Civil Rights

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Louisiana Senate to consider bill that would fortify policies against sexual harassment at state agencies

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 6:10 PM

Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, responding to questions at a Senate hearing on her bill that would fortify sexual harassment policies across the state - PHOTO BY TRYFON BOUKOUVIDIS/LSU MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • PHOTO BY TRYFON BOUKOUVIDIS/LSU MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, responding to questions at a Senate hearing on her bill that would fortify sexual harassment policies across the state

Louisiana senators agreed Wednesday to cooperate on a comprehensive compromise bill that would fortify Louisiana’s policies against sexual harassment in state agencies.

The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee sent the bill to the Senate floor to be considered next week after senators negotiate changes in the language.

The bill would provide uniformity in sexual harassment policy across the state. It would shield sexual harassment victims from employer retaliation and provide training to public servants.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Morrell's bill to eliminate Louisiana's death penalty passes Senate judiciary committee

Posted By and on Tue, Apr 10, 2018 at 5:56 PM

State Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, supported a bill Tuesday to ban the deal penalty in Louisiana. - SARAH GAMARD/LSU MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • SARAH GAMARD/LSU MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • State Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, supported a bill Tuesday to ban the deal penalty in Louisiana.

A Senate judiciary committee on Tuesday approved a bill that would eliminate the death penalty in Louisiana effective August 1. Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, authored the bill, reasoning that the death penalty is an outdated and costly means of punishment.

"The death penalty is an archaic holdover from a time where we were not as civilized as we are today," Morrell said.

Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, provided the only vocal opposition. He argued that abolishing the death penalty would have no effect on the state’s high rate of violent crime.

Morrell responded that “we have had the death penalty on the books since the founding of our state, and it has not deterred violent crime.

“Increasingly, we are finding individuals that commit these violent crimes are mentally unbalanced,” Morrell said. “Many of them are tortured, damaged people who do horrific things because they don’t value human life.”

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Chickening out on criminal justice reform

Posted By on Sun, Apr 8, 2018 at 11:48 AM

CREATIVE COMMONS/NEIL CONWAY
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/NEIL CONWAY

Criminal justice reform was among the few bright spots in last year’s dispiriting legislative session. Lawmakers adopted far-reaching laws that traded “tough on crime” grandstanding for “smart on crime” policies that have been proven to work.

The Justice Reinvestment Task Force, a nonpartisan coalition of conservatives, liberals, clergy, judges, law enforcement, business people and civic leaders, spent a year developing legislation that streamlined Louisiana’s hodgepodge sentencing laws. The reforms were enacted with broad bipartisan support.

Many leading Republicans supported — and still support — criminal justice reform. A handful of ambitious demagogues are now attacking it with lies and scare tactics, not because they care about public safety (the reforms actually promote public safety) but because they hope to grab cheap headlines and run for another office. U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy, who can’t seem to stop running for something, is the most glaring (and shameless) example.

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Sports-entertainment scholars unafraid to mix it up in the ring

Posted By on Sat, Apr 7, 2018 at 1:44 PM


The conference program
  • The conference program
There's never just one thing happening in New Orleans. At the same time WrestleMania week is slowly, multifariously unfolding across the region, beautiful wrestle-blossoms of different sizes and pay scales blooming in every available metro auditorium or high-school gym, the Southern Sociological Society is holding its annual meeting and conference at the Marriott across from WWE Axxess.

This year's conference theme is "Racial Theory, Analysis, and Politics in Trump's America." Digging into the program, I was gratified to discover multiple panels about pro wrestling, one of which I attended Friday morning.

Dr. Jack Karlis of Georgia College opened, detailing his research into how media framed (or failed to cover) the longstanding connections between President Donald Trump and WWE's owners, the McMahon family. I knew Trump and the McMahons were chummy; I hadn't known that Linda and Vince McMahon were the largest single contributor to the Trump Foundation, a gift Karlis estimates to be around $5,000,000.

