Monday, April 30, 2012

Voces May Day Solidarity March Draws Over 20,000 Against Arizona's SB 1070

Reprinted from Voces de la Frontera Congressman Luis Gutierrez: "We will not stop until all immigrants have good health care, good education, and good jobs." MILWAUKEE-As part of a series of national protests against Arizona’s SB 1070 law, over twenty thousand people marched through the streets of Milwaukee yesterday in Voces de la Frontera’s annual May Day march. The Arizona SB 1070 law, whose constitutionality is in question in the US Supreme Court, has been widely criticized for promoting racial profiling and undermining public safety by forcing police to take the role of federal immigration officials and check the immigration status of anyone they may have "reasonable suspicion" to believe is undocumented. As Executive Director, Christine Neumann-Ortiz has described it, “the court’s landmark ruling, expected in June, will determine whether our nation will uphold the historic gains of the civil rights movement or revert back to a pre-civil rights era of second-class citizenship. This racist law only serves corporate interests: the private prisons, private bond companies, military companies at the border, and corporations that contract prison labor for less than the minimum wage.” Jennifer Martinez, a Manitowoc woman whose husband Jaime Martinez was deported to Mexico last month, gave an emotional testimony to the crowd about the cruel impact our immigration enforcement policies have had on herself and her four children when immigration ripped Jaime away from his family. Voces was joined by a coalition of groups including those representing labor unions, faith, LGBT, and more. Prior to the march, statements in solidarity were made outside the Voces office by gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Falk and NAACP President James Hall, in addition to other elected officials and community leaders. All candidates for governor in Wisconsin's upcoming recall election were invited to the event, including Governor Scott Walker. At the main stage in Veteran’s Park after the march, Congressman Luis Gutierrez (IL) fired up the crowd with a speech on family unification and the importance of Latinos participating in the voting process, and of politicians defending the rights of all people in the country. "We have to lift our voices, regardless of party, and speak for the immigrants who live here." Crowd coordinators measured the crowd filling ten full blocks at the height of the march.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


From Campaign for Better Healthcare Washington, DC—A new report from Families USA and the Campaign for Better Health Care shows that Governor Quinn’s proposed $2.7 billion one-year reduction in Medicaid spending would hurt “Illinois’ economy, its health care providers, and the Illinoisans who depend on Medicaid for health care.” The report, released today, emphasizes Medicaid cuts mean both lost jobs and lost business activity. For example, a 5 percent reduction in state Medicaid spending would jeopardize more than 7,000 jobs and cost the state about $923 million annually in business activity. A 10 percent reduction doubles those figures. Quinn’s proposed 18 percent cuts mean the potential loss of more than 25,000 jobs and more than $3.3 billion in lost business activity. Short-sighted cuts can have long-term negative effects on Illinois’ economy. Estimated Impact on Jobs and Business Activity from Cuts in State Medicaid Spending Reduction Jobs at Risk Lost Business Activity (in millions) 5% 7,208 $923.2 10% 14,416 $1,846 18% (Quinn’s proposal) 25,615 $3,280.8 Source: Families USA Medicaid Calculator “Just because Medicaid gets cut doesn’t mean that people will get any less sick or need any less medical care. With no source for preventive or primary care, patients will eventually end up in the emergency room with a more severe illness or complications,” notes Jim Duffett, Executive Director of the Campaign for Better Health Care. “Chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiac issues must be managed or the consequences can be fatal.” “Medicaid is not just a safety net. It helps strengthen families in tough times, and it provides security for the most vulnerable, such as our kids, who are the future. For those of us who have private insurance and think we are immune from drastic cuts and changes in the Medicaid Program, think again. Slashing eligibility and services will financially cost you and your family more than the political rhetoric of some who say gutting the program will save you money." Duffett explains, "The expanded cost to pay for uncompensated care is then passed on to consumers, employers, and businesses in the form of higher insurance premiums. It is estimated that, in 2008, family coverage cost $1,017 more because of higher premium charges (cost shifting) that resulted from passing along the costs of uncompensated care.” Illinois Hospital Association President & CEO Maryjane Wurth says that blunt cuts are devastating to patients and the entire health care system. “Drastic Medicaid cuts hurt everyone—not just the Medicaid patients. Hospitals will be forced to reduce jobs. Local businesses will be impacted. And hospitals will be forced to cut or eliminate medical services that everyone uses—there is not a separate set of staff, equipment and facilities just for Medicaid patients.” The cuts would be costly for the state as well, since Illinois receives slightly more than one dollar in federal matching funds for every dollar it spends on Medicaid. The federal match brings new money into the state that the state would not otherwise have. “We have workable solutions such as expanded coordinated care that will not compromise patient care,” says Wurth. “We have presented these multi-year proposals to members of the General Assembly and look forward to working with them to create a more effective Medicaid system. It’s important that Medicaid patients get the most efficient, high-quality care possible.” “The Governor’s proposed cut to Illinois’ Medicaid program is both cruelly insensitive and economically unsound,” said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. “His proposal will deny the state more than a billion dollars in federal support, cost the state billions in economic activity, put tens of thousands of jobs at risk, and hurt the state’s most vulnerable families and senior citizens. For many reasons, this is the wrong direction for Illinois in these difficult economic times.” The report is available at

