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Tell Dayton City Commission to End Censorship and AntI-Blackness!John Crawford was 22 years old when he was shot to death by Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams in a Walmart near Dayton, Ohio when a white customer called 911 on him while in the store. He was holding a toy gun. In Cleveland, Tamir Rice was murdered by police after a neighbor called 911 on him for holding what was “probably a fake gun.” He was only 12 years old. Ohio grand juries declined to indict both of the cops responsible for stealing the young and innocent lives of John and Tamir. And just weeks ago, 35-year-old Kiesha Arrone was shot 15 times by Dayton police because she was seen as a “threat.” This was only months after she was married to her partner in a ceremony that was officiated by Mayor Whaley. No justice has been served. This is what the 9th grade students from the STEM school powerfully uplifted in their artwork, only to be censored by the City. The City’s removal of the student’s artwork from the Dayton Convention Center after only two days on display because it depicts ‘Black Lives Matter’ and remembers the lives lost by police murder is part of a bigger injustice- the persistent anti-Blackness and continued disinvestment of Black communities in Dayton. Dayton is the fourth most segregated city in the state of Ohio. West Dayton, a Black community, has been disinvested from for decades, with no public health facilities and the total absence of economic development as the city allocates ample resources elsewhere. With the history of injustice against Black people in Dayton, it is no surprise that the city has an issue with publically displaying art that asserts Black Lives Matter in the convention center. The city of Dayton has never taken a stand against the state-sanctioned violence, police murder and police brutality of its Black residents. City officials have never stood in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and Racial Justice NOW! The city continues to demonstrate that to them, Black lives don’t matter. These students found a creative and productive way to express their frustration and trauma of seeing these killings happen right in their own communities. We will not stand by and let this happen, we demand their artwork be put back on display and the city works with grassroots organizations like Racial Justice NOW to co-create a community dialogue that encourages students and disenfranchised community members to speak up and actively engage in the decisions that directly impact their lives.
Tell the Louisiana House Education Committee to Support House Bill 372State laws substantially contribute to the overuse of school suspensions and expulsions in Louisiana, where students can be dismissed for a wide range of minor misbehavior and Black students are far more likely to be penalized. In the 2013-2014 school year, 61,201 students, including students in grades pre-kindergarten through 5, were suspended out-of-school. Under current state laws, minor infractions have resulted in children losing a tremendous amount of instructional time and falling behind in their academic progress. School policies on “willful disobedience” are vaguely defined, arbitrarily enforced as a ground for suspension, and disparately used. Black students are suspended at disproportionally higher rate than their white counterparts. Data shows that “willful disobedience” has been used as the reason for 13,535 suspensions in the 2013-2014 school year that includes 8,000 suspensions of children in grades pre-kindergarten to 5. HB 372 solves the problems of excessive, racially disparate, and arbitrary use of student suspension. While disruptive behavior should be addressed, we need to ensure repercussions are the most beneficial and effective for our children. Alternatives, such as Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, are not only more effective discipline methods, but they also result in higher attendance rates, improved student behavior, higher academic performance, and more positive overall school climate.
Break Down the Barriers: Bring Automatic Voter Registration to Illinois!There are several attempts to suppress the voices of people of color not only in the State of Illinois, but across the country. With a great deal of confusion around registration deadlines, application errors, long lines at polling locations, and other structural failures, millions of eligible voters are not making their voices heard in our democratic process. At Chicago Votes, we organized a group of high school students (on their Spring Break) to travel to Springfield to advocate for AVR. They advocated on behalf of their families and communities who have, on multiple occasions, faced difficulties registering to vote. In addition, many of the students were first-time voters in the Illinois primaries, and despite having all of the appropriate identification needed to register, they were faced with long lines, confusion, and a great deal of frustration. After listening to the students share their stories with the elected officials, one student asked me what keeps me coming back to this work after three years. He asked, “Why voter registration?” Kevin, a middle-aged Black man with a felony, keeps me coming back to this work. Kevin, who stated, “My parole officer told me that I cannot register to vote because I have a felony, and if I do it anyways, I will go back to jail” is the reason. Kevin, who didn’t know that his right to vote was restored upon his release from prison, is the reason why I keep coming back to this work. I am aware that Kevin is one of many eligible voters in Illinois who are not voting due to misinformation. He is the father, uncle, or cousin of a high school student somewhere in Illinois who is excited about the potential of voting, but are told they cannot. If we pass AVR, we will raise the voices and open the doors for people of color who want to participate in our political process, but are constantly faced with barriers every election cycle. HB4208 and SB250 is currently gaining traction in the IL General Assembly by moving through committees. Join me in telling our elected officials that democracy works best when all voices are included, and Automatic Voter Registration is a step in the right direction. Let’s ensure that this bill is introduced on the Senate floor by signing this petition and showing your support!
