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Archive for May 6th, 2016

Anti-Prison Activists Stage Hunger Strike at University of Chicago

Posted by Admin On May - 6 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Students to hold 24-hour hunger strike in response to University’s contract with prison food vendor


CHICAGO, IL – 10 University  of Chicago  students are going without food for 24 hours to protest their school’s newly announced contract with a subsidiary of Compass Group, a leading provider of prison food services worldwide.

Hunger strikers and their allies, including formerly incarcerated individuals, will hold a press conference on Friday,  May 6 at 4:30 p.m. in front of the UofC’s main dining hall, and call on the University not to do business with corporations that profit from prisons. They will then join a group of fifty students who will march to the University’s administrative building for a picnic to break the hunger strike.

“Compass Group is one of the corporations that has driven mass incarceration”, said hunger striker Natalie Naculich, “it is unethical for UChicago to give money to corporations that profit from paramount social injustices.”

The hunger striking students are members of Fight for Just Food, an on-campus group calling on UofC to transition to a self-operated catering system. Compass Group provides food services to prisons around the world through subsidiaries like Chartwells and Eurest.  In the U.S., Compass Group built up and retains an ownership stake in Trinity, a company that profits from the food service provision of 300,000 inmates at over 400 jails and correctional facilities across the United States.

“We are hugely disappointed that Richard Mason [UofC’s head of dining services] has refused to even consider the possibility of dining hall self-operation,” said Fight for Just Food member Tunisia Tai, “Eight out of the ten top U.S. universities already self-operate their dining, and self-operation is also better for dining hall workers”.

The students’ hunger strike is inspired by prisoners who have used the tactic to protest conditions in prisons with Compass Group contracts.  In January, prisoners at the Regina Correctional Centre, in Regina, Canada staged hunger strike after they were served raw eggs by Compass Group-subsidiary Chartwells.  Their campaign is also part of a wave of student activism against prison. In 2015, Columbia University announced it would divest from private prison companies following a student-led campaign.

The University of Chicago has a long history of involvement with corporations that profit from service contracts in prisons.  Until this year, it has had a dining contract with Aramark, which provides food services to over 600 prisons in the US.  The chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, Joseph Neubauer, was the CEO of Aramark for over 30 years and has donated tens of millions to the University. “It’s time for the University of Chicago to stop ignoring how it supports and benefits from mass incarceration”, said hunger strike participant Anna Nathanson.

This campaign comes on the heels of the University of Chicago’s announcement in December of plans to open an adult level one trauma center, following years of advocacy by the Trauma Care Coalition. Many of the students in the Fight for Just Food were previously involved in the Trauma Center Campaign.  “We’ve seen activism be succesful on this campus before, and we’re prepared to make it succesful again”, added Nathanson.

What: Press conference & rally in response to contract with privatized prison services provider
When: Friday May 6, 4:30 pm
Where: Bartlett Dining Commons, 5640 South University Avenue
Who: The Fight for Just Food and allies, including former prisoners

Multi-State Takedown of Gangster Disciples Members Announced

Posted by Admin On May - 6 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Forty-eight alleged members of the violent Gangster Disciples gang—including the top leaders in Tennessee and Georgia—have been charged in two indictments, accused of conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise that included multiple murders, attempted murder, and drug crimes. Forty-five indicted defendants were taken into custody today across nine states, while three remain at large.

Announcements of the indictments—made during press conferences in Memphis and Atlanta—came on the heels of multi-agency investigations involving the FBI’s Memphis and Atlanta Field Offices and numerous local, state, and federal law enforcement partners who targeted the Gangster Disciples, a national gang active in at least two dozen states. According to court documents, the scope of the group’s crimes is broad—from violent crimes and threats of violence to drug trafficking to financial crimes like credit card and bank fraud.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, Criminal Division, “It is the very of core of law enforcement’s mission to ensure that everyone feels safe in their homes and neighborhoods, and it is a hard reality that many people across our country simply do not enjoy this basic sense of security because of gangs like the Gangster Disciples. That is why it is so significant that today’s indictments charge top leaders within the Gangster Disciples.”

Added Special in Charge J. Britt Johnson, Atlanta FBI Field Office, “The Gangster Disciples are a highly organized and ruthless gang that recognizes no geographical boundaries, and its members have far too long indiscriminately preyed upon and infected the good people of our communities like a cancer. The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, is committed to seeing this campaign through, and once and for all putting an end to the Gangster Disciples’ reign of terror.”

