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Honkala’s PPEHRC builds Philadelphia tent city timed for papal visit

honkalaThe Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, co-founded by 2012 Green Party vice presidential nominee Cheri Honkala, has built a tent city in North Philadelphia, hoping to use Pope Francis’s visit to the city next week to raise awareness of homelessness in the city.

Honkala told KYW-TV, the CBS affiliate in the city, “We live in a city that hosts the Pope and conventions, but we can’t house our people.” She added, “We intend to be the welcoming committee for the Pope.”

There are currently six families in the encampment, according to Honkala, and the PPEHRC has raised about $500 for supplies. According to KYW, the Philadelphia Housing Authority will not issue keys or vouchers to the six families.

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Baltimore Greens urge continued protest and electoral strategy in response to police violence

From the Baltimore Green Party:

p baltimore freddie gray protestThe Baltimore Green Party stands in solidarity with those protesting the police killing of Freddie Gray. The party hopes that protests will remain peaceful and achieve their goal of shining a national spotlight on the need for police conduct reforms and justice for the family of Mr. Gray.

While members of the Baltimore Green Party are participating in local protests, the party continues its strategy for long-term electoral reform by working to challenge city and state officials who fail to protect the citizens of the City of Baltimore.

According to an investigation by The Baltimore Sun, nearly $6 million in city funds have been paid in the last five years to settle over 100 lawsuits alleging police brutality and other misconduct by Baltimore police officers. The Green Party’s electoral strategy seeks to elect city officials who will prevent – not hide – police brutality. Continue Reading

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Minneapolis Green City Councilor Cam Gordon working to lessen impact of police racial profiling

Photo credit: Tony Webster

As reported by the Daily Minnesotan, Cam Gordon, the Green City Councilor representing District 2 in Minneapolis, has introduced a bill to repeal “lurking” and “spitting” as arrestable crimes.  Gordon is also working to obtain data from the city’s police force on the racial dynamics of policing in Minneapolis.

The Ward 2 Councilman wants to stop arrests for lower-level offenses like lurking or spitting.

In an effort to combat racial profiling by law enforcement officials, two Minneapolis City Council members are asking the city to repeal certain low-level offenses that impact minorities at higher rates.

At a City Council meeting Friday, Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon announced that he plans to repeal ordinances that made lurking and spitting on sidewalks illegal. Changes would go into effect after next month’s full council meeting if the measure is approved.

Gordon said the need to counter racial profiling in the city is immense, and higher numbers of arrests in certain minority groups can contribute to economic inequality.

“Once you get something on your arrest record, you can end up having a much harder time getting housing and finding work,” he said.

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2012 Green VP candidate Cheri Honkala challenges standardized testing in Philadelphia schools

2012 Green VP candidate and PPEHRC National Coordinator Cheri Honkala shared this photo on her Facebook page recently.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Green Party’s 2012 Vice Presidential candidate is taking a leading role in public school parents’ challenges to high stakes standardized testing.  Cheri Honkala, the parent of a child in the Philadelphia public school system, is also the national coordinator of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.

In October, Honkala sent and published a letter to the principal of her son’s school requesting that he receive permission to opt-out of a number of state-mandated standardized tests.  She wrote that “standardized testing is against our religious and philosophical beliefs.”  Opting out of the tests would “allow [her son] to pursue other educational activities such as independent reading, book reports, research projects, volunteering in the library, etc.”  Several weeks later, Honkala and her organization followed up by participating in a forum on standardized testing at Philadelphia City Hall.

Recently, organizing and publicity surrounding high stakes testing in Philadelphia has started garnering more attention.  Last week, Honkala participated in a public forum on opting out of the tests, sharing the following image on her Facebook:

The “Test-In” was put together by a coalition of organizations in Philadelphia, including the Caucus of Working Educators, Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, Teacher Action Group, Philadelphia Student Union, Parents United for Public Education, & Action United.  The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign is also part of the coalition.

The Examiner gave some context to the meeting:

The Opt-Out movement is growing in Philadelphia. After parents and teachers took a stand against standardized testing at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, there has been an informational informal meeting about how parents can opt out hosted at the district-wide Home and School Association and several articles written about the movement itself. Superintendent Hite just recently gave a statement that the School District of Philadelphia will make sure that parents receive information about their opt out options. The national outcry against testing and the inherent flaws are not limited to Philadelphia or the surrounding suburbs, but are evident in New York City and Chicago too. The fear and intimidation surrounding testing can render parents, teachers, and administrators silent and powerless, but now there is another opportunity to be informed of the opt out process that is available in Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, in a story that Honkala linked on her Facebook profile, the Washington Post is reporting that in nearby New York state, 60,000 students opted out of similar testing in 2014.  For Honkala and PPEHRC, this is one more in a line of fights surrounding public education in Philadelphia.  Last year, Honkala was arrested in an act of civil disobedience defending her son’s elementary school from being one of dozens closed by the school district.

More recently, the Green Party of Philadelphia has nominated Kristin Combs for City Council.  Combs is competing against Republicans for one of two seats that must go to a minority party.  She is a public school teacher and advocate against the ongoing cuts to Philadelphia public schools.  Her education platform, which is central to her campaign, states that “every school aged child deserves access to a meaningful public education, and Philadelphia’s current climate does not allow for this.”  Stay tuned for more on Combs’s campaign.

