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In Baltimore Ex-Felons Rock the Vote

Not sure there are enough ex-felons in the City of Baltimore to change the traditional political fault lines, but it at least is a beginning in restoring the rights to a group of folks who may be able to build the foundations of a new life after incarceration.

Tearing another piece of that New Jim Crow down so beloved by Republicans as a means to suppress voters of color.

In Baltimore, ex-felons cherish newfound right to vote

On the November night in 2008 when the nation elected its first black president, wild celebrations broke out in west Baltimore. But when Perry Hopkins jumped up from the steps of the Chinese takeout where he was sitting and tried to join the party, he was quickly put in his place.

“Somebody looked at me and said: You got a record, you can’t vote. You ain’t got nothing to do with this, you can’t claim this,” Hopkins recalled. “And it hurt.”

A wiry, intense 54-year-old, Hopkins has been barred from voting thanks to an extensive criminal history that he attributes to a past addiction problem. “I’ve done five years three times, and four years once, so I’ve got roughly 20 years on the installment plan,” he said. “I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth.”

Of being disenfranchised, Hopkins said: “I felt like my hands were tied behind my back and I was being beaten.”

Now that feeling is gone. On Thursday, Hopkins cast his first votes ever in Maryland’s presidential and mayoral primaries. (He won’t say for whom he voted.) And as an organizer for Communities United, a local community group, he rounded up scores of his neighbors — many of them also former felons — and drove them in a van to the polls, too. “Hey, come vote!” Hopkins was shouting to anyone who would listen Thursday as he stood at a busy intersection, loading up another van with people.

In February, prodded by a grassroots campaign by Communities United and other voting rights and civil rights groups, Maryland restored voting rights to people with felony convictions as soon as they’re released from prison — re-enfranchising an estimated 40,000 predominantly African-American Marylanders. Previously, they’d had to wait until they had completed probation or parole. Democratic lawmakers overrode a veto by Maryland’s Republican governor to push the measure into law. Communities United says it’s registered about 1300 new voters since the law passed.

The move was perhaps the biggest victory yet for a nationwide movement to scrap or weaken felon disenfranchisement laws, which shut nearly 6 million Americans, disproportionately non-white, out of the political process.

Reginald Smith, who was in prison for 14 years after voting at an early voting site for the first time “in a long time.”

On Friday, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffeannounced an executive order that re-enfranchises more than 200,000 felons, a move that could boost Democrats in the crucial swing state this November. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin last week signed a law that softens that state’s felon voting ban. And a ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court, expected imminently, could dramatically reduce the number of crimes that lead to disenfranchisement there.

In Maryland, opponents of the change argued that it makes sense to require former felons to complete their full sentence — meaning probation or parole — before getting their rights back. But several of the newly re-enfranchised who Hopkins ferried to the polls Thursday said emphatically that the right to vote was itself a powerful spur toward reintegrating back into society.

“Not being able to vote was hindering me from actually being considered as a full citizen, and it was hindering my whole rehabilitation process,” said Reginald Smith, moments after voting for the first time in decades. “Because I was still being punished for something that I already served time for.”

“Being able to vote, it just makes me feel that much more positive about myself,” said Robert Mackin, 54, shortly before he cast the first ballot of his life. (Who did Mackin plan to vote for? “I sure know it ain’t gonna be no Trump.”)…Read the Rest Here…

 

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Black Voters and the Democrat Party

The following article attempts to make the case that the mass exodus from the Republican Party in the late 60’s due to Goldwater’s anti Civil Rights stance was counterproductive. That somehow, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 failed because while it made the legal structure of Jim Crow in America…It didn’t go far enough in eliminating the structure of White Privilege which remained. Never mind that it was the Republicans, led by Goldwater who gutted the legal and criminal enforcement section of Title IV of the Civil Rights Act leveling criminal and civil sanctions against violators, and protecting the continuation of discrimination to this day.

