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Posts Tagged ‘Black Lives Matter’

Friend —

Like so many people across America, I have been following the news of the past few days with horror and grief.

On Tuesday, Alton Sterling, father of five, was killed in Baton Rouge — approached by the police for selling CDs outside a convenience store. On Wednesday, Philando Castile, 32 years old, was killed outside Minneapolis — pulled over by the police for a broken tail light.

And last night in Dallas, during a peaceful protest related to those killings, a sniper targeted police officers — five have died: Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, and Lorne Ahrens. Their names, too, will be written on our hearts.

What can one say about events like these? It’s hard to know where to start. For now, let’s focus on what we already know, deep in our hearts: There is something wrong in our country.

There is too much violence, too much hate, too much senseless killing, too many people dead who shouldn’t be. No one has all the answers. We have to find them together. Indeed, that is the only way we can find them.

Let’s begin with something simple but vital: listening to each other.

White Americans need to do a better job of listening when African Americans talk about seen and unseen barriers faced daily. We need to try, as best we can, to walk in one another’s shoes. To imagine what it would be like if people followed us around stores, or locked their car doors when we walked past, or if every time our children went to play in the park, or just to the store to buy iced tea and Skittles, we said a prayer: “Please God, don’t let anything happen to my baby.”

Let’s also put ourselves in the shoes of police officers, kissing their kids and spouses goodbye every day and heading off to do a dangerous job we need them to do. Remember what those officers in Dallas were doing when they died: They were protecting a peaceful march. When gunfire broke out and everyone ran to safety, the police officers ran the other way — into the gunfire. That’s the kind of courage our police and first responders show all across America.

We need to ask ourselves every single day: What can I do to stop violence and promote justice? How can I show that your life matters — that we have a stake in another’s safety and well-being?

Elie Wiesel once said that “the opposite of love is not hate — it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death — it’s indifference.”

None of us can afford to be indifferent toward each other — not now, not ever. We have a lot of work to do, and we don’t have a moment to lose. People are crying out for criminal justice reform. People are also crying out for relief from gun violence. The families of the lost are trying to tell us. We need to listen. We need to act.

I know that, just by saying all these things together, I may upset some people.

I’m talking about criminal justice reform the day after a horrific attack on police officers. I’m talking about courageous, honorable police officers just a few days after officer-involved killings in Louisiana and Minnesota. I’m bringing up guns in a country where merely talking about comprehensive background checks, limits on assault weapons and the size of ammunition clips gets you demonized.

But all these things can be true at once.

We do need police and criminal justice reforms, to save lives and make sure all Americans are treated as equal in rights and dignity.

We do need to support police departments and stand up for the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect us.

We do need to reduce gun violence.

We may disagree about how, but surely we can all agree with those basic premises. Surely this week showed us how true they are.

I’ve been thinking today about a passage from Scripture that means a great deal to me — maybe you know it, too:

“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.”

There is good work for us to do, to find a path ahead for all God’s children. There are lost lives to redeem and bright futures to claim. We must not lose heart.

May the memory of those we’ve lost light our way toward the future our children deserve.

Thank you,

Hillary

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Learn more about Hillary’s plans to tackle criminal justice reform: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/criminal-justice-reform/

Learn more about Hillary’s plans to prevent gun violence: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/gun-violence-prevention/

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Capping off a week that began with celebratory fireworks and ended in a barrage of bullets aimed at police officers in Dallas, Hillary Clinton spoke to Wolf Blitzer and Lester Holt today about the need to overhaul relationships between police and the communities they serve. Demonstrations nationwide in the wake of the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police were peaceful, perhaps none more so than the one in Dallas where the police actually collaborated with the Black Lives Matter movement in mapping out a parade route and then protected the marchers on that route.

 


Speaking from Philadelphia where she was scheduled to visit an A.M.E. Church congregation, Hillary reiterated the need for nationwide criminal justice reform.

Here is her plan.

Our criminal justice system is out of balance.

Hillary will:

  • End the era of mass incarceration, reform mandatory minimum sentences, and end private prisons.
  • Encourage the use of smart strategies—like police body cameras—and end racial profiling to rebuild trust between law enforcement and communities.
  • Help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society.

“I will never stop working on issues of equality and opportunity, race, and justice. That is a promise. I’ve done it my entire adult life. I will always be in your corner.”

Hillary, JULY 31, 2015

Hillary believes our criminal justice system is out of balance. In her first major speech of the campaign, she said we have to come to terms with some hard truths about race and justice in America and called for an end to the “era of mass incarceration.”

Read more: 9 things you should know about Hillary Clinton’s plan to reform our criminal justice system

Although the United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, we have almost 25 percent of the total prison population. A significant percentage of the more than 2 million Americans incarcerated today are nonviolent offenders. African American men are far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms than white men found guilty of the same offenses.

“Black lives matter. Everyone in this country should stand firmly behind that. … Since this campaign started, I’ve been talking about the work we must do to address the systemic inequities that persist in education, in economic opportunity, in our justice system. But we have to do more than talk—we have to take action.”

