Civil Rights

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"Rock Against Racism" concert to benefit SPLC

Posted By on Sat, Feb 18, 2017 at 9:00 AM

More than a dozen New Orleans artists join a Rock Against Racism concert to benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization focused on civil rights protections and classifying hate groups.

The event is 7 p.m. Sunday, March 5 at The Willow (8200 Willow St.). Performers include the Bad Hombre Band, The Tom Worrell House Band feat. Joe Cabral, and Doug Garrison, Alex McMurray, Leslie Smith, JD Hill, Claude Bryant and the AllStars, Carlo Nuccio, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Joe Krown, Mason Ruffner, Michael O'Hara (The Sheik), Brad Orgeron and David Treadaway, Chuck Perkins, The Jerk Offisers, Da Truth Brass Band, Rockin' Dopsie Jr. and others.

The concert is organized by The Willow's Jimmy Anselmo and Nuccio and Worrell and co-sponsored by WHIV-FM. Rob Steinberg is the emcee. Tickets are $20; organizers expect to donate at least 95 percent of ticket sales to the SPLC.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

New Orleans businesses close in solidarity with Day Without Immigrants

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 12:45 PM

  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • Ideal Market.

New Orleans businesses and residents joined a national Day Without Immigrants demonstration against anti-immigration efforts from President Donald Trump, who has battled courts over his ban on refugee entry and on immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries while expanding policing operations that target immigrant communities and proposing a "wall" sealing the U.S.-Mexico border, estimated to cost nearly $22 billion.

As WWL-TV reports, Ideal Market has closed its nine locations in the New Orleans area and Baton Rouge "in an effort to show the contribution that immigrant workers give to 'Make America Great!'," a message in solidarity with "el dia sin latinos, immigrantes y refugiados" ("a day without Latinos, immigrants and refugees"). In a message on social media, the market announced the closures are "in support of the day without immigrants: as always committed to serve and support the Latino community and public in general." Ideal will pay its employees during its closure.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

New Orleans to update inaccessible bus stops by 2031

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 5:45 PM


Nearly 94 percent of New Orleans bus stops fail to meet the needs of disabled riders, and the city has until 2031 to update them. On Feb. 10, the city, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and its owner Transdev Services settled a lawsuit filed by three wheelchair users arguing the city's transit stops are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), with stops riddled with too-steep slopes, broken landing pads or no landing pads at all.

Plaintiffs Francis Falls, Mitchell Miraglia and Thad Tatum with attorney Andrew Bizer of Bizer & DeReus filed the suit after Bizer sent a public records request to examine the state of the RTA'S ADA compliance. In 2015, Manning Architects released its report, which surveyed the city's 2,218 bus stops. The report found that only 5.7 percent (126) had a compliant transit stop area and pedestrian access route, while the remaining 2,092 stops need to be updated; 336 of those stops had a compliant stop but still required sidewalk or curb ramp construction.

"We sent a second request saying, 'Hey, what are you doing about it?' They didn’t respond," Bizer said. The plaintiffs then filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court. Eleven months later, the parties settled.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

New Orleans City Council proposes resolution against immigration order

Posted By on Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 4:40 PM

A protest at City Hall Jan. 29. - KAT STROMQUIST
  • A protest at City Hall Jan. 29.

New Orleans District C Councilmember Nadine Ramsey, with all six other members of the Council signing on, will introduce a resolution opposing President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration and refugee entry. In a statement, Ramsey says the resolution declares the order an "unconstitutional travel ban against people of Muslim faith, contrary to American ideals and values that poses a security risk to Americans at home and abroad." Ramsey will introduce the resolution at the Council's next meeting at 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9.

"The United States has made similar mistakes in the past, which should not be repeated," Ramsey said. "This is a moment in history when an international and welcoming City such as New Orleans should not be silent."

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Tulane hosts panel on immigration ban

Posted By on Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Jenny Yanez, left, addresses a protest outside City Hall on Jan. 29. - KAT STROMQUIST
  • Jenny Yanez, left, addresses a protest outside City Hall on Jan. 29.

Professors and immigration law experts join a panel discussion at Tulane University on the impact and implications of Donald Trump's executive order on immigration and refugee entry. The panel begins at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8 inside Room 110 at Tulane Law School (6329 Freret St.). It also will be livestreamed via Tulane's website.

On the panel is Tulane immigration law professor Kathleen Gasparian, U.S. State Department diplomat-in-residence Kali Jones, and professors Stephen Griffin and Adeno Addis. The panel is moderated by Tulane Law School's Laila Hlass, former director of Boston University School of Law's Immigrant Rights Clinic.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Juvenile justice reform discussed at screening of They Call Us Monsters

Posted By on Tue, Feb 7, 2017 at 3:40 PM

A scene from They Call Us Monsters.
  • A scene from They Call Us Monsters.

