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Justice for Jayson: Demand an End to Police Terror in BridgeportOn May 9th, 2017, 15 year-old Jayson Negron was fatally shot by Bridgeport police. In its initial account, officers claimed that Jayson had been shot in the head and died instantly at the scene. In truth, it appears that he was shot in the chest, handcuffed, laid atop his wounds, and left to bleed out on the pavement where his body remained for 6 hours. Multiple pedestrians were witnesses of this horrific act. Facing community outrage, Chief A.J. Perez and Mayor Joe Ganim expressed regret that Jayson's body was left in the street for 6 hours. At the same time, they have maintained their support for officers who shot an unarmed teen and left him handcuffed atop his wounds to die. On July 26th, the Bridgeport PD invited members of the press to see a demonstration of fatality shields, which would be used to hide bodies from public view. Meanwhile, they have continued to engage in dangerous high speed pursuits like the one that killed 61-year-old Susan Tomcyzk, and seriously injured two other bystanders on August 10th. Neighbors reported that even when they are not chasing suspects, police have been known to drive down their residential street at speeds exceeding 70 miles per hour. When Bridgeport police take action to shield the evidence of their brutality from public view and, at the same time, continue engaging in high speed chases that put community members at risk we question the department's commitment to public safety and respect for a community in mourning. For these reasons, we have updated our list of demands, including a call for the immediate removal of Officer Boulay and Chief Perez from the Bridgeport Police force. Bridgeport’s experience with police violence is shared by cities across Connecticut and the United States. This pattern of state sanctioned violence is a manifestation of institutional racism and white supremacy and must be stopped immediately. We demand that police brutality and murder end now in Bridgeport. The Bridgeport Police Department will be held accountable to this outcome. Please join us as we seek justice for Jayson Negron and an end to police terror in Bridgeport.
Save Our Show: Keep the Hit Series "Underground" On-Air.Dear Craig Erwich, Television shows featuring Black character leads and exploring the experiences of Black people are being wiped off the air. The hit series Underground, which has consistently earned critical acclaim, is the latest show to be booted from WGN America’s roster. Sinclair Broadcast Group, a notoriously conservative media company that recently bought WGN America, chopped Underground. Craig, Underground is looking for a new home. And since Hulu already owns the streaming rights to the show, fans like me are urging Hulu to pick up Underground. Underground brought in great reviews, show after show, for two seasons. And last year, news sources reported that Underground’s popularity pushed WGN’s rating up %1000. Not only did the show meet the traditional benchmarks, but it also attracted an incredible social media following and all-around fanbase. Why would a network axe its star? In their own words, Sinclair executives argue that “despite Underground being a terrific and important series, it no longer fits with our new direction.” Translation: shows that depict Black people fighting against white supremacy and standing on the right side of history do not belong on our networks. Underground brings to life the stories of enslaved Africans and free Black Americans committed to equity and justice. Underground pushes beyond superficial storylines about enslaved African people in America by including multidimensional Black characters and affirming their individual experiences, intelligence, and desires. The series brought more Black heroes into our homes, and that kind of representation has major implications! Dehumanizing portrayals of Black people in the mainstream, or erasing them entirely, often support people’s racist behavior and thinking. That’s why inclusive, positive depictions of Black people are so important in countering the damage that years of televised anti-Blackness has wreaked. How we show up on television has consequences for our medical care, housing, employment and livelihood. So when networks begin to cherry-pick the kinds of Black characters they have space for on their rosters, they have a hand in deciding how doctors approach their Black patients complaints of pain, how realtors and lenders work with Black renters and homeowners, and how employers hire, treat and retain Black talent. Hulu has already had success with adopting shows that have been dropped from TV Networks, like “The Mindy Project.” At a Television Critics Association panel, showrunners Mindy Kaling and Matt Warburton boasted about the wealth of support they’ve received from Hulu. Kaling expressed that because Hulu did not interfere with the series’s creative direction, she and her partner could “take storytelling risks, find new ways to explore,” and “bring real emotion to the show.” A show like Underground needs to be on a network that allows its showrunners the freedom to tell stories that corporations, like the Sinclair Media Group, want to block. Stories about lionhearted Black people. Stories about commitment to justice and equity. Stories about righteous defiance. Underground needs a new home, and Hulu already owns the show’s streaming rights. Craig Erwich, will Hulu pick up Underground? Thank You, Erica Snowden
