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An Upcoming Supreme Court Case Threatens To Criminalize Homelessness

As America’s affordable housing crisis grows, especially for those of retirement age, Black folks continue to be pushed into homelessness at a disproportionate rate. Advocates argue that an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling may make it even more dire. Earlier this month, the court announced that it would hear a case that will essentially decide if people experiencing homelessness can be issued jail time, tickets, and fines for sleeping on the streets — even if there are no shelter alternatives available for them. The case will be heard either this spring or in the fall.

Georgia Frames Cop-City Protest As Criminal Conspiracy

When does lawful protest become criminal activity? That question is at issue in Atlanta, where 57 people have been indicted and arraigned on racketeering charges for actions related to their protest against a planned police and firefighter training center that critics call “Cop City.” Racketeering charges typically are reserved for people accused of conspiring toward a criminal goal, such as members of organized crime networks or financiers engaged in insider trading. Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr is attempting to build an argument that seeking to stop construction of the police training facility – through actions that include organizing protests, occupying the construction site and vandalizing police cars and construction equipment – constitutes a “corrupt agreement” or shared criminal goal.

The Media’s Role In Criminalizing Climate Protest

Before you can criminalize protest, you have to vilify the protesters. And to do that effectively, you need the media's help. Evlondo Cooper at Media Matters reviewed media coverage of climate protests in the U. S. from May 30th, 2022 to July 31st, 2023 for a new study. He documented a trend that we've been seeing too. Not only has the U. S. media perpetuated the idea that climate protesters are uniquely disruptive, and radical, but their general failure to cover anything about climate protest other than the disruption that they cause, further perpetuates this thinking. Evlondo's research found that while multiple national outlets have run stories about climate protesters being annoying and destructive, not a single broadcaster has run even one story on the fact that nearly half of the states in the U. S. have now passed laws criminalizing protest.

Unhoused Activists Are Fighting A Wave Of Anti-Homeless Legislation

As soaring rents force many out of their homes, advocates across the country are battling a slew of state and local measures that criminalize homelessness and imperil those living on the street. Police in riot gear stormed the chambers of a Los Angeles City Council meeting on Tuesday after one protester climbed a bench to confront Council President Nury Martinez over an ordinance banning homeless encampments near schools and daycares. Martinez briefly recessed the meeting as dozens of activists chanted “Abolish 41.18!” — a reference to the ordinance. Last week, around 70 protesters shut down a council vote over the same measure, carrying signs with messages like “If I die unhoused – forget burial – just drop my body on the steps of L.A. City Hall.”

Protesters Rally Overnight About Camping On Public Property Law

Starting July 1, people experiencing homelessness who sleep on state-owned land could face prison time and heavy fines. The controversial law has many people concerned about the unhoused community in the area. That’s why several people gathered at Legislative Plaza for a rally and march to Commerce Street Park. Some advocates are planning on sleeping overnight at the park to send a message to lawmakers that homelessness should not be a crime. The group Open Table Nashville organized the protest. The new law makes it a felony to camp on public property and could lead to up to six years in prison and thousands in fine. It also makes it a misdemeanor to camp under state bridges and overpasses.

Albany Must Do More To Stop The Criminalization Of Our Communities

As Black, Brown, immigrant, and trans New Yorkers continue to take to the streets, it’s clear that the mass uprising taking place across the state, and indeed the country, is far from over. In New York, this movement moment has already helped produce real results for long-fought campaigns: we have already won major policy victories in the fight for police accountability, including the repeal of 50a (a police secrecy statute), the STAT Act (a data reporting bill), and special prosecutor legislation. But the criminalization of our communities continues. With Albany legislators slated to return next week, they must take further action to keep community members with their loved ones, and youth in their schools—not in cages.

In Sea-Watch And No More Deaths Cases, Courts Rule That Saving Lives Isn’t A Crime

After six months of detention at the Sicilian port of Licata, the Sea-Watch 3 humanitarian search and rescue ship is now free to resume its operations in the Central Mediterranean. On Dec. 19, Sea-Watch, a German NGO, finally won an appeal to the Italian civil court securing the ship’s release. Human rights advocates deemed its confiscation and sustained detention to be both illegal and racist — with the aim of preventing the ship from rescuing primarily black Africans and bringing them to Italy for safe harbor.

Ecuadorian Opponents Reject Lenin Moreno’s Economic Reform

The Lenin Moreno Administration is moving in two fronts since the mass mobilizations that took place in Ecuador about a month ago. On the one hand, it is criminalizing social protests so opponents can be charged with “rebellion.” This is how they managed to imprison members of Rafael Correa’s political party, Citizen Revolution, as well as leaders of indigenous organizations. Three legislators of this movement requested asylum at Mexico’s Embassy to Ecuador in this connection. On the other hand, the Government is trying to impose economic measures demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Days ago, opponents rejected a mega economic reform bill adapted to the markets.

