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#TakeTheKneeWe understand that this is a conversation about Power, and recognize that our Constitutional rights of free speech should not be granted to some and strategically limited for others. Twice in as many weeks, Donald Trump has come for the livelihood of Black athletes and journalists who continue to speak out against injustice at great risk to their safety, employment and their ability to pursue passions to which they’ve dedicated their lives. First, he called for the firing of Jemele Hill for tweeting her opinion on her social media platform. This week, at a rally in Alabama, Trump used coded language calling for NFL owners to “fire” athletes who are expressing their freedom of speech, to speak out in protest of police brutality and systemic racism and inequality. Athletes like Michael Bennett, Eric Reid, Colin Kaepernick and so many others. Perhaps he was feeling emboldened by NFL buddies like Dan Snyder (Washington), Shad Khan (Jaguars), Bob McNair (Texans), Robert Kraft (Patriots), Woody Johnson (Jets) and Stan Kroenke (Rams), all of whom each contributed $1 Million to his inauguration. He's also seen the league's owners refuse to sign Colin Kaepernick and has even taken credit in the past for getting him blackballed. This time Trump felt emboldened enough to call for NFL owners to instruct personnel that if players do not stand for the flag they should “get that son of a b---- off the field right now…” This is yet again another example of Trump’s long history of intimidating and silencing dissent. Trump has continued to suggest that "great American values" are limited to those who go along with business as usual, and don't speak out against systemic racism and oppression. Everyone in the NFL, especially NFL Leadership, must understand that the 'respect for players' stated in their press release after Trump's disturbing remarks should also mean respecting the rights of players to exercise their freedom of speech however they choose. It is time the league acts by supporting their players right to speak out. We’re in a pivotal moment when everyday Americans and athletes with shared values of justice and equity are using their powerful voices to say enough is enough--no more racism, no more anti-Muslim bigotry, no more misogyny, and no more Trump! We must continue to support the athletes and everyday men and women that are risking their livelihoods to kneel for justice. Dissent in part of America's culture and history. To quote the late author James Baldwin, 'I love America more than any country in the world and, exactly for that reason, I Insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.'
Grant Immediate Emergency Aid to Puerto Rico & Eliminate Cost-Sharing for FEMA AidHurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017 , making it the 4th most devastating storm to strike on U.S. territory in history. This island territory is facing months and months of rebuilding for basic infrastructure. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and must be extended equal aid and support as mainland citizens in the face of catastrophe. Just prior to Maria, the island declared bankruptcy and faces the largest municipal debt crisis in US history since Detroit, but because of its Commonwealth status, unlike Detroit, or other US municipalities, was denied debt absolution. Specifically, Puerto Rico's government owes $74 billion to bondholders, and an additional $50 billion in pension obligations to teachers and almost all other government employees. Since Puerto Rico is not sovereign and cannot restructure with the World Bank/IMF this small island has no chance at correcting the generational economic crisis it is in. Our legislators to reprioritize the needs of this island territory, home to 3.5 million Americans and absolve the debt. This pre-Maria economic situation will complicate rebuilding and needs to be considered as a pre-requisite for effective rebuilding of infrastructure. Otherwise, we are just kicking the can down the road. As in the example of Detroit, having an appointed Board, or manager does not create an opportunity to trim cost or debt, and creates situations like the Flint water crisis. The FEMA cost-sharing requirements currently in place will INCREASE the current debt and economic difficulty that Puerto Rico carries, and is an unreasonable ask for a Commonwealth whose economy and financial present and future is at this point bankrupt. While the White House has approved federal expenditures to help Puerto Rico (HQ-17-125) during this critical emergency, the aid is in the form of cost-sharing. It is a morally and ethically bankrupt Congress that would allow this type of requirement to be issued from the White House. A minimum one year waiver of the Jones Act is necessary as it would enable foreign-flagged vessels to move fuel and aid to Puerto Rico, adding to transport options. A waiver will ensure that all options are available to distribute aid to Puerto Rico and keep supplies moving to people in need. The Jones Act is unduly burdensome and ultimately needs to be eliminated. In addition, many residents are moving from the island for the mainland United States, leaving it with fewer skilled workers to handle the rebuilding and development process. Restructuring debt, and eliminating the PROMESA act and oversight board will allow the Puerto Rican people their right to rebuild with dignity and justice, for the long-haul.
