Your Guide to Meaningful Action
In this July 18, 2012 photo, a woman and children walk past a street mural depicting individual rights during a stop-and-frisk in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
At first glance, the NYPD’s reliance on stop-and-frisk appears on its last legs. Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled the practice unconstitutional and New York City mayoral candidates are suddenly eager to condemn it. But the Community Safety Act, an initiative that would ban discriminatory profiling by the NYPD and establish oversight over of the department, is still languishing after Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed the legislation last spring. The mayor, who has vehemently defended the NYPD’s practice of targeting communities of color, continues to use his considerable power to defeat the law.
The New York City Council is expected to hold an override vote on the Community Safety Act this month. If you live in New York City, join The Nation in calling on the council to pass this vital piece of legislation, then take a minute to call your councilmember to make sure they know where you stand. No matter where you live, you can spread the word in social media with the hashtag #CommunitySafetyAct and lend your support to Communities United for Police Reform.
The Nation’s Mychal Denzel Smith sums up Mayor Bloomberg’s response to the stop-and-frisk ruling: “Bloomberg and Kelly denied that stop-and-frisk is racist, but then claimed it wasn’t racist enough, and now want everyone to believe that even if it is racist it doesn’t matter because it works.”
In a footnote to her decision, Judge Scheindlin referred to an investigative documentary video produced by The Nation last year. The video, which includes the only known recording of a stop by a civilian, centers on Alvin Cruz, who was verbally harassed during a 2011 stop in Harlem.
A woman is arrested as protesters rally during "Moral Monday" demonstrations at the General Assembly in Raleigh, North Carolina, Monday, July 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Over the last several months, The Nation has launched numerous political campaigns in support of issues central to our reporting. We periodically post updates on past campaigns to keep up the momentum and to give our readers more opportunities to make a difference.
This month, we decided to try something different and a bit more positive by encouraging readers to thank the activists behind Moral Mondays in North Carolina. Facing a Republican-led state government determined to implement a radical right-wing agenda, members of the North Carolina NAACP and a host of other progressive organizations have been staging weekly protests outside the state capitol building. We launched our letter to help generate national awareness and support for the campaign and have so far collected nearly 3,000 names as well as numerous critically needed donations and pledges of volunteer time and in-kind contributions. Join the call!
Pay It Forward
We followed Katrina vanden Heuvel’s post lauding Oregon’s new, creative solution to the student loan debt crisis with an action asking readers to contact their state senators and representatives to urge them to consider the state’s “Pay It Forward, Pay It Back” plan. One of our readers has since informed us that, after sending the letter and adding to it that he had expertise on the issue, he was contacted by his state representative to set up a meeting to discuss the idea. Spread the word!
Ahead of the national debate on the potential appointment of Larry Summers to head the Federal Reserve, William Greider was one of the first writers to denounce the idea and we quickly followed up with a petition to the president asking him to please not appoint Summers, who was key in implementing the deregulation policies that led to the financial crisis. With more than 6,000 signatures and counting, the petition is contributing to a major national groundswell opposing the appointment. Add your voice to the chorus!
Going forward, we are working on partnerships with other progressive organizations to develop more impactful actions, as well as exploring ways to keep participants in our actions updated so they can become more engaged. Nation readers and rabble rousers are encouraged to e-mail email@example.com with their own activism ideas and to visit thenation.com/activism and follow @NationAction on Twitter for information on upcoming campaigns.
Rumors are circulating that President Obama is planning to appoint Larry Summers to replace Ben Bernanke as head of the Federal Reserve. This would be a terrible mistake. In the 1990s, Summers led the effort to stop Brooksley Born from regulating derivatives, precisely the financial instruments that magnified the housing bubble and accelerated the financial collapse. While Treasury secretary he pushed Congress to eliminate Glass-Steagall’s firewall between commercial and investment banks and he oversaw passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which banned all regulation of derivatives.
Janet Yellen, the vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington and the other rumored front-runner, would be a much better choice. She’s a strong voice for job creation and assertions that she lacks the “toughness” or “gravitas” for the job reveal more about the sexism of her critics than they do about the deeply experienced economist.
If our economy is ever going to truly recover, we must move forward, not back. Join The Nation in asking President Obama not to appoint Larry Summers head of the Federal Reserve.
