Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

March 15, 2017

Proposed Resolution Making Milwaukee Public Schools a Safe Haven for Immigrant and Refugee Students and Families

Filed under: American Injustice,Immigration — millerlf @ 6:43 pm

Please attend the MPS full board meeting, March 30th, where public testimony will be taken on a proposed resolution by Directors Joseph and Miller to Declare Milwaukee Public Schools to Be a Safe Haven for Its Students and Families Threatened by Immigration Enforcement or Discrimination.

WHEREAS: The United States Supreme Court held in Plyer v. Doe (1982) that no public school district has a basis to deny children access to education based on their immigration status, citing the harm it would inflict on the children and society itself and the equal protection rights of the Fourteenth Amendment;

WHEREAS, The vision of the Milwaukee Public Schools states, “Schools will be safe, welcoming, well-maintained, and accessible community centers meeting the needs of all”; and

WHEREAS, MPS Administrative Policy 1.04 states, “No person may be denied admission to or participation in the benefits of any public school in the Milwaukee Public Schools, or be discriminated against in any curricular, extracurricular, student service, recreational, or other program or activity, because of the person’s sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry, creed, religion, pregnancy, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, or physical, mental, emotional, or learning disability or handicap, or any other characteristic protected by law”; and

WHEREAS, The aforementioned applies to all MPS students without exception, regardless of the immigration status of a student or family; and

WHEREAS, Through its policies and practices, the District has made a commitment to provide a quality education for all students, which includes a safe and stable learning environment, means of transportation to and from school sites, the preservation of classroom hours for educational instruction, and the requirement of school attendance; and

WHEREAS, It is the policy of Milwaukee Public Schools not to allow any individual or organization to enter a school site if the educational setting would be disrupted by that visit; and

WHEREAS, Parents and students have expressed to Milwaukee Public Schools fear and confusion about the continued physical and emotional safety of all students and the right to access a free public K­12 education through district schools and programs; and

WHEREAS, Numerous students whose education, safety, emotional well-being, and family relationships are at risk because of their immigration status are, and will in the future be, enrolled in Milwaukee Public Schools; and

WHEREAS, Milwaukee Public Schools believes that it is in the best interests of the students, staff, families, and the community of Milwaukee Public Schools that it take action to assure all students and families that disruptions to the educational environment that the actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may create will be opposed by all legal means available; and

WHEREAS, No written state or federal law mandates that local districts assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the enforcement of immigration laws; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Milwaukee Board of School Directors declare Milwaukee Public Schools (the District) to be a safe haven for its students and families threatened by immigration enforcement or discrimination, to the fullest extent permitted by the law; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That as a Safe Haven the Board directs the Superintendent to:

  1. within the next 30 days create a Rapid Response Team in partnership with community-based

organizations, legal-service providers, and social services to assist students and family to prepare in the event a minor child attending school in the District is deprived of adult care, supervision, or guardianship outside of school due to a federal law-enforcement action, such as detention by ICE or a cooperating law-enforcement agency;

  1. create bilingual Know-Your-Rights presentations for students and family members to cover their rights regarding interactions with law-enforcement and immigration agents;
  2. designate a faculty or counselor in each school who is to serve as a resource for immigrant students and their families and establish at least one resource person in Central Office who is to be trained to serve as a immigrant liaison, with expertise in immigrant and undocumented populations;
  3. establish all K-12 schools, early education centers, adult schools, and parent centers as resource and information sites for immigrant students and families;
  4. work with City/County representatives to establish a Safe Haven perimeter within which families will feel safe in bringing their children to school; and
  5. create and offer professional development opportunities for Central Office staff, administrators, guidance counselors, teachers, and paraprofessionals about the pathways to citizenship, opportunities available for college and training, financial aid, rights, and opportunities for immigrant and refugee students; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Superintendent, upon notification of the intent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or other immigration-law-enforcement personnel to enter a district school, shall take the following steps to provide for the emotional and physical safety of students and staff:

  • request and make photocopies of identification from the officers or agents;
  • request and make photocopies of a judicial warrant;

— If no warrant is presented, request the grounds for access, make notes, and contact

legal counsel for the District;

  • request and retain notes of the names of the students and the reasons for the request;
  • If school-site personnel have not yet contacted the student’s parents or guardians, do so;
  • do not attempt to provide information or conjecture about the students, such as their schedule, for example, without legal counsel present;
  • provide the agents with a copy of this Resolution 1617R-007;
  • contact legal counsel for the District;
  • request the agents’ contact information; and
  • advise the agents that you are required to complete these steps prior to allowing them access to any school site or student data; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That unless specifically required by a valid court order, district employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not use district resources for the purpose of detecting or assisting in the apprehension of persons whose only violation of law is or may be being an undocumented resident in the United States, or failing to produce documents authorizing residency in the United States; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That unless specifically required by a valid court order, or subsequent to receiving a signed release, district employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not report any information about a student’s or parent’s immigration status; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That district employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall refrain from requiring any student or parent to produce documentation regarding immigration status; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That district employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not, unless compelled by a valid court order, or subsequent to receiving a signed release, disclose to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or to any other person or entity any information about a student’s or family’s immigration status; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That district employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not, unless compelled by a valid court order, or subsequent to receiving a signed release, disclose to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or to any other person or entity any information about any district student that is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That no Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or other immigration­law-enforcement personnel shall be granted immediate access to any district school for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws and shall be referred immediately to the Superintendent; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the District shall review its record-keeping policies and practices to ensure the highest level of protection of student privacy; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board direct the Administration to conduct a full review of the District’s policies, procedures, and practices to ensure complete alignment with the Safe Haven declaration in all areas of district operations; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the District shall post this Resolution at every school site and distribute it to district staff, students, and parents using usual means of communication and that the Resolution shall be translated into all languages spoken by students at home.

 

February 23, 2017

November 9, 2016

Trump Wins: The David Dukes of the World Prevail

Filed under: American Injustice,Trump — millerlf @ 4:58 pm

 

Wednesday, 09 November 2016 By John Knefel, Truthout | News Analysis

The unimaginable has happened. The Nightmare Scenario, that thing that seemed impossible, has come to pass. The United States has played Russian roulette with itself and lost. It is difficult to find the words to capture just how profoundly awful this outcome is. Trump ran on a promise of deporting 15 million people and banning Muslims from entering the country. The immediate safety of those groups is very much in question.