Stop the state takeover of the Jackson Public School District by the state of MississippiThe state of Mississippi is moving to take over the Jackson Public School District (JPS). JPS is the state's second largest district, the only urban one and is about 97% Black. Mississippi has continually under-funded Black and poor districts for many years. Last year, JPS was under-funded by about $11.5mil during the last school year, while the conservative state leaders have continually changed laws and regulations to make it easier to privatize public dollars (i.e. charter, vouchers, tax credits), starting with 3 charter schools in Jackson. This is a national trend that disproportionately affects Black and Brown communities and has shown negligible gains for our children. We are asking for your support in pushing our state leadership to prevent this takeover. The state of Mississippi has never cared about the Black children of Jackson, and they aren't about to start, so we need your support in letting the leadership know this and allow us to keep local control (achieved through a democratic process). JPS went through an unfair, and unprecedented audit in order to create the sense of chaos in the district. On Aug 31, we got the results of the year long audit and it was completely off base. We had the opportunity to respond in hearings on September 13 and 14, but the state board still recommended takeover to the governor, without ever reading our responses, documentation, and exhibits. These are the most pressing reasons why this is an unjust and unfair takeover that is very clearly about the re-colonization of our city and pulling away our resources: Specifically, we are requesting the governor make a decision to not sign the take over of the Jackson Public Schools for the following reasons: 1. The Jackson Public School District has addressed and corrected a substantial number of the audit findings in the Audit Report released Thursday, August 31. 2. The students, parents and community members stand ready to work in partnership with the district to address those remaining issues within their purview. 3. Many of the audit findings that form the basis of this proposed takeover are administrative and procedural, not educational in nature; yet, a state takeover will directly and negatively impact the instructional capacity and effectiveness of the district. 4. Fact, state takeovers of school districts do not yield improvements in student achievement; rather, more often than not, student achievement is stagnated during the short term and delayed over the long term. 5. State takeovers diminish community engagement and involvement, necessary ingredients to increase and enhance district and student success. 6. Extracurricular activities are important components to student, school and community life. Students in Jackson deserve the right to participate in activities that will enhance their academic, social and emotional wellbeing while preparing for life after graduation. These activities often keep students in school. A take over will affect opportunities to engage in extracurricular activities. 7. The students, parents, community leaders, faith leaders and business leaders should determine the future Jackson Public Schools.
Justice for KeeganMy 22-year-old son Keegan Von Roberts was murdered by our racist neighbor, Michael Centanni, three months ago and the police have done nothing. We need your help to bring forth charges. Michael, an aspiring police officer, deliberately left his home on July 20, 2017, to taunt and harm my son. But the police are refusing to make an arrest and no charges have been filed. The investigation into Keegan's death is entering into the third month and we still have no answers and no justice. Keegan's father, wife, daughter, and I have been working tirelessly with the father of Jordan Davis, Jacksonville Community Action Committee, and other local groups to organize community vigils, rallies, and meetings with Florida State Attorney Melissa Nelson calling for transparency and accountability. But our cries are ignored. We need your help to amplify our demand! Will you stand with Keegan's mom, wife, daughter, and community to demand FL State Attorney Melissa Nelson bring charges against Michael Centanni for the death of Keegan Von Roberts?
Jamarion Robinson - Shot 76 Times in Atlanta, GAThis is important because we are tried of them killing our son's, nephews, father's, daughters and mother's. Police Killings are at an all time high. Police officers are committing hate crimes against our children. I don't ever want a mother to experience the pain of losing a child to such a hateful act.. Enough Is Enough! Police need to be held accountable.
Prosecute Police Who Kill Our PeopleDuring her terms in office, nearly 300 Los Angeles County residents have been killed by police, including #EzellFord, #KendrecMcDade, #JohnHorton, #NephiArreguin, #MichelleShirley, #RedelJones, #WakieshaWilson, #JRThomas, #KeithBursey, #JesseRomero, #EdwinRodriguez, #KennyWatkins, #BrendonGlenn, #BrotherAfrica, #ZelalemEwnetu, #CarnellSnell and literally hundreds of others. In the case of Brendon Glenn, the officer was actually recommended for charges by the Los Angeles Police Department. NO OFFICER HAS EVER BEEN CHARGED FOR THE KILLING OF A RESIDENT BY LACEY. Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriffs, and the policing units throughout the County lead the nation in the killing of community residents. For at least the last five years, LAPD and LA County Sheriff have led the nation in police killings. Yet, the District Attorney has not charged a single officer in any of these killings. The message sent to Los Angeles County law enforcement units is that they can kill residents and get away with it. Police cannot be relied on to hold themselves accountable, this is the work of the District Attorney. We are demanding that Jackie Lacey do her job and prosecute corrupt, abusive, and murderous police.
