NAACP Report in Opposition to the Nomination of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions to Be Attorney General of the United States

 

Read the entire, shocking report.  Call your Senator now with opposition.  This man cannot be Attorney General of the United States

“From his actions as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama in the 1980s, to his actions as Attorney General of Alabama in the 1990s, to his twenty-year career as a United States Senator, Sessions’ record demonstrates hostility to principles of equality and justice, and to the core civil rights statutes and legal principles that as Attorney General he would be charged with enforcing.    For this reason, the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) strongly opposes the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions to serve as the 84th Attorney General of the United States….

In sum, any fair and objective assessment of Sessions’ record demonstrates that he is neither qualified nor prepared to vigorously enforce the nation’s civil rights laws. ”

ldf-jefferson-sessions-report-in-opposition-final-1-9-2017

 

As We #SayHerName, 7 Policy Paths to Stop Police Violence Against Black Girls and Women

In honor of the National Day of Action to End State Violence Against Black Women, Girls and Femmes, lawyer, researcher and activist Andrea J. Ritchie presents some policy ideas to eliminate police sexual violence, gendered racial profiling and other ways officers target Black girls, women and gender nonconforming people.

5-year-old holds up #SayHerName poster at Sandra Bland funeral

Groups sponsoring the National Day of Action to End State Violence Against Black Women, Girls and Femmes include BYP100, Black Lives Matter Network, Project South and Ferguson Action.

Along with the collective call to #SayHerName, we also need policies that prevent and remedy the specific forms of police violence, racial profiling and criminalization that impact Black girls and women—cis and trans—and gender nonconforming people. In other words, we need to answer the call of Sandra Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, who last month told the Congressional Black Caucus on Women and Girls:

I don’t come to sit and be a part of a caucus where we talk and do nothing. …Movements move. Activists activate. We have got to stop talking and move. …[I]t is time to wake up, get up, step up or shut up.

I have been studying how we can answer the call for an action agenda around Black women and policing over the past two years, as a Soros Justice Fellow. What follows is a list of seven starting points based on what I’ve found in a range of sources including my survey of 35 police departments, President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, reports like “A Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations for Addressing Criminalization of LGBT People and People Living With HIV,” and The New York Young Women’s Initiative‘s criminal justice recommendations released this week. I’ve also drawn from changes police departments have made due to public pressure and litigation.

This list is by no means definitive. Rather, it’s a starting point for an agenda that focuses on the particular ways that Black girls, women and gender-nonconforming people experience police violence. Each point represents an area where legislators and policymakers should take action, and where advocates can put pressure on them to act.
1. Problem #1: Black girls, women and gender nonconforming people experience gendered racial profiling.

Racial profiling takes on gender-specific forms including the policing of prostitution, pregnancy and motherhood. Officers particularly profile Black women as being engaged in prostitution based on the age-old jezebel stereotype. They perceive them as bad mothers based on stereotypes similarly rooted in slavery and the more recent “welfare queen” trope.

Statues such as “loitering for purposes of prostitution” also aid gender-based racial profiling. In many cases, police cite condoms they’ve found in women’s purses or pockets as evidence of prostitution. The combination of vague laws, dangerous police policies and entrenched stereotypes can make Black women who are simply walking down the street late at night carrying condoms grounds for arrest. These patterns of policing demand gender-specific and -inclusive responses.

New York City has led the way in adopting broad protections against multiple forms of racial profiling. Its End Discriminatory Profiling Act of 2013 is the most comprehensive, enforceable ban in the United States. The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and the NAACP recommend similar measures for departments nationwide.

Recommendations:

  • State and local lawmakers should adopt and enforce policies as comprehensive as New York City’s. On the federal level, Congress should pass the End Racial Profiling Act of 2015, which would prohibit profiling based on gender, gender identity and sexual orientation alongside race, religion and ethnicity.
  • State lawmakers should repeal of vague “loitering for the purposes of prostitution” laws, and ban the use of condoms as evidence of prostitution-related offenses. Local police departments should independently prohibit their officers from criminalizing condoms as well.

Problem #2: Police are doing strip- and body cavity-searches of Black women in public.

In August 2015 at a Harris County, Texas, gas station, one male and two female police deputies overpowered and held down Charnesia Corley, a Black 21-year-old they suspected of marijuana possession. One female deputy pulled down her pants. Another sat on her back and cavity-searched her in full view of passersby. The horrific treatment of a Black woman is not unique. Public strip- and body-cavity searchers are experienced as sexual assaults, and should be addressed as such.

