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CI: Justice As Theft

June 11, 2014 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Corrupt Legislature, Criminal Injustice Series, Economic Terrorism, Education, Housing, Immigration, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Poverty, Voting Rights, Workers' Rights

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

Justice As Theft: Into the Twilight Zone
by Kay Whitlock

In 2011, Tonya McDowell, a homeless woman from Bridgeport, Connecticut, was charged with first degree (felony) larceny  and conspiracy to commit larceny for enrolling her 6-year-old son in Brookside Elementary School in the community of Norwalk.  Because McDowell and her son did not legally reside in Norwalk, the rationale for the charges was theft of $15,686 in educational costs from the Norwalk public school system. She faced a possible sentence of 20 years in prison. Moreover, McDowell’s babysitter was evicted from public housing because she apparently assisted by providing  false documents necessary for enrolling the young boy.

McDowell and her son are black; the Norwalk public school system is predominantly white – and therefore better funded than the Bridgeport system, in which people of color predominate. Essentially, she was charged with “stealing” a good public education for her son, who is entitled to public education, but not, presumably, a good one.

This prosecution was outrageous, right?  Yes – by any reasonable standard of human decency, anyway. But we live in a societal Twilight Zone in which the often-subterranean currents of the dominant U.S. public imagination respond to virtually all claims to social and economic justice as some form of theft, with all of the dissonance, danger, anxiety, emotional vulnerability, defensiveness, and fury associated with its evocation.

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The Massive Progressive Protest You Didn’t Hear About This Weekend

February 10, 2014 By: seeta Category: 2014 Mid-term Elections, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Terrorism, Education, Fourth Estate, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, Tax Policy, Voting Rights, What People are Doing to Change the World, Workers' Rights


Credit: Planned Parenthood

From ThinkProgress:

Somewhere between 80 to 100,000 people from 32 states turned out to protest four years of drastic state Republican initiatives in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Saturday.

The “Moral March on Raleigh,” organized by Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ), marched from Shaw University to the state capitol to push back against the “immoral and unconstitutional policies” of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory during the 2013 NC General Assembly session. Since North Carolina Republicans took over both legislative chambers in 2010, legislators have eliminated a host of programs and raised taxes on the bottom 95 percent, repealed a tax credit for 900,000 working families, enforced voter suppression efforts, blocked Medicaid coverage, cut pre-Kindergarten funding, cut federal unemployment benefits, and gave itself the authority to intervene in abortion lawsuits.

Activists have gathered at weekly protests, called ‘Moral Mondays,’ in North Carolina since 2013 as a way to give voice to individuals whose rights were under attack by the Republican-controlled legislature. While there were no reported arrests in Saturday’s protest, hundreds of nonviolent protesters were arrested during last year’s Moral Monday events.


‘Uh-oh, instead of defeating us they made us defiant’

September 25, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Eco-Justice, Intersectionality, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, Voting Rights, What People are Doing to Change the World, Workers' Rights


Local 1199 members came from New York to be arrested, and at least 1,000 teachers mobilized for the final Monday. (Photo by Ajamu Dillahunt.)

From Southern Studies:

Since April North Carolina has made national and international news with a remarkable social movement that has gathered thousands to protest, with nearly 1,000 arrests for civil disobedience.

The Forward Together Movement, led by the North Carolina NAACP, showed up at the General Assembly in Raleigh for 13 consecutive Mondays while the Republican/Tea Party-controlled legislature was in session.

Although 17 clergy members made up the first wave of arrestees, the activists who formed the backbone of the actions were part of the six-year-old, NAACP-led HKonJ Coalition (Historic Thousands on Jones St. — site of the legislature), which had mobilized thousands to the Capitol every February for a 14-point progressive agenda.

It includes civil rights, labor, environmental, and other social and economic justice groups. With each Moral Monday, more groups and thousands of individuals joined the ranks.

Each week displayed a different theme. After a rally, those who intended to risk arrest and their supporters entered the legislative building and stood outside the Senate chambers singing, chanting, and praying. When they refused to disperse, they were arrested.

The NAACP leads the Forward Together Movement, but has mobilized thousands of white middle-class residents in addition to its historic Black constituency. Those who filled the grounds outside the General Assembly and those who entered the building to be arrested were majority white, as is the state as a whole.

50 years after March on Washington, economic gap between blacks, whites persists

August 28, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Terrorism, Education, Gun Culture, Intersectionality, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, Voting Rights, White Privilege


Watch the 50th Anniversary of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech LIVE Wednesday 11:30 a.m. ET

From WashingtonPost:

When President Obama takes the stage at the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington, he will symbolize a big part of the complicated story of the nation’s racial progress in the half-century since the historic demonstration.

Can there be more convincing testimony to the breathtaking advancement of African Americans than a black president?

Yet there is also this: Even as racial barriers have been toppled and the nation has grown wealthier and better educated, the economic disparities separating blacks and whites remain as wide as they were when marchers assembled on the Mall in 1963.

Between 1959 and 1972, the black poverty rated dropped from 55.1 percent to 32.2 percent. But since then, progress has been slow. In 2011, 27.6 percent of black households were in poverty — nearly triple the white rate, according to the Census Bureau.