Appoint a Special Prosecutor NOW!Over and over we have seen state prosecutors put on weak cases to assure an acquittal when the defendant is a police officer. State prosecutors routinely work with police on cases to secure a conviction, but when the officer is the defendant, prosecutors have the delicate task of prosecuting the very people and agency that they work closely with daily. It is even more politically treacherous to prosecute an officer as the State Attorney General. Therefore, if the State wants to build confidence in the process and conduct an unbiased investigation, the prosecutor to handle this case must be independent of the District Attorney’s Office, the State Attorney General’s Office, or any other agency beholden to the state. The appointment of a special prosecutor is in the public’s best interest based on the amount of civil unrest that has ensued subsequent to the increased number of African American killings by white officers and the lack of (I would suggest lack of charges being brought against officers not convictions) convictions regarding these killings. Further, the appointment of a special prosecutor is crucial to bringing back integrity to the criminal justice system and to provide the level of professionalism and deference the Sterling family deserves, but was deprived of during the DOJ investigation and announcement. We were asked to have confidence in the criminal justice system and trust the process. However, we have lost confidence in the ability of agencies of justice to conduct investigations without prejudice, bias, or political conflict of interest. Given the growing number of protests, riots, and now, police murders, the time to set the tone for untainted justice is NOW. We are not dealing with isolated incidences of police officers’ mishaps and mistakes; we are dealing with a culture of racism, blatant acts of racism, and civil, criminal, and constitutional violations. We are at a critical juncture in this country and in our history, and one of the first steps in rectifying this overwhelming disproportionate number of violent deaths of blacks by white police officers is to appoint special independent counsel to investigate the death of Alton Sterling. We fear that without this appointment, this country will experience many darker days ahead, marked with an overwhelming rise in violent acts committed by both blacks and whites out of fear, frustration, retaliation, and just plain hatred, akin to what we have experienced since the death of Alton Sterling. Therefore, we believe the appointment of a special independent prosecutor is now warranted to restore civil order, ensure fairness and integrity, serve public interests, and ensure justice for each party involved in the death of Alton Sterling.
Karl Oliver has gotta go! Tell MS Rep. who advocated for lynching to step down.Yesterday, Republican lawmaker, Karl Oliver— representing the community where Emmett Till was hanged— made it clear that anyone advocating to remove Confederate statues “should be LYNCHED!” and vowed to do everything in his power to keep up these shrines to slavery in Mississippi. Oliver’s tirade, posted to his personal Facebook account, came hours after the City of New Orleans celebrated the removal of its last Confederate statue, one of the notorious Robert E. Lee. Oliver’s conduct is not only disgraceful to his district and its history, the State of Mississippi, and the legislature. He must resign! . The Mississippi State flag bears on it a Confederate banner, and over the years much debate around making changes to the symbol has spiked. Oliver’s comments have turned a national spotlight onto Mississippi, and now the state’s Legislative Black Caucus has begun calling for Karl Oliver’s resignation. Caucus chair Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes told Mississippi Today that Rep. Oliver’s “shameful, but seemingly extremely comfortable, choice of words were offensive to me as the act of lynching was commonly used and most targeted toward African American men, women and children in the south and especially in our state.” Rep. Williams-Barnes elaborated to note that Oliver’s conduct will forever blemish the work of leaders in Mississippi to reconcile the state’s sordid history of racial violence. Oliver’s unprofessional behavior goes further than his racist threats. When a constituent wrote to Oliver to express her concerns around a new tax-cut bill, Oliver responded: “I appreciate you going to the trouble to share [your views] with me, but quite frankly, and with all due respect, I could care less. I would, however, recommend that there are a rather large number of like minded citizens in Illinois that would love to see you return.” To echo Legislative Black Caucus chair Williams-Barnes points out, lawmakers already wrestle with “working across party, racial and gender lines.” Oliver represents the kind of inflexibility that so many other legislators are trying to overcome in order to shape a stronger Mississippi. Please sign this petition to demand Karl Oliver resign immediately. Mississippi deserves better!