Recommendation:

  • Shortly after Corley was strip- and cavity-searched, Texas legislators passed a law specifically banning body cavity searches during traffic stops unless the officer obtains a warrant. All of the other states should follow suit to bring search practices in compliance with the requirements of the U.S. Constitution.

Problem #3: Police sexual violence goes unreported, ignored and unpunished.

Although there is currently no official data collection on the issue, study after study by law enforcement leaders, former police officials, academics and community groups demonstrate that police sexual misconduct is a systemic problem. In 2010, the Cato Institute found that sexual violence was the second most frequently reported form of police misconduct, after excessive force. Other research shows that officers disproportionately target women who are young, of color, trans and gender-nonconforming. Police also single out women who are criminalized through the war on drugs and prostitution enforcement. In surveys of 35 police departments across the country, I found that 52 percent don’t have any policy that specifically addresses police sexual violence against the public.** An investigation by Al-Jazeera America found similar results.

Additionally, the investigation and prosecution of police sexual misconduct is largely left to the police themselves, along with local prosecutors. Survivors are already reluctant to report sexual assault to authorities, but they are particularly hesitant to tell the police departments that employ their assailants. This is especially true for women who are—or are profiled as—involved with drugs or prostitution. Daniel Holtzclaw’s serial rape and sexual assault of scores of Black women made this plain.

Recommendations: 

  • The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) should collect national data about police sexual violence against civilians through the Police-Public Contact Survey and other national surveys.
  • The DOJ should develop and disseminate a model policy as recommended by the President’s Task Force and deny federal funding to police departments that refuse to ban all forms of police sexual misconduct, create prevention strategies and ensure accountability for officers who sexually abuse civilians.
  • The DOJ should mandate, expand and audit police departments’ compliance with the 2003 Prison Elimination Act. This legislation and accompanying regulations set standards for the prevention and detection of sexual misconduct in all places of detention, including holding cells.
  • Civilian oversight bodies and special prosecutors appointed to address police misconduct should be equipped and required to receive complaints of sexual violence. They should be able to support survivors, investigate police, and impose discipline up to and including firing guilty officers.

Problem #4: Police officers conduct illegal “gender searches” on trans people of color.

Transgender and gender nonconforming people are all too often subject to officers searching their bodies because they are curious, want to assign them a gender based on anatomy, or degrade them. These searches plainly run afoul of the Constitution. With the passage of HB2 in North Carolina, police could very well begin conducting such searches outside public bathrooms. Because they come into frequent contact with police due to racial profiling and discriminatory enforcement, gender searches disproportionately impact trans and gender nonconforming people of color.

Recommendation:

  • The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing unequivocally calls for explicit bans on gender searches.
  • In partnership with advocacy organizations, the DOJ should develop, disseminate and monitor how model policies are implemented to ensure that authorities respect the rights and dignity of LGBTQ people

5. Police are beating and using TASERS on pregnant Black people.

While the idea of a police officer punching a pregnant woman or shocking her with 50,000 volts of electricity is shocking but not uncommon. The cases of Raven Dozier, Nicola Robinson, Tiffany Rent, Lucinda White, Malaika Brooks illustrate the need for clear and strong policies banning the use of TASERS, chokeholds, pepper spray, forcible takedowns and other forms of excessive force against pregnant people. Yet, fewer than half of the 35 police departments I surveyed around the country over the past year had a policy limiting this kind of force.

Recommendation:

  •  Police departments should impose and enforce strict bans on use of force against pregnant people.

Problem #6: Black women are dying in police custody due to neglect, refusal of medical care and use of force.

All too often, Black women and women of color are perceived as deceptive, undeserving of medical care and incapable of feeling pain or illness. In July 2015, at least five Black women—Sandra Bland, Kindra Chapman, Joyce Curnell, Ralkina Jones and Raynette Turner—died in police custody. This January, 16 year-old Gynnya McMillen died in an Elizabethtown, Kentucky, juvenile facility after staffers took her down using a so-called aikido restraint. Staff members failed to check on McMillen overnight, a policy violation. When they found her unresponsive in her cell the next morning, they waited for more than 10 minutes to act.

Recommendations:

  • Keep girls and women out of police custody by minimizing enforcement and detention for traffic and low-level offenses.
  • Use independent monitoring to ensure that staff are following detention policies.
  • Demand accountability from law enforcement personnel who fail to provide medical treatment to individuals in police custody.

