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Issues Economic and Social Justice End Mass Criminalization Rev. Lennox Yearwood Talks Police Brutality with Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Sunday, 17 August 2014 15:30

Rev. Lennox Yearwood Talks Police Brutality with Bill Fletcher, Jr.

Written by  The Real News
Rev. Lennox Yearwood Rev. Lennox Yearwood Google Images
BILL FLETCHER, HOST, THE GLOBAL AFRICAN: Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner--the list of African-American lives senselessly taken because of excessive policing is seemingly long and endless, underscoring the increasingly contentious relationship that exists between the black community and law enforcement. The tension between the African-American community and the police has reached a fever pitch this week.

CHARLIE DOOLEY, ST. LOUIS COUNTY EXECUTIVE: We are better than this. Justice is not swift. Revenge is. We are not focused on revenge; we are focused on trust, truth, and justice.

FLETCHER: Hopes of a near future where the lives of young black men would be valued and lessons would be learned by all because of the names of those I just mentioned were dashed this past weekend in a place called Ferguson, Missouri. After this interview was filmed, another life was snuffed oeut. Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown was more than just another name on a list of young black men gone too soon. He was an unarmed teenager who had just graduated from high school and was on his way to college.

LESLEY MCSPADDEN, MOTHER OF MICHAEL BROWN: There's my firstborn son. Anybody that know me knew how I felt about my son. I just wish I could have been there to help him. Anything. He didn't deserve it.

FLETCHER: While Palestinians continue to fight for their right to live and thrive, African Americans in the United States are engaged in their own battle, the battle for the life of young black men and women. Today on The Global African, we'll discuss the role of police in the African-American community with Rev. Lennox Yearwood as this crucial question now more than ever looms large with community members and the police forces alike. I'm Bill Fletcher. Thanks for joining me on The Global African.

~~~

FLETCHER: Joining us now is Reverend Lennox Yearwood, a man who I've known for years but I actually did not know was considered by Ebony magazine to be one of the--what is this--hundred most powerful African Americans. This is marvelous.

REV. LENNOX YEARWOOD, MINISTER AND COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: It's a nice thing.

FLETCHER: It is! It is.

So Rev. Yearwood is the president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus. He's a minister of community activists and one of the most influential people in hip-hop political life. As I mentioned, was named in 2010 one of the 100 most powerful African-Americans by Ebony magazine and one of the ten game-changers in the green movement by Huffington Post. In 2008, Rev. Yearwood created the Hip Hop Caucus's "Respect My Vote" campaign with celebrity spokespeople, and which turned out record numbers of young people on election day. He was very active in the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster and became national director of the award-winning Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign, where he led a coalition of national and grassroots organizations to advocate for the rights of Katrina survivors. He is regularly on the media, and I'm really glad to have this opportunity to engage in this discussion.

YEARWOOD: I am glad to be here.

FLETCHER: Alright. So, Gaza. You watched the pictures. How does it make you feel?

YEARWOOD: It's troubling. It's troubling. Troubling for a number of reasons. It's troubling, one, to see the human toll of innocents. It's also troubling to know that it seems like the public seems impotent in their ability to speak out against it without being charged anti-Israel. And they're saying that there's a crime or problem going on. So it's hard. It's hard. And it's also, you know, for many of us who are African-American, to not see the president speak out more against that or speak a lot more forcefully and to continue to sell weapons to Israel, it's a tough situation.What I am seeing is that particularly since President Obama has been in office, I think people were hoping for a much more peaceful society, and they're seeing the opposite. And I think that particularly after the Arab Spring now leading into what's going on in Gaza, people just seem to be tired or not have the ability to speak out. And that's troubling.

But there is still--I mean, and also the media is also not showing that there are people around the globe who are speaking up. There were thousands who marched in Chicago. There were thousands who marched in London. There have been thousands around in many cities who have said that what's going on--and both folks who are Christian, Muslim, Jewish--, around all sides, saying that what is happening--. There was a march in Israel that took place. As a matter of fact, in Israel they tried to stop the march. They said it wasn't safe, 'cause it was during a ceasefire time. But what you're seeing, though, that--I think you're seeing many people coming together who are speaking out. And that has been somewhat muted, but still not enough to see, for many organizations, particularly for progressive organizations--I'm shocked, actually, at this just the silence of the progressive community on this issue.

And for me and Hip Hop--you know, I work with a lot of artists, and I saw a couple of artists who Tweeted out. Rihanna Tweeted out "#FreePalestine" and got such a push back that she had to say it was a mistake, it wasn't on purpose. But even if she could even want to say that, there was just people who were giving her pushback and understanding the pop culture as well.

FLETCHER: Did people respond to that and support her?

YEARWOOD: I mean, yeah. I mean, there were thousands of re-Tweets. I mean, she has now since deleted it from her account, but it was amazing, because you see, I mean, if artists want to get political, it's very hard sometimes for them to get political. And so after she did that, many people were--she got a lot of pushback. Everyone goes, how could she do that? How could you not allow for Israel to have the right to defend themselves? Which is--I think there is an important part to that argument as well. I mean, there is an important part for people to live together in peace. But it's also important to state the whole facts and the whole situation so people know what's going on and the history of what's going on with Palestine and where it's in essence become, in some cases, the largest open-air prison in the world.

