RWG Monthly E-News: September 2012
RWG Membership Meeting: Submit a Workshop Proposal and Register Now!
Rights Working Group is excited to co-host the 2012 RWG Membership Meeting in Seattle, Washington with longtime member, OneAmerica. RWG members and allies are invited to share expertise, skills, and strategies by submitting a proposal to lead a workshop or convene a caucus. Submit your ideas before the Sept. 7th deadline! Register now – early registration rates are available until September 19. Limited travel scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Click here for more information.
NEWS & UPDATES
Face the Truth Campaign Updates
Privacy, Surveillance, and Racial Profiling: RWG Membership call, September 12, 3pm
RWG will host a membership call addressing the affects of government surveillance on communities of color. Princeton Professor Imani Perry, author of More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States, will speak about privacy and surveillance in the broader historical and legal context of race in the United States, and the ways these concepts, differently applied to communities of color, continue to perpetuate racial injustice. Joining Professor Perry will be Deborah Peterson Small, Executive Director of Break the Chains: Communities of Color and the War on Drugs who will discuss the way the “war on drugs” has impacted communities of color and subjected them to increasing forms of surveillance. We will also be joined by FN, an affected community member from Desis Rising Up and Moving who has faced the consequences of surveillance by local and federal authorities. RSVP HERE.
RWG Stands in Solidarity with Sikh Americans after Deplorable Shooting
In the wake of the shooting at the Sikh Gurduwara in Oak Creek, Wisc., that killed six people and critically wounded three earlier this month, Rights Working Group is asking our members to reflect on the tragic loss of life. In addition, we ask that you think about what you might do to promote acceptance and end the religious and racial bias that seems to have led to this depraved act of violence. Our deepest sympathies are with the families who lost loved ones during this horrible tragedy. We have dedicated a page of our website to the statements and op-eds issued by our member groups. Broad and diverse coalitions of groups, including many Rights Working Group members, have come together to express solidarity with the Sikh community and many are also calling for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on hate crimes and the proliferation of hate groups in the U.S.
Proactive Team Call on Messaging for Racial Profiling Legislation
Rights Working Group’s Proactive Team on State Legislation will hold a call Thursday, Oct. 4, at 3 p.m. EST with guest speakers who will share the process they used to develop effective messaging to support the passage of proactive legislation to ban racial profiling on the state level. Rights Working Group hopes that members who are interested in effective messaging around racial profiling and bills that mandate data collection will join the call and consider joining the communications committee that will help inform the creation of a possible guide that team members would use to help develop messaging for their states. In addition, we will: feature a guest speaker from the National Center for Lesbian Rights discussing the intersections between racial profiling and profiling of LGBTQ populations; discuss developing collaborative principles for model legislation banning racial profiling; and offer updates on our upcoming Nov. 12-13 National Membership Meeting. RSVP here.
Rights Working Group launches Catfish For Lunch Blog
Rights Working Group has launched the Catfish for Lunch blog, which we are currently sponsoring and co-hosting. The blog, written by researcher and consultant Kung Li, is a continuation of the Securing Our Rights in the Information-Sharing Era: A Convening on National Security, Surveillance and Immigration Enforcement conference in December 2011. The Catfish blog focuses attention on ways the United States is consolidating its national security, immigration enforcement, border enforcement and criminal justice systems. In addition, the blog explains and analyzes how information is being gathered by private firms and law enforcement agencies on the federal, state and local level and being shared -- allowing for new forms of surveillance and racial profiling while threatening constitutional rights to privacy and equal protection of the laws.
Two Catfish posts are appearing weekly, a news roundup on Monday and an analysis/opinion blog on Thursday. Blogs can be read herebut you can also enter your email address at the bottom of this pageto receive email notifications when new blogs are posted.