Donald Trump has won the office of the President of the United States. After a 19-month campaign that encompassed the worst tendencies of the United States, it seemed possible that the worst outcome would not happen. Not so. This country now has a white supremacist as its president. Although Trump may have temporarily disavowed David Duke, make no mistake: The David Dukes of the world have won the day. There is no question who Trump is, and there never has been. To his accidental credit, Trump was incapable of hiding his sexist, racist, xenophobic impulses. He showed them to America, and the country said “yes.”

What Donald Trump has shown us is that the majority of American voters want a white supremacist in the Oval Office. He ran on an ethno-chauvinist platform that always intentionally excluded people of color from the basic promises of society, by definition. That is the terrible conclusion compelled by Occam’s razor: A vast number of the people who populate the United States want to be led by a white supremacist.

Americans are confronted now with the real issue of resistance. We have to resist.

What we all must understand is that there is no longer a worst-case scenario. The nuclear technicians who endorsed Clinton mean nothing now. Whistleblowers, under Trump: Good luck. And good luck to all the media outlets Trump’s good friend Peter Thiel wants to take an axe to as well.

We are in uncharted waters. Many critics have compared Trump to Hitler, but most have missed the mark. It’s been 92 years since Hitler’s failed beer hall putsch, also on November 8 and 9, 1923. That attempt to oust the national government failed, but it showed Hitler’s prowess and ultimately established him on the national stage in Bavaria. The failed coup landed Hitler in jail, but a sympathetic judge offered a lenient sentence, and by the mid 1920s Hitler was again agitating for the power on a platform that centered the annihilation of the Jews. Not enough Germans disrupted that project. The United States may well skip the stage of the 1920s and go right to the more mechanized stage of destruction.

With Trump at the helm, who knows.

The man has promised to deport 15 million undocumented people. He has promised to impose a ban on entering the country for Muslims. Let no one forget that he bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy.” What the lessons of early 20th-century fascism tell us, though, is that a dictator can be down but not out. Regardless of Trump’s terrifying rise, liberalism hasn’t had enough to say about the appeal of right-wing fanaticism. And still, when a human tells you of their plan to carry out a project of white supremacy through deportation, as Trump has promised for the United States, we would do well to listen to him.

Grotesque fascism has won the day. Years from now, a younger candidate may well be able to generate even more support among white women, a group Trump won, and still retain Trump’s devoted base and have a shot at continuing Trump’s administration.

Donald Trump is a fanatic, and his fanaticism takes the form of extreme narcissism most prominently. It’s true that his misogyny and racism go back decades, but even as late as 2012 he was pushing for immigration reform, contrary to his central animating campaign promise. He is terrifying as an executive, but he is not a true believer, at his core. However, his victory will pave the way for the rise of fascist leaders who are more tied to their “principles” than he is.

In fact, it turned out the US was susceptible to two distinct threats, both of which Trump embodied to a certain extent. One is the threat of the shrewd fascist, and the other is that of the true believer. Ezra Klein at Vox argued that the world produces all kinds of talented fascists, and that a more skilled politician could’ve won on Trump’s promises but with toned-down rhetoric. Well, apparently the United States didn’t require a shrewd fascist to win, just a simple demagogue. Perhaps a more skilled Republican could have also won the popular vote, or won by a greater margin, but that wasn’t necessary. Trump was shrewd enough.

Trump is a true believer, too: a believer in his own entitlement and also in the correctness of patriarchy and white dominance. Whether he will pursue his campaign promises with the dedication of a fanatic remains to be seen, but we know he sees the world as one in which rich white men should rule, and the rest should follow.

The country is at risk of falling prey not only to the skilled authoritarian, but also to the true believer fanatic: someone with Trump’s thirst for vengeance and totalitarian leanings, who also believes in the messianic righteousness of their platform, as opposed to just believing in themselves (as Trump does). The true believer is someone for whom the alt-right message boards are the unchanging gospel.

And these two types, of course, aren’t mutually exclusive. The alt-right may not be yet capable of producing slick politicians, but it has no problem producing fanatics. And whether a true believer rises through its ranks or a skilled operator rides the wave of alt-right enthusiasm, the threat is the same. Stephen Bannon — the man at the helm of Trump’s campaign and the force behind the conservative site Breitbart — is a true believer. Whether Trump carries out a true-believer program of maximal pain upon The Other remains to be seen, but if I were betting I’d say he does it.

To see the harm a true fanatic can do, one need look no further than the George W. Bush administration. Torture and any number of other cruelties were carried out in the name of protecting freedom. That the population at large never reckoned with these policies was just a side benefit. Trump, for his part, has promised to bring back waterboarding and worse. He has also pledged to kill the families of suspected terrorists.

The great unanticipated threat in this election was the latent authoritarianism of the United States citizenry. Early polls showed that the best indicator for Trump support was authoritarianism. The one thing that Trump did well was combine his branding with his politics, to make essentially a brand out of a political party.

The Republican establishment spent most of the primary waiting for the Trump bubble to burst. That never happened, and now the country has to deal with President Trump. The establishment has lost control but the party will unite, begrudgingly, and the very serious party operatives will have their way. Paul Ryan’s program of austerity will likely find a friend in President Trump, regardless of his early promises to protect the social safety net.

When I went up to Manchester, New Hampshire, on October 28, I spoke with a woman who, unprompted, explained her fondness for Trump to me. “He’ll fix the inner cities,” she told me. “He’ll teach them how to help themselves.” This condescending attitude is at the heart of so much white supremacy. Racism always presents itself as rational and reasonable, not as hate but as an expression of the “natural” order of things.

