• Walmart fired me for being pregnant
    My name is Arleja Stephens, and I stand with the thousands of other pregnant workers who have been unfairly fired, discriminated against, or mistreated by Walmart— one of the largest employers of African-American and Latino women in the United States. I worked at a Washington, DC, Walmart as a customer service manager in order to support myself and my growing family. Enduring a high-risk pregnancy, I required some time to take care of the medical needs and stress that came along with it. Rather than supporting me, Walmart decided to fire me for my absences— even after I presented credible doctor’s notes. Walmart said it did not matter. Make no mistake: Walmart’s decision to fire me goes directly against the new policy for pregnant workers that Walmart claims to have put in place. Walmart may have even violated Washington, DC's law protecting the sick time of pregnant women. My experience is not an isolated incident; I am not alone. Women across the country reported that Walmart does not allow time off for doctor appointments, that they are not given light work as an accommodation, and that they are scared they will lose their jobs if they speak up or ask for help. In 2014, after Walmart workers and labor rights groups advocated for pregnant Walmart workers nationally with the “Respect the Bump” campaign, the retailer announced a pregnancy policy that would be more accommodating to pregnant workers. Sadly, two years have passed and many pregnant workers are still being mistreated. Why is this continuing to happen when Walmart claims to have policies to protect pregnant workers? Walmart is the largest employer of African Americans in the country. Young, black, working mothers, like me, deserve better. We should not be forced to choose between a healthy pregnancy and the ability to provide for their families. Sign our petition to say pregnant Walmart workers should be treated with RESPECT.
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  • REOPEN THE CASE! RENAME WASHINGTON PARK PLAYGROUND AT 53RD & KING TO RONALD JOHNSON PARK!
    On October 12th, 2014 Ronald “RonnieMan” Johnson was shot and killed by George Hernandez, Chicago police officer, on the city’s South Side. He was 25 years old and a father of five. On the night of the murder, witnesses have said that police officers did not identify themselves before opening fire on unarmed Johnson, killing him from multiple gunshot wounds. His death has been ruled a homicide. his murder by the hands of the state was captured on police dash-cam video. The lawyer representing RonnieMan’s mother, Dorothy Holmes, was forced to file a Freedom of Information Act request with the Chicago Police Department for the dash-cam video that captured the shooting after multiple attempts at retrieval were denied. Only after a lawsuit was filed by Chicago activists which forced the City of Chicago to release video footage of the murder of Laquan McDonald by CPD officer Jason Van Dyke, did the City finally release the video of the murder of Ronald Johnson. Immediately, following the release of the video, the former state’s attorney, Anita Alvarez, announced that she would not press any charges against police officer, George Hernandez. Alvarez represents the face of deep seated corruption that pervades every aspect of government in Chicago. Alvarez, CPD and the entire City government are guilty of covering up evidence of the murder of Ronald Johnson. The inept and corrupt handling of both Laquan McDonald’s and Ronald Johnson’s cases, reveal complicity in cover ups that go all the way to the Mayor’s and State’s Attorney’s offices. We demand the case be reopened. Why A Playground? RonnieMan was killed on 53rd and King Drive, in front of a playground at the entrance of Washington Park. To commemorate RonnieMan’s life, reclaim the land on which his blood was lain, and permanently memorialize his and all lives taken by police and state violence, we are are seeking to rename the park in his honor. For too long, those killed by police and state violence have been erased, invisibalized rendering their lives disposable. By reclaiming the land in which RonnieMan’s last breath was taken, we seek to disrupt the pattern of sweeping Black death into the annals of history, and instead will create a public permanent memorial to celebrate his life, Black life and our full humanity.
