• Mall of America: Show you believe that Black lives matter
    On December 20th, 2014, over 3,000 people gathered in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, to protest the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and the thousands of other Black Americans brutally killed by police. Chanting “Black Lives Matter!” and reaffirming the value of Black humanity, the protestors challenged our law enforcement and legal system to own up to and stop their racist attacks on Black lives. Unfortunately, what protestors got in response was a declaration of war. The police showed up in full riot gear, shut down parts of the mall and arrested 25 protestors. Since then, the mall owners, Canada-based Triple Five Group, have been working with the Bloomington city prosecutor to “make an example” of 11 “ringleaders” of the protest (1). This is a clear example of why protestors were in the mall in the first place: discriminatory, militarized policing and the criminalization of people of color by both law enforcement and the justice system. Bloomington city authorities have a chance to continue in this racist tradition or reverse these practices going forward. 70,000 educators, 170,000 Amalgamated Traffic Union members, 100+ clergy members, and the Minnesota AFL-CIO have urged for change, asking the city prosecutor, Sandra Johnson, to drop the charges against the protestors (2). They point out that peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our democracy and the precedent that this prosecution sets is both shameful and dangerous for the future of dissent in this country. When private property is legally valued over Black lives, we know our country has a problem. Instead of wasting public funds quashing this critical voice, Johnson could be engaging in an effort to make the justice system work for those who do not receive fair and equal treatment. Despite all of these calls from the public to stop heavy-handed tactics used against these protestors, Sandra Johnson has maintained that she will prosecute the defendants no matter what (3). Indeed, eleven of the purported organizers were arraigned on March 10th and charged with six misdemeanors, including trespassing and disorderly conduct. Perhaps most disturbing is that Johnson is demanding $40,000 in restitution for police overtime and lost revenue (4). This is dangerous to our democracy and our first amendment right to protest. When public protest, shown throughout history to be one of the most effective forces for social change, is criminalized and monetized, how can we hope to address major inequities in our society? This is why we are hoping you will join in asking the mall owners, the Triple Five Group, to tell the prosecutor to drop the charges against the Black Lives Matter protestors. If the Group tells the attorney to discontinue this aggressive, unjust pursuit, she will be forced to stay true to her word or listen to the overwhelming voice of the people and back down. Yes, Johnson has said that she must do her job without paying attention to public opinion; she must uphold justice and the law, immune to outside influence. But what about when our laws are unjust? When “justice” consistently, negatively, and disproportionately affects people of color? This is a crucial moment in our nation’s movement for racial justice, and the justice system is a crucial site of struggle. That is why we all must collectively put pressure on the system. It is time for change. Join me in urging the Mall of America owners to demand that Sandra Johnson drop the charges against the protestors so that she is forced to listen to the call for racial justice. (1) https://www.minnpost.com/glean/2014/12/bloomington-city-attorney-wants-make-example-out-moa-protesters-filing-charges (2) http://educationminnesota.org/news/education-headlines/black-lives-matter-resolution https://www.facebook.com/BlackLivesMatterMinneapolis/photos/pcb.891246207585840/891244177586043/?type=1&theater http://theuptake.org/2015/03/02/city-of-bloomington-100-faith-leaders-want-a-word-with-you/ http://www.mnaflcio.org/press/minnesota-afl-cio-calls-bloomington-city-attorney-not-prosecute-blacklivesmatter-activists (3) http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_27682265/11-mall-america-black-lives-matter-protesters-plead (4) http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2015/03/10/black-lives-matter-calls-boycott-mall-america-following-first-hearing
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  • A danger to Black lives: #StopMcCulloch