FLETCHER: Now, you were in the Air Force.

YEARWOOD: I was. I was a Air Force officer.

FLETCHER: An officer.

YEARWOOD: I was officer, yes indeed.

FLETCHER: So what happened?

YEARWOOD: I mean, I think that like many I used the program that you use to get money for education. And let me say this: and I am a person who am clearly not anti-American. I mean, I think that our job is to make this country to be the best country that it can be. I loved my country then. I love my country now. I am an American. I'm also a person who came here whose parents came here as an immigrant. My parents were both from Trinidad. I was the first person in my family to be born in this country. So that has a whole part of the process as well.

And so, being an officer, I understand the importance to have defense if that's what is needed in some cases. But I also understood the importance of the power this country has. And if used wrongly, it could have devastating impacts. And so, as an officer I began to speak out against the war in Iraq. This was in 2002. And so if you don't want the best sometimes career move, don't speak out against the war while you're in the Air Force.

But at that time, the President Bush administration and others decided to really make an example, and they began to even move forth to prosecute me and have me imprisoned. And what was what's amazing about that was that during the time I was waiting for that process to take place, I didn't stop speaking out. I said, well, I'm going to speak out now. But there were some other amazing brothers and sisters who were also at the time--Damu Smith, who I was around, and others who were, like, just good brothers and sisters who can give counsel and just say, hey, you know, if you're doing the right thing, keep speaking out for justice. And so I did.

I mean, long story short, I mean, it was very difficult. I was it was hard. I was arrested protesting against the war. And was beaten. As a matter of fact, I was on Capitol Hill and was beaten, in Capitol Hill, in which my leg was broken, because officers came to Capitol Hill to speak out against the war, and I was the only African-American, and so I guess I was easy to kind of point out in the crowd. And so that's what took place.

FLETCHER: Let's talk about--use that as a segue to talk about violence at home. You're wearing a cap with the name Eric Garner.

YEARWOOD: Yeah.

FLETCHER: Tell us about Eric Garner.

YEARWOOD: Eric Garner now is dead, and he was murdered. He was a father, I believe, of six children in New York City. And Eric Garner had just got finished breaking up a fight. And then the police officers came, and in the process began to antagonize him. And they put on an illegal chokehold and literally choked him to death.

FLETCHER: Why did they go after him if he had just broken up a fight?

YEARWOOD: A lot of times--and this is the thing that we are dealing with in our community--many African Americans are induced and are paralyzed by fear because of police brutality, because of the possibility of a public execution or assault, because you have--not all, but you do have some officers who become, in essence, thugs with badges.

FLETCHER: That said, there's crime in our communities. Just a few months ago, a relative of mine was held up at gunpoint by another African American. She was walking with some friends. These three guys apparently were watching her or watching them. They figured out the right place and they held them up at gunpoint.

YEARWOOD: Yup.

FLETCHER: Why should I care if a cop puts a bullet in that guy's head?It frequently feels that many progressives refuse to talk about crime, refuse to talk about it; we'll talk about police brutality but will not talk about crime. Doesn't that lose us credibility?

YEARWOOD: No, it doesn't lose credibility. I think there are some layers to that process. One, they're different--if you talk about progressives, I think you're right. There are many--there is silence sometimes from--particularly, white progressives at times do become silent on the issues of police brutality.

FLETCHER: Oh, I'm thinking about black progressives.

YEARWOOD: Well, I'm going to get to that too.

FLETCHER: Okay.

YEARWOOD: I'm going to just start with the first layer. And as you have said, one of your great quotes is that race is the tripwire for the progressive movement. And so many times when we hit that tripwire, we fall over. When I mean silent, I mean that they don't sometimes incorporate all of their energies and the movement can be siloed. So when you go to the police brutality rally, it's not as blended and diverse as it should be.

Going further, there is something. Then you go to black progressives, or, i.e., blacks rights organizations. There is something there. Unfortunately, in the 21st century too many civil rights organizations have now moved from a spirit of solidarity to charity, where they then don't see the community in the same light, where they begin to see their brothers and sisters as a case and a cause, and not as their brother or their sister. And so they sometimes pull back, saying--almost where they come out for these rallies saying that it was wrong when you see what happened to Eric Garner, it was wrong what happened to Trayvon Martin, it was wrong, Oscar Grant and Sean Bell.

But there's also something--you can hear it--there isn't the kind of--that there isn't something there where they are saying that there isn't total innocence. And so I think that there is still--there has been--something has happened with the civil rights movement that does not quietly align with the community as it should. And the community feels this. And I think that when you have a community that is so disenfranchised, so oppressed, so pushed down, and even their own brothers and sisters turn their back on them, not when they're so public as Eric Garner's death, who was choked to death on YouTube, but this is across the board when you see the injustice around and people just drive past that and keep moving or leave the community completely to defend for themselves. I think that's where the problem comes in at, and I think that's where we have to fix that. And I think that you're right.

