A rally on Tuesday increased the public pressure on Commissioner Ray Kelly and the NYPD following a series of recent controversies over police tactics.
Occupy Wall Street protesters have issued a joint call with members of New York City's black, Latino and Muslim communities for New York City's police commissioner to resign.
A rally on Tuesday increased the public pressure on Commissioner Ray Kelly and the NYPD following a series of recent controversies over the policing of Occupy protests, surveillance of Muslim communities and the use of stop-and-frisk powers.
The rally was inspired by Saturday's mass arrest of at least 73 Occupy protesters in lower Manhattan. Many Occupiers have described the evening as one of the most violent police crackdowns since the movement began in September.
Occupy's response to the weekend's events was to call on communities who have also expressed frustration with NYPD policies and tactics. A further rally and mass action is planned for Saturday.
Tuesday's event began with a silent march from Foley Square to the NYPD's headquarters at One Police Plaza.
Roughly 100 activists walked with their hands bound behind their backs in flex cuffs, many with tape over their mouths. At the front of the march demonstrators held a large banner that read "Kelly must resign." In a demonstration that was equal parts somber and emotional, activists denounced the department as violent and racially biased.
After arriving at NYPD headquarters, juvenile justice activist Chino Hardin told the rally: "Real community safety does not begin with NYPD. It begins with the community. You wanna know how to keep us safe? Ask us!" A convicted felon, Hardin now works with the Center for New Leadership, an organization run by formerly incarcerated individuals.
Hardin targeted the department's widespread use of stop, question and frisk tactics. The controversial searches have increased over 600% in the last 10 years. Commissioner Kelly and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg say the stops keep weapons off the streets and save the lives of young men of color.
Critics say the practice is an institutionalized violation of fourth amendment rights that yields marginal results while disproportionately impacting the very group the mayor and commissioner say it protects.
"Yeah, I'm angry," Hardin added. "I'm angry because every time I look around there's a black or Latino boy or girl being illegally searched. Every time I turn on the news you portray us to be animals."
Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, has been a vocal critic of the NYPD's recently-exposed practice of monitoring Muslim Americans based on religion. Sarsour called on Occupy Wall Street's supporters to, "stand up and say no. Stop spying and harassing and intimidating the Muslim community for being Muslim."
"I commit myself and our community to the Occupy Wall Street movement and look for your solidarity with our community," she said.
In the days that have followed Saturday's crackdown, an increasing number of allegations of serious police abuse have surfaced. Occupiers are quick to add, however, that their experiences pale in comparison to the lives of individuals living in low-income communities and and communities of color.
Addressing the crowd on Tuesday, Occupier Jennifer Waler, who was arrested on Saturday, said a police officer threatened to Tase her and take her to a psychiatric ward because she was singing in her jail cell.
"Yes, on Saturday the police were brutal," Waller said. "This is just the tip of the iceberg."
"In Harlem they beat and arrest people just for walking down the street. In the Bronx they shoot people point blank in their own bathroom," she added, referring to the police shooting of unarmed 19 year-old Ramarley Graham in February.
"The NYPD surveils, targets and entraps Muslim people, creating convoluted schemes to legitimize the war on terror through racist policing, and they never ever pay a price," she went on to say.
Occupier Jose Whelan, agreed that the issue of police violence extends beyond the treatment of Occupy Wall Street protesters. On Saturday night, Whelan's arrest drew attention from around the country, as photos showed a massive crack in glass door that a police officer threw him into.
Whelan was arrested for disorderly conduct while standing on a public sidewalk in an incident witnessed by the Guardian. He was punched in the face multiple times. It came without warning, Whelan said.
"They just grabbed me and started punching me. Nothing like, 'You're under arrest.' Nothing like, 'Put your hands behind your back'."
Whelan sees the opposition to police violence described at Tuesday's event as an interconnected struggle that predates Occupy Wall Street by generations.
