"Commissioner [Ray] Kelly stated that the NYPD targets its stop-and-frisk activity at young black and Latino men because it wants to instill the belief in members of these two populations that they could be stopped and frisked every time they leave their homes so that they are less likely to carry weapons."—New York State Senator Eric Adams in a sworn affidavit, recalling a comment made by NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly in a 2010 private meeting
"We've spent billions of dollars killing thirteen people."—Steve Smith, a campaign consultant for SAFE California, an anti-death penalty organization
Anti-War Soldier Wins Conscientious Objector Status, Honorable Discharge on Moral Grounds
U.S. Army Specialist and Iraq war veteran Daniel Birmingham set an important legal precedent when he received both conscientious objector (CO) status and an honorable discharge in lieu of deployment to Afghanistan. While the military has typically granted CO status for religious or spiritual opposition to war, Spc. Birmingham objected to the war on purely moral grounds.
Spc. Birmingham is a member of March Forward!—an organization of anti-war active-duty and veteran service members. As such, he campaigned publicly about his moral objections to the war prior to his legal victory. His statement, "I will not go to war again," was distributed widely online and on various military bases. Spc. Birmingham is twenty-one years old and from Battle Creek, Michigan, the son of an autoworker and a union painter. He originally entered the military due to lack of employment opportunities.
A statement from March Forward! argued that Spc. Birmingham's legal precedent means all anti-war service members "have the right to [End Page 6] refuse deployment to Afghanistan." They have announced a new outreach campaign—called "Our Lives, Our Rights"—to inform active-duty service members on military bases of these new rights.
Immigrant Workers at Pacific Steel Protest Firings, "Silent ICE Raid"
In February 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began a "silent raid" in which they audited the documents of the employees of Pacific Steel Casting in Berkeley, California, leading to the firing of 214 of them later in the year.
Workers at the foundry, who are represented by Molders Union Local 164B, struck the plant in March 2011 over health care cuts. According to ICE regulations, enforcement actions are supposed to stop during labor disputes. In practice and in this case, however, there appears to be a strong correlation between ICE attention and job actions (and unionization efforts).
The Obama administration has made I-9 audits of employees a centerpiece of its immigration enforcement strategy. Due to their status, tens of thousands of undocumented workers have been fired, including thousands of janitors in Minneapolis, San Francisco, and San Diego, as well as two thousand sewing machine operators in Los Angeles. Pacific Steel's Berkeley site is the country's largest steel foundry west of the Mississippi River, and the company claims it was forced to conduct the layoffs.
In February 2012, hundreds of immigrant steelworkers, along with their family members and supporters, held a "March for Dignity" against the company. The mass march ended months of debate among the fired employees, who met in union halls and churches to weigh the consequences of taking their firings—and thus their immigration status—public.
Department of Justice Affirms Constitutional Right to Record Police
While Obama's Department of Justice has disappointed progressives on a range of issues related to constitutional and civil liberties, it also issued a legal opinion that the
39—The number of major U.S. cities in which more than 40 percent of working-age black men are without jobs. (Source: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Economic Development)
$565,000—The amount that Bain Capital, and others in the financial industry, gave to Newark Mayor Cory Booker for his 2002 campaign. (Source: ThinkProgress.org)
$100 billion a year (at least)—Wage theft's estimated net value to employers. (Source: Kim Bobo, author of Wage Theft in America)
video recording of police officers represents a protected First Amendment activity, amounting to freedom of the press. The Civil Rights Division statement came in response...