Trump has said some critical things about the invasion of Iraq. So what? Does anyone think that Trump will act restrained in the face of even the most manageable of national security challenges? His entire worldview is one of maximalist dominance. That’s why he admires Vladimir Putin so much. That’s why he has no problem being associated with “interesting quotes” from Benito Mussolini. He has already repeatedly promised to take ISIS’s oil, itself a simplification of liberal criticisms of Bush and Cheney’s Iraq catastrophe. He will likely meet with conservative thought leaders — who, it turns out, don’t much determine public thought — and promise them that yes, foreigners will respect America again. Just like when Gov. Chris Christie, Trump’s first establishment endorsement, said the sheer force of his personality would have stopped Putin from annexing Crimea, Trump will likely promise what the foreign policy establishment loves most: an amplification of US military dominance abroad.

The country has laid its claim. The rich white men will die before they share prosperity. Trump has won, and at best, the republic is not lost. But maybe it is. Maybe it was already destroyed years ago.

 

October 30, 2016

Why I have decided to run again for the MPS school board

Filed under: American Injustice — millerlf @ 11:17 am
Filed under: MPS,Public Education — millerlf @  Edit This

I’ve been fortunate to be part of the effort in Milwaukee to improve public education and serve students and their families. MPS is seeing important gains in educating the city’s children. In a variety of areas — college readiness work, expansion of highly successful programs like Montessori, strengthening our bilingual programs, advancing rigorous curriculum in schools, advancing the BlackLivesMatter initiative, creating the foundation for ethnic studies, bringing the arts into all of our schools, improving cultural relevancy for students, and striving for academic growth in educating all students — I have been able to work with a visionary administration and a school board that puts children first.

Despite our accomplishments, the administration and school board recognize that our most difficult work lies ahead. The challenges are daunting but hope and enthusiasm are visible throughout the work.

At the same time, intentional roadblocks to serving 77,000 students keep rising to the surface. At a time when white nationalism, misogyny, and xenophobia plague our national and local politics, some of the same people supporting these undemocratic positions have MPS and the governing authority of the MPS school board in their cross-hair. Their efforts represent a diversion from supporting and educating our students; fair-minded people who care about reaching all children must oppose such attacks.

Our job is to educate every child who walks through our doors and strive to help them succeed. We will continue to do this work and we will continue to make progress.

I cannot walk away from this work at this time.

Larry Miller

I will be holding a fundraiser

on Monday November 14,

from 5PM to 7PM at:

The Art Bar

722 E. Burleigh St.

October 29, 2016

Battle at Standing Rock vs. Dakota Access Pipeline

Filed under: American Injustice,Racism — millerlf @ 3:45 pm

How to Talk About #NoDAPL: A Native Perspective

Friday, 28 October 2016  By Kelly Hayes, Truthout | Op-Ed

Stacey Alkire of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who has been at the campsite set up to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline for five weeks, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on October 8, 2016. (Photo: Kristina Barker / The New York Times) Stacey Alkire of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who has been at the campsite set up to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline for five weeks, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on October 8, 2016. (Photo: Kristina Barker / The New York Times)

An earlier version of this piece appeared on Transformative Spaces.

The public witnessed a new level of escalation on Thursday in the Native struggle at Standing Rock, as police swept through an encampment in the direct path of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL). The resulting standoff with the National Guard, and police officers from various states, led to 117 arrests. Advancing authorities attacked Water Protectors with flash grenades, bean bag launchers, pepper spray and Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs). There were also numerous reports of police beating Water Protectors, and reports of live ammunition being used.

Such developments were incredibly disturbing, both to those present and to Natives who were actively watching from a distance, but the raid itself was not unexpected. In fact, there was a great deal of suspicion that the police would close in the day before, which led me to reach out to a number of my friends on the frontlines Wednesday. Amid our conversations about their feelings and recent experiences at the camps, I asked my friends if there was anything they wanted shared in writing. What follows is grounded in the substance of those conversations. These ideas are obviously not representative of all Native perspectives on the subject, because our convictions are as diverse as that of any peoples. But it’s a perspective we thought was worthy of expression.

A Shared Reflection

It is crucial that people recognize that Standing Rock is part of an ongoing struggle against colonial violence. The Dakota Access pipeline (#NoDAPL) is a front of struggle in a long-erased war against Native peoples — a war that has been active since first contact, and waged without interruption. Our efforts to survive the conditions of this anti-Native society have gone largely unnoticed because white supremacy is the law of the land, and because we, as Native people, have been pushed beyond the limits of public consciousness.

The fact that we are more likely to be killed by law enforcement than any other group speaks to the fact that Native erasure is ubiquitous, both culturally and literally, but pushed from public view. Our struggles intersect with numerous others, but are perpetrated with different motives and intentions. Anti-Blackness, for example, is a demonstration of power, whereas the violence against us is a matter of pragmatism. The struggle at Standing Rock is an effort to prevent the construction of a deadly, destructive mechanism, created by greed-driven people with no regard for our lives.

It has always been this way. We die, and have died, for the sake of expansion and white wealth, and for the maintenance of both.

The harms committed against us have long been relegated to the history books. This erasure has occurred for the sake of both white supremacy and US mythology, such as American exceptionalism. It has also been perpetuated to sustain the comfort of those who benefit from harms committed against us. Our struggles have been kept both out of sight and out of mind — easily forgotten by those who aren’t directly impacted.

It should be clear to everyone that we are not simply here in those rare moments when others bear witness.

To reiterate what should be obvious: We are not simply here when you see us.

We have always been here, fighting for our lives, surviving colonization, and that reality has rarely been acknowledged. Even people who believe in freedom frequently overlook our issues, as well as the intersections of their issues with our own.

It matters that more of the world is bearing witness in this historic moment. However, we feel the need to point out that the dialogue around #NoDAPL has become increasingly centered on climate change. Yes, there is an undeniable connectivity between this front of struggle and the larger fight to combat planetary warming. We fully recognize that all of humanity is at risk of extinction, whether they realize it or not. But intersectionality does not mean focusing exclusively on the intersections of our respective work. It sometimes means taking a journey well outside the bounds of those intersections.

In discussing #NoDAPL, too few people have started from a place of naming that we, as Indigenous people, have a right to defend our water and our lives, simply because we have a natural right to defend ourselves and our communities. When “climate justice,” in a very broad sense, becomes the center of conversation, our fronts of struggle are often reduced to a staging ground for the messaging of NGOs.

