• 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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  • Attorney General Lynch: America’s Most Murderous Police Force Doesn’t Deserve Awards!
    The US Department of Justice has chosen the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to receive an award for model policing, citing its exemplary use of “Technology and Social Media.” However, with 21 people killed in 2015 – more than any other law enforcement agency in the country – along with one of the nation’s most intrusive surveillance programs, LAPD should not be getting awards, they should be getting a federal investigation. Tell United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch that LAPD is NOT a model police force and should not be recognized and awarded. In 2015, President Obama convened the “President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing” following several high profile cases of police misconduct and the killing of unarmed Black citizens. The task force issued recommendations for ways police departments should improve accountability, transparency, and community relationships. Six police departments from across the country, including LAPD, were identified as models of 21st Century Policing. Later in June, Attorney General Lynch will visit Los Angeles to recognize LAPD. Urge her to reconsider. LAPD has a long and deep history of corruption that continues in their current practices. In 2015 LAPD was the most murderous law enforcement agency in the nation, killing 21 people, many of whom were unarmed people of color and/or people with mental health challenges. Officers who kill people are rarely fired or disciplined, and not one has been criminally charged in these killings. Moreover, with one of the nation’s largest urban homeless populations, LAPD has adopted practices that criminalize homelessness, citing and arresting individuals for having their possessions on the streets. The irony of LAPD receiving an award for “Technology and Social Media” is particularly outrageous. LAPD operates a massive surveillance, spying, and infiltration program, gathering vast amounts of data on the City’s residents. LAPD uses body cameras, automatic license plate readers, street cameras, Stingray devices and DRT boxes (used to track cell phones and jam signals). They also have two drones in their arsenal of military style hi-tech weaponry. Pervasive police misconduct has been documented with officers tampering with in-car recording equipment, breaking police car antennae used to monitor them, and creating Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) on residents who engage in activities as innocent as taking photographs in public; Black people, people of color, and poor people are particularly targeted. A growing number of Angelenos are recognizing LAPD’s repressive tactics and are calling for the firing of the police chief in a #FireBeck campaign. Tell Attorney General Loretta Lynch not to award one of the most authoritarian and delinquent police forces in the nation. Other police departments should not be encouraged to emulate LAPD. In fact, its policies, practices, and procedures should be recommended for federal intervention, not cited for excellence.
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  • LIFE SAVING TREATMENT NOW FOR MUMIA ABU-JAMAL
    My 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
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  • LIFE SAVING TREATMENT NOW FOR MUMIA ABU-JAMAL
    My 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
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  • Join the Fight to End Environmental Discrimination and Air Pollution in Maryland
    I grew up on a farm in a rural community in Prince George’s County, Md.,that is being overwhelmed with life-threatening pollution. My community, Brandywine, is 72 percent African American. We’re battling environmental discrimination and we need your help. We have two power plants in Brandywine that spew toxins, like nitrogen oxide and ammonia, linked to asthma, heart disease and stroke. The state of Maryland has permitted three more fossil-fuel power plants in our area, which means five of the state’s 13 large power plants would be in our community or close by. The most recently permitted plant, called the Mattawoman Plant, will pollute the air near the homes of senior citizens and just down the street from our elementary school. State officials have chosen our predominantly black community as a dumping ground for toxic air pollution. The state paid no attention to the racially biased impact of these plants. The Mattawoman plant will contribute to ground-level ozone, a very harmful form of pollution linked to asthma attacks. African Americans in Maryland are nearly 2.5 times as likely as white Maryland residents to die from asthma. As president of the Brandywine TB Southern Regional Coalition, I am committed to protecting the health and quality of life of our community. Brandywine should not be the dumping ground for the stuff no one wants. Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., sacrificed so much, so that we would not be marginalized based on skin color. But Maryland officials ignored the requirement of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that any entity, public or private, that receives federal funds conduct a review before issuing a permit to pollute to ensure that the pollution will not have an unjustified, unequal impact on the basis of race. Last month, I joined with Earthjustice and the Patuxent Riverkeeper in filing a federal civil rights complaint about the Mattawoman Plant. It asks three federal government – the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Transportation, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – to investigate and remedy these civil rights violations. But state officials have the power to do the right thing now. Tell Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan that the state must reconsider its decision to permit the Mattwoman Plant and that it must protect the civil rights of all Maryland residents! The fight for racial equality—as the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted in recent years--is far from complete. Join us in calling on Maryland officials to ensure our civil rights are protected by ending environmental discrimination now!
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  • Support The Safer Officers And Safer Citizens Act Of 2015 with Zeta Phi Beta
    I am writing to urge you to support S.1897, the Safer Officers and Safer Citizens Act of 2015. I know this bill has the potential to save not only my life, but also those of my family, friends, and neighbors. Senators, my entire community can benefit from this bill, which is why I cannot overstate its importance. The bill, as drafted by the National Bar Association and supported by the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., will help to prevent some of the unnecessary confrontations that occur when unarmed citizens- both Black and white- are being detained and arrested by law enforcement officers. Between 2003 and 2009, 4,813 people died while in police custody or in the process of being arrested. Proportionally, African-Americans and other minorities take a heavy toll in many of these incidents. However, it should be noted that whites too experience ill consequences while being arrested and are at risk of losing their lives. In a study done in California in 2012, body cameras resulted in a 60% reduction in use of force, and an 88% decline in the number of complaints against officers. In closing, I urge you to support this legislation and to bring the powers of your office to bear. With your help, we can end this senseless violence and death at the hand of law enforcement. Our society and our judicial community is better than this and we must work together to end this vicious cycle of violence. Our communities are begging for your assistance.
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