lives matter

Black and Brown Lives Matter: March for Justice & Racial Unity

Date:    Tuesday,  December 23

Time:    12noon  (Press Conference 11:30am)

Begins: Ebenezer United Church of Christ

734 Apple St.  Burlington, NC

Concludes: First Christian United Church of Christ

415 S. Church St. Burlington, NC

Distance: 1.2 Miles

 

Join the marchers and lift up a voice asking for justice and equal protection under the law for all people.  Join the marchers and lift up a voice for racial unity and peace in our hometown.  Join the marchers and make a difference.

 

More details from Noah Read:

BLACK AND BROWN LIVES MATTER: MARCH FOR JUSTICE AND RACIAL UNITY

Local clergy and community groups will march in support of the national
movement to end racial disparities, focusing on our criminal justice system

Community members and coalition members of the local faith-based Partnerships to Empower People and the NAACP’s Alamance People’s Assembly will gather for a short press conference and a 1.25 mile march from Ebenezer Baptist Church to First Christian UCC in Burlington, NC.

We march in solidarity with those peaceful protesters across our nation calling for equal protection under the law. To further this goal, we support a commitment to the improvement and full enforcement of all laws prohibiting racial profiling, to the full investigation of all possible cases of excessive force in policing, and to the reversal of current trends in the militarization of local law enforcement.

We also march in support of all community members, especially members of law enforcement, who believe that the only way to avert future tragedies, remedy today’s unsustainable conditions, and heal our historic wounds is to embracing as our best hope the formidable work of building relationships across all barriers. Or as it says in the book of Isaiah, we hope to join those who

“…will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities… (and) will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.”

To that end, this event is an urgent invitation for our community to begin that work.

#     #     #

When: Tuesday, December 23, 2014 Press Conference begins at 11:30 am. The March will run from 12:00 noon until 1:00 pm with a short prayer service at 1:00 pm.

Where: Press conference, March begins at Ebenezer, UCC, 734 Apple Street, Burlington, NC. March ends at First Christian Church, UCC, 415 South Church Street, Burlington, NC. Van transportation will be provided to take people from Ebenezer to First Christian. Bus transportation will be provided to return to Ebenezer from from First Christian.

Those who are unable to walk the March are encouraged to join us before the March for the 11:30 press conference and after the march at 1:00, for a brief prayer service at First Christian.

Contact: Noah Read, Alamance NAACP – attentionalamance@gmail.com or 336.260.4399

This information is also posted on the Alamance NAACP website here:

https://alamancenaacp.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/black-and-brown-lives-matters-march-for-justice-and-racial-unity/

and on Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/330171610508695/

Noah Read

Alamance NAACP Political Action Chair

336.260.4399

alamancenaacp.wordpress.com

NC_redistricting_2011

North Carolina Supreme Court Upholds Racially Gerrymandered Districts

Today the North Carolina Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling upholding North Carolina’s state legislative and Congressional redistricting plans.  The North Carolina NAACP, the League of Women Voters, the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, Democracy NC and dozens of individual voters sued the state over the redistricting plans in November 2011.  The case has been pending with the Supreme Court for a year.  Plaintiffs alleged that the redistricting plans for Congress, State House and State Senate violated the state constitution’s “Whole County Provision” and were racial gerrymanders that violated the federal and state constitutions.  A three-judge panel upheld the plans in July 2013, and the case was argued in front of the state supreme court in early January 2014.  The Court ruled today that the legislature was justified in its attempts to comply with the Voting Rights Act, and that the plans do not violate the state constitutional whole county requirements.

“The Plaintiffs in this case intend to continue their efforts to vindicate their rights.  It is simply wrong for the legislature to carve up this state on the basis of race in these circumstances.” said Anita Earls, lead attorney for the North Carolina NAACP Plaintiffs.

“This is a disappointing development, but we will not give up in our fight to ensure that redistricting in this state is conducted in a fair and legal way,” added Brenda Rogers of the League of Women Voters.  Plaintiffs plan to seek review by the United States Supreme Court as soon as possible so that there will be time for new redistricting plans to be drawn before the 2016 elections.