Yes, everyone should be talking about climate change, but you should also be talking about the fact that Native communities deserve to survive, because our lives are worth defending in their own right — not simply because “this affects us all.”

So when you talk about Standing Rock, please begin by acknowledging that this pipeline was redirected from an area where it was most likely to impact the residents of Bismarck, North Dakota. When Bismarck’s population — which is over 90 percent white — objected to the risks the pipeline posed to their drinking water, their concerns were accommodated, and the pipeline route was shifted into treaty lands. Please inform people of these facts, and remind them that our people are still struggling to survive the violence of colonization on many fronts. People should not simply engage with stories related to our struggles when they see a concrete connection to their own issues — or a jumping off point to discuss their own issues. Our friends, allies and accomplices should be fighting alongside us because they value our humanity and right to live, in addition to whatever else they believe in.

Every Native at Standing Rock — every Native on this continent — has survived the genocide of 100 million of our people. That means that every Indigenous child born is a victory against colonialism, but we are all also born into a fight for our very existence. We need that to be named and centered.

This message is not a condemnation. It’s a fundamentally reasonable ask.

We are asking that you help ensure that dialogue around this issue begins with and centers a discussion of anti-Native violence and policies, no matter what other connections you might ultimately make, because those discussions simply don’t happen in this country. There obviously aren’t enough people talking about climate change, but there are even fewer people — and let’s be real, far fewer people — discussing the various forms of violence that Indigenous people are up against, and even fewer acting in solidarity with us. And while such discussions have always been deserved, we are living in a moment when Native Water Protectors and Water Warriors have more than earned both acknowledgement and solidarity.

If you have been with us in this fight, we appreciate you. But we are reaching out, right now, in these brave days for our people, to ask that you keep the aforementioned truths front and center as you discuss #NoDAPL. This moment is, first and foremost, about Native liberation, Native self-determination and Native survival.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes is a direct action trainer and a cofounder of The Chicago Light Brigade and the direct action collective Lifted Voices. She is community relations associate and a contributing writer at Truthout and her photography is featured in the “Freedom and Resistance” exhibit of the DuSable Museum of African American History. Kelly’s contribution to the anthology Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? stems from her work as an organizer against state violence and her ongoing analysis of movements in the United States, as featured in Truthout and the blog Transformative Spaces.

May 29, 2016

Mike Ford Report: Determinants of Organizational Failure in the Milwaukee School Voucher Program

Filed under: American Injustice,Vouchers — millerlf @ 12:13 pm

Policy Studies Journal

Atlanta Black Star News Reports on MPS Black Lives Matter Initiative

Filed under: American Injustice,BlackLivesMatter — millerlf @ 12:08 pm

 

 

Milwaukee Schools Forced to Justify $471K Black Lives Matter Initiative to Angry Critics: ‘All I’ve Seen is Hatred’

May 27, 2016 | Posted by Shaundra Selvaggi Tagged With: Black Lives Matter Milwaukee Public Schools, Milwaukee public schools

 

Milwaukee Public Schools have proposed a “Black Lives Matter” initiative to break the school-to-prison pipeline. Courtesy MPS.

Milwaukee Public Schools officials recently initiated a budget proposal that they hope will alleviate Black students’ barriers to success. But the controversial name made national headlines, drawing the attention of conservative talking heads.

They called it the Black Lives Matter initiative.

Kyle Olson, founder of the Wisconsin-based Education Action Group, told Fox News that parents and taxpayers should be worried about the movement’s possible connection to the proposal.

“All I’ve seen from ‘Black Lives Matter’ is a fomentation of hatred against the police, increased racial division and making excuses for the combination of poor parenting and failed policies from big city liberal politicians,” he said.

Charlie Sykes, local radio talk show host and founder of RightWisconsin.com, said the budget’s wording suggested funds might be allocated to the “militant political anti-cop” movement.

“The budget explicitly includes line items for “Black Lives Matter,” he wrote in a blog, though he acknowledged that a thorough reading of the document made clear that the money would not go to the organization.

“This leaves the obvious question unanswered: Why did the bureaucrats who run the system think it was a good idea to use the politically and racially charged title in the first place?” Sykes continued.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Supreme Moore Omokunde told school board members they were the solution to breaking a harmful prison cycle, at Tuesday’s public budget hearing.

“You are the stopgap for the school-to-prison pipeline,” he said. “If I’m a young person and learning about myself in school, it sparks my ability to learn about anything and everything else in the world,” he said. “And it may keep me off a path of desperation.”

School Board Vice President Larry Miller co-authored the resolution that will devote $471,000 to adding racial and cultural studies classes and conflict-resolution techniques to the curriculum for the 2016-2017 school year.

The budget will cover salaries for three new instructors and cultural sensitivity training for current teachers.

Officials have stressed that no portion of the funds will go to the actual movement and that its name is the only connection to the organization.

Community members were invited to speak at the Board of Directors meeting. The majority of attendees were in favor of the resolution.

“I hope you take the resolution more to heart,” Khalil Coleman said, per Fox6. “It’s just a drop in the bucket to the deficit young people are dealing with every day.”

Many citizens suggested a provision to end the presence of school resource officers in local schools. In a move to reduce tensions between students and police officers, MPS partnered with the local police department to introduce Students Talking it Over with Police in 2010, Watchdog reports.

“There should be a specific provision for the STOP program to end or SROs to be quickly phased out,” Mary Watkins said. “As long as those things remain, they are directly counter to this Black Lives Matter resolution.”

Maria Peeples agreed, arguing the collaboration had negatively impacted students of color.

“While we are funding positive programs such as Black Lives Matter,” Maria Peeples said, “we also need to be brave in our resolve to defund harmful partnerships that continue to contribute to violence against MPS students.”

 

May 26, 2016

MPS Black Lives Matter Work Supported at Public Hearing

Filed under: American Injustice,BlackLivesMatter — millerlf @ 9:46 am

by Larry Miller

The article today in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel showed the overwhelming community support expressed at an MPS budget hearing held Tuesday night for the Black Lives Matter intitiative.

