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Minimal Sentencing for Wriply Bennet of the #BlackPride4On June 17th, 2017, four Black queer and trans people--now known as the BlackPride4--were violently arrested while peacefully protesting the Columbus Pride Parade to draw attention to the disproportionate murder of trans women of color and the non-indictment of Philando Castile’s murderer, Minneapolis Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez. After months of widespread outrage at the police brutality against the #BlackPride4 and their subsequent arrests, three of them have gone to trial and were found guilty on February 12th, 2018 of charges ranging from disorderly conduct to resisting arrest. With a quickly approaching sentencing date of March 13th, 2018, we must continue the fight to #FreeTheBlackPride4. Their lives and futures hang in the balance, and Judge Ebner is the sole gatekeeper to their freedom. Wriply Bennet and her lawyer have suggested that folks all over continue to show their solidarity in hopes that the Judge is lenient. We really need to keep these Black trans activist home and free from any jail time -- sign the below petition to urge Judge Ebner dole out minimal sentencing to Wriply of the #BlackPride4! -- Here's the petition! Dear Honorable Judge Ebner, We write today in support of Ms. Wriply Bennet and to urge you to deliver the most minimal sentence to her. Ms. Bennet is an asset to our community. Columbus will benefit by Ms. Bennet being allowed to continue the great work she is involved in the community, and our entire community will feel the negative impact should she be required to serve jail time. Ms. Bennet is a nationally recognized artist who has organized around community service efforts for years. In addition, Ms. Bennet has acted as a consultant for local organizations (like Kaleidoscope Youth Center and the Trans/Queer Racial Justice and Transformation Network of the OSU Sexuality Studies Program and others), providing much-needed support to groups working to better our communities. We know that it would be most beneficial to our city and country if she had the opportunity to continue investing her skills and leadership directly into the community instead of serving jail time or navigating restrictive supervision. We respectfully request that you also consider that incarceration is particularly dangerous and traumatizing for Black trans women, who are already faced with the looming threat of violence in their day-to-day lives. For recent context, Ashley Diamond, a Black trans civil rights activist in Georgia, was assaulted, placed into solitary confinement, and denied her medication while incarcerated in 2015. As a direct result of the conditions she experienced, Diamond currently suffers from PTSD and other mental health issues that have hindered her integration back into her communities. We as individuals, join with numerous local and national organizations that have publicly supported Ms. Bennet. In the past eight months, groups from all over Columbus and beyond have offered vocal and material support for the #BlackPride4, from releasing public statements (Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, Equality Ohio) to being present during the week of trial (including BQIC, TransOhio, People’s Justice Project, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Yes We Can Columbus, and former 2017 Stonewall Columbus Pride Planning Committee members who resigned from the Planning Committee due to Stonewall Columbus’ response to the Pride protest). This coordinated, community support demonstrates the interest that has been taken in their case, both locally and nationally, as well as in the defendants’ futures as free people. We understand that as the presiding judge in the case, you have a duty to honor the verdicts given in a court of law. We believe it is imperative that our community’s constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and free speech be protected. Our First Amendment rights enabled so many before us to call attention to social issues and spark lasting change. In light of those interests, the vast network of support for Ms. Bennet, and her history of community service, we urge you to give the absolute minimum sentencing to Ms. Bennet.
Eliminate Cholera In Haiti!Now that Donald Trump’s budget bill has passed through Congress, the Budget Appropriations Committee has a month to decide where the money will be allocated. The Budget Appropriations has a moral obligation to include $12 million towards the UN’s Haitian cholera fund. Appropriations Committee Representatives Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Hal Rogers, as key decision makers in this, should vote yes in supporting this funding and help save thousands of cholera victims in Haiti. The rest of the world is looking to the U.S. for leadership around providing aid to cholera victims in Haiti who have been unnecessarily affected by this lethal virus. Over the past seven years, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have fallen victim to cholera due to the United Nations reckless sewage disposal on their peacekeeping base in 2010. Cholera is an infectious and often fatal bacterial disease, typically contracted from infected water supplies and causing severe vomiting and diarrhea. Today, at least 10,000 Haitians have died, and over 800,000 had been sickened, after years of the U.N. denying and covering up what they did. Cholera has ruined Haiti’s poorest communities, leaving families who lost breadwinners destitute and children orphaned. The epidemic continues to ravage Haiti today and still spikes following large rainfall, such as during Hurricanes Irma and Matthew. In 2016, the then United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon finally acknowledged their responsibility in the outbreak of cholera in Haiti and issued a public apology to the Haitian people. Unfortunately, an apology will not bring 10,000 people back to us, it will not bring mothers and fathers back to the children and it certainly will not provide treatment for the thousands still suffering. Public health actors on the ground strongly believe that with enough funding, the cholera virus can be eliminated in Haiti this year but we need UN member states to step up, including the U.S. The U.N. has proposed a New Approach to Cholera in Haiti, which seeks to eliminate the virus and provide assistance for people who have been directly affected. However, only 4% of the funds have been generated to make this “New Approach” a reality. If the New Approach continues to be underfunded, there could be another outbreak of the devastating disease . The United States has an opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the world by granting money to the U.N’s fund. This money will save the lives of so many Haitians and put an end to this deadly epidemic. Please join us in this fight to eliminate cholera in Haiti.
