Detroit, Michigan- Elisheva Johnson serves as the Executive Director of EMERGENT JUSTICE, an organization dedicated to ending mass incarceration in our community country, and eventually world.
The foundation of the work this organization serves to fulfill is participatory defense. We essentially become an effective part of the defense team for a person moving through the system, supporting their defense attorneys as researchers, story tellers and sometimes investigators supporting families and loved ones of those in trouble with the Criminal legal system.
Since there is no such thing as, “My loved one went to jail school”, we help people to navigate the challenges of the injustice system, and to show community support for someone returning home. We do this as a community of returning citizens and directly impacted people. We take and transform these stories into campaigns for policy reforms, and campaigns to replace bad actors in the system like prosecutors, judges, police chiefs, and others. We know that supporting families in writing biographical materials to help humanize clients and tell their stories, can be impactful in changing the trajectory of a case, in fact we have won cases in this very fashion!
“In Michigan, it is legal for a person to carry a firearm in public as long as the person is carrying the firearm with lawful intent and the firearm is not concealed. … It is legal because there is no Michigan law that prohibits it; however, Michigan law limits the premises on which a person may carry a firearm.”
To Otis this all seems to be very unfair on top of the fact that this is all happening during a Pandemic.
“Right now we need help for Otis Goree!” :
MJR: Can you give us a briefing on what is currently going on with Mr. Goree?
EJ: “Sure, no problem”.The story is: Otis was sad that he had recently lost his dog, Martin. Martin was a Japanese Akita, that Otis loved and cared for for a long time. He had just left the vet and was preparing to bury his beloved pet, when he tried to dig a hole the ground was frozen, he broken down from frustration in a furry of tears, Otis was completely heart broken. He couldn’t bear thinking about having to bury his dog sitting in the box in his living room, so he decided he would take a break and walk to a local store. On his way back, his mind started to clear, he felt a little better, as he stood at the bus stop on 7 mile and Outer Drive. Then out of nowhere, the police pulled up and asked Otis what kind of gun he had. Otis was stunned, and scared that the police stopped and wanted to search him. There was no cause to search or ask him anything, but Otis fully cooperated with the police. Otis worried he was going to jail and mentioned that he has pre-existing conditions that made it unsafe to locked up right now. He is a triple by-pass survivor and still has heart conditions that he takes medicine for today. He missed out on medication for over two days while he was being detained in a Detroit Detention center on Mound Road, where he was held in a cell with about ten other inmates that where not social distanced. How could this happen when Otis doesn’t even have a felony record. (The usual argument used by police.)
MJR: “Thank you for sharing his story. Social media has helped show the world that many instances when a BIPOC person is dealing with police have been non-violent”.
ET: “Most definitely!” Social media has helped with sharing of traumas and similarly shared interactions with police and black men that are minor or over embellished bringing harm or even death”. Over the past year, we have heard of the rising COVID-19 cases in MI jails and prisons. Again, looking at the circumstances of Mr. Goree’s arrest, we know, WE are targeted even more as Black people”.
EJ:So there’s been a scramble in states to release non-violent detainees. Nina Ginsberg, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers says it’s a critical step that needs to occur. “This is ground zero,” she says. “Once coronavirus gets into a jail, there’s no way to stop it from spreading. You cannot do social distancing in a jail. You cannot.”
MJR: For the folks that are reading this or will hear about Mr. Goree, what can they do to support him and the work of Emergent Justice?
EJ: Thank you for asking! First, folks can call Representative Rashida Tlaib and tell her that gun profiling has to stop! At Emergent Justice, our work is led by directly impacted folks. We are always recruiting and open to like minded individuals that want to transform the criminal justice and end mass incarceration”
Kalamazoo, MI- UDF Organizers openly welcomes the community to attend the next spring virtual FEAST. Individuals and organizations that would like to present for the next FEAST, download the application and submit completed application to the People’s Food Co-Op by February 22, 2021. The People’s Food CO-OP is located at 507 Harrison Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007.
Kalamazoo, MI- A message from organizers that are asking for members of BIPOC communities to taken in consideration as you plan your daily activities leading up the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.
BIPOC/ALLY Community Safety Suggestions for Jan. 17-20, 2021
Greeting you with Power.
These times are jarring and for many of us, unprecedented in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities. The multiple emotions we will feel leading up to the inauguration and beyond are valid and normal. We make space to hold these feelings in radical love and commitment to our wellness
During the dates of January 17-20th, we are aware that many white supremacist groups plan to protest the state capitols of all of our US states. This is known through online information shared and the advice from secure sources.
Our advice to our BIPOC/Ally communities is to stay close to community and away from any actions taking place anywhere near where the white supremacist groups will be. “Stay Safe, Stay Home” takes on an even deeper meaning for these days.
During these days, we strongly advise BIPOC to:
Take this weekend off of work.
We implore employers to refrain from penalizing employees of color for taking off to ensure their safety is not compromised going to and from their homes.
