• #FREESADAT: Demand the release of a Gay Black Asylum Seeker from Detention
    Sadat 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?
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  • #NoJusticeNoDeal
    We 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
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  • Animals In Prisons
    There 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.
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  • Equal Pay for Black Women
    Black 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.
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  • Demand DA Faith Johnson Support Bail Reform
    The 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!
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  • Shut Down NYC R. Kelly Concert at FREQ on January 27, 2018
    Facts on Violence Against Black Women Girls African American girls and women 12 years old and older experienced higher rates of rape and sexual assault than white, Asian, and Latina girls and women from 2005-2010. U.S. DOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Female Victims of Sexual Violence, 1994-2010,” 2013 40-60% of black women report being subjected to coercive sexual contact by age 18. Black Women’s Blueprint, “The Truth Commission on Black Women and Sexual Violence,” 2012 4 in 10 black women have been subjected to intimate partner violence in their lifetimes. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report,” 2011. Black girls are disproportionately at-risk for sexual trafficking. Over 40% of confirmed sex trafficking survivors in the U.S are African-American. Banks, Duren and Kyckelhahn, Tracey, “ Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents, 2008-2010”, The Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011. Black women also experience significantly higher rates of psychological abuse—including humiliation, insults, name-calling, and coercive control—than do women overall. Institute for Women’s Policy Research “Stereotypes regarding African American women’s sexuality, including terms like ‘Black jezebel,’ ‘promiscuous,’ and ‘exotic,’ perpetuate the notion that African American women are willing participants in their own victimization. However, these myths only serve to demean, obstruct appropriate legal remedies, and minimize the seriousness of sexual violence perpetrated against African American women.” Women of Color Network, “Communities of Color: African American Women” 2014. A study found that college students perceived a black victim of sexual assault to be less believable and more responsible for her assault than a white victim. Donovan, “To Blame or Not to Blame: Influences of Target Race and Observer Sex on Rape Blame Attribution,” 2007. Some African American women’s decisions not to report their sexual assaults may be influenced by the criminal justice system’s history of treating European-American perpetrators and victims differently than perpetrators and victims of color. Women’s Institute for Leadership Development for Human Rights, “The Treatment of Women of Color Under U.S. Law: Violence,” 2001. For every African-American woman who reports her rape, at least fifteen African-American women do not report theirs.
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  • Stand up to racism & cyberbullying in our schools
    The community, the school & the district need to stand behind them & demonstrate that Black students matter. We must hold all students to the district code of conduct, or none of them. This was not an isolated incident. This is a culmination of many incidents being brushed off & ignored. This pattern must end. Without consequences, it will not. Black Mothers Forum of Chandler, AZ asks that anyone able to attend please come to the board meeting on January 24th at 7:00pm - 6:30pm to sign in to speak - to show support & speak out on this matter. 1525 W. Frye Rd, Chandler, AZ https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/chandler/2018/01/17/chandler-santan-junior-high-school-students-chant-racial-slur-n-word-snapchat-video/1034846001/#_=_ http://www.boarddocs.com/az/chandler/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=ACWUZ87E7265
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  • #FreeMichaelDuvall: My Brother Is Innocent
    The wrongful yet systematic incarceration of Black people in this country has weakened our community for decades; it’s slavery by another name. This system is causing Michael and others like him, to be jailed while waiting for their case to come to trial. Sometimes, that takes years to happen. Michael has already refused to plea to anything because he is not guilty. The scary thing is; this is the same thing that happened to Kalief Browder. He didn’t want to plead guilty to a crime that he didn’t commit, so this system took his life away in so many ways. I don’t want that to be the case for my brother or anyone. My heart is broken and a part of me is being held in the Upper Marlboro Detention Center with my brother. It is important that we take a stand against this type of abuse from the criminal injustice system so that others in our community do not fall victim to this type of pain and torture.