Related information:

Source: FBI

Failure to Pass Fair Tax Amendment Will Take High Human Toll in Illinois

Posted by Admin On May - 6 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The House failed to bring the Fair Tax Amendment (HJRCA 59) to a vote, missing the deadline for placing it on the ballot for the upcoming November elections.  The Fair Tax amendment, that would have allowed voters to vote on a constitutional amendment to implement a progressive income tax, enjoyed massive public support in both Democratic and Republican districts. By not taking up the amendment, Governor Rauner and House Republicans allowed Illinois to continue to head in the wrong direction.

“Increasing state revenue has become a matter of life and death in our community,” stated Erica Rangel with Enlace Chicago. “Our Ceasefire program has saved lives and prevented numerous acts of violence before they happen. The reality is that by not passing common sense revenue Springfield is choosing to let people die instead of making the needed investment in the future of our young people.”

Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative stated, “Springfield should have learned by now that not voting on the tough issues does not make them go away. Our state needs long term structural solutions. Illinois ranks 47th in spending on core public services despite being the 5th largest economy in the US. We have a real revenue problem, we need our leaders to not run away and address this structural issue. We cannot have a stable budget until we modernize our tax structure and make the rich pay their fair share.

Governor Rauner has used his bully pulpit, PAC funds, and his role as head of the Illinois GOP to recklessly push his own personal agenda at the expense of Illinois’s people and economy. The Turnaround Agenda is dead. Instead of pressuring his party to obstruct passage of popular, equitable, and rational solutions Governor Rauner should be working with the legislature to fully fund the programs and services our state needs.”

Even without Fair Tax being on the ballot in November, there are many other revenue solutions that legislators can pursue including closing corporate loopholes, enacting a financial transaction tax, and ending bad bank deals. A full list of revenue solutions can be found the in Grassroots Collaborative’s People’s Agenda: http://thegrassrootscollaborative.org/sites/default/files/ThePeoplesAgenda.pdf

Kids Who Haven’t Seen Their Moms for Months Will Ride Buses to Decatur and Logan Prisons for Mother’s Day Visits, No Thanks to Governor Rauner and the Budget Impasse

Posted by Admin On May - 6 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL. –  Long overdue visits between moms and kids are happening this month after three groups–Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA), Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration (MUAVI), and Nehemiah Trinity Rising–raised over $12,000 to ensure bus trips from Mother’s Day weekend through the summer. Many of these kids, ranging from toddlers to teens, have not seen their moms since December, after the Illinois budget impasse triggered the shuttering of crucial programs for families impacted by incarceration.

“We need to see her. The kids need to know she’s ok, and she needs to know that we are waiting for her when she comes home.”

On Saturday morning, young children and teens will be up early to arrive by 7am at a bus secured by over 200 donors who believe kids and moms have a right to see visit one another. They will make the 180 mile trip to Decatur with caregivers and volunteers. When they arrive they will not have to meet in the confined space of the visiting room, but a large gymnasium where they can sit, play, and run around with their moms. They will also share a lunch prepared by the other women in the prison. The volunteers will be ready with activities, and to provide support and encouragement to kids who will be looking forward to their next visit. Moms inside will await those visits too. Some moms have months left on their sentences, and some have decades, meaning that these visits are the foundation of their relationship with their kids.

Over 215,000 women are incarcerated in the US. While the majority of minor children whose fathers are incarcerated live with their moms, the majority of kids whose mothers are incarcerated live with a family member, friend, or in state care, making it even harder to visit the prison. Mothers report fewer visits than fathers throughout their imprisonment. And though Governor Rauner talks about lowering the incarceration rate in Illinois, the budget impasse has cut crucial programs that reduce recidivism, including visits with children.

The bus program is expensive, even with volunteer labor. Currently buses are only scheduled through the end of July. Throughout the summer CGLA, MUAVI, and Trinity Nehemiah rising will convene meetings with family and community members who benefit from this program. They hope to partner with other organizations whose members have suffered defunded programs and austerity, including faith, labor, education, housing and healthcare organizations.

Metropolitan Tenants Organization to present Dr. Timuel Black, Jr. with Lifetime Achievement Award

Posted by Admin On May - 6 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Dr. Timuel Black, Jr. is a legendary civil rights activist who was instrumental in organizing the Freedom Trains from Chicago to the historic 1963 March on Washington.  He has been a participant and leader of virtually every social justice campaign since then.  Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Black’s family was part of the Great Migration to the North while he was still a child. A retired educator, Black is one of the city’s elder statesmen.

