From the News Wires
Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale Station" is about a month away from hitting theaters nationwide in the United States. The film, a Sundance favorite, has already gotten rave reviews based on its gripping portrayal of the last day of Oscar Grant's life before he was gunned down by former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. That's not an easy talk for any filmmaker, but Coogler, the film's writer and diretor, and Spencer, who plays Grant's mother Wanda, were able to prepare for their roles by speaking with surviving members of Grant's family. Watch them talk about the experience in the interview that's above.
San Francisco Giants pitcher Sergio Romo has recorded a video in support of immigration reform. The video appears on Major League Baseball's YouTube channel.
"I'm first-generation Mexican-American. Both of my parents were born in Mexico," he says in the video. "My dad always spoke of the American dream as a man hard working, earning his keep, being able to take care of his family in a respectful manner."
Romo, a first-generation Mexican-American, created the video in partnership with The Dream is Now campaign that is pushing Congress to pass the DREAM Act. The Dream is Now is spearheaded by the Emerson Collective which was founded by Laurene Jobs and Davis Guggenheim.
"When I hear of a student being undocumented, I take it as a kid going to school, just trying to learn to do better so I don't find anything negative in that," says Romo, who was born in California. Two million undocumented people "deserve a chance to live their dream and we will all win if they do."
Politico is reporting that Newark mayor Cory Booker will run for U.S. Senate, with an official announcement slated for tomorrow. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced a special election to replace deceased Sen. Frank Lautenberg scheduled for October, with a primary in August -- a surprise since his options were to hold a special election on the day of the November general election or appoint someone immediately as a placeholder until the November 2014 Senate elections.
Political commentators are saying that Christie decided against holding a special election this November because he's up for re-election himself, and having someone like Booker on the ticket could drive up black votes for the Democratic Party ticket, boosting the chances of their pick for governor Barbara Buono. Meanwhile, Christie could have just appointed someone from his own Republican Party. But holding an early special election allows Booker to run for the Senate seat without threatening Christie's re-election chances -- though having two elections so close will reportedly cost the state's taxpayers millions of dollars.
Meanwhile, PAC Plus, a D.C.-based Super PAC devoted to supporting progressive candidates of color, tells Buzzfeed that they plan to raise and spend as much as $2 million to get Booker elected for Senate. The campaign is simply called "Help Cory Win."
"Here we are talking about the post-Obama world, and where the Obama coalition is going to go," PAC Plus founder Steve Phillips told BuzzFeed. Phillips also is chair of Power PAC, a political action committee based out of San Francisco. "We think that Cory is one of the people who is best positioned to advance that movement."
If Booker wins, he'll become the ninth African American to serve in the Senate and could potentially bring the total number of African Americans serving in the Senate to two.
Andra Gillespie, author of the book The New Black Politician: Cory Booker, Newark and Post-Racial America, says that would be both "remakable and sad," because, "by 2013, you'd hope that we'd have more than just two black Senators," given African Americans are 13 percent of the population.
Gillespie believes that as a senator, a lot of the criticism he's sustained lately, like being out of touch with city and defending Wall St. moochers like Bain Capital, will "fall away," given the Senate is a different environment than the mayor's office.
Says Gillespie, "What irritated people about him locally won't be amplified as much in the Senate race. Doesn't mean it won't be used against him, but I think people will be far less likely to not use the 'he's-not-black-enough' charge as he runs for Senate."
Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall tried to tell us. "We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted Section 215 of the Patriot Act," they wrote in a public letter to Attorney General Eric Holder last year. They were correct, both in thier warnings and in their judgement of the public's stunned response. The senators are bound by oath from offering details, since the Obama administration's collection of mass data about Americans' phone calls and Internet communications is classified. But thanks to good journalism we know the truth this week: In the name of fighting terror, President Obama has continued and expanded George W. Bush's secret trampling of basic civil liberties. The administration has routinely violated rights that American law and culture hold sacred and that this president has repeatedly claimed to defend.
But Wyden and Udall aren't the only ones who've warned, loudly and repeatedly, that the national security apparatus is out of control, verging on lawlessness. Since 2001, Muslim American communities have been under siege. Religious and racial profiling has become the norm, from the FBI down to local police agencies. Some of the most shocking behavior--among the practices we know about, at least--has come from the New York Police Department. Following what we've now learned to be common logic at the federal level as well, NYPD has engaged in widespread, indiscriminate spying on Muslim residents across the Northeast. In mosques, universities, restaurants--wherever Muslims gather, NYPD has sent spies and collected information. Everyone making a life inside a Muslim community is guilty until proven innocent.
Muslim community leaders and civil liberties advocates have insisted this sort of preemptive surveillance is unjust and unproductive. But following the logic of the Obama administration, Ray Kelly and Mike Bloomberg insist they must spy on everyone they deem dangerous, because a terrorist could emerge at any moment.
