November 11, 2011
By Nsombi Lambright, ACLU of Mississippi Executive Director
Tuesday was a very emotional day for me. I began my work that day by voting. I always measure voter turnout (and potential problems) by what's happening at my own polling place. That went smoothly. I then went to campaign headquarters to find out what neighborhoods needed canvassing in order to make sure that people were "getting out to vote." Rabbi Debra Kassoff and I spent most of the day canvassing the communities surrounding Brinkley Middle School and Johnson Elementary School in northwest Jackson. These neighborhoods are joined by Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. While canvassing these neighborhoods, we saw many things. We witnessed poverty and government neglect, but we also witnessed family and community connectivity. We saw generations of families living under one roof. Grandma, daughter and granddaughter were all going to vote at the first home that we visited. Unfortunately, granddaughter never received her voter registration card although she'd registered multiple times at the WIC office. We talked to many grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, mothers and fathers who assured us that the family had voted against Initiatives 26 and 27 that day. We also had the opportunity to speak to young brothers who didn't understand what the initiatives were about. Working directly in communities still brings me as much joy today as it did almost 20 years ago when I started organizing. It centers me and reminds me what this work is all about. The folks that I work with always remind me of my family and they remind me that even though I have a job that pays me to do this work, I am not disconnected from the communities that we serve. These are my people, whether I run into them at a meeting, a family reunion, church or the grocery store. I am privileged to do this work and will keep fighting!! Little Sister, I'll be back to make sure that you get your registration card this time!
November 11, 2011
The time that you have been waiting for is here! The first MS Youth Hip Hop Summit Quarterly Youth Leadership Meeting is set for Saturday, Nov. 12, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the STEPS Coalition Building – DeMiller Hall (formerly the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer), 610 Water St. - Biloxi, MS. Join the broad-based coalition of social justice organizations as Mississippi's youth continue to learn how to work for change. We will continue what we started in Jackson this summer as we build skills to be effective youth justice activists. The time is now to make your voices heard and push for real changes in your communities! The ACLU of MS, NAACP MS State Conference, Children's Defense Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center and the Coalition for Prevention of Schoolhouse to Jailhouse are continuing their collaboration to move this project forward.
The Quarterly Youth Leadership Meetings will continue the MS Youth Justice Movement we started in Jackson this July and push it forward to even greater heights! The state is divided into five regions, with the coastal area and surrounding towns/cities (Hattiesburg/Forrest County south) being the Southern Region. The day's activities will consist of excellent, rewarding, and fun workshops and activities designed to make you an effective activist.
The interactive workshops include:
- Effective communications, outreach, and student assembly.
- Know your rights: How to handle harassment from those in authority: police, teachers, administrators, etc.
- Creating the first edition of the MS Youth Hip Hop Zone.
- Art (music, visual, dance )
- MS Student Bill of Rights drafting (see attached draft from the summit)
- Action: Taking it to the streets!
*AND MUCH MORE!
Lunch and refreshments will be provided free of charge.
Even if you didn't attend the 2011 MS Youth Hip Hop Summit in Jackson, you can still be part of the Quarterly Leadership Meeting.
We want you to join in the fight of making your schools, homes,and communities better places! YOUR voice is critical in making the rightchange MS needs; we CANNOT do it without YOU!
We look forward to seeing YOU again or for the first time on Sat., Nov. 12 in Biloxi! Please contact us with any questions and/or concerns. We can’twait to see YOU in Biloxi!
PLEASE - RSVP to the MS Hip Hop Summit Facebook events page: \\Quarterly Youth Leadership Meeting (facebook.com/MS.hiphopsummit)
September 21, 2011
The ACLU of Mississippi held a town hall meeting Oct. 6 aimed at dismantling the School-To-Prison-Pipeline in this state. The event was located at the M.R. Davis Public Library in Southaven, 8554 Northwest Dr. , from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event was a collaboration with the Mississippi Coalition for the Prevention of Schoolhouse to Jailhouse and the ACLU of Mississippi. It was also part of the Dignity in Schools Campaign National Week of Action on School Pushout (Oct. 1-8).
September 20, 2011
The ACLU of Mississippi and the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance sponsored a Know Your Rights training in DeSoto County on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. at M.R. Dye Public Library, 2885 Goodman Road. Dozens of students and parents were shown how to be their own advocate in school and communities. All students -- regardless of race, nationality, immigration status, sexual orientation or religious beliefs -- are entitled to all rights under the U.S. Constitution.