    St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch is the prosecutor who was supposed to make sure Officer Darren Wilson faced justice for killing Mike Brown. Instead, he acted in bad faith and rigged the process to protect Wilson and prevent justice. We cannot allow this type of discrimination and corruption to continue without consequence in Missouri’s justice system. It’s time to demand that a special prosecutor investigate McCulloch’s outrageous, unethical, and potentially illegal conduct, and hold Darren Wilson accountable for the murder of Mike Brown. Missouri law allows for a special prosecutor to investigate when elected officials knowingly or willingly fail to fulfill their public duties. A group of concerned community members and I have filed a petition now before St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Joseph Walsh to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Bob McCulloch, but he will likely only do so with widespread public pressure.1 Take action today urging Judge Walsh to appoint a special prosecutor today. McCulloch could have decided to arrest and prosecute Darren Wilson the day he killed Mike Brown. But instead, as is all to common when the victim is Black and the killer is a police officer, McCulloch convened a grand jury for political cover – and did everything he could to make sure they choose not to bring charges against Wilson.2 The list of McCulloch’s errors is long. McCulloch and his team gave the grand jury unconstitutional guidance on police use of force. They presented testimony favoring Officer Wilson that was known to be perjury, such as Sandra McElroy, an avid racist who drove to Canfield drive in order to “understand the Black race better so I stop calling Blacks N****** and Start calling them People.”3 McCulloch also allowed Wilson to defend himself to the grand jury in a way that’s not usually allowed. And prosecutors failed to challenge significant contradictions and inconsistencies between Wilson’s testimony, his earlier statements to police, and the physical evidence. The grand jury was a sham. In practice, prosecutors can usually get a grand jury to file whatever charges they want – there’s an expression that a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. But McCulloch didn’t even ask the grand jury to file charges against Wilson – he simply gave them a lot of evidence and asked them to make their own decision. Legal experts across the country said it was outrageous.4 As we all know, no charges were filed against Wilson, and instead of taking responsibility for this, McCulloch can just say “it was the grand jury’s decision.” Join us in demanding that McCulloch face accountability for engineering this miscarriage of justice. As long as McCulloch remains in office with no oversight, the lives of Black Missourians are in grave danger. McCulloch’s history is clear: he is unable to hold law enforcement that abuse and kill Black residents accountable. In 2001, McCulloch failed to charge two police officers that killed unarmed Earl Murray and Ronald Beasley in a storm of 21 bullets, later calling the victims "bums" at a press conference. 5 Since Mike Brown was killed, Kajieme Powell, VonDerrit Myers and Antonio Myers were fatally shot by police in the St. Louis area. And nationwide, countless other Black loved ones have been lost to the systemic crisis of discriminatory police violence. A new racial justice movement to end these tragic killings is growing stronger each day. And freedom requires a complete overhaul of the justice system’s business as usual--starting with McCulloch. References 1. "Activists Seek Investigation Of How McCulloch Handled Grand Jury" St. Louis Public Radio 01-16-2015 http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/activists-seek-investigation-how-mcculloch-handled-grand-jury 2. "Ferguson tragedy becoming a farce," Washington Post 09-12-2014 http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-ferguson-tragedy-becoming-a-farce/2014/09/12/e52226ca-3a82-11e4-9c9f-ebb47272e40e_story.html 3. "Why won't McCulloch charge Witness #40 with perjury? Time for a special prosecutor, new grand jury," Daily Kos 12-19-14 http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/12/19/1353052/-Under-pressure-St-Louis-prosecutor-Bob-McCulloch-admits-he-called-witnesses-who-were-lying# 4. "Experts Blast Ferguson Prosecutor’s Press Conference, Legal Strategy," ThinkProgress 10-25-14 http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/11/25/3596884/ferguson-legal-experts/ 5. "St. Louis prosecutor has faced controversy for decades," St. Louis Today 08-16-2014
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  • BART Directors: When it comes to ending the war on Black communities, which side are you on?