Victory in Tennessee: 287(g) Program Not to be Renewed in Davidson County
Following years of concerted advocacy by RWG member the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC’s) and their members and allies, 287(g) will disappear from Davidson County, TN. In late August, Sheriff Daron Hall announced that Davidson County will not renew its 287(g) agreement with ICE. TIRRC and partners achieved this success through tireless organizing supported by the efforts of migrant women, youth and advocates.
Failed NYPD Police Practices
In court testimony given in late August, the New York Police Department (NYPD) acknowledged that more than six years of spying and surveillance of Muslim communities in New York City, New Jersey and other surrounding areas never resulted in a lead or generated a terrorism investigation. The NYPD placed informants in mosques, assembled databases on where Muslims lived, infiltrated Muslim student groups and kept tabs on every Muslim in New York who took on new, Americanized last names. This testimony was revealed as part the Handschu case, which resulted in federal guidelines that prohibit the NYPD from collecting information about political speech unless it is related to potential terrorism. Civil rights lawyers have argued that the NYPD violated those guidelines.
Watch a statement on Al Jazeera by Fahd Ahmed of RWG member Desis Rising Up and Moving
In July, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released a new report featuring 54 interviews conducted with individuals who have been stopped by the NYPD and seeks to document the devastating human impact of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices. CCR has challenged the NYPD’s practice of conducting stops and frisks and other discriminatory police practices through advocacy work and litigation for over a decade. Due to this litigation, CCR receives detailed stop-and-frisk data from the NYPD quarterly. The data has revealed shocking details about the discriminatory nature of the NYPD’s practices and their abysmal success rate in yielding weapons, drugs or other contraband. In August, a federal judge set a March 18 trial date for CCR’s litigation challenging stop-and-frisk policies. The judge, Shira Scheindlin said the case, which was filed more than five years ago, had dragged on long enough and should move forward to trial.
Federal Court Blocks Most Provisions of Georgia and Alabama’s Anti-Immigrant Laws
In August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit blocked most of the provisions of Alabama’s and Georgia’s anti-immigrant laws. Notably, the decision struck down the section of Alabama’s law that required the immigration verification of newly enrolled K-12 students on equal protection grounds. Unfortunately, the court allowed the “show me your papers” provisions of both states’ laws to remain, though it did leave open the possibility of future challenges to these provisions on civil rights or due process grounds. Read a full press release from RWG member the National Immigration Law Center.
Civil Rights Challenge to Arizona’s “Show Me Your Papers” Law and Arpaio on Trial
In July, a coalition of civil rights organizations including RWG member the National Immigration Law Center, asked a federal district court judge to block implementation of section 2(B), the “show me your papers” provision of SB 1070, Arizona’s racial profiling law. The civil rights organizations’ lawsuit includes evidence and claims that are absent from the federal government’s separate challenge to SB 1070. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in June on the federal government’s lawsuit, striking down three provisions of SB 1070 but upholding section 2(B) based on the evidence and claims that the federal government brought in its case. The Supreme Court noted in its decision that other challenges could be brought against this section. We expect a decision from the federal district court on the challenge brought by the civil rights organizations soon. Arizona’s Sherriff Arpaio was also in court in July. The Sherriff and his office are part of a federal class-action lawsuit and accused of discriminatory police practices that have singled out Latinos. The Justice Department has also sued him on the same grounds. The trial has highlighted the civil and human rights abuses perpetrated by the Sheriff and his department.
PBS airs the second in a series of documentaries on border patrol abuses.
PBS’ “Need to Know” aired the second of three shows in its “Crossing the Line at the Border” series. This episode documents sexual assault, torture and abuses in detention and includes allegations by a CBP whistleblower. Following the episode, members of the Southern Border Communities Coalition came to Washington to meet with lawmakers and administration officials, addressing issues ranging from deaths and assault to the destruction of drinking water left in the desert for migrants. Six members of Congress issued a public statement condemning the abuses depicted in the documentary.
Do you have stories of racial profiling to share?
