Join ICPJ for the #DriveSAFE Brown Bag Wednesday, October 20th, 12pm-1pm

Join ICPJ for the #DriveSAFE Brown Bag Wednesday, October 20th, 12pm-1pm

Join us for a brief zoom meeting – to provide all the information you need to know about the #DriveSAFE effort to restore drivers’ licenses for all Michiganders, including undocumented immigrants.

Registration required here. https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0sce-prj8qGtAcsVNK4mM5TWTiFRQTsxJ2

We all want the right to care for our loved ones and to move freely without feeling like a target. To do that, we all need the right to obtain a driver license, regardless of immigration status or what documentation we have.

Undocumented immigrants in Michigan had been able to obtain driver’s licenses to go to work, get groceries and prescriptions, and drive their children to the doctor, with the same rights and restrictions as other Michiganders. This was ended in 2008. In May 2021, the Drive SAFE bills were introduced in the state legislature to correct that injustice.

Watch here for the Press Conference following the surprise cancellation of the hearing for the #DriveSafe bills on September 14th, including the planned testimony of former legislator, farmers, business leaders, and Michiganders from different communities. (At 16 minutes into the video, listen to Nelly Fuentes read her testimony about the importance of this legislation.)

Help spread the word about this Brown Bag and sign up here for more information about joining future Deep Canvassing events (phone-banking with time to talk with the person you are speaking with). ICPJ will be organizing a Deep Canvassing training and events to support the Drive Michigan Forward Coalition efforts. For the most updated campaign information or learn more about the coalition, go to: https://www.drivemichiganforward.com/

Please email House Speaker Wentworth and ask to give this a legislation a hearing!

For more contact [email protected]

Rally in Lansing to Support Second Look Legislation | Thursday, October 14th 12-3pm

Rally in Lansing to Support Second Look Legislation | Thursday, October 14th 12-3pm

Second Look legislation creates a pathway for sentencing judges to review cases to evaluate if people who have been in prison for 10 years or longer are a danger to the community. More information: https://bit.ly/SecondLookRally

Warrant Resolution Day: Sign Up to Volunteer for Tuesday, November 16th

Warrant Resolution Day: Sign Up to Volunteer for Tuesday, November 16th

The Warrant Resolution Project is a community-based restorative justice initiative in partnership with ICPJ seeking to create a safer community by assisting residents with information, education, and solutions to outstanding warrants before the courts in Washtenaw County.

On Tuesday, November 16th, in cooperation with the Washtenaw County 14B, which covers Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township, we will host a community-wide “Warrant Resolution Day” for people to clear outstanding non-compliance warrants. Plans are underway to include judges from 14A and 16th as well.

Bench warrants can be issued for many reasons (such a failure to pay parking tickets or to appear in court), but their impacts can be devastating. People with outstanding warrants can be arrested and jailed without notice, putting their employment and their families in jeopardy. Often, people are unaware that warrants have been issued against them.

Though the warrant resolution process will be conducted by court personnel, we need lots of volunteer support to make the event successful. Please complete the volunteer form via this (case sensitive) link: https://bit.ly/3Ba0Kss

Bench warrants are commonly issued for failure to attend a scheduled court appearance or to fulfill the conditions of probation, but can also be issued for failure to pay child support, for misdemeanor offenses, failure to fill out a juror questionnaire, flagging a ride from a police officer, and even unpaid library fines. In 2019, an estimated 2300 open warrants in Ann Arbor for such minor offenses as disorderly conduct and driving with a suspended license.

People fail to address outstanding warrants for a variety of reasons as well. As expressed by an article in ProPublica describing the use of warrants to collect medical debt by predatory lenders, “debtors are arrested for not responding to a court summons requested by the creditor. But for many low-income people, who are not familiar with court proceedings, lack access to transportation, child care options or time off, or move frequently and thus may not receive notifications, it’s a distinction without a difference.” Because bench warrants are often issued for failure to pay things like parking tickets, child support, and legal debt, people who are poor may fail to appear because they fear incarceration for nonpayment or because they find it difficult to take time off work without loss of pay. (Sekhon, 2018, 1004).