    Across the country, hundreds of thousands of people have made a resolution to fight for Black lives. Now, businesses, police departments, and other government agencies are trying to make us pay. Sign the petition, then take a selfie of yourself holding a sign that says, “Not one dime” or “We’ve already paid with our lives” and tweet it to @SFBart on Twitter. On Black Friday, November 28, 2014, in response to a call to action from the Black community of Ferguson, Missouri, a team of 14 members of the #BlackLivesMatter network, dubbed the Black Friday 14, joined hundreds of thousands of others nationwide using civil disobedience to protest a discriminatory pattern of police and vigilante violence that has taken too many Black lives – including, most recently, the lives of Michael Brown, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson, Antonio Martin, and Eric Garner.(1) Instead of citing and releasing protesters, or charging them with the same minor infraction applied to the thousands of multiracial allies that have blocked busses, trains, and traffic -- the Alameda County Deputy District Attorney has capitulated to aggressive pressure from the BART Board of Directors to apply a harsher penalty, that of misdemeanor criminal trespass, which requires these 14 protesters to pay tens of thousands of dollars -- up to 70,000 -- in “restitution” to BART. The BART Board of Directors claims they are owed payment for lost fares on Black Friday 2014, but for decades the Bay Area Rapid Transit system has cost local Black communities our homes, jobs, safety, and even our lives. Who will pay for that? In the 1950’s, Eminent Domain was used to displace Black businesses and homes along the once vibrant Black community of 7th street to build the BART system. (2) More recently, BART police have recklessly endangered and stolen Black lives. In January 2014, BART police attacked and tasered an unarmed Black man twice, then dragged him off the train. (3) In March, BART police beat and arrested Nubia Bowe, a 19-year old student and a Black woman suspected of dancing on the train; and in September BART police slammed a Black woman to the ground and charged her with resisting arrest. (4) (5) On January 1st, 2009, BART Police shot and killed Oscar Grant, a 24-year-old unarmed Black man. (6) Since then, BART police officers have taken little to no corrective action, joining police departments and their representatives across the nation in escalating a war against Black communities instead. (7) Now, as justice-seeking people sing out on every street corner "which side are you on?" the Bay Area Rapid Transit is targeting courageous Black people who put their bodies on the line to fight for their lives, and unjustly fining them thousands of dollars for exercising their constitutional right to free speech. We won't stand for it. And we need widespread public pressure to expose and stop BART's discriminatory and outrageous attempts to profit off and punish the growing movement for Black liberation. Instead of working to end the discriminatory pattern of police violence that continues without pause, the BART Board of Directors wants financial compensation from those fighting for the sanctity of their lives. There’s something terribly wrong with this picture. This isn’t the first time BART has been targeted for its crimes -- but it is the first time an all Black group comprised of organizers, mothers, students, queers and women are being charged and asked to pay restitution for an action calling for an end to the war on Black lives. We cannot allow the BART Board of Directors to set this dangerous, undemocratic precedent. References: 1. Breaking: Black Lives Matter Protesters Shut Down BART at West Oakland Station, 11-28-14 http://goo.gl/ibbgis 2. Eminent Domain in West Oakland, http://goo.gl/e8Snd6 3. Depressing video: Black Man Tased and Dragged Off BART , 02-10-14 http://goo.gl/L3N1wn 4. BART police arrest, assault young woman for riding train while black, 04-29-14 http://goo.gl/e2jhYz 5. VIDEO: BART Police Officer Slams Woman to Floor, Incident Captured on Video, 09-05-14 http://goo.gl/V3OcB9 6. Oscar Grant’s Mother: ‘We Have to Be Relentless in the Vindication of Our Slain Sons’, 08-26-14 http://goo.gl/GQSjeX 7. BART Director: Cell Phone Shutdown Didn't Go Through Proper Channels, 08-11-13 http://goo.gl/4JEnTy
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  • Justice for Dontre: Demand Federal Charges!
    On April 30, 2014, my brother Dontre Hamilton was shot 14 times and killed by Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney. After almost eight months of foot-dragging, District Attorney John Chisholm refused to indict Manney. Eight months of mourning while working day and night to demand justice for my brother. Eight months of demonstrations on the streets, in City Hall, and at the park where my brother was killed. To make the non-indictment even worse, Chisholm announced it on December 22, in direct violation of our family's request that he not do it right before the holidays. The Milwaukee police department and District Attorney's office failed to release any evidence supporting the officer’s claims that my brother was a threat. Photos of Christopher Manney showed no indication of injury. It only proves to us that Dontre’s death was unjustified and totally preventable. This unbearable situation has led me to fight for justice for Dontre, who deserves to rest in peace with the truth revealed. No officer should be above the law, especially when he violates policy and procedures over and over again. Christopher Manney had a history of complaints against him for excessive force before he killed Dontre Hamilton. [1] If the local DA refused to consider this, then we need the federal government to step in. We cannot stand for injustice. Police violence doesn't just hurt one individual or family. When the community lives in fear of the police, good police work is impossible. The Coalition for Justice is organized to end this pattern of injustice in Milwaukee. Our mission is to inspire courage and build a movement to transform the city of Milwaukee. We support the empowerment of marginalized communities and dismantling of systems of oppression that erode community trust, dignity, and agency. By focusing on racial and social justice we hope to create innovative and sustained solutions that make our communities safer and equitable places to live. It is our goal to build alliances among community organizations and mobilize people dedicated toward the fight for justice. Join us in demanding federal action in this miscarriage of justice. Let's empower ourselves by having a voice. Help support the cause against police brutality and laws that protect the Police when they take a life unjustly. We also seek donations in any form to move ahead in getting justice for Dontre and help those who get arrested for protesting. https://www.crowdrise.com/coalitionforjustice-bailfund/fundraiser/thecaolitionforjusti One Love in One Nation is the goal. Lets reach this together. References 1. "Officer Manney: Six citizen complaints filed against him in his 13 years," Fox6 News, 10-22-14, http://fox6now.com/2014/10/22/officer-manney-six-citizen-complaints-filed-against-him-in-his-13-years/ Photo credit: Joe Brusky Stay in Touch with the Coalition for Justice! Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/justicefordontre Follow us on Twitter @justice4dontre and Instagram @thecoalition4justicemke