But the article referred to me saying, the initiative was not intended to push a Black Lives Matter agenda. I did not say that. Notice this comment  is not in quotes.

The Black Lives Matter resolution and budget action proposal is an application of the Black Lives Matter movement which is a just and necessary movement. The MPS BLM resolution is an educational application of the movement and the principles of BLM movement.

Read Professor Brittney Cooper’s article in Cosmopolitan Magazine to better understand what the Black Lives Matter movement’s priniples are.

11 Major Misconceptions About the Black Lives Matter Movement

You might associate it with the fight against police brutality, but it’s simply not true that it’s a one-issue movement.

By Brittney Cooper
Sep 8, 2015 Cosmopolitan Magazine

Since the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer in 2013 and the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, the phrase “black lives matter” has become a rallying cry for a new chapter in the long black freedom struggle. But this new movement’s penchant for disruptive protest and impassioned public speeches about persistent racial inequality have been disconcerting to many Americans who wonder what the end-game is for this new generation of protesters. Do black lives matter more than white lives? bystanders ask. Why can’t black people simply address the crime problem in their own communities? others want to know. And if the problems are really this bad, can’t voting for new political leaders solve them? sympathizers wonder. These are just some of the many questions surrounding this new movement. But the young people taking to the streets in protest have a righteous cause. They deserve a fair hearing. And we can begin by debunking a few myths about what the Black Lives Matter movement is and what it isn’t.

1. The movement doesn’t care about black-on-black crime. The idea that black-on-black crime is not a significant political conversation among black people is patently false. In Chicago, long maligned for its high rates of intraracial murder, members of the community created the Violence Interrupters to disrupt violent altercations before they escalate. However, those who insist on talking about black-on-black crime frequently fail to acknowledge that most crime is intraracial. Ninety-three percent of black murder victims are killed by other black people. Eighty-four percent of white murder victims are killed by other white people. The continued focus on black-on-black crime is a diversionary tactic, whose goal is to suggest that black people don’t have the right to be outraged about police violence in vulnerable black communities, because those communities have a crime problem. The Black Lives Matter movement acknowledges the crime problem, but it refuses to locate that crime problem as a problem of black pathology. Black people are not inherently more violent or more prone to crime than other groups. But black people are disproportionately poorer, more likely to be targeted by police and arrested, and more likely to attend poor or failing schools. All of these social indicators place one at greater risk for being either a victim or a perpetrator of violent crime. To reduce violent crime, we must fight to change systems, rather than demonizing people.

2. It’s a leaderless movement. The Black Lives Matter movement is a leaderfull movement. Many Americans of all races are enamored with Martin Luther King as a symbol of leadership and what real movements look like. But the Movement for Black Lives, another name for the BLM movement, recognizes many flaws with this model. First, focusing on heterosexual, cisgender black men frequently causes us not to see the significant amount of labor and thought leadership that black women provide to movements, not only in caretaking and auxiliary roles, but on the front lines of protests and in the strategy sessions that happen behind closed doors. Moreover, those old models leadership favored the old over the young, attempted to silence gay and lesbian leadership, and did not recognize the leadership possibilities of transgender people at all. Finally, a movement with a singular leader or a few visible leaders is vulnerable, because those leaders can be easily identified, harassed, and killed, as was the case with Dr. King. By having a leaderfull movement, BLM addresses many of these concerns. BLM is composed of many local leaders and many local organizations including Black Youth Project 100, the Dream Defenders, the Organization for Black Struggle, Hands Up United, Millennial Activists United, and the Black Lives Matter national network. We demonstrate through this model that the movement is bigger than any one person. And there is room for the talents, expertise, and work ethic of anyone who is committed to freedom.

3. The movement has no agenda. Many believe the Black Lives Matter movement has no agenda — other than yelling and protesting and disrupting the lives of white people. This is also false. Since the earliest days of the movement in Ferguson, groups like the Organization for Black Struggle, the Black Lives Matter network, and others have made both clear and public a list of demands. Those demands include swift and transparent legal investigation of all police shootings of black people; official governmental tracking of the number of citizens killed by police, disaggregated by race; the demilitarization of local police forces; and community accountability mechanisms for rogue police officers. Some proposals like the recently launched Campaign Zero by a group of Ferguson activists call for body cameras on every police officer. But other groups are more reticent about this solution, since it would lead to increased surveillance and possible invasions of privacy, not to mention a massive governmental database of information about communities of color that are already heavily under surveillance by government forces.

4. It’s a one-issue movement. Although it is true that much of the protesting to date has been centered on the issue of police brutality, there is a range of issues that movement work will likely push in years to come. One is the issue of our failing system of public education, which is a virtual school-to-prison pipeline for many black youth. Another is the complete dismantling of the prison industrial complex. Many of the movement’s organizers identify as abolitionists, which in the 21st-century context refers to people who want to abolish prisons and end the problem of mass incarceration of black and Latino people. Three other significant issues are problems with safe and affordable housing, issues with food security, and reproductive justice challenges affecting poor women of color and all people needing access to reproductive care. As I frequently like to tell people, this movement in its current iteration is just over a year old. Give it some time to find its footing and its take on all the aforementioned issues. But the conversations are on the table, largely because many of the folks doing on-the-ground organizing came to this work through their organizing work around other issues.

5. The movement has no respect for elders. The BLM movement is an intergenerational movement. Certainly there have been schisms and battles between younger and older movers about tactics and strategies. There has also been criticism from prior civil rights participants. There is a clear rejection of the respectability politics ethos of the civil rights era, namely a belief in the idea that proper dress and speech will guard against harassment by the police. This is a significant point of tension within black communities, because in a system that makes one feel powerless to change it, belief in the idea that a good job, being well-behaved, and having proper dress and comportment will protect you from the evils of racism feels like there’s something you can do to protect yourself, that there’s something you can do to have a bit of control over your destiny. This movement patently rejects such thinking in the face of massive evidence of police mistreatment of black people of all classes and backgrounds. All people should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of how one looks or speaks. If you ever have occasion to attend a protest action, you will see black people of all ages, from the very young to the very old, standing in solidarity with the work being done.