Problem #7: Police are searching people without identifying themselves or the reason for the encounter.

Regulation of consent searches is particularly important to Black women because they are so often sites of sexual harassment, abuse, unlawful gender searches and drug patdowns. It is hard enough to hold an officer accountable for profiling and violence. It’s even harder when you don’t know the officer’s name and you aren’t empowered to exercise your rights during an encounter.

Recommendations:

  • Police departments should adopt the President’s Task Force recommendation that officers be required to identify themselves and explain why they’ve stopped, detained and arrested a civilian.
  • Officers should be required to advise people of their right to refuse a search without legal basis. They should also be required to show proof of voluntary, informed consent to searches. These common-sense policies that are already in place in cities, from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh to Denver.

Of course, changing police policies is not a panacea to police violence against Black girls, women and gender nonconforming people. In order to to strike at the root of the issue, we need to transform our responses to poverty, violence and mental health crises in ways that center the safety and humanity of Black women and our communities. Still, taking action in these seven areas would go a long way to reducing harm while we work toward deeper systemic change.
Andrea J. Ritchie is a Black lesbian police misconduct attorney, organizer and co-author of “SayHerName: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women.” She was a 2014 Soros Justice Fellow, a member of INCITE! and co-author of “Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States.” She has been organizing, advocating, litigating, writing and agitating about police violence against women and LGBT people of color for the past two decades. Ritchie is currently at work on“Invisible No More: Racial Profiling and Police Brutality Against Women of Color,” and is a contributor to “Who Do You Serve? Who Do You Protect?, books coming out in 2017.

**Post has been updated since publication for precision. Fifty two percent of police departments surveyed didn’t have any policy that specifically addresses police sexual violence against the public, not just women.

http://www.colorlines.com/articles/we-sayhername-7-policy-paths-stop-police-violence-against-black-girls-and-women

Marian Wright Edelman

By Jeanne St. John

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My African-American woman hero is Marian Wright Edelman whose life and career has inspired me for over 40 years. As a long-time professional educator and child advocate, I was inspired by the courageous and risky acts and positions Edelman took, beginning in the very uncivil 1960’s. She’s still active today and continuing her mission of defending the rights and lives of children.

Marian Wright Edelman is an American activist for the rights of children. She has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. She is president and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund. Under her leadership, CDF has become the nation’s strongest voice for children and families.

While attending Spelman College, she also became involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and after being arrested for her activism, she decided to study law and enrolled at Yale Law School where she earned a Juris Doctor in 1963.

Edelman was the first African American woman admitted to The Mississippi Bar. She began practicing law with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.‘s Mississippi office, working on racial justice issues connected with the civil rights movement and representing activists during the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964. She also helped establish a Head Start program.

Edelman moved in 1968 to Washington, D.C. where she continued her work and contributed to the organizing of the Poor People’s Campaign of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm and also became interested in issues related to childhood development and children.

In 1973, she founded the Children’s Defense Fund as a voice for poor children, children of color, and children with disabilities. The organization has served as an advocacy and research center for children’s issues, documenting the problems and possible solutions to children in need.

As founder, leader and principal spokesperson for the CDF, Ms. Edelman worked to persuade Congress to overhaul foster care, support adoption, improve child care and protect children who are disabled, homeless, abused or neglected. A philosophy of service absorbed during her childhood under-girds all her efforts. As she expresses it, “If you don’t like the way the world is, you have an obligation to change it. Just do it one step at a time.”

She continues to advocate youth pregnancy prevention, child-care funding, prenatal care, greater parental responsibility in teaching values and curtailing what she sees as children’s exposure to the barrage of violent images transmitted by mass media.

Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_Wright_Edelman

June 4 is the 95th Anniversary of Congress Passing the 19th Amendment

June 4 is the 95th Anniversary of Congress Passing the 19th Amendment

On June 4, 1919 Congress passed the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote. The Amendment was then sent to the states for ratification. It took a little over a year to be ratified on August 18, 1920.

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has not faired so well. Originally written in 1923 by Alice Paul and first introduced in Congress in 1923, it did not pass both houses of Congress and go to the states for ratification until 1972. It is still three (3) states short of ratification.

We have a chance in 2014 to at least pass a state ERA in Oregon that would grant women express equal rights in the Oregon Constitution. Please do what you can to help! VoteERA.org!

VoteERA Announces Early Turn In!‏

VoteERA Announces Early Turn In!‏

As of May 23, 2014 we have turned in approximately 140,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office for verification. In order to qualify for the November ballot VoteERA.org needs 116,384 valid signatures collected no later than July 3, 2014.