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  • Stop racist threats of violence at Walmart
    Markeith Washington was working on the overnight remodeling crew at the Richmond, CA Walmart Store which was supervised by Art Van Riper. Van Riper was notorious among associates for screaming insults, calling the crew "a bunch of lazy ass workers." During one night of work in September of 2012 while Markeith was tying a rope around his own waist to aid in moving a heavy counter, Van Riper said to him, "if it was up to me, I'd put that rope around your neck." Shocked at this hateful comment, Markeith simply responded, "That's not right." Markeith and his fellow remodel crew associates were understandably outraged by Van Riper's threat. They bravely joined together to demand discipline for Van Riper and respect on the job by taking actions including talking to management, sending a letter to Walmart and even participating in a work stoppage strike. More than two years after threatening to lynch Markeith, Art Van Riper still has a job with Walmart. Associates who stood up to Van Riper's unacceptable conduct have been fired and none rehired by Walmart. In early December, an administrative law judge ruled that Walmart illegally disciplined workers who went on strike because of Van Riper's behavior. It is unacceptable that Walmart, the country's largest employer of Black people, would conduct an investigation into this incident and continue to employ Art Van Riper. By refusing to take action--even in the face of a judge's ruling-- Walmart is complicit in Art Van Riper invoking the traumatic, racist violence of lynching. Walmart must set a precedent that this type of behavior from management is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Walmart must fire Art Van Riper, rehire all the associates who protested the incident and put human resources practices in place to ensure racist threats of violence never again happen in a store. As Demario Hammond, one of Markeith's coworkers who witnessed Van Riper's verbal attack and was disciplined for fighting back, puts it, "We grew up learning from our mistakes, but only because when we did something wrong our parents would check us. Managers like Art continue to work at Walmart, and will continue treating associates with disrespect unless Walmart’s upper management or Home Office does something about it. His behavior deserves consequences."
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  • Blackout For Human Rights: The time for action is NOW! #BlackoutBlackFriday
    Why is this important? BLACKOUT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (Blackout) is a nationwide network of high profile artists, activists and faith leaders, who stand against human rights violations. We’ve watched in outrage, frustration and sadness as Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, Oscar Grant, Tanisha Anderson, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, John Crawford, and so many others met their deaths at the hands of police officers. We mourn the loss of life and the absence of justice for Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride and Jordan Davis, killed by private citizens, in a climate where police action demonstrates this as acceptable. Blackout for Human Rights (Blackout) is our collective decision to meet this devastation with positive energy and empowerment. We must stand up together to fight these injustices and correct the power imbalance that keeps so many of us from having a fair shot. On Monday, a St. Louis Grand Jury failed to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Mike Brown. Brave community members across the country took to the streets to organize and express their legitimate moral outrage at the devastating decision and corrupt, discriminatory justice system that failed Brown and fails all Americans—in the worst of ways—every single day. An affront to any citizen’s human rights threatens the liberty of all. So, we participate in one of the most time honored American traditions: dissent. We demand an immediate end to the brutal treatment and inhumane killings of our loved ones; the lives of our friends, our parents and our children have value and should be treated with respect. Our human rights are secured not only by our humanity, but are protected both federally and internationally by the Constitution of the United States of America and the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Similarly, we stand in solidarity with Walmart workers in demanding that working Americans earn enough to live our lives with dignity. The fights for civil rights and economic justice are two branches of the same tree. As Dr. King once said, “What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can’t afford to buy a hamburger?” Everyday, millions of parents fear for their children, worried that they’ll be the next victims of police brutality, while millions of parents must also worry about finding the next meal for their children. In an effort to stand up against human rights violations in America, we’re working with ColorOfChange and other organizations to build a powerful network. We’re inspired by the thousands of people across the country who speak truth to power and stand up to demand a better life and treatment that respects our basic humanity. We are making Black Friday (November 28, 2014) a nationwide day of action and retail boycott. Our movement is too powerful to stop at the bare minimum. As a nation, we must demand better, dignified lives for all of us. If enough of us act together, it will change the conversation around human rights and economic justice. We have the power to make a difference and ignite change. Join Blackout for Human Rights on #BlackoutBlackFriday. Don’t spend: take action. Your dollars matter and so does your voice. Will you join us? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9u2gjGuwxIk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bl_-Jv89vS8
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  • Justice for Dontre Hamilton: Hold the Milwaukee Police Department accountable!
