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Archive for April 13th, 2015

Cook County State’s Attorney Sued for Hiding Details of Controversial Surveillance Activities

Posted by Admin On April - 13 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

While prosecutors are largely shielded from suits, the Supreme Court has ruled they can’t dodge FOIA responsibilities


CHICAGO, IL – Against a backdrop of growing scrutiny into police surveillance nationwide, the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez was sued today for refusing to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request asking for information her office has about “stingray” cell phone spying equipment.

The suit charges that the State’s Attorney’s Office “has willfully and intentionally violated FOIA by refusing to produce records related to the presentation of evidence obtained through use of cell site simulators on the basis that it would be too ‘burdensome’ and is insufficiently important to justify the work involved to produce the records.”

The suit was brought on behalf of Freddy Martinez, a local activist long concerned with privacy and First Amendment issues who has previously sued the Chicago Police Department for stingray information.

“This spying program may be shielding critical evidence from defense attorneys. A culture of secrecy leads to abuse,” said Martinez. “This lawsuit is a step toward understanding how evidence is gathered and whether the means by which it was obtained is being kept from the accused and the public.”

While suits against prosecutors are rare because the courts have ruled that they have virtual immunity from misconduct suits, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in Nelson v. County of Kendall, 2014 IL 116303 that State’s Attorney’s Offices are subject to the state’s FOIA law and can be sued for non-compliance.

On December 31, 2014, Martinez filed his FOIA for information about the State’s Attorney’s Office’s use of evidence obtained using stingrays.  The SAO refused even to search for records, claiming it was “too burdensome.”  But as the suit notes, the burden must outweigh the public interest in disclosure and countless privacy groups, media, and even the US Senate Judiciary Committee have questioned law enforcement use of stingrays without adequate Constitutional protections.

“Stingray programs around the country have rightfully come under fire from civil liberties advocates from across the political spectrum,” said Martinez’s attorney, Matt Topic of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law.  “Without warrants or probable cause or sufficient protections for innocent bystanders, their use raises serious Fourth and First Amendment concerns.  The public can’t perform its duty of monitoring government or protect itself from Constitutional violations when law enforcement continues to hide virtually all details about this technology and when it’s being used.”

A copy of the suit can be found here:  2015-CH-05943

Loevy & Loevy is the largest civil rights law firm in the Midwest and frequently represents the public in FOIA litigation.

Residents Protest to Demand an End to Political Intimidation and Corruption at 106th and Avenue M in Chicago

Posted by Admin On April - 13 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Threats of retaliation and reports of harassment for absentee ballots causes community outrage

CHICAGO, IL – On April 11 at 2 p.m., a coalition of local community members and groups led by Anthony Martinez from RISE Southeast Chicago community group, came together to protest threats of retaliation, intimidation and corruption following the results of the 10th ward election on 106th and Avenue M.

Protest organizer Anthony Martinez says, “The activities that have been going on the last 16 years and recently the violent crimes and threats against people who voted against the current alderman are unacceptable. We are calling for an end to this and an investigation into any reports of rigging the results of the election through intimidation or fraud.”

After threats of violence and harassment towards voters in the 10th ward election, residents are organizing to demand justice. From signs being torn from homes, broken car windows, Facebook threats, and now reports of shady characters requesting absentee ballots after the deadline, the community has begun organizing to demand an investigation and end to these practices. Residents are demanding a full investigation into any attempts at voter intimidation or fraud, along with demands that officials look into allegations of corrupt practices in the ward. Organizers are trying to gather attention to these threats out of fear someone will be hurt as a result of retaliation.

l Corona a community resident and RISE members states: “We will stand up against these social injustices. Our community needs it, our neighbors want it, and our children demand it! We will not let people in our community be intimidated, threatened or hurt!”

Visit facebook.com/RISEChicago for more information or email robert.eckes@gmail.com.