As a result, warrants represent significant threats to the economic and social stability of Washtenaw County residents, and particularly those who come from historically marginalized and over-policed communities. The typical amount of a bench warrant in Washtenaw County is $50, but for those at the margins, the costs can be much higher. Having an outstanding warrant makes a person vulnerable to arrest at any time and hesitant to interact with any “official” entity that might require identification, not only the police, but also schools, government agencies, and hospitals. Non-compliance warrants that surface during traffic stops (which already disproportionately target people of color and people in poor neighborhoods) can lead to vehicle searches, additional arrests and additional criminal charges, which in turn create yet another set of non-compliance warrants and arrests. Poor people are disproportionately affected by warrants because marginal employment provides too little income to pay a legal debt or flexibility to take time off for court appearances. Failure to appear and inability to pay also make them more likely to be incarcerated and to lose their jobs (Gaston and Brunson, 2020, 108; Sekhon, 2018, 1003). An outstanding warrant also results in loss of federal welfare benefits, and because the warrant system is linked to Social Security Administration, benefits cease immediately when a warrant is reported to the system. People with outstanding warrants are unable to renew driver’s licenses, impacting their ability to seek and retain employment. Legal debt, like criminal convictions and mass incarceration, and also like consumer debt, is a driver of inequality in American society (Harris, Evans & Beckett, 2010, 1762).

How can I help?
There are three ways you can help with this effort:

You can make a donation to ICPJ and designate it for Warrant Resolution. Our participants and community members will need resources to pay fees and liens as a result of their outstanding warrants. The typical fee is between $50 – $75.

You can volunteer at our warrant resolution event on Tuesday, November 16th.

You can help us locate volunteer defense attorneys and lawyers to provide legal services to community participants.

You can contact the Reverend Donnell Wyche, senior pastor, Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor with any questions or partnership inquiries. Donnell can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone / text at (734) 649-6173.

Faith-Based Climate Witness in Ann Arbor Monday, October 18th | 11:30am

Faith-Based Climate Witness in Ann Arbor Monday, October 18th | 11:30am

Keep Oil in the Ground, not in the Water

Ann Arbor Friends Meeting (Quakers) invites you to bear peaceful witness to the urgency of the climate crisis. We will gather at 11:30am in the parking lot behind Blake Transit Center (William St), walk together around noon to the local branch of Chase Bank in downtown Ann Arbor (Main & Washington) and deliver a letter to the CEO of JP Morgan Chase asking him to lead Chase in disinvesting from fossil fuel and financing renewable energy businesses instead.

Chase is a major funder of Enbridge’s Line 3, a pipeline bringing tar sands oil from Alberta through Native American lands in Minnesota, and of the current and replacement versions of Line 5, a pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac.

This is part of an international witness by people of faith called together by Greenfaith (greenfaith.org) to make visible the concern of faith communities in anticipation of the U.N. Climate Talks. Please join us as individuals or groups, bringing your own letters if you wish and making clear your witness as people of faith with signs, banners, etc. For more information or to express your interest, please reply to [email protected]

Finish the Job September 17th

Finish the Job September 17th

Register for the conversation here. (or at www.icpj.org)

Across the country, extremist state politicians are passing anti-voter bills making it harder for people to vote, especially in Black and Brown communities.

The For the People Act (S1) would protect our freedom to vote, get big money out of politics, ensure fair districts, and help create a democracy that works for all of us.

Majority Leader Schumer has promised that voting rights will be the first legislative priority when the Senate returns to Washington D.C. on September 13th.

Join us on September 17th, Constitution Day, as a part of a nationwide Day of Action—to urge Senators Stabenow and Peters to Finish the Job For the People and meaningfully support voting rights by taking a fierce public stance in favor of filibuster reform and by passing the For the People Act quickly.

Nothing — public benefits, environmental legislation, infrastructure, rights for women or Black, Indigenous, and Brown people — can be secured without securing our fundamental right to vote. Without the right to vote, everything else goes up in smoke.

2021 ICPJ Harvest Dinner

2021 ICPJ Harvest Dinner

Traditionally, the harvest is a time of intense labor, gathering the final yield of the year’s labors, followed by a celebration. We had hoped to gather together in person this year to celebrate and honor the amazing work that has been done, however with ongoing high transmission of the delta variant, we have decided to make this year’s Harvest Dinner an online gathering. 