Tell Santander to Stop their racist lending practices!Santander Consumer, the largest and most recognized name in subprime auto lending, is the poster child for predatory practices in the industry. Here’s why—Santander Consumer is actively preying on vulnerable elderly consumers and people of color with wildly high fees and interest rates. Their laundry list of fines, violations, and lawsuits proves it: - They were recently subpoenaed for racist and discriminatory interest rate markups related to auto lending and securitizations by the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). - Twenty-eight state attorneys general are also investigating Santander Consumer for predatory and discriminatory practices in auto lending and securitizations. - They recently paid over $40 million in fines and restitution to settle lawsuits over their illegal lending, collection, and repossession practices. Predatory auto loan practices disproportionately affect communities of color, deepening poverty levels, limiting access to credit and perpetuating centuries of inequality. People of color are more often given misleading information and African Americans and Latinos are nearly twice as likely to be sold unnecessary add-on products than white consumers. Predatory loans increase the chance of loan delinquency and auto repossession, which have serious consequences for the financial health of communities of color. Even former Santander workers have said that the they’ve seen “unbelievable” interest rates and business practices that target and prey on communities of color with unaffordable loans with toxic fees. The trend is clear. Santander Consumer lending practices aren’t just bad business, they’re racist and immoral. Join us in demanding Santander stop their racist lending practices and sign our petition.
Free DeWayne Ewing, An INNOCENT ManIn January, 1994 23 year old DeWayne Ewing and a girlfriend discarded a condom as they left a park in the Oakland hills. A rape took place in the same park a few days later, and 3 days after the rape, police found the condom under a bush and put it with the rape kit. Thirteen years later in June, 2007, police pulled DeWayne over for an illegal turn, and arrested him for rape on a cold hit DNA match. He’s been imprisoned all but 11 months since. Yes the condom is his, but there is NO EVIDENCE OF ANY KIND THAT LINKS THE CONDOM TO THE RAPE. *The victim couple could not identify him in a police lineup. *His description does not match the police bulletin dispatched after the crime. *There is none of his DNA, hair, fingerprints etc. in the car where the rape took place. *There is none of his DNA on the victim’s vaginal swab or matted pubic hair in the rape kit. *The victim’s DNA is not on the found condom. *To get an arrest warrant, the DA’s office lied and told the judge the condom was found in the car where the rape took place, instead of under a bush several days later. *The victim’s story remained consistent from night of the assault through her grand jury testimony - no condom was used. She was positive, because she had asked the rapists to use condoms and neither did. (DeWayne was charged with his cousin, who also maintains his innocence.) In his closing argument, the DA said that although the victim testified no condom was used, she was mistaken. He got an indictment. After spending more than four years in Santa Rita County Jail without trial, DeWayne, refusing a plea deal and demanding a jury trial, finally won a court date. After preliminary hearings on the morning of July 11, 2011, Judge Joseph Hurley, a former prosecutor and Alameda County chairman of the Republican Party, ordered the courtroom locked during the lunch break. DeWayne’s attorney, who said he would “vigorously defend DeWayne,” with an “expert DNA witness prepared to testify,” told DeWayne he would not defend him after all. Judge Hurley threatened DeWayne with 4 life sentences if he insisted on a trial and lost. Frightened and intimidated, DeWayne accepted a 25 year deal. From prison, he filed a writ of habeas corpus on the grounds of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel. The writ was denied in state courts, then denied in federal district court not on merit of the case, but because he did not file it in the one year time limit mandated by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. In his Statement of Facts: The Story of a Found Condom, DeWayne writes, “This whole experience was new for me, my family and my wife. I did not realize that justice is not for all - especially me, an innocent man trapped in the California penal system. I am not a criminal. Now I truly realize the very shameful and illegal misconduct of both attorney William DuBois and Judge Joseph Hurley against me and my family. I did not take this deal intelligently. I wanted to face my accusers - for them to say to my face that I did this horrible act against them, which they never said I did. The very officials of the court that should protect me from injustice violated my every right as an American citizen. This is a complete travesty of what the judicial system was meant to protect against.” Please demand that District Attorney O'Malley reopen DeWayne's case and free him from this prison nightmare.