September 15, 2011
Aug. 12, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JACKSON _ The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi supports Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith's full prosecution of everyone involved in the June 26 slaying of James Craig Anderson, who was the victim of an alleged hate crime. A surveillance video recently released to the media appears to show how the brutal crime unfolded. The allegation is that Anderson was targeted based on his race. The ACLU of Mississippi is monitoring the investigation.
"The murder of James Craig Anderson was a cowardly act of violence that reminds us of the racial hatred that continues to plague the South," said Nsombi Lambright, executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi
September 27, 2010
Do you remember when, in the wake of the so-called "Patriot Act," cities across the country passed resolutions not to enforce some of the most egregious, rights-violating provisions of that law? That kind of bold opposition to power made me proud of my country.
Recently, a law passed in the capitol city of Jackson has made me proud of my state. As controversy swirls around Arizona's SB1070---the law that authorizes police to ask people for their papers based only on some undefined "reasonable suspicion" that they are in the country unlawfully---Jackson's city council passed an ordinance that prohibits police officers from stopping or detaining people based on the person’s race, immigration status, perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It also prohibits police officers from asking people about their immigration status solely to determine if they are in the United States illegally.
The Council passed the ordinance 6-1. Almost unanimously.
Standing up against racial profiling is always the right thing to do. My hope is that Jacksons' example will be a beacon for the rest of the state. And the state, a beacon for the country.
September 22, 2010
JACKSON - The ACLU of Mississippi announced today that it applauds the Jackson City Council 6-1 vote to pass an anti-racial profiling ordinance. The ordinance prohibits police officers from stopping or detaining people based on the person’s race, immigration status, perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It also prohibits police officers from asking people about their immigration status solely to determine if they are in the United States illegally.
“I commend the council members for standing up for the protection of civil rights and civil liberties,” said Nsombi Lambright, ACLU-MS Executive Director. “A person’s race should never be grounds to suspect that someone has committed a crime. This ordinance declares that Mississippi’s capital city will not tolerate racial profiling.”
The ordinance also enforces basic Constitutional protections.
“The Constitution guarantees equal protection and prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement,” said Bear Atwood. “This ordinance underscores those protections and reminds police officers that they have a sworn duty to uphold them.”
August 27, 2010
Contact: Nsombi Lambright, 601-573-3978, firstname.lastname@example.org
The ACLU has announced that it is instigating an investigation into the Nettleton Mississippi Middle School’s policy of systemically excluding black youth from running for class president.
“The ACLU of MS is outraged by these remnants of Jim Crow policies that continue to exist in our public schools. We are reaching out to constituents in the Lee County area to gather more information in order to determine a course of action. Any policy which prohibits black youth from running for class president is discriminatory and illegal,” said Nsombi Lambright, executive Director of the ACLU of Mississippi . “This is a wake-up call for parents, community leaders and school administrators that racial bias continues to flourish in our schools. “
“The school’s response that they are reviewing their polices is too little too late,” said Bear Atwood, Interim Legal Director at the ACLU of Mississippi. “School administrators and School Board members have an affirmative obligation to review school polices and remove any policy that is discriminatory or otherwise illegal. They cannot permit blatant discrimination to continue while they wait for a complaint.”
The ACLU of Mississippi is calling on the Superintendent and the School Board to act immediately to remove any and all policies which segregate youth, or discriminate against youth in any way. “By letter dated today we have demanded that the school act swiftly to send a strong message to the community’s youth and their parents that discrimination will no longer be accepted in Nettleton Mississippi,” Lambright said.
June 01, 2010
My brother, Devon, and I trekked down to Lucedale, Mississippi a couple of days ago. It was storming as if Storm herself from X-men had orchestrated a mass attack against southeast Mississippi. To put the icing on the cake, 30 minutes from our destination, a tornado funnel cloud started forming right in front of us! A virgin to the whole tornado experience, I immediately turned around and high-tailed it in the opposite direction ….kind of like StormChasers, but instead of heading in the direction of the storm, I was running as far away as possible!
I finally got the courage to face the storm again and made it to the George County Courthouse where a small group of people had already begun assembling. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had sent a representative from its Community Relations Service Department to get a conversation going between local law enforcement officials and the community. Since the alleged “accidental death” of Billey Joe Johnson, Jr. the community has complained that there has been blatant racism from both the Lucedale Police Department and Sheriff’s Department.
