Op Eds

Drummond: Move to end youth solitary confinement a good thing

San Jose Mercury News
by Tammerlin Drummond
Jan 25, 2015


State Sen. Mark Leno has just introduced a bill to limit the use of solitary confinement in California state and county juvenile correctional facilities.

For the Love of Money, Black Friday, and BART

Oakland Tribune
by Zachary Norris
Jan 13, 2015


Fourteen Black Lives Matter activists were arrested on Black Friday for interrupting BART service. Initially, the Alameda County District Attorney and BART's Board of Directors demanded $70,000 from those activists in victim's restitution payments for lost ridership.

The BART board and the district attorney should heed the call of thousands of people who are calling for the charges against the #BlackFriday14 to be dropped.

Drummond: Will police brutality protests bring about real change?

Oakland Tribune
by Tammerlin Drummond
Dec 11, 2014


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.

Sentence for agender teen’s attacker: missed chance for justice

San Francisco Chronicle
by Zachary Norris
Nov 21, 2014


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.

Law enforcement’s core failing: Why the solution is much more than indicting Darren Wilson

by Zachary Norris
Nov 17, 2014


“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.


The Vote Is In: It’s Time to Replace “Tough-on-Crime” with “Jobs-not-Jails”

by Zachary Norris
Nov 06, 2014


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.

Burning the Candle on Both Ends: A Reflection on Work in America

Huffington Post
by Zachary Norris
Sep 04, 2014


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. 

Emmett Till, Mike Brown, and a New Movement for an Old Law

Huffington Post
by Zachary Norris
Aug 28, 2014


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.


SB 1010: Fixing California's Racist Drug Laws

Huffington Post
by Zachary Norris
Aug 12, 2014


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. 


Drummond: Time to fix California's whack crack laws

Oakland Tribune
by Tammerlin Drummond
Aug 13, 2014


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."


Subscribe to RSS - Op Eds