I mean, what if the folks who constructed the predatory mortgage loan were looking at 5-10 years in Gen pop, instead of a financial slap on the wrist during the 2006 meltdown? The simple fact is, since Goldwater it has always been a “conservative principle” to protect the racists, and the institutions which benefit them. Things like propping up the racist Southern Myth that the Civil War wasn’t necessary because the kindly slave owners would have freed the slaves.

The reason that now, near 97% of black voters support Democrats is really simple…Nixon, Reagan, and Bush. It’s a perverse argument, made in one form or another by the right, and has the logic of the Jews joining the Nazi Party in 1930’s Germany, because eventually Hitler would have seen the light.

The other fiction presented by the author is that Jim Crow only lived in the South. That isn’t quite true.

When Black Voters Exited Left

What African Americans lost by aligning with the Democratic Party

Days before the 1960 election, Coretta Scott King received a call from then-candidate John F. Kennedy while her husband was in a Georgia jail, charged with trespassing after leading a sit-in demonstration against segregation in Atlanta. “This must be pretty hard on you, and I want to let you both know that I’m thinking about you and will do all I can to help,” Kennedy told her. The Democratic nominee’s brother and campaign manager, Robert Kennedy, called a DeKalb County Judge and successfully lobbied for Martin Luther King Jr.’s release.

The personal call and the timely intervention significantly bolstered Kennedy’s standing among black voters. They also strengthened the political alliance between the Democratic Party and African Americans. After his release, King praised Kennedy for exhibiting “moral courage of a high order.” His father, the influential Baptist pastor Martin Luther King Sr., said, “Kennedy can be my president, Catholic or whatever he is. I’ve got all my votes and I’ve got a suitcase and I’m going to take them up there and dump them in his lap.” Kennedy earned 68 percent of the black vote, which was the decisive factor in key states like Illinois, Michigan, and South Carolina.

Once in the White House, Kennedy faced pressure from civil-rights activists to make good on what King called a “huge promissory note” to pass meaningful civil-rights legislation. When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, he cemented a political alliance between African Americans and the Democratic Party that continues to this day. But celebrating these landmark pieces of legislation makes it easy to overlook what black people in the United States lost when civil rights and equality for blacks were hitched to the Democratic Party.

While the passage of the Civil Rights Act helped Johnson earn support from 94 percent of black voters in 1964, there is a gulf between what black Americans hoped the legislation would achieve and what Democratic politicians actually delivered. Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 helped end apartheid conditions in the South, a critical objective for which grassroots black Southern activists fought and died, the legislation did little to address the structures of racism that shaped black lives in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. This was an intentional consequence of how the bill’s sponsors, largely liberals from the North, Midwest, and West, crafted the legislation.

As King understood, Democratic politicians acted more boldly on race issues in Alabama and Mississippi than in New York and Massachusetts. “There is a pressing need for a liberalism in the North which is truly liberal, a liberalism that firmly believes in integration in its own community as well as in the Deep South,”King told the New York Urban League in September 1960. As the Urban League’s executive director Whitney Young put it a few years later, “liberalism seems to be related to the distance people are from the problem.”

After the 1964 election, where Republican candidate Barry Goldwater described the Civil Rights Act as unconstitutional, black voters essentially found themselves in a one-party system for presidential elections. Republicans turned their attention to white voters in the South and suburbs and have made few serious attempts in subsequent campaigns to appeal to the African American electorate. Richard Nixon in 1960 is the last Republican candidate to earn more than 15 percent of black votes.

Voting by Union or former confederate States

This is a problem for black voters, because the Democratic Party’s vision of racial justice is also extremely limited. Northern liberals pioneered what scholars now call “colorblind racism.” That’s when racially neutral language makes extreme racial inequalities appear to be the natural outcome of innocent private choices or free-market forces rather than intentional public policies like housing covenants, federal mortgage redlining, public housing segregation, and school zoning.

