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Quick Hit
by La Risa Lynch
11:39am
Tue Sep 3, 2013

Activists Strategize After Senate Immigration Reform Bill Alienates Blacks, LGBT Community

Activists from the African and LGBT communities joined forces to hold a teach-in Saturday to discuss how efforts to overhaul U.S. immigration policy negatively affect their communities.

At issue are the diversity visa lottery program and the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). Both programs provided a legal pathway for Africans and foreign-born gay spouses to come to the U.S. But the U.S. Senate bill eliminates the diversity visa program when it passed its version of the immigration bill back in June, and the UAFA was cut from the legislation.

Kim Hunt, executive director of Affinity Community Service (ACS), said the Senate could have passed “a really good bill” if it did not throw a lot of people under the bus, including the LGBT community. ACS is a social justice organization advocating for the Black LGBTQ community.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
7:49pm
Fri Aug 23, 2013

Chicago Freedom Riders To Demand Jobs & Justice At Washington’s ‘Realize The Dream’ Rally

The more than 150 activists and Chicago public service workers who are set to take part in Saturday’s “Realize the Dream March And Rally” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington say their message will be the same as the thousands of people who rallied at the nation’s capital in 1963: jobs and justice.

“Fifty years ago it was unimaginable that the United States could have an African- American president. Today that unimaginable thought is a reality,” said Tonya Pugh-Rizer, an SEIU* Healthcare Illinois and Indiana member who boarded a bus to Washington Friday evening with other workers and activists, who are calling themselves the "Chicago Labor Freedom Riders." 

“But even with an African-American president who has worked hard to address issues that impact working people, we are still marching for jobs and justice,” she said.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
1:49pm
Thu Aug 22, 2013

Education Activists Call For CPS Boycott (VIDEO)

A group of Chicago education activists are hoping thousands of students take part in an August 28 boycott of a school system, they say, is acting as a destabilizing force in low-income communities of color.

Next Wednesday, the Chicago Board of Education is scheduled to vote on a proposed budget for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district, which has proposed some $68 million in school budget cuts. Next Wednesday is also the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous speech calling for equality for African Americans. The March on Washington was one of the largest political rallies for human rights in U.S. history.

“Part of our democracy is speaking up when you are being dealt an injustice, part of our history in this country is being able to peacefully express your frustration when policies do not treat you right,” said Jitu Brown, an education organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO). “Young people will definitely get a lesson in representative democracy on this day.”

At a press conference on Thursday outside of the mayor’s office, Brown and approximately 50 education activists announced plans for the city-wide, one-day school boycott. The group also plans to stay away from the Chicago Board of Education meeting.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
3:38pm
Wed Aug 7, 2013

Protesters Stage 'Die-In' Against Stand Your Ground Laws Outside Of ALEC Conference (VIDEO)

On the first day of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) annual conference in Chicago, nearly 100 activists staged a “die-in” at the meeting's doors to protest the powerful right-wing policy group’s promotion of controversial Stand Your Ground gun laws.

“Stand Your Ground? I call them the ‘Shoot First Laws,’” said Carl Gibson, 26, co-founder of U.S. Uncut and participant in Wednesday’s action. “It’s not really standing your ground, it’s just a shoot first, ask questions later law and it enabled George Zimmerman to get away with murdering a child.”

ALEC is hosting its 40th national conference from August 7 to August 9 at the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago and, upset with the organization’s conservative agenda and impact on legislation, protesters kicked off a series of rallies and protests to be held throughout the week.

On Wednesday, as members of ALEC filtered into the hotel and prepared for the first day of the conference, roughly 80 protesters from a plethora of local grassroots organizations, such as Stand Up! Chicago and Action Now, “died” outside of the hotel’s lobby.

“ALEC is here today to push Stand Your Ground laws all across our nation. Do we want that,” asked Shani Smith, 38, a project organizer with Stand Up! Chicago, who participated in Wednesday's demonstration. “We are here today to stand up to ALEC and let them know that we will no longer allow them to terrorize working families.”

Quick Hit
by La Risa Lynch
2:48pm
Thu Aug 1, 2013

U.S. Rep. Rush Seeks Federal Funding To End Trauma Center Deserts

For Michael Dye, the death of his best friend is still raw. Dye wonders if his friend, 19 year-old Kevin Ambrose, would be alive today if Chicago’s South Side had a level-1 adult trauma center.

“We actually beat the ambulance to the hospital which was like a 30- to 45-minute ride at 11 p.m., which was surprising to me,” Dye said in detailing Ambrose's ambulance ride to Stroger Hospital after having been shot near the Green Line stop near 43rd Street in May.

Dye wondered why his friend wasn’t taken to either Provident Hospital or the University of Chicago (U of C) Medical Center. Instead, Ambrose, a Columbia College theatre student, was taken to Stroger, which is located nearly seven miles away from where he was shot — and is where he later died.

“It really hurts personally because Kevin’s chances of living would have been at a higher rate if he was taken to U of C or Provident or any other trauma center on the South Side, if we had one,” Dye, also 19, said.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:30pm
Mon Jul 22, 2013

Local Groups Call On Ferrara Candy Co. To End Racially Discriminatory Hiring Practices (VIDEO)

Community activists picketed outside Ferrara Candy Company’s Forest Park facility Monday, blasting the maker of Lemonheads and Red Hots for discriminating against African Americans in the temporary hiring process. They also demanded that the company put an end to its alleged exploitation of immigrant workers.

Organizers with the Coalition Against Segregation of Temporary Employees, the Westside Health Authority, and the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative, among other groups, said the candy company contracts much of its packing work out to temporary employment agencies Remedial Environmental Manpower (REM) and Labor Power.

The two temp agencies have mostly sent Latino workers to Ferrara's Forest Park facility and have largely shut out African-American applicants, the protestors alleged.

“We want to end the discrimination of African Americans and exploitation of immigrant workers,” said Elce Redmond with the South Austin Coalition Community Council. “The immigrant workers who come here have to work very, very long hours. Sometimes their wages are stolen from them, and if they complain, then people say, ‘We’ll call  ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement).’”

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
1:57pm
Tue Jul 16, 2013

Racial Justice Event Highlights Need For Solidarity Among U.S. Minority And Immigrant Communities (VIDEO)

Too seldom are cultural and ethnic barriers bridged between Chicago’s black and brown minority and immigrant communities, according to Alie Kabba, an immigrant from Sierra Leone and executive director of the Chicago-based United African Organization (UAO).

Dubbed the Racial Justice Roundtable, UAO hosted its third and final workshop on the effect of racism and racial inequality on immigrant and minority communities over the weekend. The workshop highlighted different forms of racial inequality, including institutional and structural racism, and discussed the need for all communities of color to come together on a unified mission for social justice.

“Too often we work within different silos and we are never really connected,” said Kabba regarding Illinois’ numerous immigrant rights and advocacy organizations. “We want to make sure those of us engaged in the work of social justice are building black-brown alliances and starting to use a racial justice lens in our discourse about public policy issues and their impact on our communities.”

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