For information about gang involvement in 10th ward politics visit 10thwardcorruption.wordpress.com/ (non RISE affiliated site) or contact:

Olga Bautista

(773) 712-4956

Civil Rights Leaders Announced Campaign to Confirm Loretta Lynch as Attorney General

Posted by Admin On April - 13 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

In wake of South Carolina shooting that killed Walter Scott, Rev. Al Sharpton, Cornell William Brooks, Marc Morial and other national civil rights leaders held a press conference Saturday, the final day of the National Action Network Convention in New York

17th Annual NAN Convention is the nation’s largest civil rights gathering since tragedies in Ferguson and Staten Island

NEW YORK – In the wake of a deadly police shooting in North Charleston, South Carolina that killed Walter Scott, the nation’s top civil rights leaders will hold a press conference Saturday, April 11 at 10:15 a.m. in New York City to announce a campaign to urge Senate leadership to immediately call for a vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as Attorney General. It has been nearly 150 days since Lynch was nominated by President Obama to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General. Further delay will only lead to greater uncertainty among law enforcement officials across the country in implementing common-sense law enforcement reforms at the local, state, and federal levels.

Leadership from national civil rights organizations – including National Action Network President (NAN) Rev. Al Sharpton, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President and CEO Cornell William Brooks, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial, among others – will call for the end to a historic delay to confirm the nation’s top law enforcement official. Reports indicate Lynch has the votes necessary to be confirmed as Attorney General.

The press conference was held on the final day of the 17th annual NAN Convention in New York City, and a panel discussion followed. This year’s annual convention arrives on the heels of a series of events that shined a bright light on the racial and civil rights challenges still plaguing America. It is the largest gathering of civil rights leaders since the tragedies in Ferguson, Staten Island and most recently, the tragic shooting of Mr. Scott in South Carolina. The press conference will be live streamed at www.nationalactionnetwork.net.

WHO:
• Reverend Al Sharpton, National Action Network President
• Cornell William Brooks, President & CEO, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
• Marc Morial, President & CEO, National Urban League
• Barbara Arnwine, President & Executive Director, The Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights Under Law
• Melanie Campbell, President & CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) & Convener, Black Women’s Roundtable
• Wade Henderson, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights
• Janai Nelson, Associate Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

It was also live streamed at www.nationalactionnetwork.net

Munger Activates Illinois Gives to Help Northern Illinois Tornado Victims

Posted by Admin On April - 13 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS
Comptroller’s program lets state employees, retirees donate from paychecks


CHICAGO, IL –  Illinois Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger on Friday activated Illinois Gives, a program that allows state employees and retirees to make a donation from their paychecks to help the victims of Thursday’s devastating tornados in northern Illinois.Following Governor Rauner’s state disaster declaration Friday for Ogle and DeKalb counties, Munger launched the Illinois Gives web portal that allows the state’s 65,000 employees and 180,000 retirees (teachers, judges, and state workers) to direct a payroll deduction to the American Red Cross to help the victims. The portal can be accessed at illinoiscomptroller.com. The site also offers a direct link to the American Red Cross for those who would like to make a donation but are not state employees or retirees.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to our neighbors in Rochelle and Fairdale who are struggling today to recover from these deadly storms. It was difficult to see the devastation on the news last night but comforting to know Red Cross volunteers were already on the scene with our dedicated police and firefighters providing shelter and assistance,” Munger said. “Through Illinois Gives, 245,000 state employees and retirees now have an opportunity to directly assist with the relief effort.”

Illinois Gives was created by legislation following the devastating 2013 tornado that ripped through central Illinois, killing 3 and injuring 121 in Washington, IL. The legislation authorizes the Comptroller to activate the program upon a disaster declaration from the Governor.

Munger’s action on Friday was the first time Illinois Gives has been utilized.

Congresssional Black Caucus Chairman G. K. Butterfield Recognizes the 50th Anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

Posted by Admin On April - 13 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative G. K. Butterfield (NC-01), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, issued the following statement on the 50th Anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965.

“Since 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act has been an essential tool for promoting fair and equal access to quality public education and helping to reduce educational disparities between students of all backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, abilities, and beliefs.  The ESEA was critical to upholding and defending the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education which asserted that equity in education is a fundamental right and not a privilege.”

