• Stand up for students protesting racial injustice
    I am a proud Pirate. My professors at East Carolina University challenged me to think critically about the world and helped me feel like I could have a real impact. It was at ECU where I learned that my voice is powerful. ECU is why I have a successful and fulfilling career at the intersection of politics, activism, and social change. Usually, I represent Pirate Nation with pride, but right now, I am disappointed in my alma mater’s decision to crack down on protests from the university’s marching band. Last Saturday, several members of the band took a knee during the Star’s Bangled Banner in peaceful demonstration against police brutality and racial injustice. As a former student activist at ECU, I couldn’t have been more proud to see these young people carrying on the tradition of peaceful protest at my alma mater. These young people are carrying on the proud legacy of agitating for social change on ECU’s campus.  In 1969, Black students were fed up with a hostile racial climate on campus and had a tense confrontation with then President Leo Jenkins. These brave students successfully got the university to stop playing Dixie and waving Confederate flags at games and to hire more Black faculty in the name of campus integration. No one would disagree that these brave people standing up for what they believe in made the university a better place. Today as students around the country are ridiculed or worse for speaking up on issues they are care about, we need to show our them that we support their right to protest.  When I read ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton’s statement on the protest, I was elated because it underscored the power of civil discourse and the importance of believing in something bigger than yourself, two values I learned during my time at East Carolina:  “While we acknowledge and understand the disappointment felt by many Pirate fans in response to the events at the beginning of today’s football game, we urge all Pirate students, supporters and participants to act with respect for each other’s views. Civil discourse is an East Carolina value and part of our ECU creed.” Sadly, this feeling only lasted a day because ECU Chancellor Staton reversed his decision saying that further protests “would not be tolerated:” “College is about learning, and it is our expectation that the members of the Marching Pirates will learn from this experience and fulfill their responsibilities. While we affirm the right of all our students to express their opinions, protests of this nature by the Marching Pirates will not be tolerated moving forward.” To make matters worse, it seems that the racial climate on campus has gone from simmering to a rapid boil. Many students felt threatened when a professor responded by promising to carry a gun around campus to demonstrate her Second Amendment rights, seemingly forgetting that doing so is against the law. A racial slur was found written in the library. In a climate where racial tensions are escalating, trying to muzzle students who are clearly trying to start a dialogue on the issue is not the right move. Not talking about it won’t make it go away. As a Black woman, I’ve felt the sting of racial injustice on campus at ECU. I’ll never forget the night a pack of drunk guys shouted a racial slur at me out of a moving car. That night, as hot tears stained my face, I made a silent promise to myself that I’d never live in the South after graduation; I just couldn’t take it anymore. What’s worse is that nothing has changed; knowing that students are still having to putting up with this same racial animosity on campus that I did ten years earlier feels like a knife in the heart.  This is the wrong message to be sending to Pirate Nation. These students have a Constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression. This freedom doesn’t end when students put on their uniform. If it wasn’t for my time engaging in activism during my time at East Carolina, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Chancellor Staton should give these students that same opportunity.
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    Created by Bridget Todd
  • Education Justice is Racial Justice
    The United States promises our children equal access to a free public elementary and high school education. But too many Black and Brown children have been denied schools good enough to make this promise meaningful. Instead of honestly acknowledging the root causes of struggling schools and investing in real equity in public education, today’s policymakers and deep-pocketed corporate education “reformers” offer misguided strategies that fail to address the central problem: a failure to invest in Black, Brown and poor children, the educators who teach them and the communities in which they live. This is a crisis in values, in what we believe and who we believe in. It is a crisis of civil rights — and of human rights.