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  • Justice for Charles Kinsey
    It has been since 1986 that Miami-Dade has held an officer accountable for violating the police department's use of force policy. The failure to terminate and criminally prosecute the officer sends a troublesome message to Mr. Kinsey and the general public of whom the department has taken the oath to protect and serve. The real problem facing our communities is that we undergo trauma when officers violate reputable policies and do not suffer reasonable consequences. As taxpayers and concerned citizens, we want justice and not rhetoric. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE CALL TO ACTION FROM CHARLES KINSEY: https://youtu.be/itIv6hlHzT4
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  • A CALL TO DECRIMINALIZE THE U.S. IMMIGRATION SYSTEM
    Since the nation’s inception, immigration policies have been used to maintain white supremacy, stifle dissent, and as a social control tool, silencing alternative voices seeking social, economic, and racial justice and equality. The 1990s brought us a wave of laws which pulled the rug out from under the advances made by people of color in the U.S., including immigrants, during the Civil Rights movement. As part of this attack on Black and Brown communities, Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (“the 1994 Crime Bill”), which re-classified less serious offenses, including drug offenses, as federal felonies, created long mandatory sentences, required state sex offender registries, and provided for $9.7 billion dollars in funding for prisons along with 100,000 new police officers on the street. Fresh off the 1994 Crime Bill, Congress passed the “1996 Immigration Laws”. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (“IIR-IRA”) and Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”), expanded the grounds for deportation by broadening the definition of “aggravated felony,” which was first defined in the 1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Act; establishing harsh sentences for numerous offenses and classes of mandatory detention; stripping away judicial discretion and the right to due process; and retroactively punishing those who already served time for their offenses. These laws also created a perverse incentive for local and federal law enforcement agencies to criminalize communities of color and created the private prison contracting sector. Amongst all immigrants, Black immigrants are nearly three times more likely to be detained and deported as a result of an alleged criminal offense. Moreover, many Black immigrants are ineligible for any form of relief, including a green card, executive programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Temporary Protected Status, or citizenship as a result of criminal contact. As a result of these laws passed twenty years ago, and a political climate that marginalizes and promotes state violence against immigrant, Black, Brown, and poor communities, the number of immigrants deported has increased ten-fold, tearing apart millions of families. Moreover, the U.S. mass incarceration and immigrant detention and deportation systems have become the largest in the world.
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  • FCC: Keep Black and Brown Media on the Airwaves
    Right now, media ownership by people of color is on the brink of extinction. Howard University Television, the nation’s first and only Black-owned public TV station, which has broadcast for more than 30 years, is auctioning off their airwaves. Of more than 1,500 full-powered television stations, only 42 remain under Latino ownership and 7 under African American ownership. If the FCC does not immediately act to improve diversity on the airwaves, a federal court has threatened to make the current media ownership limits--that create an opening for people of color--a thing of the past. We need the FCC to take a hard look at how they can inform the public in a way that allows us to protect the outlets that have kept our voices in the conversation. People of color cannot afford to lose any more of the platforms we speak from at such a critical moment in our national conversation -- we must act now to tell the Federal Communications Commission to support current and future media owners of color. I am a Howard University PhD Candidate working together with Howard Media Group, a team of faculty and graduate students from Howard University’s School of Communications, because of our shared believe that scholarship and education have a role to play in shaping communications policy to better serve the public interest. It is critically important that the FCC continue to limit corporate control of our airwaves, which has crowded out diverse owners who are forced to compete with huge companies for programming and advertising revenue. We also need a better understanding of the challenges of the historic barriers that continue to disadvantage Black and Brown media, so that we can dismantle them. Given that the FCC has failed to provide timely data and analysis for several years, the public still lacks a meaningful opportunity to weigh in and ensure we can reach millions of households with diverse programming not hosted by other majority-owned stations. The FCC has an opportunity to stand with media owners of color to increase viewpoint diversity on the air--enforcing strong rules against media consolidation and providing timely information on why broadcast ownership remains so often out of reach for our community—and they must use it now before more of our platforms disappear. For more information, please visit: http://nhmc.org/blog/join-us-tell-fcc-support-current-future-media-owners-color/
