Our biweekly lists lay out notable issues in the news and tell you what you can do about them.
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Hi everyone! We hope you're doing well and having a good summer. Usually in the summer we only do two lists, but we're planning on putting out resources more frequently this year. We also have some big plans for 2020 election action that we are going to be rolling out over the next few weeks and months. So please stay tuned!
We also wanted to say that for this summer, if you're not already subscribed to Resistbot, it's a great resource. Text RESIST to 50409-- you can send it texts that it turns into letters that get mailed to your reps.
Also: This amazing student-made website designed especially for students of color at competitive NYC high schools was shared with us recently. You can find their opportunities page here.
There's a lot going on and a lot of action to take. So let's get started!
Bills & Rules:
This week, the Movement for Black Lives released plans for a groundbreaking piece of legislation supported by Reps. Ayanna Pressley & Rashida Tlaib called The Breathe Act. The Breathe Act is a lengthy piece of legislation that aims to divest governmental funding from harmful carceral systems and put resources towards community-based solutions-- it also includes some other major pieces of policy related to environmental justice, immigration, and economic justice. The Breathe Act is long, so we have clarified its contents into a table that can be found at bit.ly/trbreathe. We would highly recommend at least skimming it to see what it contains. It's a pretty huge piece of legislation, and even having it be discussed in Congress would advance issues forward in our government (it's also a reason why the 2020 Congress elections matter so much). This is something we want to call your attention to right now, and we will continue to provide updates on it.
What You Can Do:
- Read through it! The full summary of The Breathe Act can be found here, and our breakdown of that summary can be found here (it was too long to put fully in the list).
- Watch the full press conference announcing it here.
- If you like what you see, the Movement for Black Lives is asking people sign on as community co-sponsors which would mean taking small actions and using a provided toolkit to talk with people in your community about The Breathe Act. If that's something that interests you, sign up here.
Emmett Till Act
Emmett Till was a 14-year old African-American boy who was lynched in 1955 after being accused of offending a local white woman in a grocery store. His death acted as a catalyst for the emerging civil rights movement, and H.R. 35 — an antilyching bill named in his honor — just passed the House of Representatives. The bill establishes a new criminal civil rights violation for lynching. Specifically, a person who conspires to commit certain civil rights offenses (e.g., a hate crime act) would be subject to criminal penalties.
Call your senators & tell them to vote yes:
Walking While Trans
The #WalkingWhileTrans ban, officially New York’s Loitering for the Purpose of Prostitution law, allows police to arrest individuals for conditions like ‘being in an area for a certain amont of time’ and ‘‘wearing provocative clothing.’ It also allows condoms found on someone to be used as evidence towards assumed prostitution, among other absurd qualifications. It has been disproportionately enforced against women, women of color and transgender women specifically. It’s essentially a Stop and Frisk 2.0 — an archaic mechanism that law enforcement uses to oppress marginalized communities via our legal system.
The majority of the New York State Senate has recently signed on to co-sponsor a bill to repeal the ban and Cuomo has signaled that he’d sign it, meaning it has a real chance of getting passed. To bring the bill to the top of your representatives’ priority lists and ensure that they vote to repeal:
New ICE Rule
As you've probably heard, there is a new ICE rule that says that international students who attend college or university in the US that is going to be continuing with remote-only learning in the fall have to either transfer to a school with in-person classes, or be deported from the United States. You can immediately sign this petition at this link. You can stay updated on efforts against this policy with WCL If/When/How's Instagram.
There's a new, really bad asylum rule. You can read more and sign a petition here. You can also submit a public comment, which slows down the government significantly. Here is a link to all the materials you need for creating one — instructions, tips, sample comments, etc — via @undocu_pdx
Say Their Names
Safiya Satchell: Safiya is a 33-year old Black woman who was beaten and tasered by a police officer named Jordy Yanes Martel. On January 14th, after Safiya argued with staff at a Miami strip club, and management ordered Martel to give her a warning for trespassing. Martel confronted her and blocked her from leaving, only to forcibly pull her from her car, restrain her by kneeling on her neck, and tase her several times in the stomach. Safiya, pregnant at the time, suffered many wounds to her arms, legs, and stomach from the assault.
On June 29th, five months after this incident, Martel was arrested and charged with four counts of battery and two counts of official misconduct. While this may be a victory for Safiya, it’s still not enough to end the brutality that affects countless other Black Americans.
Supreme Court Update (as of July 4)
*A number of important decisions have been put forth by the Supreme Court in the last few weeks. The four cases below involved reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ employment discrimination, and the rights of DACA recipients. Some justices strayed from the political beliefs of the presidents who selected them, reminding the American public that the Supreme Court is not as partisan as we may think.*
On June 15th, the Supreme Court released the majority and dissenting opinions for Bockstock v. Clayton County Georgia. This case was decided in conjunction with two similar cases, Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC as specified by Ballotpedia. All three cases dealt with the definition of the word “sex” as used in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This section prohibits employment discrimination. The Court ruled in a 6-3 majority that the word “sex” as used in Title VII includes sexual orientation and transgender status. The majority opinion was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee. This ruling not only established employment discrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community, but also set a precedent that includes sexual orientation and transgender status in cases of discrimination on the basis of sex.
The ruling in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California was announced on June 18th. The case was centered on the fact that the DHS’s attempt to end DACA did not follow proper procedure. This resulted in a 5-4 ruling in favor of the Regents of the University of California. The ruling determined that the attempt to end DACA could be legally reviewed by the Supreme Court and was in violation of the law. The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice Roberts, a Bush appointee. While this decision supports the continued existence of DACA, the DHS maintains power over the program.
The Supreme Court's ruling in June Medical Services v. Russo (previously known as June Medical Services v. Gee) was announced on June 29th. June Medical Services challenged a Louisiana law (Act 620) that required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their facility. While this case made its way to the Supreme Court, a similar case from Texas (Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt) was heard in 2016 wherein the Supreme Court declared a similar law unconstitutional. In a 5-4 ruling, Act 620 was also declared unconstitutional, following the precedent of the 2016 case. The majority opinion was written by Justice Breyer, a Clinton appointee. This decision enforced the precedent that extreme burden cannot be placed on a person’s right to choose. Because admitting privileges are difficult to get for abortion providers, a law requiring them places extreme burden on a person seeking an abortion. Chief Justice Roberts who was a dissenter in the 2016 case, respected the precedent set by the court and sided with the majority opinion.
On July 8th, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania that the Trump administration can allow employers to deny contraception coverage to female workers on religious or moral grounds under the Affordable Care Act. According to government estimates, as a consequence of the ruling, anywhere from 70,000 to 126,000 women could lose contraceptive coverage from their employers. In 2014, the Court addressed a similar case with Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and ruled similarly on the side of religious freedom. However, one of the “cardinal distinctions,” as Justice Ginsburg put it in her dissent, between Burwell and Little Sisters is that the former provided another option for coverage: if an employer claimed an exemption, the government or insurance company would pay. With Little Sisters, the Court struck that accommodation, agreeing with the religious right’s argument that it would make employers “complicit” in granting their employees contraceptive access. In summary, it’s a horrible ruling for women’s control over their own bodies, the separation of church and state, and the countless poor women of color who are disproportionately affected. Support Planned Parenthood and similar orgs in any way you can !!
Instead of a puppy video this week, we are recommending this channel, Nomadic Ambience, which has tons of gorgeous relaxing videos in a variety of locations-- seriously recommend watching to decompress and take a breath!
Peace & power,
These lists include featured organizations, scripts, numbers, news updates and inspirational activists.