Monday, July 28, 2014

JAILED FOR JUSTICE TOUR COMES LAUNCHES IN ATLANTA

The Moral Monday Georgia Coalition, the NAACP-led multi-racial, multi-issue advocacy group, will be hosting an event in partnership with HistoricEbenezer Church, American Friends Service Committee and others at EbenezerBaptist Church, 407 Auburn Avenue on Monday July 28th at6:30pm. This event is part of the Jail for Justice Tour, a state-wide, 16 city tour hosting daily events across Georgia from July 28 through August 12th. These events are intended to bring the group’s message from the capitol to the rest of the state. Each stop will feature a different line-up of three-five Moral Monday GA arrestees who will discuss their choice to go to jail in the pursuit of social justice.

 Tonight's event features Rev Raphael Warnock, NAACP Ga President Francys Johnson, Senator Vincent Fort, Minister Karen Reagle, Peggy Casey, and Keiota Jones all of whom are Moral Monday Arrestees.

The tour aims to bring together Georgians across the state to plant seeds for local actions, register voters, and coalition building during the approaching 2014 election and upcoming legislative session. Rev. Dr. Francys Johnson, NAACP president and Moral Monday arrestee, states, “For far too long, we have let our elected officials ignore the moral implications of their actions and inactions in regards to the most vulnerable among us. It is time to move Georgia forward.”


Modeled on the North Carolina NAACP's Forward Together Movement led by Rev. William Barber, Moral Monday Georgia is broad based coalition of churches, mosques, labor unions, teacher’s organizations and progressive groups. Moral Monday GA is a continuation of North Carolina’s movement to shift Southern politics toward a moral center where civil and human rights are protected and advanced.


During the 2014 Georgia legislative session, Moral Monday brought a national spotlight on the repressive laws being passed by the General Assembly. The movement drew attention to issues from Medicaid expansion and Stand Your Ground laws to reproductive justice and workers’ rights through a series of dynamic actions, including rallies and voter registration as well as mass civil disobedience. The arrestees—72 over the course of the session--came from all generations, backgrounds, races and religions. Elected officials and prominent faith leaders also participated in civil disobedience, acting as moral witnesses against the corrupt actions of the current administration.
 
American Friends Service Committee is really excited to be one of the conveners of the Moral Monday Movement in Georgia and we plan to continue to put effort and resources into building the movement that places priority on:
Secure pro-labor, anti-poverty policies that ensure economic sustainability
Provide a well-funded, quality public education for all
Promote healthcare access and environmental sustainability
Address continued inequalities in the criminal justice system
Protect and expand voting rights for all
 

 

 

 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Crisis In Gaza

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) joins our voice with those who say that violence and killing must end. But calling for an end to current violence is not enough. Peace is more than the absence of outright war—it requires the presence of justice, of equality, of recognizing our common humanity. We must work to end the coercive and corrosive control of Palestinians by Israel, and to transform the systems that are perpetuating injustice and death.
Since mid-June, when three Israeli youth were kidnapped and Israel launched a campaign of collective punishment in the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel has carried out bombing attacks against Gaza, while Palestinian factions fired periodic rockets into Israel. On July 18, Israel launched a ground invasion in the Gaza strip. Over 680 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed.
As the situation in Gaza unfolds, we will bring you AFSC's latest statements, resources, and stories from the people affected by the conflict, and ways that you can take action.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Open Letter To DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann


Today American Friends Service Committee joined struggling DeKalb residents and members of Occupy Our Homes Atlanta to hold a press conference and deliver a letter to acting Sheriff Jeff Mann. The reason we were hand delivering the letter was because Sheriff Mann's office received about a dozen calls from us asking for a meeting to discuss the issue of heavy handed eviction procedures.


When we showed up to the door to deliver the letter we were stopped in the doorway. An officer told us that we could crowd the rather large, totally empty lobby because the building was open for peoples legitimate business. We explained that we were there for legitimate business. We were forced to share our concerns outside the building and deliver the letter to one of Jeff Mann's deputies. DeKalb County deserves better.

Below is the letter we delivered:


Dear Sheriff Jeff Mann,

We are deeply concerned at the alarming number of foreclosures and evictions in DeKalb County. A recent study by the Haas institute shows that DeKalb County is home to 6 of the top 15 Counties in the country for homeowners with underwater mortgages.

We know the Sheriff has little power over the foreclosure process but you do have a tremendous amount of power when it comes to the eviction process. Eviction can be one of the most humiliating, dehumanizing experiences a person ever faces and there’s simply no way one can make it a pleasant process.
We are aware that as recently as last week you had 30 Sheriff Deputy’s evict a struggling family simply because they had launched an online campaign against her mortgage servicer for wrongful foreclosure.

There are policy’s that are working in counties in Georgia and around the country to make the process easier to move through for struggling residents. We have attempted to create dialogue on these issues for several month with no success. For this reason we have decided to bring our recommendations right to your office and we truly hope you will not only consider them, but that you will follow up with us and our members.

Recommendations:
1.         Scheduled Evictions
Many counties and states around the country schedule evictions. We already know that evictors have to schedule eviction with moving companies, why not schedule evictions with the resident. As things stand now residents are subject to a knock on the door at any hour. Scheduled evictions allow residents the final reminder of the coming crisis at hand and gives them a last chance to secure their own belongings.

2.         No evictions after hours
After hours evictions can leave families with nowhere to go, no truck to rent, no storage facility to move things into. We know after hours evictions have been facilitated in DeKalb County. This is a cruel practice that no family should be subjected to. We ask that you commit to making evictions outside the hours of 9am-4pm against DeKalb County policy

3.         No evictions during extreme weather
Going through the evictions process means immediate homelessness for some, it also means all of your life belongings are put out on the street in the elements. Many counties will not do evictions in freezing, raining, or 100 degree weather.