His activism has never let up. He was a leader of the black boycott of the Chicago Public Schools in 1963; was responsible for bringing Dr. Martin Luther King to Chicago in 1966 and marching with him as part of the Chicago Freedom movement protesting the city’s blatant segregation; and he politically challenged the Chicago machine, playing a key role in the election of Harold Washington as the city’s first African-American Mayor.

Black is the author of the two-book history Bridges of Memory: Chicago’s First Wave of Black Migration; and Chicago’s Second Generation of Black Migration. His next book, Sacred Ground, will be published soon.

Fifty Years After Freedom Summer
And the Fight Goes On

Tuesday, May 10, 2016 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Revolution Brewing

2323 North Milwaukee, Chicago

Tickets: $65 each; $50 for Employees of Nonprofits

For information: tdrake@tenants-rights.org

FBI Requests Public’s Help to Find Three Fugitives

Posted by Admin On May - 6 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is requesting the public’s help in finding three fugitives of an alleged drug trafficking organization (DTO). The three fugitives have been federally indicted in U.S. Federal Court, Eastern District of Missouri, with conspiracy to distribute drugs. Three other people, federally indicted on the same drug conspiracy, have been apprehended.
st050516_1.jpg st050516_2.jpg st050516_3.jpg
William L. Gavin AKA “Chill Will” Leaha M. Hazza Brian Knight

William L. Gavin, aka “Chill Will,” is the alleged head of the DTO. He is associated with the 49 BAD Bloods, one of the most violent street gangs in St. Louis, Missouri. He is considered armed and dangerous and is known to socialize with prostitutes. Gavin lives in both the St. Louis, Missouri area and the Phoenix, Arizona area. He also frequents Anchorage, Alaska, where he has relatives.

The other two wanted fugitives, Leaha M. Hazza and Brian Knight, live in the Phoenix, Arizona area. They allegedly work as drug couriers for this DTO.

Since the start of the investigation two years ago, the FBI, in conjunction with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Anchorage Police Department, and the Albuquerque Highway Patrol, seized the following from this DTO. Evidence suggests most of the seized items were en-route to St. Louis from Phoenix:

  • 4.5 kilograms of cocaine
  • 2 kilograms of heroin
  • 4.75 pounds of marijuana
  • $28,050 cash

In addition, the FBI developed information indicating Gavin facilitated the delivery of the following drugs to St. Louis from Phoenix during several coordinated trips from February to April 2015:

  • 120 pounds of marijuana
  • 16 kilograms of cocaine

If you have information about any of the three fugitives, please contact the U.S. Marshals in St. Louis, Missouri at 314-280-6128.

FBI St. Louis May 04, 2016
  • St. Louis Press Office (314) 589-2500

Race & Justice News: Challenging Racially Homogenous Juries in Tennessee and Kentucky

Posted by Admin On May - 6 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Race & Justice News –From The Sentencing Project

Collateral Consequences


Obama Administration “Bans the Box” for Many Federal Jobs

As part of National Reentry Week, the Obama Administration is instituting a “ban the box” policy for many federal jobs. The Office of Personnel Management has published a proposed rule to delay a criminal background check until after federal employers have issued a conditional offer of employment to an applicant. The rule would not require federal contractors to adopt the policy, as requested by activists and some lawmakers. Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett explained that the president sees federal legislation as the best approach to ban the box for federal contractors, reports BuzzFeed.
The proposed rule expands and cements changes that some agencies have made since a presidential initiative in 2015. It would apply only to the “competitive” service, which represents about half of the 200,000 federal hires made in 2015. “Excepted” service jobs—which relate to intelligence, national security, and law enforcement—are exempted and other agencies can request exemptions for “legitimate, job/position-related reasons.” Because of racial disparities in the criminal justice system, African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately impacted by employment barriers for people with criminal records.

Federal Guidance on Criminal Background Checks in Housing

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has published a guidance to help landlords and property managers ensure that their use of applicants’ criminal history information does not violate housing-discrimination laws. The Fair Housing Act prohibits both unintentional and intentional discrimination on the basis of race and other traits. Given the documented racial disparities in arrests and convictions, housing providers can only use criminal history information to turn away tenants if they have a “substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest,” such as ensuring resident safety and protecting property. “Bald assertions based on generalizations or stereotypes that any individual with an arrest or conviction record poses a greater risk than any individual without such a record are not sufficient.”
HUD’s guidance explains that arrest histories are not sound bases for excluding tenants and that blanket prohibitions on people with criminal records are also inadequate as they do not consider the “nature, severity, and recency of criminal conduct.” The Wall Street Journal reports that criminal background checks have proliferated in recent months in a tight housing market and as technology has eased access to this information.