    On April 30, 2014, my brother Dontre Hamilton was shot 14 times and killed by Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney. Six months have passed and my family is still waiting for the investigation into his murder to be done and for legal action to be taken. The police department and District Attorney's office have failed to release any evidence supporting the officer’s claims that my brother was a threat. We the family, along with our attorneys, have seen pictures of Christopher Manney that show no indication of injury. It only proves to us that Dontre’s death was unjustified and totally preventable. This unbearable situation has led me to fight for justice for Dontre, who deserves to rest in peace with the truth being revealed. No officer should be above the law, especially when he violates policy and procedures over and over again. Christopher Manney had a history of complaints against him for excessive force before he killed Dontre Hamilton. [1] We cannot stand for injustice. The time for unity has come. Police violence doesn't just hurt one individual or family. When the community lives in fear of the police, good police work is impossible. The Coalition for Justice is organized to end this pattern of injustice in Milwaukee. Our mission is to inspire courage and build a movement to transform the city of Milwaukee. We support the empowerment of marginalized communities and dismantling of systems of oppression that erode community trust, dignity, and agency. By focusing on racial and social justice we hope to create innovative and sustained solutions that make our communities safer and equitable places to live. It is our goal to build alliances among community organizations and mobilize people dedicated toward the fight for justice. Join us in changing Milwaukee. Let's empower ourselves by having a voice. Help support the cause against police brutality and laws that protect the Police when they take a life unjustly. We seek donations in any form to move ahead in getting justice for Dontre and other families that lost someone to an unlawful hand and creating change throughout our community. One Love in One Nation is the goal. Lets reach this together. References 1. "Officer Manney: Six citizen complaints filed against him in his 13 years," Fox6 News, 10-22-14, http://fox6now.com/2014/10/22/officer-manney-six-citizen-complaints-filed-against-him-in-his-13-years/ Stay in Touch with the Coalition for Justice! Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/justicefordontre Follow us on Twitter @justice4dontre and Instagram @thecoalition4justicemke
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  • FL GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES: How will you end youth criminalization?
