- Campaign Finance Reform
- Civil Liberties / Surveillance
- Civil Rights
- Economic Justice
- Government Accountability / Whistleblowers
- Gun Violence Prevention
- Law Enforcement
- Post Office
- Retirement and Healthcare
Unity Statement Against the Trans-Pacific PartnershipAt the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership was front and center in organizing meetings and on the convention floor itself. One of the key actions was a Democratic Delegates Unity Statement Against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, signed by delegates of both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. In solidarity with the Anti-TPP Unity Statement we are inviting people from all political parties to join us. We cannot stand idly by and allow another ruinous trade deal to decimate more American jobs and put our environmental, legal, financial, pharmaceutical, food safety, and other critical protections at risk. Thank you!
North Carolina Body Cam Law Breaches Trust and Transparency in Local CommunitiesLast month, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed House Bill 972 into law, officially restricting public access to voice and video footage from police dash and body cameras. The new law states that access to police camera footage is to be restricted to local police departments and court officials. According to the law, if anyone outside of that realm wants access to footage of community interactions with law enforcement via dash or body cam (including the families of those affected), they would need to obtain either approval from the local Police Department Chief or a superior court order from a state judge. Among other quirks, the law also includes the implementation of a “Blue Alert” signal, modeled after the commonly used “Amber Alert,” used via smartphone to warn police officers about suspects who have harmed or killed cops. In 2015, the Obama administration provided $20 million to local police departments across the country -- to be used strictly for police dash and body cameras, technologies of accountability requested by the ACLU and Black Lives Matter activists in the wake of protests against police brutality and the killings of Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott and more. In recent months, round-the-clock police surveillance has raised awareness about normalized acts of racial profiling and police brutality in local communities, and has forced law enforcement officers to be responsible with their power and accountable for their actions. The implementation of police body cams is arguably the greatest on-the-ground achievement of anti-police brutality groups like CopWatch and Black Lives Matter activists. The purpose of police body cameras is to create trust and transparency between law enforcement officers and the communities in which they patrol. Citizens feel safer when they know that others are watching, or at least soon will be, if they were to be attacked, abused, or at worst, murdered. Law enforcement officers have relied on and credited the efficiency of body cameras as well, in cases where they were falsely accused of excessive force or police brutality and dash/body cameras proved their innocence. The transparency provided by body cameras has overall helped improve community relations with police officials. North Carolina is not the only state to restrict body cam footage from public access. Florida, Oregon, Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina and a few other states have restrictions on police footage as well. What makes North Carolina’s policy uniquely harsh, however, is its restriction of both video and sound from dash and body cameras, as opposed to other states that ban public access to police video footage but not sound recordings. The law is also novel in that it restricts footage access not just from the public, but also from the families of those affected. The implementation of NC House Bill 972 is a bold act of anti-transparency by North Carolina legislators. NC’s harsh law on dash and body cam access has serious implications and raises questions about why legislators are so adamant about “protecting” law enforcement officers from their own sound and video footage. It can take up to months to be granted a superior court order for the release of police sound and video footage -- leaving time and space for false accusations and possible illegal editing on behalf of officials. The passing of this legislation also raises a critical question in minority communities: If we can no longer rely on police footage as a defense or as evidence of innocence, should we be filming ourselves? We have seen local communities’ reaction to city officials withholding police camera footage, in cities like Charleston, SC and Chicago, IL. Most notably, we remember the killing of 16-year old Laquan McDonald, who was repeatedly shot 16 times while lying on the ground, as revealed by later-released camera footage. Chicago natives and residents protested for days in response to mayor Rahm Emanuel’s deliberate withholding of the video. NC Governor McCrory insists that recordings of police interactions with the community can “mislead and misinform the public...while work[ing] against police officers.” On the other hand, members of local minority communities fear that without the immediate release of these recordings (to their families or otherwise), police officials have the ability to manipulate both their version of the story and any voice/video evidence. At the very least, police footage should be available to the families affected by the incident, and audio recordings should be available for public access, as it is in other anti-transparency states like Florida. North Carolina’s new body cam law is a direct blow to the efforts of BLM activists as well as to the trust of both citizens and police officers who relied on the immediate release of body cam footage to clear their name of media criticism. We must reverse this miscarriage of justice, sooner rather than later, before a domino effect begins to take place in surrounding states. The law goes into effect on October 1st, 2016.
