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California and the U.S.

Monica Lewis-Patrick of We the People of Detroit speaks out against cuts to water services for poor residents during July 18 rally and march in downtown Detroit. – Photo: Rasheed Shabazz

Hundreds of protestors flood Detroit streets to protest water shut-offs

July 25, 2014

Hundreds marched in the streets of downtown Detroit on July 18 to protest water services being shut off for thousands of residents too poor to pay their utility bills. Nurses organizing the demonstration declared a public health emergency and called for a moratorium on the water shutoffs, a violation of human rights. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department announced a brief reprieve.

The Trail for Humanity send-off rally in Oakland’s Fruitvale was more determined than celebratory – the adults resolute, the children a little apprehensive – as they prepare to walk 300 miles to the U.S.-Mexico border. – Photo: Al Osorio

Trail for Humanity: Mothers and children walk from Merced to the border

July 24, 2014

Cindy Cristal Gonzalez and Valeska Castaneda Gutierrez are young mothers and college students, deeply proud of their ancestral roots and motivated to help their people. The two worked together with a network of activists, and on Tuesday, July 22, they put their plan into action: mothers and their children walking 300 miles for 30 days to the border to draw attention to the mass deportations, imprisonment and suffering of our people.

Using Twitter to challenge Twitter on workforce inclusion-diversity data

July 23, 2014

This week, Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Color of Change launched a Twitter-based social media and online petition campaign to hundreds of thousands of their subscribers demanding that Twitter release its EEO-1 workforce diversity inclusion data and convene a direct dialogue with SF Bay Area community partners on solutions and strategies. On July 23, a few days after the launch, Twitter finally delivered its “pathetic” data.

Eric Garner, father of 6, killed in chokehold by NYPD for selling untaxed cigarettes

July 22, 2014

“They will try to scandalize the deceased,” Rev. Al Sharpton said of the NYPD and what he anticipated they would say. “The issue is not about an unarmed man selling cigarettes … It’s about a man who was subjected to a chokehold and is no longer with us.” At that point, Esaw Garner collapsed and had to be held up by Sharpton and Rev. Herbert Daughtry. All of Garner’s relatives were in pain and weeping as they left the stage. Sure enough, at a press conference, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton began his remarks by citing the arrest record of Garner and explaining that the police were there to apprehend Garner for the sale of illegal cigarettes.

Justice sought for Black woman savagely beaten by CHP officer

July 11, 2014

More than 23 years after the videotape release of White uniformed LAPD officers beating unarmed Black motorist Rodney King in 1991 – which sparked civil unrest in Los Angeles and throughout the country in 1992 – the savage beating of 51-year-old African American woman Marlene Pinnock by a yet to be named White California Highway Patrol officer on the Santa Monica Freeway on July 1 was captured by cell phone video. A community is outraged, civil rights and community leaders are planning a protest and the victim’s attorney is demanding justice.

10 arrested blocking trucks sent to shut off water services in Detroit

July 10, 2014

Detroit activists concerned about the massive water shutoffs across the economically devastated city blocked entrances into the yard of Homrich, a firm given a nearly $6 million contract to terminate services for hundreds of thousands of people. The firm was hired by emergency manager Kevyn Orr, who was appointed by right-wing Gov. Rick Snyder, who forced the city into the largest municipal bankruptcy in United States history a year ago.

Sixty-five million left out of July 4 celebration

July 5, 2014

Over 65 million people in the U.S., perhaps a fifth of our sisters and brothers, are not enjoying the “unalienable rights” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” promised when the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776. They are about 20 percent of our U.S. population. This July 4 can be an opportunity to remember them and rededicate ourselves and our country to making these promises real for all people in the U.S.

Yuri Kochiyama – Photo: Kamau Amen-Ra

Yuri Kochiyama: A life in struggle

July 1, 2014

Her name was Yuri, a Japanese woman born in the United States. I hesitate to call her a Japanese-American, for to do so suggests she was a citizen. In light of how she, her family and her community were treated during World War II, especially after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, to call any of them citizens would be an exaggeration. Yuri Kochiyama, freedom fighter, after 93 summers, has become an ancestor.

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Every week, as some 3,000 additional families’ water is shut off by their “public” utility, Detroiters protest on Freedom Friday. – Photo: Ryan Felton

‘We are hiding out with no water’: Detroit privatizers deny poor people their right to water

June 28, 2014

In March 2014, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department announced it would begin shutting off water ser­vice for 1,500 to 3,000 customers every week if their water bills were not paid. Thousands of families are now without water. A coalition of grassroots groups submitted a report to the United Nations naming these shut-offs as a violation of human rights.

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For the first time, on the night Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger executed his old body-building competitor, author Stanley Tookie Williams, on Dec. 13, 2005, a huge crowd, largely Black youth, rallied outside San Quentin’s gate in opposition, vastly outnumbering death penalty supporters. A month later, Clarence Ray Allen was executed, but since then, public and legal pressure has, in California, held off the blasphemous act of killing in the name of God. – Photo: Minister of Information JR Valrey

The Death Penalty: Killing in the name of God is the ultimate act of blasphemy

June 27, 2014

The Death Penalty is one of many signs of a society that is morally deter­iorating, especially a society that proclaims an affinity with God and the Holy Scriptures. First of all, there’s nothing in the Holy Scriptures which gives moral support and/or credence to the implementation of the Death Penalty. This is a man-made evil, and it is this spiritual contradiction that will eventually condemn us all to a spiritual and moral death.

