In The News
On November 24th, the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri failed to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of Mike Brown on August 9th. The following is Ella Baker Center Executive Director Zachary Norris' statement on the grand jury's decision, and how we should move forward:> more
Restorative justice provides an effective alternative to the punishment-focused model that dominates our criminal justice system. Instead of focusing on what laws have been broken, restorative justice brings the victim and the offender together to determine how to repair harm to the survivor and the community, hold the offender accountable, and reduce future harm.> more
“Indict. Convict. Send the killer cop to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell.” That’s the chant that stuck in my head after going to the Ferguson October protests last month in support of justice for Mike Brown.
I remember marching and saying similar chants for Oscar Grant. Four years ago, Nov. 5, 2010, Officer Johannes Mehserle was sentenced to two years for fatally shooting Oscar Grant in the back as he lay face down on a train platform in Oakland.
Proposition 47 is an example of the kind of “justice reinvestment” initiative that we need nationwide in order to reallocate resources away from mass incarceration and toward education and healthcare. For a long time, California voters have supported the “tough-on-crime” movement, by passing propositions like the three strikes law in 1994. But now, voters are sending the message that being “tough-on-crime” isn’t working, and the rest of the country should follow California’s example.> more
Co-authored by Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance
Earlier this week we celebrated Labor Day, which was established to celebrate workers and their contributions to the strength and prosperity of the country.
Yet from where we stand today, something has gone awry. Many Americans who put in a hard day's work are treated without dignity or opportunity, rather they struggle to survive on poverty wages.> more
Despite progress over the last century, for black people this country has failed to ever make good on its earliest and most basic democratic protection: the 14th Amendment. When the 14th Amendment was enacted, it was meant to provide equal protection to all under the law. But if a black person can be gunned down and left in the street for over four hours with no disciplinary action taken against the government representative responsible, what does "equal protection" mean? Redeeming the promise of the 14th Amendment is as relevant today as it was when first enacted.
This week, California may get one step closer to eliminating the racist laws that unfairly target low-income communities of color for incarceration. On Thursday, the California State Assembly will vote on a bill that would eliminate groundless disparities in punishment for possession of crack cocaine and powder cocaine for sale.
Oakland's Ella Baker Center for Human Rights is one of the co-sponsors of the California Fair Sentencing Act, which the Legislative Analyst's Office says would save millions of dollars.
"It's really modest in terms of what it's trying to achieve," says Jennifer Kim, state policy and field director for the Ella Baker Center. "It just doesn't make any sense to treat a drug that has two different names differently just because of who is using it."> more
The Ella Baker Center first hosted its alternative to National Night Out last August, not long after Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was acquitted in the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.
"Community safety has to go beyond surveillance and suspicion of your neighbors," said Ella Baker organizer Maria Dominguez. "A lot of that has to come from putting more resources into the neighborhood, creating networks with each other."> more
National Night Out gatherings, which are sponsored by the National Association of Neighborhood Watch, are scheduled to take place nationwide. Block party attendees are encouraged to come out and meet their neighbors as a way of banding together against crime. Yet some have questioned the heavy emphasis this event places on suspicion and surveillance as tools for promoting neighborhood safety.
To offer a different perspective, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights has organized a community gathering Aug. 5 at the Lake Merritt amphitheater, billed as the Second Annual Night Out for Safety and Democracy.> more