Dreadlocks is a cultural and religious hairstyle!My cousin attends Centrsl Catholic High School. He received a detention because he has dreadlocks. Before his mother admitted him to the school she asked if his hair was acceptable and they said it is. She paid for the whole school year and they took her money. A couple of weeks ago he was told his dreadlocks had to be cut off because it's a fad hairstyle. After she disagreed with them, they told her that he had to cut his dreadlocks to the collar of his shirt. He has had dreadlocks since he was a toddler. Now the teachers at the school are shunning him because his mother is fighting for his rights. This is religious, cultural, and gender discrimination. This is important because dreadlocks is not a fad hairstyle it is part of our culture. Many black people are under attack today in 2017 because they are wearing their natural hair. This should not be so. There are black people being denied jobs and admissions to schools because they are wearing their natural hair. Men and boys are being told that they have to cut their hair to a certain length . We all know that dreadlocks grow long. This needs to stop. We had to learn to love ourselves as black people and embrace Who We Are. We can't allow them to do this to us and our children. We have to stand up for our rights.
Tell Vegas PD: Release the video and names of officers that assaulted NFL player Michael BennettPolice brutalizing Black people is endemic in the United States. Last Saturday police terrorized 6'4 ft, 274 lbs NFL star Michael Bennett “for walking while Black”. This latest incident stands as a testament to the police violence targeting Black people in the United States. Last Saturday, I received an urgent call from Michael Bennett immediately after he was assaulted by police officers in Las Vegas. Michael was leaving the Mayweather-McGregor fight and walking back to his hotel when reported shots fired. He ran for cover and continued walking once he believed he was safe. Unexpectedly, Michael was ordered to lay on the ground by an officer who then held a gun to his head yelling, "Don't move or I will blow your fucking head off!" Officers then tossed Michael into a squad car, only to later release him once he was identified as a famous NFL star. Immediately fearing retaliation for their use of excessive force, the officers lied and told Michael they assaulted him for his own protection. As a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Network, I receive countless calls from victims and families of police violence. We’ve worked relentlessly to provide folks with emotional support and connect them to policy advocates and lawyers. Yet, often our efforts to hold police accountable are prevented by the state’s lack of transparency. But for Michael’s case, transparency is the first step in the fight for justice. Demand the Las Vegas Police Department releases Michael Bennett's police footage and the names of the officers involved now!
March for Black Women Urges 10,000 Letters to Black LeadersBeloved Community, Black women and girls need you. As we prepare to March on Washington DC, September 30, 2017 we are calling on all of us to show radical love for Black women and girls who are deeply impacted by violence, abuse, health, economic injustice, imprisonment and so much more. Beloved community, find out what is happening at www.MarchforBlackWomen.org HELP US REACH OUR COMMUNITY LEADERS LIKE OUR CLERGY, TEACHERS, HEADS OF ORGANIZATIONS, POLICY MAKERS, AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS BY DELIVERING THE LETTER BELOW TO THEIR EMAIL INBOXES OR A PRINTED COPY TO THEIR OFFICES. ------- Dear (insert name of community leader and/or institution) Caring about racial justice for Black people means caring about everyone in Black communities. For centuries, Black women and girls have assumed the position as pillars of the Black community, while their unique plights have been neglected. Silence prevails and the invisibility is almost complete within our Black communities and in greater society about Black women’s lives, about the level of victimization, the systematic exclusion of their specific gendered experiences in the broader agenda for civil and human rights. Black women's concerns have fallen out of the sight and out of the minds of those who should be stronger advocates and best allies--community leaders, preachers, teachers, heads of organizations and other institutions. Too many in our own neighborhoods are not listening. As thousands of us March for Black Women in Washington, DC on September 30, 2017 to proclaim there can be no racial justice without gender justice; to denounce the propagation of state-violence and the widespread incarceration of Black women and girls, rape and all sexualized violence, the murders and brutalization of transwomen and the disappearances of our girls from our streets, our schools and our homes, we ask that you listen to Black women. We look to you as a leader in our community, to take up the cause and center Black women in all agendas for racial justice. Help end the reluctance to stand up for our girls and all who identify as women, regardless of sexuality, presentation, language, immigration status or identity. Black women are dying at a rate that is 7 times