- Afropunk Army
- Community Control
- Confederate Symbols
- Cop Watch
- Corporate Accountability
- Criminal Justice Policy
- Drop/Bring Charges
- Economic Justice
- Employment Discrimination
- End The War on Black People
- Environmental Justice
- For-Profit Colleges/Universities
- Gulf Coast
- Housing Rights
- Media Accountability
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TELL DE BLASIO: STOP PUSHING BLACK/LATINO KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL AND INTO CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEMLast fall, the whole country saw how violent and traumatic the "broken windows" approach to school discipline is when we watched a white police officer brutally attack a young black girl sitting quietly in her classroom. Shakara, the young girl that was attacked, and Niya, the young girl that stood up for her, are still facing criminal charges for "disturbing school." New York City is still using a"broken windows" approach to school discipline that criminalizes us for similar reasons. In New York, every day students receive a criminal summons for "disorderly conduct," which could be everything from refusing an order to leave a classroom to being excessively loud. Our school system must end these policies and practices that refuse to value Black Lives. As young Black women attending public high schools in Brooklyn and Harlem every day we wake up and go to school we feel the impact of the policies and practices that continue to maintain the school-to-prison pipeline. Black students make up only 26% of students, but we account for 53% of all suspensions. Black girls are disciplined at a rate 10 times that of white girls. And Black and Latina/o students account for 67% of all students but at 94% we account for almost all students that are being arrested. Black and Latina/o students do not behave any differently than white students,- but we are more likely to get pushed out of school for minor infractions. Last year, I (Miaija) got into a schoolyard fight. It was the kind of schoolyard fight that happens between young people all over, but instead of sitting down with adults and working through the conflict, I received a criminal summons for disorderly conduct. I was forced to miss school and go to Manhattan Criminal Court to resolve the charge. Students that miss school to attend court are twice as likely to drop out, and if I missed court, or failed to pay a fine, I would have a criminal warrant for arrest out in my name. The disorderly conduct charges against me were dropped, but I was still forced to navigate the criminal justice system when I should have been worried about finals. There are thousands of students that receive criminal summons in our schools and every day and for many of them it leads to them dropping out of school. There are over 90,000 students in New York City that pass through metal detectors everyday, almost all of them Black and Latina/o. Our schools do not have to feel like prisons. New York City spends almost $400,000,000 annually on School Safety for police officers, metal detectors, surveillance equipment and suspension trials. The city’s investment in Restorative Justice in schools is less than $1,000,000. You don’t build safe and supportive schools by suspending and criminalizing students. You build safe and supportive schools by investing in Restorative Justice to develop strong relationships between students, educators, and parents and by adopting policies that create a fair and just approach to discipline. Our city must stop investing in the school-to-prison pipeline and start investing in our future. If all Black Lives Matter it is time for our schools to treat us all with dignity and respect. Thank You, Zaire Agostini and Miajia Jawara Urban Youth Collaborative
Put expanded voting rights on New Jersey's 2016 ballot!In New Jersey, a full 36 percent of Black Americans aren't registered to vote. A full 55 percent of younger Black voters (18-29) say they don't vote because they aren't registered. In June, the New Jersey Legislature put the "Democracy Act" on Governor Christie's desk in an attempt to reverse that trend. The Democracy Act would have registered tens of thousands of new Black voters and made it easier than ever for all of us to have a full say in our Democracy. Governor Christie vetoed the Democracy Act in November, but the Legislature doesn't have to let him have the last word on our voting rights. Sign our petition asking the NJ Legislature to put the major provisions of the Democracy Act on the 2016 ballot, including: Automatically registering qualified residents to vote when they visit their local MVC. Allowing people to register to vote or correct voting information online. Making voting more convenient for working families by expanding early in-person voting. Improving access for military and overseas voters. Printing ballots in languages that reflect our diverse communities. Additionally, legislators should advance full rights restoration for people on probation and parole. Currently 1 in 5 otherwise eligible Black voters in New Jersey are denied the right to vote because of past convictions. By putting the Democracy Act on the 2016 ballot and restoring rights for people with prior convictions, legislators would give New Jersey voters a chance to strengthen their own voting rights, and to expand the right to vote for their fellow residents. If Christie's veto of the Democracy Act was cynical politics at its worst, putting voting rights on the ballot would be democracy at its best.
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.
