Gun Violence and the Zimmerman Verdict, One Year Later

Gun Violence and the Zimmerman Verdict, One Year Later

This Sunday will mark the one-year anniversary of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in connection to the killing of Trayvon Martin. The verdict gave rise to a national dialogue about race and racial profiling, as people took to the streets in protest. One year later, Zimmerman remains a household name—but violence against unarmed black people continues.

In a personal essay over at Next City, organizer Dante Barry, who works with the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, considers the ways in which black neighborhoods continue to be plagued by violence:

Although frustration still lingers from that tragic decision of injustice to acquit Zimmerman of all charges, over the last year, Million Hoodies has been busy bridging the gap between gun violence prevention and mass decriminalization. We recognize that the death of Trayvon Martin and even Jordan Davis, and many others like them, are deeply embedded in institutional injustice and structural violence. We must attack the core inequalities in our society if we are to put a stop to the senseless deaths and systemic violence inflicted on people of color every day.

Audre Lorde once said, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” We cannot just talk about gun violence and continue to ignore the criminalization of communities of color. Responses to certain forms of gun violence have resulted in the increase of school metal detectors and policies like stop-and-frisk. Arguably, stop-and-frisk is motivated by a desire to address public safety and the safety of our children. However, it disproportionately impacts young men of color. Stop-and-frisk is an experience far too common if you walk around Bed-Stuy and identify as poor or black.

I live down the street from a police precinct. I see officers patrol my street at night and will occasionally stand in front of my apartment building to surveil the area. Am I safe? Is this what security feels like?

Read the whole essay over at Next City

House Sues Obama, Amazon’s 55 MPH Drones, and A Roll-Up Television Screen

House Sues Obama, Amazon's 55 MPH Drones, and A Roll-Up Television Screen

It’s Friday! And here’s what I’m reading up on:


Texas City to ‘Refuse’ Refugee Child Migrants

Texas City to 'Refuse' Refugee Child Migrants

League City, Texas, council members voted on a measure set to reject any federal request to open an immigrant detention facility within the city.

The resolution was drafted by council member Heidi Thiess and approved 6-2—with support from the mayor. In addition to instructing all local institutions “to refuse requests or directives by federal agencies to permit or establish any facility for the purposes of processing, housing, or detaining any illegal aliens, designated as ‘refugee’ or otherwise”, the resolution also demands the state of Texas do the following:

  • Through State executive and legislative actions demand that the Federal government provide additional resources for new and/or existing Border Patrol checkpoints and employ a contiguous physical barrier where strategically prudent.
  • Demand the Texas State Legislature to enhance state smuggling and human trafficking laws and provide civil liability protections for Texan landowners against criminal trespassers.
  • Demand the Texas State Legislature abolish any and all state-controlled or sponsored magnets that exacerbate the problem of rampant illegal immigration, such as (but not limited to): in-state tuition subsidies, welfare benefits and free non-emergency health care for illegal aliens.
  • Require the State to perform a cost/benefit analysis of the illegal alien presence and report that cost to Texas taxpayers and state agencies.
  • Pass legislation to prohibit “sanctuary cities” which restrict law enforcement from determining the immigration status of detainees after the commission of a crime within our communities.

According to The Houston Chronicle, there are no plans to open a detention facility in League City. If challenged, the resolution holds little legal merit. 

(h/t Raw Story)

O.C. Sheriff’s Department Admits to Violating TRUST Act

O.C. Sheriff's Department Admits to Violating TRUST Act

Under the federal government’s Secure Communities program, the Department of Homeland Security accesses fingerprints whenever they’re entered in a local database. Those fingerprints are then screened, and jurisdictions are asked to hold undocumented immigrants at the request of the feds. Critics charge that the Secure Communities program is a massive dragnet that often targets people who haven’t even been accused of any serious crime for deportation. The program has also netted U.S.-born citizens. Local authorities aren’t forced to honor the federal government’s hold—it’s simply a request, made without a warrant. 

Under what’s known as the TRUST Act, California chose to stop cooperating with the program in January of this year, except in cases where the person in question is charged or has been convicted of a serious crime.

In California’s Orange Country, however, 25-year-old Samuel Sixtos-Gomez is now facing deportation because of an old warrant for driving without a license. As the OC Weekly’s Gabriel San Román reports, Sixtos-Gomez was walking down the street when local sheriff deputies began questioning him. When it was revealed that he had an outstanding warrant for driving without a license, he was arrested:

The misdemeanor offense for which police arrested Sixtos-Gomez that afternoon falls under the TRUST Act, which became law on Jan. 1 and protects undocumented, low-level offenders from being turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by law-enforcement agencies. But, on April 18, after several days in the Orange County Jail, Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) officials allowed ICE agents to fetch Sixtos-Gomez at the jail and transport the 25-year-old to San Bernardino County’s Adelanto Detention Center, a facility run by the Geo Group, a controversial, lawsuit-ridden private for-profit firm. He remains there until an immigration court decides if he should be deported.