So I think it's important for us and incumbent upon us to recognize that we cannot give up on our people, no matter what the situation may be. We must always recognize that it is a layered approach and that the policies have been put in place to have taken away jobs, opportunity, and education, have now led to what you see today, are just the symptoms of the true cancer of poverty and injustice in our communities.

FLETCHER: You know, I've been active at different points around issues of police brutality. And what I have found in virtually every case is that the movement or effort could not be sustained. It was sort of what you were saying earlier: there'd be a demonstration; people would be really angry. In some cases there would be suggestions of legislation, and at that point it was almost like watching a balloon deflate. The energy just seems to leave us. And then that's it until the next brother or sister gets killed. What's your analysis? What do you think is at the root of this sort of deflation? And what do we need to do differently?

YEARWOOD: That's very hard to see. And it's hard to see so many mothers and fathers who you know are sometimes being used twice. They have been victimized. They have lost their child. And then, later on, organizations come in, put them up, stand next to them. And then, as soon as the camera leaves, they leave as well. And, unfortunately, from labor, civil rights, progressive, we're not seeing the long-term strategy that needs to be put in place so that, yes, there might be [police brutalities (?)] now in 2014, but if you put things in place, by 2020 you will see a decrease because the policies will be in place and we will do the things that need to be done to change that process.

FLETCHER: Are there any parallels with the anti-lynching campaigns of the 20th century, that began in the earlier 20th century, the whole idea of passing federal legislation to address lynching? I mean, is that sort of along the lines of what you're describing?

YEARWOOD: Most definitely. I mean, I think there's a disconnect. I think that this is where we have to empower at the very least our Congressional Black Caucus and our progressive caucus members. I think you start it there on the federal side. I think that--you know, President Obama has said repeatedly, if we like it or don't like it, he has said, make me do it, as has been his approach to policy. So I think we should make them do certain things. I think that's how he has said that. And I think we've seen that from "my brother's keeper" and other elements, I think, that have come out, that he can be made to do things once the political pressure is put upon.

I definitely think that we should look at the local levels, our black mayors and governors--and black governors--and local and state officials to also be a part of the solution on that aspect.

And then I think that for me in the 21st century, we have much more expertise than they had in the 20th century. So we should definitely empower our think tanks, our academies, our institutions, our HBCUs.

FLETCHER: So then what do we say? I mean, when you have a black political leadership that should know better and most of them probably also live in a certain level of fear of what could happen to them if they get stopped, what is stopping them from taking action? Why are they not as responsive as they should be? YEARWOOD: Courage. Courage. They are--a fear of being considered and called radical. That's the easy answer. I mean, clearly there's much more than just that. But a lot of them, from what I have seen, even on the federal level and on a local level, particularly like in an area like Prince George's County, where it should be a no-brainer--you have everything in place to make this in place. And I think that they lack the courage.

And I think, on the other hand, we are not holding the--we are putting people in positions of power sometimes just based upon their skin color, on their color or their hue, who do not have the true interests of the people, and they talk the talk and look the part, but clearly also have learned how to play two sides of the coin. And so when they go out to a certain community, they talk and rap like they are from the streets. But once they get to the suites, there's a different dialog in that aspect. And so I think that--you know, I am hopeful that my generation is much more in tune to putting in new leadership in that aspect that can deal with those who really have their political interests in hand.

FLETCHER: Do you see evidence of it?

YEARWOOD: I think there needs to be--I think this is where political education takes place. This is where, I mean, groups like the Hip Hop Caucus have to do their job and their due diligence to educate. I think we certainly have to even look beyond the traditional kind of political parties and partisanship that people have just kind of take and where we can no longer just say it's about Democrat or Republican, but it has to be about humanity and about fighting for our community. I think we need to hold those accountable who get into office, and we need to, when they do what's wrong, they need to be punished politically so they can be removed quickly, they can't just come around the next term, have done nothing for the community, and then remain, come to some nice church or mosque or somebody's community day event and just dance around and then we reelect them. I think we need to hold them accountable.

I think also this is where the institutions have to do a better job. I think that--see, the problem also here is this. Too many leaders are kind of in cahoots together. And so you have leadership in which they kind of--I mean, I've seen this, and you've seen this as well--on kind of the toothpick, cheese-on-a-stick circuit, so to speak, in which they come together and all network in their own little world. And they then--they kind of support one another to the end. And then they kind of then will then put the resources behind them, even though we know they're not doing what they need to be doing for their own community and are going against the interests of the people in their community.

FLETCHER: Let me go full circle. What about the violence within our respective communities, within the African-American community, within the Latino communities? People often don't seem as outraged.

YEARWOOD: You know, it grieves me. You know something, Bill, it grieves me now that I am, I guess, a black leader, I'm around other black leaders, and we have this conversation,iIt grieves me how quick we don't hurt and cry anymore for those of us who are laying in their blood in the streets. It grieves me when [something (?)] special has to be about a young child before we even care, which is similar to what's going on in Gaza or what's going on down at the border. Something is happening when there are certain communities, certain people are being relegated in this country to second-class citizenship. And I think that we as a people, we need to know step up and say, no, everybody who died in Chicago is a life, everyone who died in Baltimore or in D.C. We need to take a different approach and be as concerned if it was a gang banger or if it was the valedictorian and speak up more about that. But we're not doing that. So for a number of reasons we're not doing that.