Democratic lawmakers drafted civil-rights legislation that would challenge Jim Crow laws in the South while leaving de facto segregation in the North intact. When NBC News asked the civil-rights organizer Bayard Rustin why many African American communities rioted the summer after the bill passed, he said, “People have to understand that although the civil-rights bill was good and something for which I worked arduously, there was nothing in it that had any effect whatsoever on the three major problems Negroes face in the North: housing, jobs, and integrated schools…the civil-rights bill, because of this failure, has caused an even deeper frustration in the North.” Today’s protest movements against second-class citizenship in Baltimore, Ferguson, Oakland, and elsewhere are in part a legacy of the unresolved failures of civil-rights legislation.

Unfortunately for black voters, most white politicians and voters assume that the civil-rights revolution not only leveled the playing field, but also tilted it in favor of African Americans. The white backlash to civil rights helped resurrect the Republican Party after the disastrous Goldwater campaign in 1964, and, over the last five decades, the Democratic Party has followed the electorate to the right.  …Read the Rest Here

One of the prophetical things Goldwater said that has come to be is –

 

 

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Latino Citizenship Applications Flood In…So They Can Vote Against Trump

Hispanics and Latinos are flooding the Immigration offices to register to become American Citizens, a process which takes about 5 months currently for folks meeting all the requirements. Until this election cycle it has been pretty safe for politicians to ignore the Latino vote – because they have historically had a low voter participation rate –

With the vile comments by Donald Trump about Latinos…That may be about to change.

More Latinos Seek Citizenship to Vote Against Trump

Donald J. Trump’s harsh campaign rhetoric against Mexican immigrants has helped him win a substantial delegate lead in the Republican primary, but it is also mobilizing a different set of likely voters — six of them alone in the family of Hortensia Villegas.

A legal immigrant from Mexico, Ms. Villegas is a mother of two who has been living in the United States for nearly a decade but never felt compelled to become a citizen. But as Mr. Trump has surged toward the Republican nomination, Ms. Villegas — along with her sister, her parents and her husband’s parents — has joined a rush by many Latino immigrants to naturalize in time to vote in November.

“I want to vote so Donald Trump won’t win,” said Ms. Villegas, 32, one of several hundred legal residents, mostly Mexicans, who crowded one recent Saturday into a Denver union hall. Volunteers helped them fill out applications for citizenship, which this year are taking about five months for federal officials to approve. “He doesn’t like us,” she said.

Over all, naturalization applications increased by 11 percent in the 2015 fiscal year over the year before, and jumped 14 percent during the six months ending in January, according to federal figures. The pace is picking up by the week, advocates say, and they estimate applications could approach 1 million in 2016, about 200,000 more than the average in recent years.

While naturalizations generally rise during presidential election years, Mr. Trump provided an extra boost this year. He kicked off his campaign in June describing Mexicans as drug-traffickers and rapists. His pledge to build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it has been a regular applause line. He has vowed to create a deportation force to expel the estimated 11 million immigrants here illegally, evoking mass roundups of the 1950s.

Among 8.8 million legal residents eligible to naturalize, about 2.7 million are Mexicans, the largest national group, federal figures show. But after decades of low naturalization rates, only 36 percent of eligible Mexicans have become citizens, while 68 percent of all other immigrants have done so, according to the Pew Research Center.

“A lot of people are opening their eyes because of all the negative stuff Donald Trump has brought,” said Ms. Villegas’s husband, Miguel Garfío, 30, who was born and raised in Colorado and came to the workshop here to help his wife and other family members become citizens this year. His parents came from Mexico in the 1980s and worked hard all their lives, he said, helping him create a construction company in Denver that now employs 18 people. Contrary to Mr. Trump’s depiction, he said, none of his relatives have criminal records.

This year immigrants seeking to become citizens can find extra help from nonprofit groups and even from the White House. Last September, President Obama launched a national campaign to galvanize legal residents to take the step. They can now pay the fee, $680, with a credit card, and practice the civics test online. They can get applications at “citizenship corners” in public libraries in many states.

