Dick Gregory: A Life Educating & Seeking Justice

Dick Gregory talking Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on stage  with Dr. Benjamin Spock, Rev. Ralph Abernathy (BETTMANN ARCHIVE).

By Rachel Mack for Americans Who Tell The Truth. The great civil rights activist Dick Gregory died this week. His book, Nigger, was published when I was nine years old and had a long-lasting impact on my political development and views. He spoke at my university and added to helping to shape my political views and push me toward activism. When we organized the Occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC he was a regular visitor and spoke at the event.

Trump Rolls Back Civil Rights Efforts Across The Government

Cliff Owen/ AP

By Jessica Huseman and Annie Waldman for Pro Publica – Previously unannounced directives will limit the Department of Justice’s use of a storied civil rights enforcement tool, and loosen the Department of Education’s requirements on investigations. Elizabeth Hill, press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, told ProPublica that the new “enforcement instructions seek to clear out the backlog while giving every complaint the individualized and thorough consideration it deserves.” Lifting the requirement of collecting three years of data will allow complaints to be addressed “much more efficiently and quickly,” she said in an emailed statement. Read the full statement here. For decades, the Department of Justice has used court-enforced agreements to protect civil rights, successfully desegregating school systems, reforming police departments, ensuring access for the disabled and defending the religious. Now, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ appears to be turning away from this storied tool, called consent decrees. Top officials in the DOJ civil rights division have issued verbal instructions through the ranks to seek settlements without consent decrees — which would result in no continuing court oversight.

Police Without Warrants Searched Low Income Housing

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By Llowell Williams for Care2. Longmont, CO – Though the United States strives to realize justice and equality for all Americans, it is an unfortunate truth that when it comes to people of lower socioeconomic status, the reality is often far short of that. A rather stark example of this was recently exposed in the Colorado town of Longmont, a community located north of Boulder and Denver. In Colorado, landlords have the legal right to conduct inspections and perform maintenance on their rental units provided they issue a notice beforehand. In Longmont, however, management for low income housing took this right too far, resulting in the gross violation of tenants’ constitutionally guaranteed civil rights. In one such notice issued by the Longmont Housing Authority, as provided by a renter to NBC affiliate KUSA, a renter was told their apartment would be undergoing an inspection that would include a police officer and a drug-sniffing dog.

Enviro Groups Stage Massive People’s Climate March On Washington

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By John Zangas of DC Media Group. Washington, DC – Hundreds of grassroots environmental groups from around the country rallied Saturday at the U.S. Capitol in a mass march against administration plans to deregulate environmental protections. Among their demands: respect the environment, stop denying climate change exists, continue policies to protect the water and air, and don’t strip EPA regulations. The broad-based coalition linked climate change to fossil energy extraction as not only the cause of the present period of massive ice melt and species extinction, but also as a nexus to the oppression of minorities and indigenous people. There were over 350 sister marches held in many major cities across the U.S. Tens of thousands walked down Pennsylvania Avenue, with indigenous people leading the way, past a barricaded Trump International Hotel.

Not Your Grandma’s Civil Rights Strategy

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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…

Fight For $15 And Movement For Black Lives Plan Nationwide Action

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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.

Civil Rights Groups Demand Immigration Agents Stop Impersonating Police Officers

American Nightmare, militarized police at Trump Inauguration protest by Eleanor Goldfield of Art Killing Apathy

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.

Lawyer Defending Racial Gerrymandering Picked For Top Civil Rights Job

P. Kevin Morley/Richmond Times-Dispatch/AP

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.

The Forgotten, Radical Martin Luther King Jr.

In Chicago in 1967, Martin Luther King delivers a speech calling for an end to fighting in Vietnam. (AP Photo/Charles Harrity)

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.

Chicago Police Routinely, 'Systemically' Abused Civil Rights: DOJ

The investigation was launched after the fatal police shooting of black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (Photo: niXerKG/flickr/cc)

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.

Can North Carolina’s Moral Mondays Movement Spark New Civil Rights Fire?

Rev. William Barber, center, argues his right to enter the House Speaker's office at the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh, N.C. AP / Gerry Broome

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.

South Korean Lawmakers Vote To Impeach Park Geun-hye

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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.

Newsletter: Turn Widespread Discontent Into Mass Movement

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. With the election of Donald Trump as president the struggle continues for economic, racial and environmental justice. We knew we would be in struggle no matter who was elected and have been calling for #NoHoneymoon protests for months. We also support calls made for protests in the days before the inauguration and after them. We expect to see a growing presidency of protest under Trump as the movement will grow and continue to demand justice, human rights and a people-based democracy. We need to build now, provide a vision and have conversations at the local level so when the attacks on our communities occur and false promises of Donald Trump are made obvious people know where they can turn. We can turn widespread discontent into a mass movement with the power to transform the nation.

In This Election, I Hear Echoes Of The Past

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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.

Tribe Says Police Are Violating Civil Rights Of Dakota Access Pipeline Opponents

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Dakota Access Pipeline protesters square off against police between the Standing Rock Reservation and the pipeline route outside the town of Saint Anthony, North Dakota, on Oct. 5, 2016.

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,”