    Florida is home to some of the worst policing practices in the country. Described as "New York City stop-and-frisk on steroids," Miami Gardens Police have stopped and questioned more than half of the city's population, thousands of them kids, some of them as young as 5 deemed "reasonably suspicious" while playing outside. (1) Often, unjust police stops turn violent and deadly. Florida also leads the country in youth criminalization. Second only to Texas in the highest number of private prisons, Florida's entire youth prison system is privatized. Every day, Black and brown teens targeted by a deeply racist and discriminatory criminal justice system are forced to face abuse, torture, and neglect at the hands of private companies. (2) We don't want to live in a world where you have to put a bullet proof vest on your child in fear of fatal police or vigilante violence. We must take action to address this devastating criminalization targeting Black and brown Florida youth. Florida's important Governor election is fast approaching and our state's next leadership must be committed to addressing these key issues facing our communities. On October 21st, Gov. Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist will hold a debate, and moderators Jake Taper and Kent Justice are will have an opportunity to clarify the candidates position on Florida's for-profit prisons and systemic police violence. During last week's debate, we succeeded at garnering enough widespread public pressure to ensure that candidates were asked about Florida's notorious "Stand Your Ground Law," but we need candidates to answer to much more. The stakes are high. To ensure youth criminalization is on our next Governor's agenda and to secure transformative change after Election Day, we must call on Jake Tapper and Kent Justice to ask the questions that matter to our community. References: 1. "Florida City’s ‘Stop & Frisk’ Nabs Thousands of Kids, Finds 5-Year-Olds ‘Suspicious,’" Fusion 09-22-14 Fusion http://fusion.net/story/5568/florida-citys-stop-frisk-nabs-thousands-of-kids-finds-5-year-olds-suspicious/ 2. "Too Good to be True: Private Prisons in America," (.pdf) Sentencing Project, 01-2012 http://www.sentencingproject.org/detail/publication.cfm?publication_id=384
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  • Enough! Justice for John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson & an end to OH police violence
    Ohio elected officials need to send a message that they believe #BlackLivesMatter. After the tragic deaths of John Crawford III, Tanisha Anderson, and Tamir Rice here in our state, Attorney General Mike Dewine's silence has sent a message that police officers can kill black people with impunity in Ohio. John Crawford III was killed by Officer Sean Williams .36 seconds after seeing him with a toy gun that he picked up from the shelf at a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio. His last words were "it's not real."1 Not only was Sean Williams not indicted, Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine failed to act and change this brutal shoot-first protocol and just a few months later, a 12 year old boy named Tamir Rice was killed by Cleveland Police in a similar situation. Will you join us to help build power behind structural changes to Ohio's political system to help end militarized, discriminatory police violence? In a harrowing video, with haunting similarities to the killing of John Crawford, Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir as he played in the playground in front of his house with a BB gun and then told his mother to "calm down" as she tried to reach her son. (2) It was also the Cleveland Police who killed Ms. Anderson who suffered from schizophrenia. She was threatened with a taser and slammed into the pavement as her brother looked on in horror. (3) Just this week her death was ruled a homicide. (4) If Attorney General Mike DeWine had listened to Black Ohio youth and taken action after John Crawford was killed he could have prevented these tragic deaths at the hands of law enforcement. Justice for John Crawford, Tamir Rice, and Tanisha Anderson means accountability for their deaths and a fundamental change in the relationship of power between law enforcement and communities. Secret grand juries are held and produce the same outcome time and time again — prosecutors systematically do not prosecute to the full extent of the law when it comes to white officers taking Black lives. We need increased oversight, fair and equal justice for Black and brown communities, and systemic reforms to end discriminatory and abusive policing practices across the state. Join me in turning up the pressure on Attorney General DeWine and US Attorney Stewart to take immediate action to secure Justice for John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson and an end to the policies and police culture that led to these tragic killings. Enough is enough. The challenges we face are deep seated and we need widespread public pressure to hold our politicians accountable for protecting our communities and taking concrete action to end Ohio’s discriminatory policing crisis. Gov. Kasich recently announced a policing task force; but we need more than commissions. We need systemic change to end the killing of Black and brown youth, and justice for those who we have lost. Outraged and devastated by John Crawford’s death, I and countless others led by the Ohio Student Association joined together to stand up proclaim that Black lives matter. We stood vigil, led a 12-mile pilgrimage, and a three-day occupation of the Beavercreek Police station. Since, we have organized ongoing actions to build power and catapult the growing national movement to end anti-Black policing and systemic police brutality; we met with President Obama in December. (5) It will take nothing short of a massive, people-powered movement to transform the role of police in today's society. Our power in the past few months has been in our perseverance. We refuse to stop, or to go away quietly, as politicians hope we will. Please join us to move our state leaders to action. Together, we have the power to create the transformative change we need to end racist, police brutality. 1. "No Charges in Ohio Police Killing of John Crawford as Wal-Mart Video Contradicts 911 Caller Account," Democracy Now, 09-25-14 http://www.democracynow.org/2014/9/25/no_charges_in_ohio_police_killing 2. "Tamir Rice's mom: "I'm looking for a conviction," CBS News 12-08-14 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tamir-rice-shooting-mom-of-boy-shot-dead-by-cleveland-cop-looking-for-a-conviction/ 3. "Daughter of mentally ill Cleveland woman who died in police custody hopes for change," Cleveland.com 11-18-14 http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/11/daughter_of_mentally_ill_cleve.html 4. Tanisha Anderson Death Ruled Homicide; Cleveland Woman Died In Police Custody," Huffington Post 1-02-2015 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/02/tanisha-anderson-homicide_n_6407416.html 5. "Breaking: Ferguson activists meet with President Obama to demand an end to police brutality nationwide," Ferguson Action 12-01-2014 http://fergusonaction.com/white-house-meeting/
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  • Florida Governor Candidates: will you protect the right to vote?