Support the Secure Elections Act: Paper ballot back-up to preserve valid electionsOur election process is threatened by our election records not being backed up with paper ballots. Our digital ballots could potentially be hacked leaving our system vulnerable. History has shown us election outcomes coming under question leads to Black voter freedom being attacked and restricted. When Trump distracted from questions about his election he did so by accusing Black communities of voter fraud and launching a commission designed to substantiate his lie and restrict Black people's freedom to vote. The "Secure Elections Act" has been introduced by a bipartisan group of Senators led by Republican Senator James Lankford, and Democratic Senator Kamala Harris. It will provide states with the funding they need to make sure ballots have paper records that can't be hacked and we are able to be audit our elections. With this legislation, we will make sure that our election results are legitimate and Black voters are more secure in their freedom to vote. To ensure the validity of our elections, we need to safeguard the ballot by having paper records for elections. Without this, we will have widespread doubts about the validity of any election we hold, and history has shown that Black voter freedom will be targeted for restriction. As Congressional testimonies have shown the government has done nothing to secure our elections. While we ignore the common sense calls to move to paper ballots states like Arkansas are passing updated voter ID laws. Instead of working to push the lie that we need to Voter ID laws aimed at Black voters, we need to pass legislation aimed at the actual threat to our elections. The Secure Elections Act is the bare minimum we could do if we want to make sure our elections are secure against actual fraud. Donald Trump has done absolutely nothing to make Americans feel more secure about their elections instead he has been pushing a narrative to throw them further in doubt, it is time for the Senate to act. Black people understand the importance of free and fair elections as we are still fighting to have our freedom to vote fully recognized. Tell the Senate to pass the "Secure Elections Act" to safeguard the ballot we are still fighting for.
Tell DA Candidates: SHOW US YOUR RECEIPTS!!My name is Brittany and I am emailing you from Dallas, Texas on behalf of Faith in Texas, an organization that moves entire congregations to action through powerful policy campaigns. We are organizing a LIVE FREE DFW campaign to hold our District Attorney (DA) candidates accountable for making our criminal justice system just and fair. That is why we are demanding that all DA candidates SHOW US THEIR RECEIPTS! If their budget platform is moral then they need to make it public! But they need to hear from all Dallas County residents on and offline. Will you join our fight? As a community, we understand that a budget is a moral document that reflects a District Attorney’s priorities. The proposed budgets of our candidates will allow us to see clearly whether their priorities lie on programs that will restore our communities, or merely punish them. Is Dallas County's next DA seeking to fund restorative justice or merely the punishment of Black, Hispanic and poor people? This is why Faith in Texas has issued a clear message to each candidate: If your budget is moral, make it public! In addition to our petition, we are hosting an in-person action to speak with candidates directly. It is on Sunday, February 25th from 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM, can you join us? More details below: EVENT: Faith in Texas District Attorney Forum: Show Us Your Receipts! DATE & TIME: February 25, 2018 @ 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM LOCATION: St Luke Community UMC, 5710 E RL Thornton Fwy, Dallas, TX 75223. At the DA forum, Faith in Texas will present our Criminal Justice priorities and highlight what is at stake for ALL of our communities. You will also experience art, music and powerful messages from directly-impacted people and clergy leaders. Most importantly, Dallas County DA candidates have this opportunity to present their proposed budgets for the District Attorney's office, directly to the public, before the March Primary Election. LIVE FREE DFW is a campaign of Faith in Texas, working to bring an end to mass incarceration, community violence, and the targeting of black, brown and low-income people by our criminal justice system. Steps towards this include passing robust Fair Chance Hiring and Housing policies, passing policies that end arrests for low-level, non-violent misdemeanors, and scaling-down mass incarceration in the state of Texas. Do you believe in driving down mass incarceration for Black folks in Dallas?