Walmart: Hourly Workers Need Paid Family Leave TooWhen I was pregnant in 2014 I was back at Walmart a week after I had my son. My mom called me one night to let me know that my son turned blue and they had to admit him into the hospital right away. I had to fight with my managers to go be with my son without discipline and afterwards I was denied time off when he needed me. That’s because despite having worked at Walmart for three years, the company didn’t even provide me with a single day of paid leave after the birth of my child. At two weeks old, Zyon had to enter the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. For four months I had to leave his side so I could go to my shift at Walmart, after which I would go straight back to the hospital. Each time It was incredibly hard to leave him. I ended up having to quit my job at Walmart because of the time I needed to spend with Zyon at the NICU. The infant mortality rate among African American infants is 2.4 times that of white infants. Paid family leave reduces infant mortality. As the largest employer of African Americans in the country, paid family leave would have a tremendous impact of the lives of African Americans across the country. Walmart defines company culture as its values in action and says that it is “guided by good.” But Walmart’s corporate policies for working moms and dads don’t reflect those values and leaves members of the Walmart retail family flailing in the storm. Public pressure is the only way to force CEO Doug McMillon and other Walmart decision makers at Walmart to improve the policies and working conditions that impact people like me. Bad publicity means less money in its pockets, which is the only thing we know the company cares about. If you sign my petition, you can send a strong message that you're with us in our fight. I had to leave my newborn baby far too soon after he was born to return to my job at Walmart because of the company’s terrible paid family leave policies. I am not the only one. Hourly associates like me get little to no paid leave to take care of ourselves and our families. That’s why my co-workers at I are challenging Walmart to publicly commit that all hourly workers at Walmart get 12 weeks paid family Leave just like executives get. Will you join me and add your name to my petition telling Walmart CEO Doug McMillon to publicly commit to provide all employees with access to quality family leave?
Honor Richard Collins III and punish hate speech at University of MarylandWe are saddened and frightened by what happened to Richard Collins III when he was visiting our campus at University of Maryland. Collins, was waiting at a bus stop for his uber when a white UMD student and member of “Alt-Reich” a neo-nazi Facebook group, Sean Urbanski, approached him and stabbed him to death. With Trump, and his team of white supremacists in the White House emboldening racists to act upon their hate we sadly are not that surprised by such fatal and racist actions like this. But, when they happen so close to home, on your campus a place where you are supposed to feel safe it is absolutely frightening. We send our condolences to the family of Richard Collins III who was graduating from college, at Bowie State this week. In mourning this hateful murder we are also organizing and asking that the University of Maryland administration take steps to make campus more safe for Black students and less of a safe haven for neo-nazis, and white supremacists like Sean Urbanski Join UMD students as we continue to pressure the administration to expand the consequences for hate speech and make the Code of Student conduct in regard to hate speech less vague. Students in UMD’s Black Student Union, NAACP, Political Latinxs United for Movement and Action in Society, Community Roots, Ethiopian-Eritrean Student Association, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Muslim Political Alliance, American Indian Student Union and Pride Alliance have been pressuring the administration to make it clear that hate speech is not welcomed on UMD’s campus. However, the university has not responded to demands for policy changes that would show a commitment to making the campus safer for Black and other minority groups! When consequences for hate speech are not strong it tells students like Sean Urbanski that hate and bigotry is okay! It makes white supremacist students comfortable on campus, validated, and creates space for violent, racist attacks like what happened to Richard Collins III to occur. Unfortunately multiple racially charged events have occurred over the past few years on UMD’s campus and we have voiced our concerns to the administration, but they're being dismissed by the President's office, the Provost's Office and Student Affairs. Due to this the organizations listed above along with other student activists came together to form a group called Protect UMD, but as we can see with the murder of Richard Collins III UMD is not yet the safe campus that we want it to be. While University President Wallace Loh has expressed his condolences and sadness over the murder of Richard Collins III it is not enough! That’s why we are calling on actions! Join us in demanding that UMD take hate speech seriously and punish those students who engage in it under the Code of Student Conduct. Richard Collins III was killed on campus Saturday night because of the color of his skin. If the university continues to be unresponsive to the demands of Black students, and other students of color, and seriously listen to our concerns and grievances we are worried that hateful acts like this could become the norm. President Loh has continuously reinforced an environment that tolerates hate speech by reducing student organizing efforts and instead encouraging more discourse. Not all situations require more discourse, some call for action! It's time for Loh to recognize that. We need a