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    Created by Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) Picture
  • STOP ITOA
    ITOA promotes police use of military tactics with toxic racism and Islamophobia. Their keynote speaker this year will be anti-Muslim bigot and Fox News regular Dr. Sebastian Gorka [2], a self-proclaimed counterterrorism expert who has served in an advisory role to countless government and military agencies, from the CIA to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The conference will train local police and EMTs to operate “like tactical squads in the military” and incorporate “new data and surveillance technology” in their work, directly contributing to racialized law enforcement violence against communities of color in the Chicagoland area. While Chicago is still reeling from budget cuts that have resulted in the closure of over 50 public schools, mental health clinics, and severe cuts to social services, the city spends over $4 million a day on the Chicago police alone. ITOA is directly involved in training and arming those police, even using empty school buildings [3] as training grounds [4] for Cook County officers. The impact of ITOA reaches far beyond the Chicagoland area. With police departments from around the country, US Marshalls & DHS agents, and former & active military personnel attending their trainings and conferences, ITOA sets a national precedent for police militarization across law enforcement agencies in the United States. SWAT trainings like those occurring at this year’s ITOA conference take place in cities across the country year round, which lead directly to increased violence against Black communities, immigrant communities, and those already experiencing police violence. Weapons manufacturers from around the world also use the ITOA conference to sell military-grade equipment to local police forces–equipment that shocked the country when it was deployed against civilians in places like Ferguson, Minneapolis, and Baton Rouge. As part of the growing movement against policing, we call on Stonegate to end their contracts with the 2016 ITOA Tactical Training Conference. We are appalled that this venue would participate in the proliferation of arms and anti-Muslim, anti-Black bigotry in Chicagoland. Sign this petition to Stonegate general manager Charles Baptist to remind him that police violence & racism are bad business, and bad for business. This campaign is supported by: ----------------------------------------- Assata’s Daughters For The People Artists Collective American Friends Service Committee – Chicago The People’s Response Team Lifted Voices War Resisters League Council for American Islamic Relations – Chicago Organized Communities Against Deportations Black Lives Matter – Chicago Students for Justice in Palestine – Chicago Arab American Action Network Invisible to Invincible: Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago (i2i) Center for New Community Anakbayan – Chicago Iraq Veterans Against the War National Lawyer’s Guild – Chicago Black and Pink – Chicago Jewish Voice for Peace – Chicago Showing Up for Racial Justice – Chicago Chicago League of Abolitionist Whites Footnotes: [1] http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/How-Cook-County-Officers-Train-for-Active-Shooter-Situations-360426111.html [2] http://thegorkabriefing.com/about/ [3] http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/How-Cook-County-Officers-Train-for-Active-Shooter-Situations-360426111.htm [4] http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/05/30/what-happens-after-a-school-closes/
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    Created by Black Lives Matter Chicago Picture
  • Demand Walmart CEO Doug McMillon Protect Workers' Right to Protest
    Four years ago, Walmart workers nationwide rose in protest, igniting some of the first Walmart strikes in history. At a Bay-Area Walmart, six employees peacefully walked off the job after their supervisor, Art Van Riper, openly threatened to lynch and shot workers. But Walmart decided to punish these protesters, rather than discipline or fire Van Riper. At that time, unfair working conditions in the Walmart store had become un-ignorable. Wages, unreasonable. And management, unbending. Walmart associates in Richmond, California began calling on management in their store to stop retaliating against workers who spoke out against any these issues. Toxic energy in the store intensified during one night of work in September of 2012. As an Black employee tied a rope around his own waist to aid in moving a heavy counter, Van Riper told him, "if it was up to me, I'd put that rope around your neck." Van Riper began creating divisions among his employees, instructing non-striking workers not to speaking with associating protesting. He “suggested” that non-participating associates would lose their jobs if they did. Then he told them outright, “If it were up to me, I’d shoot the union.” Van Riper’s intimidation tactics and open racism turned a Walmart in a majority Black and Latino community into a plantation. He used his authority to scare workers seeking union protection, calling out his aggressive behavior, or reaching out to coworkers for support. And with workers already struggling to make ends meet, none of the associates were prepared to lose their jobs. Just this month, the National Labor Relations Board released a statement upholding these workers’ right to protest. According to the Board, Walmart also illegally disciplined these former associates. NLRB required Walmart to reverse its disciplinary actions taken against workers who protested, to demand that supervisors not threaten workers, to allow employees to wear union insignia while on-duty. This decision is an important victory for Walmart workers and employees at other big box stores. It confirms that these workers have a right to strike, particularly when there is no outlet to state grievances. Walmart has already stated that it may pursue appealing to a higher court to have these incredible milestones erased. We need your support to keep pushing Walmart and other industry leaders to respect their employee's rights, especially the right to speak up against mistreatment and intimidation. Please stand with Walmart workers around the country and demand that Doug McMillon protect workers’ right to protest.