No voter suppression-don't make people vote in police stations!The recent decision from the Janesville city council to move polling locations into police stations will decrease voter turnout from Black people and other marginalized communities. Throughout the country, conservatives have done everything they can to suppress turnout from Black voters. They have attacked Black people's freedom to vote through laws like voter ID, prosecuting volunteers, and organizations who register Black voters, and administrative moves like changing polling hours, and providing inadequate resources in polling locations Black people use. Janesville city council is following this formula by moving polling stations to police stations in the 3rd and 4th wards of Janesville. This decision to place these polling places in police stations is not any mere coincidence. This is the hometown of Paul Ryan. Speaker Ryan is now facing a strong challenge to his seat in a manner that he never has. With Speaker Ryan's re-election moving from a foregone conclusion to an uncertainty is very important context for our city council's decision to place these polling places in a location that would suppress voters from marginalized communities. There are also two Black people running for city council and Janesville is not a city that has seen Black people regularly elected. Black turnout will be very important in the next election and several elections afterward. Moving the polling place of Black voters from city hall to a police station is sending a message of fear and intimidation to potential Black voters. We have seen conservatives across the country send mailers to Black communities stating that they will be picked up for warrants if they attempt to vote, we've seen conservatives criminalize organizations that register Black voters through raids and arrests, this latest move from the Janesville city council continues in this spread of voter suppression aimed at attacking Black people's freedom to vote. The city council has thus far disregarded appeals from representatives of the NAACP and League of Women Voters to find a less fraught location. Instead of listening to the concerns of the people of Janesville the city council has decided to feign ignorance and ignore their constituents. Our city government should be doing everything in their power to create more voters instead of working to reduce them. While we understand there is a hot race to unseat Paul Ryan in his next re-election and turnout is very important, it is even more important for our city to be able to trust that its leaders aren't attempting to suppress their votes for their preferred candidate.
We Demand Representation! Call A Special Election for Michigan's 13th Congressional DistrictGov. Rick Snyder is denying the people of Michigan’s 13th Congressional representation. Instead of valuing the right to representation of the people living in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District Rick Snyder has decided it is too expensive to respect their right to representation, he has cited costs as his reason to delay any special election for this congressional district. In 2012 Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed legislation calling for voter ID in Michigan, earning praise while Michigan was redrawn into one of the most gerrymandered states in the United States. Our voting power was diluted to the point that a voter ID law wasn’t necessary to suppress our power. Now Gov. Snyder is following in the Republican model and simply refusing to hold an election because he believes he wouldn’t like the outcome. Everyday we are not represented, we are without an advocate for the needs of our community. Our tax dollars are being collected while without a representative of the people to have any input in how they are to be applied. Constituent services are not being carried out to answer the needs of Black people who must interact with any number of federal agencies here in Detroit. We need a representative who will advocate for our community in the face of an unprecedented assault. We must show Gov. Snyder that we will not quietly allow him to deny our right to representation and force him to call a special election now. Gov. Snyder’s decision to deny the people of the 13th district of Michigan representation is un-democratic. We continue to see Republicans across the country bend, break, or simply invent rules to try and create a political system where they can’t lose. We have fought for our right to voter freedom throughout every iteration of these bigoted attacks and we will not stop now. Together we will send a message to Gov. Snyder and the entire nation, our voices will not be silenced.