FLETCHER: Reverend Yearwood, thank you very much for that.

YEARWOOD: Thank you.

FLETCHER: --for this discussion, this much-needed, very timely, very emotional discussion. And I'm hoping that it's replicated around the country.

YEARWOOD: Thank you.

FLETCHER: Our pleasure. Thanks for joining us.

YEARWOOD: No, thank you, brother.

FLETCHER: Okay.

Link to the original article from The Real News.

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    In my journey as a community activist and Chicano advocate, I’ve experienced many fascinating elements that have inspired me but also scarred me to my very soul. I have fought the Chicano politician who capitulated in the selling out of his community, broke bread with the “Old Man” whom lent the little he had but gave unselfishly of his wisdom, and have shared space with our sons who have fallen victim to a privatized prison system. I have fought the white dragon of racism and today… today will begin the telling of those many travels.

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  • Democrat? Green? Independent? The ‘Run Bernie Run’ Jockeying
    Democrat? Green? Independent? The ‘Run Bernie Run’ Jockeying

    Northampton, Massachusetts—When Bernie Sanders said in a Nation interview in March that he was prepared—not at all certain, but prepared—to run for the presidency, that got a lot of political activists thinking.

    Written on Monday, 12 May 2014 20:46 Read more...
  • US Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont launches Progressive Democrats of America 10th anniversary in Northampton
    US Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont launches Progressive Democrats of America 10th anniversary in Northampton

    Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders does not believe his support for the working class makes him unusual.
     
    Though he finds that many people who call themselves progressives believe they are in the minority, he does not believe this about himself, he said.
     
    “Every idea I ever espoused, I believe, is what the vast majority of our country believe,” Sanders told a crowd of around 400 people who filled the sanctuary at First Churches Friday for “A Conversation with Senator Bernie Sanders,” an event sponsored by The Nation magazine, Progressive Democrats of America, and radio station WHMP.

    Written on Monday, 12 May 2014 13:09 Read more...
  • Bernie Sanders bound for Iowa
    Bernie Sanders bound for Iowa

    WASHINGTON – First, he traveled to New Hampshire. Now he's bound for Iowa.

    Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is hitting all the familiar campaign stops as he considers whether to run for president in 2016.

    Written on Thursday, 08 May 2014 14:42 Read more...
  • Progressive Democrats meeting May 8 to organize Sanders '16 presidential run
    Progressive Democrats meeting May 8 to organize Sanders '16 presidential run

    Vermont Democratic Socialist to be in Iowa on May 17

    DES MOINES — Jeff Cox isn't sure what it means that Sen. Bernie Sanders will be visiting Iowa later this month, “but I do know it's a long way from Vermont.”

    “I was a bit surprised that he was on the program,” Cox said about Sanders' planned appearance at the May 17 Clinton County Democratic Hall of Fame dinner.

    Written on Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:06 Read more...
  • More Than A Fifth Of America’s Children Are Going Hungry
    More Than A Fifth Of America’s Children Are Going Hungry

    More than one in five American kids lived in a “food insecure” household in 2012, according to the newest annual Mapping the Meal Gap report from anti-hunger charity Feeding America.

    The food insecurity rate for children nationwide is 21.6 percent. That number rises to almost three in ten kids for a long list of states including New Mexico (29.2 percent), Mississippi (28.7 percent), Arizona (28.2 percent), Nevada (28.1 percent), Georgia (28.1 percent), Arkansas (27.7 percent), Florida (27.6 percent), and Texas (27.4 percent).

    Written on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 12:37 Read more...
  • Bernie Sanders Warns Americans Are Losing Faith In The Political System
    Bernie Sanders Warns Americans Are Losing Faith In The Political System

    MANCHESTER, N.H., April 12 (Reuters) - Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders warned that a growing number of Americans were losing faith in the political system at a New Hampshire site that often hosts presidential primary debates. But he said he is "many, many months" away from deciding on a White House run.

    Written on Monday, 14 April 2014 19:01 Read more...
  • Greedy Oligarchs Oppose Minimum Wage
    Greedy Oligarchs Oppose Minimum Wage

    One of the hot issues in this year’s political races is whether the Federal minimum wage should be increased.  It might seem obvious that if lower-income people had more money to spend it would be good for almost everyone.  President Obama and the Democrats have proposed that it be raised from its current $7.25 an hour to $10.10.  Certainly, it would benefit the 17 million workers who’d get the increase—two-thirds of them women, who generally make less than men to start with.  So raising the minimum wage would be a step toward pay equity. Some states have higher minimums, but none above the proposed level. Two states, Maryland and Connecticut have moved theirs up to the $10.10 level.

    Written on Saturday, 12 April 2014 18:25 Read more...
