- Afropunk Army
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- Drop/Bring Charges
- Economic Justice
- Employment Discrimination
- End The War on Black People
- Environmental Justice
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- Gulf Coast
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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.
Make #BlackWorkersMatter: End the Exclusion of Black Workers from New Orleans Reconstruction"I can count on one hand the number of Black workers that work with me on Woodward construction sites" -Woodward employee Woodward Design+Build who has been in New Orleans since the 1920's did not think you could employ 40% local workers in the 313 Carondelet Project while the Lemoine Company who has been locally based in New Orleans since 2011 reportedly employed 80% local workers on the construction of the New Orleans East Hospital. Since Katrina New Orleans has been one of the largest construction sites in the country, meanwhile the exclusion of Black workers from the reconstruction has led to a massive Black jobs crisis- 52% of Black men are out of work, New Orleans has the second highest rate of income inequality in the country, 50.5% of Black children live in poverty and Black families make less than half the income of white families (Black families yearly median income in New Orleans is only $27,812) Woodward Design+Build has built countless projects in Post Katrina New Orleans and is going to be breaking ground this year and next on several more their continued exclusion of Black workers from their construction sites will further exacerbate the Black jobs crisis in New Orleans and we must act now to hold them and other major contractors accountable to make #BlackWorkersMatter in New Orleans. Local Black workers who are members of Stand with Dignity and our allies have been fighting to make #BlackWorkersMatter in New Orleans and we are winning- the City just passed a living wage ordinance for $10.55 per hour, and the Council will be considering a local hire ordinance on October 1st. These actions by our city government will go a long way but we have to hold accountable the companies who have gotten us to this point in the first place. Sign on Now to hold contractors accountable to make #BlackWorkersMatter in New Orleans- starting with Woodward Design+Build
Tell Congress: Protect, don’t disenfranchise millions of votersTwo years ago, in a split 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key component of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, allowing states with a history of voter discrimination to introduce voting laws, effectively disenfranchising millions of minority and low-income voters. The preclearance requirement would impact states that have implemented procedures requiring photo ID, birth certificates and other documentation; states which redistrict by “packing” communities of color and language minorities into a single district; and require states to provide fair and equitable distribution of voting equipment, poll workers and voting hour opportunities. The bill would also expand polling locations on Indian lands. Stand with Color of Change and People Demanding Action and tell your members of Congress: Support the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, which protects millions of minority and low-income voters from laws meant to suppress the vote and disenfranchise voters.
Take Down ALL Symbols of White Supremacy in New OrleansSince 2015, we've organized to have four statues removed in New Orleans. And in May of this year, Mayor Mitch Landrieu delivered a powerful speech that supported the notion that there space for reverence of the Confederacy in New Orleans. We must continue organizing until all property dedicated to people who fought to keep slavery is renamed and repurposed. Two weeks ago, white supremacists swarmed the streets in Charlottesville armed with lit torches and blunt objects to terrorize Black people. This modern-day lynching mob crowded around a Confederate statue, and in honor of the false idol, killed a peaceful protester and critically wounded dozens more. There is no doubt that white supremacists use these statues to validate their racism and violence. Now more than ever, we have to remove all Confederate symbols and emblems to white supremacy. Our local government has a responsibility to protect its Black communities from the kind of terrorism and bloodshed that rocked Charlottesville. The New Orleans family is defined by the diverse, inclusive nature of its culture in spaces both public and private. Public spaces are for everyone and should not be used to promote the abhorrent views of the white ruling class to uphold symbols of Black oppression. Not only that but our tax dollars should no longer be used to maintain these structures. We walk to the river, to work, to school, to visit a friend, and look up into the faces of men who traded human beings as property and fought to protect the ability to do so. There is no basis to support the continued littering of our public squares and buildings with monuments, street names and public schools named after white supremacists. These memorials only serve as constant reminders of the past and present domination of black people by the rich white ruling class. They are insulting to anyone with a sense of history and who supports progress and democracy. These symbols also represent present day reality where most decisions and government policy are determined by those who accept white supremacist notions that Black people and all non-white people are less and deserve less than white people. Some people believe that the struggle to remove white supremacist symbols is a deflection from the more meaningful struggle to end present day discrimination. They couldn’t be further from the truth. These monuments and signs are so much more than symbols of bygone days. They are active parts of an abusive system in which intentionally unequal distribution of power and resources goes unchecked. The white supremacist ideas represented by these symbols permeate USA society and result in actual discrimination and murder. That is why policemen with white supremacist conceptions of young Black people can murder them so easily. This is why the so-called criminal justice system can practice mass incarceration of Black people with the approval of most white people. This is why we have over 50% unemployment for Black men in New Orleans and there is no editorial outcry by the white ruling class press. If our New Orleans family is to have a chance at real racial reconciliation, we must remove all obvious symbols of white supremacy to show our collective will to address entrenched systemic oppression, which is wreaking havoc in the minds, homes, and neighborhoods of our families citywide. Now is our opportunity to be proactive. All over the USA, especially in the South, progressive Black people and their allies are leading struggles to rid the South of the symbols of treason, domestic terrorism and racist oppression. State governments in South Carolina and Alabama have removed the Rebel Flag. The Memphis city council has voted to remove the statue and the body of confederate General and founder of the KKK, Nathan Bedford Forrest. The Georgia NAACP has called for the removal of the Stone Mountain memorial to the confederacy.
Fire Officer Frascatore -- history of excessive force, then attacks tennis star James BlakeFormer tennis star James Blake was tackled and violently slammed to the ground by Officer Frascatore of the New York City Police Department. Not only was he innocent, the crime the Officer thought he was responsible for — identity theft — in no way required violent policing. It’s a question that has to be asked: would the officer have tackled and slammed James Blake on the ground if he was a white Wall Street banker accused of a financial crime? But it turns out that this isn’t the first time that Officer Frascatore has done something like this. According to an investigation by WNYC, over a seven-month period of 2013, Officer Frascatore was the subject of five civilian complaints. He has also been named in two federal lawsuits — including for falsely arresting, beating, and pepper spraying a Queens man. He even once yanked open a car door during a traffic stop, punched the driver in the mouth, and then sued the driver for biting his fist! NYPD Commissioner William Bratton needs to fire Officer Frascatore immediately. James Blake hit the nail on the head when he said: “I don't think this person should ever have a badge or a gun again.” When officers like Frascatore are allowed to continue in their jobs despite a history of excessive force, it is sadly often just a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt or killed. What if James Blake had attempted to fight back against what he could easily have seen as an unprovoked attack, from a plainclothes officer with no visible badge or gun? James Blake was lucky -- after 15 minutes, he was released from handcuffs with cuts and bruises. And as a high-profile sports figure, he can tell his story to the world. But If this can happen to James Blake, what is happening every day to Black and brown New Yorkers who aren't as famous, and who end up injured, in jail, or even dead as a result of overpolicing? This has to stop -- Commissioner William Bratton needs to step it up and do whatever it takes to fix this over-policing epidemic. Demand that he take action, starting with firing Officer Frascatore and then conducting a review of all other officers with a documented history of excessive force.