Kalamazoo, MI- Emergent Justice Organizers, created a virtual statewide space for Black and Brown community members to collectively reflect and next steps for systemic change, starting in our own backyards.
Additional information about Emergent Justice or how to get involved! visit their website at www.emjustice.org
Kalamazoo, MI- Last night, youth and community organizers gathered to show solidarity and to continue to memorialize the short lived life of George Floyd who was killed by police last summer. Organized by Corianna McDowell and Quintin Bryant according to the Facebook post.
George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while being arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department, knelt on Floyd’s neck for approximately 9 minutes and 30 seconds after he was handcuffed and lying face down in the street.
Floyd complained about being unable to breathe prior to being on the ground, but after being restrained he became more distressed, and continued to complain about breathing difficulties. Officer Chauvin placed his neck on the neck of Floyd until medics told him to.
Today is the first day trial began for the officer, Derek Chauvin, accused of who killed George Floyd. “I feel that we can not allow our voices to be silent”. Organizers met at 8:00pm with signs, and solidarity to show our community & the world we stand together. In addition to the program, there was a moment of silence for 8:46 that same length of time that George laid on the ground pleading for his life as the officer left his knees pressed against his neck until he passed away.
LIVE COVERAGE OF Derek Chauvin case https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=744978849344129&ref=search
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”
March 28 event at Eastside Neighborhood Association
The UDF planning committee decided it was best to cancel the 28 March Feast event. We will be rescheduling this event to occur during the fall (November 2020). Given the CDC advice about canceling gatherings of 10 people or more, and the closure of all restaurants in Michigan, we believe canceling the 28 March event is best. We are working on a podcast to air close to the 28 March date, and an online event to discuss gaps in prevention, planning to deal with consequences of the virus, and other needs in the city.
Organizers of Urban Democracy FEAST are gearing up for the next FEAST at El Concilo located in Kalamazoo. The group seeks to provide crowd-funded micro grants to grassroots organization in Kalamazoo. To find out more about what provides are funded, visit, www.urbandemocracyfeast.org
Kalamazoo, MI- Hundreds of socially activated citizens from around the state descending to Lansing for, “The People’s Lobby, known in recent past as, “Capital Day”. 2018 makes the 7th year residents meet with their local legislators on issues ranging from Criminal Justice Reform, the Long Term Care Study Bill, Universal Family Care, Medicare for All, Water for Flint and Immigration.
S.E.E (Social. Economic. Educational) Change, group of families, students, educators, and community members working together to break the School to Prison Pipeline and dismantle barriers to success through advocacy, education, empowerment, and action. S.E.E Change took a group of teen members from Kalamazoo’s area Girl Scouts and Kalammazoo Public Students and parents to meet with 60th House District Rep. Jon Hoadely and State Senator Margeret O’Brien.
Students were able to participate in a Direct Action Rally demanding a resolution for Flint residents and the water crisis that continues to this day.
S.E.E Change youth invited Representative Jon Hoadley to the 2nd Annual E.R.A.S.E Celebration on June 13, 2018 to celebrate all youth and the end of 2017/2018 academic school year at 1009 E. Stockbridge Street in Kalamazoo, MI.
El miércoles por la tarde, S.E.E. Change, defensores locales del cambio social, económico y educativo en Kalamazoo, se asoció con el Centro Arcus para la Justicia Social para presentar un documental que explora la respuesta actual y la perpetuación del trauma personal, intergeneracional, racista y de pobreza en el sistema de justicia penal. Nuestra sociedad. Producido y dirigido por la Dra. Shakti Butler, Healing Justice se basa en entrevistas con ex delincuentes, víctimas, artistas, expertos en justicia penal y practicantes de justicia restaurativa para proporcionar cuentas personales emocionantes, contexto histórico y cultural, y datos para ilustrar la filosofía y efectividad de utilizando un enfoque de sanación en línea con las Prácticas Restaurativas para reducir las tasas de delincuencia violenta y de reincidencia en las comunidades de todo el país.