president that supports diversity, acknowledges threats, and implements preventive policies that cultivate a safe and secure environment for all students on campus -- not just white ones. Students at UMD have been organizing for years to change the way the university is run so that Black students, and other students of color, can feel safe on campus. We did not want it to get to this! The university must respond now! Racism is not out of the ordinary for UMD’s campus: - 2007 a noose was found hanging outside the Black cultural center, Nyumburu Cultural Center -In 2014 students protested the university’s police department hyper- militarization which includes a $65,000 armored truck, 50 M16 rifles, two transport vehicles, and 16 12-gauge shotguns. However all of the police weaponry remains. -In 2016 UMD campus police broke up an off-campus party of mostly Black students using excessive force and pepper-spray Racism is a trend at University of Maryland and the administration has allowed it to fester! It allows people like Sean Urbanski to thrive and for Black students on campus, whether visiting or part of the student body, to feel scared and unsafe! Join us in demanding that the UMD administration increase the punishment for students engaging in hate speech and make the student code of conduct in regards to hate speech more explicit. Thank you, University of Maryland's Black Student Union
We Demand REAL Community Oversight of the Oakland Police DepartmentIn Oakland, we know far too well the outcomes of an unchecked police force. From the COINTELPRO attacks of the 1960s, the current Negotiated Settlement Agreement stemming from the Rider's case, and the more recent child rape case of Jasmine Absulin (also known as Celeste Guap), accounts of corruption, scandal, and violence are all too familiar and can have deadly outcomes. These outcomes can occur when elected officials at the highest levels of city government know what's going on but turn a blind eye to police abuse. They ignore the intrinsic criminality of police behavior while calling for more cops to address crime on the street. It is the height of hypocrisy. Measure LL's Police Commission is supposed to address the lack of oversight of the OPD. It is supposed to put civilians in roles to hold the department accountable for misconduct. But how does this occur when the selection panel appointed to choose commissioners has a bias toward violent officers? District 3 City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney’s recent appointment of Sarah Chavez-Yoell to the police commission raises considerable red flags. Chavez-Yoell is the wife of former OPD Lieutenant Mike Yoell, an officer with numerous incidents of violence. His "checkered past" includes excessive force, hitting a teen with a car, sexual harassment and "many other high-profile incidents”. The Anti Police-Terror Project and the Oakland Justice Coalition request your support in demanding that Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney: 1.) Immediately withdraw her appointment of Sarah Chavez-Yoell from the Oakland Police Commission's selection panel due to a conflict of interest. 2.) Select an individual from community who can objectively make decisions based on the needs of community. 3.) Create a community-centered vetting process for the replacement appointee prior to actual selection "Conflicts of interest are the number one thing that can and will tank the credibility of the Oakland Police Commission. That process has begun with the appointments to the Selection Committee." - Cat Brooks
Justice For Olivia Pearson!I have dedicated my life to serving as a leader, an activist, and longtime city commissioner. Now I am being targeted and used as an example to intimidate the Black community in the City of Douglas from building political power and voting. Prosecutor Ian Sansot has decided to make an example of me as a Black woman in order to scare Black people away from the ballot here in Georgia. Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Ian Sansot want to send me to prison for assisting voters during the 2012 Presidential election. I have attended hearings and answered every question asked. I did nothing improper. Despite the lack of evidence I have been charged with two counts of "Improperly Assisting an Elector" and two counts of "False Swearing." The State of Georgia is attacking me because I’m a Black woman unafraid to advocate for our community! The original attempt to send me to prison was unsuccessful when the original case was declared a mistrial on March 29th. Ian Sansot turned around and immediately placed my case back on the trial calendar for June 5, 2017. This relentless assault on my freedom is causing me financial hardship through trial costs. The attack on my character has caused me severe emotional distress and mental anguish. My life is being torn apart simply for doing my civic duty helping Black people exercise their freedom to vote. The State of Georgia has a long history of attacking our voting rights. Now instead of meeting Black voters with dogs, hoses, and lighted crosses they’re using the courts to scare and intimidate us. Since my arrest, people have simply stopped voting in Douglas, Georgia. In Coffee County in 2012 80% of registered Black women voted and 65% of registered Black men. In 2016 only 68% and 53% of registered Black women and men voted. Those who would assist voters in the past, no longer do so. It breaks my heart to see my community suppressed, to personally see that fear has been placed in a lot of people. Democracy as we have known it is diminished in Douglas, this is exactly what Prosecutor Ian Sansot and Secretary Brian Kemp wants happening to the Black communities they’re supposed to serve. We will not be silenced : We have a right to vote. We will not allow our votes to be suppressed. The freedom to vote will not be silently taken in Georgia!