Tell the N.C. Chamber of Commerce: Stand Against DiscriminationBusinesses across the country have spoken out against North Carolina’s HB2, the so-called “bathroom bill.” But not the N.C. Chamber of Commerce. Maybe that’s because the Chamber's leadership benefits from provisions hidden inside the law that give bosses a green light to discriminate against African Americans and pay North Carolina workers less than a living wage. HB2 overturns policies that protect North Carolina's lesbian, gay and transgender community, 29% of which is African-American. The new law also overturns local anti-bias ordinances that protect everyone, regardless of race, national origin, age, disability, gender or religion. It bans workers from filing discrimination claims in state court. And it undercuts the ability of local elected officials to guarantee fair treatment for their citizens. In short, it’s a major attack on democracy. It's time to tell S. Lewis Ebert, CEO and President of the N.C. Chamber of Commerce, to join other business leaders and use his influence to call for the repeal of HB2. House Bill 2 uses the inflammatory slogan of “men using a girl’s bathroom” as a cover for a law that takes power away from voters and their local elected officials. The truth is that transgender women have used women’s restrooms for years; the only safety problem has come when they use the men’s bathroom and get attacked. Providing safety was at the heart of Charlotte’s new policy, but scary rhetoric can distract and deceive. The heads of Bank of America, Apple, IBM, Levi Strauss, Kellogg and dozens of other companies have spoken out against HB2, but not S. Lewis Ebert. We saw how the rhetoric of “voter fraud” frightened North Carolinians and provided cover for sweeping legislation that cut early voting, ended several voter protections, increased contribution limits, repealed the public campaign financing program that helped elect African Americans to the state courts, and allowed more corporate money in state elections. We can’t let yet another deceitful attack on democracy happen.
STOP UCSF FROM CLOSING NEW GENERATION CLINICWe are asking that members of the San Francisco community and people nationwide to stand with us to save the last full-service reproductive health clinic serving poor Black and Latino youth in San Francisco. After 45 years of serving vulnerable youth, on March 1 the University of California San Francisco gave swift & abrupt notice to staff at New Generation Health Clinic that its doors will close in 30 days due to budget cuts. There was no plan to replace the New Generation clinic; instead the “solution” was to redirect the patients to existing hospitals and clinics. The thousands of young people who rely on the clinic's services were not consulted about this plan. Thanks to efforts lead by 3rd Street Youth Center & Clinic, concerned educators and parents, and most importantly, directly impacted young people from the city-- as of March 17th, USCF announced that they would delay the closure of the clinic to July 31st. After the 31st, they plan to work with the Department of Public Health to "ensure continuity of care for patients." They refuse to commit to keeping New Generation open, citing its " lack of financial sustainability." Meanwhile, UCSF has publicly announced plans to spend $600 million on building brand new facilities alone in the next 3 years, this plan included the new $240 million complex in Mission Bay-- the neighborhood where New Generation Health Clinic is located. Clearly, a lack of funds is not the issue here. The University of California San Francisco constantly emphasizes their commitment to addressing health disparities and making equity a priority. Now is their chance to stand by their word. New Generation is a safe haven in a city where navigating and accessing the health care system is nearly impossible. For young people who are victims of rape and unwanted pregnancy- San Francisco General Hospital is just not an option. Survivors of rape need a place where they feel safe and where youth are welcomed, not criminalized. If UCSF succeeds in their plans to close New Generation, there will be a much higher price to pay. The message the city of San Francisco and the University of California San Francisco are sending is blatant: money matters, not Black and Brown lives. Please sign and share the petition to help us keep New Generation Health Clinic open. For too many, this is a matter of life or death.