    Florida is the epicenter of the right wing attack on the rising new majority's freedom to vote. Since 2011, the far-right in Florida has tried to pass more than 180 laws intended to restrict voting rights and keep youth, women, Black and Latino communities from the polls. In 2012, Governor Scott slashed the early voting period resulting in some voters waiting in lines as long as 9 hours. Scott has also repeatedly attempted to illegally purge the ballot rolls using unproven methods that result in suppressing the votes of legitimately registered voters. Since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, Florida is no longer under federal protections from right-wing attacks on our right to vote. A state constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote would subject voting laws to the highest level of scrutiny to ensure that elections officials and politicians cannot manipulate the rules to keep our communities from voting. One of the most vicious laws attacking our communities ability to vote is Florida's laws banning formerly incarcerated people from voting. Of the 6 million people nationwide who are disenfranchised by previous criminal convictions, one-quarter of them are in Florida and nearly 23% of Florida's Black voting age population is barred from voting. (1) The state constitution should be amended so that voting rights are restored once a citizen has completed his or her time in prison and not be subject to Florida's long waiting periods where very few ever have rights restored. On October 15th, the candidates will debate at Broward College, followed by a debate in Jacksonville on the 21st. These are tremendous opportunities to make sure that both candidates answer to Florida voters about whether they will protect our right to vote. The debate moderators should ask both candidates if they will support amendments to the Florida constitution that ensure the right to vote is guaranteed and cannot be infringed upon and secondly, an amendment that allows previously incarcerated people to vote. Moderators for October 15th: Elliot Rodriguez, Rosemary Goudreau, Frank Denton, Bob Gabordi, Manny Garcia, Patricia Mazzei, and Jeremy Wallace Moderators for October 21st: Jake Tapper and Kent Justice References (1) http://truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/felon-disenfranchisement-the-new-jim-crow/17952-felon-disenfranchisement-the-new-jim-crow
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    Created by Johnny Mathias
  • Governor Nixon: Don't let officer Darren Wilson get away with murder; secure justice for Mike Brown
    It’s been nearly two months since Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old, unarmed Black teenager, Mike Brown, and County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch has done everything in his power to avoid holding Wilson accountable, while state Governor Jay Nixon stands idly by. We at the Organization for Black Struggle have been working day and night demanding justice for Mike Brown and so many others who have been unjustly killed as a result of systemic racial bias and violence against black and brown communities. Black lives matter, and we can’t let Wilson get away with murder! And now, reports have surfaced that a jury member has broken the grand jury secrecy rules by tweeting that there is not enough evidence to arrest Wilson.(1) Public discussion of confidential jury proceedings is serious misconduct, and now it's up to Governor Nixon to show that justice is possible in Missouri. He must get rid of McCulloch for his disgraceful and corrupt handling of this national tragedy. McCulloch could have charged Wilson immediately, but chose to convene a grand jury instead. He then refused to recommend charges to the grand jury, a move that discourages jurors from indicting.(2) In 23 years as County Prosecutor, McCulloch has not prosecuted a single police shooting.(3) Given this shameful history of denied justice, it’s clear that McCulloch is incapable of securing justice for Mike Brown. The world is watching, and the one person with the power to do something is Governor Nixon, who has a responsibility to the Black voters that supported him. It’s time for him to act. Join us in demanding that Governor Nixon remove McCulloch from this train wreck of a case, and appoint a special prosecutor to take over. Since Brown’s death, we’ve been out on the streets facing Ferguson’s militarized police as we peacefully demand justice for Mike Brown. Time and again, local officials have shown us that Black lives don’t matter. We refuse to accept that message. An indictment could happen by October 15, so we must act now to change the story here in Ferguson. Governor Nixon has been given enough time to intervene and restore integrity and justice in the case against Officer Wilson. Help us create enough widespread public pressure to ensure that Governor Nixon appoints a special prosecutor by October 15. We demand Justice! P.S. Join OBS, ColorOfChange.org, and thousands of others standing shoulder to shoulder in Ferguson, Missouri for a Weekend of Resistance Oct. 10-13: http://fergusonoctober.com References 1. “Grand jury considering the Ferguson shooting is being investigated for misconduct,” Washington Post 10-01-2014 http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/10/01/grand-jury-hearing-ferguson-shooting-is-being-investigated-for-misconduct/ 2. “Ferguson tragedy becoming a farce,” Washington Post 09-12-2014 http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-ferguson-tragedy-becoming-a-farce/2014/09/12/e52226ca-3a82-11e4-9c9f-ebb47272e40e_story.html 3. See reference 2.
