What happens #BeyondFerguson?

 

DEAR_PRESIDENT_OBAMA_FACEBOOK3.jpg

August 25, 2014

 

The Honorable Barack Obama President

United States of America

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear President Obama:

In cities across America, local law enforcement units too often treat low-income neighborhoods populated by African Americans and Latinos as if they are military combat zones instead of communities where people strive to live, learn, work, play and pray in peace and harmony. Youth of color, black boys and men especially, who should be growing up in supportive, affirming environments are instead presumed to be criminals and relentlessly subjected to aggressive police tactics that result in unnecessary fear, arrests, injuries, and deaths.

Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teen shot multiple times and killed by a Ferguson, Mo police officer, is only the latest in a long list of black men and boys who have died under eerily similar circumstances. Investigations into the Ferguson shooting are ongoing, and many of the specific facts remain unclear for now. However, the pattern is too obvious to be a coincidence and too frequent to be a mistake. From policing to adjudication and incarceration, it is time for the country to counter the effects of systemic racial bias, which impairs the perceptions, judgment, and behavior of too many of our law enforcement personnel and obstructs the ability of our police departments and criminal justice institutions to protect and serve all communities in a fair and just manner.

In addition, the militarization of police departments across the country is creating conditions that will further erode the trust that should exist between residents and the police who serve them. The proliferation of machine guns, silencers, armored vehicles and aircraft, and camouflage in local law enforcement units does not bode well for police- community relations, the future of our cities, or our country.

And surely neither systemic racial bias nor police department militarization serves the interests of the countless police officers who bravely place their lives at risk every day.

In light of these dangerous trends, we, the undersigned, call on the Administration to pursue the following actions:

Training: Racial bias is real. Whether implicit or explicit, it influences perceptions and behaviors and can be deadly. Law enforcement personnel in every department in the country, under guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), should be required to undergo racial bias training as a part of ongoing professional development and training.

Accountability: Police departments should not be solely responsible for investigating themselves. These departments are funded by the public and should be accountable to the public. Enforceable accountability measures must be either established or reexamined for impartiality in circumstances where police shoot unarmed victims. DOJ must set and implement national standards of investigation that are democratic (involving independent review boards broadly representative of the community served), transparent, and enforceable.

Diversity: Police department personnel should be representative of the communities they serve. Police departments must adopt personnel practices that result in the hiring and retention of diverse law enforcement professionals. Using diversity best practices established in other sectors, DOJ must set, implement, and monitor diversity hiring and retention guidelines for local police departments.

Engagement: Too often law enforcement personnel hold stereotypes about black and brown youth and vice versa. Lack of familiarity breeds lack of understanding and increased opportunities for conflict. Police departments must break through stereotypes and bias by

identifying regular opportunities for constructive and quality engagement with youth living in the communities they serve. The Administration can authorize support for youth engagement activity under existing youth grants issued by DOJ.

Demilitarization: Deterring crime and protecting communities should not involve military weaponry. Effective policing strategies and community relationships will not be advanced if police departments continue to act as an occupying force in neighborhoods. The

Administration must suspend programs that transfer military equipment into the hands of local police departments and create guidelines that regulate and monitor the use of military equipment that has already been distributed.

Examination and Change: It is possible to create police departments that respect, serve and protect all people in the community regardless of age, race, ethnicity, national origin, physical and mental ability, gender, faith, or class. The Administration must quickly establish a national commission to review existing police policies and practices and identify the best policies and practices that can prevent more Fergusons and vastly improve policing in communities across the nation.

Oversight: If somebody isn’t tasked with ensuring the implementation of equitable policing in cities across the country, then no one will do the job. The Administration must appoint a federal Czar, housed in the U.S. Department of Justice, who is specifically tasked with promoting the professionalization of local law enforcement, monitoring egregious law enforcement activities, and adjudicating suspicious actions of local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding.