Accountability in Raleigh PolicingOn February 29th, a Raleigh police officer shot and killed Akiel Denkins, a 24-year-old man. His death highlights the urgent need for change in Raleigh policing but it was by no means an isolated incident. It's a culmination of a pattern of biased policing that targets black and brown communities and feeds a complex and profitable prison system. On a daily basis, the rights of people in the community where I grew up are constantly violated: tickets for jaywalking, getting stopped for walking down the street in your own neighborhood and getting asked where you’re going, the so-called smell of marijuana being used as an excuse to search your car. Just the other day someone shared with me that he was stopped for driving too slow, at first. Then the officer changed his story and interrogated him about drinking when this man doesn’t even drink. A young man who comes to my barber shop told me he got pulled over for speeding. He was then subjected to an undue search because the officer claimed to smell marijuana. The search yielded nothing. I was questioned and searched leaving my cousin’s house one night as part of an “on-going” investigation. Does that sound like policing in your neighborhood? It is the daily reality for many young people and people of color in Raleigh. • National studies show that black and white populations use marijuana at about the same rates; yet in Wake County where RPD is the largest law-enforcement agency, black people represent 67% of low-level marijuana arrests but only 21% of the population. • From 2010-2015, black drivers were 2.7 times more likely to be searched by police following a traffic stop but 10% less likely to have contraband. • From 2002-2013, black men under age of 30 were searched at a rate of about 7%, whereas white men were searched at a rate of 4%. As men of color age, the likelihood of being searched significantly decreases. We need common sense policy changes to stop tragedies like the use of force that took Akiel’s life but also the every day human rights violations common in our community.
URGE THE FCC TO CLOSE THE DIGITAL DIVIDE!Lifeline is a federal program that has connected millions of qualifying low-income households to telephones for more than 30 years. It was established in 1985 to ensure that every resident in the country could access a telephone in the home. At the time, telephones were viewed as an essential utility, like electricity or water. Lifeline, through a modest subsidy, ensures that every family who can’t afford a telephone connection, can do so through this program. In 2005, the program was updated to include cell phone services. Now, with more and more people relying on the Internet to meet many of their personal needs, Lifeline must be expanded to include broadband access. Low-income communities deserve an Internet that is affordable, reliable, and accessible and supports their ability to participate in society. In a society where it has become a requirement that job applicants, employees, students, patients, bank customers, and consumers use the Internet for basic services, broadband is no longer a luxury but a necessity. That's why we're calling on the FCC to treat it as such and ensure that low-income families have access to this vital service through updated Lifeline rules. As a Lifeline subscriber, I know how important this program is to helping connect people to the tools they need to communicate. I live in New Orleans, LA and have a son who is incarcerated in Texas a 10 hours drive away from me. The only way I can communicate with him is through a landline telephone in my home. He can't call my cell phone because the prison telephone operator won't allow it. With my other expenses, affording an additional telephone was going to be a challenge but then I heard about the Lifeline program. Lifeline helps low-income families by subsidizing a portion of their telephone or cell phone bill. It helped me be able to afford a landline in my home. The Lifeline program is now being expanded to help families connect to the Internet. For me this is important because I use the Internet everyday for school. I'm currently taking online courses and pursuing a degree in criminal justice. The Internet is also a place where I find resources to send to my son. As a mother and a student, the Internet is so important but it is also expensive. I know the Lifeline program can help people like me who need the extra help to get ahead. Please consider supporting this petition because the Federal Communications Commission will soon vote on whether to reform the Lifeline program.