more than our white counterparts during childbirth. They are 4 times more likely to be imprisoned, make up almost 50% of those murdered in domestic violence situations, while our girls make up more than 40% of all those trafficked for sexual exploitation. We need you to love Black women more fiercely. We need you to pay attention. Issue a rally cry when a Black woman is raped, when a Black woman is beaten, when a Black woman is killed or disappears. We need you to organize with Black women and for Black women and ride with Black women and girls. Charleena Lyles, India Clarke, Chyna Gibson, Kiwi Herring, Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Korryn Gaines, Keneeka Jenkins are only a few of the long list of Black women who have been murdered by law enforcement officials AND others who may belong to our own community. Black women have been saying their names - will you? Caden Cotton, Myzjanae Henderson, Bianca Lilly Jones, Demetria Carthens, Anjel Burl, Katherine Hunter, Shaniah Boyd, Chareah Payne, Aniya McNeil are the names among thousands of Black girls still missing as of 2017. Black women have been advocating for them - will you? We call on our beloved Black leaders and institutions to support Black women, fiercely love Black women, March for Black women and girls and issue a public statement that caring about racial justice for Black people means caring about everyone in Black communities. Issue a public statement that now more than ever, there can be no racial justice without gender justice. Sincerely, You May Add Your Name and Contact.
Tell Democrats to Return Money From Donor at Center of Scandal Involving the Death of Gemmel Moore26-year-old Gemmel Moore died July 27, 2017, of a crystal meth overdose in the West Hollywood home of prominent Democratic donor Ed Buck. Moore was a Black gay male who worked as an escort. His death, was immediately classified as an accidental methamphetamine overdose by the coroner, but now the Sheriff’s Department’s homicide bureau is taking a closer look after his personal journal was published. In addition, numerous young Black gay men have stepped forward making allegations against Buck recounting similar stories about a man who they say has a Tuskegee Experiment like fetish which includes shooting drugs into young Black men that he picks up off the street or via dating hookup websites. In his journal, Gemmel Moore wrote, “I honestly don’t know what to do. I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that,” a December entry reads. “Ed Buck is the one to thank. He gave me my first injection of crystal meth it was very painful, but after all the troubles, I became addicted to the pain and fetish/fantasy.” “My life is at an alltime [sic] high right now & I mean that from all ways. I ended up back at Buck [sic] house again and got munipulated [sic] into slamming again. I even went to the point where I was forced to doing 4 within a 2day [sic] period. This man is crazy and its [sic] sad. Will I ever get help?” His last entry, dated Dec. 3, 2016, reads: “If it didn’t hurt so bad, I’d kill myself, but I’ll let Ed Buck do it for now. Buck has given hundreds of thousands of dollars of Democratic causes and candidates over the years. His Facebook page boasted dozens of photos of him with everyone from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Governor Jerry Brown, Los Angeles County Democratic Party and California Democratic Party chairman Eric Bauman and even Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. In online ads soliciting young Black gay men, Buck has referred to them as being a “6-foot” n-word. On his Facebook page, he joked with friends using the n-word. Most of Los Angeles’ Democratic and LGBT community–which are often one in same–has had nothing to say publicly about Moore’s death. Politicians who have received thousands of dollars from Buck over the years have been curiously silent. Democrats are often the first to call on Republicans to return money at the slightest hint of impropriety — there seems to be a double standard when a Democratic donor is involved in the wrongdoing. It’s troubling to see that so many Los Angeles-area Democrats who have taken donations from a man who has allegedly stalked and preyed on the most vulnerable of society have nothing at all to say. Just the fact that the allegations have been made and reported on in the news that these politicians are most influenced by should — and normally would — be enough for Democrats to return their donations and issue statements distancing themselves from the accused. But for the most part, nothing. Is it because Ed Buck is white? Is it because he is white and gay? Is it because he often maxes out on contributing to their campaigns? Is it because the accusers are black gay men? Is it because the accusers are black? As Democrats we are often the first to call on Republicans to return money at the slightest hint of impropriety — there should not be a double standard when a Democratic donor is involved in the wrongdoing. There can be no conflict of interest in the quest for justice for Gemmel Moore and all of Ed Buck’s victims. Gemmel Moore’s life and the lives of all of Ed Buck’s victims should matter more than a political contribution. The Black LGBTQ community deserves better.