Tell Walmart: to rehire Thomas SmithHi my name is Thomas Smith. I loved my job at a Walmart in East Greenbush, NY, where I made $9 an hour putting away shopping carts and picking up trash from the parking lot. After being released from prison and facing homelessness earlier this year, I felt like I was really getting my life on track. But then last Friday, after I worked over-time to assist my managers, I was abruptly fired. The reason? I redeemed about $2 worth of empty cans and bottles left in an abandoned shopping cart just inside the store. I didn't know you couldn't take empties left behind. They were garbage. I didn't even get a chance to explain myself to the manager. I was never told that redeeming bottles wasn’t allowed and I immediately paid back the money. I worked hard at Walmart and did a good job. I ended up getting a raw deal. They just told me to turn in my badge. There’s a double standard at my store. My manager told me that a cashier in my store, who is white, was caught on camera stealing $20 from a cash register and stuffing it into her bra. She paid the money back, but she wasn’t fired. I’ve worked hard to turn my life around. And I worked hard at Walmart - I was only a few weeks away from passing my 90-day probation period. I shouldn’t have been fired for redeeming cans that were left for trash.
Walmart's Employee Discount needs to cover ALL food!Across the country, Walmart associates just like me are struggling to feed their families. We work every day surrounded by groceries, but many of them are too expensive for us to actually buy. Walmart could decide to alleviate some of our burden, by joining the ranks of Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and Target in offering an employee discount across ALL food items. The current Walmart discount (10%) covers most merchandise, but not bread, meat, eggs, and other basic groceries that Walmart workers need. My name is Jasmine, and I am the mother of two young boys. Every month, I struggle to figure out how to put food on the table and still pay rent on time. I work 35 hours a week, but at $11 an hour I barely make enough to sustain my small family. Every month one whole check goes to rent, while another goes to cover diapers, wipes, and food. We have no extra money, and sometimes I need to decide between buying groceries and paying the water bill. These are basic necessities that I need to choose between every month. As one of many Black women working at Walmart, I'm tired of food insecurity being a part of our shared experience. If Walmart expanded it’s employee discount program to cover ALL food items, I would be one step closer to knowing that I'll be able to give my children everything they need each month. This is a win – win. Walmart is one of the only large grocers in the United States that doesn’t have an across the board employee discount for food. A ten percent discount would allow Walmart associates to spend more money on food at Walmart. The company would get more money and we would be able to be healthier workers. I've even talked to Walmart associates in Canada who said that they receive discounts on all of their food, so why not here in the United States too? Tell Walmart: We need it NOW.
End School-Sanctioned Violence Against Children, Parents and CommunitiesWe wish this story was an isolated incident, but it is not. It’s one of many other stories of children who find themselves the victim of the school to prison pipeline. A system that will arrest children because they had a bad day. Children who may or may not have a disability. Children who may have lost a family member, a friend, or someone in the community. Children who may have recently become homeless, or had a parent or sibling incarcerated. Poor black and brown children are the ones who most frequently are targeted by this pipeline, thanks to the racism and classism that is a widespread part of our society. Nationwide African-American children represent 26% of juvenile arrests and 44% of youth who are detained. Taxpayers spend an estimated $70 billion on corrections and incarceration, yet over half of the children who are incarcerated are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses. This call to action demands that: Our schools treat every child, every family, and every community with dignity and respect. Our children should not be arrested or made to leave school for things that all children go through. Our teachers and paraprofessionals who educate our most vulnerable populations should not be given the lowest pay and inadequate training. The average paraprofessional salary in Louisiana was $19,970 per year in May 2014, which ranked 46th of the 50 states. By comparison, in 2012, at least 45 New Orleans charter school executives made more than $100,000 a year. Our parents should not be subjected to economic abuse and hardship, from charging $60-$80 for school uniforms, to causing parents to lose their jobs, their incomes, and their livelihoods when they are frequently called to school for minor misbehaviors.
