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Eric Garner

Photo: www.commondreams.org

The issue of young men of color dying in police custody has been dominating the national news of late and rightfully so. Millions of Americans in many cities — mostly people of color — live in fear and/or distrust of the police in their communities and this is not a recipe for a healthy society. Concerted action — protests, demands, and action by community leaders and elected officials — are all necessary if we are are going to tackle this unacceptable situation.

Dana Millbank of the Washington Post was right recently when he wrote that President Obama would do well to seize the moment surrounding the outrage that’s occurred across the political spectrum in the Eric Garner case out of New York (tragically pictured above) in which a young man was killed by a police choke hold. As Millbank noted, the Garner tragedy offers some glimmers of hope in that the killing is actually drawing harsh assessments from white commentators on the right who rushed to the defense of the police officer in the Ferguson, Missouri case.

What to really DO about the situation, however, is less clear. Millbank says President Obama should  look at creating alternatives the grand juries for investigating police deaths. Others are pushing the idea of police body cameras. Those are both promising ideas as far as they go.

The real solution that no one really seems to want to talk about, however, is this: Read More

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New report shows that in North Carolina, African Americans are 3.4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, despite equal use rates

State spent almost $55 million enforcing marijuana possession laws in 2010; ACLU-NC says North Carolina needs to change failed laws

RALEIGH – According to a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union, North Carolina spent nearly $55 million enforcing marijuana possession laws in 2010, while statewide African Americans were arrested for marijuana possession at 3.4 times the rate of whites, despite comparable marijuana usage rates. The report, Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests, released today, is the first ever to examine state and county marijuana arrest rates nationally by race. Read More

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House Bill 786, the “RECLAIM NC” Act, will be up for a vote soon on the NC House floor.  In spite of the restricted driving permit that could be offered to some immigrants, it is on balance a bill that will be harmful to the immigrant community in North Carolina, and will increase racial profiling even among US citizens. In the midst of so much going on at the General Assembly, this sweeping immigration legislation has not received the attention and scrutiny it deserves.

In community forums about the bill’s provisions around the state — Hendersonville, Raeford, Charlotte, Durham, Greenville, and Wilson so far — advocates have seen that there are a variety of opinions on the bill, but that once immigrant families understood the many negative provisions in the bill and the difficulty of obtaining a “restricted driving permit” under HB 786, they did not support the bill.

Beyond being costly, increasing incarceration of immigrants, and eroding civil liberties for all North Carolinians, there are six specific reasons I believe that legislators should vote AGAINST HB 786: Read More