4.         Costs paid by the evictor or a cap of public spending
Evictions can bring an enormous cost the county. The banks and private equity groups that do most of the evicting make an enormous profit. In many counties the evictor pays for the process, in some cases counties put a cap on what they will pay for.

5.         Relocation and 30 days storage for belongings
One of the most dehumanizing parts of the eviction process is having your things dumped in the front yard. Not only are families immediately faced with the prospect of having nowhere to go, they also have to protect their belongings. Furthermore this process is bad for the whole community, effecting the financial and spiritual value of the neighborhood. Many counties, and some states, require the evictor to pay property to be moved to a storage facility for at 30 days.

6.         Handle belongings with care
Often times peoples belongings are destroyed or stolen during the eviction process. We hope that as Sheriff you are able to facilitate stringer accountability for your constituent’s belongings during the eviction process.

7.         Referrals for housing services
Many facing evictions have now where to go. As a point of policy it would be fairly simple to provide those being evicted with a comprehensive list of service providers in the area.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Community Demands Dignified Eviction Procedures From DeKalb Sheriff’s Office


After months of attempting to create dialogue with acting Sheriff Jeff Mann around troubling eviction policy’s which include afterhours evictions, excessive force, and alleged theft of evictees personal property, DeKalb residents plan to bring concerns and eviction policy recommendations to the Sheriff’s department tomorrow(7/16) at12pm.


   DeKalb County is home to the zip codes of 6 of the 15 highest rates of underwater homeowners in the entire country according to the Under Water America report published by the Haas Institute.

  Occupy Our Homes Atlanta continues to be overwhelmed by the number of DeKalb County residents in immediate housing crisis. There is a clear moral imperative to make the eviction process more humane for folks going through a very difficult time in their lives.


In our attempt to reach out to both Sheriff candidates Vernon Jones committed to enact a six month moratorium on evictions in DeKalb County and appoint a committee to make recommendations on changing the eviction process in the county.

Tomorrow American Friends Service Committee joins DeKalb residents and Occupy Our Homes Atlanta as we deliver a letter to acting Sheriff Jeff Mann that includes practical recommendations that are already working in other parts of Georgia and the rest of the country.



Recommendations include:

1.         Scheduled Evictions

Many counties and states around the country schedule evictions. We already know that evictors have to schedule eviction with moving companies, why not schedule evictions with the resident? As things stand now residents are subject to a knock on the door at any hour. Scheduled evictions allow residents the final reminder of the coming crisis at hand and gives them a last chance to secure their own belongings.

2.         No evictions after hours

After hours evictions can leave families with nowhere to go, no truck to rent, no storage facility to move things into. We know after hours evictions have been facilitated in DeKalb County. This is a cruel practice that no family should be subjected to. We ask that you commit to making evictions outside the hours of 9am-4pm against DeKalb County policy

3.         No evictions during extreme weather

Going through the evictions process means immediate homelessness for some, it also means all of your life belongings are put out on the street in the elements. Many counties will not do evictions in freezing, raining, or 100 degree weather.

4.         Costs paid by the evictor or a cap of public spending

Evictions can bring an enormous cost the county. The banks and private equity groups that do most of the evicting make an enormous profit. In many counties the evictor pays for the process, in some cases counties put a cap on what they will pay for.

5.         Relocation and 30 days storage for belongings

One of the most dehumanizing parts of the eviction process is having your things dumped in the front yard. Not only are families immediately faced with the prospect of having nowhere to go, they also have to protect their belongings. Furthermore this process is bad for the whole community, effecting the financial and spiritual value of the neighborhood. Many counties, and some states, require the evictor pay for property to be moved to a storage facility for at least 30 days.

6.         Handle belongings with care

Often times peoples belongings are destroyed or stolen during the eviction process. We hope that as Sheriff you are able to facilitate stronger accountability for your constituent’s belongings during the eviction process.

7.         Referrals for housing services

Many facing evictions have now where to go. As a point of policy it would be fairly simple to provide those being evicted with a comprehensive list of service providers in the area.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Gaza Under Siege


For thousands of years, Gaza has been an important seaport and trade community, exporting agricultural produce to other areas of historic Palestine and serving as a way station for traders traveling along the Egypt-Syria trade route. Located in the southwest most corner of historic Palestine, Gaza is home to a wealth of natural resources including fertile agricultural land, rich fishing grounds, and large offshore natural gas reserves. Gaza also has beautiful beaches, a rich history, and a moderate climate, all of which make it a potentially attractive tourist destination. Add to this a highly educated and youthful population (60 percent under the age of 18, and over 40 percent age 14 or younger), and you might expect  that Gaza’s development prospects were positive. 
Unfortunately this is not the case. Gaza’s wealth is largely unreachable as a direct result of Israel’s occupation and blockade. Most agricultural land is located in places declared closed military areas (“no go” zones) or has been destroyed during military attacks. Access to traditional fishing grounds is restricted by the Israeli navy. Development of the natural gas reserves is forbidden by the Israeli government. All of this while the movement of people into and out of Gaza is severely restricted and both the import of goods and the export of products from Gaza is strictly limited. Military attacks over the last 13 years have also resulted in the near complete destruction of Gaza’s business and manufacturing base. As a result, the unemployment rate among Gaza’s 1.7 million residents is over 35 percent  and poverty rates are even higher. More than 80 percent of the population is now dependent on international assistance for survival. Yet the people of Gaza have not lost hope, continuing to dream about and work for a better future.
This paper provides additional information about Gaza and the impact of Israeli policies on the people living there...Read more