The White House recruited Fernando Valenzuela, the legendary Mexican-born pitcher who naturalized only last year, and José Andrés, the Spanish-American chef, to make encouraging advertisements and to turn up at swearing-in ceremonies. On Presidents’ Day, administration officials swore in more than 20,000 new citizens. On Wednesday the administration announced $10 million in grants to groups guiding immigrants through the process.

The majority of Latinos are Democrats, and some Republicans accuse the White House of leading a thinly veiled effort to expand the ranks of the president’s party. But administration officials argue the campaign is nonpartisan, noting that immigrants who become citizens improve their incomes and chances for homeownership.

“I certainly don’t care what party they register with, I just want them to become citizens,” said Leon Rodriguez, director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency in charge of naturalizations.

Aside from Colorado, naturalization drives are taking place in Nevada and Florida, states likely to be fiercely contested in November where Latino voters could provide a crucial margin. One nonprofit group, the New Americans Campaign, plans to complete 1,500 applications at a session in Marlins Park baseball stadium in Miami on March 19….Read More Here

…in a poll of Latino voters on Feb. 25 by the Washington Post and Univision, the Spanish language television network, 80 percent had an unfavorable view of Mr. Trump, including 72 percent with a very unfavorable view, far more than for other Republican candidates. In the poll, 74 percent of the voters said Mr. Trump’s views on immigration were “offensive.”

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2016 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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Black Voter Suppression in Alabama

What’s interesting about the discussion of Republicans and black voters…

Is even if Republicans did something to earn the black vote…

They have disenfranchised the voters.

Alabama, Where ID Is Required to Vote, Closes DMVs in Most “Black Belt” Counties

On Wednesday, the state of Alabama announced that it was shutting 31 driver’s license offices because of budget cuts. Two columns on Al.com subsequently noted that the cuts—which come on the heels of a 2011 law that requires voters to show government-issued IDs—will disproportionately affect counties in the state’s largely Democratic “black belt” region.

Columnist Kyle Whitmire writes that 29 of the state’s 67 counties will now lack a driver’s license office—and, depending on whether you define the “black belt” as constituting 18 or 24 counties, either 12 or 15 of those newly office-less counties will be in the historically black area. Two-thirds of counties in the narrowly defined “black belt” will lack now a driver’s license office (12 of 18); only one-third (17 of 49) of other counties will lack one.

Columnist John Archibald, meanwhile, observes that no Alabama counties in which more than 75 percent of registered voters are nonwhite will now have a driver’s license office. Another way of framing the issue: Offices will be shuttered in the five counties whose voters most strongly supported Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is Republican, and the state’s Senate and House of Representatives are both GOP-controlled.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2015 in The New Jim Crow

 

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Strange Justice in Mississippi – Black Judge Fired For Not Convicting Enough People

The strange case of Judge Ricky Thompson, and the Mississippi Judicial system…

It would seem the New Jim Crow System of a carceral state functioning to deprive minorities of their voting and other rights, and to keep them in their place is in full force in Mississippi.whether in Ferguson, Mo, or Harris County, Texas – the forces of supposed “Law and Order” have become nothing more than the instruments of the Modern Jim Crow. This system functions to suppress minority voting, having the same effect as the Old Jm Crow era Poll Tax through disenfranchisement.

 

Judge Thomson, center at rally to support his judgeship

Whites Quit Working With Black Mississippi Judge, Then He Got Sacked

Rickey Thompson started a drug court to start treating offenders and stop imprisoning them. Then he says officials quit sending him offenders altogether.

A black judge in Mississippi claims he was removed from office following years of resistance from a mostly white legal system to his push to treat drug offenders instead of imprisoning them.

Justice Court Judge Rickey Thompson of Lee County—named for Confederate general Robert E. Lee—is the first and only black judge in the county’s 149-year history. In May, the Mississippi Supreme Court removed him from the post that he’s held since 2004 over a slew of misconduct allegations.

“It came to the point where they couldn’t beat me at the ballot, so they had to find another direction,” he said. 

Thompson said the sheriff quit sending him suspects and fellow judges quit sending the accused to his drug court. Warrants he signed for the sheriff’s department went unserved. A bailiff even once refused to open his court. 