Perhaps more alarming, however, is that the OC Weekly writes that the Orange County Sheriff Department’s spokesperson admits his agency violated the TRUST Act: “We’ve acknowledged our error of detaining and releasing Mr. Sixtos-Gomez into the custody of ICE in violation of the TRUST Act on April 18.”

Sixtos-Gomez—who has been deported six times, but returned to the place he’s called home since he was 8—remains in detention. Despite the TRUST Act, federal immigration law will likely back his removal.  

Read the whole story over at the OC Weekly

ABC Confuses Palestinians for Israelis, FIFA Bans Nigeria, and Disappearing Salamanders

ABC Confuses Palestinians for Israelis, FIFA Bans Nigeria, and Disappearing Salamanders

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Israel continues to bombard Gaza. But be careful what you read; ABC’s Diane Sawyer tells her audience that Palestinian victims are actually Israelis. 
  • Jobless claims fall again—and more than expected. 
  • 80 percent of adults with serious mental illnesses are unemployed
TAGS: Morning Rush

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Sentenced to 10 Years

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Sentenced to 10 Years

A federal judge sentenced former New Orleans, La., Mayor Ray Nagin to 10 years in prison for corruption. Nagin was convicted in February but learned his fate today. The former mayor, whose pleas for help during Hurricane Katrina drew national attention in 2005, was convicted in February of accepting bribes in the form of money, resources and vacations from companies that wanted city contacts. 

The New York Times offers details:

Mr. Nagin, a Democrat, was found guilty in February on 20 counts, most relating to kickbacks from contractors looking for city work. He was arrested in January 2013, nearly three years after he left office. He was charged with taking kickbacks in the form of cash, cross-country trips or help with the family-run granite countertop company; the bribes were handed out by men looking for city business ranging from software supplies to sidewalk repair. Many of the schemes, though not all, took place after Hurricane Katrina, when contractors crowded into the city for rebuilding work.

Many of those involved eventually pleaded guilty and testified at length against Mr. Nagin at his trial.

The corruption had been so thoroughly covered in the local news media that few people were surprised by the verdicts in February. Mr. Nagin had come into office in 2002 as a reformer from the business world and a foe of cronyism. But the city grew frustrated with his stewardship, particularly in his second term when the rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina stalled and Mr. Nagin seemed unengaged. By the time he left office in 2010, many in New Orleans had moved past frustration and were simply ready to see him go.

Nagin set to turn himself in to authorities to serve his time in federal prison in September. 

Glenn Beck’s ‘Open Heart’ for Migrant Children

Glenn Beck's 'Open Heart' for Migrant Children

Right-wing pundit Glenn Beck expressed what appears to be a genuine concern for Central American migrant children arriving at the southern border—and announced an effort to bring tractor-trailers full of food, water and teddy bears for migrant children in need. On his program, Beck also denounced the long history of U.S.-backed coups and destabilization in Latin America. 

Beck’s announcement is drawing attention—and suspicion—on all sides. That’s not lost on Beck, who says, “I’ve never taken a position more deadly to my career than this, and I have never, ever taken a position that is more right than this.”

In what appear to be contradictory phrases in the same “Glenn Beck Program” segment, Beck says that he’ll be heading to the border next weekend where he claims he’ll illustrate the “illegals who are being caught and released.” Nevertheless, he asks supporters to donate money for his humanitarian effort.

Meanwhile, a Senate commission is hearing testimony on unaccompanied child migrants this morning. The hearing, titled “Challenges at the Border: Examining the Causes, Consequences, and Responses to the Rise in Apprehensions at the Southern Border” is live, and all testimony is available for download on PDF online. 

Israel Strikes 400 Sites in Gaza, Germany Beats Brazil 7-1 and Smallpox Found in Old Box

Israel Strikes 400 Sites in Gaza, Germany Beats Brazil 7-1 and Smallpox Found in Old Box

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

  • Following Brazil’s devastating loss, Argentina is the last American team left in the World Cup; they take on the Netherlands today, with champion diver Robben. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

White House Asks Congress for $3.7 Billion for Child Migrant Crisis

White House Asks Congress for $3.7 Billion for Child Migrant Crisis

The White House has filed a $4 billion request with Congress to manage the flows of tens of thousands of unaccompanied migrant children who’ve arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border this year, the New York Times reported. The request is nearly double the amount the Obama administration projected when it announced plans to ask for emergency funds. 