Among the signatures to be turned in today are those of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and First Lady Cylvia Hayes.

Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo, founder and board chair of VoteERA stated, “I am thrilled with the support we have gotten from all over Oregon. Hundreds of signatures continue to pour in daily. We will not stop gathering signatures until we are certain we have the 116, 384 valid signatures needed. I want to thank all of those who are working to make this happen. There is no question but that we will be on the ballot in November.”

Press Contact: Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo

Contact: 503-701-7122

LLDiLorenzo@VoteERA.org

Immigration Is a Feminist Issue

Terry O’Neill Become a fan

President, National Organization for Women

 

Immigration is a feminist issue. That’s why I’m adding my voice to the growing number of women who are telling House Republican leadership to wise up and stop blocking reform of our badly broken immigration system.

This week, I’ll be participating in the 48-hour Women’s Fast for Families on the National Mall.

The Fast for Families on April 7-9 is the culmination of a month of action involving more than 1200 women fasting through 70 events in 35 states as well as in Washington, D.C., and Mexico City. It is being organized by We Belong Together, an initiative of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the National Asian Pacific American Women Forum, with the participation of NOW, other women’s and civil and human rights organizations and labor unions.

We Belong Together has put together a great fact sheet on immigration reform. Download the pdf here and distribute it to your friends and co-workers!

Our current failed immigration system denies immigrant women the right to equal opportunity and equal treatment under the law. Women and children constitute three-quarters of all immigrants — women alone make up 51 percent — and yet only 25 percent of work visas are given to women.

Yet two-thirds of immigrant women come to this country through the family visa system, not on work visas. That’s partly due to discriminatory hiring practices here in the U.S. But it’s exacerbated by employment and educational discrimination against women in their home countries, which hurts their resumes and makes it harder for them to get a job offer here.

This layering of discrimination upon discrimination affects immigrant women all along the employment spectrum. The U.S. government created a special temporary visa for so-called “highly skilled” workers. These H-1B visas can be easily renewed and often are stepping stones to permanent status.

According to the Seattle Times,

The United States actually welcomes more foreign women each year than men, but nearly 60 percent of the women were not working at the time they earned their residency — many were homemakers who arrived through marriage or other family relationships.

That’s the case for Bay Area immigrant wives such as accountant Anna Szar of San Francisco and computer engineer Mamtha Kashyap of Santa Clara, both of whom have university degrees but are banned from working in the United States because of the type of visas they hold…

It was clear from the start that her husband, not Kashyap, would get the H-1B.

That meant she had to come on a “dependent” visa for spouses, the H-4, which prohibits her from working. Kashyap said she spends her days volunteering at the library, learning how to cook new dishes and crocheting in front of the TV.

“I hate to say this, but the women in Saudi Arabia have more rights than the spouses, the wives of H-1B visa workers. It’s inhuman the way we treat them,” said Stanford Law School’s Vivek Wadhwa, testifying earlier this year to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. “What country is this that brings high-skill immigrants in, but doesn’t give them equal rights?”

The legal prohibition against getting a job, coupled with responsibility for the welfare of children and others in their household, makes immigrant women uniquely vulnerable to abuse and exploitation at the hands of husbands who, as their immigration sponsors, wield extraordinary power over their lives.

Women’s rights and anti-violence advocates fought hard to add protections for immigrant women to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, but we ran into implacable opposition by Eric Cantor and other Republican leaders in the House.

Now those same Republican leaders, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and others, are balking at fair and humane immigration reform that women desperately need. Are we seeing a pattern here?

The backlog for attaining legal status through a family-based visa is so severe that about four million people are currently waiting to be reunited with their families — some have already waited decades. Moreover, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender immigrants are not allowed to sponsor their partners or children for residency despite raising children and owning homes together.

We are a country of immigrants. Our laws should respect the contributions, against extraordinary odds, that immigrant women make to our communities every day. Sixty percent of immigrant women are in the labor force but work in paperless or informal economies — as nannies, housekeepers, home health care workers, and other professions that don’t provide a pay stub at the end of the week.

Every day, women take risks to contribute to the well-being and success of their families and loved ones. They move so their children can have a better life; they work so that their families will have food on the table; they take care of the young and the old; they open businesses and work hard to make a better life. It is time to value and reward their hard work and sacrifices.

And it’s time to name and shame the legislators — to be clear, nearly all of them are Republicans — who keep blocking reform that addresses women’s needs. Make no mistake: We will remember in November.