“The relative position of blacks has not changed economically since the march,” said William Darity Jr., a professor of public policy, economics and African American studies at Duke University. “Certainly, poverty has declined for everybody, but it has declined in a way that the proportion of blacks to whites who are poor is about the same as it was 50 years ago.”

That is hardly what famed labor leader A. Philip Randolph, the driving force behind the event, had in mind when he called for a mass march for “jobs and freedom.” For decades, Randolph, founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly black labor union, had pushed for economic equality for black Americans.

[R]acial economic disparities are mostly unchanged and in some cases are growing. In 1963, blacks families earned 55 cents for every dollar earned by whites. In 2011, blacks earned 66 cents for every dollar earned by whites. The black unemployment rate averaged 11.6 percent between 1963 and 2012, more than double the white jobless rate over that time.

From DemocracyNow:

From CMP: Theft of Wealth from People of Color

| Download PDF

The Economic Immobility and Financial Insecurity of POC

According to a Pew Research Center study released [in 2011], the median wealth (assets minus debt) for white households is a little over $113,000, whereas the median wealth for black households is little more than $5600. According to a study released last year by Insight, Center for Community Economic Development, the median wealth for single black women is $100. Twenty-five percent of women of color have student debt, and nearly 50 percent of women of color have credit card debt in order to pay for basic necessities, thereby endangering financial security and economic mobility. According to Insight[s]ingle black and hispanic women have one penny of wealth for every dollar of wealth owned by their male counterparts and a fraction of a penny for every dollar of wealth owned by single white women.

  • Single black and Hispanic women have a median wealth of $100 and $120 respectively; the median for single white women is $41,500.
  • While white women in the prime working years of ages 36-49 have a median wealth of $42,600, the median wealth for women of color is only $5.
  • Nearly half of all single black and Hispanic women have zero or negative wealth, the latter of which occurs when debts exceed assets.
  • While 57 percent of single white women own homes, only 33 percent of single black women and 28 percent of single Hispanic women are homeowners.
  • Only 1 percent of single Hispanic women and 4 percent of single black women own business assets compared to 8 percent of single white women.
  • Social Security is the only source of retirement income for more than 25 percent of black women.
  • Prior to age 50, women of color have virtually no wealth at all.

[Source: Lifting as We Climb: Women of Color, Wealth, and America's Future]

Primary Resources: I Have a Dream, 1963

This is an audio recording of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. giving the “I Have a Dream” speech during the Civil Rights rally on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. The speech is regarded as one of the greatest American speeches ever made.

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Today in History: The 19th Amendment is Formally Adopted in 1920

August 26, 2013 By: seeta Category: Civil Rights, Voting Rights

suffrageact
Courtesy of Newseum

Half A Century Later: March on Washington

August 24, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Development, Education, Intersectionality, Voting Rights, Workers' Rights

U.S. sues Texas over voter ID

August 22, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Voting Rights, White Privilege

From Scotus Blog:

FURTHER UPDATE 4:35 p.m. The text of the motion to intervene in the San Antonio redistricting case is here. The legal complaint of the U.S. as intervenor is here. The text of the new lawsuit against the Texas voter ID law is here.

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The Justice Department went to court again on Thursday to challenge the legality of Texas’s voter ID law — a law that Texas says it has put back into effect since the Supreme Court freed the state from federal court supervision. In that new lawsuit and in a new maneuver in a pending case over new election districting maps for Texas, the Department will be asking that the state be returned to court oversight of all of its election laws, for at least a decade. Both new moves were announced in a press release. The legal filings are not yet available.

“We will not allow the Supreme Court’s recent decision to be interpreted as open season for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “The Department will take action against jurisdictions that attempt to hinder access to the ballot box, no matter where it occurs.”

Holder said the Texas filings were “the latest action to protect voting rights, but will not be the last.” That statement may have been a signal that the Obama administration will also mount a legal challenge to the sweeping new North Carolina law limiting voting rights in that state.

In the Supreme Court’s ruling on June 25 in an Alabama case, Shelby County v. Holder, Texas and other state and local governments that had been required to get legal clearance in Washington for any changes in their election laws were spared from that duty, at least for the time being. The Court made the 1965 Voting Rights Act’s Section 5, the preclearance provision, unenforceable by striking down the coverage formula for that section.

The Justice Department had previously signaled that it would make energetic efforts in the courts to get Texas put back under Section 5, by applying an additional, seldom-used part of the 1965 law – Section 3, the so-called “bail in” option.

DOJ to Mess with Texas and More

July 27, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Corrupt Judiciary, Corrupt Legislature, Intersectionality, Voting Rights

Source: Washington Post

Source: Washington Post

U.S. Asks Court to Limit Texas on Ballot Rules

The Obama administration on Thursday moved to protect minority voters after last month’s Supreme Court ruling striking down a central part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, with the Justice Department asking a court to require Texas to get permission from the federal government before making changes…

Last month’s ruling, Shelby County v. Holder, did away with a requirement that Texas and eight other states, mostly in the South, get permission from the Justice Department or a federal court before changing election procedures. On Thursday, the administration asked a federal court in Texas to restore that “preclearance” requirement there, citing the state’s recent history and  relying on a different part of the voting rights law.

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