Others have warned of this reckless expansion of "national security" as well. Like Muslim commmunities, immigrant communities of all sorts have been battered by it since 2001, and with particular force by this president. The Obama administration has deported more people than any previous one. It has done so using legally questionable enforcement programs that shrug in the direction of things like due process--of the systems we've created as a nation to protect residents from the whims of the state. Anecdotal evidence suggests detainees are deliberately housed in places that make it more difficult for them to access legal support. States and localities have been compelled to turn over to the feds information about people accused of crimes, in order to begin the deportation process. In one border-state program, which is poised to expand as part of the Senate's immigration reform bill, detained immigrants are processed together in mass hearings that make a mockery of measured justice. They accept plea deals en masse and with limited legal counsel for the crime of crossing the border without authorization, deals that land them in detention for anywhere from a couple of weeks to 20 years. In fact, border crossing has been prosecuted with such haste and so little measure that, according to one study, "illegal entry" and "illegal re-entry" were the most prosecuted crimes in the federal judicial system in 2011, accounting for more than 70,000 prosecutions.
Immigration reform advocates have for years been warning that these processes are un-American. They have argued that the legal and political justifications for our breakneck deportation system degrades our basic values as a nation. But the administration has defended its deportation pipeline, successfully and with vigor, by draping it in national security. It is necessary, we are told, to keep us safe. We must violate our ideals to defend our laws and hold our border.
And we can't stop with Muslims and immigrants. The same logic has long been used to justify the so-called war on drugs. Our political leaders long ago exempted many urban, black communities from due process protections. Our prisons and jails are filled today with hugely disproportionate numbers of black men and women not by accident, but because Congress and states passed laws that, like the Patriot Act, declared the state could do as it pleased when pursuing those it deemed dangerous. Prosecutors and police were given unchecked power; judges were stripped of their balancing authority. Today in New York City, in the name of keeping my neighborhood safe, the police routinely detain and search young black men with no more justification than their desire to do so.
It is comforting to believe these things have nothing to do with one another, to insist that the administration's shocking spying program is a distinct issue from the trends we've witnessed in communities of color for years. But the logic used to defend secretly collecting the communications data of people not accused of any crime is the same logic used to defend NYPD's stop-and-frisk program and Homeland Security's deportation apparatus. The logic of "national security" was developed and honed by law enforcement practices inside communities of color. It is one of the more striking examples of a basic truth: racial injustice is cancerous; it eats the national body from the inside out.
"The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue," the New York Times editorial board wrote in a withering June 6 op-ed. Indeed, but a fair review of the record must conclude that credibility was lost long ago, perhaps somewhere along the way to deporting 400,000 people a year via morally, if not legally questionable powers. It's a cautionary tale for people across the ideological spectrum on state power. Injustice ignored will surely spread.
Hundreds of teens are raped and sexually assaulted during their time in the country's juvenile detention centers, according to a new survey released today by the U.S. Department of Justice. And most of the assualts happen at the hands of staff members working at these facilities.
The survey covered by both secure juvenile detention facilities and group homes, and involved more than 8,500 boys and girls. In total, 1,720 of those surveyed reported being sexually assaulted, and some of them said that they had been violated on more than 10 occassions. There are currently roughly 70,000 young people in the country's juvenile detention facility.
Allen Beck, the author of the report, said that the rate of staff assaults on juvenile inmates is more than three times higher than that of adults.
More from ProPublica's Joquain Sapien:
The highest incidence of staff sexual misconduct occurred in Ohio, South Carolina, Georgia and Illinois, while other states like New York, Massachusetts and Delaware, reported no abuse. At the Paulding Regional Youth Detention Center in Georgia and the Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility in Ohio, one in three youngsters surveyed said they'd suffered sexual abuse at the hands of staff members.
The report gives some insight into how staff members victimize the youngsters under their care and supervision. In the majority of cases, the survey found, staff members establish a personal relationship with the inmate first by sharing details of their personal lives, sharing pictures, or giving gifts. The report indicates that one instance of abuse usually leads to more.
Read more about the survey over at ProPublica and see the entire survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Not everything is healthy at Whole Foods. Two employees at the natural foods supermarket chain in Albuquerque, New Mexico are saying that they were suspended for speaking Spanish to each other during work hours.
Bryan Baldizan told The Associated Press he and a female employee were suspended for a day after they wrote a letter following a meeting with a manager who told them Spanish was not allowed during work hours.
"I couldn't believe it," said Baldizan, who works in the store's food preparation department. "All we did was say we didn't believe the policy was fair. We only talk Spanish to each other about personal stuff, not work."
He said Whole Foods officials told them about company policy and issued the suspensions.
One Whole Foods exeuctive told NBC Latino that the company believes in "having a uniform form of communication for a safe working environment.
Just imagine, an interactive public art exhibit where everyone can "explore the tactile fascination with black hair by" touching real life black hair on real life black women.
The organizers of the event from Un-ruly.com describe the event as: "an interactive public art exhibit, dubbed You Can Touch My Hair, where strangers from all walks of life will have the welcomed opportunity to touch various textures of black hair."
The exhibit took place Thursday evening and will take place once again on Saturday, June 6 from 2 to 4pm in NYC's Union Square Park. For more information visit Un-ruly.com.[View the story "Real Life Black Hair Exhibit in NYC's Union Square" on Storify]