Voice your support for immigration reform that’s fair to women here.

To see where Act.Fast actions have taken place, or about to take place, click here.

I’m proud to be standing with women who are hungry for common-sense immigration reform by joining the 100-women fast at the National Mall.

How about you? Would you fast for a cause like this? Do you support immigration reform that treats women fairly? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

Follow Terry O’Neill on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Terryoneill

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terry-oneill/immigration-is-a-feminist_b_5059829.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

Oregon should guard women’s rights with ERA | Opinion | The Register-Guard | Eugene, Oregon

Oregon should guard women’s rights with ERA | Opinion | The Register-Guard | Eugene, Oregon.

PUBLISHED: 12:00 A.M., MARCH 30

VoteERA.org is collecting petition signatures to give Oregonians the opportunity to vote in November for an Equal Rights Amendment to Oregon’s Constitution. This amendment will expressly guarantee that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the state of Oregon or by any political subdivision in this state on account of sex.”

VoteERA.org appreciates The Register-Guard bringing this important proposed amendment to the attention of its readers in a Feb. 14 editorial, “Dangers of a state ERA.”

That editorial suggested that “if a special section is needed to protect against sex discrimination, protection for groups or individuals lacking specific sections of their own might be assumed to be inferior.”

In making this statement, and in stating that the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon warned of this “danger in opposing earlier state ERA proposals,” it is likely that the editors were not aware that a third paragraph, added to alleviate this concern, is contained in the ballot initiative: “Nothing in this section shall diminish a right otherwise available to persons under section 20 of this article or any other provision of this Constitution.”

David Fidanque, executive director of ACLU Oregon, was quoted in the Dec. 30, 2013, Oregonian in reference to the current proposed amendment (containing paragraph 3): “I think the way it’s written now, it shouldn’t do any harm, which was our major concern in the spring.”

The substantive language of the ERA in the current ballot initiative is identical to the language of the federal Equal Rights Amendment. The ACLU, referring to the proposed federal ERA, makes these assertions:

“The Equal Rights Amendment will guarantee full equality to women.”

“Political gains made on reproductive rights and women’s health issues remain imperiled without the Equal Rights Amendment.”

“Without the Equal Rights Amendment, women’s rights remain subject to the interpretation of the Supreme Court.”

These assertions are just as applicable to the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Oregon Constitution.

It is important to specifically address the ACLU’s third point, that without explicit constitutional protection women’s rights remain subject to judicial interpretation. The Register-Guard’s editorial addressed the current protections provided by Article 1, Section 20, of the Oregon Constitution, which reads: “No law shall be passed granting to any citizen or class of citizens privileges, or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens.”

Though this sounds like it protects women, when it was ratified in 1859 there was no intent that it apply to women. In 1859 women couldn’t vote, couldn’t purchase property on their own, etc. It took more than 50 years for the Oregon Constitution to be amended in 1912, granting women the right to vote. If an ERA is “redundant” to Article 1 Section 20, as the editorial states, then why was it necessary to amend the Oregon Constitution for women to gain the right to vote?

The Register-Guard editorial points to an Oregon Supreme Court decision, Hewitt vs. SAIF, written in 1982 by the late Justice Betty Roberts, a strong feminist and the first woman to serve on the Oregon Supreme Court. Hewitt specifically extended the protections of Article 1, Section 20 to guard against discrimination based on gender. However, the Hewitt opinion expressly left out protections against discrimination based on “biological differences.” Also, this opinion is only case law, which is fluid and dependent on the justices interpreting the Constitution.

Nobody can predict who our Supreme Court justices will be in the future. Without equality for women expressly written into the Oregon Constitution, Oregon women and girls will always be at risk of losing the gains they have made. The Hewitt opinion provides excellent precedent, but it does not provide for full equality based on sex in the Oregon Constitution; only a constitutional amendment can do that. Even The Register-Guard editorial admits that the ACLU of Oregon noted that an ERA “could insure against Oregon Supreme Court decisions narrowing the scope of protections under Section 20.”

This year is the centennial year of the 1914 general election, the first in which Oregon women could vote. Let’s celebrate by giving women express equality in the Oregon Constitution! Twenty-two states, including Washington and California, have ERA’s. It is past time for Oregon to pass an ERA.

Nancy Campbell of Depoe Bay is a retired Washington County circuit judge and a board member of VoteERA.org (www.VoteERA.org). The opinions expressed here are the author’s own.