As William Greider writes, by appointing Summers, the president would be “rewarding the same guys who got things disastrously wrong for the country—the Clinton-Rubin policy makers who danced to Wall Street’s tune of financial deregulation and collaborated with the Greenspan Fed and Wall Street to gut prudential regulation like the Glass-Steagall Act.”
In this interview with Sam Seder, David Dayen explains how Larry Summers has positioned himself to become the next Fed chair and why his appointment would be such a big mistake.
In the face of our $1 trillion student loan debt crisis, politicians in Oregon are moving forward with an innovative solution. Legislators there unanimously passed a bill that instructs the state’s Higher Education Coordination Commission to develop a “Pay It Forward, Pay It Back” plan to finance public higher education. Under the plan, students pay nothing while in school, then pay a fixed percentage of their income (3 percent after a 4-year degree) to fund higher education going forward. As Katrina vanden Heuvel writes, the idea represents a “huge stride toward putting an end to the crushing debt horror stories which Occupy Wall Street helped to place on the national radar.”
In her blog post, Katrina vanden Heuvel explains the “Pay It Forward, Pay It Back” plan, how it came to fruition and why it could be an innovative step towards ending our student loan debt crisis.
In a video produced by the Oregon Working Families Party, Dr. Mary King, an economist at Portland State University, breaks down the ways exorbitant levels of student debt negatively affect both students and the economy as a whole.
This year, the GOP took power in the North Carolina state house and governor's mansion for the first time since Reconstruction. Once in office, it didn’t lose any time implementing a radical right-wing agenda. In the past two months, it has declined the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, ended unemployment benefits for 71,000 people, repealed a law that allowed death-row inmates to challenge sentences based on racial bias and pushed for a host of onerous voting restrictions. In the face of all his, the people of North Carolina are fighting back. Beginning on April 29, a coalition lead by the North Carolina NAACP has been staging weekly nonviolent protests at their statehouse, called Moral Mondays. So far, more than 700 activists have been arrested.
Join The Nation in thanking the Moral Monday protesters and telling them we’ve got their back. Then, if you can, head to the North Carolina NAACP and give a donation to keep Moral Mondays going strong.
Allison Kilkenny’s latest report on Moral Mondays profiles some of the activists who are taking a stand against what they consider unjust laws, in some cases for the first time in their lives.
In this June 20 video, Congressman G.K. Butterfield speaks at a Moral Mondays protest. in which 84 protesters were arrested for civil disobedience at the North Carolina General Assembly.
In late June, the Supreme Court invalidated the heart of the Voting Rights Act by nullifying the portion of the law that defines the states and counties covered under Section 5, which requires federal preclearence for changes to voting laws in areas with histories of discrimination. Now, the responsibility falls to legislators to update the list of areas Section 5 covers and to give the VRA back its teeth. Texas has already implemented a voter id law—the most restrictive in the nation—that was previously judged to be discriminatory by a federal court and at least five other southern states are pushing harsh new voting restrictions.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has expressed her commitment to restoring the VRA, calling for the “John Lewis Voting Rights Act.” Contact your representatives and implore them to honor Lewis’s legendary civil rights legacy with a new Voting Rights Act.
In his recent editorial, Nation writer and voting rights expert Ari Berman explains how activists are already moving ‘from outrage to action’ in fighting the Supreme Court’s regressive VRA decision.
In this recent interview with Sam Seder’s Majority Report, Berman explained how the VRA ruling will help southern states recreate segregation in congressional districts.
A member of the audience uses their cell phone to take a picture of President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Obama claims that he welcomes debate on the balance between privacy and security. But his administration is keeping the veil over the legal reasoning it used to justify its broad surveillance of phone calls and Internet communication. The absence of this information leaves Americans ill-equipped to even begin to determine whether or not they believe such a sweeping invasion of privacy is justified.
On Tuesday, June 11, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would require the attorney general to disclose significant opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). The senators argue that the disclosure would provide Americans the information needed to understand what legal authority the government is claiming to spy on them under the Patriot Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
With civil liberties hanging in the balance, this debate is critical. Contact your senators and implore them to end the “secret law” behind government surveillance.
In this recent post, John Nichols details the efforts of a bipartisan group of eight senators to require the attorney general to declassify significant FISC opinions.
National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, whose revelations sparked the new “secret law” bill, remains in Hong Kong after publicly admitting to leaking information on massive US government surveillance. Snowden said he intends to stay until asked to leave, and vowed to fight any extradition attempt by the US government. Snowden said: “I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality.”