Justice Beasley’s dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Hudson, notes that the lower court was in error and that, “The majority compounds the error by ignoring altogether the trial court’s explicit findings of fact and by too generously characterizing the General Assembly’s enacted plan. The majority’s departure from this Court’s usual course of adherence to our settled principles of appellate review could create a stain of suspicion among the citizens of the state regarding the actions of their elected officials and bodies of government—both legislative and judicial.”  The dissent would have remanded the case to the trial court to correctly apply strict scrutiny under federal constitutional doctrine that prohibits racial gerrymandering.

The North Carolina Supreme Court opinion is available here.

Hanukkah #BlackLivesMatter

Durham: Peaceful #BlackLivesMatter protest on 1st night of Hanukkah

Some 100 people gathered in downtown Durham Wednesday evening for a peaceful protest on the first night of Hanukkah, part of a nationwide “Chanukah Action to End Police Violence” event.

Carolina Jews for Justice was an organizer locally for the protest by the Major the Bull statue at CCB Plaza.

About 20 menorahs were lit during the hour-long event, the servant candle at the center lighting the first candle of the menorah on the first night of the Jewish holiday.

Crystal is leaving Saturday for a trip to Israel, and will be there for the rest of Hanukkah. He wants to work with others to bring to reality the blessing of peace for all people.

The miracle of Hanukkah, he said, is that the few beat many, but also that they took the first step.

“There are great movements of change when people make the first step together,” he said.

Organizers also distributed “8 Nights, 8 Actions,” a way to dedicate each night of Hanukkah to “Black Lives Matter” issues and people, created by “Chanukah Action.”

 

Dec. 16, 2014 @ 08:31 PM

Follow on Twitter: @dawnbvaughanThis press clipping first appeared on heraldsun.com on December 16, 2014.

gt_georgia_voting_630x420_120723

Votes Not Counted: Lauren’s Story

Each post in SCSJ’s “Votes Not Counted” series tells the story of a person qualified to vote before the passage of North Carolina’s Monster Voter Suppression Law, whose ballot was unjustly denied this year. Below is Lauren’s story. If you know another eligible voter whose vote has been denied, please email sarah@scsj.org.

Lauren is a 26-year-old marketing professional whose vote was not counted in November’s election because of the voter suppression law (H.B. 589) that eliminated same-day registration.  Despite being a consistent voter in the past, Lauren was unable to support her candidates of choice in this election.

Lauren previously lived in Pitt County and voted there regularly in municipal, primary, and general elections.  She moved from Pitt County to Wake County and had every intention of voting in November’s election.  She knew that there had been some changes to North Carolina’s election laws but did not think they affected her ability to vote because she had been previously registered in Pitt County.  However, on November 1st, Lauren would find out that her vote would not be counted.

During the early voting period, Lauren went to the Lake Lynn Community Center in Raleigh to vote.  Since Lauren had moved from Pitt County to Wake County more than 30 days before the election, Lauren was told that she needed to re-register to vote and her ballot for this election would not be counted.  Lauren therefore was only able to register for future elections and while she did cast a provisional ballot, it was not ultimately counted.  Had the General Assembly not repealed same-day registration, Lauren would have been able to update her registration and have her vote counted.

Lauren is frustrated how the voter suppression law negatively impacts real voters like her.  As a political science major in college, Lauren is knowledgeable about the political process.  Lauren uses voting as a way to exercise her own political and social rights, and to support the rights of others.  Lauren feels discouraged after being disenfranchised in this year’s election.  Lauren has agreed to share her story so the citizens of North Carolina understand that these changes to elections laws negatively impact real people, including those like Lauren who really care about the right to vote.

Ban The Box

‘Ban the Box’ hiring policies: What Syracuse can learn from Hawaii and North Carolina

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Will Syracuse’s new “Ban the Box” ordinance really make a difference in who gets hired by the city and its contractors? Do Ban the Box laws have any effect?

According to two recent studies, the answer is yes.

The Syracuse city council this week voted 8-1 to prohibit the city and its contractors from asking job applicants about their criminal records until late in the hiring process. The idea is to give people with criminal records a fair shot at winning jobs.