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    Created by Montague Simmons
  • TELL DETROIT TO TURN THE TAPS BACK ON: WATER IS A HUMAN RIGHT!
    It's a crisis. The city of Detroit has unjustly shut off the water of thousands of low-income Black and brown Detroit residents, threatening their health, safety, and livelihood. And matters are only set to get worse.(1) Residents who owe as little as $33 are having their water shut off with no warning. Seniors, the sick and injured, and families with special needs are left without running water and working toilets. People recovering from surgery cannot wash and change bandages. Children cannot bathe and parents cannot cook. And while the people suffer, the corporations are protected. The city of Detroit provides water at wholesale price to the wealthy suburbs; however city residents pay retail price for the water they receive. The city of Detroit provides water at wholesale price to the wealthy suburbs; however city residents pay retail price for the water they receive. Palmer Park Golf Course owes $422,000 the VA Hospitial $131,000, yet they continue to have water.(2) As well, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr gave Gov. Snyder a pass on the Michigan's $4.5 million unpaid water bill of by reducing the state's debt to $113,000. Only $19,000 has been paid to date. Entire families and their livelihoods are on the line. If parents cannot afford to restore water service within 60 days they are at risk of having Social Services remove their children from the home.(3) If water bills remain unpaid a lien can be placed on the home and the home can be sold. (4) This must stop NOW! The plan to cut off water to 150,000 households by the end of the summer is part of efforts sell off and privatize Detroit’s water system for corporate profits.(5) In order to make the utility attractive to investors, lower-income households are being forced to pay exorbitant rates for their water and sewer services, or see their access cut. Water rates have risen in Detroit by 119% in the last decade.(6) With unemployment rates at a record high, and the poverty rate at about 40%, Detroit water bills are unaffordable to a massive portion of the community. (7) Hundreds of thousands of low-income Black families are at risk. The city's water shut offs are in line with decades of racially discriminatory policies targeting Black and brown Detroiters, which have resulted in unjust home seizures, the separation of children from their parents, and the creation of serious health risks to entire neighborhoods.(8) By allowing thousands of people to be denied access to water and sanitation services, the U.S. government is violating the United Nations resolution codifying the human right to water and sanitation. Show your solidarity with the people in Detroit and join Progressive Democrats for America, National Nurses United, NetRoots attendees, and local Detroit activists for a rally at Hart Plaza at 1pm on Friday, July 18th where we will make send our message loud and clear to Gov. Synder and Emergency Manager Orr. References: 1. "We the People of Detroit," Facebook https://www.facebook.com/wethepeopleofdetroit/posts/764130140275688 2. "Detroit Water Shutoffs," Politics Progressive 07-11-2014 http://www.blogtalkradio.com/svs/2014/07/11/detroit-water-shutoffs 3. See reference 1. 4. "Detroit's Water War: a tap shut-off that could impact 300,000 people," The Guardian 06-24-2014 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2014/jun/25/detroits-water-war-a-tap-shut-off-that-could-impact-300000-people 5. "Important Tax Lien Information," Detroit Water and Sewage Department http://www.dwsd.org/pages_n/billpay.html 6. "What Happens When Detroit Shuts Off the Water of 100,000 People," The Atlantic 07-17-2014 http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/07/what-happens-when-detroit-shuts-off-the-water-of-100000-people/374548/ 7. See reference 3. 8. See reference 5. 9. See reference 3. 10."Against Austerity in Detroit: 'Water Is a Human Right'" The Nation 07-11-2014 http://www.thenation.com/blog/180625/against-austerity-detroit-water-human-right#
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    Created by Monica Lewis-Patrick Picture