Tell Governor Snyder to put our Flint families first!Last summer I returned home from the hospital, having lost my twins in a miscarriage, to find a note from the city of Flint advising pregnant women not to drink the water. Now my 7-year-old son, Jaylon (pictured left), and 16-year-old daughter, Nashauna, test positive for lead poisoning. My children - all of our children - deserve a healthy and hopeful future. On Thursday, March 17th, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder stood before Congress and testified that he is working to repair Flint. Yet we know that he has presented a state budget to the state House and Senate that dramatically shortchanges the rebuilding of our community. Since taking office in 2010 Gov. Snyder has blatantly divested from our primarily poor, Black, and immigrant community. He stripped us of our democracy with the installment of an Emergency Manager, not elected by or accountable to our families. Then placing profit over people, our water source was switched and was not treated properly. Now, while Gov. Snyder waits, our children continue to be irreparably poisoned, our families grapple with skin rashes, hair falling out, missed days of school and work, and our mothers suffer heightened rates of miscarriages. My family deserves to be healthy. All of our families do. That's why I'm working with PICO federation, Michigan Faith in Action, the Flint Rising coalition, and hundreds of Flint community members to demand justice for our families today. Join us in telling Governor Snyder and our state legislators to craft a budget that puts rebuilding our infrastructure and protecting our health and our futures first.
Dutchess County Legislators: We Don't Need a New $300 Million Jail!The rush to build a 569-room jail and Sheriff’s complex in Dutchess County will end up costing taxpayers approximately $300 million over 30 years. This threatens the county’s fiscal stability and does little to address criminal justice priorities. Declining crime and reform efforts are leading to less prison facilities, lower incarceration rates and evidence-based, fair and effective diversion programs in New York and around the country. It doesn't make sense that Dutchess’ plan goes the opposite direction. The county's population is going down, but the proposal still calls for a 15% increase in jail beds. More disturbing is the fact that Dutchess saw its incarceration rate increase 41% between 2006 and 2015 when most other counties in New York saw their rate remain flat or decrease. The human cost of incarceration is also disproportionately borne by Dutchess County’s black residents, who make up 11% of the county population but 39% of the inmate population. The jail proposal sends a terrible message to black youth that they are seen as threats rather than valued residents and future leaders. This project is moving too fast and without appropriate safeguards and disclosure. We call on you to to reject the jail expansion project in current form and work with the community on reforming Dutchess County's criminal justice system first.
RETURN NORTH CAROLINA FARM UNJUSTLY SEIZED BACK TO BLACK FARMERWe are very concerned what appears to be a glaring and very violent assault on small farmers, Black farmers, and the right to self-determination in this country, via the recent seizure of North Carolina Farmer Eddie Wise’s land. On Wednesday, January 20, 2016, around 7:30 a.m., at least fourteen (14) Federal Marshals in full military gear with full-scale military guns drawn, along with several county sheriff officers, descended on the 106 acre farm in Nash County, NC, and forcibly escorted Eddie Wise and his wife, who was still in bed and suffers from a debilitating medical condition, out of their home and off the land that they have owned for more than 20 years. Reportedly, farmer Eddie Wise had been working on his loan with Farm Service Agency (FSA) until Farm Services Agent Paula F. Nicholls and Mike Huskie took over his case. Not soon after, Mr. Wise’s loan increased and sky rocketed to almost $60,000 more within only a month’s span of time, thus lending to an escalated foreclosure process and, the seizure of property and an incredible number of subsequent questions and outrage from people all across the country. Mr. Wise and his wife Dorothy have suffered the height of indignity and racist degradation. This process is highly problematic and we see this seizure as a major threat to family farms nationwide. Not only did the Federal Marshals render Eddie and Dorothy immediately homeless and landless, they did not allow them to take any of their belongings except the clothes on their backs. They also insisted on “securing” every firearm legally owned by Mr. Wise. Mr. Wise was in fear of his life and the life of his wife. “I believe if I had shown one ounce of resistance, the Federal Marshals would have killed me. I actually believe that’s what they came to do” said Mr. Wise, his eyes moist with tears. Saving their land has been a long and exhaustive process for the Wise family. The ugliness of the one dimensional unfairness, racial characterization, and mental traps set for this family and thousands of other Black farmers by USDA, and a corrupt legal system, defy reason and logic. Black farmers are a racial minority and do not represent a large political power block, therefore they are unfairly treated like terrorized slave captives in their own country, a country they were vital in building. MORE BACKGROUND ON FARMER EDDIE WISE: 1. In 