Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Gen Y Projects Launches #CamsOnCops campaign


Yesterday the Gen Y Project organized a rally before the Atlanta City Council public safety meeting. Originally the council had decided to put off having the body camera discussion till January but after getting word that youth organizers planned on being at the meeting members of the council made sure that the chief of police was there to present findings on body camera field research and public comment was opened up on the issue immediately following discussion.  Around 15  people addressed city council about the importance of police accountability.

Gen Y Projects' Oscar Cain presented city council with the following letter and talking points:


To the Atlanta City Council,

 

Kathryn Johnston, Ariston Waiters, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, sadly the list of black and brown bodies brutalized and killed by law enforcement goes on and on. We believe that the mandate requiring law enforcement to wear body cameras is one small step toward keeping police accountable to the people in Atlanta.

As young people who have watched our brothers and sisters brutalized and killed all over the country by those that are supposed to protect us we no longer feel safe in the community, we no longer feel like our lives matter.

We know that body cameras themselves are of little use unless they have clear protocols that ensure police are accountable to the communities they serve. The following are protocols that we believe need to be in place in order to ensure our safety:

·         Violators whose video stops recording for any reason will be suspended without pay/fired during an investigation

·         Independent Citizen Review Board will have access to recordings for investigative and complaint purposes

·         Make disciplinary action publically available

·         GBI/Independent Citizen Review Board/IA/GBI will have access to review the video

·         Cameras are to be on at all times, unless stipulated in the policy as agreed

·         Raw video must be stored at a neutral location, where police can’t tamper with evidence

·         Civilians have a right to sign a waiver declining their right to be recorded

TALKING POINTS:


1.            With reports of police misconduct and brutality increasing across the nation, body-worn cameras for officers is a way to regain the public’s trust and restore order to our failing justice system.

 

2.            Officers who are policing ethically can appreciate body cams as a resource to support their actions and responses.

 

3.            As one example the police department in Rialto, Calif., put cameras on a group of officers and saw the number of citizen complaints filed drop by 88 percent — and more importantly, use of force declined by 59 percent.

 

4.            Mike Brown, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Jonathan Ferrell and John Crawford are not alive to tell their accounts of the incidents that claimed their lives. Protecting black and brown lives should matter and this is why we support body cams.

 

5.            Body cams eliminate he say/ she say by capturing both the officer and respondent's behavior in real time.

 

6.            In 2015, we will not be silenced and intimidated, nor will we continue to allow the burden of proof to be rely solely on an officer’s testimony.

 

7.            Body cams are a proven approach that promotes transparency and accountability among police officers and the communities they serve.
 
While a vote wasn't taken Gen Y Project did succeed in forcing a conversation that wasn't scheduled until next year. It's clear that details still need to be worked out but Gen Y's voice and talking points seemed to have a clear impact on the process.
 
After leaving the city council meeting the group chanted, "Black lives matter" and "I can't breathe". As they came to a giant Christmas tree in the lobby of city hall they held a four minute die in.
 
Some Press links from yesterday:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Peoplestown Tenants Pave Road to Victory!


Last week Occupy Our Homes Atlanta launched an online campaign alongside the Peoplestown Listening Project and residents of Boynton Village after a series of meetings with residents of the longtime Peoplestown apartment complex.  As residents did the hard work of building support in the community, launching an online petition, doing media trainings, agreeing as a group on demands and points of unity, there was an effort to reach out to the property owners(the Woda group) for a meeting.

Last night that meeting happened. A copy of the petition was hand delivered to the Woda group and the property management company. Residents had space to share their concerns and articulate their demands. Besides having serious concerns about maintenance issues, residents are concerned about their right to return after renovations are made to the property. Boynton Village was acquired by the Woda group as obvious shifts were occurring in the Peoplestown community. As the Beltline project in rolling through and Turner Field is being sold many fear that gentrification could destroy the historic community. Many of the Boynton Village residents have lived in Peoplestown their whole life and while they’ve all agreed to move out for three months while the complex is renovated, many fear they will not be allowed to return.

