Archive for June, 2016

We have just one week to stop the FBI’s latest assault on our civil rights.

The FBI is trying to exempt its facial recognition database from key transparency and accountability requirements in the Privacy Act.1 These requirements are meant to prevent FBI surveillance of constitutionally protected civil rights like freedom of speech and right to assembly. This is a huge deal for our communities. Why?

  • This exemption would allow the FBI to cover up illegal surveillance of Black activists and block our ability to file lawsuits to stop them.2
  • The facial recognition system uses an image database that disproportionately targets young people of color. This exemption would blockour ability to track that racially biased impact.
  • This system misidentifies Black folks as criminal suspects at higher rates than white people – yet the FBI exemption would block our ability to identify and correct these racial bias errors.3

With built-in racial bias and no public oversight, this system is guaranteed to harm our communities, ensuring that Black folks get stopped by police more often and put in jail more often. We have just days left to stop this dangerous FBI power grab. 

Demand the DOJ reject the FBI’s racially biased Privacy Act exemption.

You could be in this FBI system right now, and never find out about it if the FBI gets this Privacy Act exemption. Currently, if you apply for any type of job that requires fingerprinting or a background check – such as a day care worker or an Uber or taxi driver – you will be entered in the FBI’s system. This means you could become a suspect in a criminal case merely because you applied for a job that required a background check.

Along with people convicted of a crime, suspects and detainees, the NGI system includes data from people fingerprinted for jobs, driver’s licenses, military or volunteer service, background checks, security clearances, and naturalization, among other government processes. In fact, based on the FBI’s own estimates, at least 1 in every 6 ColorOfChange members could unknowingly be in this database.4 For many of us, just having a driver’s license means that we are now trackable through this nefarious FBI system.

The law requires that the FBI release basic information about the Next Generation Identification System (NGI) to the public. For years, the FBI failed to do that.5 Now, the FBI wants to make NGI effectively secret – and strip us of our right to sue the FBI for privacy violations.6

Since this system relies heavily on data gathered from Black folks it is very likely that Black folks will end up being disproportionately targeted. If the FBI’s Privacy Act exemption is allowed to move forward, we will be blocked from knowing how badly this system is hurting our communities. We cannot let something that can do so much damage to Black communities move forward. We have just one week left to demand the DOJ block the FBI. 

Demand the DOJ reject the FBI’s exemption Privacy Act exemption.

Until Justice is Real,

–Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Evan, Bernard and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.

References:

1. “FBI WANTS TO EXEMPT ITS MASSIVE BIOMETRIC DATABASE FROM SOME FEDERAL PRIVACY RULES,” Nextgov, 05-04-2016
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/6353?t=6&akid=5943.1901838.rknPdx

2. “FBI Documents Reveal New Information on Baltimore Surveillance Flights,” ACLU, 10-30-2015
https://act.colorofchange.org/go/6354?t=8&akid=5943.1901838.rknPdx

3. “Facial-Recognition Software Might Have a Racial Bias Problem,” The Atlantic, 04-7-2016
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/6355?t=10&akid=5943.1901838.rknPdx

4. “FBI Plans to Have 52 Million Photos in its NGI Face Recognition Database by Next Year,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, 04-14-2014
https://act.colorofchange.org/go/6358?t=12&akid=5943.1901838.rknPdx

5. “Letter to Attorney General Holder re. Privacy Issues with FBI’s Next Generation Identification Database,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, 01-24-2014
https://act.colorofchange.org/go/6356?t=14&akid=5943.1901838.rknPdx

6. “Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 87 / Thursday, May 5, 2016 / Proposed Rules,” Government Printing Office, 05-05-2016
https://act.colorofchange.org/go/6357?t=16&akid=5943.1901838.rknPdx

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In from our comrades at Radical Women. This article is one of the best for a bit of ourstories.

RADICAL WOMEN

A salute to radical trans trailblazers who continue to change history

Gina Petry
June 2016

Above: Activist, writer, and artist Reina Gossett marches for trans rights. Photo: reinagossett.com

Transgender rights are taking center stage. Today’s trans leaders confront job and housing discrimination, police abuse and brutal prison conditions.