Challenging Racially Homogenous Juries in Tennessee and Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky Circuit Court Judge Olu Stevens was suspended for misconduct charges involving his dismissal of a nearly all-white panel of prospective jurors. Days later, the West Louisville Urban Coalition held a rally to support the judge and to bring attention to the need for more diversity among juries. The Courier-Journal reports that information on race is only collected voluntarily and at only some steps of the jury selection process. Judge Stevens agreed to dismiss the jury panel of 41—which included just three African Americans—after a black defendant’s lawyers argued that the panel wasn’t representative of the community’s demographics. Prosecutors objected and brought the case to the state Court of Appeals. The Court ruled that the state’s lack of racial data from which jury pools are drawn, “while unfortunate, does not amount to a deliberate attempt to exclude any particular group,” and ordered Stevens to stop dismissing juries. A related case is pending in the Kentucky Supreme Court.
In Nashville, Tennessee, a trial was recently delayed after a juror “stood up and told the judge he did not think it was right for two black men to face a jury with no black members on it.” The jury panel included people of color, but no African Americans. Judge Cheryl Blackburn dismissed the jury because their lunchtime discussion about their lack of diversity violated her instructions that they not discuss the case before hearing all the proof and arguments, according to the Assistant District Attorney. Judge Blackburn had previously rejected the defense’s claim that prosecutors were illegally striking jurors based on race.


Mandatory Minimum Sentences Contribute to Iowa’s High Black Incarceration Rate

African Americans make up only three percent of Iowa’s population but represent over one-third of people with violent convictions serving mandatory minimum sentences, reports Kathy Bolton for the Des Moines Register. Many of these individuals were given harsh mandatory sentences for robbery: 25 years for first-degree and 10 years for second-degree robbery, and a requirement that they complete 70% of their sentences before becoming eligible for parole. These laws contribute to Iowa having one of the highest black incarceration rates in the country.
“Iowa is the only state in the Midwest that has established mandatory minimum sentences for robbery-related offenses,” Bolton notes. Iowa’s Public Safety Advisory Board has repeatedly asked the legislature to ease these harsh sentences. This year, the Iowa House approved a bill that would increase judicial sentencing discretion for second-degree robbery.

An Intersectional Study of Federal Sentencing Outcomes

Jeffrey S Nowacki’s study of several race/ethnicity–sex–age combinations finds that while young black men receive the most punitive federal sentences, among young women, Hispanics receive the harshest sentences. Young Hispanic women (aged 30 years or younger) fare worse than young black women potentially because of language barriers, lack of social networks, and greater reluctance to cooperate with prosecutors. Published in Criminology & Criminal Justice, Nowacki’s analysis controls for legally relevant variables such as criminal history and offense severity.


Blacks Have Lowest Rate of Drug-Use Disorder Among Formerly Detained Youth

Youth of color are significantly less likely than white youth to have substance-use disorders during the 12 years after they are released from juvenile detention, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. For much of this period, African Americans had the lowest rates of these disorders, and in some cases dramatically so. For example, non-Hispanic whites had a 32 times greater chance of cocaine-use disorders than African Americans.
Leah J. Welty and colleagues’ paper, “Health Disparities in Drug- and Alcohol-Use Disorders: A 12-Year Longitudinal Study of Youths After Detention,” analyzed a random sample of 1,829 youths who were in detention in Chicago between 1995 and 1998. The researchers conducted several follow-up interviews with the youths over 12 years and examined sex differences as well. “Our findings add to the growing debate about how the ‘War on Drugs’ has disproportionately affected African American youths and young adults.”

Black Female Jazz Ensemble, Jazz In Pink, is Changing the Face of Jazz Music With Their Number One Single “Katgirl”

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On May - 6 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Leveling the Playing Field For Women in the Jazz Industry

Jazz in Pink


Los Angeles, CA (BlackNews.com) — Jazz fans rejoice! The baddest chicks in the game are back and better than ever. The all-female ensemble Jazz In Pink, led by Gail Jhonson aka The first lady of Smooth Jazz are causing a stir with the re-release of their debut album 1st collection.