“Congress should honor the 50th Anniversary of the ESEA by reauthorizing the law through new legislation that provides robust and consistent funding to schools, greater support for disadvantaged students, and recognizes the historic Federal role in education.”

Veterans Service Offices Closed Next Week

Posted by Admin On April - 13 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – All of the State’s Veterans Service Offices will be closed for annual training, as the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Veteran Service Officers (VSO) will be attending mandatory annual training at the Chateau Conference Center & Hotel, Bloomington, from Tuesday, April 14 through Friday, April 17, 2015.

The IDVA’s Veterans’ Service Offices are part of a statewide network that assists Illinois veterans in navigating those benefits, resources, and programs available to them. Offices are staffed by professionals – men and women who are all veterans themselves – who provide accurate, up-to-date information, answer questions, and assist with preparing and filing of claims for federal, state and local benefits completely free of charge.

Assistance provided by VSOs includes:

• Compensation Benefits and Document Assistance – Combat and service-related bonus payments and compensation, DD214 certificates.

• Survivor and Burial Benefits – Graves registration, grave markers.

• Educational Benefits – G.I. Bill, Troops to Teachers, Scholarships.

• Employment Benefits – Employment preference, Jobs for Vets program.

• Real Estate and Permits – Homestead and Disabled Veterans Standard Homestead exemptions, Adapted Housing exemptions, camping and admissions fees, hunting and fishing licenses.

• Referral Assistance – Facilitating access to federal VA health care and counseling services.

• Illinois Veterans’ Homes – Assist in applying for admission to one of four IDVA-managed homes throughout Illinois.

Veterans wishing to contact a VSO during this training period are asked to use the “Stand Up and Be Counted” (SUBC) online portal at www.veterans.illinois.gov or to call 1-800-437-9824. Veterans enrolling in SUBC will be assisting the IDVA and their fellow veterans by helping the entire veteran advocacy community to gain a better understanding of the location and number of Illinois’ veterans. This will in planning future services, seeking additional federal VA funding and facilities, and generally help to serve Illinois’ veterans better.

Illinois’ long and proud history of service to veterans began in 1886 with the establishment of the Illinois Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home for Civil War Veterans. Created through legislation enacted in 1945, the Illinois Veterans’ Commission was responsible for state services to veterans until 1976, when it was succeeded by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA). The IDVA, created by Public Act 79-376, is charged with responsibility for the welfare and needs of Illinois veterans, their dependents and survivors. IDVA maintains administrative offices in Springfield and Chicago, four veterans’ homes, and more than 71 full and part-time field offices servicing the 102 counties of the state.

“Breaking Barriers” Research Uncovers Disparities in Health Care Access

Posted by Admin On April - 13 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Health Coverage Doesn’t Translate to Health Care in Communities of Color

As more families get health insurance, it’s becoming clear that despite the many advances of the Affordable Care Act, we must do more to fundamentally change our health care system. The doors of quality health care are still closed to many people of color, families in rural communities, the poor, and those with language and cultural barriers.

“Breaking Barriers: Improving health insurance enrollment and access to health care,” isa year-long study that includes a survey of 1,200 low-income people in 10 states. They were contacted at food pantries, health clinics, homeless centers, and other locations.

“The Alliance for a Just Society works with partners nationwide who have low income members directly impacted by our health care system, ” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society, which released the report today. “We will continue to fight to see that disparities are addressed and that these recommendations are put in place.”

Report author Gary Delgado is a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Social Change and a longtime civil and human rights leader.

The report details continuing barriers to enrollment and the glaring racial disparities in receiving health care that are magnified as more people gain health insurance. Significant changes need to be made to the system. “Breaking Barriers” includes 20 specific recommendations.

“The Affordable Care Act is a big, new house built on the old foundation,” said Delgado. “We’re still not serving people of color. We need to build a more inclusive health care system.”