Sunday, April 22, 2012


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, April 9, 2012 Media Contact AKILA WORKSONGS, Inc. April R. Silver | Chantel Bell | 718.756.8501 (office) | 646.522.4169 (mobile/text) DANNY GLOVER, FRANCES FOX PIVEN, M1 OF DEAD PREZ AND OTHERS WILL “OCCUPY THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT” FOR THE RELEASE OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL! Major Protest and Civil Disobedience Planned at the U.S. Department of Justice: April 24, 2012, 11:00 am, Washington, DC New York, NY - - A broad coalition of community organizers, activists, artists, students, scholars, celebrities, and concerned individuals will hold a national rally and protest at the headquarters of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 at 11:00 am in Washington, DC (located at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW). The purpose of the protest is to call for the release of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal on the day that is his 58th birthday. Renowned activists Frances Fox Piven, and Norman Finkelstein; actor Danny Glover; hip hop artist M-1 (of the duo dead prez); and others will engage in acts of civil disobedience at the protest. Organizers hope that the planned civil disobedience will dramatize their formal request that US Attorney General Eric Holder meet with a delegation to discuss systemic police corruption and civil rights violations in Abu-Jamal’s case and in the cases of hundreds of others across the nation. Organizers will make seven core demands of US Attorney General Holder: 1. Release Mumia Abu-Jamal 2. End mass incarceration and the criminalization of Black and Latino Youth 3. Create jobs, education, and health care, not jails 4. End solitary confinement and stop torture 5. End the racist death penalty 6. Hands off immigrants 7. Free all political prisoners Attorneys will be available to answer questions. The website is Johanna Fernandez, a professor of history at Baruch College, CUNY in New York and the filmmaker of Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, announces that the rally and protest are tied to short term and long term goals. “Our immediate goal is to have Mumia Abu-Jamal released from prison. His recent release from death row was only a half victory. Our long- term goal is to end mass incarceration. Toward that end, we have developed a project called Liberation Summer. In just a few months, we will join with others to mobilize, train, and organize thousands of people who want to see an end to the unjust criminalization and mass incarceration of African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, other people of color, immigrants, and poor communities. Mass incarceration is not the solution to social problems. Rather than criminalization, we want a world without prisons.” Background: Mumia Abu-Jamal On December 9, 1981 in Philadelphia, journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal was arrested for the killing of a Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. In 1982, he was convicted and sentenced to death row. Last year, the Supreme Court allowed to stand the decisions of four federal judges whose unanimous rulings and arguments state that Abu-Jamal’s 1982 death sentence was unconstitutional. In early December, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office decided that it would not continue to pursue a death sentence in this case and Abu-Jamal’s original sentence was commuted to life in prison without parole. Supporters of Abu-Jamal have cited the elimination of the death sentence in this case as one of the few civil rights victories in the post-civil rights era. Abu-Jamal’s demand for a new and fair trial and freedom is supported by heads of state from France to South Africa; by city governments from Detroit to San Francisco to Paris; by the Congressional Black Caucus and other members of U.S. Congress; by the European Parliament; by the NAACP, labor unions, and distinguished human rights organizations like Amnesty International; by Nobel Laureates Nelson Mandela, Toni Morrison, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu; by scholars, religious leaders, artists, scientists; and by countless others around the world. Now that Abu-Jamal is off death row, activists are demanding his release from prison. On December 9, 2011, in an event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia that marked the 30th year anniversary of Abu-Jamal’s incarceration, Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined countless others and asked the nation to "rise to the challenge of reconciliation, human rights, and justice" and called for Abu-Jamal’s "immediate release." Background: Why Rally at the Department of Justice? The police officers who shot, beat, and arrested Mumia Abu-Jamal in 1981 -- for the shooting death of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner -- were under scrutiny by a Department of Justice investigation of the Philadelphia Police Department. The probe, which began in 1979, marked the first time in the nation’s history that the federal government sued a police department for civil rights violations and charged an entire police department (rather than individual officers, with police brutality). The DOJ suit maintained that the Philadelphia police’s practices of “shooting nonviolent suspects, abusing handcuffed prisoners, suppressing dissension within its ranks, and engaging in a pattern of brutal behavior ‘shocks the conscience.’” (Philip Taubman, “U.S. Files Its Rights Suit Charging Philadelphia Police with Brutality,” The New York Times, August 14, 1979). Only days after the end of Abu-Jamal’s trial and conviction, 15 of the 35 police officers involved in collecting evidence in his case would be convicted and jailed, as a result of this federal investigation, on charges that included graft, corruption, and tampering with evidence to obtain a conviction. Chief among these officers was Alfonzo Giordano, the police inspector who led the crime scene investigation in Abu-Jamal’s case. The DOJ investigation remains unfinished: it did not provide relief for defendants like Abu-Jamal who were convicted by the testimonies and work of these corrupt and convicted cops. ENDORSED BY: International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu Jamal ● Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal ● Coalition to Free Mumia (NYC) ● Occupy Philly ● OCCUPY General Assembly (NYC) ● Occupy DC Now ● Occupy DC Criminal Injustice Committee ● Occupy the Hood ● Decarcerate PA ● Supporting Prisoners and Acting for Radical Change [SPARC] ● Millions for Mumia/Int'l Action Center ● dead prez (Sticman and M1) ● John Carlos ● Talib Kweli ● Immortal Technique ● Angela Davis ● Danny Glover ● Alice Walker ● Francis Pixen ● Amiri Baraka ● Marc Lamont Hill ● Cornell West ● Vijay Prashad ● Norman Finkelstein ● ANSWER Coalition ● Prison Radio For event information, contact Johanna Fernandez at 917.930.0804 or 215.600.6626; visit; and @A24OccupyDOJ (Twitter). Media inquiries are directed to AKILA WORKSONGS at 718.756.8501 or # # #