Jazz In Pinks first single Katgirl is currently the number one most added song on SmoothJazz.com and the second most added track on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Chart. Since 2009, Jazz In Pink has been breaking barriers and proving to the world that women in jazz are a force to be reckoned with. The shortage of female jazz musicians is an issue that is rarely discussed.

While touring both nationally and internationally, I saw firsthand the lack of women at the forefront of jazz music, says Jhonson. I was hard-pressed to see another woman on the stage let alone as a lead vocalist.

Johnson initiated a meeting that brought together talented female musicians from around the globe. As a result, Jazz in Pink was born; an exclusive women-only network that has leveled the playing field for women in jazz forever.

Why should we have to wait around for a man to call upon us when we can work together to book our own gigs and create our own music? says Jhonson. There are women in our ensemble playing at the caliber of John Coltrane. We are serious musicians that have paid our dues and deserve the spotlight.

Jazz In Pink boasts a roster of over 25 talented women including but not limited to: Marie Antoinette (harp), Althea Renee (flute), Benita Lewis (drums), Paula Atherton (saxophone), Karen Briggs (violin) and more!

For more information please, visit: www.jazzinpink.com
About Jazz In Pink
Jazz In Pink is an all-star female ensemble of musical women in jazz that projects talent, beauty, power and femininity as they embrace the stage! Their mission, promotes live performance opportunities that promote women in jazz, by showcasing one others music. They also endeavor to provide educational opportunities and mentorship to upcoming rising stars.

For more details and/or to book the group for a local performance, contact Michael A. Smith at 510-593-799 or smith3109@sbcglobal.net


Photo Caption: Jazz in Pink


Illinois Regulator to Adopt New SAFE Mortgage Loan Originator Test

Posted by Admin On May - 6 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

UST Adopted; No Additional Continuing Education


The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) Division of Banking today announced that it will adopt the new SAFE Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) National Test Component with Uniform State Content on June 1, 2016.  IDFPR is one of 52 state agencies that have adopted the test. Additional states are eventually expected to adopt the new SAFE MLO National Test Component with Uniform State Content.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008 (the SAFE Act) requires MLOs to pass the SAFE MLO test before they can be licensed through the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry (NMLS).  The new National Test Component with Uniform State Content replaces two test components – the National and a State Component – which applicants had been required to pass.  This new test will allow MLOs seeking a license with IDFPR to take a single test component and satisfy the SAFE Act and Illinois testing requirements.   

“With our adoption of the new SAFE MLO test, MLOs seeking to hold licenses in multiple states will no longer be required to pass the state-specific component for each state in which they wish to do business”, said Kerri A. Doll, Division of Banking Director.  “This change makes the license process more efficient for MLOs seeking a license in the state of Illinois”. 


Under the new National Test Component with Uniform State Content, a license applicant who passes the test will not need to take any additional state-specific tests to seek a license with the 52 state agencies that have adopted the test.  IDFPR has withdrawn the proposed rule to require pre-licensure and continuing education.  MLOs are still required to comply with Illinois state law.  


“This is just one more way IDFPR is seeking to streamline supervisory processes, while continuing to ensure the safety and soundness of entities operating within our state and protecting our citizens”, said Bryan A. Schneider. “By providing a more effective regulatory experience, we foster the creation of a regulatory environment conducive to strong economic growth and opportunity.”


More information on the National SAFE MLO Test with Uniform State Content is available here.

Judge Sends Armed Carjacker To Prison For More Than 40 Years

Posted by Admin On May - 6 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

PHILADELPHIA – Desmond Janqdhari, 29, of Philadelphia, was sentenced on May 2, 2016, to 481 months in prison for armed carjacking, robbery, and firearms crimes. On January 28, 2016, a federal jury found Janqdhari guilty of robbery which interfered with interstate commerce (Hobbs Act robbery), armed carjacking, and two counts of using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence.

On January 6, 2014, Janqdhari stole a 2005 Toyota Corolla by forcing the car’s owner to surrender her keys at gunpoint.  On January 11, 2014, Janqdhari and co-defendant Keith Williams robbed the Wireless Factory Store at 5618 Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia.  They stole $300 from the store while holding employees at gunpoint. Williams pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Michael M. Baylson ordered restitution to the victims in the amount of $440, five years of supervised release, and a $400 special assessment.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jose Arteaga.

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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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