Skeptics question whether the Ban the Box rules are merely red tape that will complicate the hiring process without changing the final outcomes. But two recent studies suggest that Ban the Box policies have an effect.

Consider: In the three years since Durham, N.C., adopted a Ban the Box policy, the percentage of new city employees with criminal records has increased from 2 percent in 2011 to more than 15 percent this year, according to a report by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

Or consider this: In Honolulu, the percentage of people accused of felonies who were repeat offenders decreased after Hawaii passed a Ban the Box law in 1998, according to a peer-reviewed academic study published in June in the American Journal of Criminal Justice.

Hawaii’s Ban the Box law helped reduce the number of repeat offenders, most likely by making it easier for ex-convicts to find jobs, according to researchers Stewart D’Alessio, Lisa Stolzenberg and Jamie Flexon, criminal justice professors from Florida International University.

“Our analysis suggests that Hawaii’s ban the box law is on the right track,” they wrote. The researchers cautioned that their study should be replicated in other cities to confirm its validity.

Syracuse’s new ordinance applies to the city and to private companies that provide services under contract to the city. Under the new rules, job applicants cannot be asked whether they have been convicted of crimes until they after have been judged qualified for employment.

The city or a contractor may withdraw a tentative job offer if the applicant’s criminal record indicates that he or she would present a risk to property or to public safety.

Mayor Stephanie Miner has not indicated whether she will sign the ordinance. The legislation passed with 8 votes, two more than would be required to override a veto.

The city and county of Durham, N.C., each adopted administrative policies midway through 2011 to ban the box for prospective employees. That year, 15 of the city’s 668 new employees – or 2.2 percent — had criminal records, according to data provided to Syracuse.com by the city.

Here’s how many new Durham employees had criminal records in subsequent years: 28 of 628 in 2012, or 4.5 percent; 53 of 513 in 2013, or 9.4 percent; and 16 of 103 through June 2014, or 15.5 percent.

City personnel managers have not seen any negative consequences from the new policy, said Amy Blalock, senior public affairs specialist.

Similar results were obtained by Durham County, according to the report by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a Durham group which lobbied for the Ban the Box policy. The county hired 96 applicants who had criminal records in 2013, up from 52 in 2012 and 35 in 2011, the report said.

Syracuse lawyer and Ban the Box supporter Alan Rosenthal, of the Center for Community Alternatives, said until recently he was not aware of any quantitative research on the effects of Ban the Box legislation. But the recent studies are encouraging, he said.

“The answer seems pretty loud and clear that there are positive results to be reaped from this,” he said.

Contact Tim Knauss anytime: Email | Twitter | Facebook | 315-470-3023

Ban the Box in Durham, NC by Tim Knauss

This press clipping first appeared on syracuse.com on December 10, 2014.

redistricting

U.S. Appeals Court To Hear Wake School Board Redistricting Case

The U.S. Federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments Wednesday on a lawsuit challenging Wake County’s school board election maps.

The Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice is challenging the 2013 redistricting on behalf of a handful of Wake County residents and two local organizations. They argue that the new districts drawn by the Republican-led General Assembly disfavor urban voters.

‘The Supreme Court has said that the whole purpose of redistricting is to make sure everyone’s vote is treated equally, and this flies in the face of that.’

In 2013, legislators passed a local bill that changed the nine single-member districts to seven single-member districts with two larger districts that divide the county like a donut. Challengers argue the smaller area consists of urban residents, while the larger area comprises rural residents. The say the maps create a 9.8 percent population variation that violates the one-person, one-vote provision.

“The Supreme Court has said that the whole purpose of redistricting is to make sure everyone’s vote is treated equally, and this flies in the face of that,” says Allison Riggs, a staff attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

Riggs argues that those living in overpopulated districts will have less voting power than those in under-populated areas. She also says that the plan will pit candidates who are registered Democrats and support progressive education policies against each other.

“It will create artificial districts that would be more likely to elect candidates not in favor of socioeconomic diversity plans,” says Riggs.