  • Bernie Sanders seeks to pull Democrats left in 2016 primary
    Bernie Sanders seeks to pull Democrats left in 2016 primary

    WASHINGTON — Bernie Sanders has been calling activists and traveling the country with a question: Could he vault from his US Senate seat representing what is fondly called the People’s Republic of Vermont to the White House?

    His next stop in search of an answer is the first presidential primary state of New Hampshire, where this weekend he plans to bring his campaign complaint about America becoming an “oligarchic society.’’

    Written on Saturday, 12 April 2014 14:25 Read more...
  • Nurses and lawmakers resume push for financial transactions tax
    Nurses and lawmakers resume push for financial transactions tax

    WASHINGTON (PAI)--Saying it would raise money, curb speculators and force the financial finaglers who caused the Great Recession to partially pay for its impact on you and me, National Nurses United and the Congressional Progressive Caucus relaunched their drive for a financial transactions tax.

    Written on Thursday, 10 April 2014 13:29 Read more...
  • 'With Liberty and Justice for All' -- Our Democracy on the Brink
    'With Liberty and Justice for All' -- Our Democracy on the Brink

    The promise of "liberty and justice for all" remains a vital part of our nation's Pledge of Allegiance, and is embedded in our childhood memories of starting each school day with this oath. 

    Written on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 15:54 Read more...
  • GOP’s shameful treatment of the powerless
    GOP’s shameful treatment of the powerless

    The Bible’s injunction that we shall be judged by how we have treated the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40) appears in different forms in virtually every religion or faith. And surely the measure of a country is how it treats the most vulnerable of its people — children in the dawn of life, the poor in the valley of life, the ailing in the shadows of life, the elderly in the dusk of life.

    Written on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 00:58 Read more...
  • NELP Applauds Senate Vote to Renew Emergency Jobless Aid
    NELP Applauds Senate Vote to Renew Emergency Jobless Aid

    Unemployed Ohio Navy Veteran Urges House Speaker Boehner to Hold Vote

    Statement of Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, on the U.S. Senate’s passage of the bipartisan five month renewal of federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation:

    Written on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 00:18 Read more...
  • Thoughts on a Bernie Sanders Run
    Thoughts on a Bernie Sanders Run

    ... if the candidate has a real mass base, is building a broad progressive front around a clear, transformational program, and sees the candidacy as one step in a multitiered process, then it might be worth going for it.

    Written on Sunday, 06 April 2014 00:27 Read more...
  • How Social Security Was Saved
    How Social Security Was Saved

    The release of the White House’s 2014 budget in April 2013 was a stomach-churning occasion for American seniors who depend on Social Security. In an effort to woo the austerity-now crowd, President Barack Obama included in his proposal a new formula to calculate Social Security cost-of-living adjustments: the chained consumer price index, or chained CPI. Presented as a harmless technocratic fix, chained CPI would have hit America’s retirees in the pocketbook by reducing their Social Security cost-of-living increases.

    Written on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 00:00 Read more...
  • 'Better Off' Budget Attacks Status Quo with Bold Progressive Vision
    'Better Off' Budget Attacks Status Quo with Bold Progressive Vision

    Economic blueprint by Congressional Progressive Caucus makes commanding argument for what's possible, but will it again be ignored by nation's powerful elite?

    Written on Thursday, 13 March 2014 22:09 Read more...
  • Why I Didn’t Make it to Gaza for International Women’s Day
    Why I Didn’t Make it to Gaza for International Women’s Day

    When I boarded the plane to Cairo, Egypt, to make sure everything was in place for the women’s delegation headed to Gaza, I had no reason to think I’d end up in a jail cell at the Cairo airport and then violently deported.

    Written on Thursday, 13 March 2014 18:51 Read more...
  • UDC Law School - Social Justice Law
    UDC Law School - Social Justice Law

    The public service-oriented UDC David A. Clarke School of Law (www.law.udc.edu) is the public law school of the nation’s capital. Unlike most other law schools in America, all UDC-DCSL students receive a high-quality, practical, hands-on program of legal study. In addition to the traditional law curriculum, each UDC-DCSL student, under the close supervision of attorney-professors, provides 700 hours of much-needed legal service to low-income Washington, DC residents in one of the School’s eight clinics.

    Written on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 19:20 Read more...
  • I was brutally attacked.
    I was brutally attacked.

    Just the other day I hopped on a plane to Egypt, eager to join the international delegation of 100 women headed to Gaza for International Women’s Day. Little did I know I would be stopped at the Cairo airport, detained, held overnight in a cell, then in the morning brutally assaulted by Egyptian authorities. 

    Written on Thursday, 06 March 2014 21:42 Read more...
  • Bernie Sanders: ‘I Am Prepared to Run for President of the United States’
    Bernie Sanders: ‘I Am Prepared to Run for President of the United States’

    Bernie Sanders says he is “prepared to run for president of the United States.” That’s not a formal announcement. A lot can change between now and 2016, and the populist senator from Vermont bristles at the whole notion of a permanent campaign.

    Written on Thursday, 06 March 2014 21:24 Read more...