Elisheva T. Johnson SEE Change Organizer
Durante la proyección, se invitó a los televidentes a participar en discusiones en grupos pequeños y compartir ideas entre la audiencia más amplia sobre cómo podemos trabajar juntos para abordar el daño causado por un sistema de justicia punitiva: una población en prisión cada vez mayor, estructuras familiares rotas, privación de derechos económicos, niños traumatizados, víctimas olvidadas, crisis de salud mental no tratadas y avance hacia un enfoque más efectivo y proactivo para lidiar con el delito y la delincuencia, uno que aborde las causas de los comportamientos dañinos y se enfoque en las necesidades reales de los delincuentes y las víctimas.
El evento del miércoles contó con la participación de activistas comunitarios, líderes, académicos y jóvenes, así como del Fiscal del Condado de Kalamazoo, Jeff Getting, quien según los informes está explorando la posibilidad de implementar la Programación de Justicia Restaurativa en el sistema judicial juvenil local. VER. Los organizadores del cambio esperan que esto sea solo el comienzo del diálogo continuo y la colaboración de buena fe entre los miembros de la comunidad, los funcionarios de justicia penal y los líderes electos en Kalamazoo.
Se anima a los interesados en unirse a la conversación a conectarse con S.E.E. Cambiar a través de Facebook o correo electrónico email@example.com
Se puede encontrar más información sobre Healing Justice y otras películas de World Trust en: www.world-trust.org/films
Una lista completa de los próximos eventos en el Centro Arcus para la Justicia Social está disponible en: https://reason.kzoo.edu/csjl/
Douglass Association Townhall Meeting Feb. 7. 2018
A town hall event Wednesday evening at the Douglass Community Center offered a chance for local residents discuss concerns about child safety in the wake of the tragic murder of a Grand Rapids teen, an attempted child abduction in Kalamazoo, and scandal relating to a violent incident at Kalamazoo Central. Co-hosted by Jermaine Jackson, the Circulation Director at the Alma Powell Branch of the Kalamazoo Public Library Antiracism Transformation Team member, and Jacob Pinney-Johnson of Kalamazoo’s 4Dad Fatherhood Initiative. The event was well attended by parents, caregivers, community leaders and other residents eager to discuss concrete ways to support and protect the city’s kids.
Mr. Jackson spoke of the recent abduction of a 4-year old girl in Kalamazoo was thwarted as a result of an adult intervention. Jermaine expressed his hope that the would-be tragedy will serve as a wake-up call for adults who too often feel that they should “mind their own business” when they have a feeling something isn’t right. He also stressed the need for parents to have frank conversations with their children about how to stay safe away from home, and about what to do if they find themselves in a dangerous situation.
Pinney-Johnson, Community Educator and advocate adding that the important role men and fathers play in safeguarding the lives of young people should not be overlooked.
4Dad’s Care Coordinator Derek Miller, alongside Mr. Pinney-Johnson work to support fathers in Kalamazoo by offering fellowship opportunities for men to share their experiences with fatherhood, free parenting workshops, and direct outreach to new or expecting dads.
Elisheva T. Johnson, Community Organizer with Michigan United’s S.E.E. Change, a campaign focused on educational advocacy and the School to Prison Pipeline, expressed her support for the teacher who was harmed in an attack by a student at Kalamazoo Central High School, as well as her deep concern for the minor child who was arrested the same day.
While he should be held accountable, Ms. Johnson said, his actions indicate a possible history of trauma and deep social and emotional struggles that will only be worsened by involvement in the criminal justice system. She urged the community to advocate for Restorative Justice measures in the prosecutor’s handling of the case, and called for the implementation of supportive, proactive policies at Kalamazoo’s schools, in line with Restorative Practices, to address the needs of vulnerable children and prevent future crises.
Many in attendance eagerly shared concerns and offered creative ideas for increased supervision and involvement in the development and safekeeping of neighborhood kids. Suggestions ranged from establishing specific homes as “safe houses” for children to go in case of an emergency to organizing “bus stop ministries”, whereby volunteers keep a watch over kids as they wait for their school bus.
Local organizer Ed Genesis announced a plan of action, modeled after the Black Panther’s Block Patrols of the 1960’s. The collaboration between S.E.E. Change and WE ACTIVE, a campaign focused on decarceration and criminal justice reform, is designed as block-by-block, a street-level initiative involving committed volunteers who will work in shifts around the clock to actively patrol and safeguard their streets.
