In The News
How do we go from "hands up, don't shoot" and professional athletes donning "I can't breathe" T-shirts to concrete action that will begin to alter the odious statistic that black teen males are 21 times more likely to be shot by the police than their white peers?
Zachary Norris, executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, says young leaders around the country have already begun organizing around issues of inequality. They include the Black Youth Project in Chicago, the Dream Defenders in Florida and Black Lives Matter.
"It's an example of a kind of modern day Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee," Norris said, referring to the student organization that civil rights leader Ella Baker launched to register blacks to vote in the South.> more
In honor of Human Rights Day on Wednesday, December 10th, the Ella Baker Center is hosting a vigil for Jobs Not Jails in Oakland. This vigil is part of our campaign calling on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to put 50% of their public safety budget towards community-based programs and services that prioritize job training, education, healthcare, and restorative justice initiatives.> more
A daylong summit to discuss ways to work to end mass incarceration and implement restorative justice was held recently in Oakland.
Another workshop led by the Ella Baker Center talked about how youth and their parents can get involved in justice reinvestment. Through their “50 percent for Jobs Not Jails, Books Not Bars, Healthcare Not Handcuffs” campaign, they are seeking political action to reinvest money from the prison system to fund more programs and services in the community.> more
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.