Tell NYC Mayor to Stop Tolerating Racism in SchoolsIt's been more than a month since the Daily News broke a story about a white teacher in the Bronx who, in a lesson on slavery and the Middle Passage, made Black students in several classes lay face down on the floor and even stepped on a female student while asking "see how it feels to be a slave?" It's been more than a month, and the city has still not taken any steps to ensure that this type of degrading and traumatic incident will not occur again. When asked by press about what the city is doing to make sure this type of incident never occurs again, Mayor de Blasio has said that the city already offers training on cultural competency. The truth is that those trainings are currently offered to just 450 out of 77,000 teachers - less than 1% of NYC teachers. For over a year, parents have been demanding that Mayor de Blasio provide leadership in our schools and implement a comprehensive program of Culturally Responsive Education, including cultural competency trainings for teachers and school staff, in order to avoid just this kind of traumatic incident. Now, the responsibility for this incident rests firmly on the Mayor's shoulders. We know that racism and bias in schools is a national crisis. " White teachers have lower expectations for students of color, and are significantly less likely to expect Black students to finish high school and college " School staff frequently perceive Black boys as threatening and dangerous for the same behaviors that are seen as innocent for White students. " In 2015, only 15% of children's books were written by African-American or Latino authors, or focused on African-American or Latino characters " Over 80% of public school teachers nationally are White women, though a majority of public school students are people of color. In New York City, for example, 266 NYC schools have 0 or just 1 Latino teacher, 327 have 0 or just 1 Black teacher, and 690 have 0 or just 1 Asian teacher Given these statistics, in how many other classrooms across the city are Black children are learning about slavery in a degrading way? And in how many classrooms across the city are Black children learning that their ancestors were kings and queens, fighters against enslavement, strategists and spies, scientists and inventors, doctors, healers and entrepreneurs? Culturally Responsive Education is a research-based strategy that helps teachers build social and emotional connections with their students across racial and cultural differences, and root learning in students' culture and prior experiences. It has shown to have impressive impacts on student achievement in Tucson, San Francisco, and other districts across the country. But Mayor de Blasio, who claims to be a national progressive leader, has dragged his feet and been slow and timid to embrace this approach. Parents need him to step up and take action, to get justice for those students in the Bronx, and to make sure no child has to experience that again.
#FREESADAT: Demand the release of a Gay Black Asylum Seeker from DetentionSadat Ibrahim is a young gay man from Ghana where homosexuality is a crime punishable by three years in prison. Sadat had been brutally attacked by a homophobic vigilante gang back in Ghana, the ‘Safety Empire’, that hunts down, beats up and kills gay people. Fearing for his life, he planned a long escape route, and finally made it to the Mexican/U.S. border and presented himself at the border requesting asylum. An asylum officer agreed that Sadat had a credible fear of persecution. His family sent videos supporting his claim to Sadat in detention in Georgia, but not only did the officers in the detention center not give Sadat this critical evidence, they never even told Sadat that the evidence had arrived. Without the corroborating evidence, the judge denied Sadat asylum. Sadat faces deportation back to the same situation that may see him incarcerated, attacked and/or murdered for being gay, as his asylum claim was denied. Had Sadat been able to share the video evidence that ICE withheld from him until after the hearing, we believe the judge should have granted asylum to Sadat, and likely would have done so. Sadat’s legal team has managed to win him a temporary stay of removal so why is he still being detained?
#NoJusticeNoDealWe are concerned about ongoing negotiations over a new police contract between the City and County of San Francisco and the San Francisco Police Officers Association (POA). We are requesting that Mayor Farrell direct the Department of Human Resources to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding that prioritizes public safety and police accountability and represents the needs of communities most impacted by over-policing, racial profiling, and police violence. We support workers and unions. Many of us are union members. The POA, however, is not like other unions that focus exclusively on wages and benefits and reasonable working conditions for their employees. The POA exerts far more power and control over the City’s residents and visitors. Further, the POA consistently uses labor law to exert enormous influence on public policy and public safety by blocking or delaying common-sense reforms that would make San Francisco safer. Examples include using meet-and-confer to negotiate a weaker body camera policy and suing the City to block the vastly-improved and unanimously-passed use-of-force policy. The POA has taken hardline stances and used inflammatory tactics that destroy trust between residents and police. It regularly and publicly attacks police accountability champions—including elected officials, prominent athletes like Colin Kaepernick, and its own police members who don’t toe their line. The following represent important priorities that we urge the City's negotiators to consider and incorporate: Given the city charter’s timeline that necessitates negotiating a new MOU prior to the unexpected June 2018 mayoral election, the current MOU should be extended and renegotiated in 2019 once an elected mayor is in office and after current reform efforts are farther along. If a new MOU is negotiated this year, it should be approved for a one-year term and renegotiated in 2019. Given the stated commitment of former Mayor Edwin Lee to implement all of the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) report, the immense investment of time and resources the San Francisco Police Department, many of us, and now the California Department of Justice will have devoted to this implementation process, and the express support for the recommendations offered by POA leadership, any new MOU should require that the POA