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  • Tell Obama: Defund Police Departments that lack reform
    Politicians can’t keep promising the change we need in local police departments and quietly maintain the status quo by failing to take real action. Pres. Obama and Congress have real power to hold police departments accountable with their funding—if they are really about stopping police terror in Black communities, this is how they show it. Baton Rouge PD, the very police department that killed Alton Sterling, has been under investigation by the Department of Justice for civil rights violations TWICE—including for its harassment of Black people following Hurricane Katrina. Yet, federal officials continue to give them money--in fact, Baton Rouge PD has received 3 million dollars from the DOJ over the past five years. In the aftermath of his death, it was revealed that Philando Castile had been stopped by police 52 times in 14 years—and subject to the same profiling, criminalization, and extraction of wealth detailed in the Department of Justice’s report on Ferguson police and replicated everywhere in the US. The federal government knows exactly how police departments are terrorizing Black communities—it’s past time they do something about it and hold these police departments accountable. The reforms we’re calling for are simple ones that President Obama himself has supported and funded research to create with the 21st Century Policing Task Force.7 It’s time for Pres. Obama to step up and ensure these critical reforms actually happen—and he can do that by withholding funds from any police department that doesn’t do the following: Embrace a culture of transparency -Make all department policies available for public review, and publish demographic data on all stops, frisks, summonses and arrests. -Collect, maintain, and analyze demographic data on all officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths. Hold the police accountable -Adopt policies that require all officers to seek written consent before any search & provide their name, reason for stop or search, and contact information for the civilian complaint board. -Police cannot and should not police themselves. Require independent criminal investigations into all officer-involved fatalities and in-custody deaths. -Enforce policies prohibiting profiling and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, housing status, occupation and/or language fluency. With four Black deaths in a matter of days, we're in—and have been in—a state of emergency. We can't afford to spend millions of dollars on police departments that will continue killing, criminalizing, and incarcerating Black people.
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  • Let's Remove Racial Bias From Policing
    Last year, my brother was shot in the chest, while unarmed and seeking treatment in the hospital, by two police officers who could not see that a young Black man could be a person in need of help. We know that what happened to my brother was not an isolated experience. At least 9 people were killed in recent weeks as a result of our policing crisis. CDC data shows that Native Americans, Blacks, and Latinos are killed during police interactions at higher rates than whites. Perceived criminality and implicit racial bias are significant drivers of this problem. Implicit Racial Bias Training is a proven tool can help police officers see Black men as fellow human beings, worthy of protection, instead of a threat that needs to be eliminated. I come from a family of physicians. We follow the best research for our patients, and our police are capable of doing the same for the communities that they serve. The International Association of Chiefs of Police knows that implicit bias training has been shown to make police officers aware of their biases. This awareness can help correct their behavior, and it is a cornerstone of safe community policing. My family is joining Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc., in asking the White House to make implicit bias training mandatory for ALL police departments. Far too many lives have been lost, and it only seems to be getting worse. How many of these tragedies could have been prevented by more comprehensive, evidence-based training? Why should our federal government provide grants to police departments that are unable or unwilling to remove bias from their ranks? We have the tools to remove racial bias like the cancer that it is, and rebuild trust between law enforcement and communities of color; please sign the petition and share it with friends, family and colleagues. Join Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (www.pfcjreform.org) in calling for the federal government to require Implicit Racial Bias Training for police departments nationwide as a condition of eligibility for federal grant funding.
