstanding police policy. This is important because this incident is one in a long line of incidents that continue to demonstrate that Black youth are routinely dehumanized in our society. Implicit bias and perceptions of Black youth directly impact they way that they are engaged. Because these youth were seen to not belong in the area, the officers did even attempt to engage them as residents or even guests but rather as intruders. This is evidenced by the fact that the teenager who filmed the incident was white and therefore was not engaged by the police at all - despite capturing the entire event on camera. We have seen in past, how these interactions can quickly turn deadly. The community can not begin to heal until these issues are exposed and confronted in a honest and transparent fashion.
Release McKinney Police Corporal Eric Casebolt’s full disciplinary record.The public deserves to know if Corporal Casebolt has any previous incidents of brutality. Demand the McKinney Police Department release his disciplinary record. This is important because this incident is one in a long line of incidents that continue to demonstrate that Black youth are routinely dehumanized in our society. Implicit bias and perceptions of Black youth directly impact they way that they are engaged. Because these youth were seen to not belong in the area, the officers did even attempt to engage them as residents or even guests but rather as intruders. This is evidenced by the fact that the teenager who filmed the incident was white and therefore was not engaged by the police at all - despite capturing the entire event on camera. We have seen in past, how these interactions can quickly turn deadly. The community can not begin to heal until these issues are exposed and confronted in a honest and transparent fashion.
Release McKinney Police Corporal Eric Casebolt’s full disciplinary record.The public deserves to know if Corporal Casebolt has any previous incidents of brutality. Demand the McKinney Police Department release his disciplinary record. This is important because this incident is one in a long line of incidents that continue to demonstrate that Black youth are routinely dehumanized in our society. Implicit bias and perceptions of Black youth directly impact they way that they are engaged. Because these youth were seen to not belong in the area, the officers did even attempt to engage them as residents or even guests but rather as intruders. This is evidenced by the fact that the teenager who filmed the incident was white and therefor was not engaged by the police at all - despite capturing the entire event on camera. We have seen in past, how these interactions can quickly turn deadly. The community can not begin to heal until these issues are exposed and confronted in a honest and transparent fashion.
Take.A.Stand.Have.A.Voice.The videos from McKinney show Black youth clearly being targeted by police while white youth are left alone. We deserve to know from the City of McKinney if this is a longstanding police policy. This is important because this incident is one in a long line of incidents that continue to demonstrate that Black youth are routinely dehumanized in our society. Implicit bias and perceptions of Black youth directly impact they way that they are engaged. Because these youth were seen to not belong in the area, the officers did even attempt to engage them as residents or even guests but rather as intruders. This is evidenced by the fact that the teenager who filmed the incident was white and therefor was not engaged by the police at all - despite capturing the entire event on camera. We have seen in past, how these interactions can quickly turn deadly. The community can not begin to heal until these issues are exposed and confronted in a honest and transparent fashion.
Protesters Are Not Criminals! Drop The Charges Against The Jacksonville 19On Monday December 8, 2014 during a national protest demanding justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown, 19 activists and organizers in Jacksonville, FL (The Jacksonville 19) were arrested and charged with obstruction of traffic and were threatened with an egregious restitution fine. State officials in Florida join a sickening trend that is spreading across the nation, where protesters face harsh penalties for speaking out against police violence. From the 70k restitution charge against protesters in Oakland, CA (1) to a Baltimore protester who has a 500K bail (2), it becomes all too clear that our 1st amendment rights are under attack. We won't stand for it. And we need widespread public pressure to expose and stop State Attorney Angela Corey’s discriminatory and the outrageous attempts to profit off and punish the growing movement for Black liberation. Instead of working to end the discriminatory pattern of police violence that continues without pause, Angela Corey wants monetary reimbursement from those standing up for the inviolability of their lives. There’s something terribly wrong with this picture. How is it that protesters are being criminalized for speaking out against grave injustices and killer cops continue to walk free with no consequences for the lives they have stolen? The answer is simple. The entire criminal justice system is entrenched with discriminatory practices that further perpetuate white supremacy, which couldn’t be more true for the state of Florida who has struggled with decades and decades of racism and brutal violence against Black people. The Jacksonville 19 was arrested on December 8th, handcuffed, placed in a police cars, and driven to jail where they waited for four hours while State Attorney Angela Corey decided her plan with what to do with them. Now, State Attorney Corey has decided to harshly penalize 19 peaceful protesters with misdemeanor charges and high restitution fines for exercising their first amendment rights. This is not the first of State Attorney Corey’s abuses. Angela Corey tried to convict Christian Fernandez, a 12-year-old child, to a life time in prison; Angela Corey did not support the true judgment for Zimmerman in defense of Trayvon Martin and Angela Corey unjustly tried to convict Marissa Alexander with 60 years for defending herself in her home. This is a crisis of integrity in the Florida justice system that requires your intervention. This case is also the first time that a Jacksonville social change group comprised of organizers, mothers, students, and women are being charged and asked to pay restitution for an action calling for an end to discriminatory policing that severely impacts the lives of Black residents in Florida. We cannot allow the State Attorney to repeat this treacherous, autocratic