Bold militants are challenging and changing the status quo. One result: on May 13, the White House sent out a directive stating public schools must allow transgender people the right to access the bathroom of their choice. It may appear a small victory but it’s not. Self-appointed “potty police” have harassed, intimidated and attacked trans people.

As a matter of fact, over 50 percent of all transgender people will be sexually assaulted. They aren’t the problem, they’re the survivors.

Why the hostility? Because their very existence directly defies patriarchal societal norms. As the Radical Women Manifesto notes, transgender people “suffer extreme bias because their lives are a direct threat to the ‘sanctity’ of the nuclear family.” It’s hard to justify women’s second-class status in the home and at work if the very concept of gender is fluid.

By refusing to accept biology as their destiny, trans folk break the fetters of gender and sexuality roles and stereotypes. Targeted by bigots and bullies, transgender people learn early on to stand up against bigotry for themselves, and others. It’s not surprising that these rebels are striking back!

Not going to take it! Before Stonewall came the Compton Cafeteria Riot in San Francisco. Compton in the Tenderloin had been a hangout for drag queens, transgender women and gay hustlers — many who were poor and people of color. In August 1966, tired of continual harassment by police, people fought back. The boycott of Compton’s put the trans community on the historical map and spearheaded organizing. (more…)

On June 28th, 1969, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back against what had become regular, tolerated, city sanctioned harassment by the police department.

and we continue today to fight back to end all oppression against our people.

In from Radical Women. We wish to share this very important piece.

ABCs of abortion rights

In a huge victory, the Supreme Court has ruled that Texas restrictions on clinics that perform abortions are a barrier to women’s health and violate their constitutional rights.The Texas law required doctors who perform abortions to have hospital-admitting privileges and imposed impossible physical requirements on the outpatient clinics where most abortions are performed. It would have eliminated three-quarters of the state’s abortion clinics, forcing an estimated 900,000 women of child-bearing age to drive more than 300 miles round-trip to reach a facility that provided abortions. The 5-3 decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt will have a tremendous impact nationally by challenging undue restrictions (known as TRAP laws) on physicians and clinics in 24 states.

But the struggle’s far from over. Every aspect of reproductive justice is under attack. The enemies of women are undermining access to abortion and birth control, affordable childcare, social services for needy families, quality medical care, prenatal support, and much more. Low-income women, women of color and immigrants face the most severe consequences, compounded by the criminalization of poverty and racist attacks. Unreasonable regulations of clinics, outright violence, and systematic intimidation are targeting the courageous medical providers who help women carry out their reproductive choices.

One huge barrier to reproductive justice is the miseducation about this simple, safe, legal procedure. Here are some talking points to help combat misconceptions.

Abortion is safe

Complications from abortion are lower than the rate for wisdom tooth extraction,  tonsillectomy, or colonoscopy.

Women are about 14 times more likely to die during or after giving birth than from complications of an abortion. The most common side effects of pregnancy — including high blood pressure, urinary tract infections and mental health conditions — happen more often in women who have a live birth than those who get an abortion.

The main effects of abortion are mild to strong cramps – something most women experience monthly. Aspiration (or surgical) abortions are over in a few minutes and result in only minor bleeding. Drug-induced abortions cause heavy bleeding and cramps for only a few hours and are safely done at home.

Inflammatory lies about fetal pain, post-abortion regret and links to cancer are inventions by a rightwing movement willing to stop at nothing to prevent female autonomy.

Birth control cannot resolve the furor over abortion

From a medical viewpoint, birth control does not end the need for abortion. Condoms have an 18% failure rate. Birth control pills fail about 9% of the time, mostly due to human error. From a political perspective, many opponents of abortion denounce birth control as well, falsely claiming it causes abortions and leads to “promiscuity.”

The conflict over abortion is not really about health. It’s about whether women or moralistic patriarchs will control sexuality and reproductive decisions. Most anti-choicers are also against LGBTQ rights, sexual freedom, artificial insemination, and queer parenting. Many are anti-immigrant, pro-war and pro-death penalty. Their whole agenda must be opposed.