The money would be spent to beef up border security, detention facilities, Border Patrol and immigration judge staffing, and to handle the care of children while they await processing. The request was filed the day after the Obama administration announced that most of the children would not be allowed to stay in the U.S. even though children report fleeing from destabilizized countries in Central America where violence, conscription into gangs, and poverty threatens their lives. 

But, fear human rights advocates, by approaching the waves of children as an immigration problem instead of what it really is—a refugee crisis—the U.S. is missing the point. 

Israel Prepares Ground Invasion, Recreational Pot in Wash., and Contraceptive Chip

Israel Prepares Ground Invasion, Recreational Pot in Wash., and Contraceptive Chip

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • In a story reminiscent of Jill Abramson and the New York Times (minus the outrage), Jezebel passes Dodai Stewart over for the position of editor-in-chief. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Meet the Immigrants Helping Immigrants in Murrieta

Meet the Immigrants Helping Immigrants in Murrieta

Murrieta, Calif., has seen recent skirmishes between immigrant advocates and xenophobic residents who oppose migrants being processed at a nearby federal facility. But once undocumented immigrants arrive, who’s charged with providing basic services?

Over at Fusion, Jorge Rivas reports that local organizations are carrying the costs of supplying resources to the newly arrived in the form of food and housing:

The irony of Murrieta is that it was immigrant groups themselves, and not the government, that are asked to bear the burden and do most of the heavy lifting when it came to providing humanitarian assistance in Murrieta.

Check out Rivas’s full report over at Fusion

Family Plans Lawsuit After CHP Officer’s Violent Freeway Beating of a Black Woman

Family Plans Lawsuit After CHP Officer's Violent Freeway Beating of a Black Woman

The family of Marlene Pinnock is demanding answers and legal justice after a California highway patrol (CHP) officer beat her on a Los Angeles freeway last Tuesday, NBC reported. A passing driver captured video of the beating. It shows the CHP officer chasing Pinnock down the freeway, grabbing her and pummeling her with over a dozen blows.

“I never would have thought I would be standing here today talking on behalf of my mom because she was beaten on the side of a freeway by a CHP officer that was sworn to protect her. That makes me scared,” Pinnock’s daughter Maisha Allum said during a press conference, NBC reported.

CHP has maintained that Pinnock was walking on the freeway and endangering herself and the officer whose name has not been released and is on leave pending an internal investigation. Pinnock’s family has not explained why she was walking on the freeway.

“The tape only shows a small part of what transpired,” CHP Assistant Chief Chris O’Quinn said on Friday, KTLA reported. “There were events that led up to this. Until all that’s collected and put into perspective, we aren’t going to be able to make a determination.”

The Pinnock family has hired prominent civil rights attorney John Burris to help file their suit, which they say they’ll file this week. 

‘Sleep Dealer’ Has Been Re-released Digitally

'Sleep Dealer' Has Been Re-released Digitally

“Sleep Dealer” is a high quality science fiction film about migrant labor, water rights, drones and more—set in a dystopian future. Alex Rivera’s premiered at Sundance in 2008 and won numerous awards there and at other film festivals. But the distribution company that picked it up, Maya Entertainment went under, and the film never really got a proper release on the market.  

Rivera, who has directed amazing immigration-themed music videos for Aloe Blacc, La Santa Cecilia, and Manu Chau, managed to get the rights to “Sleep Dealer” back. He then asked friends on Facebook if they knew of any distributors who might be interested in picking it up again. The filmmaker heard back from Sundance itself, whose #ArtistService arm has now re-released the film online.   

You can purchase Sleep Dealer online for as little as $5—and it’s also available on iTunes and Amazon, with a Netflix release expected soon. 

Israeli Strikes on Palestine, Jeh Johnson on Border Crossings, and Madd Mary’s ‘Eff Iggy’

Israeli Strikes on Palestine, Jeh Johnson on Border Crossings, and Madd Mary's 'Eff Iggy'

Here’s what I’m reading up on after the long weekend: 

TAGS: Morning Rush

‘This Land Is Your Land,’ Las Cafeteras’ Independence Day Tribute

'This Land Is Your Land,' Las Cafeteras' Independence Day Tribute

What is freedom in a country which denies healthcare to undocumented residents, separates families via deportation, and has the highest incarceration rate in the world? That’s the question Los Angeles-based band Las Cafeteras is asking this Independence Day. 

With a new video produced in partnership with the California Endowment as part of a healthcare campaign, the band of artist-organizers filmed a new 21st-century, made-in-Los-Angeles spin on the American folk song classic “This Land Is Your Land.” Las Cafeteras’ version, points out band member Hector Flores, includes a new line inspired by the Zapatistas: “Todo para todos y nada para nosotros.” Or, “Everything for everybody, and nothing for ourselves.”