  • 2 Million People Cut Off Unemployment Benefits
    2 Million People Cut Off Unemployment Benefits

    WASHINGTON – The number of people who have lost their unemployment benefits as a result of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program’s expiration has surpassed two million this week, according to a new analysis from Ways and Means Committee Democrats.

    Written on Wednesday, 05 March 2014 17:01 Read more...
  • Egyptian Police Detain, Assault, & Deport Peace Activist Medea Benjamin
    Egyptian Police Detain, Assault, & Deport Peace Activist Medea Benjamin

    On route to a women’s conference in Gaza, Code Pink founder and peace activist Medea Benjamin was detained by Egyptian police and held in an airport prison cell for several hours without being charged. During her detention, the petite Benjamin said she was “jumped on” by Egyptian police and “violently handcuffed” resulting in a  fractured my arm, dislocated my shoulder, torn ligaments.

    Written on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 21:20 Read more...
  • CODEPINK Co-founder Medea Benjamin Detained, Brutally Attacked and Deported from Egypt en route to Gaza with International Delegation of Women
    CODEPINK Co-founder Medea Benjamin Detained, Brutally Attacked and Deported from Egypt en route to Gaza with International Delegation of Women

    CODEPINK Co-founder Medea Benjamin Detained, Brutally Attacked and Deported from Egypt en route to Gaza with International Delegation of Women

    Written on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 16:45 Read more...
  • The Progressive Movement Continues to Mature and Grow
    The Progressive Movement Continues to Mature and Grow

    In case you hadn't noticed, the debt ceiling was raised several days ago, so quietly that it barely made a ripple in the press. No threats of shutting down the government or hostage-taking emanated from Senator Mitch McConnell -- or from his even more radical right-wing cronies in the House -- this recent go around.

    Written on Friday, 28 February 2014 02:55 Read more...
  • What a Victory: How a $40 Million Attack on the Middle Class Went Up in Smoke
    What a Victory: How a $40 Million Attack on the Middle Class Went Up in Smoke

    It’s debt ceiling time, and the United States economy is once again on the brink, held hostage by extremists hell-bent on forcing cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Oh, wait. That was last year. In 2014, for the first time in three years, the vote to extend the nation’s debt ceiling did not bring the United States to the brink of default in a high-stakes game of slash and burn.

    Written on Sunday, 23 February 2014 16:37 Read more...
  • The United States of Poverty and Inequality
    The United States of Poverty and Inequality

    New report shows that no matter which state you live in, the 1% are making even more gains as the rest fall back

    Over the last three decades the wealth of the nation's very richest 1% has grown ten times that of the average worker and over that time period that same tiny elite has captured more than half of the entire income increases, leaving the bottom 99% to divide the remaining gains.

    Written on Saturday, 22 February 2014 16:11 Read more...
  • Michael Sam stands tall
    Michael Sam stands tall

    “I’m a football player, and I’m gay.” With those words, Michael Sam, an All-American defensive end from the University of Missouri, demonstrated courage far beyond that demanded on the football field. And America may, for the first time, witness an openly gay man playing professional football.

    Written on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 03:20 Read more...
  • Preserve social programs that work
    Preserve social programs that work

    I started a chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America in Springfield a few years ago. Since then our chapter has grown to include the Greater Springfield Area. At an event last fall in front of U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin’s office we had 75 folks attend from various unions and organizations, many of them traveling from Normal, Bloomington, Peoria, Jacksonville, Morrisonville and Champaign.

    Written on Friday, 07 February 2014 03:25 Read more...
  • Conversations with Great Minds P1 - Rep Keith Ellison - My Country 'Tis of Thee
    Conversations with Great Minds P1 - Rep Keith Ellison - My Country 'Tis of Thee

    Congressman Keith Ellison(D-MN, 5th District) / Author of the new book, My Country 'Tis of Thee: My Faith, My Family, Our Future joins Thom Hartmann.

    Written on Thursday, 06 February 2014 22:36 Read more...
  • JESSE JACKSON: Response to President Obama's 2014 State of the Union Address
    JESSE JACKSON: Response to President Obama's 2014 State of the Union Address

    The country seems turned off and tuned out to the Congress, politics generally and the federal government in particular. The good news is the emerging grass-roots movement exemplified by The Dreamers and the burgeoning campaign among low income workers around the nation, offering a clear challenge to the political gridlock, the inaction and non-work by Congress. Seeking to respond to this grassroots energy and to combat the frustration many people are feeling around the country, President Obama presented an optimistic tone, an uplifting message and a new plan of action to move America forward.

    Written on Thursday, 30 January 2014 20:01 Read more...
  • State of the Union: Right on Wages, Wrong on Trade
    State of the Union: Right on Wages, Wrong on Trade

    President Obama wants 2014 to be a “year of action” in which the country finally begins to address a wealth gap that has made the term “income inequality” the catchphrase of the moment. And he framed the crisis well in his fifth State of the Union address:

    Written on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 17:32 Read more...
  • House passes $956B farm bill
    House passes $956B farm bill

    The House on Wednesday approved a mammoth, $956 billion farm bill in a bipartisan vote.