Sec. Clinton: Don't Pick TPP Kaine for VPHere's all you need to know about Tim Kaine, according to the Huffington Post, "Kaine, by contrast, is setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party. He has championed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that both Sanders and Warren oppose, and he is now publicly siding with bank deregulation advocates at the height of Clinton’s veepstakes."
"I'll vote for Jill if you will” pledge campaign to elect Jill Stein president.Vast numbers of voters are frustrated and angry! It’s come down to Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump? These are the two most unpopular candidates in the history of presidential elections. Of course, there is an excellent alternative. But understandably voters are afraid of “throwing their vote away”. Here’s the solution: We join together in a person-to-person pledge campaign, the “I’ll vote for Jill if you will” initiative, supporting the presidential bid of Dr. Jill Stein. Together we’ll elect the first female President of the United States, one who will do a great job of putting America back on track. Here’s how . . . Step 1: When you take the “I’ll vote for Jill if you will” personal pledge alone or with a friend, neighbor, relative, you let us know by officially signing the pledge at this site. Step 2: You find two other people who you respect and trust, let them know about Jill Stein if they don’t already, get them to take the “I’ll vote for Jill if you will” pledge, and make sure they let us know by coming here to sign the pledge. Step 3: They likewise will each find two others to take the pledge and come here to add to the growing list of pledge takers. Step 4: When and only when we reach our target of 50 million pledges, we will vote for Jill Stein. Why 50 million? Because 50 million voters will guarantee a victory by plurality for Jill Stein, thus we will all know with absolute certainty we’re not throwing our votes away, that indeed our votes will go toward electing a great president! 50 million may seem like an impossible goal. But it’s all in the math. If one person tells two about this tomorrow, then the following day those two each tell two more, and so on and so on, how many days does it take to get to 50 million? The answer might surprise you. 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 … believe it or not, in ONLY 27 DAYS we will have 67,108,864 pledges! (Go to http://50-million-signatures.us/50-million/do-the-math/) It’s the power of numbers! It’s the power of people! It’s the power of joining together and saying NO MORE LESSER EVIL VOTING! Remember, there’s nothing at risk here. We honor the “I’ll vote for Jill if you will” pledge when we get to our goal. On the other hand, there’s a lot at stake . . . a better America for ourselves and our children! It’s up to you. Take the pledge. Let us know. Then have two others take the pledge. Make sure they let us know too. Sorry, Hillary and Donald. The people will have spoken. We intend to celebrate Dr. Jill Stein as the 45th President of the United States!
Demanding Annual Chemical Toxicity Testing in all U.S. Public SchoolsThirty K-12 schools in New Jersey's largest metropolitan city, Newark, have officially been identified as contaminated sites by state and city officials. According to environmental experts, the sites contain high levels of lead, well past federal EPA's chemical release quota for emergency cleanup. In light of recent discoveries of lead-water contamination in Flint, Michigan, Newark officials have established a policy of routine water testing throughout the city. On their first go-around, they discovered that the water in 30 public schools, including 5 charter schools, was contaminated with lead. Since the discovery, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and the school superintendent Christopher Serf have declared 30 public schools in a state of emergency. Each school morning, trucks filled with bottled water conduct drop offs to over 20,000 students, teachers, cafeteria staff and custodial so that they all have access to clean, usable water throughout the day. Lead is a heavy metal that has been federally regulated since the 1970s, once its properties were revealed to cause developmental defects and neurological degeneration. In Newark, New Jersey, 20,000 students in 30 different schools drink it each day. While we commend Newark officials for acting immediately upon discovery, we condemn them for their tardiness and years of neglect towards the health and safety of the children they are responsible for educating and protecting. Water quality experts estimate that Newark water banks have been severely contaminated for up to six years. According to some sources, the water contamination began in 2012, in the aftermath of New Jersey's most disastrous storm, Hurricane Sandy. Others claim that that presence of heavy metals like lead and mercury in Newark's water banks is a part of a larger problem, tracing back to over spills and cross-contamination during a storm in 2010. Newark students and parents are enraged. Having been left in the dark about years of water poisoning, and still, trapped in their current schools through the binds of former superintendent Cami Anderson's One Newark Program, Newark students are in an extremely dangerous and potentially deadly situation that they have