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  • #RenameKeithFamilyYMCA in Honor of Ramona Brant, a Proud Black Woman & Prison Abolitionist
    I need your help taking down the Keith Family name -- notorious prison profiteers and conservative “pay-to-play” cronies--off of a Charlotte YMCA branch. I was at Mecklenburg County Jail North when I noticed the “Keith” logo on prison staff uniforms matched the “Keith” on the YMCA where I worked as a fitness instructor. Yup, that’s right. The Keith Family YMCA in Charlotte is named for prison profiteers. Help me rename the Keith Family YMCA to honor my friend Ramona Brant who died recently, who fought tirelessly for prisoners even after she was unjustly locked up for two decades. The name of a powerful Black woman and prison abolitionist, Ramona Brant -- not the greedy prison-profiteering Keiths-- deserves to be uplifted in our community. “We are not considering a name change at this branch”. That’s President & C.E.O. of YMCA-Charlotte, Todd Tibbits response to us yesterday when Color of Change and I reached out on renaming the Keith Family YMCA. Todd doesn’t get why naming a YMCA Charlotte branch after prison-profiteers like the Keith Family and taking donations built on blood prison money is bad for Black families. Tell Todd: “The YMCA should not be uplifting people who built their wealth on Black pain and the devastation of prison industry on the Black community.” The Keiths, since 1999, have aggressively pursued private maintenance contracts in North Carolina state prisons where Black people represent 22% of the population yet make up 55% of state prison population.1 As of 2016 in Mecklenburg County where The Keith Corporation is headquartered, Black people represented 31.2% of the county population2 yet make up 67% of the Mecklenburg County jail population.3 The Keith Family has also been embroiled in controversy for political cronyism that sparked a federal investigation. The YMCA, a place where our children play, shouldn't stand for the devastation that the prison industry, and prison profit-buddies like the Keith Family. Sign now to tell YMCA Greater Charlotte to remove their affiliation with the grossly unjust prison industry. Ramona Brant. Say Her Name. Ramona Brant -- not the Keiths -- is the embodiment of the YMCA’s stated mission of transformative social change and a commitment to families and communities. Ramona, after former President Obama commuted her sentence, only knew two years of freedom after surviving two decades behind bars. In 1995, federal prosecutors unjustly sentenced Ramona to a life sentence without parole for simply being in relationship with someone who dealt drugs.4 In the end, white supremacy and the prison industrial complex took a toll on her life. But, she spent those two years as a powerful voice for change in Charlotte-- fighting for housing, living wages, jobs, and inclusion for those like her reentering society after incarceration. Black women, like Ramona Brant, are too often discarded and disrespected. It’s time we put some respeck on her name and give Ramona the love and honor she deserved when she lived. Too often the experiences of Black women being targeted and swept up by the prison industrial complex--fueled by the profit-greed of people like the Keiths--are erased. Ramona Brant’s name on a community institution that serves Black families in Charlotte does justice to her legacy and is a powerful reminder of the unwavering strength of Black women in opposing oppression. It’s time to take the Keith Family name down. Remember Ramona Brant. In her name and until justice is real for all those who are wrongly incarcerated, Patrice Funderberg
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  • STOP Criminalizing Poverty Through Use of Criminal Justice Fines, Fees, and Penalties
    It Is Time for Clark County to Stop Criminalizing Poverty Through Its Systematic Use of Criminal Justice Fines and Fees. Courts throughout Clark County, armed with state statutes and local ordinances, have imposed a variety of fines, fees, and assessments that punish the poor for offenses as trivial as jaywalking. Municipal courts in Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas, as well as the Las Vegas Justice Center, are tasked with handling traffic violations and misdemeanor offenses. They have used fines and fees to fund their own systems on the backs of those least able to pay for it. They disproportionately harm communities of color, locking them into a cycle of poverty and perpetuating mass incarceration. They also have a uniquely damaging effect on juveniles and their families. Defense attorneys have challenged the fines and fees in court, and advocates and lawmakers have proposed legislation aimed at reducing these injustices. Nevertheless, officials have resisted reforms. It is time for Clark County to stop penalizing the poor through its systematic use of criminal justice fines and fees. The Las Vegas Criminal Justice System Imposes a Series of Fines and Fees on Anyone Who is charged with a Crime. ● Individuals convicted of crimes—even low-level misdemeanors and traffic violations—often must pay fines, which are monetary penalties meant to punish someone for the crime. The average fine is $300-$400. ● Between 2010 and 2015, the Las Vegas Municipal Court collected $130 million from traffic violations alone. This amounted to approximately 89% of its total revenue, pointing to the troubling reality that the municipal court system has essentially been built on these fines and fees. ● Individuals who are unable to pay the full amount of their debt are given the option of a payment plan, which comes with a $50 fee for financial counseling. Individuals on a payment plan automatically have a warrant issued for their arrest if they miss a payment. The threat of jail time is accompanied by a “warrant fee” that can range from $85-$200 depending on the number of missed payments. The average person goes into warrant at least once. And as time goes on and a defendant continues to miss payments, fees can become exponentially more than the fines. For instance, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that one individual ended up paying $1,500 on a $187 speeding ticket. ● Defendants who are completely unable to pay their fines may do community service. This also comes with a $50 fee. For every hour of community service, there is a $10 credit toward their fines. Using the example above that correlates to 19 hours of community service (almost 3 full time work days), in a community where most people work 2 or 3 part time jobs just to make ends meet. Excessive Fines and Fees Lock Communities of Color in a Cycle of Poverty and Perpetuate Mass Incarceration. ● In Las Vegas there is currently no official mechanism in place to allow for an individualized determination of a defendant’s ability to pay the fines. As a result, many people leave the justice system with crushing debt that can make it even harder for them to get back on their feet. Or, in many cases, they are jailed for their inability to pay fines as little as $100. In 2014, law enforcement officials arrested over 16,400 people for failing to pay fines for offenses ranging from jaywalking to illegal parallel parking. ● A Las Vegas Review-Journal analysis of nearly 39,000 court payment plans between 2009 and 2015 revealed gross racial and economic disparities in the impact of Las Vegas’s fines and fees, where residents in the poorest areas, who are predominantly black and Latino, owed over six times more than residents in the richest areas. These communities are subject to over policing, resulting in higher rates of violations. ● Nevada statutes also impose a wide array of fines and fees on families and children when children are deemed delinquent. According to the Juvenile Law Center, 76% of Nevada families reported that they were unable to pay. Failure to make these payments plunge families into debt, increases the need for court appearances causing children and family members to take time away from school and work, and risks incarceration for juvenile offenders. The impact of these fines and fees have the perverse effect of leaving families worse off, and feed the school to prison pipeline at disproportionate rates. Let's keep families together and stop criminalizing the poor.