Officially, Thompson was found by Mississippi’s highest court to have violated several rules, including what amounts to making clerical errors like using the wrong form when filing paperwork. That should not be surprising given Mississippi requires only a high school diploma to be a justice court judge. (Thompson, a registered nurse with an associate degree, has more education than that of his fellow justice court magistrates.) 

Thompson’s crimes include speaking up for a bail bondsman who had been previously suspended from operating by the sheriff; preventing a drug court defendant from choosing her own attorney over one he advocated for; keeping some people in drug court longer than the two years allowed by state law; wrongly incarcerating four people.

The last charge is the most important: When a handful of offenders violated the drug court’s rules, Thompson found them in contempt of court and sent them to jail. The longest sentence was six months.

If Thompson hadn’t created his drug court in the first place, the four people he locked up for contempt would have almost surely been in prison longer than they would have been for their drug offenses. That means Thompson was kicked off the bench, in part, for not locking up drug offenders for longer than he did.

The judge was popular with blacks in the county, and he kept quite a few of them out of jail for minor offenses like marijuana possession. The sheriff evidently wanted to see them in his jail or prison.

“When I first started, obviously there was a learning curve, but you see some of the bad things that are going on,” Thompson said. “And as people got to know me and know that I was going to be fair, that I wasn’t going to be a rubber stamp, that’s when the trouble started.”…More on the story here…

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2015 in The New Jim Crow

 

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The New Southern Myth

The new version of the Southern Myth goes something like this –

Whitewashing the Democratic Party’s History

The Democrats have been sedulously rewriting history for decades. Their preferred version pretends that all of the Democratic racists and segregationists left their party and became Republicans starting in the 1960s. How convenient. If it were true that the South began to turn Republican due to Lyndon Johnson’s passage of the Civil Rights Act, you would expect that the Deep South, the states most associated with racism, would have been the first to move. That’s not what happened. The first southern states to trend Republican were on the periphery: North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Tennessee and Florida. (George Wallace lost these voters in his 1968 bid.) The voters who first migrated to the Republican Party were suburban, prosperous “New South” types. The more Republican the South has become the less racist…

Speaking of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, let’s review (since they don’t teach this in schools): The percentage of House Democrats who supported the legislation? 61 percent. House Republicans? 80 percent. In the Senate, 69 percent of Democrats voted yes, compared with 82 percent of Republicans. (Barry Goldwater, a supporter of the NAACP, voted no because he thought it was unconstitutional.)…

Amusing. But, if you control for region on voting for the Civil Rights Act, you get

281 out of 313 Representatives from Union States voted yes (90%)

8 of 102 from former confederate states voted yes (8%)

72 of 78 Senators from Union States voted yes (92%)

1 of 22 Senators from former confederate states voted yea (5%)

http://www.theguardian.com/com…

Which is the Party of the South now?

Here is a hint…

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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Bulletproof Vests for Black Children

Forget the PS-4 – Get the kid something which, quite literally may save his life this Christmas!

 

‘Bulletproof Vest For Boys’: Florida Billboards Put A Twist On Police Brutality

Mocking an advertisement for a clothing line, a billboard by Dream Defenders in Tallahassee, Fla. depicted a sale event with a young black boy modeling body armor, WCTV reported.

The billboard, along with a video featuring the same theme, was part of the group’s “Vest or Vote” campaign. The ads urged pressure on police departments after the high-profile killings of Michael Brown by a police officer in Missouri and Trayvon Martin by an armed vigilante in Florida.

The campaign doesn’t appear to be advocating for or against any specific ballot measure but is more broadly about voting and voter registration.

“No one wants to live in a world where bulletproof vests are the norm,” read a description on the group’s website. “Vote on November 4th (and earlier, in Florida and most states), and let’s together take a stand on laws, like Stand Your Ground, that create fear and insecurity in our communities.”

Now BTx3 persoanlly has a different approach…

No Picture ID? Vote…Or Stand Your Ground

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2014 in American Genocide

 

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