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    Created by Jamal Jordan
  • Tell President Barack Obama: Recognize Black Women Survivors of Rape and Sexual Assault
    Dear Mr. President, “I just want him to know who I am.”  This is what 96 year old Recy Taylor, a civil rights leader who worked with Rosa Parks to address rape in the Jim Crow South and a survivor of sexual violence herself, said after a visit to the White House and being asked what she wished she could say to you, given the chance Mr. President. Recy Taylor’s 1944 rape case is well-documented in books and various online sources.  She is an African-American woman from Abbeville in Henry County, Alabama. On September 3, 1944, Taylor, was leaving church when she was kidnapped and brutally gang-raped by six white men. Even though the men admitted the rape to authorities, two all-white grand juries declined to indict Taylor's assailants. Taylor's rape and the subsequent court cases were among the first instances of nationwide protest and activism among the African-American community and ended up providing an early organizational spark for the Civil Rights movement with Rosa Parks at the helm of the anti-rape movement. In 2011, after decades of advocacy efforts put forth by her brother Robert Corbitt, the Alabama House of Representatives apologized on behalf of the state "for its failure to prosecute Recy Taylor’s attackers." The failure to dispense justice in the 1944 case of Recy Taylor is not surprising, but symptomatic of the larger failing of a society where the intersection of racism and sexism has failed Black women and girls for over 400 years.   When examined through a gendered lens, it becomes clear how Black women’s unique experiences with violence are often seen as afterthoughts when addressed at all. The result is that violence against Black women and girls, especially sexual violence, often remains invisible and this non-recognition serves to perpetuate the harm being done. But, Mr. President, whether by police or non-state actors, the rape and sexual torture of Black women and the justification of this torture still continue. We see the past replicated today. This was clear with the case of white Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Ken Holtzclaw who was convicted earlier this year of sexually assaulting, raping, stalking, fondling, and exposing himself to at least eight Black women between the ages of 17 and 57 during traffic stops while on duty.   We see the continued abuse in the Black Women’s Blueprint study (2014) showing that 60 percent of Black girls experience sexual assault before the age of 18 and when Black women are raped on their college campuses.  We see it in the 64,000 missing Black girls across the country.  We feel it walking down the street and entering spaces of worship and supposed sanctuary. And we ask, Mr. President, do you see it, too? As Farah Tanis, executive director of Black Women’s Blueprint reminds us, “the U.S. is one of the few places in the world where rapes have occurred systematically against an entire race of people, especially the Black women among these people, and there has been no outcry, no processes for justice, and still little to no acknowledgement of such violations officially and its impact on Black women and girls today.”   As the nation that is looked upon as a beacon and model for human rights, we in the United States have also witnessed you, Mr. President, acknowledge Black women and girls’ plight during your 2015 remarks at the 45th Annual Congressional Black Caucus Phoenix Award Dinner. We have also read about your position on feminism in Glamour Magazine with a declaration that “this is what a feminist looks like.” We know that never before has a president of the United States been such a champion of women’s human rights. No other president has come so close to the much needed recognition and national apology for the systematic sexual humiliation and dehumanization of Black women and girls in the United States. To make a public statement means to acknowledge that the violence needs to stop.  If we as a nation refuse to talk about it, if we as a nation continue to be silent, we as a nation cannot move forward.  For you see, Mr. President, one of the horrors of rape is the silence of victims and survivors.  Another is the silence of bystanders and loved ones. However, one of the most deafening horrors is the silence of a nation and its leaders. Silence only serves to support the ones who cause harm. First Lady Michelle Obama has already broken one silence, inspiring us during the Democratic National Convention when she said that “every morning, I wake up in a house that was built by slaves.”  Everyday Black women and girls wake up, exist, live, survive and thrive in a nation built by our enslaved ancestors’ hands and birthed by their wombs.   Everyday Black women and girls walk in the world, get up every morning, go to school, and work believing that their truth is too ugly, too shameful, too painful to be acknowledged.  