Southern narrative model anymore. Florida has a long history of deep seated racism which has produced rampant brutal violence against Black people.The history of a young man, Jordan Davis, being shot at a gas station in Jacksonville in 2012 for playing his music too loud is an echo of white racist violence from 1960 when up to 200 members of the Ku Klux Klan carried ax handles, baseball bats and other kinds of clubs, threatening to organize citywide boycotts if the stores made an agreement to serve food to Black customers in downtown Jacksonville. The police stayed away until members of a group known as the Bomerangs began assisting the demonstrators. The Jacksonville 19 reflects the courage of that group, coming together to stand up for communities under attack. Let’s start by demanding that State Attorney Angela Corey, Mayor Lenny Curry, and Governor Rick Scott dismiss the charges against the Jacksonville 19! Shut it Down! Support the Jacksonville 19 during their trial and demand that Florida officials #DropTheCharges! This petition is also supported by: Burnpile Press, Veterans for Peace, Jacksonville, Chapter 174, Strengthen Our Sisters, Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign, Black Women's Lives Matter, Project South, Mad Moms, The CHESS Foundation, The New Jim Crow Movement - Jacksonville, Malcolm X Center for Self Determination, SCLC, Free Marissa Now (FMN), Black Lives Matter, Ferguson Actions, Southern Movement Alliance, and New South Network of War Resisters. References, 1) Bart Directors: When It Comes to Ending The War On Black Communities, Which Side Are You On?, 01-2015 http://bit.ly/1AfqfUG 2) Baltimore rioter slapped with $500k bail as cops charged in Freddie Gray murder walk free, 05-03-2015 http://bit.ly/1G88tsL
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
Hold the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Accountable, Demand Civilian Oversight WITH POWER!http://youtu.be/YBCfIs3YoGg On December 9th, 2014 our two plus year fight for civilian oversight erupted in an enormous victory for the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence, a project of Dignity and Power Now. On that day the supervisors voted 3-2 in support a civilian oversight commission. That was the first step. The next step is making sure that this commission is effective and not simply another department rubber stamp. Your support is necessary if we are going to push the county to create the most powerful model of oversight possible for Los Angeles. Spread across Los Angeles County are 8 facilities that make up the largest jail system in the world, run by the largest sheriff's department in the country. That very system has been the site of a long history of brutality against our loved ones being held in these facilities. In a county that is 9% Black, Black prisoners make up 30% of the county jail population, and almost 50% of the county jail population with a "serious mental health condition." The history has come to a head in Los Angeles where in the past three years the county has been shaped by three significant events. 1) Deep reaching exposure of patterns of "hyper violence" against our loved ones and a corrupt culture inside the department that has covered up these abuses. Story after story has revealed patterns of prisoners being beaten while restrained, physical attacks that continue after prisoners have lost consciousness, fractured bones, denial of medical care, and retaliation for filing complaints. Exposure of these widespread abuses took the form an ACLU class action lawsuit, a thorough and scathing year long investigation initiated by the county's Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence, a Department of Justice civil rights probe into the jails, an FBI investigation that has resulted in 18 indictments for corruption and abuse, and the courage of countless survivors of sheriff violence who have continued to come forward with their stories and have become leaders in this growing movement. This movement includes the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence which has brought together over 20 organizations across Los Angeles County with the leadership of formerly incarcerated people and their loved ones at the forefront. At the height of the exposure, it was found that 57% of use of force incidents in the jails were initiated be sheriff's deputies. The persistent exposure of the departments "force first" approach and the corruption that kept it hidden resulted in the formal resignation of Sheriff Baca. His resignation paved the way for a highly contested election where Jim McDonnell, one of the commissioners on the Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence, claimed the position as sheriff. While he has publicly stated that he is invested in reform, our communities cannot lay our faith, nor the fate, of our families solely in the hands of the department that for decades built a culture of unchecked abuse in the jails. 2) A groundswell of organizations and community members has built a movement to hold law enforcement in Los Angeles accountable. This heightened momentum comes at a time where communities around the country are pushing back against law enforcement misconduct, excessive and lethal force, and national trends in anti-Black state violence are being challenged. 3) The countywide demand for civilian oversight is a demand to break from the long history of unchecked law enforcement brutality hidden behind the walls of the county jails and taking place in our communities. For years, the sheriff's department denied the need for civilian oversight and even went so far as to claim that effective independent oversight "already existed." While the last few years have produced important reforms in the sheriff's department, including a new sheriff, the community has endured violence long enough. Without independent civilian oversight, there is no effective county body that is rooted in the voices of our families inside the jails. That voice, given the legal authority that independent oversight provides, is the only thing that will ensure that recent reforms become lasting deterrence against one of the most brutal jail operations in the country. Nationwide, from St. Louis and Newark to Salinas and Los Angeles, communities are moving their local governments to create independent civilian oversight bodies. Los Angeles is one of many county's where Black people are targets of law enforcement violence at alarming rates. Winning civilian oversight alone won't stop these abuses. However, a legally empowered oversight commission is a powerful means of securing the power and dignity of Black people across Los Angeles.