See PDF version here 

Sign the letter now

Maya Rockeymoore, President & CEO
Center for Global Policy Solutions
Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder & CEO
PolicyLink
The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings
Member of Congress
U.S. House of Representatives
Susan Taylor, Founder
National CARES Mentoring Movement
Editor Emeritus, Essence Magazine
Khephra Burns
Writer
Hugh B. Price
Former President & CEO
National Urban League
The Honorable Marcia Fudge
Chair, Congressional Black Caucus
Member, U.S. House of Representatives
john a. powell
Director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society
University of California, Berkeley
Kevin Powell, President
BK Nation
Shuanise Washington, President & CEO
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
John H. Jackson, President & CEO
Schott Foundation for Public Education
Rashad Robinson, Executive Director
ColorOfChange
Heather Booth, Consultant
Democracy Partners
Craig Watkins
Dallas County District Attorney
Bakari Kitwana, Executive Director
Rap Sessions: Community Dialogues on Hip Hop
Ben Cohen, Co-Founder
Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream
Wm. Jelani Cobb, Director
Africana Studies Institute
University of Connecticut
Terry L. Lierman, Founding Partner
Summit Global Ventures
Bishop Walter S. Thomas Sr.
Pastor, New Psalmist Baptist Church
Stephen Maynard Caliendo
Professor, North Central College
Co-Director, The Project on Race in Political Communication
Richard L. Trumka, President
AFL-CIO
Derek “Fonzworth Bentley” Watkins”
Founder
Fonzworth Bentley Leadership Institute
Bruce Gordon
Retired Group President, Verizon Communications
Former CEO, NAACP
Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Historian
Author, Condemnation of Blackness
Lester Spence
Associate Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies
Johns Hopkins University
Howard Dodson, Director
Howard University Libraries
William Darity, Jr.
Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and
African American Studies and Economics, Duke University
Manuel Pastor, Professor
University of Southern California
Kimberley C. Ellis, Ph.D.
American and Africana Studies Scholar
CEO, Dr. Goddess Arts, Education, and Management
Chris Messenger, Executive Director
Boston Mobilization
Avis Jones DeWeever, President and CEO
Incite Unlimited
Thomas M. Shapiro, Director
Institute on Assets and Social Policy
Brandeis University
Marcia L. Dyson, CEO
Women’s Global Initiative
Rabbi Laura Geller, Senior Rabbi
Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills
Julianne Malveaux, Founder
Economic Education
Henry A.J. Ramos, President & CEO
Insight Center for Community and Economic Development
Melinda F. Emerson “SmallBizLady”
Publisher, SucceedAsYourOwnBoss.com
David Hall, President
University of the Virgin Islands
Roberta Wallach
Actor/Artist
Larry Irving, Co-Founder
Mobile Alliance for Global Good
Roger Hickey, Co-Director
Campaign for America’s Future
Larry Cohen, Founder & Executive Director
Prevention Institute
Heather McGhee, President
Demos
Howard Pinderhughes, Associate Professor
University of California, San Francisco
Vic Rosenthal, Executive Director
Jewish Community Action
Jim Wallis, Founder & President
Sojourners
Jamal Simmons, Co-Founder
FLYCLIQUE.com
George Fraser, CEO
FraserNet, Inc.
Gary Orfield
Professor of Education, Law, Urban Planning
Co-Director, Civil Rights Project UCLA
Chris Rabb
Temple University Fox School of Business
Social Impact Fellow, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Former Lt. Governor State of Maryland
Former Chair Robert Kennedy Memorial
Joseph Jones, President & CEO
Center for Urban Families
The Honorable Steven Horsford
Member of Congress
U.S. House of Representatives
Patricia Cruz, Executive Director
Harlem Stage
Antonio Gonzalez, President
William C. Velasquez Institute
Reverend Lennox Yearwood, President & CEO
Hip Hop Caucus
Robert Borosage, Co-Director
Campaign for America’s Future
Brad Learmonth, Director of Programming
Harlem Stage
The Honorable John Lewis
Member of Congress
U.S. House of Representatives
Carrie Mae Weems
Artist
