Sanctioned Brutality: Oscar Grant and Arizona

September 22, 2010 by Guest Blogger · Comments Off
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The following article is one of a series of accounts from students who recently returned  from Arizona. They were part of a delegation that spent a week touring the state amid  the enactment of controversial law SB 1070. The Center for New Community, a national civil rights organization based in Chicago, sponsored the trip, which included nine students from Washington D.C., New York, Chicago and Colorado.

By President L. Davispresident

On January 1, 2009 a young man was gunned down by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) policeman.

Oscar Grant’s shooting sparked a wave of controversy, leading to a political clash along racial and social class lines. The conflict was especially evident in the labeling of his death. Those critical of the police handling of the matter considered Grant’s killing an execution; police supporters dubbed it accidental or involuntary manslaughter.

Many blacks, like myself, who have experienced mistreatment by Oakland police firsthand, believed we could have been in Grant’s shoes. Those old enough to remember likened the shooting to the treatment that poor blacks received in the 1990s from a notorious group of rogue cops known as the Oakland Riders. Connections were made even to the police brutality that led to the 1960s formation of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Read more

When there are no Mulligans

December 14, 2009 by James E. Johnson Jr. · Comment
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It keeps coming at me like the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Since I read the New Yorker article in September I have not been able to get beyond the story of Cameron Todd Willingham.

My mother always told me to put myself in someone else’s place as a way to a better empathize or understand what that person is going through. And yet I cannot come close to imagining what Cameron Todd Willingham was going through in his last moments.

Two days before Christmas in 1991, a fire rushed through the Willingham home and killed all three of Cameron Willingham’s daughters. According to some eye witness accounts, after Willingham escaped the fire, he made attempts to go back and rescue his daughters. He was restrained with handcuffs to prevent his reentry for safety reasons. Read more

Progress on Plant Safety Benefits Entire Community

December 4, 2009 by Garat Ibrahim · Comment
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The faces of central and west central Minnesota have changed over the last decade as refugee and immigrants caused the populations of Willmar and Saint Cloud to swell. Most of these individuals work in meatpacking plants. In addition to the inherent challenges many immigrants and refugees face, they must also contend with the dangers of working in these plants.

However, there is determined community leadership in place that took the initiative to form a health action council. The council is part of the Midwest Immigrant Health Project and its goal is to address the health concerns of packinghouse and processing communities for the benefit of vulnerable immigrant workers and their families. Read more

Morrissey Loses a Fan

December 3, 2009 by Chris Bober · 3 Comments
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Music has always been a huge part of my life—especially when I was a teenager. As many young people do, I often sought an identity in song lyrics, musical styles, bands, hair, and clothes. To say I was drawn to the expressive and dramatic was an understatement. Indeed, between the ages of fifteen and eighteen-years-old, I listened almost exclusively to dark, moody, and emotional music played by The Cure, Joy Division, and Depeche Mode. However, there was no band more influential than The Smiths. Their guitarist, Johnny Marr, was one of the reasons I eventually went on to attend music school.

The band’s unique singer, Morrissey, had an even more profound effect on me. Morrissey had a way of putting into words how I felt at that age. He had the ability to make one feel as if his songs of love and loss were written just for you—a feeling I’ve heard echoed by many of my generation. Read more

Parental Notification Doesn’t Protect Women

November 9, 2009 by Jessica Acee · Comment
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Parental notification laws set up unnecessary roadblocks for young women seeking an abortion.

Thirty-five states have some form of the law mandating that doctors notify a legal guardian 48 hours in advance of the abortion, or that the parents give actual written consent.

Illinois is the latest to grapple with the legality of these laws. On November 4, the state’s medical board approved the Parental Notification Act. Just hours later a state judge granted a restraining order requested by the ACLU.

A Chicago physician and a Granite City women’s medical clinic had challenged the law with the ACLU’s help. They argued persuasively that the law is unconstitutional and would harm minors by preventing them from obtaining safe abortions or by forcing them to carry their pregnancies to term.

The American Medical Association (AMA) reports that some young women will go to extreme and unhealthy lengths to keep pregnancies secret, including running away, obtaining illegal abortions or self-inducing abortions. Read more


September 7, 2009 by admin · Comment
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Imagine 2050 Anniversary Celebration - Thursday, Aug 27!

August 26, 2009 by George Garza · Comment
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This week my band brothers and I journey to the heart of the midwest. Our destination: Chicago, Illinois.

We are en route to the Imagine2050 First Annual Anniversary Celebration, extremely excited to experience our first U.S. performance outside of Texas. This coming Thursday is the milestone marking night commemorating a successful launch year for Center for New Community‘s visionary blog site. The party is free and we are sharing the stage with an eclectic mix of music acts. Festivities start a 8:30pm inside Chicago’s Underground Lounge. In case you’d like to attend, here’s the map.

We are honored to be a part of the evening and are respecting the opportunity by clearing out an entire week from our work schedules back home.