6. The black church has no role to play. Many know that the black church was central to the civil rights movement, as many black male preachers became prominent civil rights leaders. This current movement has a very different relationship to the church than movements past. Black churches and black preachers in Ferguson have been on the ground helping since the early days after Michael Brown’s death. But protesters patently reject any conservative theology about keeping the peace, praying copiously, or turning the other cheek. Such calls are viewed as a return to passive respectability politics. But local preachers and pastors like Rev. Traci Blackmon, Rev. Starsky Wilson, and Rev. Osagyefo Sekou have emerged as what I call “Movement Pastors.” With their radical theologies of inclusion and investment in preaching a revolutionary Jesus (a focus on the parts of scripture where Jesus challenges the Roman power structure rather than the parts about loving one’s enemies) and their willingness to think of church beyond the bounds of a physical structure or traditional worship, they are reimagining what notions of faith and church look like, and radically transforming the idea of what the 21st-century black church should be.

7. The movement does not care about queer or trans lives. The opening presenter at the first national convening of the Movement for Black Lives in Cleveland this summer was Elle Hearns, a trans black woman organizer from Ohio. That she was collectively chosen to open the proceedings was a deliberate choice to center both women and queer and trans people as movement leaders. This is a clear break from prior racial justice movement politics. Not only does the Movement for Black Lives embrace queer and trans black people, but it has been at the forefront of efforts to highlight our national epidemic of murders of trans women of color. This year alone, we have had nearly 20 murders. Moreover, the movement does not merely give token representation to queer and trans people. Two of the founders of the Black Lives Matter network, Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza, are queer black women. And queer and trans black people are not called in merely to discuss queer and trans issues. They are at the table, on the stage, in the protests. These moves have not been without their challenges, and the movement has had to deal with queer and trans antagonism both from the broader public and within movement spaces. But there is a fundamental belief that when we say Black Lives Matter, we mean all black lives matter.

8. The movement hates white people. The statement “black lives matter” is not an anti-white proposition. Contained within the statement is an unspoken but implied “too,” as in “black lives matter, too,” which suggests that the statement is one of inclusion rather than exclusion. However, those white people who continue to mischaracterize the affirmation of the value of black life as being anti-white are suggesting that in order for white lives to matter, black lives cannot. That is a foundational premise of white supremacy. It is antithetical to what the Black Lives Matter movement stands for, which is the simple proposition that “black lives also matter.” The Black Lives Matter movement demands that the country affirm the value of black life in practical and pragmatic ways, including addressing an increasing racial wealth gap, fixing public schools that are failing, combating issues of housing inequality and gentrification that continue to push people of color out of communities they have lived in for generations, and dismantling the prison industrial complex. None of this is about hatred for white life. It is about acknowledging that the system already treats white lives as if they have more value, as if they are more worthy of protection, safety, education, and a good quality of life than black lives are. This must change.

9. The movement hates police officers. Police officers are people. Their lives have inherent value. This movement is not an anti-people movement; therefore it is not an anti-police-officer movement. Most police officers are just everyday people who want to do their jobs, make a living for their families, and come home safely at the end of their shift. This does not mean, however, that police are not implicated in a system that criminalizes black people, that demands that they view black people as unsafe and dangerous, that trains them to be more aggressive and less accommodating with black citizens, and that does not stress that we are taxpayers who deserve to be protected and served just like everyone else. Thus the Black Lives Matter movement is not trying to make the world more unsafe for police officers; it hopes to make police officers less of a threat to communities of color. Thus, we reject the idea that asking officers questions about why one is being stopped or arrested, about what one is being charged with, constitutes either disrespect or resistance. We reject the use of military-grade weapons as appropriate policing mechanisms for any American community. We reject the faulty idea that disrespect is a crime, that black people should be nice or civil when they are being hassled or arrested on trumped-up charges. And we question the idea that police officers should be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to policing black communities. Increasingly, the presence of police makes black people feel less rather than more safe. And that has everything to do with the antagonistic and power-laden ways in which police interact with citizens more generally and black citizens in particular. Therefore, police officers must rebuild trust with the communities they police. Not the other way around.

10. The movement’s primary goal should be the vote. Recently the Democratic National Committee endorsed the Black Lives Matter movement. The BLM network swiftly rejected that endorsement. While voting certainly matters, particularly in local municipalities like Ferguson, movement members are clear that voting for policies and politicians whose ultimate goal is to maintain a rotten and unjust system is counterproductive. Thus the movement cares about national politics, and many participants have sought to make presidential candidates responsive to their political concerns. However, there is deep skepticism about whether the American system is salvageable, because it is so deeply rooted in ideas of racial caste. In this regard, the BLM movement, together with the Occupy movement of years past, is causing a resurgence of a viable, visible, and vocal (black) left in national politics. Moving some issues of import onto the 2016 election agenda should therefore be viewed as a tactic, not a goal. The goal is freedom and safety for all black lives. And that goal is much bigger than one election.

11. There’s not actually a movement at all. Until Bernie Sanders sought the attention of Black Lives Matter participants, many were wont to acknowledge that a new racial justice movement even existed. For the record, since August 2014, more than 1,030 protest actions have been held in the name of Black Lives Matter. A new generation of protest music has come forth with songs from Janelle Monae, Prince, J. Cole, Lauryn Hill, and Rick Ross. The first national convening in July drew over 1,000 participants. There is a new consciousness and a new spirit seeking justice, and the participants carrying the torch show no signs of slowing down.

May 4, 2016

Gary Tyler Set Free! A History All Fighters for Justice Should Know.

Filed under: American Injustice,Racial Justice — millerlf @ 3:23 pm

I received this email today. I went with a team of organizers in the 1970’s to New Orleans to work to “Free Gary Tyler”. We had a division of labor. I, along with other white organizers, went into white communities while Black organizers went into Black communities. Please read the following.
Larry Miller

Dear Friends —

We’re sending this letter mostly to a group of long-time friends — people who will recognize the name “Gary Tyler”, and recall the “Free Gary Tyler” campaign in which we were all involved in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Freedom and justice for Gary was a cause we embraced for several years, long ago. We were activists on his behalf. For many of us, it was a shock to learn recently that Gary Tyler has remained in prison for 41+ years! — notwithstanding his innocence — notwithstanding that the 5th Circuit deemed his trial “fundamentally unfair” — notwithstanding that the Pardon Board three times recommended he be pardoned. We moved on, yet Gary was seemingly unable to move on with his own life. (And yet, of course, he did — against all odds! More on that later.)