Taking Food out of people’s mouths does not create jobs, it leaves entire communities hungry!Under the 1996 welfare law, able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) are limited to three months of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly food stamps) in a three-year period unless they are working 20 hours a week or enrolled in a job training program for 20 hours a week. But the same law that created the time limit allows states to request a waiver for areas with high unemployment where jobs are scarce. Louisiana is eligible for a statewide waiver in 2016 given our high unemployment rate. Louisiana has added 51,000 jobs since January 2013, but at the same time the labor force grew by 102,000 job seekers. Louisiana now has a higher unemployment rate than the nation. Unfortunately, Governor Jindal has chosen not to apply for a statewide waiver. Their position is that a wavier conflicts with a policy of promoting "self-sufficiency." Of course, we all agree that a job paying a living wage is preferable to public assistance. But we also are aware of the reality that jobs--much less good-paying jobs--are scarce in our state. Rates of food insecurity in Louisiana remain high. Surveys averaged over three years show 17.6 percent of Louisianans lacked food security over the 2012-2014 period, a huge increase from the 11.8 percent who were food insecure a decade ago and higher than the 14.1 percent in 2009-2011. Nationally, the rate is 14.3 percent. Denying SNAP to the unemployed will do nothing to increase the rate of job creation, but will increase food hardship and the burden on local food banks already struggling to serve the hungry. People who will be cut off from food assistance because of this harsh rule are some of the poorest people in the state who are generally not eligible for any other type of assistance. Now, it will be harder for them to eat. Taking SNAP benefits away from unemployed workers will also create desperate situations that can increase the crime rate in the state of Louisiana. If DCFS refuses to apply for a waiver targeting high-need areas, the state should at least commit itself to providing a job training spot to every single person who wants one so that they can keep their SNAP benefits while building their skills. Unfortunately, given budget constraints, that isn’t likely to happen. With a lack of jobs, no training opportunities, and limited places to perform community service, thousands will be punitively cut off from basic food assistance. Please sign on to tell Jindal that you will not stand by as he makes people starve.
TELL THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO STOP FUNDING THE KINDERGARTEN TO PRISON PIPELINEWe have a crisis across the country with school arrests and suspensions. We all were horrified to see a South Carolina police officer assault and handcuff a 16 year black student in her classroom. But the school-to-prison pipeline starts the disparate treatment of our youngest black students in school. Black children make up 18% of preschoolers, but 48% of pre-school suspensions. Overall black students are 4 times more likely than their white peers to be suspended. Latino, LGBT and special needs students are also more likely to be suspended. The data is clear suspensions lead to dropouts, which often lead to prison. My 10-year-old son Jamir has faced multiple school suspensions when he was a student at Success Academy charter schools in New York City. He was routinely asked to be picked up or was suspended for minor infractions like being too emotional or not going up the school stairs in a timely manner. My son has special needs and he can act out when not provided the proper supports, but Success Academy did nothing to help him. I finally had to withdraw my son. Jamir and I are not alone. On October 29th, the New York Times reported on a Success Academy “Got to Go” list of students the school wanted to get rid of. These students faced numerous suspensions as early as kindergarten and most of the parents withdrew their children as a result. Moskowitz has boasted on national TV and in a prominent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal about her harsh discipline policies including her suspension of kindergarteners. Last year one of her schools issued 44 out-of-school suspensions to just 203 kindergarteners and first graders. But because Moskowitz has the backing of hedge fund billionaires who use their political muscle to buy influence for her and other zero tolerance charter schools in Washington, D.C., nothing is being done about it. In fact Eva Moskowitz has used her political connections to rake in over $37 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education. She was just awarded $13.4 million of $335 million that the Department awarded to charter schools across the country. If the U.S. Department of Education is going continue to fund Eva Moskowitz’s zero tolerance charter schools in New York, then they will turn a blind eye to zero tolerance charter schools across the country. We cannot allow the U.S. government to fund a kindergarten to prison pipeline. That is why I joined with the Alliance for Quality Education and the Urban Youth Collaborative to ask you to send this petition to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calling on him to stop funding the Kindergarten to prison pipeline. Fatima Geidi
