Civil Rights

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

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
  • 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
  • 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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Friday, December 9, 2016

Jordan Flaherty on saviors, New Orleans, media and activism

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 11:59 AM

hi-res_cover.jpg
Jordan Flaherty's latest book, No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality, draws in part from his career as a reporter and TV producer — work that has taken him to sites of grassroots struggle around the world, but it's anchored in his home, New Orleans.

Mixed in with the movement for indigenous self-determination in Black Mesa and sex workers contesting the police state in Arizona are multiple local stories. Flaherty gives us a front-row seat for the cautionary tale of FBI snitch Brandon Darby, one of two white bros who came here from Austin and rose to power through Common Ground, living out the savior complex by launching a career at immense cost to the people he claimed to be rescuing and representing. On a more positive note, Flaherty also tells the story of the New Teachers' Roundtable, a New Orleans collective founded by three former Teach for America participants to push back against TFA and the charter school movement — educational "reforms" which function as a profitable large-scale weaponization of the savior complex.

The crux of this wide-ranging book is finding alternatives to activism's savior mentality, that hero model in which a person of privilege uses their genius or other exceptional qualities to "rescue" the less fortunate.


I came to Flaherty's book with wariness, braced for scolding — but instead found No More Heroes to be full of love and compassion, including towards those who fall into the traps of saviordom. 


At 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, the Community Book Center (2523 Bayou Road.) will host one of a series of book release events Flaherty has organized across the South, previewed here by Kat Stromquist.


Flaherty advocates going from "How can I be the single best white anti-racist activist with the sharpest critique / most specialized language / busiest schedule?" to "How can we find ways to bring more and more people into social justice work, from lots of entry points, to grow vibrant mass movements?" To clarify the answers, I sat down with Flaherty to discuss his book, journalism and activism.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Protesters hit with pepper spray at Dillard as David Duke enters Senate debate

Posted By on Wed, Nov 2, 2016 at 11:45 PM

Students and supporters protesting against David Duke at Dillard University Nov. 2.
  • Students and supporters protesting against David Duke at Dillard University Nov. 2.

With the admission of white supremacist, former Ku Klux Klansman and neo-Nazi David Duke into a final debate in Louisiana's crowded race for U.S. Senate, protesters at Dillard University demanded Duke be removed from campus and for the university to condemn his campaign.

But as protests continued outside the doors of the Georges Auditorium, police pepper sprayed into the crowd, sending protesters running for cover, and several people were detained as they tried to make their way inside.

Students were anxious, scared, and frustrated with other protestors and fellow students, but none was defeated. Passing a microphone to students and supporters throughout the night, each speaker celebrated the history of the university, the civil rights advocates who came before them, and their goals for social and racial justice long after Duke's appearance. But all criticized the university's administration for even allowing him to be there.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Take 'Em Down NOLA marches against Jackson statue

Posted By on Sat, Sep 24, 2016 at 6:31 PM

Take 'Em Down NOLA and demonstrators march on Decatur Street demanding the removal of Andrew Jackson's statue Sept. 24.
  • Take 'Em Down NOLA and demonstrators march on Decatur Street demanding the removal of Andrew Jackson's statue Sept. 24.

Led by drums and chants of "no justice, no peace" and "Black Lives Matter," hundreds of people marched through the French Quarter Sept. 24 demanding the removal of Andrew Jackson's statue at the heart of Jackson Square. Take 'Em Down NOLA — a group that has urged for the removal of all symbols of and monuments to white supremacy, including the four Confederate-era monuments at the center of a lawsuit and city ordinance for their removal — had organized the march following what organizers consider the city's inaction. The city currently is locked in a court battle over the four monuments, waiting on a ruling from a federal appellate court — expected next week — before it can take them down.

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Suppressing free speech on the bayou

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 6:26 PM

ExposeDAT, a website that drew the wrath of Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter.
  • ExposeDAT, a website that drew the wrath of Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter.



Former LSU Law Dean Jack Weiss, a highly respected First Amendment lawyer, taught me a valuable lesson about some of our most cherished freedoms.



“First Amendment freedoms, including free speech, freedom of the press, open meetings and public records, don’t get eroded in large cities where big news organizations can fight back,” he said. “They die in small towns, where entrenched politicians control virtually everything and most people are too afraid or too poor to fight back.”



I thought about Jack’s lesson when I read about Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter’s deputies executing a search warrant on the home of Houma police officer Wayne Anderson in hopes of learning the identity of an anonymous blogger who had the audacity to criticize Larpenter and other Terrebonne bigwigs.


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