• Demand that Sophie B. Wright School end the overly harsh punishment of Black students
    Around 30 students were given 5-day suspensions from Sophie B. Wright Charter School in New Orleans after a senior prank water fight. In addition to being suspended, these students have had all senior privileges revoked, including: walking for graduation, senior prom, senior picnic, and their last day of school. Sophie B. Wright also threatened them with civil and legal action. Our Voice Nuestra Voz (OVNV) began working with parents quickly and discovered that the disciplinary punishment outlined in the school handbook did not match the given punishment, and that the suspension appeal hearing notices contained 2 key violations of Open Meetings Law. Through notifying Sophie B. Wright of these violations and organizing parents we were able to win the revocation of the suspensions. Unfortunately, these students had already served their 5 days. The other punishments, including being barred from the graduation ceremony, remain in place because according to school leadership these punishments are not eligible for an appeals hearing. The fact that parents were able to get the suspensions rescinded indicates that Sophie B. Wright knew that the punishments were overly harsh and unfair and would not hold up to scrutiny. Knowing this, all of the other punishments, including being barred from their own graduation ceremony, should also be rescinded. Public support for these students continues to grow with statements demanding justice from the New Orleans City Council and the New Orleans Mayor’s Office. Sophie B. Wright has a history of harshly punishing students rather than employing restorative practices. In just this school year, the school has recommended 78 children for expulsion. Total enrollment of the school is only 530 children, meaning almost 15% of students have been recommended for expulsion. The total expulsion rate of the city is less than 1%. These heavy handed punishments perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline. Black children on average face harsher penalties than their peers. This escalation in punishment for children celebrating their upcoming graduation mimics the practices used in our criminal justice system. Instead of obsessing over the harsh punishment of Black children, we should be using this opportunity for child development and restorative practices. Sophie B. Wright’s draconian punishments revoking graduation rights deny these children an important moment in their and their families lives. We demand that Sophie B. Wright rescind these unjust punishments and publicly commit to employing restorative practices from now on. In addition to this petition you can let Sophie B. Wright know you stand with these students and restorative practices by emailing their principal and charter director, Sharon Clark, at sharon_clark@sbwcharter.org. Take Action Now to Get Justice for Our Black Students in New Orleans!
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  • #DontMuteDC
    Small business owner, Donald Campbell, has been playing go-go music - a musical form that owes its development to D.C.’s native, Black, cultural traditions - from his Metro PCS storefront in Shaw for nearly 24 years. However, after residents of a new, neighboring, high-rise condominium made complaints last month, T-Mobile ordered Donald to stop playing the music that has so defined the city’s rich history. Anyone who is familiar with Shaw is familiar with Donald’s music, which he plays during business hours and which, by his storefront commissioner’s own admission, does not violate local sound regulations. Yet, despite the fact that generations of residents and students have grown up gathering on his block to listen and to commune, T-Mobile has insisted that he “get rid of the music” or lose his livelihood. Black cultural norms and traditions are under attack in large, metropolitan cities like Washington D.C., where rates of gentrification and displacement are skyrocketing. As the cost of rent shoots up in neighborhoods like Donald’s, many residents and local store owners are being forced out of the only place they have ever known and criminalized for participating in the very cultural practices that they have inherited. And as more and more people move away, lose their businesses, and even, in many cases, their places of shelter, actions like T-mobile’s underscore a larger message to long-time Black residents of the neighborhood: you are no longer welcome in your own home. This is unacceptable. Members of the local Advisory Neighborhood Committee say that in the long history of his business’s operation, Donald’s music has never been a problem. But a few complaints from wealthier residents who are new to Shaw and to its traditions have been enough for T-Mobile to threaten the cultural integrity of a community that Donald’s music has always brought together. We demand that T-Mobile put an end to their criminalization of Black culture and art in Washington D.C. We demand that T-Mobile allow Donald to bring his music back!