We are documenting this landmark occasion; the first of what we hope are many travels to share our music with the world. We invite you to tune in. Read more

District 9 Reviewed

August 22, 2009 by Jill Garvey · 1 Comment
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In the opening few minutes of District 9 I was really excited at the possibility that it was going to be intelligent cine-commentary on the horrors of Apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and segregation. But it’s not smart, not true to history, and just when you think it’s going to bust open racial stereotypes it perpetuates them instead. It says a lot about transformation and human destruction, but in a way that feels shallow and simplistic.  Movie critic Armond White aptly describes it this way,

It’s been 33 years since South Africa’s Soweto riots stirred the world’s disgust with that country’s regime where legal segregation kept blacks “apart” and in “hoods” (thus, Apartheid) unequal to whites. District 9’s sci-fi concept celebrates—yes, that’s the word—Soweto’s legacy by ignoring the issues of self-determination (where a mass demonstration by African students on June 16, 1976, protested their refusal to learn the dominant culture’s Afrikaans language). District 9 also trivializes the bloody outcome where an estimated 500 students were killed, by ignoring that complex history and enjoying its chaos.

(this is where you stop reading if you don’t want me to spoil the plot twists for you). Read more

That 1 Guy Reviewed

August 9, 2009 by Guest Blogger · Comment
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by Tif Harrison

I don’t listen to jam bands. I have been known to attend a festival, or two, where jam bands played but my motive to go was never the music. You can imagine the height of my expectations as I walked into the back room of Schuba’s to catch that1guy. I listened to a few tracks from that1guy’s newest album, but could not make it through any of the songs. As the crowd of fans began to file in, I took a deep breath, found a spot on the wall and waited.

Mike Silverman is shorter than I expected. Or maybe the giant steel pipe he plays dwarfs him. When he unveiled “The Magic Pipe,” a homemade instrument made of steel plumbing and electrical wires, the crowd roared and my jaw dropped. I had to fight back laughter. I didn’t want his fans, or him, to think it was coming from a judgmental place. It was coming from a “Holy-god-this-is-insane-I-can’t-wait-to-hear-this-thing,” place. Read more

“Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out”

June 26, 2009 by Katie Bezrouch · Comment
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Photos by Brian Heiser

There was a national day of action to oppose Wells Fargo on Tuesday. In 22 cities across the country religious leaders, union workers, and citizens gathered to stand face to face with a huge bank, to let them know that their irresponsible actions will not go by unnoticed.

In Chicago we gathered outside the North Avenue location at noon. It was a wonderful array of people; diverse in age and ethnicity. Most everyone was smiling and exchanging knowledge, a sentiment of brotherly harmony suspended in the air. We marched in a circular pattern in front of the Wells Fargo building, which was generously fitted with picture windows, shouting “Wells Fargo, Shame On You”. After about 20 minutes, we stopped and gathered around a loud speaker to listen. Read more

Girl in a Coma leads San Antonio Music Revolution

June 5, 2009 by George Garza · 3 Comments
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I would like to inform you that there is a musical revolution underway in San Antonio, TX. I am not insinuating that San Antonio has the new market cornered, but I am certain more of you will begin to look to our big-city-with-a-small-town-attitude in coming years to satisfy your craving for genuine artistry.

It is only fitting then for me to begin this chronicle by introducing you all to Jen, Phanie, and Nina, better known as Girl in a Coma- three Chicanas who match their passion for music with an inspiring work ethic most would do well to take note of upon deciding to enter the music business as a performing musician/band. Read more

Interviews with Rebel Diaz on Police Brutality

June 4, 2009 by Cloee Cooper · Comment
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In summer of 2008, Hip Hop artists G1, Rodstarz and Lah Tere of Rebel Diaz were on the streets of New York.  They witnessed a street vendor being harassed by the police. Seeing that the street vendor did not reply, they decided to step in to translate for the vendor. Upon requesting the badge number of the police at the scene, the three members of Rebel Diaz were contained, arrested and taken to the local precinct.  They were held in a jail cell with over 30 other individuals for over 24 hours. Charged with unruly public conduct, the Hip Hop group have been on trial until this day.

As an active member of Western Mass Copwatch, I seized the chance to go interview these conscious Hip Hop artists, asking them questions such as “How do you see your struggle relate to a longer struggle of race issues and politics in this country?”. Below you will hear G1 of Rebel Diaz’s story as well as a glimpse of his analysis of race and policing in the United States.  The two interviews that follow are with a long time activist and former member of the Young Lords, and a member of New York City copwatch. Both link police brutality with racism.

These videos contain mature language.

To see more interviews click Read more

Reflections (May 1st, 2007)

May 1, 2009 by Guest Blogger · Comment
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By Jacquelyn Mahendra

Stroller-striped red and white reflections
Flicker fabulous, half-formed melody
Of a movement, so
This is the sound
Of a hundred thousand feet
Beating pavement

They invoke unknown protections
In the four cardinal directions, with me, here
Standing almost still in the thick of it

I, neither truly onlooker, nor activist,
Nor cameraman, I pan
To the beautiful brown babies
Flapping red-blue flags
Still knowing—well at least here is to hoping—
That you can’t argue
With a child’s smile

That, yes, we are all still flesh
And cartilage deep down- we,
Who move from excrement
To relevant, from shelter-seekers
To keepers of our own morality
As we scutter up the rungs
Of self-realized realities, neither
Truly united nor divided
By these sticky hate-laced speeches
Leaving only a little to the wind,
And even less to the imagination, when Read more

Who are the Real Pirates?