Kali Akuno at Jackson Rising on Laura Flanders Show 052014

Jackson Rising launches Cooperation Jackson to end economic exclusion and build community wealth

June 26, 2014

The Jackson Rising Organizing Committee and Cooperation Jackson sincerely thank all who attended and all our supporters for helping to make the New Economies Conference a total success. You, along with more than 500 other participants, helped to secure the legacy of the Lumumba administration and establish a solid foundation for the development of Cooperation Jackson as a vehicle to build economic democracy in Jackson, Mississippi.

Freedom Summer Youth Congress logo, web

Mississippi Freedom Summer Youth Congress: Once again youth are the swinging fist

June 26, 2014

Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference is underway! Join us through June 29 at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Miss., as we bring everything full circle. Just as in 1964, young people will be at the center of the Freedom Summer 50th commemoration with their own Youth Congress. The Youth Congress will cover topics like voting rights, education, healthcare and workers’ rights, but with a definite nod to a younger audience.

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Members of Project WHAT! mobilize to Sacramento to oppose more jail funding. Project WHAT! is led by youth who have had a parent incarcerated and sponsored by Oakland-based Community Works West.

The story behind the 2015 California Budget Act

June 25, 2014

​In mid-June, Gov. Brown signed the Budget Act of 2015, which shows no vision for the future of most Californians. In total, this budget underestimated the amount of resources available, overestimated the cost of vital programs, and chose spending on debt service, rainy day funds and prisons instead of the people of California and the vital services they need.

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Troy Williams at College of the Redwoods

At Sista’s Place, Troy Williams finds the liberty and justice he was denied for 27.5 years in prison

June 25, 2014

This is a story about music, radio and the connection to the human spirit. The date is Jan. 10, 1992, and Troy Williams and his cellmate at Pelican Bay Prison are using wire to make an antenna for a radio. Williams was looking for something on the radio he was familiar with, but as usual he was greeted by a flurry of country music. This particular night however, Williams and his cellmate were fortunate.

Heal Nick Hinkins!

June 1, 2014

“I’m going to win my fight over sickle cell anemia,” declares little Nicholas Hinkins. Having a bone marrow transplant is the only hope for saving this little boy’s life. Nick’s twin brother Christopher is a perfect 100 percent match! Chris’s bone marrow can possibly save Nick’s life. But we must go to Atlanta, Georgia, for the treatment. Readers can visit HealNickHinkins.com or GoFundMe to learn more about Nicholas and donate for this lifesaving procedure. His entire family is profoundly grateful for donations in any and all amounts.

Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May, 1, 1865, in Charleston, S.C., to honor 257 dead Union soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in an upscale race track converted into a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for two weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. They then held a parade of 10,000 people led by 3,000 Black children, where they marched, sang and celebrated.

The first Memorial Day was Black

May 26, 2014

As we pause to remember the nation’s war dead, it’s worth remembering that Memorial Day was first celebrated by Black Union troops and free Black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina at the end of the Civil War. The free Black population of Charleston, primarily consisting of former slaves, engaged in a series of celebrations to proclaim the meaning of the war as they saw it.

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Magic Johnson has turned Donald Sterling’s attack into a teachable moment, telling Anderson Cooper: “The stigma is still there. ... It’s a shame that Donald used this platform with you, instead of using this platform to come out and apologize to the world, which would have been great.” In a New York Times op-ed, Charles Blow called Sterling’s comment, ‘Is he (Johnson) an example for children?’ particularly revolting. “In attempting to AIDS-shame Johnson,” Blow writes, “Sterling further shamed himself – if that’s even possible – and proved supremely disrespectful of and destructive to people living with HIV and those (like Johnson, who responded magnanimously) who are working to reach the affected and protect those at risk. In this it is clear that Johnson is a far better example for our children than Sterling.” New Yorker writer Michael Specter noted the effectiveness of Johnson’s 1991 disclosure he was HIV-positive: “Within a month of Magic Johnson’s announcement, the number of people seeking HIV tests in New York City rose by 60 per cent.” – Photos: Francine Orr, LA Times, and Mark J. Terrill, AP

Black AIDS Institute strongly condemns Donald Sterling’s bigotry

May 19, 2014

During an interview with Anderson Cooper on May 13, disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling tried to distract the public from his history of racial bigotry by changing the conversation to attacking and stigmatizing people living with HIV/AIDS. The Black AIDS Institute urges communities, advocates, policymakers and, once again, the NBA to work aggressively to create an environment where we eliminate HIV-related stigma.

Video shows officer kicking handcuffed 13-year-old for opening a window

May 16, 2014

Community groups today condemned the brutality of police officers who allegedly handcuffed, choked and violently kicked a young Florida boy for opening the window on his school bus. The attack on the young man is part of a broader pattern of police brutality in Florida and the painful realities of the school-to-prison pipeline in the state.

Ras Baraka announces mayoral victory to students at high school he principals 051414

Ras Baraka, Amiri Baraka’s son, becomes mayor of Newark by earning it

May 14, 2014

Ras Baraka, one of the sons of the late poet and playwright Amiri Baraka, handily beat rival Shavar Jeffries Tuesday night to become the next mayor of his father’s city. How he did it was no mystery to those paying attention. Baraka, the city’s South Ward councilmember until Tuesday night, got the support of the people because of his consistent commitment to them for 23 years. His slogan was, “When I become mayor, we become mayor.” Baraka, 44, will become Newark’s 39th mayor at his July 1 inauguration.

Justice Committee co-chairs call for funding priorities change to ease prison crowding, improve public safety

May 9, 2014

Assemblymembers Tom Ammiano and Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer Sr., co-chairs of the Assembly Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment, have issued recommendations to Speaker John A. Pérez, based on the committee’s seven hearings held in 2013-14. “We learned a lot from these hearings, with the big lesson being that these problems have solutions,” said Ammiano.

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