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  • Bring Abdi Home! #FreeAbdi
    On December 13, 2017, Abdi was traveling home to his family in Columbus, Ohio when he was detained at JFK airport. Abdi, a legal permanent resident, had just passed through two levels of customs and immigration inspection, and his passport was stamped "admitted" when he was stopped by an officer who asked if he was from Mogadishu. CBP officers detained Abdi for fifteen hours and interrogated him without a Somali interpreter, even though he repeatedly asked for one. During his interrogation, Abdi was surrounded by armed CBP officers and threatened with years of imprisonment and deportation. Abdi was then transferred to Elizabeth Detention Center where he has been detained ever since, ten hours from his family. Due to Abdi’s unjust detention, his wife has been forced to raise their two baby daughters by herself, without his support. Despite being admitted with a green card, Abdi is now forced to fight for asylum to save his life. On November 12, 2018, three days before one of his multiple immigration hearings, Abdi was sent to a hospital in New Jersey because he was in excruciating pain, unable to get out of bed to eat, use the bathroom or see a doctor. Abdi had complained of pain in his chest to the medical staff at the detention center for eight months, but was only given pain medication and antacids. During his ten-day hospitalization, Abdi was chained to the bed by his legs and an arm, with two armed guards at the door at all times. His lungs were drained several times. Without an interpreter, he understood the doctors to be telling him he had a lung infection. He was tested and diagnosed with active TB. Had ICE doctors properly treated Abdi, they could have easily avoided this result. Instead, Abdi is now on a course of TB medications, some of which have serious side effects including fatal liver damage. None of these risks were explained to him. Abdi is back at the Elizabeth Detention Center, but his wife and attorneys are concerned that he is being held in the same place he developed his condition. He has not received the proper follow-up care as directed by the hospital. Despite the fact that the hospital recommended he get daily blood tests to check his liver function, Abdi does not know if he’s had his liver tested, and he has only had blood drawn a few times since leaving the hospital more than 125 days ago. As of now, neither ICE nor CoreCivic have been held accountable for Abdi’s lack of medical treatment. He has permanent scarring in his lungs, and still feels pain in his chest -- a pain he could live with for the rest of his life, thanks to ICE’s neglect. We’re asking that you and your organization consider signing on to our letter of support for Abdi to demand he be released to his family so that he may receive that life saving care he needs. You can sign our petition bit.ly/BringAbdiHome as an individual. If your organization is interested in supporting you can sign our statement of support bit.ly/Letter4Abdi
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  • Chanel Lewis Deserves A Fair Trial
    Under Queens DA Richard A. Brown's watch, a local judge has denied three motions that have brought new evidence of racial profiling and prosecutorial misconduct to the case of Chanel Lewis - a Black, disabled man from Howard Beach who was convicted of murder on April 1st and is facing the possibility of life without parole.  Chanel, who recently graduated from the Michael De Porres School for developmentally delayed children, was handed a guilty verdict after just five hours of jury deliberation in his second trial, the first having been declared a mistrial with a hung jury. One of the jurors from his second trial has already come forward anonymously to say he is concerned they may have convicted the wrong man, claiming that they were never given access to Chanel’s taped confessions, and that when the jury alerted Judge Michael Aloise that they were deadlocked, he pressured them to come to a verdict that night, anyway. Chanel’s conviction comes on the heels of an anonymous tip that has revealed the existence of a previously unreported NYPD database of DNA swabs of over 350 Black men from the neighborhood. Many of these men, like Chanel, had no prior contact with the criminal justice system and were questioned and swabbed despite the fact that the NYPD’s investigation named two “‘jacked up’ white men” as its initial suspects. Months after Vetrano’s murder, Chanel became a suspect after being profiled by an officer in the neighborhood who followed him for ‘looking suspicious.’ In both trials, Chanel’s defense has pointed to the ways that the collection and transportation of DNA samples from the crime scene were mishandled by the NYPD. And they say that during both trials, they were not alerted to the existence of the DNA database by the prosecution at all, a clear Brady violation. To anyone who followed the Central Park Five case in Chanel’s very own city three decades ago, this will sound painfully familiar. There is a long history of faulty, inconsistent DNA testing and coerced confessions being used to secure the false convictions of Black people in this country.  As a Black man and a disabled person who was not granted access to the support or advocacy that was his constitutional right, Chanel Lewis' case sets a precedent for continued profiling within a racially biased and unbalanced judiciary system. This is not right. Despite the prosecution’s mishandling of this case and despite the fact that Judge Aloise was given credible evidence that pointed to the possible existence of another suspect, both he and the Queens DA’s office have insisted that they have found Karina Vetrano’s killer. Those of us who have watched countless Black people criminalized and convicted on insufficient or shaky evidence say that this is not enough. We demand that Queens DA Richard A. Brown go on the record and give a public accounting of the prosecutorial misconduct related to Chanel’s case now! Judge denies motion for mistrial in Karina Vetrano case | WPIX 11 New York https://pix11.com/2019/04/01/judge-denies-motion-for-mistrial-in-karina-vetrano-case/ https://queenseagle.com/all/2019/4/2/exclusive-i-was-only-white-person-that-didnt-rush-to-find-him-guilty-vetrano-juror-says https://www.newsweek.com/police-dna-database-nypd-swab-testing-collection-new-york-1326722 Chanel Lewis, 22, is currently on retrial accused of raping and strangling 30-year-old Karina Vetrano - Buzz News 24 Hours https://www.buzznews24hours.com/chanel-lewis-22-is-currently-on-retrial-accused-of-raping-and-strangling-30-year-old-karina-vetrano/ Case of Jogger’s Murder Hinges, in Part, on Questions Over a Police Stop - The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/22/nyregion/case-of-karina-vetrano-murder-hinges-in-part-on-questions-over-a-police-stop.html Questions Around the Chanel Lewis Conviction | The Brian Lehrer Show | WNYC https://www.wnyc.org/story/questions-around-chanel-lewis-conviction/ Brady Rule | Wex Legal Dictionary / Encyclopedia | LII / Legal Information Institute https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/brady_rule
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  • Demand Governor Northam fund a full count!