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WI Greens: Re-Investigate Dontre Hamilton Killing, Stop Police Brutality and Mass Incarceration

p OLB indict the systemFrom the Wisconsin Green Party:

From Michael Brown in Ferguson to Eric Garner in New York City to Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee, there is an epidemic of police violence against unarmed Black men in the United States. In Wisconsin in recent years, we’ve also seen white men like Michael Bell killed by police, and white vigilantes kill Corey Stingley for shoplifting in suburban Milwaukee. This systemic pattern of excessive force has caused a sense of fear among Blacks even in routine encounters with officers, eroding the trust in law enforcement that is essential to keeping our communities safe. The problem of police brutality is inextricably connected to Wisconsin’s runaway mass incarceration of people of color, showing an urgent need to reform our criminal justice system.

These deaths are preventable. Measures can be taken to solve this problem. Among them include: Continue Reading

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Greens call 2015 “CRomnibus” budget deal “shameful result of corporate-money two-party rule”

p Green Party US new logo

From Green Party US:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Green Party leaders called the 2015 budget bill a message from the Democratic and Republican leadership to the public: “Our primary responsibility is to Wall Street and our wealthy corporate contributors, not to the American people.”

“The quest for bipartisanship and desire to hold off a confrontation with GOP extremists has empowered conservative Democrats and slightly less extreme Republicans — the politicians who are most responsive to the demands of corporate lobbies. The ‘CRomnibus’ budget passed by Congress is a blatant exercise in redistribution of wealth to the top One Percent,” said Audrey Clement, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States and a Virginia Green. Continue Reading

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Rev. Edward Pinkney is latest African-American Green leader targeted for political prosecution

p edward pinkneyRev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan is a long-time community organizer who has led resistance in this predominantly African-American community to a government subservient to the Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool corporation. Benton Harbor is among the Michigan cities, including Detroit, where democratic self-governance has been replaced by “emergency financial management”.

After Pinkney led a petition effort to recall the mayor of Benton Harbor, he was arrested, charged with election fraud, and eventually sentenced to up to 10 years in prison despite a distinct lack of evidence (as explained below). Rev. Pinkney is a prominent member of the Michigan Green Party and has run for Congress on the Green line.

The overt targeting of an African-American activist for a politically-motivated prosecution is reminiscent of recent episodes involving Chuck Turner and Elston McCowan, both Greens who challenged the power structures in their communities. In a system where police officers regularly kill unarmed African-American men without facing trial, it is especially galling that the same system sentences an African-American activist to up to 10 years imprisonment on trumped-up, politically-motivated charges.

Truthout.org has the details on the trial and sentencing of Rev. Edward Pinkney: Continue Reading

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Cleveland Green official calls for resignations after pattern of excessive police force

p brian cumminsThe following editorial by Cleveland City Council member and Green Party member Brian Cummins was published on Cleveland.com:

The U. S. Department of Justice has released its investigation report that concludes, “the Cleveland Division of Police engages in a pattern or practice of the use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.”

The report describes a pattern of excessive use of deadly force, including shootings and head strikes with impact weapons; excessive force against persons who are mentally ill; and employment of poor and dangerous tactics that place officers in situations where avoidable force becomes inevitable and places officers and civilians at unnecessary risk.

The scathing report follows the recent tragic deaths of Tanesha Anderson and Tamir Rice and comes two years after the car chase and shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. Continue Reading

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Greens demand publication of secret Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact drafts

p TPP why so secretFrom Green Party US:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Green Party of the United States called for publication of the draft text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), after leaked portions indicated that the trade agreement will weaken democratically enacted laws protecting the environment, public health, and labor rights in signatory nations, including the U.S.

Representatives from the 12 nations are meeting in Washington, D.C., this week for the next round of talks on the TPP, which if enacted will affect more than 40% of the world’s GDP.

Greens expressed support for activists and protesters, in the U.S. and other countries, who are speaking out against the secretly negotiated pact, which has stalled in the U.S. after Congress rejected President Obama’s request for Fast Track approval. Greens also support Wikileaks’ publication of the secret drafts. Continue Reading

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Ohio Green Party calls for indictment of officers involved in Tamir Rice shooting

From the Ohio Green Party:

p tamir riceCleveland OH: –The Green Party of Ohio backs the decision of the Department of Justice to impose a consent decree on the Cleveland Division of Police in response to a finding of “A pattern of excessive force” dating back years.

The recent death of 12 year old Tamir Rice, shot by an officer of the CPD, within seconds of that officer’s arrival on scene is just the latest example of the “shoot first and ask questions later” actions of the Cleveland Police.

In November of this year, Tanisha Anderson,a mentally ill 37 year old woman, died shortly after an encounter with officers who used a takedown maneuver to force her cooperation after she became agitated during attempted transport to a medical facility.

In late 2012, two members of the Cleveland community, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, were killed under a 137 round barrage after a police chase that was initiated after their car backfired and an officer mistook the sound for gunshots. Both Mr. Russell and Ms. Williams were unarmed at the time of their deaths. Continue Reading