no way out of. Most of the affected schools are considered "failing," and are set to close down while the buildings are to be sold to private contractors and incoming charter schools. Four of the affected schools are formerly public turned charter institutions. Three schools have been recently transformed into alternative schools for the misbehaved and special education institutions for the mentally challenged. And still --there is no official plan for cleanup. While bottled-water distribution companies maximize profits, and NJ city and state officials minimize responsibility, it is the students of Newark who bear the burden of years of lead-water poisoning. New Jersey Representative Donald M. Payne Jr. has developed plans to propose a nation-wide bill to Congress -- to create a federal budget for yearly toxicity testing and evaluation in public schools throughout the U.S. The legislation would require schools to test drinking water, including water from faucets used for food preparation, sinks in bathrooms, and water fountains. Testing would be required at least biannually at schools built prior to 1996 and at least annually at schools built in 1996 or after, when regulations were extended to restrict the amount of lead in school faucets. The TEST for Lead Act would also require local education agencies with jurisdiction over the schools to notify parents, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the state within 48 hours if a level of lead that exceeds a lead-action level, as identified by the EPA, is discovered." - NJ Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr. Although water testing is a long ways from clean-up, and even longer from treatment -- it's a start towards recovery that lies within the means of the existing federal budget. It is imperative that we stand by NJ legislators in their primary initiatives towards health accuracy and ecological justice in Newark and vulnerable cities across the U.S. Sign this petition. Hundreds of thousands of students in Newark, New Jersey, Flint, Michigan, and a host of other cities are counting on you. "I align myself with New Jersey Representative Donald M. Payne Jr. in his proposal of the TEST for Lead Act, which ensures that annual toxicity testing is conducted in public schools, nation wide."
Raise the Qualifications for Prison Guards NationwideBehind prison walls, there are thousands of everyday incidents that convey explicit power-conflicts between prisoners and correction officers, both in state and private prisons. Though these conflicts are, at-large, a result of a conditioned hostile environment, they are also the result of a general lack of education, training, experience, and respect toward the people serving their time in prison. Incidents of violent assault are common. In a Mississippi state prison, a female warden was punched in the face by a male prisoner twice her age and size after she "disrespected, disciplined and made an example of him" in front of other inmates. Rape too, is a prison epidemic that we are too familiar with. At Rikers Prison in New York, a female prisoner was gang raped by two male guards who were responsible for escorting her to the bathroom. Though both correctional officers were fired, neither was charged. What we do not hear about are the hundreds of lives taken each year, both guards and prisoners, as a result of power-conflicts. More often than not, prison guards undergo inadequate C.O. training, have minimal educational attainment, and in many states, are able to jump into the field as early as 18 years old. In addition, not all, but very many prison guards are both physically and psychologically unprepared for the job. In Georgia, educational programs,` in partnership with colleges and universities are being implemented in prisons state-wide. Prisons have allowed these programs, on the condition that courses and scholarship funds are available for the correctional officers as well. Georgia prison officials feared that their officers, mostly high-school educated, would react hostilely to inmates being able to take college courses. In state prisons all over the country, C.O.s make everyday decisions that affect the long-term lives of those imprisoned. Correctional officers need specialized training, with an emphasis on conflict resolution, instead of combat and coercion. They need to be educated to understand the psychological condition of the prisoners they care after. They need to be educated to a point where neither anger nor resentment arises from witnessing an inmate take a beginning level college course. Power-abuse is never acceptable. No human being deserves to be stripped of their identity, humanity, or life due to power-conflicts rooted in lack of education, mental instability and inadequate training and experience. If we are going to use correctional institutions as the primary punishment for those who break the law, we need to invest more into our correctional officers, by raising the C.O. qualifications nation-wide. Sign this petition demanding that state legislators and Department of Corrections Commissioners raise the qualifications for Correctional Officers nationwide. 1. Prison guards should have at least some level of college education. 2. Prison guards should be at least 25 years of age. 3. Prison guards should have yearly background checks and psychological evaluations.
