• Category Archives Civil Rights
  • NAACP: A Man Was Lynched Yesterday, And The Day Before That, Too

    a man was lynched yesterday
    “A man was lynched yesterday.” (Photo: NAACP)

    Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
    only light can do that.
    Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Darkness.

    Light.

    Justice.

    Peace.

    Love.

    Five officers killed in Dallas.

    Five.

    One sniper. Acting alone. While many, many #BlackLivesMatter activists marched peacefully.

    Before that, however, the many lives lost in the African American community at the hands of law enforcement, which gave rise, finally, to #BlackLivesMatter.

    We do not condone violence against African Americans.

    We do not condone violence against police.

    The overwhelming majority of African Americans want peace.

    The overwhelming majority of police want peace.

    The overwhelming majority of people want peace.

    What sense can we make of the State of the Union? What is happening to us? Is this 1968 again?

    Activists stormed the Democratic National Convention in 1968 and were met with brutality by police. Why did they not storm the GOP convention that year?

    Because they knew the GOP would not listen anyhow.

    A mere 12 years later, Ronald Reagan bowed down to “states rights” in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where, in 1964, civil rights workers had been murdered.

    Ronald Reagan was calculating, the “great communicator,” remember?

    He knew what he was doing. He knew to whom he was speaking. The Southern Strategy was alive and strong with this one.

    The GOP has been stoking the fires of the Southern Strategy for decades. And the chickens have come home to roost. Talk about buyer’s remorse. Watch, as GOP leaders try, so desperately try, to distance themselves from Donald Trump. But many of these same leaders vowed, when President Barack Obama was elected, that they would not work with him at all.

    And they spent the better part of eight years fighting each and every thing President Obama proposed, said, didn’t say.

    Whatever.

    From the moment that then-Senator Barack Obama declared his intention to run for POTUS, the number of hate groups in the United States began to grow. In 2011, for the first time ever, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that the number of hate groups in this country topped 1,000.

    Their number continues to grow.

    And, now, with membership in the KKK growing, America’s oldest, most infamous hate group, we watch in horror.

    For your consideration, from the NAACP:

    Activists created the NAACP more than a century ago to fight racialized violence.

    Then, we called it “lynching.” Today, we call it “police brutality,” but the effect is still the same — our lives are in danger. Endangered by some of the very people who are called to protect and serve us. We are all tense, angry, devastated, and grieving.

    We grieve for Alton Sterling. We grieve for Philando Castile. And we grieve with the rest of the country over the senseless loss of lives in Dallas, too — because the execution of police officers does not end the execution of black Americans, and it will not put us on the path to change.

    What will put us on the path to justice is the passage of the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act (LETIA) and the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA). Radical reform of policing practices, policies, and laws at all levels must be made — immediately — because the current system is taking too many lives.

    We can take small solace in the fact that the outrage over this 21st century form of lynching is not isolated to the black community. Americans of all races and ethnicities are fighting to put an end to the epidemic of violence — gun violence in particular — in this country. Now is the time to come together as one in grief, in protest, and in pursuit of real, measurable change.

    As an organization, we are doing everything we can to ensure justice is served, but we can’t do it alone. Stand in solidarity with your fellow activists, hand in hand with your community. Contact your elected officials to demand life-saving reforms to a broken system.

    We can — and must — put an end to this together.

    Cornell William Brooks
    President and CEO

    And, we remind ourselves again:

    Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
    only light can do that.
    Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


  • Watch: Groups Applaud Delaware Gov. Markell for Personal Message on Recent Wave of Anti-transgender Legislation

    Today, in response to a wave of anti-transgender legislation in several states around the country, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) released a personal, detailed video message standing up for transgender equality and combatting the misinformation and scare tactics that proponents of these discriminatory bills use. Gov. Markell—who is the only sitting governor to have signed laws that enforce both sexual orientation and gender identity protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations—is uniquely positioned to address the mean-spirited attempts that seek to undermine lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, nondiscrimination laws and require discrimination against the transgender community.