"The work we've been doing for a long time in Occupy is really trying to connect to the groups who've been doing it for a really long time. There's community organizations here that have been doing it for 30 years, tirelessly, in the communities that are much more strongly effected, that don't have a team of cameras and a team of jail support and a team of lawyers behind them when this stuff happens. And this stuff happens every single night in New York City.
Economic and Social Justice -
Some workers at oil and gas sites where fracking occurs are routinely exposed to high levels of benzene, a colorless gas that can cause cancer, according to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety.
The agency, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends that people limit their benzene exposure to an average of 0.1 of a part per million during their shift. But when NIOSH researchers measured the amount of airborne benzene that oil and gas workers were exposed to when they...
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When we look back on what happened in Ferguson, Mo., during the summer of 2014, it will be easy to think of it as yet one more episode of black rage ignited by yet another police killing of an unarmed African American male. But that has it precisely backward. What we’ve actually seen is the latest outbreak of white rage. Sure, it is cloaked in the niceties of law and order, but it is rage nonetheless.
Protests and looting naturally capture attention. But the real rage smolders in meetings where officials...
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Last week, after days of violent police rampages in Ferguson, Missouri, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Michigan) said the Senate will "review" the Defense Department program that gives military weapons and equipment to civilian police departments for free.
It took five apocalyptic nights in Ferguson for Levin to make that statement, but the national dialogue on the militarization of police has begun.
Only it didn’t just take Ferguson. It took years of violent arrests. Exposés that revealed small towns being patrolled by tanks and big cities controlled by force. Rampant...
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We met Carolina while visiting a “welcome center” for recently-processed immigrants at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas. She emerged from a sweltering relief tent that sheltered a handful of other fatigued travelers, most of whom, like her, had been released by Border Patrol just hours prior. She stood what couldn’t have been more than five feet tall, but her weary eyes hinted at her age. She looked tired, but then, she should: she reportedly had just finished a journey of more than a thousand miles, and still had...
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When a coup removed the democratically-elected leftist president of Honduras in June 2009, receiving tacit support from the U.S. State Department, the American people barely took notice. Then when the United States increased military funding in its little protectorate to reinforce the new right-wing regime installed there, the American public still remained largely unaware and unconcerned. Even after it was reported that Honduras had become “the most dangerous country in the world” a year after the coup (it still is), and that a campaign against drug cartels in Mexico had made...
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The just-released results of a six-month initiative by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) suggest that the dark cloud cast over public sector unionism by a recent Supreme Court decision may not be so threatening after all.
Many analysts saw the court’s ruling last month in Harris v. Quinn as a profound blow to public sector unions such as AFSCME. In a case involving workers who receive state funds to provide home care for people with disabilities, the court found that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) could not...
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The New York Times reported that one national employer relied on the labor of more than 60,000 immigrant workers last year to cook, clean, and do laundry while living behind locked doors and barbed wire. The employer paid them only $1 per day – or in some cases, compensated them with nothing more than soda and candy bars. In one facility, people who organized a work stoppage and hunger strike were thrown into solitary confinement.
Yet when asked to comment, federal authorities claimed that this is all completely legal and none...
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Forget Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow union-bashing governors. Forget the partisan Republican attacks on organized labor. The gravest threat today to public-employee unions—which represent cops, firefighters, prison guards, teachers, nurses, and other city and state workers—is a Supreme Court case named Harris v. Quinn, which could be decided as early as this Tuesday. And, strangely enough, it is the court's most sharp-tongued conservative, Justice Antonin Scalia, who could ride to organized labor's rescue.
The case pits several of the nation's mightiest labor unions, such as the Service Employees International...
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SSA Bargaining Unit Employees:
SSA is now seeking your ideas for a Vision 2025 plan. What SSA is not telling you is that they already have a draft plan that is a product of the Academy with the framework of that plan given to the Academy by SSA leadership.
The draft plan has certain principles that we cannot agree with. First it states that the basis for a Vision for 2025 must be that online services are the primary means for delivering customer service. This is a change from SSA's long time...