We are very pleased with the tone of the meeting and the willingness the Woda group displayed at the meeting, we know this is a direct result of a strong turnout by residents, community members, and allies. We know it’s also a result of good organizing and points of unity agreed upon by residents.

The Woda group pretty much agreed to all the residents’ demands, which is amazing! It’s important to be clear that we are not celebrating yet. The Woda group has agreed to put everything in writing by December 15th, so we await that date to confirm. A win for Boynton Village isn't the finish line for housing justice work in Peoplestown, in fact it's only the beginning. Atlanta's gentrifying forces have shifted an eye toward Peoplestown, affordable housing is already becoming hard to find.


We are grateful to the 800 people who signed the online petition! Keep the signatures coming, they do have an impact when met with on the ground organizing! We are excited to continue to work with the brave residents of Boynton Village as we see the beginnings of a strong Boynton Village Tenants Associating in the works to monitor repairs, relocation, renovation, and the return to the property for all.
American Friends Service Committee is proud to be a supporter of the campaign and we will continue to lend on the ground support and give resources to build infrastructure for the housing justice movement in Peoplestown and the greater Atlanta area. Right now there is a need to provide funding for on the group organizers who are longtime Peoplestown residents. Please contact AFSC if you are able to help at tfranzen@afsc.org


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Moral Monday Moves Forward in Georgia!!

 Last night, we all received the announcement by the St. Louis Grand Jury that the killer of Mike Brown will not be held accountable for his actions. The calls to question the metes and bounds of value of Black life in America. There are many issues involved that are important to many of us including the militarization of our civilian police departments, the mass incarceration of young black and brown Americans, and the mistrust of criminal justice system.  We are inspired by young people who will lift creative protest in the midst of this critical moment in our nation's journey towards a more just society. 


Yet, we are encouraged.  On Saturday in Columbus, we had the privilege of standing with mothers, fathers, educators, ministers, retired individuals, young people, gay and straight Georgia during the Statewide Planning for Moral Monday Georgia.  One thing was clear - we all want Progress! 


Where do we go from here?   

 
Our analysis confirms there was no extreme right-wing mandate from the Midterm elections despite the poplar option of the media.  Instead, despite the failure of candidates to connect; voters endorsed bold progressive ballot initiatives and referendums on criminal justice reform and livable wages won big in those same states. 

 


Let's launch Moral Monday Georgia 2.0!


Join Moral Monday Georgia at the State Capitol for the opening legislative session on January 12, 2015.  Moral Monday Georgia's platform and legislative agenda is bold and lifts our values and not our fears. From the very start of this movement, our eyes have been fixed on the long view. Last year we made news; this year we want to make change. Change doesn't come overnight; and one press cycle; one legislative session; or even in one election.  If we are going to transform the political landscape in Georgia; we must continue work on a bold, persistent, consistent, disciplined values based agenda of change.  

 

The coming legislative session is likely to be brutal. Our most vulnerable communities will surely face new attacks.


What can you do?




We must move forward together and not one step back.
American Friends Service Committee is a proud co-convener of the Moral Monday Georgia Movement

Monday, November 24, 2014

MO Grand Jury Shows Impact of Systemic Racism


Below is AFSC's position on the grand jury decision. For those that are near Atlanta we want to encourage you to join the local effort and gather at 5pm tomorrow(11/25) at Underground near 5 points station. Through this tragedy we hope the local effort to challenge systemic racism continue to build momentum. 

Now that the grand jury has decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, people across the country are justifiably seeking answers. The American Friends Service Committee also is seeking clarity in this case. We remain committed to addressing the issues of militarization of police, police accountability and systemic racism revealed by the killing and its aftermath. If we are to prevent future tragedies, people everywhere should join us in these efforts.