Imagine believing that your pain has cut lines too deep into your soul for you to be considered beautiful or valued.  Imagine being told that your trauma negates your ability to love or to be loved, your ability to comfort and be comforted, to see others and be seen.  As one testifier wrote “I was so scared that [my truth] was too ugly and too shameful to talk about.”   Mr. President, that is what too many rape survivors carry—that pain, the silence, and an erasure of their humanity.   We the undersigned, understand that recognition does not equate with justice, and for many survivors, justice in the form of of the legal system will never be adjudicated.  However, recognition does facilitate healing, both personally, and collectively as a nation and is absolutely necessary to move forward. Read the full Open Letter here: http://www.mamablack.org/single-post/2016/09/13/President-Obama---Recognize-the-Sexual-Assault-and-Rape-of-Black-Women-and-Girls
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    Created by Black Women's Blueprint Picture
  • It's Not Over, The County Has Appealed! #LetMIAVote
    My name is Michelle Davis. I am an African-American mother of three, and I've been a registered voter since the day I turned 18.  I am sick and tired of feeling like my vote doesn't matter. This cause is important to me because special interests shouldn’t have a bigger say just because they have bigger bucks. I want to be able to see people in my community running for office, even if they don’t have big money from big donors. I worked for months in the hot Miami sun to share this initiative with the citizens of Miami-Dade County. We talked to hundreds of thousands of people and together, gathered 127,000 signatures in support of campaign finance reform. I believe in a Miami where all voices are heard and where the will of the people is respected.  Last week, after strong opposition from both county commissioners and the county attorney, the courts sided with the will of the people and ordered that the initiative be placed on the November 8, 2016 ballot “immediately, without delay.” Immediately after the ruling, the county attorney appealed and asked that the Judge’s order be suspended. We’re now in a critical period. We must not let the County Attorney run the time out on getting this initiative printed on the ballot. We must ask the Mayor to stick to his word and direct the Supervisor of Elections to continue her perpartions to put this on the ballot, so that when we are sustained, the election department has this on the ballot. We must act now so they don’t disrupt our democratic rights through legal tricks. Our communities often don’t exercise their rights because they often feel that the political process is rigged, corrupt or not in their interest. Inaction by the mayor and county commissioners is a prime example of the ways in which the voices of voters, the very people who elected them into office, continue to be ignored. It is time for our elected officials to do their jobs. 127,000 voters deserve to be heard. Join me in directing the mayor to enforce the laws of the court and order the supervisor of elections to place the initiative on the ballot immediately. Let’s take a stand against big money in politics and ensure that the will of the people prevails. Sign and share our petition!
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    Created by Renee' Mowatt
  • Gov. McCrory: Release Emergency General Election Funds Now
    North Carolina's Governor Pat McCrory and legislative leadership have spent millions of our taxpayer dollars to defend unconstitutional legislation like the 2013 Monster Voting Law. Now that the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down this law designed to disenfranchise Black voters and others, it's time they use our tax dollars to help everyone vote. They lost their bid to suppress the vote. Now it's time to pay the price and release the funds to support fair elections. During this hot, high-turnout election season that now has no photo ID requirement and allows Same-Day Registration during the 17 days of Early Voting, election officials in every county are scrambling to craft new Early Voting plans and staff them for an extra week. In addition, they must recruit and train more poll workers, and update vital voting resources – all to prevent long lines and mass confusion at the polls. We’re heading for a train wreck in the 2016 General Election unless counties have the resources to staff the extra week of voting and educate voters about their options in this new landscape. Tell Gov. McCrory that he needs to take swift action and release special funds to help our county election officials do their job of administering fair elections.
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    Created by Jen Jones Picture
  • Stand Up Against Police Militarization: Say No to Urban Shield!
