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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.
Betsy DeVos has no place at our HBCUMy alma mater, Bethune-Cookman, a historically black university in Florida, has invited U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to deliver this year’s commencement speech and receive an honorary degree. But the policies DeVos pushes would have terrible consequences for future generations of Bethune-Cookman students—and for historically black colleges and universities themselves. Bethune-Cookman has historically served students from challenged backgrounds, with the lion’s share of these students coming from public schools throughout America. But DeVos is no fan of public education, calling our public schools a “dead end,” and using millions of dollars of her family fortune to promote private school vouchers; unregulated, for-profit charter schools; and other policies that defund, destabilize and privatize the public schools our communities rely on. DeVos’ ideology and advocacy are especially harmful to students of color—the very students Bethune-Cookman and other HBCUs were created to serve. And the recent budget proposed by President Trump and DeVos would slash billions of dollars in federal funding for programs that help students of color reach, attend and graduate from college. Graduates of Bethune-Cookman’s school of education understand the value and importance of public education, and overwhelmingly return to teach in public schools—a path I took myself after graduation. And it’s not just DeVos’ antipathy to public education or willingness to slash resources HBCUs rely on that raise concerns about this invitation but also her seeming indifference to the history and role of HBCUs in the first place. Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune founded Bethune-Cookman to provide African-American students with the opportunity to receive the highest level of academic quality at a time when black students were refused entrance into colleges and universities across America. But on Feb. 28 of this year, DeVos released the following statement after meeting with presidents and chancellors of HBCUs at the White House: “HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.” At best, this is an outrageous assertion that black students had opportunities to study where they chose; at worst, this is a failed attempt to use HBCUs to push an educational reform movement that continues to disenfranchise children throughout this country, especially in her home state of Michigan and specifically in Detroit. The students graduating this year and their families deserve to celebrate their achievement without controversy—and future generations deserve the opportunity to attend high-quality public schools and reach for their dreams at institutions like Bethune-Cookman. Inviting Betsy DeVos creates an unnecessary and unwelcome distraction for students who have worked hard to earn a degree, and elevating DeVos and her radical ideas threatens the future of public education and the vision and mission of Bethune-Cookman and all HBCUs nationwide. Please join me in asking university President Edison O. Jackson to reconsider and rescind DeVos’ invitation.
Acknowledge and Expose Black History in SchoolsSchools do not go very in depth to the things that actually affect the communities we live in. Without the proper education, our generations of children will loose intelligence over time. Increasing the level of exposure for big topics like Black History will open the minds of students, enhancing their positive skill sets and outcomes. For example, when I was in my World History class at Center High School in Kansas City, Missouri, my History teacher, Mr. Chambers showed the class articles and videos and books that exposed the truth and reality of Black History. When we witness what was shown, we became more mellow, respectful, and responsible than how we were in the beginning of the year. It is very important for our students, (children, and young adults), to know about the slavery, segregation, integration, Civil Rights, police brutality, White on Black crime, and Black on Black crime throughout Black History, and everything that made up the evilness with in the Black communities over time. Doing so will give students a better understanding of what the past was like for Black, (African American), people, and why Black people protest, retaliate, and die in our communities and nation. Students must be taught the truth about all of the things that Black people have gone through and accomplished to be equal citizens of this nation, and to be treated like equal citizens of this nation. Accomplishing these goals of acknowledging and exposing Black History in schools will make a better tomorrow for everyone.
VOTE YES TO TAX PRIVATE PRISONSEducation NOT Incarceration! California Assembly Bill 43 taxes companies that profit from the prison industry to fund preschool and after school programs that prevent incarceration in the first place. We want our kids to go to college, not jail! But Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas is blocking the bill from moving out of his Revenue and Tax Committee. We're ONE VOTE AWAY from getting this important bill out of that committee. Has Sebastian been bought out by the prison lobby? Call him and tell him to VOTE YES to taxing private prisons and funding school programs that prevent incarceration. BACKGROUND California spends huge amounts to incarcerate prisoners. Current active contracts between for-profit companies and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation total approximately $4.5 billion. In comparison, the state spends relatively little on programs known to prevent incarceration. Attempts to invest heavily in incarceration prevention programs have been stymied by budget concerns. Without a permanent non-budgetary funding source, these efforts are unlikely to experience continued success. Companies continue to profit as a result of high state incarceration rates. These for-profit companies provide necessary goods and services to state facilities, often at a markup. In effect, taxpayers are stuck footing the bill, enabling companies to see large profits for goods and services due to California’s prison population. SOLUTION Assess a tax on companies that contract with state prison facilities to provide goods or services. The tax targets those companies that profit financially from an individual’s incarceration and causes those companies to give revenue back to the state that will be used to prevent and/or reduce future incarceration. Funds collected will be deposited into the State Incarceration Prevention Fund in order to provide prevention services. This tax is structured to come from company revenue and is not simply passed along to the state through increased bid prices. Language has been included that 1) requires contracting companies to certify under penalty of perjury that the cost is not being passed along to the state, 2) calls for oversight and potential audit by the Board of Equalization and 3) institutes a civil fine for companies found to be violators. Fines too will be deposited into the fund, further increasing the amount of available money for incarceration prevention. ENDORSEMENTS California Teachers Association (sponsor) Anti-Recidivism Coalition California Federation of Teachers California Nurses Association Californians for Justice First 5 Association of California Partnership for Children and Youth SEIU California
Artiles has gotta go! Tell FL Senator who used N-word to describe colleagues to step downVarious news sources are reporting that Miami Republican Sen. Frank Artiles has once again been using disgracing and hateful language, this time to his colleagues. In a private conversation on Monday, choice words included calling Senator Audrey Gibson a “fucking asshole,” a “bitch” and a “girl,” while explaining that he had criticized her bills in a committee hearing as an act of political retribution. He also dropped the n-word to describe other members of the Senate. This is not the first incident involving Senator Artiles who in 2015 was accused of punching a college student in the face at a bar only a few doors down from where this most recent incident occurred.He was also recorded in August of 2014 talking about the extermination of "hajis." This type of misogynistic and racist vitriol is unacceptable behavior for anyone, especially someone charged with representing the best wishes of the people of Florida. State Senator Artiles should resign immediately as he has clearly demonstrated he is unfit to lead.
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!