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.
Stephanie Moore at(269) 547-9002 Stephny4@gmail.com
Meshelle Foreman Shields at (410) 967-2078 email@example.com
Lon Walls at (301) 996-1669 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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)
Virtual Learning Spells Uncertainty for Many KPS Students
Uncertainty is tough. And right now, we are all feeling like we are in the dark about one of the most, if not THE most, important aspects of our lives: our kids’ education. While Kalamazoo Public Schools has been hurriedly working to develop a Continuity of Learning plan as required by the state of Michigan, communication from the district has sometimes fallen short of the expectations of the community. We need reassurance, we want certainty, and we want it now. Unfortunately, for the past month information about how we’ll handle remote instruction during this crisis has come at a trickle. Answers to our questions are delayed, instructions are unclear, and new information might even contradict the previous. We’re not sure what is going on, or what we’re supposed to do, other than sit tight and trust that “the system” – from the state level down to our local school administrators, are making the right decisions. That’s a difficult position for families to be in right now. As a parent of five kids in this district, I’m right there with you. And as a school board member who has been kept at arms’ length by KPS administration this past month, I feel powerless, inadequate, and angry.
It is now Sunday evening, April 19th. By now you (and I) have received phone calls or emails from teachers, robocalls from principals, and read various statements from the district on the KPS website and social media, we’ve gotten letters through the mail, and read local news stories reporting on the district’s Continuity of Learning plan. Yet here we are, on the eve before the grand experiment is set to begin in earnest, and there is still so much we don’t know.
While it isn’t the only worry we have right now, access to technology is a primary concern for students and families in Kalamazoo when it comes to remote learning. That concern is, purportedly, shared at the district level: From board members to admins to teachers to support staff, KPS is acutely aware that many of our children do not have devices at home that would allow them to take advantage of virtual schooling. But what is being done about it?
So far the district has distributed over 1,200 Chromebooks to students. That’s a big number, but in a high poverty district such as ours with somewhere around 13,000 students, it isn’t nearly enough. While at one point I was confident that the district would, as I had been led to believe, be able to provide Chromebooks to all students who need them, as of now there is no definitive plan or promise to do so. There will likely be announcements from KPS in the coming days about when and who laptops will be made available to next.
While Kalamazoo Public Schools administration works out the logistics of laptop distribution, an even trickier aspect of online learning is the issue of internet access. Understandably, the district is not funded or equipped to address this need single-handedly. I have been informed that they (district administrators) are working with community partners to explore ideas and find support. No one has the answers to these challenges yet. As scary as that is, it is also understandable. KPS is contending with inequity on a whole new playing field, under the worst of circumstances, with limited resources and manpower.
What troubles me most about the district’ rollout of its remote learning plan is that despite obvious disparities in access, the vast majority of information coming out of KPS has been focused almost entirely on online learning – virtual class schedules have been posted, along with online behavior expectations, google classroom login instructions, encouragement to connect with teachers via emails. The official announcement on the KPS website relating to the initial phase of the Continuity of Learning plan contains only a single sentence about offline resources (notice that printed packets will continue to be distributed at food sites), and an enthusiastic robocall from one of my own kids’ principals this evening provided information about virtual learning exclusively – no acknowledgment was given to students who would be unable to use those online tools, and direction was given to parents on how to obtain printed materials or who to call with concerns about access. What message does this send?
An equitable education plan isn’t just about whether or not we provide laptops and internet service – it’s about communication, and public affirmation of ALL of our students. All of the time.
Solutions or no, this silence on behalf of school administrators minimizes the experiences of poor families in Kalamazoo and speaks volumes about our values: promote the good, while the rest gets swept under the rug to maintain an image that will appeal to affluent families and keep those enrollment numbers up.
Kalamazoo deserves better. Universal access to technology would be ideal, but it isn’t realistic, at least not in short order. What is realistic, and what is needed right now, is concrete information on what is expected of students who won’t be able to log in, a robust distribution plan for printed materials (beyond generic packets currently only available at food sites) that mirror what is being presented to electronically, and the promise that no child will be held back or fail to graduate as a result of their not being able to participate with their class online. This message needs to be shared publicly and repeatedly, just as loudly as the district touts their virtual plans.
In the meantime, I can only offer this reassurance to the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, big siblings or whoever you are to the children you care for: It is your support and encouragement that your kids need right now, far more than anything contained in a Google classroom. Keep your focus on loving them, and don’t let anyone make you feel like that’s not enough.
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
Message from Statewide organization Michigan Liberation
Michigan Liberation friends & families have crafted a non-exhaustive list of demand elected officials in the position of power during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Michigan Liberation organizers are demanding crisis protection for vulnerable populations and prevent the spread of the virus due to overcrowded conditions in Michigan state prisons and jails.
The grassroots organization recommends the following types of changes to be implemented by our Governor, legislature, sheriffs, prosecutors, and judges. Also demanding the immediate release from prison and jails for vulnerable populations, limiting arrests and warrants for low-level offenses so people don’t live in a higher state of fear, suspend criminal charges that can serve a more severe life-altering burden, and relief and care for our incarcerated loved ones. To find out more about the petition and details of the demands use the link below.
Kalamazoo, MI- The atmosphere at Fox Ridge Apartments was calm this afternoon, as a food truck stationed near the community’s office to distribute food packs to children in the community. Still, as of 12:45, workers reported that they had handed out over 100 food packs so far, and anticipated many more before their shift would end.
With more than one-third of Kalamazoo Public Schools households living below the federal poverty line, 14% of which are experiencing “deep” poverty (at or below 50% of the poverty line), this service is essential to the wellbeing of children who rely on school breakfasts and lunches to meet their nutritional needs and would otherwise be unable to access regular meals during the Covid-19 school closures. In addition to children, food is available to any person up to age 26 who is enrolled in an educational program for the mentally or physically disabled, according to the Kalamazoo Public Schools website.
The process of handing out food packs was efficient, with no identification, proof of enrollment or family size required to collect needed items. Workers, wearing gloves while sorting crates and handling pre-packed bags, were courteous and helpful, making sure to let folks know when they would come back again.
Included in each bag, meant to provide two days’ worth of nutrition, were milk, juice, cheese, sliced apples, graham snacks, yogurt, muffins and whole grain crackers. 2-day packs will be given out on Monday and Wednesdays, and on Fridays the packs will contain 3 days’ worth, to last through the weekend.
While collecting items for my own family, several small children, clad in surgical masks, came to the truck to pick up their provisions. Cheerfully thanking the workers in the “Meet up to Eat up” van, a few even moved their masks aside to share smiles. Crisis or no, children’s joy can’t be contained!
Families with more than one or two students will want to make sure to bring reusable shopping bags or totes (or extra hands) to transport their items – take it from this mama, who hadn’t thought that through before making the trip. Lugging five kids’ worth of milk three blocks home proved challenging!
Food will be distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11:30 to 12:30 at all Kalamazoo Public Schools, with the exception of
Indian Prairie, and Winchell Elementary, as well as A.L.P. and South Westnedge School. Additional sites Include Interfaith Homes and Eastside Neighborhood Association from 11:30 to noon at each, and Fox Ridge Apartments and New Village Park from 12:30 to 1:00. Any changes to this schedule will be posted on the KPS website.
A teenager’s site has gotten to be one of the foremost crucial assets for individuals looking for precise and up to date information on the following coronavirus pandemic. In late December, when coronavirus had not yet been identified outside of China, Avi Schiffmann, 17-year old high school student high school student from Seattle created nCoV2019.live See link for full interview by Democracy Now host, Amy Goodman