(more…)

Not1More

Following Atlanta’s action this morning, members of the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance are blocking the road outside of ICE HQ in Hartford.

Watch Live


“If ICE is going to be out in the streets than we will be on the streets too. Our organizing has won municipal IDs, in-state tuition, and driver’s licenses, and we won’t stop until all our immigrant sisters and brothers are freed from prison and freed from deportation. We have the courage to do this, so President Obama should have the courage to undo the deportation machine that he created,” explains John Jairo Lugo, one of the participants in the action today.

If it wasn’t clear that the fight for migrant rights didn’t end with the Supreme Court ruling, today’s actions should put any question to rest.

From Phoenix to Atlanta to Hartford to the cities that will be in the streets later this week, people are demanding a moratorium on deportations.

Tune in to watch Hartford’s action and spread the word.

Thank you,

– #Not1More

From #Not1More

HARTFORD — Undocumented immigrants and community leaders, members of the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA), are blocking traffic outside the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Hartford, demanding a moratorium on deportations. The protest follows the Supreme Court’s split decision in US v. Texas, which allows anti-immigrant governors from 26 states to block Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and an expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The sit-in is underway at 450 Main St, Hartford, CT.

“I am undocumented, unafraid, and here to stay!” said Lucas Codognolla from Stamford. “I’m blocking the street today for the tens of thousands of people here in CT whose freedom has been blocked by the Supreme Court split decision. I take action against the criminalization of immigrant communities of color, against this police state that terrorizes our communities, breaks up families, and deports people to their death. I demand an end to deportations now!”

 

The Obama administration has deported more than 2.5 million people, more than all the people deported from the United States in the 20th century, according to government data. In January and May, Connecticut leaders denounced deportation raids targeting Central American children and families, because children were afraid to go to school. Following the Supreme Court decision on Thursday, CIRA and groups across the country have launched a national petition directed at President Obama demanding a moratorium on deportations.

###

Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA) is a statewide coalition of community groups. Participating in today’s action are ACLU CT, Connecticut Students for a Dream (C4D), CT Working Families, Junta for Progressive Action (New Haven), Make the Road CT (Bridgeport), Manos Unidas, Ministerio de Hermandad (Meriden), Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, Unidad Latina en Accion (ULA – New Haven), United Action CT, and more.

Statements from people in the civil disobedience:

Camila Bortolleto

“I am proudly undocu(DACA)mented and unafraid.” Camila was born in Brazil and immigrated with her family to Danbury, CT at age 9. She graduated from Western CT State University (WCSU) in Biology and International Studies.  In 2010 Camila was one of the founding members of CT Students for a Dream, a grassroots, youth-led organization that fights for the rights of undocumented youth and families.

Renato Muguerza

“I am participating in civil disobedience today because our community has been ignored for far too long and the time has come to disrupt public spaces to show that we are not going anywhere.” Renato is a community organizer for the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance and student at the University of Connecticut. “I am frustrated with the inaction and complacency of politicians from both major parties that have failed to meet the needs of the immigrant community in our state and our nation.”

Mark Colville

For more than 20 years, Mark has opened his home,  the Amistad Catholic Worker House, to the needy. “As a citizen born here in the US I’m disgusted and ashamed by the ruling of the Supreme Court. I’ve spent my life building a community that’s welcoming to people who are under hardship, and so I need to be on the streets resisting this movement toward fear and hate and walling off people from each other. My sense of who I am and who I want this country to be moves me to participate in this action.”  Amistad Catholic Worker is a community of faith dedicated to the daily practice of the Works of Mercy, voluntary poverty, and prayer.

Erik Muñoz

Erik wants to go to college, but he doesn’t qualify for federal financial aid, and he works to support his mom and sister. Brought to New Haven when he was in grade school, he is an undocumented immigrant. “President Obama says that he doesn’t want to deport families, but he keeps locking up children, moms and dads and breaking apart families. We want ICE out of Connecticut! I’m ready to stand up for my community.”