    The Trump Administration, with help from the Virginia Republicans, will sabotage the Census, which determines funding for programs like Head Start, Medicare and Pell grants, unless Governor Ralph Northam acts to fund a full census count now. The 2020 Census is being sabotaged by the Trump Administration and Virginia Republicans. Conservatives are refusing to fully fund the census in an attempt to deny Black communities federal funding. Governor Northam is the only person who can make sure Black people in Virginia are fully counted. The Trump administration has limited census outreach funds forcing the Census Bureau to operate on a budget so tight it is impossible for them to get an accurate count--prompting the NAACP to file a lawsuit. Virginia Republicans voted against using state funds to supply the needed money. Now, Gov. Northam must act to make sure we are counted. Even in 2010, when there were more federal resources, Black and Latinx residents were undercounted and thus robbed of resources that could make our communities healthier and safer. And in 2020, there will be even less federal funding and a real effort to discourage our communities from participating. If Governor Northam doesn’t act to fund a full count now thousands of Virginians will not be counted and communities will lose millions of dollars their communities needs. By signing our petition you are putting Governor Northam on alert -- he cannot allow our communities to be overlooked by the. In response, states must pick up the slack on funding census outreach. Gov Northam has a duty to ensure census data is accurate. The more accurate the count, the more appropriate funding will be allocated to Virginia. Sign now and demand Governor Northam promises to fund a full census count in Virginia.
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  • #RememberFlint
    For nearly five years, the state and city government have doled out symptomatic solutions to a problem that remains unsolved. Contaminated water flowing through our residential pipes caused irreparable damage that comes with an average bill of $15,000 to replace interior plumbing and water heaters. This is a financial burden that countless Flint residents simply cannot bear. Clean water cannot flow through the pipes until all of the poisonous systems are replaced. This, coupled with the harsh reality that many residents faced of turning their water completely off after trying to pay exorbitant water bills and fighting liens against their homes for not paying their water bill during the water crisis, is not acceptable. Five years later we still keep cases of bottled water stacked in our houses, we cannot brush our teeth using tap water or run clean bath water. The water relief credits, water drives and city programs were a bandage that has yet to stop the bleeding. It’s time to take responsibility for failed government. Flint residents continue to foot the bill on an issue caused by the government that we elected to protect us. As the FAST START program begins to fix the issue, it doesn’t go far enough to address the corroded residential piping. The water crisis is a gross administrative failure and Flint residents should not be held accountable for damages to their pipes from the water crisis. Therefore, we demand that you use your authority to solve this piece of a multi-layered problem and ensure that clean water flows through the city of Flint again. Restore the City of Flint’s faith today by replacing all corroded pipes from the water crisis inside our homes and outside.
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  • Thank You For Pledging “No Executions in California”
    On Wednesday, March 13, California Governor Gavin Newsom made history by announcing that he would not allow the state to execute anyone on his watch. “Our death penalty system has been – by any measure – a failure...And as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual.” Sign our message to Gov. Newsom, thanking him for championing criminal justice reform, and join social justice, faith, and human rights leaders in calling on other officials to follow suit. This is a historic step. With 738 people, California has the largest death row in the Western Hemisphere. 738 people were waiting to know if and when the government would execute them. Two out of every three prisoners on death row are people of color. At least one-third have serious mental illnesses. More than half were 25 or younger when they committed their crimes. Many of them may be innocent. Many more come from just a small handful of counties that happen to have bloodthirsty District Attorneys. No one should be sentenced to death – let alone executed – under such circumstances, and Gov. Newsom ensured that will never happen as long as he is in office. Governor Newsom’s order gives indefinite reprieves to all 738 people on death row. It also withdraws the state’s lethal injection protocol, and instructs officials to close the execution chamber at San Quentin prison. This is an example of just and moral leadership, and one that the country badly needs in this time of division and anger. While many in power call for reactionary and oppressive policies – often accompanied by thinly-veiled racism and calls to vigilante violence – Gov. Newsom is charting a more just and humane course.