Thomas A. LaVeist, Professor
Johns Hopkins University
Steve Phillips, Chairman
PowerPAC+
Barry Scheck, Professor of Law
Cardozo Law School
Rabbi Barbara Penzner
Temple Hillel B’nai Torah, Boston
Harry E. Johnson, President/CEO
The Memorial Foundation
Maria Teresa Kumar, President
Voto Latino
Rabbi Camille Shira Angel
Congregation Sha’ar Zahav
Richard E. Fredricks, President
Maritime Solutions, Inc.
Wes Moore, CEO
BridgeEDU
Makani Themba, Executive Director
The Praxis Project
Rev. Dr. Rodney S. Sadler, Jr.
Associate Professor of Bible
Union Presbyterian Seminary
Madeline McClenney-Sadler
President, ExodusFoundation.org
Catherine Muther, President
Three Guineas Fund
Russell Simmons, CEO
Rush Communications
Michael Skolnik, President
Global Grind
Angela Rye, President & CEO
IMPACT Strategies
Fred Robinson, Jr., President
Full Spectrum Enterprises
Carleen Lyden-Kluss, Co-Founder & Executive Director
NAMEPA
Fred Azcarate, Executive Director
USAction
Cynthia Nixon
Actress
Staceyann Chin
Writer
Janet Dewart Bell
Communications and Policy Consultant
The Honorable Gwen Moore
Member of Congress
U.S. House of Representatives
Elsie Scott, Director
Ronald Walters Center
Howard University
Clay Maitland, Managing Partner
International Registries
Ellen Stone Belic
Stone Family Foundation
Lisa Hasegawa, Executive Director
National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
William Julius Wilson, Professor
Harvard University
Gregory A. Cendana, Executive Director
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance
Myron Dean Quon, Esq., Executive Director
NAPAFASA
Rosie Abriam, President & CEO
The Center for APA Women
Ben de Guzman, Co-Director for Programs
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
Fabian DeRozario, President
National Association of Asian American Professionals
Sherri Dunn Berry, Director of Programs
Community Partners
James Lewis, Issue Advocacy Director
Young Democrats of America
Dae J. Yoon, Executive Director
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium
Henry Chalfant, President
Public Arts Film
J. Philip Thompson, Associate Professor
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Kathleen Chalfant
Actor
Timothy Silard, President
Rosenberg Foundation
Jamal-Harrison Bryant
Senior Pastor & Founder
Empowerment Temple
Darlene Taylor, Chair
Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation
Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Professor
Brandeis University
Ann Cook, Educator
Hadar Susskind, Director
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Stosh Cotler, CEO
Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice
Bao Vang, President & CEO
Hmong National Development
Mary E. McClymont, President
Public Welfare Foundation
Wade Henderson, President & CEO
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director
Center for Community Change
C.A. Dan Gasby, Owner/Partner
B. Smith Enterprises
Dayna L. Cunningham, Esq., Executive Director
MIT Community Innovators Lab
Lori Villarosa, Executive Director
Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity
Gibor Basri, Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion
University of California, Berkeley
Mary Kay Henry, President
SEIU
Na’ilah Suad Nasir
Professor of African American Studies and Education
University of California, Berkeley
Michael Omi, Professor
University of California, Berkeley
M. Starita Boyce Ansari, Chief Change Officer
MSBphilanthropy Advisors, LLC
Cedric Brown, Managing Partner
Kapor Center for Social Impact
Freada Kapor Klein, Founder & Partner
Level Playing Field Institute & Kapor Capital
Benjamin Todd Jealous, Venture Partner
Kapor Capital
Mitchell Kapor, Partner
Kapor Capital
Maya L. Harris, Senior Fellow
Center for American Progress
Visiting Scholar, Harvard University
Van Jones, President
#YesWeCan & Rebuild the Dream
Lisa Thurau, Executive Director
Strategies for Youth
Rabbi Stephanie Bernstein
Bethesda, MD
The Honorable Barbara Lee
Member of Congress
U.S. House of Representatives
Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director, ACLU
Paid for by the Center for Global Policy Solutions and PolicyLink.