Toxic Work Conditions in Texas PrisonsPrisoners within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice are working, unpaid, in the TCI chemical plant without being issued the proper air-ventilated safety masks. In an open letter, TDCJ inmate David Martinez described the entire work area at the Coffield Unit’s Metal Fabrication Plant as having a faulty ventilation system. "It is not fully operational and does not protect prison workers or TCI employees from hazardous and toxic fumes that are put into the atmosphere by numerous projects like welding and painting," writes Martinez. The Metal Fabrication Plant Manager and his staff have devised a “warning system” that TDCJ inmates are very familiar with, Martinez says — a warning system that gives the Metal Fabrication Plant Manager a “heads up” when any kind of inspector or auditor is at the front gate — allowing the prisoners and Texas Correctional Industry employees to shut down all activities deemed illegal and unsafe by the Fire Marshal or any other oversight Agency. The Metal Fabrication Plant is currently devising a plan for expansion, filling an order for 5,000 new storage lockers, Martinez adds, while there are no current plans to fix the plant’s ventilation system, nor to restock masks and safety equipment for the inmates who work there. Many of the chemicals and substances used in the Coffield Unit’s Metal Fabrication Plant, and in many other units and plants throughout Texas, have clear warning labels that they have the potential to cause cancer. Martinez explains that Texas prisoners are being forced to work in a very dangerous environment and to engage in hazardous and illegal practices with no regard for their health or safety. "Many prisoners are afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation," Martinez reports. "Prisoners are threatened with disciplinary action if they [complain, refuse to work or] do not sign Material Safety Data Sheets (which give the 'appearance' that Texas prisoners are being given the proper training and safety equipment) in this very volatile and hazardous atmosphere." David Martinez and thousands of other Texas prisoners need your immediate help and support! Sign this petition to demand that Texas state officials provide immediate relief to the affected prisoners and to facilitate investigation by a body that's not part of the prison administration
Thousands of Georgia Prisoners Are Never Given A Release DateIn the state of Georgia, people who are sentenced to life in prison (25 years or more) are never given a release date. In other words, if a Georgia resident is convicted at the age of twenty, and receives a single life sentence (25 years or more), they are never notified of an official release date and are unaware that they could potentially be free, soonest, at the age of forty-five. Georgia inmates suffer dramatically because of this. The detrimental effects of inmates not knowing when they will be released are numerous, including carelessness, mental illness, excessive pill use, adjustment disorders, depressive nostalgia and violent behavior. In addition, inmates with life sentences have the lowest prison visitation rates due to a loss of family support attributed to indefinite time sentencing. Georgia prisoners and their families are asking for state law to require a set release date during sentencing. Sign this petition to urge Georgia state legislators to create legislation allowing Georgia prison inmates to be given a definite release date, regardless of life sentences.
Abolish War, Save Article 9The movement to maintain Article 9 is important because Article 9 is such a positive force for Japanese people and for other nations globally. What makes the movement even stronger is that the movement leaders also want to revise the constitution in their own image - that is, to make it a constitution of the 21st century removed from the influence of World War II. They are supported by important thinkers and activists such as Noam Chomsky, Akihiko Kimijima and Helen Caldicott who stress that Article 9 should be a role model for the world to follow. All emphasize that living in the nuclear age our survival is at stake. To embrace Article 9 is to support the United Nations mandate to abolish war and "turn your swords into ploughshares." But we must remain consistent over a long period of time. We must outlast big money lobby groups over a long time - and we must be very creative in our strategy. The public at large becomes quickly bored and apathetic unless the new movement is able to stimulate their imaginations and motivate them to take action in support of the protesters. Both General Douglas MacArthur and Prime Minister Kijuro Shidehara were very successful in motivating the voting public to embrace the new peace constitution in 1946. So in conclusion I truly believe there is hope for Article 9, but it will take hard work and consistency. Join hands, hearts and minds to support and promote this wonderful constitution.
Contaminated Water Causes Cancer in Texas Prisons; Officials Ignore Complaints and Avoid Clean-upMark Schwarzer spent five years at Wallace Pack Unit, where he was exposed to high levels of arsenic discovered in the prison water supply. While serving time at Wallace Pack Unit, Mark was diagnosed with skin cancer. He attributes the cancer to his consumption of the arsenic-tainted water in the prison. Soon after, Mr. Schwarzer requested that his blood be tested for arsenic but University of Texas Medical Branch personnel vehemently refused. As a result of their refusal, Mark filed a Step I (I-127) grievance. In September 2015, not long after these events, Mark was involuntarily transferred from Wallace Park Unit, in Navasota, TX to Boyd Unit in Teague, TX. Mr. Schwarzer discovered that his Step I (I-127) grievance had been denied, and he filed a Step II (I-128) grievance at the Boyd Unit. The Unit Grievance Investigator at Boyd, Mr. Mark Fryhoff, has refused to produce a copy of Mr. Schwarzer's Step II grievance, claiming it has mysteriously disappeared. Without this document, these is no evidence at the Boyd Unit that Mark Schwarzer has filed a grievance or requested blood tests. Mark Schwarzer is suffering from arsenic-caused skin cancer, and because of Officer Fryhoff’s either intentional or irresponsible misplacement of the Step II (I-128) grievance, Mark is unlikely to receive the immediate testing and treatment that he is asking for. Losing grievances or failing to produce copies damages the integrity of the entire process. There are numerous incidents of TDCJ prison officials attempting to cover up contaminated water problems at its facilities. Texas prisons promote a pattern of conduct where TDCJ employees, including wardens, corrections officers and classification personnel, use their positions to retaliate against prisoners who file grievances or shed light on injustices and abuse. We must begin to hold these individuals accountable for their abuse of power! Please sign this petition, demanding that Senator Ellis and Senator Whitmire contact the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and mandate an inquiry and investigation into the unethical conduct of Boyd Unit Grievance Officer Mark Fryhoff.