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  • Sign now: We #StandWithIlhan
    We need to continue to support the elected officials that are risking their livelihoods to stand up for justice.
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  • #Free21Savage Stop the Deportation of She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph
    The hundreds of ICE assaults and detention of Black immigrants is an endemic in the United States, and is too often carried out with the assistance of local law enforcement. On February 3rd in the early afternoon, organizers were alerted to the arrest and detention of rapper, father, community activist and friend She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph -21 Savage. The circumstances of Mr. Abraham-Joseph's detention stand as a testament to the consistent and historically under-reported harassment and targeting of Black immigrants. The US' violent history of criminalizing Blackness intersects with its deadly legacy of detaining and deporting Black and Brown immigrants. This needs to stop today! There are around 4.2 Million Black immigrants in the U.S. - 619,000 are undocumented. Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been in the United States since he was a young child. Atlanta is his home. He has no current or prior criminal convictions and he is beloved by his friends, fans and family. It is shameful that he and so many Black immigrants are separated from their families on a daily basis as part of the US's heartless and racist immigration policies. Demand that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stop the deportation of She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph - 21 Savage NOW!
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  • Tell Mayor Bill de Blasio to End Arrests, Summons, and Juvenile Reports in Schools
    New York City (NYC) must reverse policies that have proven ineffective at creating safe and supportive environments for students. Policing in schools promotes the exclusion and criminalization of Black and Latinx students, rather than their education. NYC should end arrests, as well as the issuance of summonses and juvenile reports, in schools for non-criminal violations and misdemeanors. Research shows that policing in schools fails to make schools safer or reduce bullying or fighting. The presence of police criminalizes typical adolescent behavior, such as disorderly conduct, which is the number one reason for summons in our schools. Experiencing an arrest for the first time in high school nearly doubles the odds of the student dropping out, and a court appearance nearly quadruples the odds of the student dropping out. Police in NYC schools largely police low-level offenses, including normal youthful behavior. In the last year, nearly 85 percent of all arrests, summonses, and NYPD juvenile reports of young people in NYC schools were for misdemeanors and violations. For Black and Latinx students our schools continue to be an on-ramp into the criminal justice system. Policing in schools creates extreme and persistent racial disparities. -Black girls are 10.4 times more likely to be arrested and 6.3 times more likely to be issued a summons than their White peers. -Black boys are 5.6 times more likely to be arrested and 9 times more likely to receive a summons than White boys. -Black and Latinx students account for 92% of all summons and 89% of all arrests. To end racial disparities in arrests, summons, and juvenile reports, the city must commit to ending these practices altogether. Instead of criminalizing young people, New York City should invest in supportive services like restorative justice, mental health supports, guidance counselors, and social workers.
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  • Protect California's Public Schools
    It’s time to put our resources and support behind the educators and schools which continue to teach the overwhelming majority of California’s school children. As you make staffing and personnel choices, we urge you to get the foxes out of the henhouse at the California Department of Education (CDE). The current configuration of the CDE devotes a disproportionate amount of staff and resources to a movement and agenda funded largely by billionaires which is underperforming, unaccountable, segregationist, rife with financial waste, and undemocratic.
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  • De-prioritize low-level marijuana arrests in Buffalo #BuffaloLLEP
    New York state decriminalized possessing small amounts of marijuana 40 years ago, but a disproportionate number of black people continue to be arrested in Buffalo every year. The unequal enforcement is a result of the "war on drugs." Exposure to the criminal justice system has severe impacts on employment, mental health, family stability and financial security. Mayor Byron Brown has the ability to make marijuana the LLEP, or "lowest level enforcement priority" for the Buffalo Police Department. This means that instead of arresting black and brown folks for marijuana, police will be able to focus on building positive, trusting relationships with communities of color, making us all safer. On the commemorative year of decriminalization, tell Mayor Brown that you support him in LLEP (#BuffaloLLEP)!
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