Tag Archive | Latin-American

Good Kids and Bad Police in New Jersey*

Good Kids and Bad Police in New Jersey*

By Esteban Guevara

Last month the New Jersey Assembly passed bill A1114 76 to 0. This legislation, which was proposed by Democratic New Jersey Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, makes it mandatory for public schools to teach children in their social studies classes, from kindergarten through grade 12, “how to interact with law enforcement officers.”

This bill will have detrimental effects on our communities which are already under siege by the police and are confronting poverty and gentrification. The bill scapegoats children and youth for deeply-seeded systemic issues. All progressive people should reject bill A1114 and continue to fight against it alongside the communities who the police harass, humiliate and murder on a daily basis across the country.

The police murder people

Let’s cut to the chase. Wanton police terror is a reality in poor urban communities of colour. Recently, we have seen too many cases where the police have shot and killed unarmed Black and Brown people.

The proposers of this legislature claims that this bill will improve community and police interaction. However, since the shooting and death of Michael Brown, 14 teenagers have been killed by the police. Invoking the names of Tamir Rice 12, Cameron Tillman 12, Vonderrit Myers Jr. 18, Laquan McDonald 17, Carey Smith-Viramontes 18 , Jeffrey Holden 18, Qusean Whitten 18, Miguel Benton 19, Dillon McGee 18, Levi Weaver 18, Karen Cifuentes 19, Sergio Ramos 18, Roshad McIntosh 19 and Diana Showman 19 is heartbreaking. Their murders unequivocally prove that our children are not the ones who should be taught how to interact with the “authorities;” the police are the ones who should be taught how to peacefully interact with us.

The police as an institution cannot be reformed. Racism and corruption permeate all levels of the U.S.’s largest gang.

In spite of all this, the Democratic controlled New Jersey Assembly sponsored this legislation that will only shift onus on how the police interact with our communities from the police department onto our children.

Bill A1114 will bolster victim-blaming which is already utilized by the media when they report cases of civilians dying at the hand of the police. This bill can be implemented as soon as 2018 if it passes the state Senate.

We need to fight for laws that protect and empower vulnerable communities. The Amistad bill— which requires New Jersey schools to incorporate African-American history into their social studies curriculum—would be one important step forward.

Resistance

The people are standing up to Bill A1114. A campaign called Good Kids, Bad Cities initiated by community organizers and the National Independent Black Parent Association has created a petition against the bill which will be presented to the New Jersey Assembly.

On Friday June 30th, a large group of community members and activists from Black Lives Matter NJ, Students of Color NJ, Anakbayan NJ, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation gathered against the racist bill in Trenton and marched from the train station to the New Jersey State House.

At the State House, we held a rally where the community announced six demands that need to be addressed immediately. Throughout the protest, the police sought to intimidate and threaten organizers. They did not allow us to enter the State House even though it is a public building. There was media coverage as the crowd swelled and many community members and bystanders joined the call for action proving that there’s power in unity.

The Democrats: not our friends

Bill A1114 demonstrates that it does not matter if it’s on the federal, state, or local level, the Democratic Party and its representatives do not represent workers. They only seek policies and laws that maintain the status quo, benefit the most powerful and protect repressive state institutions. The true resistance remains in grassroots organizations that fight fearlessly and remain independent of the Democratic Party.

In memory of the youth and all the victims slain by the police, we vow to stand strong against Bil A1114 and every measure that harms our people. We remain in solidarity with all the families mourning their fallen children. To paraphrase Caribbean revolutionary Maurice Bishop: “The greatest way to honor our fallen warriors is by picking up the weapons they left behind.”

Source*

Related Topics:

New Jersey Town Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit With Islamic Group for $3.25mn*

Gentrification of #HarlemIsHarlem*

Gentrification and Police Terror Continues in North Sacramento*

Black NYPD Officers Sue the Department, Were Pressured to Meet Quotas of Black Arrests*

From Public Schools to Indoctrination Centres*

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A Water Crisis Like Flint’s Is Unfolding In East Chicago*

A Water Crisis Like Flint’s Is Unfolding In East Chicago*

The soil and water of this predominantly Black and Latinx city contain dangerous levels of lead.

A sign displayed in a front yard request that residents keep from playing in the dirt or mulch at the West Calumet Housing Complex on September 4, 2016, in East Chicago, Indiana.

 

By Yessenia Funes

Carmen Garza, 74, moved to the city of East Chicago, Indiana, 41 years ago. She bought her house with her husband and quickly made it home, turning their backyard into a tomato and chili garden every summer. “They were so good,” Garza tells Colorlines in Spanish. “Riquísimos.”

Three years ago, that ended after a neighbour asked the couple why they were growing vegetables in contaminated dirt.

The Garzas quickly abandoned their garden. But they were left with more questions than answers:

“She told me it was contaminated, but she didn’t say of what,” Garza recalls.

The contaminant turned out to be lead, the couple ultimately found out thanks to community efforts to discover this information. And it’s not just in the dirt—it’s in the Garza’s drinking water, too. This is because East Chicago, a predominantly Black and Latinx city of nearly 30,000, is located on the USS Lead Superfund Site.