Until now! A recent Supreme Court decision declared Gary’s life sentence unconstitutional. The Parish district attorney agreed to vacate his conviction if Gary would plead guilty to manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 21 years. Gary agreed. After 41 years in prison, Gary walked out a free man on Friday, April 29! Gary, who entered prison at age 16 under threat of the death penalty, is finally a free man at the ageof 57! Can you imagine what that will be like for him?! Free at last, yes, but building a life from scratch as you approach 60 years old?

There are far too many painful stories of innocent prisoners — mostly African-American — freed after decades in prison. For Gary, there are allies who have been planning for this day for many years — lawyers and other supporters working on his behalf to ensure his smooth re-integration into the outside world — lining up jobs and other services. The plan is for Gary to leave Louisiana and settle in Los Angeles, where he has some family and a dedicated support network.

This is where we all come in! A range of job possibilities have been lined up in LA, plus some initial housing and other services. But we need to think of the longer-term as well. A Fund has been established under the auspices of the Liberty Hill Foundation to channel financial support to Gary for housing, health care, clothing, insurance, transportation, and the myriad other financial needs he will face initially and over the next few years as he builds a life having spent his entire adult life — 41 years — behind bars.

The Fund opened with $7,000; our goal is to raise $60,000. Money can’t right the enormous injustice done to Gary Tyler, but perhaps we can ease his road back to freedom.

Contributions to this Fund are tax-deductible. We hope you will give generously! (See box, below.)

A little more on Gary: Gary is a pretty amazing man — a really lovely man. A couple of years ago, a few of us had an opportunity to meet Gary and talk to him at length. Yes, of course he wanted out of prison, but in the meantime he consciously eschewed bitterness and made more of his life than many people on the outside. Angola Prison has some very unique programs, and Gary worked hard to positively impact the lives of others.

He was a founder and long-time volunteer in the hospice program (featured in the Oprah Winfrey/Forest Whitaker documentary Serving Life, and the subject of a book Grace Before Dying), served as mentor to younger prisoners, was long-time president of the Drama Club (written up in the N.Y. Times, and the subject of a film documentary), etc. He’s a good man, doing good work, and touching many lives. He’s warm and funny and smart. It was an honor to meet him and begin to know him — as a person, not a cause. (We were all on the right side of this “cause”! — we can be proud of that.) Now we need to help him in his transition.

Please help to support Gary Tyler now! Give as generously as you can! And please share this letter with a wide network to garner broad support!

Signed,

Bob Zaugh, Los Angeles

Pam & Steve White, Los Angeles

Barry & Paula Litt, Los Angeles

Elizabeth Stanley, Los Angeles

Jim & Janet Fennerty, Chicago

Amy Gladstein & Jim Reif, Brooklyn, NY

Holly & Will Hazleton, Atlanta

Bob & Joan Anyon, San Francisco

Karen Jo Koonan, San Francisco

Robert Perrone, Sacramento, CA

George H. Kendall, New York

Mary Joyce Carlson, Washington, DC

P.S. For those of you needing a brief recap of the facts of Gary’s case, we’ve provided this addendum. (The “Free Gary Tyler” site freegarytyler.com contains several articles. op-eds from the N.Y. Times, and a “Democracy Now” show about Gary.):

TO MAKE A DONATION:

1. CHECK:

Checks should be made payable to “Liberty Hill Foundation.” Please write “Back to Life Re-Entry Fund” on the memo line, and mail to:
Liberty Hill Foundation
6420 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700
Los Angeles, CA 90048

2. DEBIT OR CREDIT CARD**

Use this link https://www.libertyhill.org/backtolifefund or call Rodrigo Guardado at Liberty Hill Foundation at (323) 556-7212. You can make a one-time donation or set up a monthly debit.

**These options will incur a fee of 3.3% for Visa/Mastercard (4% for AmEx). The fee will be deducted from the donation, so please include the amount of the fee in the total to be processed.

3. AUTO BILL-PAY

Set up a no-fee automatic bill-pay to Liberty Hill Foundation through your checking account, for a one-time or monthly donation. You can set the payment date and there is no fee. If set as a monthly donation, the bank will automatically send Liberty Hill Foundation a check every month (not an electronic wire).

The payee is “Liberty Hill Foundation” (address is 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90048). If there is room for notation, please indicate “Back to Life Re-Entry Fund.” Liberty Hill Foundation’s Tax ID is 51-0181191.

More about Gary’s Case

At age 16, in 1974, Gary Tyler was on a school bus with other African-American kids in rural Louisiana, involved in the integration of an all-white school. The bus was surrounded by 100-200 angry whites shouting, throwing rocks and bottles. A shot was fired from somewhere and a young white boy was mortally wounded. All black kids from the bus were searched and taken to the police station. No one in the white crowd was searched. (The bus driver and the kids on the bus maintain that the shot was fired from the crowd, toward the bus.)

The bus was searched for three hours and no gun was found. Gary (who had lived briefly in Los Angeles before returning home to Louisiana) mouthed-off a bit to the cops,

telling them that the bullet-on-a-chain around his cousin’s neck meant nothing and had nothing to do with this situation.

This “sass” apparently caused the cops to zero in on him. Attempting to extract a confession , the police beat Gary mercilessly for several hours, but he never confessed. (He continued to maintain his innocence for 41years. The recent plea deal which gained his freedom required a guilty plea to manslaughter.) He was charged with murder, tried, convicted and sentenced to death within a year.

Though no gun was found in the 3-hour search of the bus, the police later produced a gun they said was the murder weapon. It had no fingerprints. It was a gov’t-issue weapon that had disappeared from a shooting range used by the local sheriffs, and it subsequently disappeared from evidence. A few kids from the bus testified against Gary. They all later recanted their testimony and described how they had been terrorized by the police, told exactly what to say, and threatened with prison themselves if they failed to implicate Gary.