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The unseen hand of antigovernment ideology can be found everywhere nowadays – even in your mailbox. The proof is in what you won’t find there, like your annual statement of earned Social Security benefits.
The government stopped mailing those out in 2011.
It’s also getting a lot harder to find Social Security field offices, or to find someone to pick up the phone, as the Social Security Administration enters into yet more rounds of steep budget cuts.
Social Security customer service: Now you see it, now you don’t.
The Most Efficient Benefit Program in...
Richard Eskow | Campaign for America's Future 31 May 2014 Hits:763 ESJ Articles
The Charlotte economy is improving, but a number of residents pleaded with the Charlotte City Council on Monday, asking that the city not forget those without jobs and low-wage city workers.
As part of the public hearing on the city’s proposed fiscal year 2015 budget, a group called Coalition for Jobs asked council members for $10 million in seed money for a jobs subsidy program.
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Steve Harrison | Charlotte Observer 14 May 2014 Hits:430 ESJ Articles
Student loan debt in the U.S. currently totals more than $1 trillion, with some predicting it will only get worse as tuition increases continue to outpace inflation. Recently launched federal student loan forgiveness programs were intended to provide relief to some of these borrowers, but the plans’ unexpected popularity has created a new set of concerns.
With tuition costs rising by an average of 6% each year over the last decade and students graduating with an average of $29,000 in student loan debt, which can prevent consumers from making big purchases...
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Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.
Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.
The findings come as President Barack Obama tries to renew his administration's emphasis on the economy, saying in recent speeches that his highest priority is to "rebuild...
CBS News 30 Mar 2014 Hits:646 ESJ Articles
According to the stock market, the U.K. economy is in a boom. Not just any old boom, but a historic one. On 28 October 2013, the FTSE 100 index hit 6,734, breaching the level achieved at the height of the economic boom before the 2008 global financial crisis (that was 6,730, recorded in October 2007).
Since then, it has had ups and downs, but on Feb. 21, 2014 the FTSE 100 climbed to a new height of 6,838. At this rate, it may soon surpass the highest ever level reached since the index...
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Last year, America placed next to last in a ranking of child well-being in 35 developed countries, barely beating out Romania. A recent report by the Children's Defense Fund helps explain how the US earned that distinction. According to the report, 1-in-5 American children live in relative poverty. Close to half of poverty-stricken kids live in extreme poverty, which means their families earn less than half the poverty level of $11, 746 per year for a family of four.
Since the Great Recession began in 2009, there's been a 73 percent jump in...
Tana Ganeva | AlterNet 20 Feb 2014 Hits:2868 ESJ Articles
All eyes are on Chattanooga, Tenn. as 1,500 Volkswagen workers file into voting booths this week to determine whether they will be represented by the United Auto Workers.
Unlike most U.S.-based employers, Volkswagen has remained neutral on the question of unionization, in part hoping that its workers could then legally form a works council like other VW workers around the world. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) and U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) are trying to convince the workers to vote no, and some local elected officials are now threatening to yank...
Lane Windham | Facing South 14 Feb 2014 Hits:532 ESJ Articles
In Manhattan, the upscale clothing retailer Barneys will replace the bankrupt discounter Loehmann’s, whose Chelsea store closes in a few weeks. Across the country, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants are struggling, while fine-dining chains like Capital Grille are thriving. And at General Electric, the increase in demand for high-end dishwashers and refrigerators dwarfs sales growth of mass-market models.
As politicians and pundits in Washington continue to spar over whether economic inequality is in fact deepening, in corporate America there really is no debate at all. The post-recession reality is that...
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You'd think debate on the merits of raising the minimum wage would have been settled long ago. After all, it's been around for 75 years in the United States, and it's been examined in countless academic and professional studies.
But the rhetoric rages on after President Barack Obama last week urged Congress to "give America a raise" by hiking the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.25. And again when Gov. Pat Quinn advocated a raise in Illinois to $10 an hour from $8.25 during his State of the...
Gregory Karp | Chicago Tribune 02 Feb 2014 Hits:481 ESJ Articles
Where have all the Democrats gone?
It’s hard to imagine a better gift falling into their laps: Republicans have just thrown 1.3 million unemployed Americans out into the cold and are prepared to cut off 3.6 million others who are out of work. At a time when the long-term unemployment rate remains near its highest level since the Great Depression and there are three job-seekers for every opening, this seems unusually cruel.
And this tops a full list of similar gestures: curtailing preschool for poor kids; cutting nutrition assistance for pregnant women and...
Dana Millbank | The Washington Post 07 Jan 2014 Hits:778 ESJ Articles
In yet another constitutional rejection of mandatory drug testing, a federal judge this week struck down Florida’s program to require drug testing of all applicants for public assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The ruling makes permanent an earlier ruling that blocked the program, and reinforces many other court rulings that drug tests targeting particular populations are unconstitutional if they are not specifically tailored to protect public safety or another state interest.
In this case, U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven rejected the notion that there is any...
Nicole Flatow | ThinkProgress 07 Jan 2014 Hits:580 ESJ Articles
For many years the American Right -- and many of the most powerful elements of corporate and Wall Street elite -- have conducted a war on public employees.
Their campaign has taken many forms. They have tried to slash the number of public sector jobs, cut the pay and benefits of public sector workers, and do away with public employee rights to collective bargaining. They have discredited the value of the work performed by public employees -- like teachers, police and firefighters -- going so far as to argue that "real...
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Barbie Izquierdo, a low-income mother of two small children, is a member of Witnesses to Hunger, a Philadelphia group of moms dedicated to ending hunger and poverty for their children…
Authors of new report warn food donations not enough as six million threatened with worsened hunger
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Yet all of the charitable food donations in…
A key dispute in the TPP negotiations is the patents on pharmaceutical drugs and medical procedures. Long patents inflate the profits of the pharmaceutical industry by not allowing less expensive…
This piece is a follow-up to Linda's first post, "This Is Why Poor People's Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense":
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The Senate passed historic gay rights legislation Thursday to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace, another victory for the gay rights movement that has…
Does it make any difference that families receiving SNAP benefits (food stamps) will have less to spend on food this month? Starting November 1, a family of four will lose…
After more than 200 advocates of the "Robin Hood tax" marched up Constitution Ave. here today to the Longworth House Office Building, lawmakers heard the vice president of the European…
Funding extension for SNAP allowed to expire as lawmakers weigh further cuts to the program for families in need
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PDA is organized around several core issues. These issues include:
Each team hosts a monthly conference call. Calls feature legislators, staffers and other policy experts. On these calls we determine PDA legislation to support as well as actions and future events.
Listen to this month's call with special guest, Andrea Miller, the new co-Executive Director of PDA. Andrea will guide us through the endorsement of Rep. Hank Johnson's bill on the demilitarization of our police forces, talk about the re-introduction...
Listen in this month to guest David Schwartzman, who discusses the job creating potential of confronting climate change and the issue of how the transition to a solar power system can be achieved without economic disruption.
Listen to this month's call to hear about plans to decimate Social Security, what the American Federation of Government Employees is doing about it, and what PDA can do to help save Social Security.
Listen in as we speak with Student Debt Crisis' Director and Co-Founder, Natalia Abrams. Find out what Student Debt Crisis is doing at the forefront of this issue, and about the legislation they endorse (HR 1330: The Student Loan Fairness Act,...
Listen to this call as we discuss the need for a government-subsidized jobs program, in order to create an economy where there is a job for everyone who needs one. Melissa Young, Director of the Heartland Alliance National Initiatives on Poverty...
Listen to our coalition partners at National Nurses United (NNU) speak on the Robin Hood Tax campaign. Bill Gallagher, the Robin Hood Tax Campaign Coordinator for NNU, and Sheilah Garland Political Organizer for Illinois and Missouri with NNOC/NNU,...