If you're not familiar with the case, Johnson was a star high school athlete whose death still remains a mystery after he was pulled over for being a suspect in a burglary and allegedly committed suicide before the officer made it to his truck to check for his I.d. During the community meeting, DOJ adamantly stated, as it has been for the last two years, “That the case of Billey Joe Johnson, Jr. is still being investigated”.
Disappointed by the DOJ’s answer, the community then went on to explain that drug crimes, racial profiling of young black males, the lack of neighborhood watch in the community, and the Police Department’s constant tasing were their main problems. After the meeting, many members of the community, bombarded me with questions, wanted my business card and every single piece of public education materials, ACLU complaint forms, etc..that I had.
The community is frustrated and ready for action. Some are mad scared. They want and need our help. The local NAACP Chapter, Mayor, Concerned Citizen Youth group all want the ACLU to come to Lucedale and put on a “Know Your Rights” workshops. We're definitely down for the cause...rain, storm, or shine!
July 01, 2009
Rachel Myers, ACLU, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; email@example.com
Aadika Singh, RWG, (202) 296-2300 x 139; firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW YORK – Widespread racial profiling by law enforcement agents as a result of Bush-era policies remains a pervasive problem throughout the United States, according to a report out today by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Rights Working Group (RWG). Government policies are a major cause of the disproportionate stopping and searching of racial minorities by law enforcement agencies, according to the report, which was submitted today to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
"Racial profiling remains a widespread and pervasive problem throughout the U.S., impacting the lives of millions of people in the African American, Asian, Latino, South Asian, Arab and Muslim communities," said Chandra Bhatnagar, staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program and the main author of the report. "The U.S. government must take urgent, direct action to rid the nation of the scourge of racial and ethnic profiling and bring this country into conformity with both the Constitution and international human rights obligations."
Today's report came in response to a last-minute Bush administration submission to CERD in January 2009 that was plagued by omissions, deficiencies and mischaracterizations. In both its initial report to CERD in April 2007 and the follow-up submission in January, the Bush administration relied on the Justice Department's 2003 "Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agents" to support claims the government was taking steps to eliminate racial profiling. However, that document doesn't cover profiling based on religion or national origin, doesn't apply to state or local law enforcement agencies and doesn't include any mechanisms for enforcement or punishment for violating the recommendations. It also contains a blanket exception to the recommendations in cases of "national security" or "border integrity."
As a result of U.S. reliance on the vague Justice Department guidance and other Bush policies, people of color have been disproportionately victimized through various government initiatives including FBI surveillance and questioning, special registration programs, border stops, immigration enforcement programs and the creation of "no fly lists," according to today's report.
"Instead of curbing racial profiling, the overbroad national security and border integrity exceptions in the Justice Department guidance have actually promoted profiling and created justification for state and local law enforcement agents to racially profile those who are or appear to be Arab, Muslim, South Asian or Latino," said Margaret Huang, Executive Director of RWG. "We hope the Obama administration will fix the failed policies of the Bush administration and live up to its commitment to end racial profiling in the United States."
Recently, Attorney General Eric Holder stated that ending racial profiling is a "priority" for the Obama administration and that profiling is "simply not good law enforcement." Today's report from the ACLU and RWG calls on the Obama administration to fix Bush administration policies that led to pervasive racial profiling. It also calls on Congress to pass the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA), which would compel all law enforcement agencies to bar racial profiling, create and apply profiling procedures and document data on stop, search and arrest activities by race.
CERD is expected to consider the U.S. government's follow up submission, the submission of the ACLU and RWG and the submissions of other civil and human rights organizations in its August session. CERD will then issue recommendations to the U.S. government regarding its human rights obligations under the treaty.
CERD is an independent group of experts that oversees compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, a treaty signed and ratified by the U.S. in 1994. All levels of U.S. government are required to comply with the treaty's provisions, which require countries to review national, state and local policies and to amend or repeal laws and regulations that create or perpetuate racial discrimination.
The ACLU and RWG's report to CERD is available online at: www.aclu.org/intlhumanrights/racialjustice/40055pub20090629.html
The Bush administration's final submission to CERD is at: www.state.gov/documents/organization/113905.pdf