Demand a full investigation on the unjust trial and conviction of Michigan Rev. Edward PinkneyEdward Pinkney is a well-respected minister and community activist who has been imprisoned and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for allegedly altering five dates on recall petitions in Benton Harbor, Michigan. In response to what Pinkney assessed as a corrupt giveaway of much of Benton Harbor’s public land to the multi-million dollar Whirlpool Corporation, he organized a petition drive to recall the mayor of Benton Harbor. The state of Michigan responded with bogus charges, his arrest and imprisonment. Pinkney is an admired civil rights leader in his home state, having organized the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization in response to the June 16, 2003, murder of 28-year-old African-American Terrance Shurn, who was being pursued by Benton Police. He also co-founded a branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Benton Harbor, Michigan in 2009. Reverend Pinkney and his supporters believe that his conviction is linked to a strategic governmental plan to halt his community activism and impede his efforts against former Benton Harbor mayor James Hightower and Whirlpool Corp. Black activists and radical leaders who stand up for justice are too often treated as criminals rather than heroes, and are ultimately forced into the U.S. criminal justice system. Political prisoner Pinkney has been recently moved to the Marquette Prison in Michigan, far away from his friends, supporters, and Benton Harbor home. He has been placed in conditions dangerous to his health and his telephone privileges have been revoked. As long as Rev. Edward Pinkney remains in prison, his family is left fatherless, and the organizations that he has dedicated his life to stand vulnerable to government dismantlement. Sign this petition to demand justice for Rev. Edward Pinkney! * Call Legislative Corrections Ombudsman Keith Barber to demand an investigation into Rev. Pinkney’s treatment: 517-373-8573. * Call Governor Rick Snyder at 517-373-3400. Tell him you are concerned about Rev. Pinkney’s safety in an environment of harassment, threats, intimidation, and hostility.
Demand adequate treatment and protection for inmate, Keith "Malik" WashingtonKeith "Malik" Washington is an activist and current prisoner of the menacing U.S. criminal justice system. Throughout his sentence, Malik has witnessed and experienced severe environmental neglect and its detrimental effects in Texas state prisons. He has written dozens of letters to legislators and activists revealing the horrendous conditions in TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) facilities, including malnutrition, contaminated water and extreme overheating. Retaliation is real! Malik’s efforts, instead of being met with serious investigation and support, have been treated as a threat to Texas legislators and officials. In retaliation to Malik’s efforts to expose the environmental injustices in Texas prisons, he has been transferred to the Coffield Unit, the largest and most gang-present prison in the state of Texas. Malik has deliberately been placed in harm’s way by the TDCJ! According to Malik, there have been multiple threats made against his life from both guards and prisoners and it is very clear that he was transferred to Coffield because the TDCJ is retaliating against him for exposing environmental injustices in the TDCJ system. Malik needs to be protected from threats made from guards and gangs in the Coffield Unit, which the unit’s administration have encouraged. We demand that Malik immediately be placed either in a different unit or in some sort of protective custody. Malik has devoted his life to exposing injustices in prisons across the country through education and activism - even while confined to a prison cell. He has written numerous articles for online prison activist sites. One of his more recent articles is provided below: http://sfbayview.com/2015/07/tdcj-placed-me-in-harms-way-because-i-spoke-out-in-reference-to-the-extreme-heat/keith-malik-washington/ Sign this petition demand Malik’s immediate removal from the Coffield unit or immediate placement into protective custody within the prison!