While Walmart rakes in annual profits of more than one billion dollars, the average hourly wage of a Walmart sales associate, according to a report by IBISWorld, is just $8.81. That translates to an annual salary of $15,575, far below the federal poverty level for a family of four. On top of being unjust, Walmart’s low wages come at a high price for American taxpayers: a recent report revealed that, because the retail giant’s employees are forced to utilize government benefits to supplement their meager income, a single Walmart Supercenter could cost taxpayers from $900,000 to $1.7 million per year.
As the largest private employer in the nation, Walmart must be held accountable. Sign The Nation’s open letter to company CEO Mike Duke and the Walmart Board of Directors and demand that Walmart give its workers a raise.
In the most recent of his posts tracking Walmart, Josh Eidelson profiles the CEOs, investors and consultants converging on Bentonville, Arkansas this week where the Walmart Board of Directors will discuss the future of the retail giant.
After arriving in caravans from around the country, Walmart strikers held an action in Bentonville, on June 3 outside the Walmart headquarters.
Supporters and fast participants rally against deportations in Freehold, NJ. (Casa Freehold)
Over the last several months, The Nation has launched numerous political campaigns in support of issues central to our reporting. Starting this week, to keep up the momentum and to give our readers more opportunities to make a difference, we’ll post weekly updates covering on-the-ground activism, important developments and meaningful victories.
Led by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), day laborers, members of the immigrant community and immigrants’ rights supporters are participating in a rolling fast to “bring a moral voice to shift the immigration debate” and to pressure President Obama to suspend current deportations of undocumented immigrants while immigration reform is being debated. The fast began on May Day in Mountain View, California, and has since spread to Homestead, Florida; Freehold, New Jersey; and Portland, Oregon. Make your voice heard!
On May 23, in a now famous act of civil disobedience, antiwar activist Medea Benjamin interrupted President Obama’s speech on national defense and took him to task on his policy on drones and the prison at Guantánamo Bay. While the President surprised the nation by actually engaging with Benjamin, activists stress that his words are not enough and that they need to see more concrete action from the White House. The Center for Constitutional Rights, which has been at the forefront of efforts to close the prison, welcomed the president’s re-engagement with the issue, but expressed reservations over his comment that cleared men will be released “to the greatest extent possible.” The civil rights organization has instead called for the president to act immediately and to release all of the men he does not intend on granting a fair trial, including the eighty-six who have already been cleared. Join the call!
Stand Up for Domestic Workers
California is now one step closer to becoming the third state to pass a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which would grant nannies, caretakers, housecleaners and other domestic workers labor protections that many take for granted. The bill, which is similar to one vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown this past fall, was approved by the California State Assembly on May 29 and will now head to the State Senate before making it back to Governor Brown’s desk. Determined to win this time around, activists have intensified their efforts across the state, gathering support and launching creative protests. At one demonstration, domestic workers tore off marks to symbolize the invisible nature of much of their work and their intention to finally bring it out of the shadows. Add your voice to the cause!
If our elected officials are searching for a real scandal, writes Katrina vanden Heuvel this week in The Washington Post online, maybe they should start with the officer leading the Air Force’s anti–sexual assault initiative who was charged with sexual battery this month. Or the sergeant in Texas who allegedly forced a subordinate into prostitution. Or the 26,000 sexual assaults that happened in our military in the past year alone.
In the weeks since the Pentagon announced that an estimated 26,000 people were sexually assaulted in the military last year—an increase of 36 percent from 2011—three high-ranking officers charged with their branch’s sexual assault prevention program have themselves been charged with assault or harassment. The charges reflect what the numbers have already made clear: the military has been grossly negligent in creating a culture where victims of sexual assault can seek justice.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has introduced a bill that would remove responsibility for prosecuting sex crimes out of the military’s chain of command. As Senator Gillibrand said, “When any single victim of sexual assault is forced to salute her attacker, clearly our system is broken.” Implore your representatives to support the Military Justice Improvement Act of 2013.
A recent Nation interview with the director and producer of The Invisible War, a groundbreaking investigative documentary about the epidemic of rape within our US military, makes clear how taking the handling of sexual assault out of the chain of command would drastically improve matters.
Invisible War focuses on the powerfully emotional stories of several young women, the film reveals the systemic cover up of the crimes against them and follows their struggles to rebuild their lives and fight for justice