We rely on this major fundraiser to support ICPJ with $20,000 in donations, and so we are asking that you give at the same level that you would have if we had gathered in person and enjoyed a good meal together. We also ask that you approach any congregation or organization you are a part of to ask them to consider sponsoring our gathering.  Addressing racial and economic inequality and climate justice has never been more important. Together we can make a difference through our financial support of ICPJ. 

We look forward to seeing you online on Monday October 4th as we honor some of those in our community who have been leading us in this struggle. Please register for the gathering here: https://2021-icpj-harvest-dinner.eventbrite.com

Thank you,
The ICPJ Board of Directors

We will be honoring activists who embody the values of ICPJ:

2021 Peace & Justice Honoree: Natalie Holbrook

Peace and Justice Network Organization: We The People Michigan

Emergent Leader: Student Advocacy Center

Anti-Racist Advocate: Trische Duckworth

Network Weaver: Gail Summerhill

ICPJ centers racial and economic justice as we address the root causes of violence from oppression, poverty, environmental devastation, patriarchy, and war. We wage love and practice nonviolence in all its forms through education, community organizing, advocacy, and direct action. We unite across our differences and empower leadership in people to create the change we need for a more peaceful and just world.

Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice is committed to healing as a diverse community by dismantling systems of violence and building our collective capacity to live our shared values of peace, justice, and ecological sustainability. We believe that relationships that individuals and communities build through learning, mobilizing, organizing, and growing together create the foundation for co-liberation, abundance, and dignity of all life and our planet.

Action Alert: Support Anthony Hamilton and his mom, Cynthia Harrison

Action Alert: Support Anthony Hamilton and his mom, Cynthia Harrison

Background article in Politico, “How a Liberal Michigan Town Is Putting Mental Illness at the Center of Police Reform” by Lynette Clemetson about Anthony Hamilton and his contact with the criminal legal system in Washtenaw County. https://www.politico.com/…/police-reform-mental-health…

Here are four things we can do to offer support to Anthony:

1.) Send an email of encouragement to MaryAnn Sarosi at [email protected] She will print the emails and deliver in person.

2.) Write County Prosecutor, Eli Savit, [email protected], and ask for diversion instead of jail time for Anthony given his well-established mental health struggles.

3.) If you live in Ann Arbor, write your City Council Member and ask for changes in how AAPD interacts with minors, all of this could have been avoided had 17-year old Anthony been diverted to a restorative justice program instead of being arrested. Council needs to hear from the community that we want a different approach, one that is centered in restoration & wholeness, not in punishment and detainment.

4.) Watch the court proceedings on Wednesday, August 4th when Anthony appears before Judge Archie C. Brown. The docket starts at 1:30pm and his court is available via YouTube. Start here to find the link to his court: https://www.youtube.com/…/WashtenawCountyTrialCo…/videos

She Took Justice: The Black Woman, Law, and Power 1619 to 1969 with Professor Gloria J. Browne Marshall

She Took Justice: The Black Woman, Law, and Power 1619 to 1969 with Professor Gloria J. Browne Marshall

Co-sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.®, Delta Psi Omega Chapter, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, and the NAACP, Ann Arbor Chapter

Wednesday, June 30, 2021 ~ 7:00 8:30 p.m. via Zoom
REGISTER HERE

“The Black Woman is extraordinary. These true stories reveal courage in the face of racial prejudice and gender oppression. The Black Woman fought enslavement in court. She challenged laws enacted to make her human property. She became an activist for her own freedom, learned the law and became a judge. She used the law to liberate herself. . . . This was done in the midst of terrorists intent on murder, and few legal protections. . . . Yet she took justice. Her story is my story.” These are the opening words of Gloria Browne-Marshall’s compelling history, She Took Justice: The Black Woman, Law, and Power – 1619 to 1969. Browne-Marshall relates the heroic stories of a score of Black women warriors for justice, beginning with African Queen Nzingha’s fight against Portuguese slavers in the seventeenth century, and ending with the election of Shirley Chisholm to Congress in 1969, the first Black woman elected to the U.S. House. A few years later, of course, in 1972, Chisholm would become the first African American and first woman candidate for a major party’s nomination for U.S. President.