The former USS Lead facility ran here until 1985. The site was placed on the National Priorities List of the worst contaminated sites in the country in 2009, but the EPA was aware since the facility’s closure that it was contaminating nearby areas, according to this 1985 inspection report. And as a Chicago Tribune investigation in December 2016 unearthed, government officials were warned that this contamination posed a public health risk for decades. Still, they failed to test the soil or begin cleanup efforts until 2014. That soil data didn’t make it into city officials’ hands until May 2016. With it, they saw how severe the problem really was: Some homeowners’ backyards had lead levels higher than 45,000 parts per million, far beyond the federal limit of 400 parts per million.

No one told prospective buyers like Garza—not when she first bought her home or even when government officials came to inspect her yard about 10 years ago to “examine the dirt in people’s yards to clean for the animals,” as she says officials told her. She didn’t find out what was going on until last year when community members from the West Calumet Housing Complex started organizing around the issue.

“Imagine you stop going outside,” Garza says.

“You don’t grill steak outside anymore. What can I do? I don’t have money to move.”

And then came the news of the water contamination in January. The EPA conducted a drinking water pilot study on 43 homes in fall 2016 to see if the excavation work to clean up the Superfund site would affect drinking water lead levels. They tested drinking water before and after excavation. The city, like many other older municipalities around the country, is full of service lines made out of lead. As the EPA states in an FAQ, construction work can sometimes disturb these lines and result in the leaching of lead.

That study found that the tap water in 18 homes before excavation and 12 homes after excavation had lead levels beyond 15 parts per million, which requires government intervention under the Lead and Copper Rule.

Garza’s home was included in the study. The state gave her a water filter after revealing its findings in January, but she still buys water by the gallons and bottles to cook and drink. She estimates she spends $20 a month on them, an expense that she says she is feasible within her budget.

But Garza says her daily routine is unacceptable. She can’t deal with the mental stress of knowing her water is contaminated, that her yard is contaminated and that even the dust in her home is contaminated. In 2002, she was diagnosed with—and beat—colon cancer, only to now face the concern of what will come from her daily showers in lead-tainted water, which authorities say pose no health risk.

“That’s the torment,” she says.

“It’s a constant threat.”

Now, community members are putting this issue onto the national radar so it can get the attention it deserves. East Chicago is forcing all 1,100 residents of the West Calumet Housing Complex to uproot their lives and move so that the city can demolish the building and deal with the lead on which it sits. And while it’s too early to tell how the lead might impact children’s developmental growth, 20% of children younger than seven saw their blood lead levels test greater than 5 micrograms per decileter, The Northwest Indiana Times reports. Parents are already worried that the lead poisoning has made them sick. They’re comparing it to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where the predominantly Black city of 100,000 saw elevated blood lead levels in 2015 after unknowingly drinking contaminated water for over a year.

Groups including the East Chicago Calumet Coalition Community Advisory Group and National Nurses United sent a petition to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on March 2 asking the agency to “use its emergency powers under the Safe Drinking Water Act … to take action to abate the imminent and substantial endangerment to human health caused by lead contamination in East Chicago’s drinking water.”

Erik Olsen, director of the National Resources Defense Council’s Health and Environment Program, stood before the Senate Committee on Energy and Commerce today (March 16) to testify at a hearing titled “Reinvestment and Rehabilitation of Our Nation’s Safe Drinking Water Deliver Systems” in Washington, D.C., another American city that’s has similar drinking water issues. In the early 2000s, the city had a dramatic increase of lead in drinking water—and also in its infants and toddlers.

 

“I think we all take for granted where this water that’s in here comes from,” Olsen began his testimony, lifting his cup of water. He sat before the committee and explicitly mentioned the situation in East Chicago. “What’s going to happen to that community?” he asked.

“How are we going to restore confidence in the water supply in East Chicago and a lot of communities across the country?”

Watch the full hearing below with Olsen’s testimony beginning around the 36 minute mark.

These steps—from the petition to the testimony—are putting into motion necessary intervention to protect the health of the city’s residents. While then-Indiana governor and current Vice President Mike Pence rejected the city’s request for emergency declaration in late 2016, current Governor Eric Holcomb approved the request in February. In January, the city also secured a $3.1 million state grant to begin replacing its lead pipes with more standard and safe infrastructure—which the city of Flint is currently doing as well.

Until the pipes have been replaced, city residents must struggle to find answers about how their water got contaminated—and for how long that’s been the case. A group of residents wrote a letter to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in January. “[A]lthough the full picture is only beginning to emerge, this is clearly the City’s mess,” they wrote.

As for Garza, the lingering question remains: “Why?”

Source*

Related Topics:

A Fed Set-up: Biggest Mass Shooting in Chicago Since 2014*

In Flint, Level of lead in Children’s Blood Leads to a State of Emergency*

Nestlé Loses more Than $500 Million for Poisoning Maggi Noodles with Lead*