JH Roberts
  • JH Roberts
Next up, the University of Georgia's J.H. Roberts discussed activism in pro wrestling during the Trump presidency. Usefully, or perhaps crushingly for some, she defined activism as "not just saying things on Twitter, but doing things." Roberts provided a survey of some forms this has taken, both outward-facing (WWE Superstar Sami Zayn bankrolling a mobile medical clinic in Syria, indy star Zack Sabre Jr. donating merchandise profits to a transgender law center) and inward-facing, which is activism focused on improving pro wrestling itself.

The third panelist, Chris Maverick of Duquesne University, talked about models of performative masculinity in leadership, comparing Trump to Lincoln, an accomplished amateur wrestler, and then to various comic book villains and pro-wrestling characters. The highlight, for me, was the connection Maverick drew between Trump's compelling, crowd-pleasing yet contradictory or semantically incoherent rhetoric and the promos of Dusty Rhodes and the Ultimate Warrior.

Perhaps defying assumptions about those that do vs. those that teach, I discovered both Roberts and Maverick are or have been wrestlers themselves. Roberts is actively training as a pro wrestler, and is part of a collective she describes as "a pro wrestling promotion dedicated to exploring within the boundaries of pro wrestling what you can do with feminist and gender performance."

"For example," Roberts told me, "within pro wrestling there's Ultimo Dragon, Dragon Dragon, Super Dragon ... Drago, in Lucha Underground ... but [in our promotion] we have potentially the first-ever female dragon character. In her storylines she addresses things a female dragon would have to deal with that male dragons wouldn't — aspects of reproduction and female bodily autonomy."
Chris Maverick
  • Chris Maverick

Wrestling is brutal. "I'm in pain pretty much all the time," Roberts says of her training. "At the same time, it's nice to do something so purely physical because it lets me turn my brain off. It's also exciting to push myself in new ways and confront things I'm terrified of, like front flips— since if you don't do those you can't wrestle."

Chris Maverick is on the other side, having retired from in-ring competition. "I did it for six years," he told me. "My last match was maybe eight years ago. I wrestled exactly 50 matches in my career and mostly jobbed," meaning he lost to more prominent wrestlers.

Maverick, a lifelong wrestling fan, joined a wrestling school and started training at age 29. His overwhelmingly younger classmates all dreamed of getting to WWE. "My goal was a little different. I said to myself, 'I'm going to wrestle one match, maybe write a paper about it.' There were 15 of us in the class and only three of us finished because it was so grueling." Maverick's wrestling career did include a stint as a tag-team champ in a West Virginia promotion; it so happened I'd just seen his erstwhile tag-team partner, DJ Z, wrestle at Evolve 102 the night before.

"I wasn't great," Maverick said. "I was older and had bad knees when I started, so I knew my time was limited. I dislocated my shoulder four times... it's hard. It's a very rough sport."

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Four mayors of New Orleans reflected, joked at Loyola University tonight

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 8:30 PM

Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy, former Mayor Moon Landrieu and Gambit political editor Clancy DuBos discussed the state of the city at tonight's Ed Renwick Lecture Series at Loyola University.
  • Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy, former Mayor Moon Landrieu and Gambit political editor Clancy DuBos discussed the state of the city at tonight's Ed Renwick Lecture Series at Loyola University.

Three of New Orleans' five living mayors, as well as Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell, appeared
tonight at Loyola University's Roussel Hall to discuss "One New Orleans: Five Perspectives" with Gambit political editor Clancy DuBos.

Mayor Moon Landrieu (1970-1978), Mayor Sidney Barthelemy (1986-1994), Mayor Mitch Landrieu (2008-2016) and Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell (Marc Morial, mayor from 1994 to 2002 and now president of the National Urban League, had to cancel his appearance; DuBos joked he was visiting former Mayor Ray Nagin, who is serving a sentence in a Texas federal prison.)

The first question for the former mayors: What piece of advice would you give to Cantrell that you wish someone had given you?