Hillary, JULY 20, 2015

Read more: Sybrina Fulton shares why she’s supporting Hillary

Hillary believes that, to successfully reform our criminal justice system, we must work to strengthen the bonds of trust between our communities and our police, end the era of mass incarceration, and ensure a successful transition of individuals from prison to home. As president, she will:

  • Work to strengthen bonds of trust between communities and police. Effective policing and constitutional policing go hand-in-hand—we can and must do both. Hillary will work to promote effective, accountable, constitutional policing, including:
    • Making new investments to support state-of-the-art law enforcement training programs at every level on issues such as implicit bias, use of force, de-escalation, community policing and problem solving, alternatives to incarceration, crisis intervention, and officer safety and wellness.
    • Strengthening the U.S. Department of Justice’s pattern or practice unit by increasing resources, working to secure subpoena power, and improving data collection for pattern or practice investigations.
    • Doubling funding for the U.S. Department of Justice “Collaborative Reform” program to provide technical assistance and training to agencies that undertake voluntary efforts toward transformational reform of their police departments. Across the country, there are police departments deploying creative and effective strategies that we can learn from and build on.
    • Supporting legislation to end racial profiling by federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.
    • Providing federal matching funds to make body cameras available to every police officer to increase transparency and accountability on both sides of the lens.
    • Promoting oversight and accountability in use of controlled equipment by limiting the transfer of military equipment by the federal government to local law enforcement, eliminating the one-year use requirement, and requiring transparency by agencies that purchase equipment using federal funds.
    • Collecting and reporting national data on policing to inform policing strategies and provide greater transparency and accountability, including robust state and local data on issues such as crime, officer involved shootings, and deaths in custody.
    • Creating national guidelines for use of force that recognize the need for officers to protect their safety and the safety of others, but emphasize use of force as a last resort and at the appropriate level. The federal government has an important role to play in standardizing best practices for the use of force.
  • Take action on mandatory minimum sentences. Excessive federal mandatory minimum sentences keep nonviolent drug offenders in prison for longer than is necessary or useful and have increased racial inequality in our criminal justice system. Hillary will reform mandatory minimum sentences, including:
    • Reducing mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses by cutting them in half.
    • Applying Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactively to allow current nonviolent prisoners to seek fairer sentences.
    • Eliminating the sentencing disparity for crack and powder cocaine so that equal amounts of crack and powder cocaine carry equal sentences and applying this change retroactively.
    • Reforming the “strike” system to focus on violent crime by narrowing the category of prior offenses that count as strikes to exclude nonviolent drug offenses, and reducing the mandatory penalty for second- and third-strike offenses.
    • Granting additional discretion to judges in applying mandatory minimum sentences by expanding the “safety valve” to a larger set of cases.
  • Focus federal enforcement resources on violent crime, not simple marijuana possession. Marijuana arrests, including for simple possession, account for a huge number of drug arrests. Further, significant racial disparities exist in marijuana enforcement, with black men significantly more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white counterparts, even though usage rates are similar. Hillary believes we need an approach to marijuana that includes:
    • Allowing states that have enacted marijuana laws to act as laboratories of democracy, as long as they adhere to certain federal priorities such as not selling to minors, preventing intoxicated driving, and keeping organized crime out of the industry.
    • Rescheduling marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance. Hillary supports medical marijuana and would reschedule marijuana to advance research into its health benefits.
  • Prioritize treatment and rehabilitation—rather than incarceration—for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders. Over half of prison and jail inmates suffer from a mental health problem, and up to 65 percent of the correctional population meets the medical criteria for a substance use disorder. Hillary will ensure adequate training for law enforcement for crisis intervention and referral to treatment, as appropriate, for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders with mental health or addiction problems. She will also direct the attorney general to issue guidance to federal prosecutors on seeking treatment over incarceration for low-level, nonviolent drug crimes. Read more on Hillary’s plan to tackle America’s epidemic of addiction.
  • End the privatization of prisons. Hillary believes we should move away from contracting out this core responsibility of the federal government to private corporations, and from creating private industry incentives that may contribute—or have the appearance of contributing—to over-incarceration. The campaign does not accept contributions from federally registered lobbyists or PACs for private prison companies, and will donate any such direct contributions to charity.
  • Promote successful re-entry by formerly incarcerated individuals. This year, the number of people released from state or federal prison will reach approximately 600,000. For those given a second chance, and for the health and safety of the communities to which those individuals return, the reentry pathway must not be littered with barriers, but rather paved with a fair opportunity for success. Clinton will work to remove barriers and create pathways to employment, housing, health care, education, and civic participation, including:
    • Taking executive action to “ban the box” for federal employers and contractors, so that applicants have an opportunity to demonstrate their qualifications before being asked about their criminal records.
    • Supporting legislation to restore voting rights to individuals who have served their sentences.

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This is just my opinion: What hurts the most about this week is that in every case people were doing what they were supposed to do. Both Sterling and Castile carried guns but were licensed and at least Castile told the officer that and specified that he was getting his driver’s license,after learning where to send an old driver ID, as directed, when he was shot. He was complying. The police in Dallas from every testimonial were supporting the demonstrators and when the bullets started flying, protected them

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This is a long read. Dyson calls it a journey right up front.  But it is a rewarding trek if you choose to tag along as he did with Hillary on the trail.  It is not an endorsement.  It is an analysis, to some degree a comparative one, and an odyssey.

 

Cover photo by Kim White

Yes She Can

Why Hillary Clinton will do more for black people than Obama

 
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Thanks to Karen Finney and Darren Sands of Buzzfeed!  Hillary met with Black Lives Matter activists today.  Here is an account from Darren.

Activists: Hillary Clinton Called Violence Against Black Trans Women A “National Crisis”

Black Lives Matter activists, including a black trans activist named Cherno Biko, talked with Clinton on Friday in Washington, D.C., in a closed-door meeting.

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