    Equality Delaware, the Center for American Progress, and the National Center for Transgender Equality applaud Gov. Markell for his continued leadership on behalf of transgender people and their families. In response to Gov. Markell’s video message, those organizations released the following statements:

    Lisa Goodman, president of Equality Delaware, said, “Gov. Markell has consistently stood on the side of fairness and equality and today is no different. Proponents of H.B. 2 rushed their bill through the North Carolina legislature in a matter of hours because they knew that when the public has the time to learn about trans people, they respond with affirmation and support. By speaking as a governor who has worked on trans issues, and as someone who cares about transgender people in his own life, Gov. Markell has helped insert into the national conversation the compassion and facts that are missing in the actions and statements made by opponents of equality.”

    Laura E. Durso, Director of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, said, “As the LGBT community, and transgender people in particular, continue to face an unprecedented number of discriminatory state bills, it remains imperative for those of us living in states and communities with protections to stand up and speak out against hate or discrimination wherever it occurs. Gov. Markell’s video message may be one of the most personal and detailed trans-specific statements ever made by an elected official of his stature. We thank him for helping to educate the public on trans equality and urge other elected officials to follow suit and make clear to the transgender community that there are leaders around the country fighting for them.”

    Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said, “It is so important for elected officials like Gov. Markell to vocally and consistently support transgender people and to do their part to educate the rest of the public on who transgender people are. Gov. Markell has always demonstrated solid leadership, including three years ago when he signed wide-ranging protections for all transgender Delawareans into law.”

    Source: http://www.americanprogress.org


  • Letter to Coffee Party Community from Founder, Annabel Park

    A letter from Annabel Park, founder of the Coffee Party, a wonderful organization that is now run by a group full of self-interest.

    The original motto of the Coffee Party? Incite Civility! She wrote the following commentary on CNN in 2010. She and Eric Byler gave their hearts and souls to the Coffee Party, a group counter to the Tea Party and their shouting, embodied with the notion that civil discussion could advance great ideas.

    The Coffee Party deserves better than the current board, refusing to hold open elections for a few years now, contrary to the organization’s bylaws, contrary to any notion of good faith, contrary to common sense.

    Please read the following, read the lawsuit, and sign on.

    Dear Members of the Coffee Party Community,

    I’m writing on behalf of concerned Members of the organization who have taken an extraordinary step of filing a lawsuit against the Board of Directors for financial self-dealing, misuse of Membership’s personal data, and other abuses of power. Here is a link to the lawsuit filed last December in Washington DC. And, here is a more colloquial explanation of what has taken place behind closed doors.

    When I left Coffee Party leadership in 2011, we hired consultants to oversee the creation of a governing board of directors accountable to, and elected by you, the Members. Sadly that is not what happened.

    In the fallout from multi-level marketing scheme scandal, this Board of Directors has disqualified all candidates nominated to challenge them, and run themselves unopposed in elections to avoid oversight, transparency, and debate about their conduct.

    They prefer to appoint new Directors rather than allowing you to elect them, thus, the Coffee Party’s resources and energy seem to go toward fighting the Membership’s lawsuit and suppressing dissent through censorship, and the purging of dozens of founding and long-time Members, rather than toward campaigns and actions that might impact the real world.

    In the interest of moving forward as a community, I would like to invite you to an informal Coffee Party community meeting that you can participate in online and in person.

    —————————————————

    WHEN:  August 22, 2015, 3pm-5pm ET

    WHERE In-Person: 1101 Hamilton Street, Suite 158A, Allentown, PA 18102

    WHERE By Phone: Register for the Maestro call here.

    —————————————————

    You can RSVP here or by replying to this email. Link for the livestream will be posted on Original Coffee Party Facebook group and online discussions and a vote will take place there.

    This meeting is at the end of a day-long conference, Awaken We the People, organized by some original Coffee Party founders, including me, about creating a national network of local organizers. Leaders of other networks and organizations including Occupy Wall Street will be participating. The conference is free and open to the public, from 9am to 3pm. I urge you to attend this as well. Please RSVP.

    Along with the future of the lawsuit, the agenda for the Coffee Party community meeting (3pm-5pm) will include a number of action ideas about how we can advance the principles of the original vision.