Democracy Requires Real (and more) Debate: Demand a #BlackLivesMatter Presidential DebateUPDATE 10/22/15 regarding DNC response to our campaign (Full Statement Linked Below): It is a given that our network, in collaboration with our allies and supporters, will conduct issue forums and town hall meetings at the local, regional and national levels to help our communities make informed choices in 2016 that help advance our collective interests. We want a debate supported by the DNC that will speak directly and proactively to the issues impacting black people in this country. Debates that are shaped by the corporate media will never adequately address the issues we care about. We urge the DNC to work with movements and core constituency groups that can help generate substantive conversation beyond the talking points that you can easily find on the websites of candidates. The DNC must commit to not punish candidates that choose to participate in other debates beyond those sanctioned by the DNC. The issues we care about include but are not limited to: over policing and blue on black violence; violence and economic disenfranchisement of transgender people; patterns of incarceration leading to the world's most bloated prison industry; systemic and historic forms of economic policies that level black communities; attacks on organized labor and the dismantling of the safety net, the criminalization of immigrants, and more. ***** It is not enough to poll the Presidential candidates on whether or not they think "Black Lives Matter" or "All Lives Matter" -- we deserve substantive responses and policy recommendations. We deserve substance and not rhetoric. In fact, we demand it. Limiting the number of debates unfairly privileges some candidates over others, and cheats voters out of the opportunity to fully engage candidates on issues we care about. Black voters, in particular, constitute a significant proportion of the potential voting bloc. Those of us who (reluctantly) give our votes to the Democratic Party deserve more robust forums on issues of particular concern to our communities, at home and abroad. According to the Center for American Progress (CAP), in 2012, Black women voted at a higher rate than any other group, across ethnicity, gender and race. In fact, more than 70% of registered Black women voted in the 2012 Presidential election, and overwhelmingly voted Democrat. More than 61% of registered Black men voted in the 2012 Presidential election--less than 1% shy of voting turnout for white men. This last year alone has demonstrated clearly that Black lives are under attack--from police violence to the murders of black trans women to economic disenfranchisement and neoliberal polices. It's time to extend the public conversation beyond the status quo. We want to hear candidates debate and offer tangible solutions to the myriad issues impacting Black people. Lifting the unfair restriction on the number of debates and supporting a Black Lives Matter Presidential debate is a step in the right direction. -Elle Hearns, Robbie Clark, Anita Moore and the rest of the BLM team Full statement link: https://www.facebook.com/BlackLivesMatter/posts/504518409719409
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
SUPPORT BLACK YOUTH: LOCKED OUT OF KATRINA RECOVERY/PUSHED OUT OF SCHOOL!Why is this important? If we believe children are our future, ALL children, then it is our duty to ensure that each and every one, even those with challenging behaviors are given every opportunity to grow and thrive. In the predominately black, still storm ravaged Eastern New Orleans, Collegiate Academies operates 3 schools. Each school has chosen to suspend children at rates over 40, 50 and 60% or more each year, when other alternatives are available. Children can’t learn if they are not in school. Schools do a great job of having zero tolerance and accountability for our children and we want more accountability from our schools. High suspension rates do not reflect the use of positive reinforcement methods, rather oppressive discipline. Collegiate Academies does a great job at showcasing its successes in annual reports, however, there is no mention of suspension rates, infractions youth are suspended for, the number of teachers who receive professional development training for restorative practices, conflict resolution or positive behavior supports as per ACT 136 of 2010 or your attrition rates. Recognizing that African-American students in Louisiana public schools are suspended and expelled at disproportionately high rates, according to a report from the Education Department, families want to be assured that Collegiate Academies is following best practice in order to educate our children and not pushing out children who need the most support. If the Louisiana Department of Education’s goal is to provide learning environments and experiences, at all stages of human development, that are humane, just, and designed to promote excellence in order that every individual may be afforded an equal opportunity to develop to his full potential as per our Preamble, Article 8, Louisiana State Constitution, in New Orleans we are failing our children. For the 2013 school year, 46,625 out-of-school suspensions were doled out, which was more than the total number of children enrolled in New Orleans public schools that year. Recovery from harsh discipline polices for some children and families leaves them feeling as though they are still in the midst of a storm. Collegiate Academies promotes itself as a national model stating – “we seek perfection in everything we do”. Children are not perfect and neither is a model that suspends, at times, more than half of their students. The same year Collegiate Academies was suspending more than ½ of their school population; Pope Francis knelt before 12 children and washed their feet, choosing to perform the Holy Thursday ritual at a juvenile detention facility in Rome. One of the most important men in the world showed his willingness to serve troubled children, to exhibit the values of compassion and forgiveness that we hold dear in our society. He didn’t just preach to the children and give them guidance about how they can live better lives. He didn’t suspend them or push them away; he knelt down and washed their feet. He cared and took action. Please join with FFLIC today in taking action for ALL children, sign this petition and demand that Collegiate Academies cease suspending children and ensure teachers are properly trained.