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  • The Children Are The Future
    The youth in this country are being short-changed and given a subpar education. The curriculum isn't relevant to what will help them succeed in today's society and is taught in the same way it has been for the last 100 years. If the children of today are going to run this country, they need to be taught to learn and evolve, not to take tests.
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    Created by Maya Hampton
  • Bring Dameon Brome and David Lahoz home
    David Lahoz and Dameon Brome were incarcerated as children and have spent 26 and 30 years in prison, respectively. Each of them has demonstrated rehabilitation, redemption, and remorse. Despite exemplary disciplinary records while incarcerated and plans to continue helping people when they were paroled, both men were recently denied parole on the same day by the same parole hearing examiners. Any review of these men's files will reveal that this is horrible mistake. Dameon and David are rehabilitated and should have been paroled. We call on Board of Probation and Parole Chairman Leo Dunn to correct this error. David and Dameon were juvenile lifers. Montgomery v. Louisiana was a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that declared Dameon and David’s sentence unconstitutional. The ruling in that case stated that juvenile lifers needed to be treated as individuals and, if they were not permanently incorrigible, given a chance to come home. After their resentencings last year, both David and Dameon were made immediately parole eligible; but unfortunately Leslie Grey and Mark Koch denied them parole and told them they would need to wait five years before the board would hear their cases again. David and Dameon have appealed and Leo Dunn, the Chairman of the PA Board of Probation and Parole, can overrule their parole denial and allow them to come home to their families and communities. David was once a lost soul running around in the streets of North Philly living a life that was very disruptive. He believed he was destined to die or get locked up; he was sentenced to life without parole as 17 year-old. After a rocky start to his incarceration, he has been active in a lot of programming: playing sports and learning multiple trades. His passion is being a mentor to young people through softball and basketball. David has worked for years to better himself and to help those around him. He has been misconduct free for 15 years and he had institutional support for his parole. Dameon has spent the greater portion of his life incarcerated but refused to accept that it was what would define him. He decided that he would find a way to grow even within the confines of prison. He acquired his GED and worked briefly tutoring others. He's worked in various positions within the institution from the Cook for Specialized Diets to the Law Clerk in the library helping others with legal problems. He has founded, been part of, and facilitated numerous groups to change the hopeless, lost, or disenfranchised perspectives of other incarcerated people, while simultaneously trying to advance his own education and understanding of what it means to be human. He took to Mechanical Drafting and CAD and studied Print Media. Dameon has written books and stories not just to "fill a void I saw that existed" but also to try to show other incarcerated people that there was another way and more possibilities for them even behind bars. Both Dameon and David have loving and supportive families and both plan to continue helping people and bettering the world if released. Their parole denials each listed multiple errors. For example, Dameon’s denial states that he lacked a home plan but he submitted an 11-page home plan. He planned to be paroled to a halfway house in Philadelphia, something the Department of Corrections has encouraged for juvenile lifers but he was questioned about this decision and believes this plan was held against him. They went on to say that Dameon was denied due to misconducts and poor institutional adjustment. Dameon hasn’t had a misconduct in over 9 years and hasn’t had a misconduct relating to fighting in over 23 years. David’s denial stated that he needed to get a GED but he received a GED in the Department of Corrections. His denial went on to say that he had a misconduct at his minimum which was one year ago. He hasn’t had a misconduct in 15 years. A modern professional parole board shouldn’t be making these mistakes. We call on you, Chairman Dunn, to correct them and do the right thing. We believe that Dameon and David should be with their families and communities on the outside. They are rehabilitated. We call on you to grant parole for Dameon Brome and David Lahoz and grant them relief after decades of incarceration.
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