While Wednesday’s agenda revolved around safety and neighborhood collaboration, an unexpected announcement of Jermaine Jackson’s candidacy for a seat on the Kalamazoo Public School Board drew enthusiastic applause. Mr. Jackson’s long record of youth and community involvement, as well as his enthusiasm for literature and education, will likely make him a popular choice for voters in November.
Discussions WIth 4Dad is held every Wednesday from 6:00 to 7:30 at the Douglass Community Center, and is open to men and fathers of all ages and experiences. For more information on other events and services offered by Kalamazoo County’s 4Dad Fatherhood Initiative, Mr. Johnson can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming events at the Douglass Community Center can be found online at dcakalamazoo.com
On the campus of K-College, many social organizers, educators and community members with meet up Friday, October 21-22, for a two-day conference, With/Out – ¿Borders? ll Conference. The event with focus on cultural and academic work, powered by Afrofuturism. Facilitated modules around visioning of post-oppression desires through fantasy, film, technology, and speculative fiction.
Target areas of conversation:*Radical teaching Campus activism Education advocacy Liberatory educational structures and paradigms
*Ideologies and technologies that move toward a renewable energy [r]evolution and sustainable future *Global and local work creating next systems and deploying new economic possibilities and strategies.
Featured Keynote Speaker, journalist and author Naomi Klein will speak on Oct. 21 at the Arcus Center for Social Justice. The conference includes a robust panel of experts serving in local, national and global organizations. For more information visit–
Kalamazoo, MI- An aspiring group of WMU social workers hosted SEE-(Social,Economic,Educational) Prosperity, a collective of community members graciously sharing their experience, living Black in the world, specifically in Kalamazoo.
Four black representation of systemic barriers and stereo types put a face, emotions and their own words on issues that they face every single day. All of the participants, raised in single parented homes were able to create a life for themselves and try to prosper despite their daily struggles.
Elisheva Johnson, organizer from Michigan United said, “I too, made a mistake over 20 years ago, which resulted in a felony. I have been forced to live that mistake over and over again and this has greatly impacted my life and my children’s lives to this day”.
SEE Prosperity is working on Raise the Age, a nation-wide initiative that has “seeded” in Kalamazoo. Raising the Age currently from 17 to 18 years old in the state of Michigan. Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency
Raise the Age is packaged as-The “Youth in Prison” package also includes:
*Increasing the maximum age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years old; *Increasing the County Child Care fund reimbursement rate for qualifying community-based services for youth by 25 percent; *Prohibiting the placement of youth under 18 in adult jails and prisons and provide access to age-appropriate rehabilitation; *Eliminating three offenses from the list of Specified Juvenile Offenses; *Requiring equal consideration of all mitigating factors prior to waving jurisdiction in traditional juvenile waiver cases; *Requiring public monitoring and oversight of youth under the jurisdiction of the MDOC who entered for an offense committed prior to turning 18 years old; *Restricting the use of administrative segregation in prison for youth aged 18 and under; and *Establishing a family advisory board within the MDOC to ensure effective partnerships with families and victims.
SEE- Social, Economic, Educational Prosperity, and many other campaigns and community stakeholders will be traveling to the state capital on May 17, 2016 for “Capital Day”.
Kalamazoo, MI-The Black Panthers:Vanguard of the Revolution, a documentary by Stanley Nelson hosted at the Arcus Center for Social Justice, was well received by attendees with break-out groups discussing the Black Panthers 10 Point Program.
Speaking just on the basic fundamental of being human, no one with a working heart would be able to walk away from the presentation black,white or other, with thinking about or imaging the magnitude of what was really going on with the Black Panther Party at it’s overwhelming welcome of many classes, gender and race, not just in the United States, but across the water as well.
The Black Panthers” Vanguard of the Revolution will air in its entirety February 16 on pbs.org.
Kalamazoo-There are many activities and volunteer opportunities available for folks to participate in a city-wide celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Legacy. Many organizations are seeking volunteers to help with specific programming or projects at each location.
9am-2pm-Fresh Fire Workers Community Homeworks City of Kalamazoo Parks and Rec Workers 9:30am -12pm-Girls on the Run-Coach Kit Organizer 5-6:30PM Bronson Community Gathering(free information available about many grassroots organizations)