April 29, 2009 by Guest Blogger · Comment
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By The Rev. Cheryl Green

Like many around the world, I listened intently to the news reports of the Somali pirate attacks. I prayed for the safety of the persons on board, as well as a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Yet, in my listening to and reading accounts of what was occurring, I did not hear nor fully understand the reasons, the underlying “real” reasons for the ongoing piracy.

Reports from news agencies made it sound as if a group of Somali’s woke up on the morning in question and decided for the heck of it to hijack peaceful ships steaming along in Somali waters. Somehow the Somalis in question were not people with real issues, real concerns, but rather with the un-evenhanded assistance of the media and others, they were “criminals” seemingly beyond redemption, deserving of the harshest punishment possible. However, as my mother always said, “There are always two sides to every story.” Read more


April 19, 2009 by Guest Blogger · Comment
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por Fortino Vargas

“Que la paz es nuestra moneda universal y el himno que entonamos sea a la libertad. Que el ejército represente fe, amor y esperanza. Siendo emblema de la bandera; la voluntad de no herir y dañar”.

Si crees en lo misterioso e invisible, si crees más allá de lo natural, nada es imposible, que tus acciones y obras realicen el poder de imaginar. Read more

El Hombre Que Llego Del Sur

April 4, 2009 by Guest Blogger · Comment
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Por Fortino Vargas

Divagando taciturno entre penúmbras, una sombra difúsa da pequeño sóplo de vída a una antígua y mal trécha habitación, dónde; desde por los rincones y en cada esquína, escalofriante olor se percibe por el derráme inconciente e inevitable de delírios, sufrimientos y cansancio. La humedad ha traspasado los muros del orgullo y de la valentía, llegando a habitár en aquéllos ojos profundos de miradas fugáces y perdídas de aquel singular personaje. Que ha venído desde léjos, atraído por sus sueños de querer a su pobreza abandonar, más ahora en éste suelo extraño se da cuenta que bienvenído núnca fué. Read more

Center for New Community Mourns Binghamton Tragedy

April 3, 2009 by Jill Garvey · Comment
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Center for New Community

CHICAGO – Center for New Community was deeply saddened by the tragedy that took place in Binghamton, NY on Friday. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families, and the community.

Early reports indicate that this was a senseless act of violence carried out by a lone individual with unknown motives. It is reported that the victims were a group of immigrants taking a citizenship exam at the American Civic Association, which provides services to immigrants and refugees seeking to become citizens and reunite with their families.

This is a tragedy for America and for the immigrant community. As an organization that works to defend the human and civil rights of all persons residing in the United States, Center for New Community urges everyone to resist using this incident for political purposes in the contentious immigration debate.

At this time, we encourage the nation to focus its full attention on supporting the community of Binghamton, New York. Read more

Joe Arpaio’s Guards Allegedly Break Woman’s Arm

March 13, 2009 by Jill Garvey · Comment
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Stephen Lemons at Feathered Bastard posted the story of a 47 year-old woman detained in Sheriff Joe’s infamous Maricopa County prison on possible immigration violations. She allegedly suffered abuse at the hands of guards while trying to exercise her lawful rights. The family of Maria del Carmen Garcia Martinez filed an emergency stay on her behalf and was able to have her removed from the jail. Most immigrants detained in Maricopa County and subjected to abuse are not so lucky. Read more

Que es Discriminacion?

March 7, 2009 by Guest Blogger · Comment
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por Fortino Vargas

Actuár con arrogáncia y ser indiferente,
ánte ún ser humano en condición diferente.
Palábras que ofénden y miradas que mátan,
en el mundo ódio y racismo se desatan.

Es, querer ensalzár tus imaginables grandezas,
con sólo idéas vánas, llenas de pobrezas.
No ver más allá de la razón,
simplemente al prójimo partirle Alma y Corazón. Read more

Disparity in the Digital Age

February 24, 2009 by Jill Garvey · Comment
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I’m no techie. If that wasn’t clear to me before, it certainly was by the end of a technology conference I attended last week. The keynote speaker for the event whipped out an iphone at one point and showed the crowd his favorite features, shazam and ibeer. As a looked down at my new blackberry curve I felt like a dinosaur and only partly because I don’t know how to use it (blackberries are to iphones as PCs are to Macs by the way).

The speaker then continued to scare me half to death with his sobering survival rates for non-profits that do not invest in technology. Inevitably I started to think about the survival rates for human beings who do not, or I should say, cannot invest in technology. If someone like me who has all the access and opportunity right at her fingertips feels like she is hanging on by her fingernails, what of the billions who have nothing? Read more

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