U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle dismissed the suit earlier this year, arguing that the population disparities are not significant enough to challenge under one-person, one-vote provisions.

He also noted that the discrimination concerns “lead back to politics” and amount to gerrymandering claims, which the courts do not consider unlawful.

Challengers, however, say they’re optimistic that the court of appeals will recognize their claims.

This piece first appeared on WUNC’s radio program and website on December 10, 2014. Listen to WUNC’s full radio interview here.

unaccompanied

NC: Momentum builds to support unaccompanied immigrant children

On December 3, 2014, the Chapel Hill Town Council passed a resolution supporting and welcoming unaccompanied immigrant minors fleeing violence in their home countries.

The Orange County Board of Commissioners unanimously voiced their support Monday night December 1 for giving unaccompanied child refugees equal access to education, health care and protection under the law.

Carrboro’s Board of Aldermen passed a similar resolution November 18 in response to the wave of unaccompanied Central American children fleeing crime, violence and extreme poverty this year.

“We are hopeful that this wave of success will build momentum throughout North Carolina for welcoming these most vulnerable children,” said SCSJ staff attorney George Eppesteiner.

Background on unaccompanied minors (from the Chapel Hill News):

Unaccompanied children taken into custody by U.S. Customs are transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. According to the department, there are currently 55,230 children in this status in the United States.

In the Triangle, Wake County has 250 such children; Durham, 215. Orange County reports fewer than 50… The children – many younger than 13 – don’t have an attorney representing them in court, but the government does.

The recent wave of immigrant-welcoming resolutions is in part a reaction to other counties, including Rowan, Surry and Brunswick, that previously passed resolutions to discourage undocumented and immigrant children from attending their local schools.

SCSJ’s George Eppesteiner argues that such policies denying children an education because of their immigration status are constitutional, said attorney George Eppsteiner, with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. In June 1982, the Supreme Court issued Plyler v. Doe, a landmark decision holding that states cannot constitutionally deny students a free public education on account of their immigration status.

SCSJ applauds the efforts of Carrboro, Orange County, and Chapel Hill to welcome immigrant children and provide their constitutionally guaranteed public education,” said Eppesteiner. “We are available to provide technical assistance to other municipalities wishing to pass similar resolutions.”

voter_suppression

Votes Not Counted: Jessica’s Story

Each post in SCSJ’s “Votes Not Counted” series tells the story of a person qualified to vote before the passage of North Carolina’s Monster Voter Suppression Law, whose ballot was unjustly denied this year. Below is Jessica’s story. If you know another eligible voter whose vote has been denied, please email sarah@scsj.org.

Jessica J. is a lifelong Gaston County, North Carolina resident who was disenfranchised in November’s election due to the voter suppression law’s (H.B. 589) elimination of same-day registration.  Despite Jessica’s consistent voting history, she was denied the right to vote because of an administrative error that could not be corrected without same-day registration.

Jessica first registered to vote the day she turned 18 years old at the North Carolina DMV.  She first voted in the 2008 presidential election by absentee ballot while she attended college.  Jessica then voted in the 2012 presidential election during the early voting period in Mt. Holly.  Between 2012 and 2014, Jessica did not move, did not change her name, and did not change or update her voter registration.  Despite voting consistently in North Carolina elections, Jessica would soon discover that her voter registration vanished without a trace.

On November 1, 2014, Jessica again went to the Mt. Holly early voting location.  She expected her voting trip to be quick and painless, like it was in 2012; she even wore her gym clothes because she was going to exercise immediately afterwards.  However, her experience turned into an hour-long disenfranchising nightmare.

When Jessica checked in to vote on November 1st, polling officials could not locate any registration information for her.  Jessica spoke with three different election officials and even got on the phone with the Gaston County Board of Elections Director, all of whom said Jessica could not be found in the system and therefore her vote would not count.  Jessica felt flustered and disenfranchised; she simply had no idea how something like this could happen.