Take this week to stock your home with enough food, water, and needed medications for up to 2 weeks in the event that going out safely will be harder to do because of actions we cannot predict leading up to the inauguration.
Allies can be charged to help transport these items to vulnerable folks
Check on your loved ones, bring the Elders up to speed, and offer comfort and assurance. Now is the time to practice radical care for one another.
Keep all devices charged and limit use when unplugged to conserve battery
Secure a battery-powered radio in case of cell phone disruption to use to hear emergency radio broadcasts
Write down important phone numbers in the event of phone service disruption
Identify the closest landline to you and a safe route to use for emergencies. Do not travel alone.
In case of fire, have an extinguisher and smoke detector batteries on hand.
Stock up on blankets and warming packs in the event of power failure. Fiberglass blankets, flashlights or lanterns, are suggested
Identify the safest place in your home, away from windows and visible lights, even a closet if needed to conceal yourself.
If leaving home is not avoidable, avoid traveling anywhere far from your home and going out by yourself.
Kalamazoo, MI- A student-led and created survey, virtually shared and hard copies circulated in various communities throughout Kalamazoo with the support of community members and local organizations. Recently, newly hired Kalamazoo Public Schools, Superintendent Dr. Rita Raichoudhuri recently created a one question survey to capture the “voice” of high school students opinion on the value of School Resource Officers (SRO’s).
During the summer of 2020 Students K-24 have engaged in community conversations police, school administration, local organizations and community leaders to discuss the reallocation of funds for School Resource Officers and provide more meaningful solutions that do not criminalize social, emotional growth of adolescents and young adults.
There are many students in the district that have been very outspoken about the trauma’s that connect with SRO’s in public schools and research and data that contradicts what are interested in hearing what other students opinions about their experiences as a student in Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS).
Student participation is confidential; and responses are not connected to student accounts or ID’s. Youth organizers plan to share student voices with KPS staff and the community the results. High school students from KPS are encouraged to respond. Students are eligible to register online for a free raffle.
For more information about ridding SRO’s from Kalamazoo Public Schools; bit.ly?KPSNOSRO
Kalamazoo Youth Development Network will be hosting a Youth LINK event Wednesday, December 16, 2020 to give the youth a chance to learn about what youth advocacy organizations are operating in the Kalamazoo area! This Youth LINK Event will be in a speed dating event where local youth can learn about different youth advocacy efforts in the community. Please use this link to sign up: https://us02web.zoom.us/…/tZMvdeqoqjMjHt3g1kqKLR724PpHM…
40 days. If you haven’t already, NOW is the time to prepare. Here are some tips:
Learn self defense. Arm yourself. Get a gas mask and a helmet. Cardio.
Stock up on non perishable food, water and a portable water filter, and first aid supplies.
Identify and secure alternative power sources (battery powered flashlights and lanterns, candles, camp fuel/propane, a solar powered phone charger, camp stove, a generator if you can).
Get a battery powered radio and begin collecting hand tools, paracord/rope, blankets and tarps.
Keep your gas tank full as possible at all times and fill a duffel bag with extra supplies to keep in the car.
Evaluate your home security and consider getting a door/window alarm, a porch/outside camera, and inspect the sturdiness of door frames and windows. Determine if you will need boards to cover windows or barricade doors and start collecting wood now (often found free or cheap on marketplace).
There are lots of good deals at Park St right now to stock up on food. Many of these items can be found cheaply on Amazon or some thrift stores.
Sit down and force yourself to walk through possible scenarios and formulate a plan on how you would realistically react, and plan accordingly, so you have already thought it over before it occurs.
Identify a small group of people who you have zero doubt that you can trust your life with. Discuss one another’s skills and vulnerabilities. Collaborate and strategize to keep your group safe.
Keep your eyes wide open and your ears to the ground. Pay critical attention to the news and double check sources, stories, and facts now more than ever.
Copied from a friend
P.S.: After you’ve mentally and physically prepared yourself:
Go for long walks in the woods as the leaves are changing colors.
Find your favorite music and play it as much and as often as you want. Dance like nobody’s watching.
Cuddle with a loved one. Reconnect with old friends. Take care of unfinished business.
Read a book. Not a Marxist book, or a political book. A fun book. Like science fiction, or romance, or a graphic novel.
Look up your favorite wholesome entertainment and keep it at the top of your streaming queue.
Cook your favorite meals.
Help organize and prepare your community but don’t spend a solitary second doing something you don’t need or want to do.
Stephanie Moore at(269) 547-9002 Stephny4@gmail.com
Meshelle Foreman Shields at (410) 967-2078 firstname.lastname@example.org
Lon Walls at (301) 996-1669 email@example.com
TO ENCOURAGE BLACK VOTER REGISTRATION AND ENGAGEMENT, THE MOTHERS OF HOPE AND THE BLACK WOMEN’S ROUNDTABLE OF KALAMAZOO ARE HOLDING A ‘BLACK VOTERS MATTER’ BUS TOUR, SEPTEMBER 20-26
#RUVoteReady Events Are Designed to Increase Black Voter Education and Registration
Kalamazoo, MI (September 22, 2020) — Tuesday, September 22nd is being recognized as “National Voter Registration Day,” a nonpartisan civic holiday celebrating American democracy. The holiday has been endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), and the National Association of Election Officials (The Election Center). To educate and encourage African American voters in particular to register and vote, the Mothers of Hope (MOH) and the Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) of Kalamazoo have scheduled and undertaken a weeklong series of activities entitled the “Black Voters Matter” bus tour.