    The Members’ lawsuit asks the court to force the Board of Directors to hold legitimate and fair elections, as prescribed by the bylaws, where no candidate can be disqualified arbitrarily.  The Defendants’ and their lawyers say they intend to fight this, and currently the Members are seeking more people to sign on in order to refile the complaint with the requisite number of plaintiffs (about 20 more plaintiffs are needed).

    The plaintiffs have recently secured a lawyer in DC who has agreed to take on our case pro bono. This is a big opportunity in terms of seeking a legal remedy.

    Unless the plaintiffs see the lawsuit through, it’s very likely that this democracy movement we started in order to fight corruption will continue to thwart democracy and embody corruption. But restoring the integrity and renewing the mission of the Coffee Party will require us all to work for it. At this meeting we’ll decide whether it’s worth it. We would like to make the discussion an open and civil one in the original Coffee Party tradition.

    If you’re interested in finding out more about the lawsuit, we will conduct several informational calls prior to the August 22nd meeting with plenty of time for you to ask questions. Or, you can join and participate in the The Original Coffee Party Facebook group where many of us have gathered for the time being.

    On a personal note, starting in October, I will be embarking on a year-long road trip across the country, Coffee with Friends Across America. Although inspired by John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: In Search of America, my dream has a contemporary twist to it. I hope to meet many of my 5000 facebook friends and 3000 followers including all of you.

    During the trip, I hope we can share authentic stories from Main St and search for real solutions together. I hope that videos and content that we make together can impact the national conversation leading up to the 2016 election. To get updates on this, please follow me on my facebook page.

    Thanks again for your interest in the aims of the original Coffee Party. Don’t hesitate to contact me on Facebook or by replying to this email to discuss any of this.

    Sincerely,

    Annabel Park

    PS – Please sign this “Step Down Now” petition already signed by 590 people.


  • ThinkProgress: Alabama Lawmakers Vote To Bring Back the Electric Chair

    From ThinkProgress:

    The Alabama House passed a bill this week that would allow the state to once again put people to death by electric chair if the currently low supply of lethal injection drugs runs out or if the Supreme Court places limits on which drugs can be used to execute inmates in a case currently pending before the justices.

    The vote came just days after a majority Utah’s legislature approved a bill to bring back the practice of executing people by firing squad. Other states are debating the merits of using gas chambers.

    After the European Union banned exports of drugs used to kill human beings in 2011, states have been scrambling to find a reliable supply, often turning to secret, poorly regulated sources.

    These bills to revive older methods of execution were proposed following a series ofbotched executions in which inmates suffered long and seemingly painful deaths — calling into question whether the drugs are as effective and “humane” as their supporters claimed.

    Yet medical experts say the electric chair — which was used for hundreds of years — is an even more torturous and gruesome method of execution. Because the equipment is old and few people know how to operate it, it has often malfunctioned.

    How sad. How so terribly sad.

    Read more here


  • Video: Catholics Call For Full Acceptance By The Catholic Church

    “It’s just not a matter of accepting us, or tolerate us, you have to encourage us to be who we are. We are God’s creation. And to deny that is to deny that he knows what the hell he’s doing.”
    – 74-year-old Mike Roper 

    Please, please, watch this video.

    As one of the voices in the video says, we are Catholic because we are baptized. If we abandon the Church, it may never change.

    Talk about courage

    Talk about hope.

    h/t to the http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/


  • Florida’s Medieval Unwedded Cohabitation Law Punishes Hundreds

    This is archaic, punitive, and barbaric.

    This…, is Florida.

    From policestateusa.com:

    Hundreds of Floridians are being fined and imprisoned for the crime of living with a romantic partner without government permission, thanks to an old-time cohabitation law that is still in effect.

    As stated in Chapter 798 of the Florida Statutes:

    798.02?Lewd and lascivious behavior.—If any man and woman, not being married to each other, lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together, or if any man or woman, married or unmarried, engages in open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, they shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

    Second-degree misdemeanors in Florida are punished by fines of $500 or up to 60 days in jail.

    The law dates back over a century, crafted by authoritarians bent on using the state as a mechanism for social engineering and population control. The state’s primary means to this end was in forcing citizens to get permission to marry, in the form of marriage licenses. To prevent certain “undesirable” pairings of citizens, the state was empowered to deny couples the right to marry each other.