Technology and the Middle Class

 

It's the best of times and the worst of times.

Welcome to the theme of the FWD.US Panel on Technology and the Middle Class, featuring Rebuild The Dream president Van Jones, Scott Murphy, Andrew McAfee and Andrew Rasiej. The panel discussed the state of the economy and the future of the Middle Class and the American Dream.

Watch the FULL video below.


Years of Living Dangerously

Rebuild The Dream is excited to share the first episode of Years of Living Dangerously, a new series which takes us straight to the heart of the climate change story. 

The series combines blockbuster storytelling styles from Hollywood's top film makers (such as James Cameron) and 60 Minutes' Joel Bach and David Gelber's reporting expertise to reveal critical stories of heartbreak, hope and heroism as the race to save the planet continues

In the first episode, correspondent Don Cheadle explores why climate change is occurring.

Watch the first episode for FREE below:

YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY premieres Sunday, April 13 at 10PM ET/PT – only on SHOWTIME®.

 

 


No more guacamole?

What? No more guacamole? That could be the case if we don't start using green energy, warns Van Jones on Crossfire.

Watch here.

Agree with Van? Share the image below.

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StartUp Weekend Oakland Recap

 

It was a weekend that literally hacked the culture of Silicon Valley.  On Feb. 7 - Feb. 9, more than 50 young black males (ages 13-20) participated in StartUp Weekend Oakland’s first Hackathon celebrating Black Male Achievement hosted by Qeyno Labs and Impact HUB Oakland.

These young people teamed up with business leaders, innovators, coders, and community activists from an array of diverse backgrounds to collaborate and create apps and programs focused on community problem solving. Teams were tasked with designing new technology that would tackle the following important issues: Education, Health, Restorative Justice, Gaming, and Sustainability.

On Saturday, the groups had a chance to take a breather from their marathon coding sessions to enjoy a #YesWeCode hosted dinner and reception, which featured a keynote speech by Rebuild The Dream President Van Jones as well as wisdom from local tech leaders, such as Black Girls Code Founder Kimberly Bryant and Kapor Center Co-chair Mitch Kapor.

The crowd rose to their feet numerous times during the festivities. Below, Van and event organizers stand proudly with the weekend’s young coders.

The Zimbabwean Marimba Ensemble, Master Blaster G and Dom Jones also entertained the crowd of more than 300 during the reception.

Those who weren’t present were still able to join virtually. The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans shared a congratulatory tweet:


The San Francisco Chronicle also highlighted the Hackathon and its goal to broaden Silicon Valley’s recruitment pipeline in a recent business cover story.

Oakland Local, also an event sponsor, covered the weekend as well, which you can check out here.

Watch the video below to hear Van Jones discuss his vision for #YesWeCode.

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#YesWeCode is a nationwide initiative to help train 100,000 low-opportunity youth to code. Lean more about the #YesWeCode initiative by visiting yeswecode.org


Van Jones debunks 3 myths about Keystone XL Pipeline on Crossfire

Now is the time for us to stand against what could turn out to be a major climate and environmental atrocity.

With the recent release of the State Department’s final report on the Keystone XL pipeline (KXL), President Obama could be one step closer to approving this toxic project. 

If approved, KXL would transport more than 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil daily across the U.S. from Canada to the Gulf Coast. And just to be clear - This is not oil. This is pipe-eating, planet-cooking, water-fouling goo that nobody knows what to do with.

Today marks the first day of the State Department's new public comment period on the report, which invites the entire public to share their comments and concerns about the pipeline.

Watch Rebuild The Dream president Van Jones give his public comment against KXL and debunk three popular myths about "this special interest boondoggle." 

Spread the word and share this video on Facebook or Twitter.