Please join us for this special event, a presentation and conversation with Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, Professor of Constitutional Law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York. Browne-Marshall teaches classes in Constitutional Law; Race and the Law; Evidence; and Gender and Justice. She taught in the Africana Studies Program at Vassar College prior to joining the faculty of John Jay. She is a civil rights attorney who has litigated cases for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc. Professor Browne-Marshall has spoken on issues of law and justice in Ghana, Rwanda, England, Wales, Canada, South Africa and before the United Nations in Geneva. In addition to She Took Justice, Professor Browne-Marshall is the author of The Voting Rights War (2017) and Race, Law, and American Society (2013), and scores of articles in the academic and popular press. Professor Browne-Marshall is also the author and producer of the short 2021 film, Dreams of Emmett Till.
This special event is in commemoration of the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, in recognition of both the power and the limitations of that document, and in honor of the dramatically underappreciated contributions of Black women to the women’s suffrage movement in the U.S.

Paint in the Park with Rachel Montgomery: ICPJ Fundraiser June 27, 2-4 pm

Paint in the Park with Rachel Montgomery: ICPJ Fundraiser June 27, 2-4 pm

Join ICPJ for our first FUNdraiser of the year! We will have Ypsilanti artist, Rachel Montgomery, lead us as we paint our own art replication of one of her pieces. There will be time to meet and mingle with other guests and to enjoy the sunshine and being with others again. We will also be selling ICPJ t-shirts that say “Our streets don’t need violent police!” on the back as well as yard signs that say the same. We will have light snacks and encourage you to bring a water bottle. We will practice COVID safety guidelines as detailed by the CDC and based on each individual’s desired safety precautions.

You can get tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/icpjs-paint-mingle-with-rachel-montgomery-tickets-154289749795

General Admission : $45

General Admission + T-Shirt: $55

T-Shirt: $15

#DriveSAFE Week of Action May 17th – May 21st

#DriveSAFE Week of Action May 17th – May 21st

ICPJ is a member of Drive Michigan Forward (DMF) — a coalition made up of immigrants and allies. Our goal is to restore driver’s licenses to all and pave the way for basic dignity and security for members of our community.
More information here.

There are six important requests that we are making of you today:

  1. Please join us during the #DriveMichiganForward Week of Action from May 17 – May 21st! We will be posting ready-made posts on ICPJ’s Facebook page daily. Just copy & paste to spread the word. (More details here.)
  2. Sign the petition here to thank the #DriveSAFE bills sponsors and to urge Senator Tom Barrett, Chair of the MI Senate Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to which SB 433 & 434 have been referred, to give the bills a hearing.
  3. Please sign up to participate in the Deep Canvassing Phone Bank THIS WEEK. (Details about how to prepare & sign up here.) This is an opportunity to do deep canvassing — talking with voters about why you support the Drive SAFE legislation, connecting with them about their views, and building toward common goals of paving the way for basic dignity & security for all.
  4. Help ICPJ get the word out: ICPJ is hosting a #DriveSAFE Brown Bag, Wednesday, May 26th, 12pm. Registration Required here. This will be a brief zoom meeting – to provide all the information you need to know about this campaign.
  5. Introduce this issue and your views to others in your network who live outside of Washtenaw County. If you can make connections with congregations or organizations in areas where legislators are not yet supportive of #DriveSAFE, this would be really helpful. We can help you with whatever background information you might want.
  6. Forward this information to 5 of your friends. ICPJ has a strong network of friends committed to justice. Reach out, share information, and build the momentum that we need.
ICPJ’s 2021 Annual Meeting

ICPJ’s 2021 Annual Meeting

Sunday, May 23rd, 3 – 5 pm (Remote)

Registration Required: https://bit.ly/3d5Hkur (link is case sensitive)

Click here to see the bios of Board member candidates nominated by the current ICPJ Board during its March 2021 Board meeting. Voting will take place during the Annual Meeting, from 3-5pm.
The Board-recommended nominees are:
Duaa Aljirafi
Trevor Bechtel
Kira Berman
Trische’ Duckworth
Bryan Foley
Kwame Hooker
Rev. Shonagh Taruza
Hillary Watson
Rabbi Josh Whinston

