Subscribe

Dream Defenders Stand Their Ground, Occupying the New Jim Crow

September 18, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Gun Culture, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege


Dream Defenders and Trayvon Martin protesters take a stand in Sanford, FL. (Werth Media/Flickr)

From In These Times:

As nationwide protests erupted this July after a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman of murdering Trayvon Martin, President Obama asked Americans to exercise “calm reflection” and reminded demonstrators that “we are a nation of laws.” But a group of young organizers in Florida decided that the moment instead called for civil disobedience to challenge unjust laws, and proceeded to hold a 31-day sit-in at the state Capitol in Tallahassee.

The Dream Defenders, formed in the aftermath of 17-year-old Martin’s killing last year, have chapters on 7 college campuses across Florida. The group, whose name alludes to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech at the 1963 March on Washington, aims to address the structural problems at the heart of the Martin case: the criminalization of people of color, police brutality and mass incarceration—all of which add up to a system law professor Michelle Alexander calls “the new Jim Crow.”

On July 16, the activists launched an occupation of the Florida Capitol, demanding that Gov. Rick Scott (R) convene a special session of the legislature to reform Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which figured prominently in the Martin case. During their sit-in, the Dream Defenders announced their support for Trayvon’s Law, drafted by the NAACP, which would repeal Stand Your Ground altogether. Trayvon’s Law would also curtail racial profiling by police through an independent civilian complaint review board with the power to discipline offending police officers and ban the “zero tolerance” policies that fuel the school-to-prison pipeline.

Though no special session was convened, by the time the sit-in ended, on August 15, they had met with the governor, several top-level state officials had agreed to talk with them, and Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford had committed to hold hearings on Trayvon’s Law this fall.

White Supremacy Acquits George Zimmerman

July 14, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Criminal Defense, Intersectionality, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege

From The Nation:

When Zimmerman was acquitted [last night], it wasn’t because he’s a so-called white Hispanic. He’s not. It’s because he abides by the logic of white supremacy, and was supported by a defense team—and a swath of society—that supports the lingering idea that some black men must occasionally be killed with impunity in order to keep society-at-large safe.

Media on the left, right and center have been fanning the flames of fear-mongering, speculating that people—and black people especially—will take to the streets. That fear-mongering represents a deep white anxiety about black bodies on the streets, and echoes Zimmerman’s fears: that black bodies on the street pose a public threat. But the real violence in those speculations, regardless of whether they prove to be true, is that it silences black anxiety. The anxiety that black men feel every time they walk outside the door—and the anxiety their loved ones feel for them as well. That white anxiety serves to conceal the real public threat: that a black man is killed every twenty-eight hours by a cop or vigilante.

People will take to the streets, and with good reason. They’ll be there because they know that, yes, some people do always get away—and it tends to be those strapped with guns and the logic of white supremacy at their side.

smoothquote

Marijuana: Having 25 grams should merit only a fine, Cuomo says

June 05, 2012 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege

From LA Times:

New York will join more than a dozen states in decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana displayed in public if the state Legislature approves a proposal made Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

At an Albany news conference, Cuomo, a Democrat, called for changing the state law to make possession of 25 grams of marijuana — whether in public or private – punishable by a fine. Currently having at least 25 grams on public view is a misdemeanor, though having the same amount in private is just a violation.

Civil libertarians have long criticized the difference in approaches, which they contend discriminates against minorities and the young. A person could have a small amount of marijuana in his or her pocket and be charged with no more than a violation. But if ordered by a police officer to empty that pocket, the marijuana would be on public display and the suspect could face a misdemeanor charge.

According to state statistics, more than half of the 53,000 people arrested last year were younger than 25, and 82% were black or Latino. Less than 10% were ever convicted of a crime, Cuomo stated.

Moreover, 94% of the arrests took place in New York City, where a stop-and-frisk policy has become a sore point in relations between police and the minority communities.