1993 the Wises applied for a loan to purchase a 106-acre hog farm. Wise said that at first the FmHA (now FSA) County Loan Officer didn’t let him know that the farm had been “earmarked for minority farmers.” Then officials tried to reappraise the farm to increase the value, but the value actually dropped. Last, a White farmer who wanted the farm paid a Black woman to apply for him. She was one of the final two applicants whose names were drawn from a hat. “We won the draw,” Wise said. Wise continued to face resistance from the county loan office, which is now demanding that he provide a production history going back five years and a production plan for the new farm. 2. Eddie and Dorothy Wise raise hogs on 106 acres near Whitakers, in east-central North Carolina. Eddie is a fourth-generation hog farmer but the first to own a farm; his father and grandfather were sharecroppers. During a 20 plus career in the military, and as an ROTC instructor at Howard and Georgetown Universities, Eddie raised hogs in his spare time. It was his dream to return home to North Carolina and farm full-time. When he retired from the Army in 1991 at the age of 48, that’s what he set out to do. Dorothy Wise grew up in Washington, D.C., but she too hoped to one day live on a farm. When she and Eddie met at Howard University in the 1980s and she discovered he was a farmer, it seemed that her wish had come true. Still, it took the Wises five years, until 1996, to secure the loans they needed to buy their farm. They were repeatedly turned down by local government loan officers who, the Wises are convinced, did not want African-American farmers to succeed. It was only through determined effort and much research and legwork that the Wises were able to receive the financial help for which they qualified. Prior to them being ordered off their property, the Wises had 250 hogs, which they raised from birth and would sell to a black-owned pork processor in the area. Eddie’s lean pork, raised without hormones or antibiotics, is sold at a premium in area supermarkets. Finding such a market niche is the only way the Wises can compete with the much-larger farms that mass-produce hogs for the large meatpacking companies. For the last 40 years American Black farmers have lived a hellish nightmare deliberately orchestrated by the USDA and its local Farmers Home Administration (FmHA – now the Farm Service Agency, FSA) offices to confiscate Black-owned land and homes. A review of the now historic Pigford v. Glickman Class Action by Black farmers will help one to understand the extremely vicious attack against black farmers and the USDA’s own Civil Rights Action Team report, (CRAT February 1997). (For details on the Black Farmers Class Action, See https://www.blackfarmercase.com/Background.aspx or http://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/pigfordmonitor/index.htm). We demand a full investigation, a halt to all land seizure and illegitimate farm sales and to return Eddie and Dorothy Wise’s farm and property to them immediately. For more information, contact email@example.com. ------------------------------- Check out BFAA on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BFAA.org/ and here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/106046796096003 To support Farmer Eddie Wise and Dorothy Wise: www.gofundme.com/39m8623g
No Grand Jury #Justice4JamarGrand juries consistently fail to deliver justice in cases of fatal police shootings. In grand juries, prosecutors often rely on evidence gained solely from police. Moreover, the process is extremely secretive: the prosecutor and the grand jury members may not reveal what occurred in the grand jury room to the public, including any evidence or videos presented. Since 2000, 142 Minnesotans have been killed by police. Grand juries have returned indictments in zero of these cases. In fact, no police officer in Minnesota has EVER been indicted for a fatal shooting. While Mike Freeman insists grand juries have been a part of Minnesota’s justice system for 35 years, this is exactly the reason to eliminate their use in cases of fatal police encounters. The criminal justice system has been purposefully failing people of color for centuries. It is time to change our approach. Grand juries are neither effective nor required by law. California recently became the first state to ban grand juries in cases of deadly force by police. The governor of New York has appointed a special prosecutor for these cases. Recently, the city of Baltimore directly indicted police officers in the death of Freddie Gray without resorting to a grand jury process. A special prosecutor can and should decide whether to pursue charges directly, without obstructing justice via a grand jury.
Gov. Christie: Condemn Hate & Renounce Trump, or Resign!In a desperate final bid for relevance on the national stage, New Jersey Governor Christie is traveling the country in support of Donald Trump's racist and hateful presidential campaign. The Trump rallies Chris Christie now headlines have become beacons for hate groups and hate speech. By standing with them, Christie is turning his back on the millions of constituents who reject the racism and misogyny that Trump's campaign now embodies. Christie's actions sully what is left of his reputation and our state's as a whole. Enough is enough. We deserve a Governor who treats us with dignity and respect, not one who aligns himself with bigotry and violent racism. Governor Christie: renounce Donald Trump or resign!