Federal Court: Cities Cannot Criminalize Homelessness

The likes of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have come out hard against anti-homelessness laws in cities nationwide. The organization derided laws encouraging homeless people in Houston to go to shelters — which are often full — as rules that "are ineffective, waste limited public resources, violate basic human and constitutional rights, and strip homeless Houstonians of their dignity.” In an interview with Curbed, Eve Garrow, a homelessness policy analyst at the ACLU, said the organization plans to start an education campaign making sure cities are aware of the ruling and how they can ensure they are not in violation.

Single Mother And Healthcare Worker Jailed For Three Days In Indiana Over Unpaid Ambulance Bill

Melissa Latronica is a 30-year-old healthcare worker and single mother of three who lives in La Porte, Indiana, 65 miles southeast of Chicago. On February 11, Melissa was pulled over by police in a traffic stop. She was then arrested and jailed for three days over an unpaid ambulance bill. “I was on my way to turn in some important paperwork that would let me keep my home,” she told the World Socialist Web Site. She was heading to a county agency in nearby Valparaiso, Indiana.

All Laws That Make It A Crime To Be Homeless Should Be Repealed

When San Diego resident Gerald Stark’s rent increased and he couldn’t afford another apartment, the retired union pipefitter moved into his RV. But because he lacked an address, San Diego law made it almost impossible for him to park his RV legally. Soon the city confiscated it, leaving him out on the streets. There, he was ticketed for violating another law prohibiting sleeping in public. Faced with thousands of dollars in fines and fees he was unable to pay, Stark lived every day in fear of being arrested — for simply trying to survive. He’s not alone. There isn’t a single county in the United States where you can rent a two-bedroom, market-rate apartment working a full-time, minimum-wage job.

Devaluing Survivors, Criminalizing Dissent & Creating Utopia

It took one woman 10 years to see her rapist brought to justice because that's when they finally tested her rape kit. Her story is not uncommon. This week, we dive into the backlog of untested rape kits and what we as communities need to do to support, defend and protect. Next, the J20 trials continue and with 36 defendants still facing decades in jail, here are some actions and some conversations we need to have. Cheri Honkala and the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign came to DC - not to ask for help - but to invite fellow poor folks to join them. And to demand the justice and human rights that have been denied to poor Americans.

Cops Rebranded As “School Resource Officers” Can Injure And Criminalize Schoolkids

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – Last month a video emerged of a La Mesa police officer violently slamming a 17-year-old student onto the ground at a San Diego charter school. The juvenile, who had complained of feeling ill, was accused by a teacher of being on drugs. When the student consented to a search of her belongings, no drugs were found but some pepper spray was. Since the spray was classified as a weapon, the student was suspended and asked to leave the campus. The student felt the suspension was unfair and refused to leave; that’s when police were called. A statement by La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez says the girl, who had been handcuffed, tried to escape from the officer, who used force to subdue her...

Policy Road Map To Reparations For ‘War On Weed’

Over the past 50 years, the city of Baltimore and the State of Maryland’s active investments in policing the War on Drugs have created conditions of concentrated poverty in Baltimore City. While not limited to marijuana, cannabis prohibition has been, and continues to be, the vanguard of the War on Drugs in terms of social impact. Even today, despite the perception of increased tolerance of marijuana and many states’ pursuit of legalization, marijuana possession is the number of cause of arrest in the United States. In fact, in recent years marijuana arrests have continued to increase. Currently, over 100,000 Americans are incarcerated for marijuana possession, racking up a total cost of over three billion dollars. From 1990 to 2000, 75% of the increase in arrests for drug charges nationwide came from marijuana related offenses.

Recriminalizing Cannabis Is Worse Than 1930s “Reefer Madness”

In the 1930s, parents across the US were panicked. A new documentary, "Reefer Madness," suggested that evil marijuana dealers lurked in public schools, waiting to entice their children into a life of crime and degeneracy.  The documentary captured the essence of the anti-marijuana campaign started by Harry Anslinger, a government employee eager to make a name for himself after Prohibition ended. Ansligner's campaign demonized marijuana as a dangerous drug, playing on the racist attitudes of white Americans in the early 20th century and stoking fears of marijuana as an "assassin of youth."  Over the decades, there's been a general trend toward greater social acceptance of marijuana by a more educated society, seeing the harm caused by the prohibition of marijuana. But then, on Jan. 4...
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