Ultimately, Jessica cast a provisional ballot and was re-registered for elections in the future.  However, her provisional ballot was not counted because her registration information was never located.  If same-day registration was still in existence, Jessica could have corrected her registration problem on November 1st and would have had her ballot counted.  Jessica, who works in disability services, feels it is very important to participate in the political process to advocate for those in need.  Jessica cannot believe this happened to her as the elections process worked for her twice before. She views her voting experience as both harassing and embarrassing.  Jessica deserves to have her vote counted and wanted to share her story to show how the voter suppression law impacts real individuals in North Carolina.

If you know an eligible voter whose vote has been unfairly denied, please ask them to tell their story! Contact sarah@scsj.org for more information.

#GivingTuesday

Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Now #GivingTuesday

 

SCSJ has joined #GivingTuesday, a first of its kind effort that will harness the collective power of a unique blend of partners—charities, families, businesses and individuals—to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. Coinciding with the Thanksgiving Holiday and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday will inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they support and help create a better world. Taking place December 2, 2014 – the Tuesday after Thanksgiving – #GivingTuesday will harness the power of social media to create a national moment around the holidays dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are, today, synonymous with holiday shopping.

“#GivingTuesday is a counter narrative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday because it reminds us that the spirit of the holiday giving season should be about strengthening community,” said Anita Earls, Executive Director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “The most meaningful gift we can give our children, loved ones, friends and neighbors is the commitment to work together to help build a more socially just world.”

And thanks to a generous donor, all donations made from Tuesday, December 2 through Tuesdday, December 9 will be doubled. Now is your chance to invest in your community – and have that investment doubled!

#GivingTuesday
Those who are interested in joining SCSJ’s #GivingTuesday initiative can visit http://www.razoo.com/story/Giving-Tuesday-Scsj. For more details about the #GivingTuesday movement, visit the #GivingTuesday website (www.givingtuesday.org), Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/GivingTuesday) or follow #GivingTuesday (https://twitter.com/GivingTues) and the #GivingTuesday hashtag on Twitter.

Want to help SCSJ even more? Once you’ve clicked here to donate, send a message out on Twitter or Facebook letting people know why you’re supporting our #GivingTuesday campaign!

Ferguson

Grand Jury Decisions in Ferguson, and now, in the Eric Garner Case in NY

The following piece was written by asha bandele of the Drug Policy Alliance and shared with her permission.

In May of 1857, having just heard of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dred Scott case (for those of us thinking of Travyon Martin today, ironically it was filed as  Dred Scott v Sandford), which in effect validated the existence of slavery and seemed to ensure its continuance, the great abolitionist, orator and ex-slave, Frederick Douglass, said:

In one view the slaveholders have a decided advantage over all opposition. It is well to notice this advantage…(but)  This is one view….there is another, and a brighter view. David, you know, looked small and insignificant when going to meet Goliath, but looked larger when he had slain his foe….Thus hath it ever been. Oppression, organized as ours is, will appear invincible up to the very hour of its fall….Take this fact—for it is a fact—the anti-slavery movement has, from first to last, suffered no abatement. It has gone forth in all directions, and is now felt in the remotest extremities of the Republic.

It started small, and was without capital either in men or money. The odds were all against it. It literally had nothing to lose, and everything to gain. There was ignorance to be enlightened, error to be combated, conscience to be awakened, prejudice to be overcome, apathy to be aroused, the right of speech to be secured, mob violence to be subdued, and a deep, radical change to be inwrought in the mind and heart of the whole nation. This great work, under God, has gone on, and gone on gloriously…Our strength is in the growth of [our] conviction, and this has never halted.

 In less than six years after he made that statement, of course, the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

And so as the progeny of people who traversed mountains higher and more rocky than ours, and with far fewer resources, did, we continue.  And we do it with all the care, compassion and strategic brilliance that has defined us every day leading up to this day.  We do it as allies, we do it as colleagues, we do it as organizers and friends.  We do it as partners in this work.

The horrific decisions out of Ferguson and now, New York, have this moment.  We acknowledge that.  But knitting ourselves together I know this: we will write the final and beautiful chapter in history.

With a powerful belief in justice and in each of you,

asha bandele

Director, Advocacy Grants Program

Drug Policy Alliance