    Black people are 40 times more likely to be impacted by SWAT raids than white people. Decades since the War on Drugs began, our homes, schools, and neighborhoods have become sites for the war on Black communities, and other communities of color. Urban Shield is a 4-day SWAT training and global weapons expo that will be held in the Pleasanton, CA September 8-12th. Hosted by the Alameda County Sherriff's Office, Urban Shield is an example of how the war on Black communities has built a billion dollar industry to roll out military tactics against people here in the U.S. and all over the world. Urban Shield brings together law enforcement agencies from across the world- from the Apartheid State of Israel to the Ferguson Police Department. Created by Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern in 2007, Urban Shield has been hosted by the Alameda County Sherriff’s Office every year since. Although proponents of Urban Shield claim that it provides police departments with emergency response training, we know that these weapons, training, and tactics become normalized and broadly used against our communities, such as in drug raids, to issue search warrants, and against protesters. The same forces backed by US imperialism to oppress people across the world are coming together to train people with police forces in our local neighborhoods. It has only been 7 years since Oscar Grant was shot to death while handcuffed at the Fruitvale BART station by police officer Johannes Mehserle. Across the Bay, the family of Mario Woods is still fighting for justice for their son, an unarmed young man who was murdered by a firing squad of 16 San Francisco police officers in front of his own community last year. Despite years of oversight, the Oakland police department continues to come under fire for its racist abuse and killings targeting Black and Brown communities, what we understand as the daily violence of policing that must be stopped. In a time where nationwide we are all fighting against the murder of Black people and other people of color by police- the last thing we need is an expo that encourages the use of military tactics against civilians. We cannot stand by while the Alameda Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff’s Office make policing deadlier and the killing of our community members easier. We demand the Alameda County Board of Supervisors put an immediate end to Urban Shield and use funds from the Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative intended for emergency preparedness to focus on real community-based emergency preparedness and health response and not militarizing police. Tell the Alameda County Board of Supervisors: Stand with our communities in the Bay Area and everywhere, and rein in the Sheriff’s unchecked attempts at increased militarization by cutting all ties with Urban Shield! What can I do? Sign this petition to join Stop Urban Shield, a coalition of grassroots and community organizations, in demanding that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors stop hosting Urban Shield and decline all collaborations in the future. While the Alameda County Sheriff, the main figure responsible for putting together Urban Shield, is an elected official with a certain level of autonomy, the Board of Supervisors has the authority to regulate, supervise, and approve or deny how funding to the County is spent. As stated in an April 2015 ACLU memo to the Board of Supervisors, California Government Code § 25303 gives the Board broad authority to “supervise the official conduct” of the Sheriff. As a national and international event, Urban Shield is not only increasing militarization in Alameda County, but across the country and world. To the Alameda County Board of Supervisors: Stand with our communities in the Bay Area and everywhere, and rein in the Sheriff’s unchecked attempts at increased militarization by cutting all ties with Urban Shield! What do we want? If our public officials want greater emergency preparedness and response, it will not come from Urban Shield’s militarized war games and blatantly racist and violent weapons expo. Our communities are demanding investment in real community-based emergency preparedness and health response that do not depend on militarization. Key emergency preparedness needs projected for the future revolve around drought, flooding, earthquake preparedness and other environmental disasters. The Board of Supervisors must prioritize this type of preparedness which has wide reaching impacts on communities, rather than investing in terrorizing communities through increased policing. Join us in demanding an immediate end to Urban Shield!
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    Created by Woods Ervin, Stop Urban Shield Coalition Picture
  • Tell The North Carolina Board of Elections to Support Early Voting
    Incredible! Republican leaders who complain about “rigged elections” are trying to do exactly that in North Carolina by making it harder for Black people and students to use early voting. Dallas Woodhouse, Executive Director of the NC Republican Party, sent instructions to Republicans who hold the majority on all 100 county boards of elections to “make party line changes to early voting.” He specifically told them to close early voting sites on Sunday, remove them from college campuses, and open more in Republican areas, according to emails obtained by the Raleigh News & Observer. More than half of NC’s voters used early voting in 2008 and 2012; it was used most by Black and young voters. Closing sites and reducing hours will mean longer lines and discourage voters on Election Day. Fortunately, many Republicans are ignoring Woodhouse and obeying their oath to serve all voters. But in Raleigh, Fayetteville, Wilmington, and