Domestic (In)justice Activism Opportunities

  • Support Prison Strikers by Joining Actions Around the Country

    Its_Going_Down_Prison_Strike.jpgAs you’ve heard today, the largest prison strike in history is happening right now. And if you’re listening to this wondering why you haven’t heard much of anything about it, you’re not alone. The mainstream media is hardly covering it.

    For the last month, inmates at prisons around the US refused to show up for their prison mandated jobs, where they make pennies by the hour - or in some states nothing - at the benefit of major companies like McDonalds and Wal-Mart. They have nothing in the way of worker’s rights or worker protections or the ability to form unions….and our 13th amendment says that’s okay. 

    FreeAlabamaMovement.wordpress.com is the website run by the inmates at the Alabama prison spearheading this aptly named “Freedom Movement.” The site’s announcement of the strike proclaimed, “In one voice, rising from the cells of long term solitary confinement, echoed in the dormitories and cell blocks from Virginia to Oregon, we prisoners across the United States vow to finally end slavery in 2016.”

    These inmates are striking in the face of retaliation. We already know that some have been put in isolation for their actions, but a few have been able to bravely speak to reporters via contraband phones. But while the rest of the media largely ignores the strike and prison wardens deny that anything serious is going on, calls for more public support are surfacing. 

    ItsGoingDown.org is a citizen-driven, repository of news and analysis on all kinds of acts of rebellion and revolt in North America. A post on this site is calling for a resurgence of actions in our communities October 15th to 22nd to show support for the inmates and amplify their message. You can find an action near you at the bottom of that post, or create an action and submit it to ItsGoingDown.org to be posted. 

    The New Yorker is one of the few major publications talking about the strike. In their article, an Alabama inmate said, “I want to clarify that it is not ‘slave-like conditions’ in prison labor—this is actually institutional slavery. Slavery was always about exploiting the labor of lower-class people in this country.”

    From private prisons, to the school to prison pipeline, to the rights of prisoners and former prisoners, to criminal justice reform, we have a long way to go when it comes to upending our state of incarceration rooted in America’s institutional racism. So make these issues part of your theory of change by getting involved in the long term with organizations like The Advancement Project, the ACLU, the Brennan Center for JusticeFair Vote, the Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations working to achieve racial justice. 

    As Nelson Mandela once said, “No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” So if you want to work toward a society we can all be proud of, then be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about supporting prison strikers by joining actions around the country via social media so that others in your network can take action too. 

    TAKE ACTION

    Read the call to action post on ItsGoingDown.org and find an event near you at the bottom of the post.

    Create your own local action to support the prison strikes and submit it to be posted by emailing info@itsgoingdown.org. 

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    Why Prisoners Across the Country Have Gone on Strike (via Mother Jones)

    "We're Freedom Fighters": The Story of the Nationwide Prison Labor Strike (via truthout)

    The biggest national prison strike in American history is happening now (via Daily Kos)

    Meet the inmate who launched a massive prison strike from his jail cell (via Vice)

    A National Strike Against "Prison Slavery" (via The New Yorker)

    DOJ Launches Investigation of Alabama Mens' Prison (via AL.com) 

    Free Alabama Movement  (website of the inmates spearheading the strike in Alabama)

    IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (unrecognized union for incarcerated prison workers)

     

    Posted October 7, 2016 * Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman. 

     

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1048: Slavery in America is alive and well (prison labor) 

  • End the Culture of Warrior Policing via @ACLU

    We don’t need to tell you that the news has been awful. Everywhere you look are stories and videos of death and injustice. And we get that you may sometimes feel like you just want to just shut it all out. But we’re asking you today to allow yourself to get enraged by the news and to channel that rage toward making our broken and racist systems finally work for all. 

    According to the ACLU, a typical police cadet spends just eight hours on de-escalation training…just eight hours. That is not enough to counter inherent racial bias that leads to profiling and fear, and is sadly contradictory to the increasing militarization of our police departments. This conversation isn’t about “bad apples,” this is about a terrifying lack of emphasis on “protect and serve” and the deeply rooted racism at the core of those charged with keeping our communities safe. 

    Right now in Congress, there is a bill called the Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act of 2016. If passed, the Preventing Tragedies bill would require police to be trained on de-escalation techniques that focus on preserving life. The legislation builds upon Police Executive Research Forum guiding principles on use of force and its belief that “the preservation of life has always been at the heart of American policing.”

    To show your support of this bill, take a second to sign the ACLU petition “End the Culture of Warrior Policing." 

    The ACLU also recently sent a letter to Congress urging them to pass the Preventing Tragedies bill as well as the following bills when they return from recess:

    - The Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act (H.R. 2875S. 2168), sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), provides law enforcement with resources for accreditation, best practices, training, and other resources to increase trust between police and community. The bill also mandates data collection on use of force and other police-community encounters, so the public can begin to knowwhat policing looks like in this country.