facilitate the implementation of these recommendations. Specifically, the City should demand that the POA agree not to invoke meet-and-confer or interest arbitration related to any policy arising out of this reform process. The City should demand in any new MOU that the POA agree not to invoke meet-and-confer or interest arbitration when the Police Commission passes any Departmental General Orders related to the following topics: *Use of force *Tasers *Body cameras *Civilian complaints *Police misconduct and discipline Given the aggressiveness with which the POA has resisted the City’s reform efforts, a new MOU should not require the City to pay any portion of the POA President’s salary. This type of payment is not a standard provision in public sector labor agreements. Given the challenges the Police Commission and Chief have faced in keeping police officers accountable for misconduct, a new MOU should not limit consideration of evidence in an officer’s personnel file for purposes of promotion, transfer, or discipline (within the boundaries of state law). This includes removing the current provision preventing the use of evidence over five years old. There is important precedent demonstrating how communities and their elected representatives can work together to increase public safety in the context of MOU negotiations. The Austin City Council recently voted to reject a proposed new contract with their police union after the city’s negotiators failed to address the community’s concerns. And it worked: the police union there announced on January 30th that it would return to the bargaining table to discuss the community's non-economic demands. Over the course of the current San Francisco MOU, we’ve paid our officers among the highest salaries in the country and, in return, the public deserves a professional police force that reflects community values. Police violence, racist and homophobic texts, and rape scandals are not consistent with our values. Instead of acting as a partner to modernize police practices, the City has faced resistance from the POA at every turn. We can’t afford to repeat these mistakes for another decade. #NoJusticeNoDeal
Animals In PrisonsThere are people who are in jail for very long periods of time, as well as people who will never see how outside looks a day in their lives. There is also a overpopulation of cats and dogs who have no place to go. By giving long term and permanent inmates with good behavior the choice of having and caring for a pet during their time, we can get animals off the streets, as well as a person to care for and love them. This would benefit the jails, due to these animals being a sense of calmness and love the inmates would not feel so hostile all the time and rates of crime in prison would decrease.
Equal Pay for Black WomenBlack women are being exploited by their employers. Black women are still earning $0.63 for every dollar a man is paid, despite being America's most educated people. We are attaining education at a rate unmatched by any other demographic by both race and gender, a higher percentage of black women are enrolled in college than any other group, topping Asian women, white women, and white men. Despite this, our work is not rewarded with the same wages as the other groups. We demand the Chamber of Commerce act in a decisive manner to guarantee its members end this racist, and sexist, exploitative condition. It is important that Black women are paid equally because we know we must work harder to reach our goals. We are navigating the listed requirements of our jobs while also providing labor to make sure our presentation conforms to racist and sexist standards. Our work is stolen and our words are appropriated while we get a fraction of the compensation men receive for work that would not exist without us. People still think a "man" can do a better job than a woman largely because men keep stealing the work of women. By demanding pay equity we are also demanding that the work of Black women is finally recognized for its value and that we are recognized for the labor we render to make it so. The Chamber of Commerce is the organizing body for America's businesses and it is past time they take responsibility for their members racist, misogynist policies. We will band together and force the Chamber to acknowledge the exploitation of Black women as the first step towards justice. Once we make the Chamber acknowledge the systemic racism and sexism of their member's current policies, we will demand that they take substantive steps to address Black women being exploited by demanding their members audit their payroll data and review pay disparity between their current employees. We will also demand they offer paid family and medical leave, paid sick days, and affordable childcare to all of their employees. In addition to these steps, an audit and regular study using member payroll data would be necessary to ensure ongoing efforts are successful.
Demand DA Faith Johnson Support Bail ReformThe cash bail system in Dallas County discriminates against poor Black people in the most harmful ways. Black families are stripped of community, financial resources and a sense of basic human dignity. Black people remain in cages for weeks, months and sometimes years at taxpayer expense. And oftentimes, Black people are jailed with no evidence they have committed a crime. This is a crisis that can no longer continue. In the past, I have had many family members who were forced to serve time simply because they did not have the money to make bail or were not given enough time to produce the money. In many cases, the amount requested for bail did not fit the crime. Families in the Dallas community like mine are tired of losing their loved ones to the criminal “injustice” system. To make matters worse, District Attorney Faith Johnson is routinely locking up Black people for crimes of poverty. It has been reported by multiple sources that Johnson has received thousands of dollars from the bail industry and even sits on the board of the Dallas County Bail Bond Board. Her silence on the bail reform cannot be tolerated. By pressuring District Attorney Faith Johnson to renounce the bail industry and to refuse political donations from these corporations we get one step closer to ending money bail’s exploitation of poor, Black people in Dallas County. There are many in our community who, not only believe in ending money bail, but are also working to make this come true. It is time for Faith Johnson to do right by her constituents. Join us in demanding Faith Johnson to renounce the bail industry and return all political contributions to bail corporations!