Fire and Charge the Officers who Killed Desmond PhillipsChico Police Officers Alex Fliehr and Jeremy Gagnebin shot and killed Desmond Phillips. On March 17th, 2017 Desmond's father, David call 911 for medical assistance. David had made such a call twice before in a few months time. At 25 years old Desmond struggled with mental health challenges including PTSD from being beaten by Sacramento police for being unresponsive. That police assault put him in the hospital ICU for 4 days. The Chico 911 dispatch, Chico Police, and Chico Behavioral Health Department were familiar with Desmond's background and had successfully taken him in for mental health treatment twice before. On March 17th the first responders who arrived at David's apartment removed Desmond's headphones and sunglasses which is how he was coping with the crisis he was in. When he became agitated in response, they first responders called in the police. The police arrived at the scene with a non-lethal beanbag gun and shield, but those things were never used. When Desmond saw the police he panicked and locked the front door. The police broke down the door, tased him and within seconds Officers Gagnebin and Fliehr fired 16 shots total from their two semi-automatic handguns. The police claim that Desmond got back up after being tased and charged at them with a knife. But David was there and witnessed the officers murder his son. Desmond's nephews 10 and 12 year nephews were also in the apartment. The neighbors heard what can be heard on the 911 tape as well, the taser was deployed and only a few second passed before the gunshots began, Every shot was in his face and chest area, and the highest blood or bullet holes in the wall were at 4 feet high. Desmond was 6'1', clearly showing that he could not have been standing when he was shot as the police claimed. A couple of the bullets passed through a wall into the neighboring apartment. what they found in Desmond's hand was not a knife but a piece of the door jam that had broken when the police entered. Both officers were rookies, one with 2 years and the other with one year on duty. It was negligent and reckless for Sergeant Lefkowitz to send 2 rookies into a mental health crisis and potentially violent situation. The 911 dispatcher, the first responders, and the police NEVER called in ANY mental health professionals. Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey has ruled that the murder was "justified" and will not be pressing criminal charges. During each public statement DA Ramsey gave during the investigation, his version of what happened has changed in multiple ways. Chico Police Chief O'Brien and DA Ramsey claimed that the Officers involved had gone through Critical Incident Training. Sheriff Duch, who teaches de-escalation training, resigned citing that the Police and DA were lying about the training Officers Fliehr, Gagnebin, and others have had. The two Officers who killed Desmond got a paid vacation (administrative leave, during the investigation) and are now back on duty. The Phillips family and the Community demand that they be fired. They are a danger to the Community. The Phillips family and the Community want the CA State Attorney General to launch an independent investigation and press criminal charges against Officer Alex Fliehr, Officer Jeremy Gagnebin, and Sergeant Todd Lefkowitz. How many Black people must be killed by law enforcement before we see justice for their families, serious consequences for the killers, and changes in policy and procedure that continue to enable these tragedies?