Arab-Americans Tell Census, ‘We’re Not White’

Arab-Americans Tell Census, 'We're Not White'

Comedian Amer Zahr’s upcoming documentary challenges how the last Census classified Arab-Americans—as white—in the hopes that the next one will be different. But he’s not the only one who believes the nation’s decennial count misclassifies or just plain erases their identities. According to AJA, Hispanics comprise 90 percent of the 20 million individuals who, during the 2010 Census, checked “some other race.” Capturing how Americans increasingly do (or don’t) identify themselves matters as the Census determines everything from the apportionment of congressional districts to the distribution of $400 billion in federal aid programs and the enforcement of civil rights laws.

In order to decrease the millions of Americans now checking the “other” box then, according to a recent New York Times article, the Census is beginning to test new categories ahead of the 2020 count. It’s considering adding a Middle East/North Africa category (although, some folks are fine with “white”) and perhaps combining the separate Hispanic and race questions into one. (For early results on that combination experiment, check this March Pew article.) Proposed changes are due to Congress by 2017.



New Jobs Report, Facebook’s Sorry Not Sorry and Ebola Death Toll Rises to 476

New Jobs Report, Facebook's Sorry Not Sorry and Ebola Death Toll Rises to 476

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Mean In? Facebook’s Sheryl Sanderg is sorry not sorry about her company’s emotional manipulation. 
  • The Ebola virus combined death toll rises to 476 in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Anti-Immigrant Protestors in California Block Federal Buses

Anti-Immigrant Protestors in California Block Federal Buses

Protestors in Murrieta, Calif., blocked buses carrying migrants from entering into their city Tuesday. Federal agents were transporting 140 migrants to a processing center in three large buses when more than 100 demonstrators carrying U.S. flags and anti-immigrant signs stopped them. 

Counter protestors were also on the scene. Among them was banda singer Lupillo Rivera—brother of the late Jenni Rivera. During one of many tense moments, Rivera was spit on by a xenophobic protestor on camera.

Local police did nothing to disperse the crowd, and the buses eventually headed to San Diego, Calif. Agents are expected to attempt to transfer migrants to the Murrieta federal processing center once again on the Fourth of July. 

Check out Latino Rebels for a great (yet horrifying) social media round-up from Tuesday’s protests

Israeli ‘Price-Tag’ Attacks, Protestors Stop Refugee Children, and Disappearing Litter

Israeli 'Price-Tag' Attacks, Protestors Stop Refugee Children, and Disappearing Litter

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Protestors in California stop busloads of refugee children and other undocumented immigrants from entering their city. Authorities will apparently try again on the Fourth of July. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

California’s ‘Ban the Box’ Law Could Aid 7 Million Job Seekers

California's 'Ban the Box' Law Could Aid 7 Million Job Seekers

California’s “ban the box” law goes into effect today, and could help some 7 million Californians—or one in four state residents—with criminal backgrounds. AB 218, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown late last year, bars public sector employers from asking for information about a job applicant’s criminal background until after applicants have cleared early stages of the hiring process.

Currently, 12 states and some 70 cities and counties have “ban the box” legislation on the books, according to the National Employment Law Project. The laws are meant to fight back against the widespread, automatic exclusion of job applicants with criminal backgrounds. As the criminal justice and mass incarceration systems sweep more and more people, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color, into its grasp, the post-release prospects of those who’ve been caught up in the system dim as well. 

All 10 of the state’s largest counties are already in compliance with AB 218, and in San Francisco, the policies are even being extended into the private sector, according to the NELP.

Kai Wright took a deep dive look into the background check industry, laying out the history of what is and and isn’t permissible:

Back in 1987, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission declared that blanket bans on hiring people with criminal records were a Civil Rights Act violation. The EEOC noted that the law bars not only overt bias based on protected categories like race, but also seemingly neutral policies that nonetheless have the effect of reinforcing racial disparities. So it told employers that they can consider criminal records only as one factor in hiring, and then only when the conviction is directly related to the work. But Congress is most responsible for undermining this guidance. Following 9/11, lawmakers issued blanket bans on former felons working in a broad range of transportation jobs. States followed suit, and the list of banned occupations grew exponentially: private security guards, nursing home aides, just about any job involving kids. Former felons are now categorically barred from working in more than 800 occupations because of laws and licensing rules, one study estimates.

Partly in reaction to this growing list, and partly in response to the simultaneous explosion of the background check industry, the EEOC issued an updated guidance in 2012. The new guidance didn’t change the core idea—that blanket hiring bans based on criminal records have a disproportionate impact on black and Latino workers and thus violate the Civil Rights Act; instead, it offered employers updated details on how to stay on the right side of the law. In sum: if you conduct background checks, your hiring systems must include a granular method of confirming their accuracy and considering the specifics of a person’s case.

Read the story in full. For more on the national landscape of ban the box legislation read NELP’s report (PDF).

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