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Landrieu to receive the 2018 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 2:52 PM

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, seen here on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, will receive the 2018 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award at a ceremony in May.
  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu, seen here on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, will receive the 2018 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award at a ceremony in May.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu has been named the recipient of the 2018 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award "for his leadership in relocating four of the Confederate monuments in New Orleans while offering candid, clear and compassionate reflections on the moment and its place in history," the Kennedy committee announced this morning.

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Friday, March 23, 2018

Needed: citizen engagement on bills regarding sunshine laws and domestic violence

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 2:24 PM

screen_shot_2018-03-23_at_2.23.01_pm.png

The Louisiana Constitution bars state lawmakers from considering revenue-raising bills in the current legislative session, but that hasn’t stopped them from taking up gravely important matters that warrant citizens’ close attention — and engagement.

Two cases in point:

• At least a dozen bills in both the House and Senate take aim at Louisiana’s public records, public notice and open meetings laws — known collectively as “Sunshine Laws.” A few of the measures would strengthen our Sunshine Laws, but most would weaken them in one way or another.

• The Senate this week will consider a bill to strengthen Louisiana’s anti-domestic violence laws by requiring stricter enforcement of existing laws that require domestic abusers to surrender their firearms.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Mayor Landrieu announces plans for Confederate monument sites

Posted By on Wed, Mar 7, 2018 at 5:45 PM

PHOTO BY ALEX WOODWARD
  • PHOTO BY ALEX WOODWARD

Nearly a year after removing four Confederate monuments in 2017, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration has announced the "public process" to determine what should replace the statue of Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle.

For now, the city will "perform beautification work" at the sites of the P.G.T. Beauregard and Lee statues. The pedestal that held Beauregard will be removed, and the column on which Lee's statue stood will remain at the site.

The city also will plant an American flag at the site of the Jefferson Davis statue in Mid-City. The space behind the Canal Place parking garage that housed the statue honoring the so-called Battle of Liberty Place will remain empty.

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Editorial: Listen to the survivors

Posted By on Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 2:41 PM

This demonstration was organized by Teens For Gun Reform, an organization created by students in the Washington DC area, in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. - PHOTO BY LORIE SHAULL/CREATIVE COMMONS
  • PHOTO BY LORIE SHAULL/CREATIVE COMMONS
  • This demonstration was organized by Teens For Gun Reform, an organization created by students in the Washington DC area, in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The murder of 17 people during a school shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14 has renewed America’s national debate over gun laws. After similar tragedies in recent years, that debate yielded nothing of substance, but this time things are different. This time, the surviving students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are giving us all a lesson in speaking truth to power. This is not a new phenomenon. Students also helped lead the civil rights movement several generations ago.

Let’s not lose this moment, because the forces behind the status quo are powerful, indeed.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the National Rifle Association (NRA), which aggressively promotes the interests of gun manufacturers, spent $54.4 million on all political campaigns in the 2016 election cycle. That more than anything else explains why past mass shootings have not led to meaningful changes in America’s gun laws.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Candidate forums for March 24 elections to focus on civil rights, students

Posted By on Tue, Feb 6, 2018 at 11:00 AM

PHOTO BY ROIBU
  • PHOTO BY ROIBU

Next month, voters in Orleans Parish will select a new state representative to fill a seat held by outgoing state Rep. Helena Moreno, who's moving into a New Orleans City Council At-Large seat in May. Also on that ballot are elections for judges at the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal and Civil District Court.

Voters in Jefferson Parish will vote for a new sheriff, the first election for a sheriff in that parish in more than two decades.

Progressive organizations The Power Coalition, Step Up Louisiana, VOTE and The Jeremiah Group will host two public forums with those candidates in advance of the March 24 elections. All candidates have confirmed their participation, according to the groups.

Candidates in the New Orleans elections will participate in a forum from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6 at Corpus Christi Epiphany Community Resource Center (2022 St. Bernard Ave.) to discuss "equity and fairness in the areas of public safety, economic opportunity, criminal and juvenile justice, education and civic engagement rights for all constituents."

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