    Members approved the House-Senate agreement on farm policy in a 251-166 vote. A majority of Republicans backed the bill, with 63 GOP no votes. But a majority of Democrats opposed it, with 103 voting no.

    Written on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 16:45 Read more...
  • Pete Seeger: This Man Surrounded Hate and Forced it to Surrender
     Pete Seeger: This Man Surrounded Hate and Forced it to Surrender

    When some of the greatest musicians in the world gathered five years ago to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of the musician who inspired them all, Bruce Springsteen told Pete Seeger: “You outlasted the bastards, man.”

    And so he did.

    Written on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 16:30 Read more...
  • State of the Union: It doesn’t have to be this way
    State of the Union: It doesn’t have to be this way

    President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night will focus on inequality, on the reality that this economy does not work for working people. Given the obstruction of House and Senate Republicans, the president faces the reality that little of what he proposes can pass this Congress. He has vowed to use his “pen” and “phone” to act unilaterally where he can. But the real challenge is to explain to the American people what the reality is, what must be done and who is standing in the way.

    Written on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 15:56 Read more...
  • Ellison’s Steps to Income Equality: More Powerful Unions and Weaker Trade
    Ellison’s Steps to Income Equality: More Powerful Unions and Weaker Trade

    Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairman Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said that increasing the power of unions is key to addressing income inequality in America.

    “We need a comprehensive plan, but let’s start with increasing the right to collective bargaining,” Ellison said on MSNBC. “We’ve got to get workers on the job in a position to demand that the wealth that they create be shared by the company. That’s a key thing. If you look at how wages has stagnated in the United States and you look at how union did something that has gone down, the lines track right together. You got to get power in the hands of the workers. That’s key.”

    Written on Thursday, 23 January 2014 18:18 Read more...
  • Celebrating MLK: A drum major for justice
    Celebrating MLK: A drum major for justice

    As I went from event to event Monday celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King, I was struck by both the tribute and the distortion.

    The tribute is remarkable. Martin Luther King held no public office. He amassed no great fortune. He led no victorious armies

    Written on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 16:03 Read more...
  • Keith Ellison Blasts Inaction on Government-Backed Poverty: “The Most Remarkable Dodge I’ve Ever Seen”
    Keith Ellison Blasts Inaction on Government-Backed Poverty: “The Most Remarkable Dodge I’ve Ever Seen”

    One day after a top Obama administration official deflected a congressman’s call for executive action to raise labor standards for contractors, activists Wednesday announced the filing of a new Department of Labor complaint over alleged wage theft in a government building. The complaint alleges that dozens of workers in D.C.’s government-owned Union Station are owed over $3 million in back pay and damages for rampant failure to pay minimum wage or overtime.

    Written on Saturday, 18 January 2014 16:26 Read more...
  • King’s evolving Dream
    King’s evolving Dream

    It is that time to pause and think about the incredible life and contributions of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., oftentimes referred to as MLK. He was named Michael King Jr. after his father ­ who later changed both their names to Martin Luther, in honor of the religious reformer.

    Written on Saturday, 18 January 2014 15:37 Read more...
  • Moral Monday Movement Spreads Through the South
    Moral Monday Movement Spreads Through the South

    After drawing thousands of protesters to the state legislature and inspiring the arrests of more than 900 people for nonviolent civil disobedience, North Carolina's Moral Monday movement challenging the extreme conservative agenda of the state's Republican-controlled legislature and administration is gearing up for more actions in 2014.

    Written on Monday, 13 January 2014 13:30 Read more...
  • On 50th anniversary of 'War on Poverty' speech, Worcester Rep. Jim McGovern says cuts to SNAP are 'war on poor people'
    On 50th anniversary of 'War on Poverty' speech, Worcester Rep. Jim McGovern says cuts to SNAP are 'war on poor people'

    U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern says the "War on Poverty" has shifted from helping the poor to fighting them.

    McGovern, a Democrat who represents the 2nd district, spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday about hunger in America and potential cuts to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) in the proposed Farm Bill.

    Written on Saturday, 11 January 2014 15:37 Read more...
  • War on Poverty wages on
    War on Poverty wages on

    Fifty years ago this week, President Lyndon Johnson, lamenting that too many Americans “live on the outskirts of hope,” declared an “unconditional war on poverty in America.” This will not be “a short or easy struggle,” he stated in his State of the Union address to the Congress, “no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we will not rest until that war is won. The richest nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it.”

    Written on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 18:11 Read more...
  • Will New York City Lead the Way on Pre-K?
    Will New York City Lead the Way on Pre-K?

    At the Future of America Learning Center in the West Bronx, the pre-K curriculum is built around adult jobs—visiting real workplaces and then learning about the vocabulary and skills that grown-ups use every day.

    Written on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 01:24 Read more...
  • Advice for Young Women: Get a Union Job
    Advice for Young Women: Get a Union Job

    Back in the days before modern feminism, a young woman looking for work might typically be advised, politely, to “learn a trade,” with the implication that she wasn't bound for college or an elite career, but a humbler job as, say, a secretary or seamstress. Such a phrase might sound condescending today. Yet working in a trade might still be sound career goal for a woman, if she gets the right kind of job—in a union.