Vote on Bylaws changes here: https://forms.gle/1b9pNsHFYQciE4on7

Each current member of ICPJ may vote on the below bylaw changes. Voting begins April 23rd and ends May 23rd at 3:30pm (ET). If you need assistance, please email [email protected]

Overview of Recommendations
#1 Recommendation — Article V: Update Board Responsibilities
#2 Recommendation — Article V: Update Number of Board Members possible
#3 Recommendation — Article V: Include Director/CEO/Co-Directors as voting members of the Board
#4 Recommendation — Article V: Add Executive and Programming Committees
#5 Recommendation — Article V: Create Youth Board Term of One Year

Compassionate Community Conversations:

Compassionate Community Conversations:

Flores Exhibit, with Voices of Youth in Border Detention
May 6th, 6:30 pm

Registration Required Here: https://bit.ly/3wuCXld (case sensitive)

Safety in the Time of Surveillance: Ban the Scan Ann Arbor Town Hall

Safety in the Time of Surveillance: Ban the Scan Ann Arbor Town Hall

Join us on Thursday, April 29 from 7-8:30 to learn about the dangers of facial recognition technology and to join efforts to ban its use in Ann Arbor. Register at tinyurl.com/vwa4yxwm. For more information visit banthescana2.com.

Films & Discussion on the Indigenous Struggle to Protect the Amazon

Films & Discussion on the Indigenous Struggle to Protect the Amazon

Tuesday, May 11th | 7-8:30pm

Screening of two short films: Brazil: Guardians of the Amazon and Brazil: Impunity in the Amazon, followed by discussion with Ethan Shirley
Registration Required here.

The Guardians of the Forest set fire to the equipment of illegal loggers in a bid to protect their ancestral homelands. The destruction of the Amazon rainforest has increased sharply with the rise to power of Jair Bolsonaro, who insists that indigenous people own too much land.

“Among the nine federated states that make up the Brazilian Amazon, Rondônia has lost the most forest: a surface area the size of New York has been wiped up the map, up 50% from the year before.” Impunity in the Amazon continues from the Guardians to speak with small farmers in other areas of Brazil and the threats to their land and livelihood such as cattle farming and soya agribusiness.

Ethan is a conservationist, legal scholar, and extinction researcher. Working on conservation and sustainable development in the Brazilian Pantanal since 2003, his research addresses issues of past extinction in woolly mammoths as well as modern questions of ecology, environmental law, and policy to prevent extinction in the future. He holds a Master’s in Fisheries and Wildlife and a Juris Doctor from Michigan State University. Currently, he is a PhD candidate in Paleontology at the University of Michigan. He also holds active positions on the boards of Focus Conservation Fund, a conservation and ecotourism nonprofit, and Juara Foundation, which supports education and research in conservation priority regions.

US Border Patrol Racial Profiling in Michigan #100MileZone

US Border Patrol Racial Profiling in Michigan #100MileZone

The ACLU Of Michigan has released their report: The Border’s Long Shadow How Border Patrol Uses Racial Profiling and Local and State Police to Target and Instill Fear in Michigan’s Immigrant Communities. The report shows how U.S. Border Patrol, an agency within the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is engaging in racial profiling throughout the state of Michigan and uses state and local law enforcement agencies to target immigrants and other people of color.

For activists, check out this media toolkit to help spread the research.

Film & Discussion: Colombia in My Arms, Part II | Tuesday, April 13th 7-8:30 pm

Film & Discussion: Colombia in My Arms, Part II | Tuesday, April 13th 7-8:30 pm

In this second part of a two-part documentary, different sectors of Colombian society give their perspectives after the peace agreement.

Registration Required Here

We will screen the second half of the film by Jenni Kivisto & Jussi Rastas featuring interviews with FARC guerrillas about to hand over their weapons, coca farmers trying to make a living, politicians and the aristocracy sharing their perspectives after the Colombian peace agreement was signed.