Alok Bhatt

Alok was born in and lives in Hartford. “I stand here as a child of immigrant parents, an ally to all undocumented folks, and representing people of color. State violence upon people of color and immigrants criminalizes our very existence. We resist these crimes against the people, and reject the Supreme Court’s indecision on executive actions on immigration. We will continue to fight until we see justice and live in peace in our own communities.”  Alok is a social justice activist moving with the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA), engaging issues impacting people of color.

John Jairo Lugo

John Jairo lived many years as an undocumented immigrant and survived immigration prison before he became a US citizen and later helped found Unidad Latina en Accion (ULA), a grassroots group in New Haven. “If ICE is going to be out in the streets than we will be on the streets too. Our organizing has won municipal IDs, in-state tuition, and driver’s licenses, and we won’t stop until all our immigrant sisters and brothers are freed from prison and freed from deportation. We have the courage to do this, so President Obama should have the courage to undo the deportation machine that he created.”

Gabby Rodriguez

“I am a Bridgeport resident and student at Southern CT State University. I am the child of two Costa Rican immigrants who spent years struggling with fear and disrespect until acquiring citizenship. I am risking arrest today because I am willing to do anything to ensure that others do not have to face the indignity and insecurity that my parents faced.”

 

Lucas Codognolla

“I am undocumented, unafraid, and here to stay! I’m blocking the street today for the tens of thousands of people here in CT whose freedom has been blocked by the Supreme Court split decision. I take action against the criminalization of immigrant communities of color, against this police state that terrorizes our communities, breaks up families, and deports people to their death. I demand an end to deportations!”

bomb.jpg

Just a little love amerikkkan style.

We hate it when we hear that slogan being tossed around more and more lately after the murder of folks at the Pulse night club. Love Trumps Hate, Love Trumps Hate it is getting a tad bit sicken to hear the echo everywhere. Yeah, if you really believe in that then tell you president, tell your congress, tell your choice for president,tell your religious leaders, tell everyone that you know. STOP THESE WARS!! STOP THE KILLING! STOP THE WAR ON THE POOR, THE CHILDREN AND THE ELDERLY IN THIS COMPANY!! Turn yourselves around and really mean it when you say that love trumps hate. We here at this blog have always opposed the idea that as long as we had or have ours then the fuck with everyone else. We say it with the elite of the LGBT community hijacking the movement for wedding bells, we see it when rainbow flags are purchased from sweat shops around the world, we see it when our sisters and brothers are bombed and no one except a very few in the LGBT community says a word. As long as it isn’t happening to us who gives a fuck. Well we do and until you do too there will be no peace, no real peace.

We support what the Gay Liberation Network of Chicago has to say:

“U.S. invasions, drone bombings and support for brutal occupations and dictators have caused a series of “failed states” with the chaos and violence forcing one of the largest mass migrations in human history. Some of these migrants are subjected to additional humiliation when they seek safety within the same United States that has made their homelands virtually uninhabitable!

If we in Chicago were being bombed by drones from a foreign power, killing our loved ones and destroying our city, who is to say that none of our 2.7 million people wouldn’t respond with violence against innocents of that other nation?

While many have responded to the Orlando tragedy with calls for gun control, little has been said about the U.S. being by far the biggest weapons exporter and spending almost as much on its military as the rest of the world combined. Until the United States ceases its forceful domination of other nations of the world, the cycle of violence will only continue.”
Stop the Deportations Now – Rally for Justice
 

3:30pm

Federal Immigration Court building 
450 Main St 
Hartford, CT 
 
In the wake of the 4-4 Supreme Court split decision on DAPA/DACA+, our community will be coming together to demand that president Obama halt all deportations immediately. This is our time to respond to the obstruction of the relief that was promised to our community and demand justice for all undocumented immigrants. 

On Monday June 27th at 3:30, CIRA and other organizations will be hosting a protest in front of the immigration federal building. The address is 450 Main St. Hartford, CT. We must continue stand up so that the people and the government know that we will not stop fighting. That today is not the end. 

Bring banners, your energy, and most importantly, your voice.