Call Fired FBI Director James Comey to set a date for testifying on Russia's connections to Trump.On Tuesday May 9th, Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. It is widely speculated that this is because Comey was directing the FBI to seriously investigate Trump's ties to Russia and was scheduled to testify on the matter on May 11th. It is an attack on the foundation of our democracy and the workings of our government for Donald Trump to fire James Comey under these circumstances. Comey was directing the FBI investigation on whether Russia worked to secretly manipulate our presidential election. That Trump fired him as the investigation was heating up is suspicious at best and at worst an intentional cover-up of Trump's wrongdoing. The American people deserve to know if Trump or anyone affiliated with his administration or campaign are secretly colluding with the Russian government. Comey's firing today makes it clear that the only way for the American people to get the truth is to demand answers in a public forum. For generations, Black people have fought to protect the freedom to vote and to force the US government to live up to the promise of our democratic ideals. Foreign governments colluding with US campaigns to impact the outcome of our elections disrespects the years of tireless work voting rights advocates have fought and died for and cheapens the value of their struggle. We owe it to the past and to the future to ensure the integrity of our elections and have a public airing of the facts about foreign influence into our elections and Trump's involvement. The safety of our country may be at risk and the future of our democracy is at stake. The Senate Intelligence Committee has a responsibility to the American people to air these facts in the light of day and compel Former Director James Comey to testify about the status of the FBI's investigation.
Support the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force's Vision for Prison ReformI am asking you to join me in supporting Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force's package of legislation to solve the mass incarceration problem in Louisiana. Right now, the State of Louisiana spends almost $2 million every day policing and incarcerating people. Everyday, Louisiana state legislators say, “NO” to investing an additional $2 million in public education, medical clinics, and food assistance programs. I am asking you to call your legislators and urge them to support the ten bills advanced by the LJR Task Force to say “YES” to: - Cutting the numbers of jail beds correctional facilities fill; - Creating more parole opportunities for people; - Clearing barriers to successful re-entry; and - Reinvesting savings from the incarceration to services in the community which will reduce recidivism and support victims. Louisiana lawmakers have a responsibility to solving the state’s incarceration crisis and that’s why I hope you will call your legislators to encourage them to pass the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force’s bills as-is, without any amendments. The people coming through Louisiana courts aren't different from those coming through criminal courts anywhere else, they are just subject to harsher laws. We cannot hide from the truth. When states put powerful reform policy in place, the results are positive. South Carolina has a crime rate similar to Louisiana, but with strong reform introduced, SC now sends half as many people to jail as Louisiana. - Since passing reforms in 2010, South Carolina has seen its imprisonment rate fall by 16% and its crime rate fall by 16%. - Since passing reforms in 2011, North Carolina has seen its imprisonment rate fall by 3% and its crime rate fall by 20%. - Since passing reforms in 2012, Georgia has seen its imprisonment rate fall by 7% and its crime rate fall by 11%. - Since passing reforms in 2014, Mississippi has averted all prison growth and seen a 6% reduction in its prison, population, alongside continued declines in the crime rate. Legislators in other southern states have already moved beyond Louisiana’s practice of over-incarcerating and over-sentencing offenders. It's time for Louisiana to get up to speed. Louisiana needs real reform now. Please support the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force's legislation package as-is, without amendment.
#EndWarOnYouth: Justice for Woodland Hills StudentsOn Monday, April 3, 2017, Que'Chawn Wade, 14, was violently assaulted by Churchill police officer Steve Shaulis at Woodland Hills High School. Officer Shaulis publicly used derogatory slurs, put him in a chokehold, body slammed, and repeatedly punched Que'Chawn in the head, causing him to lose two teeth and sustain bruises and multiple lacerations to his face and neck. Instead of firing, arresting, and charging police officer Shaulis, the Churchill Police Department arrested and charged Que'Chawn. The Woodland Hills School District is notorious for police violence, child abuse, and for the criminalization of Black youth. In November of 2016, a student released a tape of Principal of Woodland Hills High School Kevin Murray threatening to punch him in the face. Principal Murray was allowed to return to the school as Principal in January 2017, just a few months before Que’Chawn was assaulted under his watch. But the student who taped the principal faces wiretapping charges. In 2015, a student was brutally assaulted and tased by Officer Shaulis while being held down by Principal Murray. We are clear that there is a war on Black youth. From the #AssaultAtSpringValley to the #AssaultAtWoodlandHills, school police, and the schools’ and districts’ compliance, reign terror on Black students. Without any justice for Que'Chawn, the Woodland School District, Allegheny County, and the state of Pennsylvania are sending a message to children and families, that we are disposable. Our families know police do not belong in schools. Hold police officer Steve Shaulis and Principal Kevin Murray accountable. End the war on youth.