    Florida resident Sierra Hooper tells Turning Left, “It’s just crazy to me that there is a law for that here … not only can an employer fire you at any time,  you can be arrested as well for who you live with.”

    Welcome to Rick Scott’s “Right to Work” Florida.

    Social engineering, indeed, socialism, at its worst.

    Read more here.


  • Protests for a Living Wage Commence

    McDonald's protest
    Dozens of people were arrested during a minimum wage protest outside a Detroit McDonald’s. (Credit: Bill Szumanski/WWJ Newsradio 950)

    Low-Wage Workers ‘Movement’ Flexes Its Muscles Nationwide

    Employees of the fast-food industry demand $15 minimum wage and better workplace protections as actions expected in 150 cities across the country

    Fast-food workers are out in force nationwide on Thursday as they participate in a day of action designed to highlight the scourge of low-wages and push a series of demands to combat the persistent poverty endured by those who form the backbone of  the profitable multi-billion dollar industry.

    Led by organizers at FightFor15—and supported in their call by the Service Employees Union International (SEIU), grassroots organizers, and other workers’ rights groups—the fast-food employees say that singular actions that first started in New York City in 2012 and then spread to other cities have now become a national movement. Pushing for a $15 per hour “living wage” for all workers is the central but not sole demand of the workers and those who back them.

    Organizers are expecting worker strikes and solidarity protests in 150 U.S. cities as employees of Burger King, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and other chains demand a dramatic increase to the minimum wage, better workplace protections, and the right to organize and join a union.

    According to NBC News:

    In Kansas City, Missouri, workers are expected to walk out of 60 restaurants. Latoya Caldwell, a Wendy’s worker, is one of dozens of fast food employees in Kansas City who plan to sit down in a city intersection, lock arms and get arrested.

    “We’re a movement now,” Caldwell said on Wednesday before starting a shift at Wendy’s. She and several co-workers said that 25 of the more than 30 non-management employees in their restaurant have pledged to strike. “We know this is going to be a long fight, but we’re going to fight it till we win,” said Caldwell, 31, who is raising four children alone on $7.50 an hour and was living in a homeless shelter until earlier this year.

    The strikers cite frustration about their continued struggle to survive at the bottom of the labor market even as the broader economic news seems positive. “They say the economy is getting better, but we’re still making $7.50,” said Caldwell. “Nobody should work 40 hours a week and find themselves homeless, without enough money to buy them and their kids food, needing public assistance.”

    Early reporting in the day documented actions in Detroit, Chicago, New York, Charlotte, New Orleans and elsewhere.

    In Detroit, protesters protesting outside a McDonald’s early on Thursday were arrested after they locked arms and sat down in the street, blocking local traffic.

    The local CBS news affiliate reports:

    Kaya Moody, a 20-year-old single mother who works at a different McDonald’s location in Detroit, has taken part in several protests and she admits it hasn’t been an easy sell.

    “We always get the ‘Do you really think you deserve $15 an hour as a fast food worker?’ We get that a lot and I just feel like, who doesn’t deserve $15 an hour, you know? It’s a living wage. No one can survive off of $8.15 an hour, it’s almost impossible,” Moody told WWJ’s Ron Dewey.

    The protests have been going on for about two years, but organizers have kept the campaign in the spotlight by switching their tactics every few months. In the past, supporters have showed up at a McDonald’s shareholder meeting and held strikes. The idea of civil disobedience arose in July when 1,300 workers held a convention in Chicago.

    Kendall Fells, an organizing director for Fast Food Forward, said workers in a couple of dozen cities were trained to peacefully engage in civil disobedience ahead of the planned protests.

    Dispatches and photos from other actions are being shared on Twitter under the#StrikeFastFood hashtag:

    #StrikeFastFood Tweets

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License


  • Phyllis Bennis: Violating International Law in Gaza

    water systems damaged in Gaza
    Numerous water systems and wells have been badly damaged in the airstrikes, limiting the water supply to the people of Gaza. (Photo: flickr / cc / Mohammed Al Baba/Oxfam)

    As Israel’s assault claims the lives of hundreds of Palestinian children, there’s no doubt that it’s a form of collective punishment.