The judge instructed the jury that they could presume Gary had intended to inflict deadly harm — guilty until proven innocent, essentially. Gary was sentenced to death — the youngest person on death row in the country. He was spared the electric chair when Louisiana’s death penalty was declared unconstitutional; his sentence was commuted to life in prison. No evidence, no witnesses, but 41 years later, he was still imprisoned, until now.

Gary lived at Angola State Penitentiary — the largest maximum security prison in the country. Of the more than 5000 inmates, something like 75% are black, the average sentence is 93 years, and most men will die there — there is little hope for release. As we mentioned, Gary was three times recommended for pardon by the Pardon Board, but each time the sitting governor failed to sign. The 5th Circuit also ordered a new trial based on “fundamental unfairness” — but the state of Louisiana declined a new trial on a technicality.

Until 4/29, Gary had for many years lived a medium-security life within a maximum security prison. He lived in an honor dorm, could walk around freely, and was able to leave the prison from time to time on “honor” jobs. The Drama Club, under his leadership, left the prison grounds for widely-praised performances in schools and churches around the state. Gary’s pardon applications over the years were supported by the Warden and other prison personnel; in the final hearing resulting in his release, his Petition was supported by strong affidavits from a former Warden and Assistant Warden, among others.

Gary didn’t belong in prison — ever!. Let’s support his transition back to life on the outside!

February 24, 2016

Fascist and Racist Donald Trump Calls for Killing Muslims with Bullets Dipped in Pig’s Blood

Filed under: American Injustice,Fascism — millerlf @ 10:36 am

George Wallace ran for president in 1968. This avowed racist and segregationist sounded very much like Donald Trump in his campaign speeches. One difference then was that at many places that Wallace showed up to speak, he was met with scores of young activist shouting Heil Hitler while giving the Nazi salute. We often drowned out his speeches. This image was on the TV  daily.

It is time to demonstrate against this new racist and fascist movement.

Below is a description of Trump’s call for murdering Muslims.

2/23/16

by William Lambers (History News Network)

William Lambers is an Ohio based author and journalist. He partnered with the UN World Food Programme on the book Ending World Hunger. His writings have been published by the New York Times, Cincinnati Enquirer, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Huffington Post, the Hill and many other news outlets.

The sound bites that dominate today’s politics are bad enough, but even worse is when presidential candidates use them to tell false and horrific stories. A perfect example of this is from Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

During a campaign rally on Friday night in South Carolina, Trump told his audience a story about General John Pershing executing Muslim prisoners in the Philippines. Trump said Pershing, in the early 1900’s, “caught 50 terrorists that did tremendous damage and killed many people and he took the 50 terrorists and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pig’s blood.”

Trump went out to describe a mass execution shooting of 49 of the prisoners, with the last one being sent to tell the others what happened. It was Trump using this “story” to demonstrate that America needed to get tough on terrorism, using brutal methods, and that he would be the man to do it.

But the story is not true. There was no mass execution led by Pershing. That is a rumor created on the Internet.

A Chicago Daily Tribune article from 1927 has a story where Pershing had prisoners from the Moro Rebellion in the Philippines. The Moros were Muslims who resisted American or any other occupying force.

The Moros had swordsmen, called Juramentados, who were killing Christians in this uprising. It had to be stopped. General Pershing was given this difficult task.

The Tribune article says Pershing sprinkled some prisoners with pig’s blood, which the Juramentados believed would condemn them for eternity. But then Pershing let the prisoners go. He issued a warning to others about being sprinkled with the pig’s blood. The Tribune article said “those drops of porcine gore proved more powerful than bullets.”

There were no executions as described by Trump.

In fact, Pershing was more inclined toward peace talks with the Moros rather than violence. The General met with the Moros and read from the Koran with them. Pershing wanted to build bridges. An illustration shows the General in peace talks in the jungles of the Philippines.

What Trump should do is tell true stories about the great General Pershing, who commanded American forces during the First World War. While he was a tough and a great military leader, he also was a man who wanted to build peace.

So often that is the case with great military leaders, they are often the first to call for peace building because they understand the horror as well as limitations of war. Pershing was leading young American soldiers, many who did not even have a high school education, into WWI, the worst conflict in history at that point. Their bravery deserved a lasting world peace, which we are still seeking.

Pershing also understood something that more people need to realize, that famine is the inevitable aftermath of war.

After the First World War Pershing teamed up with Herbert Hoover to raise funds to feed hungry children in Europe. Hoover and Pershing co-hosted’ “invisible guest” fundraising dinners. They would place an empty setting at the table, representing the starving children. Why can’t we hear that Pershing story at campaign rallies instead of a false and violent one?

If Pershing were around today he would be advocating food for the hungry child refugees, which are at unprecedented levels today because of the war in Syria. They never talk about hunger during the presidential debates, but it’s a top foreign policy issue, which Pershing and other great leaders have understood. Pershing was also deeply concerned about high levels of military spending. He often spoke about achieving global arms reductions and disarmament. Nations could work together to achieve this noble goal.

As a man who understood more about warfare than perhaps anyone in our country’s history, Pershing knew well the danger of excessive armament. He might have some questions for Trump or others who talk about pouring on the military spending.

But instead of trying to learn from Pershing, Trump cites a false story in an attempt to sound tough and get a sound bite on TV. The last thing this world needs is more people talking or advocating violence, especially someone running for President.

Whoever wins the next election needs to be peacemaker above all else, in words and actions. But what we saw in South Carolina on Friday night was far from it.

– See more at: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/162096#sthash.RXVULmbS.dpuf

February 14, 2016

Beyonce, Formation and Saturday Night Live

Filed under: American Injustice,BlackLivesMatter — millerlf @ 2:37 pm

Beyonce has them talking!

See her video “Formation” at:
http://www.justjared.com/2016/02/06/beyonce-formation-full-video-lyrics-watch-now/

See the Saturday Night Live skit on “Formation” at:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ociMBfkDG1w

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