many other areas, they are opposing Sunday voting where it was used as recently as the March primary. Black churches organize Sunday “Souls to the Polls” programs which help church members with transportation to the polling place. The reduced early voting plans of these counties will come before the State Board of Elections later this month. The State Board has the power to restore them and repudiate the deliberate anti-Black, anti-youth strategy of Republican Party leaders. Sign the petition to ask Mr. Grant Whitney Jr., board chair, and other board members to restore early voting on Sunday afternoons and, on college campuses where those options were eliminated by Republican county election boards. Last month, the federal Court of Appeals overturned a state voting law it said would suppress voting and had discriminatory intent. We will not let local officials ignore the spirit of this momentous ruling by implementing weak and even discriminatory early voting plans for the November election.. Thanks for fighting for voting rights for everyone! Bob Hall, Democracy North Carolina
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    Created by Jen Jones
  • SUPPORT A MORATORIUM ON TRAFFIC STOPS FOR REVENUE
    My name is Stephanie Findley and I am a longtime resident of Milwaukee. I just started a petition titled “ Support a Moratorium on Traffic Stops for Revenue”. As you probably know the Milwaukee police department stop black and hispanic drivers at a rate drastically higher than white drivers. When black people have interactions with the police violence can escalate quickly and as a Black woman the fear that I feel when a police car pulls up behind me is palpable. Black residents of Milwaukee should not have to live in fear of being unjustly targeted and pulled over by the police when driving. A moratorium will help to decrease the number of interactions Black residents of Milwaukee have with the police. In Milwaukee Black drivers are seven times as likely to be stopped by the police when compared to a white driver. The annual number of traffic stops conducted by police in Milwaukee has nearly quadrupled in the past four years, resulting in almost 200,000 stops last year. Police in Milwaukee stop black and hispanic drivers five times as often as white drivers and they are also five times as likely to be searched when pulled over by the police for a traffic stop. Unsurprisingly, black and hispanic drivers are also arrested at twice the rate of white drivers when pulled over by the police. These statistics further prove what Black Milwaukee residents already know to be true: that the police’s use of traffic stops has a huge racial gap, resulting in the over policing of black and hispanic communities. Black people in Milwaukee live in fear of the police and doing something as simple as driving to work or taking your kids to school can result in a negative interaction with the police. We know all too well that when Black people are stopped by the police during traffic stops violence escalates quickly, sometimes resulting in death as seen with Sandra Bland and Philando Castille. Please join me in demanding that Milwaukee city council introduce a moratorium on traffic stops for revenue.
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    Created by Stephanie Findley Picture
  • Stop Legislation to Militarize Nashville Police
    This is important because the logic behind the legislation is faulty. Black folks are being murdered by the police every 28 hours and Metro Nashville has yet to immediately dip in to the reserves for black folks and or poor people. All of a sudden the mayor feels a need to dip in to metro Nashville's reserve fund for militarized weaponry that will only widen the racial divide and create massive distrust of police moving forward? In addition, Mayor Barry and Chief Anderson is doing this in honor of a police officer who died of natural causes. Come out Sept 6th at 6:30pm Metro Nashville Courthouse, to demand this legislation be turned down and the monies be used for body camera's!!!!!!! http://www.nashvillescene.com/news/pith-in-the-wind/article/20830899/metro-to-spend-1-million-on-body-armor-helmets-face-shields-for-police http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/2016/08/16/mayor-megan-barry-proposes-ballistic-armor-nashville-police/88840740/
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    Created by Evan Abdullah
  • Let Miami Vote!
    Like you, we believe that the PEOPLE should run Miami, and not the lobbyists and billionaires. Last week New Florida Majority and partners turned in over 127,000 petitions so that we can put balance in the system and get BIG money out of politics on this November ballot-77,000 more than what was needed. But inaction by the mayor and county commission is standing in the way of the will of the people! Our communities often don’t exercise their rights because they often feel the political process is rigged, corrupt or not in their interest. Inaction by the mayor and county commission is a prime example of the ways in which the voices of voters, the very people who elected the mayor and commissioners into office, continue to be ignored. This is a fundamental issue of democratic rights in Miami-Dade, and the voices of 127,000 voters deserve to be heard. All the rules regarding petition circulation and delivery were followed, and now it is time for the Elections Department to fulfill its duty to count and verify the petitions. Mayor Carlos Gimenez cannot ignore the voices of 127,000 people and deny the right to free and fair elections to Miami-Dade's residents. If we're going to win, we will need people like you to take a stand. Sign and share our petition!
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    Created by Gihan Perera Picture