In the course of our organizing, policy, and communications work, it is often important to share stories of the different ways that racial profiling affects communities across the country. The Faces of Racial Profiling story collection project will showcase examples of racial profiling from around the country in different contexts, including: stop-and-frisk, driving while black or brown, immigration enforcement, border security, surveillance, and national security. Do you have a documentation project, clients with strong stories, or members who are willing to share their stories of racial profiling? Contact Sian OFaolain if you are interested in learning more about this collaboration.
Rights Working Group Welcomes Field Director, Everette Thompson
Everette comes to us with a broad range of organizing experience, from working on HIV/AIDS issues in the Peace Corps to youth empowerment to anti-death penalty work in Georgia. Most recently, Everette served as the director of the southern regional office for Amnesty International USA. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience regarding human rights and organizing, and a deep commitment to social justice. We look forward to continuing RWG’s work and mission with Everette’s stewardship of our field program, and hope you will join us in welcoming him to the Rights Working Group family. You can send him a message of welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RWG Proactive Team Supports Strategy Exchange in Nebraska
On August 18th, RWG’s new Proactive Team on State Legislation supported a diverse coalition in Nebraska in a strategy session on local policies to end racial profiling. See more about the event here. Marcela Diaz, director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido from New Mexico, a 2012 Core Partner of the Face the Truth campaign, attended the session and shared insights from her state’s anti-biased-policing legislation and the multiracial campaign to hold local law enforcement accountable to anti-profiling policies. The event, held at the Malcolm X Foundation Center in Omaha, was an excellent opportunity for the newer Nebraska coalition to learn from the strong campaign already underway in New Mexico, and to strategize ways to broaden and deepen the work on the issue of racial profiling in Nebraska. To join the Proactive Team, contact RWG Field Director Everette Thompson at email@example.com.
"Faces of Profiling: The Gender and LGBTQ Lens" Audio Available
As a part of Racial Profiling: Gender and LGBTQ Awareness Week, the Racial Profiling: Face the Truth campaign hosted an educational call to explore the intersections of race, gender, and sexual orientation as they correlate to racial and religious profiling in our communities. Speakers discussed the impact of racial profiling on immigrant women, women and men of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of color across the country.[listen to audio]
“SB1070: Racial Profiling in the Spotlight” Audio Available
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on Arizona’s racial profiling law, many are asking: Is it possible to enforce section 2(b) of Arizona’s infamous SB1070 without using racial profiling? With perspectives from organizers, legal experts, and law enforcement, speakers on this call tackled that question and drew on examples of policies such as stop-and-frisk and unwarranted surveillance that encourage racial profiling across the country, as well as offered solutions to address all forms of racial profiling. Expanding the discussion beyond immigration, the call examined what 2(b) means from a racial profiling lens, and shared strategies on how to connect communities impacted by discriminatory policing.[listen to audio]
Stop and Frisk: The Human Impact by the Center for Constitutional Rights
Biased Based Policing at a Glance: An Evaluation of Compliance with the Prohibition of Profiling Practices Actpublished by Somos Un Pueblo Unido and the New Mexico State Conference NAACP
The Cost of Responding to Immigration Detainers in California published by Justice Strategies
The Math of Immigration Detention: Runaway Costs for Immigration Detention Do Not Add Up to Sensible Policies published by the National Immigration Forum
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
September 27 – 28: Advancing Justice Conference co-hosted by Asian American Institute (Chicago), Asian American Justice Center (Washington, D.C.), Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco) and Asian Pacific American Legal Center (Los Angeles) in Chicago, IL.
October 5-7: Criminal Justice Network for Youth Midwest Regional Conference in Lake Lawn Resort Delevan, WI.
October 18: America Courage Awards hosted by the Asian American Justice Center in Washington, DC.
Nov. 12 – 13: 2012 RWG Membership Meeting co-hosted by Rights Working Group and OneAmerica in Seattle, Wash.
Nov. 15 – 17: Facing Race 2012 hosted by the Applied Research Center in Baltimore, MD.