When she was 16, Misty Jenkins made some mistakes. The worst, she said, was getting involved with a boyfriend who ultimately ended up robbing and killing a cab driver.

Jenkins was there when the crime happened, and was found guilty of second-degree murder. Under law at the time, she was sentenced to life in jail, without the possibility of parole.

“I kind of shut down after that, for quite a few years,” Jenkins told a packed audience at a community forum Feb. 6. “I didn’t feel like there was any hope for me left.”

Jenkins and others who had previously been sentenced to life without parole as children told their stories at a forum presented by The Louisiana Youth Justice Coalition, a network of organizations whose staffing is provided in part by the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights (LCCR).

The anecdotes were told at the Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center following a screening of the film They Call Us Monsters, a documentary that follows three boys facing extreme prison sentences.

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Review: I Am Not Your Negro

Posted By on Fri, Feb 3, 2017 at 3:09 PM

James Baldwin in I Am Not Your Negro
  • James Baldwin in I Am Not Your Negro

There were many heroes in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, but novelist, essayist and social critic James Baldwin became the movement’s leading literary voice. Uniquely perceptive and brutally honest regarding all aspects of racism and race relations in America, Baldwin became a cultural icon not only through his brilliant writing but also his speeches and frequent appearances on television.

In 1979, at age 55, Baldwin reluctantly decided to write a major work called Remember This House that would examine the lives and deaths of his close friends and fellow activists Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers. Each was murdered between 1963 and 1968, reshaping the civil rights movement and profoundly affecting Baldwin’s life and art. “I want these three lives to bang against each other and reveal each other as, in truth, they did,” Baldwin wrote of his prospective work. Upon his death in 1987, the author had written only 30 pages of Remember This House.

Working with Baldwin’s estate, Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck sought to “finish” that book through an examination of Baldwin’s writings and public presentations, along with a strong emphasis on the content of those 30 pages. The result is Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro, a strikingly original film and an Oscar nominee for Best Documentary Feature at this month’s 89th Academy Awards.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"We’re called to serve the vulnerable": New Orleans responds to Trump's immigration order as refugee agencies face uncertain future

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 7:00 PM

A protest outside City Hall Jan. 29 following a freeze on immigration and refugee entry. - KAT STROMQUIST
  • A protest outside City Hall Jan. 29 following a freeze on immigration and refugee entry.

A family with three children under 5 years old was expected to arrive in Louisiana this week from Syria, where the death toll of a six-year-old civil war has reached nearly 500,000 people. The family is one of 80 refugee families Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans (CCANO) expected to resettle into Louisiana this year. Following an immigration ban targeting majority-Muslim countries and freezing a refugee program, CCANO is likely not to receive any refugee families for at least the next four months, leaving their safety and future in the U.S. unclear as constitutional questions, nationwide protests and lawsuits challenge an executive order issued within Donald Trump's first week as President.

"Even if they are in a safe location, a refugee camp, to wait two and a half years — they go through a long, rigorous vetting process before they come here — to get to this point where a few days before your departure they tell you, ‘You can’t leave,’ said CCANO's Division Director Martin Gutierrez. "Imagine how disheartening that would be."

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Shaun King to speak at Xavier University Feb. 16

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 6:01 PM

Shaun King.
  • Shaun King.
Author and civil rights advocate Shaun King, who also is senior justice writer for the New York Daily News, will be speaking at Xavier University's University Center Ballroom Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. It's part of Xavier's Black History Month events, which also includes speeches by Dr. Marc Lamont Hill (Feb. 2) and author/activist Stevona Elm Rogers (Feb. 22).

King rose to national prominence during the Black Lives Matter protests and is the author of the book The Power of 100!.

Earlier this month, King reported on Louisiana's so-called "blue lives matter" law, which was passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards last year. King (and others) reported that the law made resisting arrest in Louisiana a felony hate crime, based on a statement by a single law enforcement officer, St. Martinville Police Chief Calder Hebert. The allegation later was denied by Edwards' office, withdrawn by Hebert and was never backed up by a reading of the bill itself. The Daily News subsequently changed the headline.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Hundreds march against Trump in New Orleans and "inaugurate the resistance"

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 9:15 PM

Hundreds of protesters march on Canal Street Jan. 20.
  • Hundreds of protesters march on Canal Street Jan. 20.

A day of protest in New Orleans began with a mock funeral at the Mississippi River and ended with dozens of protesters linking arms at Duncan Plaza. On Jan. 20, as Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President, hundreds of New Orleanians marched in the streets, offering satire in the morning and a massive call to organize against threats to marginalized communities in the afternoon. On Jan. 21, a Women's March in solidarity with similar events around the U.S. is expected to attract thousands more people,

"Staying at home and being a political armchair quarterback — that's not going to work," said Chuck Perkins, addressing a crowd after dark in Duncan Plaza. "We have to organize."

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