    - The End Racial Profiling Act (H.R. 1933S. 1056), also introduced by Rep. Conyers and Sen. Cardin, prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from engaging in racial profiling and other biased policing. The bill would help law enforcement meet this mandate through training, funding, and data collection. As the Department of Justice formally acknowledged at the end of June, “most people experience some degree of unconscious bias.” Implicit and explicit biases have no place in policing.

    - The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (H.R. 1232S. 1441), offered by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), would prohibit the transfer of some of the most dangerous  military weapons from the federal government to state and local law enforcement. Tanks, grenades, bayonets, and other weapons of war have no business in our communities.      

    - The Police CAMERA Act (H.R. 1680S. 877) is sponsored by Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and provides federal resources to state and local law enforcement so they can develop safe and effective body-worn camera programs that also protect civilians’ privacy rights. Communities and law enforcement agree that cameras can be a part of the solution, but they must be implemented the right way.

    …and…

    - The DUE PROCESS Act (H.R. 5283S. 3045) is a response to the controversial practice of civil asset forfeiture from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). The bill levels the playing field for individuals who want to challenge law enforcement’s seizure of their property by providing access to counsel, an increased burden of proof for the government, and other procedural protections.

    We urge you to call and write to your legislators in the House and Senate to make sure they know you support the passage of these critical bills as well. 

    So, if making sure our police departments truly protect and serve all is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Ending the Culture of Warrior Policing via social media so that others in your network can get involved too. 

    Please know that signing a petition and calling your legislators is NOT ENOUGH. These are just two things in a long list of things that you can do to help fight for police reform and support our persecuted brothers and sisters of color. So get mad, get in the streets, fight with your racist relatives and friends, vote for candidates who support police reform, and challenge America’s systemic racism every damn day. Because your silence says more than you’ll ever know.

     

     

    TAKE ACTION 

    Sign the ACLU petition “End the Culture of Warrior Policing." 

    Call and write to your legislators in the House and Senate to make sure they know you support the passage of the total suite of policing reform bills listed above.

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    ACLU Implores Congress Consider Taking Up Law Enforcement Reform Legislation (ACLU) 

    You Can Be Pro Cop and Pro Police Reform (Brennan Center for Justice)

    Showing Up for Racial Justice - Actions in Your Area (Showing Up for Racial Justice)

    10-Point Justice Plan: National Urban League Police Reform and Accountability Recommendations (National Urban League)

    Guiding Principles on Use of Force (Police Executive Research Forum)

     

    Written by BOTL Communications Director Amanda Hoffman.

     

    Hear the segment in the context of the show: 

    Best of the Left Edition #1030: "From Warriors to Guardians" (Police Reform)

  • White People: Get Mad, Get in the Streets for Black Lives via Organizations of the #BlackLives Movement

    In our activism segment for Best of the Left edition #1029: "You can't reignite a fire that never stops burning," you heard from those in the Movement for Black Lives what white teammates and co-conspirators need to do. Black people are taking risks every day to fight for their liberation. To truly be supporting this movement, white people need to ignore any hesitation stemming from their privilege and take risks too. If you are white and want to educate yourself and find out how you can join the fight to end oppression, here are some organizations in the Movement for Black Lives that you should be aware of and that can provide the resources you need to become part of the movement and get off the side-lines.

     

    SURJ - Showing Up for Racial Justice 

    SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice. You can find resources, actions and chapters and partner organizations in your area at showingupforracialjustice.org

     

    Advancement Project

    Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras. You can join campaigns, access resources and news around voting rights, the school to prison pipeline and more at advancementproject.org

     

    Hands Up United

    HandsUpUnited aims to fulfill the political void that remains from the historical archives of the Black Power Movement and strongly believes liberation for oppressed Black and Brown people will be achieved solely through self determination coupled with traditional and nontraditional means of political education. Their community programs include Books and Breakfast, the Tech Institute and food and clothing disbursement and oppression support groups. You can learn more at handsupunited.org.  

     

    Dream Defenders

    Dream Defenders is an uprising of communities in struggle, shifting culture through transformational organizing that believes the liberation necessitates the destruction of the political and economic systems of Capitalism and Imperialism, as well as Patriarchy. They also believe that nonviolent resistance is “the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom” and are fundamentally committed to nonviolence as their means of struggle against a violent oppressor. You can learn more at dreamdefenders.org

     

    We Are Here Movement

    The We Are Here Movement’s Racial Justice in America Moonshot campaign is requesting a radical transformation in racial justice and equality with the push for $150 billion directed at poor communities over the next 10 years to provide access to equal education, healthcare, quality housing, training and jobs, nutrition and an overhaul of the Criminal Justice System. You can sign the petition at weareheremovement.com/moonshot.