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  • #FrankRizzoDown
    Frank Rizzo was a Philadelphia police commissioner, from April 10, 1967- February 2, 1971. He was also the 119th Mayor of Philadelphia, from January 3, 1972 - January 7, 1980. Rizzo was an unrepentant racist who stopped at nothing to torture and hold Philadelphia's African-American community as his personal hostages. Rizzo used his authority to stop resistance against racist and unconstitutional injustices by using attack dogs on African-American college students as they protested on Temple University's campus. He consolidated his powers of abuse as a former officer and then police Commissioner in the City of Philadelphia, while his brother, James Rizzo, was the city's Fire Departments Chief. The police and fire departments were highly segregated, and allowed racism to take fold and shape. While claiming to implement Affirmative Action as a way to end racial discrimination, these institutions were used to promote anti-black violence against the African American community. Rank and file officers were used to implement harsh punishments, brutal beatings, cover-ups, deception, internal crime, turf drops (the body-snatching and dumping of black "suspects" in racist white communities, which subjected them to violent attacks from that community) and racially profiled stop-and-frisks that continue to stain our communities in contemporary times. Frank Rizzo's racist relationship towards Philadelphia's African-American community has always been one of violence, devastation and despair. Two of his most violent legacies to date involve members of Philadelphia's local chapter of the Black Panther Party being publicly stripped. The display of their naked bodies appeared on the Daily News' front page in August 1970, while the organization was preparing for a Peoples Revolution Convention to address police violence in the city and throughout the country. The forceful eviction of the MOVE family from their home in 1978 is another one of Rizzo's racist legacies. The city waged a violent attack against the MOVE family, which led to the framing of the MOVE 9. As a result, Delbert Africa was brutally beaten. Images from the period show Delbert being dragged by his hair, being kicked and punched by the Philadelphia Police Department, as well as being struck with an officer's helmet. This incident of racist violence has left the MOVE 9 incarcerated for over thirty years, and not one local governmental official has been held accountable. Frank Rizzo publicly made racist comments about Philadelphia's African-American communities; he openly used the term "niggers" when referencing black Philadelphians. Rizzo actively supported the historically racist views, values, and practices of Philadelphia's Police Department, which has left a lasting legacy of brutality and violence against the African American citizens of the city. Frank Rizzo's abuse of the African-American community was supported by Richard Nixon, despite Rizzo being investigated by the Civil Rights Commission, regarding complaints involving police brutality. The removal of this statue would be the first step in acknowledging Rizzo's crimes against the African-American community. It would be a much needed step towards truth and reconciliation, and holding police accountable for misconduct. This is something that is long overdue in this city. The removal of the Rizzo statue would also remove the constant reminder that our city actively supported a racist demagogue and then immortalized him as someone worthy of honor. The black community would rather see representations of the great contributions made by African Americans and other people of color to this city's development. These statues should be erected in place of the constant representations of Christopher Columbus, war heroes, Frank Rizzo and others who have held communities of color in subjugation. We will no longer allow our taxes and other city resources to be used to erect and maintain monuments of white supremacist figures.
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  • Tell the Federal Government: Create an Interagency Task Force to Hold Police Accountable!
    American politicians point to the Constitution as the standard -bearer of law and order, but as the 14th Amendment is (and has historically been) violated as pertains to the treatment of black, brown and poor people, it is important to point out that black, brown and poor people are being denied "due process of law." The impulsive shootings and killings of African Americans by police officers are a violation and represent actions of misconduct in direct opposition to the United States' June 12, 2013 claim to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Until the laws and policies of police departments across this nation change, laws which in effect protect law enforcement officers regardless of evidence which has shown officers to be in the wrong, the indiscriminate killings of African Americans will continue. The killings themselves are repulsive and regrettable, but the fact that so few officers are held accountable when evidence shows them to be guilty, adds to the mental distress and emotional trauma of family members who are left to deal with both their grief and anger because of the lack of justice they receive. The trauma that African Americans have experienced because of excessive police force with little to no accountability has been proven to be genetically passed on, meaning that African Americans today are not only coping with present-day violations of their rights, but with the historic miscarriage and lack of justice which has been part of their narrative. We know that working to eliminate the trauma experienced by Black people in the United States is hard but we believe that establishing a task force, to police the police, will help. Please join us in demanding the immediate establishment of this task force!