We will be joined by Elvira Sanchez-Blake. She obtained her PhD in Hispanic Literature and Latin American Studies at Cornell University and held academic appointments at Cornell and Michigan State University. A journalist, academic and writer, she authored numerous publications, including Spiral of Silence, a testimonial novel that breaks thirty-year silence about the traumatizing impact of Colombia’s civil war, and centers on the experiences of women who move through hopelessness, loss, and grief during this volatile era in Latin American history.

Film & Discussion: Colombia in My Arms, Part I | Tuesday, March 9th 7-8:30 pm

Film & Discussion: Colombia in My Arms, Part I | Tuesday, March 9th 7-8:30 pm

In this first part of a two-part documentary, different sectors of Colombian society give their perspectives after the peace agreement. Registration Required Here.

For this viewing, we look forward to having Maria Perdomo with us for discussion afterward. Maria is an Eastern Michigan University alum who has studied the multidimensional root causes and impact of the Colombian conflict. She has focused mostly on how the conflict has affected the rural areas of Colombia, as well as the grassroots movements and resilience of the Afro-Colombian, indigenous and peasant communities who face the challenges brought by the conflict before and after the 2016 Peace Accords. Maria is currently working as an analyst for the Permanent Mission of Chile to the United Nations, now focusing on the humanitarian, digitalization, crime prevention and criminal justice, and women’s issues portfolios, while also continuing to follow issues related to her dear homeland, Colombia.

Due to the length of this film, we will be showing it in two parts over two months.

America Without Racism: Making the Vision a Reality

America Without Racism: Making the Vision a Reality

Friday, February 5 | 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Saturday, February 6 | 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

WFR_AmericaWithoutRacism 2
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically exposed inequities caused by long-standing racism in the United States, revealing that the need for change is more urgent than ever.

Join us in a free, virtual, two-day community conversation as we imagine a world free of racism and explore what must be done to create this future. Experts will talk about the fundamental changes needed in the institutions of policing, work, health care, and the commons, with interludes by local musicians, poets, and artists. We’ll conclude with a visioning session for all.

Registration required, click on button below to register. Eventbrite confirmation email will include Zoom link and detailed schedule. See Washtenaw Faces Race website for more information or contact Joy at [email protected]psilibrary.org.

SCHEDULE:
Friday, February 5, 6:00pm-9:00pm
Introduction and Overview:

Policing Redefined (Panel):

Performance

  • Mikhaella Norwood, Founder & CEO of Freelife Productions, LLC. Motown award-winning Spoken Word Artist of the Year, actress, motivational speaker, emcee. Tonight reads two poems, “Still” and “Fragility of a Black Man’s Gentle” from her book of poetry, Fruit: Haiku of Haikus for the Blossoming Soul (2019). https://mimifreelife.com

Redefining Work:

  • Alford A. Young, Jr., Ph.D., Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Author of From the Edge of the Ghetto: African Americans and the World of Work (2019) and Are Black Men Doomed?: Debating Race (2018). https://lsa.umich.edu/soc/people/faculty/ayoun.html

Saturday, February 6, 1:00pm-4:00pm
Health Care for Everyone:

Defense of the Commons: Individual rights vs. the rights of the collective:

  • Thom Hartmann, Ph.D., Political commentator, radio host, and author of The Hidden History of the War on Voting: Who Stole Your Vote and How to Get It Back (2020) and The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream (2020). https://thomhartmann.com

Rescuing Democracy: The way forward (Short session):

  • Abdul El-Sayed, M.D., Physician, epidemiologist, progressive activist, educator, author, speaker, and podcast host. Formerly the Health Director for the City of Detroit and candidate for Governor of Michigan in 2018. http://abdulelsayed.com/

Visioning Session led by:

Sponsored by Washtenaw Faces Race , Ypsilanti District Library., University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, and Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice.
This program is funded in part by the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment of the Humanities.

ICPJ Response to the Far-Right Insurrection & Call to Action

ICPJ Response to the Far-Right Insurrection & Call to Action

As organizers and people who believe in the power of organizing for social and environmental justice, on January 6, 2021 we experienced great joy and incredible pain. In the morning, we learned about the results from the Georgia Senate runoff races where Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff both won. Their wins are historic not only because of their personal stories, with Warnock becoming the first African-American elected to the Senate from Georgia and Ossoff becoming the first Jewish Senator from the state and the youngest at the age of 33, but also because of the long-term organizing and vision of Stacey Abrams and so many others. Communities across the state fought back against voter suppression efforts and they expressed the need for change in leadership to address the real challenges they face. The direct work of activists won and that is something to be celebrated and emulated. 

