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Hey Teen Resisters!
It kinda seems like we say this every time, but it is always true: it has been a very busy two weeks. From record-breaking low temps in the Midwest to a humanitarian crisis at a Brooklyn prison to infinite tensions in Washington (and more!), we hope to make digesting everything a little easier for all of you. Before we start, we wanted to highlight a few key recent news items that we don't mention later on:
2) Updates on the Trump Investigation. In response to Trump's (threatening) declaration during his SOTU address that "If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war" or "ridiculous partisan investigation," the House has continued to expand its Russia inquiry. Here are a few key happenings:
3) The Shutdown ended without any money for the wall! After 35 days, and over 800,000 government employees going home without pay
checks, President Trump signed a bill agreeing to reopen the government on Friday, January 25. Despite the government being open, more than half of the government employees still went home unpaid. Trump announced that he only intends for the government to remain open for three weeks unless border wall funding is secured
What Happens now?
- There will be lots of negotiations and debate over the security of the nation's border and the need for a wall.
- Democrats and Republicans will try to reach a consensus on a security plan. If a decision is not made, President Trump is threatening to shut down the government, or even declare a national emergency. It seems like Dems are not budging on the wall right now, but we'll see where things go.
what went down
After the public became informed and outraged, over a hundred supporters gathered on the steps of the jail to demand change. Some of the protesters stayed overnight, vowing to wait until power was restored. Hand warmers and hundreds of blankets were sent from the city and accepted by MDC, but were never given to inmates by the federal employees in the prison. Protesters communicated with inmates by asking questions on a speaker system and receiving replies through banging. Eventually, families of inmates began directly communicating with their loved ones through the speaker system as incarcerated men gripped window bars to see and speak to their girlfriends, wives, aunts, fathers, and mothers. After families stormed the prison demanding to see their loved ones, authorities used pepper spray and slapped phones out of protestors hands to try and keep people away. Additionally, social visits had been canceled and visitors have been unable to see their loved ones. After leadership from local and federal politicians as well as the fierce work of NYC Justice League and Federal Defenders, visitation rights were restored and so was heat and electricity, and multiple lawsuits and investigations are underway.
However, there are many unanswered questions about the situation, and it seems that some of the medical issues are worse than we had imagined. Since the heat has been turned back on, corrections officers have allegedly used high heat, hoses, and pepper spray against inmates. Here is an article detailing the intensity of the situation. In general, this situation highlights the intense injustice of our prison system. The refusal to address the situation is just one example of how much our prison system devalues the lives of poor Hispanic and Black people. Each small step towards justice brings us closer to running this antiquated system into the ground. Look out for a mass incarceration feature coming soon.
Click here to view our coverage of the protests outside MDC from our co-director Sonia who was at MDC on Saturday and Sunday.
What you can do:
What can you do?
Kansas is also expected to introduce two bills to legalize medical marijuana. One will be sponsored by Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, and it is partially the result of efforts on the part of Bleeding Kansas, an advocacy group working to get Kansans better health care.
Finney’s is expected to be more liberal than the other, sponsored by Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City. Holland says that his bill is “simpler” and therefore more likely to pass through Kansas’s conservative legislature.
Illinois is going even further: Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, plan to introduce a bill to legalize recreational marijuana. Illinois residents aged 21 or older would be able to purchase and possess up to 30 grams (or half that amount for nonresidents), and could grow up to five marijuana plants per household. Criminal records of low-level possession or dealing of cannabis would be erased, and tax money raised by a recreational-marijuana program would be used for development of lower-income neighborhoods.
What You Can Do:
Note: We covered marijuana legalization once before in Golden Fights, Moments, and Globes, and here is an article explaining marijuana legalization from a racial justice standpoint, in case you are interested or want to know more before deciding how/if to act on this topic. Reminder that we are not here to tell you what to do, but to give you the tools to impact the change you want to create!
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