     

    Million Hoodies Movement for Justice 

    Million Hoodies Movement for Justice is a racial justice membership organization confronting anti-black racism and systemic violence. Their mission is to build the next generation human rights leaders to end mass criminalization and gun violence through grassroots organizing, advocacy, and education. You can learn more at millionhoodies.net.

     

    TAKE ACTION

    Find Showing Up for Justice actions near you

    Sign the We Are Here Movement's Racial Justice Moonshot Petition 

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    This is What White People Can Do to Support Black Lives Matter (Washington Post)

    Tim Wise Website (TimWise.com)

    It's Legal to Kill Black People (Hands Up United) 

    Rewire News - Racism (Rewire.com)

    11 Major Misconceptions About the Black Lives Matter Movement (Black Lives Matter)

    Only White People Can Save Themselves From Racism and White Supremacism (Washington Post) 

     

  • End Dragnet Government Surveillance via @ACLU — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: End Dragnet Government Surveillance.

    President Obama has pledged to review and bring NSA surveillance in line with the Constitution. With his term running down, the clock is ticking for fulling this promise.

    Executive Order 12333 is a Reagan-era spy program still on the books. And while action from Congress would be preferable as it would prevent subsequent administrations from reversing a reversal through new executive order, the White House can and should do what it can to bring domestic policy in line with the Constitution and international law.

    The ACLU has sent a letter to the White House asking that the president prohibit dragnet surveillance and to make any exceptions as narrow as possible with clear time, purpose and geographic limitations. Visit WhiteHouse.gov/Contact to let the president know that privacy is a basic human right that the U.S. should respect abroad as well as domestically and you expect him to follow through.

    Also, the law that the NSA uses to collect phone records of every single American — Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act — is set to expire on June 1 unless Congress acts. Sign the petition at ACLU.org to let your representatives know you oppose dragnet surveillance and therefore the extension of any part of the Patriot Act. We can’t rely on this Congress to pass a comprehensive law to end the practice, but with the entire House and part of the Senate in the midst of election season, we can let them know that we vote on this issue.

    TAKE ACTION:

    CONTACT the White House: Reverse EO 12333

    SIGN: Cosmetic Changes Aren’t Enough: We need to END Dragnet NSA Surveillance via The ACLU

    Sources/further reading:

    "What President Obama Can Do to Stop US Dragnet Surveillance Around the World” via ACLU

    "ACLU COMMENTS TO THE PRIVACY AND CIVIL LIBERTIES OVERSIGHT BOARD ON ITS REVIEW OF EXECUTIVE ORDER 12333” via the ACLU

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #797 "Trouble at the old pharm (Health Care)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Support Bipartisan #JusticeReformNOW via @cut_50 — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Support Bipartisan #JusticeReformNOW.

    1 out of every 100 Americans is behind bars. The U.S. spends $80 billion a year on incarceration. 70 million Americans have a criminal record. In too many neighborhoods, young people of color are more likely to go to prison than college.

    Over the course of this year, those stats — straight out of Cut50’s campaign supporting bipartisan criminal justice reform — have lead to an unlikely alliance of traditional ideological adversaries like The ACLU and Koch Industries. With the left and the right backing a reduction in the inmate population, legislation has actually been introduced in the House and Senate.

    As reported in NPR, Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, is behind the bill because: "The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act is the most substantial criminal justice reform legislation introduced since the inception of the 'tough on crime' movement and is the best indication we have that those days are over.”

    Families Against Mandatory Minimums is also supporting the legislation. President Julie Stewart acknowledges that it isn’t perfect, but says "it is a substantial improvement over the status quo and will fix some of the worst injustices.”

    The House bill — the SAFE Justice Act — and the Senate bill — the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act — propose system-wide reforms to reduce over-criminalization, enhance rehabilitation, support individuals’ rebuilding after prison terms, reform federal prison sentencing, and reduce automatic and harsh punishments like “three strikes” laws.

    Visit JusticeReformNow.org to sign the Cut50 petition, which is approaching 200,000 signatures — it turns out criminal justice reform is also popular with celebrity activists and the general public! You can also join in demanding that Congress take action to roll back the incarceration industry in America by following the #JusticeReformNOW & #Cut50 hashtags.

    We already know this Congress is loathe to do anything besides push deadlines on the budget and investigate Planned Parenthood without a public outcry. Let’s make sure they can hear us loud and clear.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Demand that Congress take action to roll back the incarceration industry in America” via #cut50

    Sources/further reading:

    "FAMM: House Sentencing Reform Compromise Another Step in Right Direction” via Families Against Mandatory Minimums

    “Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act” — the full legislation

    "Here's One Thing Washington Agreed On This Week: Sentencing Reform” via NPR

    "Senators Announce Bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act” — announcement from the Judiciary Committee

    "Senate Introduces ‘Gamechanger’ Criminal Justice Reform Bill” via Time

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #959 "The need to do better (Mass Incarceration)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich