By Jon Else for Tom Dispatch – On a glorious afternoon in August 1963, after the massive March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom wrapped up on the national mall, President John F. Kennedy, prodded by Attorney General Robert Kennedy, welcomed John Lewis, Martin Luther King Jr., Bayard Rustin, and other march organizers to the White House for a discussion of proposed civil rights legislation. Fifty-four years later, on an afternoon in January 2017, when the even more massive Women’s March on Washington wrapped up, President Donald Trump responded with a sarcastic tweet. Just the day before, Trump’s team had removed the “civil rights” page from the issues section…
By Fight for $15 and Movement for Black Lives. MEMPHIS — The Fight for $15 and the Movement for Black Lives will take to the streets nationwide April 4 – the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination – in a two-dozen-city “Fight Racism, Raise Pay” protest. Thousands of underpaid workers, local racial justice activists, elected officials and clergy will hold rallies, marches, teach-ins, and other demonstrations to stress that the push for economic and racial justice remains as deeply linked today as when Dr. King was killed in 1968 supporting striking black sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn. The coast-to-coast protests will culminate in a march by thousands of workers, national civil rights leaders and politicians on the Lorraine Motel in downtown Memphis, where they’ll hold a memorial at the site of Dr. King’s assassination 49 years ago.
By Staff of ACLU – LOS ANGELES – The ACLU Foundation of Southern California and a coalition of advocacy groups today sent a letter to Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, Mayor Eric Garcetti and city council members, demanding that they take steps to prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers from impersonating police officers to gain access to homes and businesses in Los Angeles. The deception critically endangers LAPD policies that seek to assure immigrant community members they can report crimes and assist police investigations without fear of deportation. These policies have been vital in furthering public safety. ICE permits its agents to misrepresent themselves as police officers, probation officers, religious workers and other officials to gain community members’ permission to enter homes without warrants. The ruse has also been used to get individuals to volunteer information they might not otherwise divulge.
By Lee Fang for The Intercept – JOHN GORE, AN ATTORNEY who has worked to defend laws that critics say are designed to weaken the voting rights of African-Americans and other minorities, was selected by President Donald Trump to serve as a senior civil rights official at the Department of Justice. Gore’s new role as Trump’s choice for deputy assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is notable because he will lead the division that oversees civil rights laws, including voter suppression issues. Trump and his nominee to lead the Justice Department, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, are strong supporters of voting restrictions such as voter identification.
By Matt Berman for National Journal. Martin Luther King Jr. was not just the safe-for-all-political-stripes civil-rights activist he is often portrayed as today. He was never just the “I Have a Dream” speech. He was an antiwar, anti-materialist activist whose views on American power would shock many of the same politicians who now scramble to sing his praises. The total spectrum of his beliefs may not be as easy as “let freedom ring,” but the full MLK was much larger than the safe-for-everyone caricature that is often presented today. King’s more radical worldview came out clearly in a speech to an overflow crowd of more than 3,000 people at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967. “The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: ‘A time comes when silence is betrayal,’ ” he began.
By Nadia Prupis for Common Dreams – Chicago police systematically violated people’s civil rights by routinely using excessive force, particularly against African-Americans and Latinos, according to a bombshell report (pdf) from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released Friday. The report is the conclusion of a 13-month investigation into the Chicago Police Department (CPD), launched after the October 2014 police killing of 17-year-old black Chicago resident Laquan McDonald, whose fatal shooting was captured by the patrol car’s dashboard camera. According to the inquiry, police routinely violated the Fourth Amendment by using “unnecessary and avoidable” force, including deadly force, which investigators attributed to poor training and accountability systems.
By William Barber II for Ebony – Donald Trump’s triumph across the South and Midwest, which won him the Electoral College and the White House, did not extend to Governor Pat McCrory in my home state of North Carolina. After fighting his loss with false accusations of voter fraud, McCrory finally conceded in early December, becoming the only incumbent GOP governor in America to lose reelection. But partisan extremists in the North Carolina legislature called a special session last week to strip power from McCrory’s opponent, Democrat Roy Cooper.
By Zoom in Korea. Seoul, South Korea – On December 9, lawmakers of the South Korean National Assembly passed a historical motion to impeach the current president Park Geun-hye. 234 out of 300 legislators in the National Assembly voted in favor of the impeachment motion. Now that the National Assembly has passed the motion to impeach Park, it is up to the Constitutional Court to decide whether to make the impeachment final in accordance with the constitution. Park will be suspended for the time being as the Constitutional Court deliberates. During this period, the current Prime Minister, Hwang Kyo-ahn, will serve as the acting president. In order for the impeachment to go officially in effect, six out of the nine judges of the Constitutional Court must agree to rule in favor of the motion within 180 days.
By Michael Eisenscher for Popular Resistance. The Trump administration has no mandate. If we do our work well, the people will be with us. Our job is to help transform popular discontent into a political force – a movement that demands that the nation live up to its highest ideals. A majority of Trump voters are not reactionary ideologues, virulent racists, rabid nativists or crude sexists. They voted their pain, anger, fear and hopelessness. They voted their cynicism about an economic system that has left them behind and a corrupt political system that privileges the rich and well connected while treating them as patsies. But whatever individual motivations may have led them to vote for Trump, there can be no doubt that their votes for Trump gave racism and sexism a pass and have emboldened the most racist, xenophobic, misogynist and homophobic forces. And if the outcome of the election were not sufficient, Trump has put his personal stamp of approval on the forces of reaction by appointing Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon – a virulent racist, sexist, homophobe and anti-Semite – as his top White House counselor. Hate crimes, which increased throughout the campaign, have begun to spike following the election.
By Michael McLaughlin for The Huffington Post – This week, the Standing Rock Sioux called on the Department of Justice to investigate state and local authorities for civil rights violations during protests over the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. But North Dakota authorities are refuting the tribe’s accusations, saying they’ve been patient and accommodating with protesters. “We keep getting portrayed as the jackbooted thugs coming down for a confrontation,”
By Aaron Morrison for Identities Mic – It’s no longer a secret that police have conducted surveillance on activists involved in the Movement for Black Lives. Increasingly, these activists say they want to know exactly what’s in the files the government may be keeping on them. Color of Change, a national racial justice group, filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York on Thursday, over the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s rejection of its request for surveillance information on Black Lives Matter activists.
By Zahra Hirji for Inside Climate News – A new report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights charges the Environmental Protection Agency with doing too little about environmental discrimination against low-income and minority communities, with one commissioner calling the agency “practically toothless” in dealing with the issue. The Commission on Civil Rights, an independent, bipartisan agency, focused on the EPA in its annual statutory enforcement report that is sent to Congress and the White House.
By Staff of TRNN – This week, Laura Flanders interviews Jessica Gordon Nembhard on the role that economic cooperation played in the civil rights movement
By Will Jones and Mike Honey for Portside. Non-violence is NOT passive, but is militant and effective theory and practice. Portside Moderator Will Jones interviews Honey about the film and highly respected, long time RELIGIOUS LEADER, organizer, and educator James Lawson. Will Jones: Why this film now? Mike Honey: James Lawson’s theory and practice, ranging from the early civil rights and anti-war movements until now, offers us on the left, in the streets, a long term view based on his experience of teaching and organizing since the 1950s. He never claims to have all of the answers but provides a framework that challenges us to not just protest but to transform situations and systems, to build coalitions, to win people over to sanity. The Black Lives Matter movement’s evolution from impressive protests in Ferguson and elsewhere to a platform and call for continued action is an example of both the power and challenges faced by us here in USA and globally.