On Sunday, September 20th, the group held an “Our Faith, Our Voice” event at Arcadia Park. On Monday, September 21st, there was a “Neighborhood Empowerment & Good Vibes” parking lot gathering event with DJ Chuck at W. North and Rose Streets. The purpose of these events was to register voters, verify voter registrations, request absentee ballots and provide voter empowerment information to ensure that every vote cast is counted.
Upcoming activities include:
Tuesday, September 22nd (National Voter Registration Day) (12:00 pm) – A Virtual discussion entitled “Respect Our Vote: Black Millennials & Generation Z Voters Matter”
Tuesday, September 22nd – Black Voters Matter Health Briefing and Pop Up Party (10:00 am-12:00 pm, Family Health Center, Alcott Street Parking Lot; 3:00-6:00 pm, Family Health Center, Paterson Street Parking Lot)
Wednesday, September 23rd – “Hustle & Vote” Noon-2:00 pm at the Arcadia Festival Site and 6:00 pm-8:00 pm at the Vine Neighborhood Association
Thursday, September 24th – (4:30 pm-7:00 pm) Card Games, Good Vibes & Community Fellowship, Mothers of Hope, 603 Ada Street
Friday, September 25th (8:00 pm) – Bonfire & Fire Side Chat with Black Youth Vote at 414 W. Paterson St.
Saturday, September 26th (Noon-4:00 pm) – Mothers of Hope Recovery Celebration & Reunion at 603 Ada St. For more information, please go to www.mothers-of-hope.org. ### The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) is one of the most active civil rights and social justice organizations in the nation “dedicated to increasing civic engagement, economic and voter empowerment in Black America.” The Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) is the women and girls empowerment arm of the NCBCP. At the forefront of championing just and equitable public policy on behalf of Black women, BWR promotes their health and wellness, economic security & prosperity, education and global empowerment as key elements for success. Black Youth Vote is the youth-led civic leadership, training and organizing arm of the NCBCP.
@ncbcp @ncbcp National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN – Starting next week, Wednesday, September 16, 2020, PACCT Board will host two forums for the public to talk to 2020 candidates for the Kalamazoo school board. The forums will take place on September 16th and 23rd at the same time (see time information below). The purpose of this event is for residents and students to express their needs and question these candidates! This year more than ever, we need to hold our leaders accountable for the safety of our kids.
Wednesdays (9/16, 9/23, 9/30)
6:00PM-6:25PM Virtual Meet & Greet
6:25PM– 8:00PM EST School Board Candidate Forum
LIVE STREAM INFORMATION: Live Stream from Interfaith Homes
Promise Advocating for Children & Community Transformation (PACCT) is a group of diverse stakeholders in Kalamazoo in direct opposition with KPS Administration and Board of Trustees lax efforts to make changes in district policies that are criminalizing, bias and not equitable to all students and families in the district. The formation of PACCT amplifies the voices of many parents, students and educators that are experiencing substandard treatment. This fierce group of individuals from the community is directly impacted by the education system and move as a collective to educate the community of the intersectionality of the issues the community faces. We will show intersections and educate using the known examples of the STPP (school 2 prison pipeline) in Kalamazoo, and State. We will also show how the juvenile justice system is connected to the school system and how the next prosecutor and sheriff election is important to Kalamazoo County.
PACCT Board, Majyck Radio Evolution & Michigan Liberation Host Midsummer Youth Mini Festival in Western Michigan
KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN – On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, PACCT Board, Michigan Liberation and Majyck Radio Evolution will host a Midsummer Youth Mini Festival in the Vine Neighborhood area of Kalamazoo. The event will offer a much-needed break and opportunity for young adults 17-25 years old to celebrate summer by providing resources, live entertainment, giveaways, and activities to help ease the tension and stress of the pandemic.
There will be a variety of activities taking place. There will be live entertainment featuring local groups and musicians from the area. There will be youth resources for self-care dealing with mental health, a free clothing swap, and job connections for youth looking for employment opportunities. There will be several vendors onsite such as Planned Parenthood and several LGBTQ related organizations. Attendees will also get a chance to register to vote and learn about the upcoming election.
Midsummer Youth Mini Festival for Youth (Ages 17 – 25)
Kalamazoo, MI- Urban Democracy FEAST organizers were not able to go with crowd-source funding for their spring event. To stay safe and comply with federal social distancing as well as executive orders put into action by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
The organizers plan on producing a series of podcasts that will supplement the face to face meetings and provide opportunities to engage with community online. For more information visit: www.urbandemocracyfeast.org