While failure to expand Medicaid in 22 states is the biggest barrier to ending disparities in health care, it’s not the only obstacle. For many, cost, lack of technology, language access, and the complexities of health insurance make both enrolling and getting care difficult.

Of those surveyed, 45 percent said they live with a chronic condition. In addition, 54 percent of people of color said they use the hospital or clinic for their primary care.

“One woman told me it sometimes comes down to deciding between medication and food. Her credit is bad because of her high prescription costs,” said Adriann Barboa, of Strong Families New Mexico.

Especially in communities of color and in rural towns, a lack of Internet service is a significant barrier, to signing up for coverage, receiving updates and notices about plans, and paying premiums.

In the “Breaking Barriers” survey, 41.6 percent of Latinos and 47.7 percent of African Americans said they have Internet at home, compared to 77.5 percent of white people asked.

Antron McKay-West, with Upgrade Mississippi, grew up in the Mississippi Delta.

“It is so rural, most people can’t imagine life there. Most people don’t have Internet, if they do, it is very slow, it’s not the technology most are used to,” he said.

“During enrollment, some people were told to just go to the library and use the Internet. In the neighborhood where I grew up, the library is 15 miles away,” said McKay-West.

Nearly 200 organizations from around the country have joined with the Alliance for a Just Society in endorsing recommendations in the report for making sure everyone has access to quality health care.

Recommendations include:

  • Expand Medicaid in the 22 states that have refused to accept federal funding, leaving millions of low-income workers with out health insurance.
  • Expand the role of navigators to help people move from coverage to care. Navigators will teach those with coverage about personal doctors, routine tests, annual checkups and other aspects of health care.
  • Measure results: Require plans to track health outcomes, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, primary language, gender, disability, and sexual orientation.
  • Strengthen community-based health care. Expand school-based health centers in medically under-served communities. Support community providers including clinics, individual physicians, and small community practices.
  • Expand medical-legal partnerships to address issues that lead to poor health in low-income communities such as mold in housing, contamination, and industrial pollutants.
  • Enforce access to preventive care. Ensure that all health plans cover yearly check-ups, immunizations, and screenings at no out-of-pocket cost.

Alliance for a Just Society is a national organizing and research network that has produced pivotal reports for 20 years on state and national health issues including Medicaid, prescription drugs, and insurance industry practices.

Tom Breen: One of FDLA’s “20 for 20” Honorees!

Posted by Admin On April - 13 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

A courageous defender in the courts, Tom Breen was a pioneer in using DNA evidence to exonerate the innocent. Breen defended Gary Dotson in 1987, which was the first time DNA evidence was used to exonerate an innocent man in Illinois; it was the second DNA-exoneration case in the nation.

Working with Northwestern University School of Law’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, Breen also helped clear a man who had twice been convicted and sentenced to death for a rape he did not commit. Mr. Breen’s work prompted a former Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney to reconsider one of his own cases, from his early years as a prosecutor. As a result, two innocent men were cleared and released from prison after Breen helped initiate a DNA review of their case.

On being named one of FDLA’s 20 for 20:

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the First Defenders, but it is the First Defenders who quietly bring individual rights to the most frightened and vulnerable.  They are the first, and the most important lawyers in the criminal justice system.”    —-  Tom Breen

Follow the event blog for details, updates and future “20 for 20” releases HERE .

Tell Senator Schumer: “Don’t lead Senate Democrats into war with Iran” – Sign The Petition

Posted by Admin On April - 13 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS
Senator Chuck Schumer: Wrong on Iraq, wrong on Iran, wrong for Senate Democratic leadership

Starting a war with Iran is apparently the top legislative priority for the next leader of the Senate Democratic caucus.

Politico reported that Senator Chuck Schumer’s first major move after locking down support to succeed Sen. Harry Reid as the Senate minority leader is to put his weight behind a bill that could block a final nuclear deal with Iran and would almost certainly put the U.S. on a path to war with Iran.