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  • Fire Police Chief Charlie Beck for Leading the Most Murderous Police Force in the United States
    Hundreds of Black Lives Matter activists and allies have been sitting-in at Los Angeles City Hall since July 12, 2016, prompted by the ruling of the Los Angeles Police Commission that the killing of 30 year-old Black mother, Redel Jones, was “in policy.” Redel Jones, who stood 4'10" tall, was accused of stealing $80 with a kitchen knife from a local pharmacy on August 12, 2015. By witness accounts, she was running away from police when she was spotted in an alley and shot as she fled; her body laid on the pavement for hours and her family was not notified of her death for more than a week. Redel was the mother of a 7 year-old girl and a 13 year-old boy; her husband, Marcus Vaughn, travelled to Los Angeles by bus to be present for the ruling. Her family is still reeling from her death and outraged by the ruling. Sadly, Redel Jones is one in a long list of victims killed by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). For the last three years, LAPD – under the “leadership” of police chief Charlie Beck – has killed more of its residents than any other law enforcement unit in the country, killing 21 in 2015 and 10 so far this year, many of whom were unarmed people of color and/or people with mental health challenges. With only one exception, the chief has refused to condemn the acts of officers who kill residents, fire/discipline them, or recommend them for criminal prosecution. Moreover, he has refused to release information to the families of victims, most recently with the in-custody death of Wakiesha Wilson, killed in an LAPD jail cell on Easter Sunday 2016. Beck is also on-record as referring to former LAPD chief Darryl Gates (who headed LAPD during the Rodney King era) as his mentor and role model. This is not who we want in charge of the police force. For more than a year, Black Lives Matter and ally groups have been calling upon the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, to fire Chief Beck. Every moment that Beck remains in his post, brings grave danger for community residents.
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  • Petition: Independent Special Prosecutor for Philando Castile
    The horrifying killing of Philando Castile, whose painful death was watched by millions around the world, must receive the highest level of attention possible to ensure the possibility of justice. We support the Castile family’s call for an independent special prosecutor to handle this case from start to finish. County attorneys work closely with local police departments, who are usually their primary source of information. They are often reluctant to challenge the police narrative or question their side of the story. Police officers have killed 148 Minnesotans since 2000. None have faced criminal charges of any kind. Time and time again in fatal police shootings, including in the case of Jamar Clark, we have seen county attorneys act as defense attorney for the police. This time must be different. By Minnesota state law, Governor Mark Dayton and Attorney General Lori Swanson can appoint a special prosecutor independent of any state prosecuting agencies. We need a truly unbiased prosecutor, who will not take police testimony as gospel truth, to handle this case if we are to have any hope of justice. For full transparency and accountability, this prosecutor must handle the case themselves without the use of a grand jury. An independent special prosecutor, unbiased and separate from any law enforcement agency, must handle the case of the police killing of Philando Castile.
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  • Take the Pledge: We Are the Movement for Black Lives
    Guided by love, we continue to stand together for justice, human dignity and our shared goal of ending all forms of state violence against Black people. We organize, occupy, demonstrate, march and chant for a new future: A future we can be proud of. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, who fought for their freedom and ours. Like them, we want a world where our lives matter. We want an end to the war being waged on Black people, in all its forms. Some people fear change, and that's ok. Many will attempt to halt our progress. That is not ok. Some will continue their attempts to undermine us, but we will remain undeterred. For far too long, our unjust deaths have meant business as usual in this country. No more. Our work remains undone until our lives are free of violence. That is the future we imagine. Until that day comes: We pledge togetherness--- we will not allow ourselves to be divided. We pledge to allow our thinking and actions to be guided by love. We pledge to bring courage and power into our communities, and stop their flow out. We pledge not to be controlled by fear, but instead by our dreams. Join us, and pledge to do the same: Stand with the Movement for Black Lives.
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