    As Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip rages on, ceasefires come and go. Most last just long enough for Palestinians to dig out the dead from beneath their collapsed houses, get the injured to overcrowded and under-resourced hospitals, and seek enough food and water to last through the next round of airstrikes.

    “There is nothing left but stones,” Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer quoted an old woman saying as she searched desperately through the rubble of what had been her home.

    Casualties are soaring. By late July, Israel had killed more than 1,200 Palestinians, at least 73 percent of them civilians including hundreds of children. Fifty-six Israelis, almost all of them soldiers, have died too.

    July 28 poll shows 86.5 percent of Israelis oppose a ceasefire. Yet we continue to hear that Israelis want peace.

    It’s true that at least some of them do. An Israeli protest in Tel Aviv brought 5,000 people into the street. That’s good — though a far cry from the 400,000 who poured into the streets to protest Israel’s invasion of Lebanon back in 1982.

    And when a young Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and tortured to death — burned alive — in Jerusalem after the bodies of the three kidnapped young Israeli settlers were found, many Israelis tried to distance themselves from the horrific crime. “In our society, the society of Israel, there is no place for such murderers,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed.

    But in fact, there is a place for those who call for murder — at the highest political and military levels of Israeli society.

    Meet Ayelet Shaked, a member of the Knesset — Israel’s parliament. She belongs to Israel Home, a far-right party in Netanyahu’s governing coalition. She issued on Facebook what amounts to a call to commit genocide, by deliberately killing Palestinians, including women, children, and old people.

    “The entire Palestinian people is the enemy,” Shaked posted. “In wars, the enemy is usually an entire people, including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.”

    The Knesset member went on to say that the mothers of Palestinians killed should follow their dead sons to Hell: “They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

    Her language reminds me of a chapter in our own history — the genocidal Indian Wars. U.S. military leaders had called on their troops to wipe out all the Native Americans andCol. John Chivington was asked on the eve of the Sand Creek Massacre about killing Cheyenne children. “Kill and scalp all, big and little, nits make lice,” he replied.

    Shaked’s comments also echo the words of an Israeli colonel who testified under oath at the wrongful death trial of Rachel Corrie, a young U.S. peace activist killed by an Israeli soldier driving an armored bulldozer in Gaza. “In a war zone there are no civilians,” said the military officer — who was responsible for training Israeli soldiers to serve in the occupied territories.

    There’s no question that Hamas’ primitive rockets violate international law. They can’t be accurately aimed at military targets. But that doesn’t justify Israel’s violation of its own obligations under international law as the occupying power in Gaza.

    Israel has the region’s strongest military, the only nuclear weapons arsenal in the Middle East, and the unconditional backing of the United States. Its assault on Gaza violates the Geneva Conventions. Israel is imposing collective punishment against all Gazans, attacking hospitals, and using disproportionate force.

    Israeli officials know full well that the best way to protect their citizens is to implement a real ceasefire — a breakthrough that would require opening Gaza’s borders. Some of them also know the best way to keep their citizens safe long term is by ending the occupation altogether. Problem is, not enough of them will admit it.

    U.S. taxpayers also have a stake in this conflict because Washington keeps sending Israel billions of our tax dollars and refuses to push Tel Aviv to stop violating international law.

    For real peace, both of those things must change.

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

    Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.  Her books include Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A PrimerUnderstanding the U.S.-Iran Crisis: A PrimerEnding the Iraq War: A Primer, and most recently Ending the Us War in Afghanistan: A Primer. If you want to receive her talking points and articles on a regular basis, click here and choose "New Internationalism." You can find her on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/PhyllisBennis


  • Video: Texas Sports Anchor Delivers Jaw-Dropping Speech On Gay NFL Players



    Hat Tip to the Huffington Post:

    Sports broadcasts are typically known for their punchy lists of best plays, epic goal countdowns and testosterone-fueled commentary.

    Which makes Dale Hansen’s address Monday night all the more remarkable. The Dallas sports anchor for ABC local affiliate WFAA took a break from the standard script to address the issue of Michael Sam, a defensive lineman poised to become the first openly gay player in the NFL.