    Written on Tuesday, 24 December 2013 21:30 Read more...
  • Walmart Workers Will Make History on Friday As America Confronts Growing Inequality
    Walmart Workers Will Make History on Friday As America Confronts Growing Inequality

    This Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, tens of millions of Americans will travel to Walmart stores to look for holiday discounts on computers, toys, and cell phones as well as to buy groceries and basic household items.

    Written on Saturday, 30 November 2013 15:20 Read more...
  • McDonald's: Low-Paid Workers, High-Flying Execs
    McDonald's: Low-Paid Workers, High-Flying Execs

    He was CEO of the hamburger behemoth, McDonald's, pulling down a hefty $8.8 million in pay. Last year, though, Skinner retired, and, rather than getting a gold watch, he was given a load of gold — so large that even a Brink's armored truck would have been too small to haul it all away. His salary of $753,000 was the least of it.

    Written on Thursday, 21 November 2013 13:44 Read more...
  • Growing Movement: Expand Social Security or 'Pay a Price'
    Growing Movement: Expand Social Security or 'Pay a Price'

    Sen. Warren: 'Social Security is incredibly effective, it is incredibly popular, and the calls for strengthening it are growing louder every day.'

    With Social Security cuts once again on the table in closed-door congressional budget negotiations, a growing movement has taken the offensive, demanding that lawmakers strengthen, rather than stranglehold, our social safety net.

    Written on Thursday, 21 November 2013 13:36 Read more...
  • Paul Ryan Gets 700,000 ‘No’ Votes on Social Security Cuts
    Paul Ryan Gets 700,000 ‘No’ Votes on Social Security Cuts

    Ryan’s office on Wednesday received a petition signed by more than 700,000 people that said there should be “no grand bargain” in the budget negotiations being led by Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., “in exchange for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.”

    Written on Saturday, 16 November 2013 03:10 Read more...
  • House Dems Can Block GOP Food Stamp Cuts—By Killing the Farm Bill
    House Dems Can Block GOP Food Stamp Cuts—By Killing the Farm Bill

    The farm bill will almost inevitably include deep cuts to the food stamps program—unless House Democrats join with conservatives to kill the bill. The food stamps program—which helps feed one in seven Americans—is in peril. Republicans in the House have proposed a farm bill—the five-year bill that funds agriculture and nutrition programs—that would slash food stamps by $40 billion. But by taking advantage of House Republicans' desire to cut food stamps as much as possible, Democrats might be able to prevent cuts from happening at all.

    Written on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 15:28 Read more...
  • Food Stamps, Yes!
    Food Stamps, Yes!

    If you’re reading this column, you probably don’t participate in a government program such as SNAP, to help provide food for your family. If you can afford to have a newspaper delivered to your home, or if you have a computer and an internet connection so you can read online, you may have more than enough money for food.

    Written on Friday, 04 October 2013 01:50 Read more...

Does Your Legislator Support the Robin Hood Tax?

Join "Countdown to Coverage" Share TPP with your Daily Newspaper

CWA devised a simple plan for which they were uniquely suited: drag TPP out of the shadows and into the light - one city at a time - using a medium they understand intimately: Daily Newspapers!

Two CWA members - Dave Felice in Denver, CO and Madelyn Elder in Portland, OR have started the ball rolling. We just need to keep up the momentum leading up to a big day of petition deliveries.

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Hand Deliver a Letter to your Rep on Jobs

If your Representative is not currently a cosponsor of HR 1000 they may not completely understand how important full employment is to your community; click on your state at the bottom of this page to see all the cosponsors in your state. Nothing sends a stronger message to a Congressional member than a personal visit to a district office by a voter with a written request. Phone calls and emails are incredibly important but nothing gets attention like a personal visit. Our Educate Congress page has information and a sample letter. Print the letter, sign it, deliver it.

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Report on your TPP Contact

Please let us know your legislator's stance on Fast Track Authorization for the Trans Pacific Partnership as well as their stance on the TPP in General. Click here to report the response.

The Robin Hood Tax

Robin Hood Tax: John Nichols and Keith Ellison and Michael Lighty

Why The Robin Hood Tax

Rep. Jim McGovern on Protecting SNAP

Workers Speak Out on the TPP

PDA Labor Panel - Progressive Central III

Main Street NOT Wall Street

The Trans Pacific Partnership: Corporate Global Domination

Lori Wallach on the TPP from PDA Progressive Roundtable

Progressive Roundtable with Reps. Ellison and Pocan and Lori Wallach on TPP

Lori Wallach Leaked TPP Documents (Democracy NOW)

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of

Lori Wallach on Thom Hartmann (Great Minds) - The TPP

TPP Downloads

The following documents are available from the Oppose TPP Downloads Folder

June 29th TPP Powerpoint

CWA TPP Jobs Report

Endorse HR 1000

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