Those who pay the cost of these policies are disproportionally young people of color – and with alarming frequency that cost is death at the hands of police. Ominously, local police increasingly rely on militarized tactics and weapons not only to arrest but to contain people exercising their right to assemble and peacefully protest such tragedies as the Mike Brown killing.

Weeks before today’s announcement, Missouri police and elected officials began stockpiling riot gear and “less lethal” weapons to respond to public protest. We urge protesters to resist provocations such as armored trucks, dogs, and blockades staffed by officers in military garb. We   urge police officials to seek dialogue with those they swore to protect and serve, to find common ground and peaceful paths forward. Throughout our decades of work on social justice and human rights in the U.S. and around the world, we have witnessed the effectiveness of such dialogue and exchange programs.

We are proud of the young people with whom we work in Missouri, who are using peaceful means to work for fundamental change in systems that perpetuate racism and inequality. They deserve both applause and help for their leadership in healing and organizing their communities. We urge all people of good will to join us in supporting peace-building programs for these young people.

Starting just days after the shooting, AFSC has been helping youth process the killing of one of their peers through our two-year-old Peace Education Program working in Ferguson and St. Louis. We are standing with teachers and families, with the community organizations protesting, and with the family of Mike Brown.

Most of all we heed and support their vision of what democracy looks like: It looks like police accountability. It looks like equal access. It looks like an end to mass incarceration. It looks like the dismantling of the school-to-prison pipeline. It looks like the demilitarization of police.

As a Quaker organization that believes in the worth of every person, we call on people everywhere to join us in addressing the systemic and structural racism at the roots of Mike Brown’s death – and that of so many others nationwide.

We need to challenge policies – at every level, from the school house to the State House, from Missouri to Washington DC – that disproportionately incarcerate people of color  and boost profits for corporations running jails, prisons and immigration detention centers. We also must challenge media when they stigmatize youth of color instead of acknowledging their humanity.

Our nation will only prosper when we invest in all our children. Join us as we work to end militarized policing and the systemic racism that endangers youth of color and thus threatens our common future. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Occupy Our Homes ATL is Fired Up from Wildfire!

It’s was hard to be fired up at such an early hour when we set out for the Wildfire Convening 2014 in Fruitland Park, Florida; but by the end of day one we were under the palm trees and fired up for our weekend! An in depth training experience the Wildfire Project brought together progressive groups from all over the country. We had the opportunity to meet groups engaging in work similar to that of Occupy Homes Atlanta, and some much different, but we shared one thing in common, our desire for change!




The long weekend was emotional, raw, and powerful, and brought together people from diverse backgrounds into one place of strength and power. We were able to confront and discuss our relationship with the world under the current power systems of patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism; and how that shapes our interactions with the world, our work, and internally. These discussions continued through-out the weekend and we discussed a better work and what those power systems could like to benefit the people, instead of oppressing them. 



Designed in a way that made our entire group think critically, the Wildfire training allowed the entire OOHA team to examine our own organization and the strength and power of our amazing network. We learned and exchanged ideas about direction action, organization, structure, fundraising, and all things vital to running an organization seeking progressive change. There were tears, laughter, singing, and screaming but we emerged that much more powerful. We are now thinking, questioning, planning, and adding that much more critical thought and attention to our movement. This critical analysis and strategy is what will allow us to thrive well into the future.




Above all else the most important part of the trip was the people. We met Dream Defenders, the Ohio Student Association, Occupy Our Homes MN, the Wildfire Team, and Get Equal, and made commitments to support and amply each other’s work. These connections will help us build opportunities for collaboration and learning that go far beyond one weekend. We are building for a better future and it will be possible because together we are unstoppable.

Want to find out what we learned? Join us for Amply Your Voice; A Storytelling Workshop tomorrow 11/20 from 7-9pm at AFSC 60 Walton St, Atlanta! 

Guest Blogger:
Jackie Rodriguez, Project Coordinator, Occupy Our Homes Atlanta