Writes Politico: “Schumer’s emphatic statement that Congress has an important role becomes more significant, signaling to fellow Democrats that it’s safe to jump on board the review bill.”1

Tell Sen. Chuck Schumer: Don’t lead Senate Democrats into war with Iran.

Add Your Name: Sign the petition â–º

With Republicans reportedly just one vote away from a veto-proof majority to blow up the negotiations with Iran, Sen. Schumer’s signal to fellow Democrats that they should support the Corker-Menendez bill, which would create a complex system of procedural hurdles to a final deal and empower hawks to sabotage it, could mean the difference between war and peace.2

Beating the drums for war in the Middle East is not a new role for Sen. Schumer. While he has been widely criticized as a tool of Wall Street banks, there has been much less notice given to the fact that Sen. Schumer voted in 2002 to give President George W. Bush a blank check for war in Iraq. 3

Sen. Schumer’s support for war does not come out of deference to his commander-in-chief. With President Obama on the brink of securing an historic deal to limit Iran’s ability to build a nuclear weapon, you’d think the next leader of the Senate Democrats would be organizing his fellow senators in the caucus to support the White House’s diplomatic efforts. But instead Sen. Schumer is rallying Senate Democrats to the warmonger caucus by joining Republicans in a rush to yet another war of choice in the Middle East.

It’s true that Sen. Harry Reid also voted for war with Iraq. But he, like many Americans, learned the painful and expensive lesson that President George W. Bush’s war and has fought to defend the White House’s diplomatic efforts to block Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons without going to war. Clearly, Sen. Schumer has learned nothing.

Tell Sen. Chuck Schumer: You were wrong on Iraq, and now you’re wrong on Iran. This is not the Democratic leadership we need in the Senate.

Sen. Schumer is playing a very dangerous game with American blood and treasure. There are only two ways this can go. Either our diplomatic efforts are successful and we block Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons without war, or we move down the path to almost certain war.

We’re already one vote away from from a veto-proof majority for war in the Senate. Sen. Schumer needs to decide if he wants to be the leader of the Democratic caucus or join the Republican warmonger caucus.

Thank you for speaking out to stop the next war.

Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name:

Sign the petition â–º

1. Burgess Everett, “Chuck Schumer bucks White House on Iran,” Politico, April 6, 2015
2. Rachel Oswald, “Iran Bill One Vote Away From Veto-Proof Majority,” Roll Call, April 3, 2015
3. Senate vote summary on H.J. Res. 114

5 Facts About Martin Luther King, Jr. You Probably Don’t Know

Posted by Admin On April - 13 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights icon known for his influential speeches and his marches which greatly contributed to the American civil rights movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He was a Noble Peace Prize Winner in 1965, and has long been credited with helping to minimize racial discrimination and prejudice in America.

Here are 5 things that you may not know about him:

1) His Real Name Is Michael: He was actually born as Michael King, Jr. on January 15, 1929. However, his father, Martin King, Sr., was greatly inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther in Germany, and changed his name to Martin Luther King, Sr. He also changed his 5-year-old son’s name to Martin Luther King, Jr.

2) He Went to Prison 29 Times: According to the King Center, the civil rights leader was imprisoned on almost 30 different occasions. He was arrested many times for civil disobedience and other petty crimes such as for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone.

3) His Mom Was Also Shot to Death: MLK’s mother, Alberta Williams King, was shot and killed while playing the organ at a Sunday service inside Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1974. Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr., the man who shot her, said that Christians were his enemy and that he initially intended to kill King’s father instead.

4) He Started College at Just 15 Years Old: MLK was a very gifted and intelligent student. In fact, he skipped high school altogether and went straight to college, enrolling in 1944 at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.

5) Martin Luther King Day First Started in 1986: Although MLK was assassinated in 1968, it wasn’t until 18 years later in 1986 when a bill was passed to create a federal holiday to honor him. This made MLK only the second person (the first was President George Washington) to have his birthday observed as a national holiday.

Get your very own Martin Luther King, Jr. printed bowtie or choose from other Black History icons at www.BlackHistoryBowties.com

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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