Yet, by the afternoon, a mob of far-right insurrectionists attempted a coup to stop the certification of the electoral college’s presidential votes. They, too, were an organized group that wanted to exert power and to express their displeasure with the outcome of the vote, especially the votes in communities with large Black, immigrant, and Latinx populations. This was not a one-time event. We experienced the violence of white supremacist rhetoric on April 30 when those protesting the coronavirus state of emergency entered the Michigan State Capitol armed to intimidate lawmakers and in October when others plotted to abduct Governor Gretchen Whitmer. We know that we need to stay vigilant here in Michigan, and now the rest of the world has seen how easily the United States could fall to fascism.

Silencing the voice and vote of our communities is violence. Founded upon genocide, occupying stolen land, and built on the backs of enslaved people, this country and our systems are inherently violent. Violence comes in many forms — whether an armed insurrection, voter suppression, evictions, denial of medical care, educational inequity, etc. We must face these truths and take actions to build a more peaceful and just future. January 6th spotlighted the violence in our society and could have led our country closer to fascism. What happens moving forward, how we and our leaders react, matters.

We reject calls to turn the page and move on in the name of unity. We demand accountability; anything less than accountability is unacceptable! Accountability is the only way that this country will be able to address the systems and institutions that allowed this violent action to happen. 

We cannot ignore the difference in the response from law enforcement when preparing for the nonviolent #BlackLivesMatter protests and a coup attempt that was announced, publicly, weeks before. If the certification of a bedrock of our democracy doesn’t require protection, but protecting property and policing Black bodies is fair and just, then our values do not match. We cannot ignore that 147 senators and house representatives voted to disenfranchise the people and 11 of our state senators asked to delay the vote. Their political grandstanding diminished trust in the legislative branch, gave credence to unfounded lies by the President that he had won, and broke their oath of office to uphold the Constitution. The insurrectionists left feeling all-powerful because the lie of white supremacy was upheld by these complicit actors, and they have no reason not to carry that feeling back to their home communities where they can continue to cause harm.

We need our elected officials to understand the depth of the harm and trauma caused to so many communities across this country and elsewhere. Black and indigenous people had to, once again, see the reality of unequal treatment and the extreme difference in the valuation of their lives in action in Wednesday’s  photos and videos. After sacrificing to travel to this country, Immigrant communities are treated as less-than human and see that their safety is threatened by far-right extremists and main-stream policies. Jewish, Muslim, and queer residents recognized the feeling of danger they experience at the hands of extremists and bigots.  When anyone now justifies inaction against the insurgents by saying they don’t want things to get worse, they disregard how bad it actually is and how bad it will get for these populations who are vulnerable to white supremacist violence. We need to rethink what safety means and to recognize the role that true accountability plays in rebuilding trust and belonging. If our elected officials choose to protect their colleagues from accountability, then they are deciding to continue the harm against the rest of us.

With this in mind, we join together to demand actions that in the short, medium, and longer terms:

  1. Focus on the public officials and governmental staff responsible for this coup attempt:
  • Impeach and remove President Trump from office immediately because he incited the insurrection!
  • Investigate and expel the Congress members and state legislators who participated in efforts to overturn the election!
  • Investigate the mismanagement of the response including those responsible for discerning appropriate responses and preparedness to protestors expressing First Amendment rights versus fascist insurrectionists wanting to overturn an election.
  1. Focus on anti-democratic institutions and policies that created an atmosphere for this kind of coup attempt:
  • Address voter suppression practices like gerrymandering
  • Abolish the Electoral College
  • Overturn the Citizens United ruling and address the need for campaign finance reform by co-sponsoring a Constitutional Amendment on the federal level and passing a resolution at the state level indicating that you would ratify the amendment. 
  • End Qualified Immunity and address other racist policing practices
  1. Focus on long-term structural change so this will not happen again by addressing the root causes of white supremacy and unbridled capitalism in our systems: