Entries Filed in 'Civil Rights'
There was no indictment in Ferguson shooting of unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Mo. A grand jury took three months to decide not to indict the officer, Darren Wilson, for the death of Michael Brown.
Shortly after the indictment was read President Barack Obama made a statement on national TV,
“I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully. Let me repeat Michael’s father’s words: ‘Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.’ Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone. We should be honoring their wishes,” said the President.
The grand jury process was not conducted as per normal protocols. The grand jury, with nine white and three black members, heard an unprecedented amount of evidence without having any recommendation by the prosecutor. Nine jurors in agreement were needed to bring charges. The grand jury’s process seemed more like a trial than a process to decide if there was “reasonable doubt as to the lawful killing of an individual.” Brown was an unarmed black 18 year old shot 12 times. Trayvon Martin was a young black unarmed man shot dead in Florida… the list unfortunately goes on and points to discrimination.
“Finally, we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation. The fact is, in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color,” said Obama.
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President Barack Obama in Maine in 2012. Photo by Ramona du Houx
President Barack Obama unveiled expansive executive actions on immigration, on November 20th in an address to the nation, to spare nearly 5 million people in the U.S. illegally from deportation and refocus enforcement efforts on “felons, not families.”
“Keeping families together who have lived here in the United States for years is a worthy goal and will be good for our economy and our communities. I’m glad that President Obama, like 11 other presidents before him, is using executive action on immigration and taking this first step,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.
The US Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform with 68 votes but the US House of Representatives have yet to act on the bill. The President’s action puts the pressure on them to function and do what’s right for the nation. It also frees 5 million families from living in fear for three years, or until Congress passes a law. “To those Members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill,” said Obama.
Obama’s executive orders is the foundation for future reform. He highlighted emotional stories of families living in fear wanting to be legal citizens but worried about deportation. Being a nation born of immigrants the President had this to say,”Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger –- we were strangers once, too.”
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Shenna Bellows walks into Waterville during her 350 mile walk across Maine to connect with people. Photo Ramona du Houx
Shenna Bellows represents the wave of the future, in young candidates, whom have concluded that the way to bring positive change to their communities for them is through public service. Many in her generation took part in “occupy” demonstrations around the country, and globe, voicing their dissatisfaction with how the corporate world and our government is working. But too many were without direction. Not Bellows, who wants to become an elected official and bring people together in coalitions to make change happen.
“I’m walking to lift up the voices of people in communities who have been left out and left behind by decisions in Washington that benefit the wealthiest corporations and individuals at the expense of our local communities,” said Bellows, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate for Maine.
Bellows walks in Fairfield on her 350 mile trail with supporters for her Senate race. Photo by Ramona du Houx
On July 20, Bellows took her first step on her 350-mile campaign trek. She made stops in more than 63 communities by the time she reached Kittery, on schedule Aug. 12.
“I think the Walk represents what grass-roots democracy should look like,” said Bellows. “Our elections should be about conversations in people’s living rooms and dooryards about issues that matter to our communities. Too often our elections have become about who has the most money wins.”
Bellows served as Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maine for the last eight years, where she built coalitions with Republicans and Democrats to pass groundbreaking privacy and civil rights laws.
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Tags: Elections·Elections in Maine·Shenna Bellows for U.S. Senate
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud has received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Congressional Scorecard for the 113th Congress. The HRC scorecard tracks both the public positions and votes of Members on a variety of issues related to LGBT equality. The HRC scorecard comes just several weeks after Michaud became one of the first House Members to sign a discharge petition for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would bring federal workplace protections legislation for LGBT people directly to the House floor for a vote if it achieves 218 signatures.
“Our communities are at their best when everyone can feel respected and safe in their neighborhoods, schools and workplaces,” said Michaud. “I’m proud that we’ve led on issues of equality in Maine – from marriage to workplace protections – but there is still more we must do at the federal level to ensure everyone in our society has access to the same benefits and protections. That’s why I’m proud to support an array of bills that will move us in that direction – from legislation that protects young students from bullying in schools, to ensuring no one ever loses their job just because of who they are or who they love.”
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Tags: Civil Rights
In a letter made public last week, Gov. Paul LePage urged members of Maine’s congressional delegation to support legislation that would make it significantly easier for private businesses to use eminent domain to seize property from unwilling landowners. LePage wrote to U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud urging them to support H.R. 1900, “The Natural Gas Permitting Reform Act.”
The bill makes it much easier for companies proposing to build new natural gas pipelines to sidestep important environmental safeguards and move more quickly to seize private property. This would be especially problematic for landowners in rural Maine. The process of “fracking: to obtain natural gas has been plagued with problems. Water lines have been compromised causing gas to pour through them making the contents flammable, and earthquakes in states not prone to them have happened.
Using the current system, FERC approves 90 percent of pipeline applications within 12 months. H.R. 1900 would disrupt the system by requiring FERC to approve or deny all natural gas pipeline applications, regardless of size or complexity, within one year, and require all relevant agencies to approve or deny related permits within 90 days. If FERC or another agency fails to issue their decisions within the allotted timeframes the application or permits would be automatically approved.The arbitrary deadlines set forth by H.R. 1900 would cause agencies to either rush permits – jeopardizing public health, safety, and the environment – or needlessly deny permits when time limits prevent full environmental reviews. More concerning still, if an application deadline is exceeded, a pipeline company would be automatically granted the power of eminent domain – the ability to take a private landowner’s property,” wrote Congressman Michaud in a letter to LePage.”
“Matters of public safety, Maine’s environment and private property rights are critically important issues that should be fully and carefully considered, not subject to unnecessary deadlines. It is for these reasons that I voted against H.R. 1900 and continue to oppose the legislation.”
The East-West Highway, a proposal by private investors to build a transportation corridor connecting Calais to Canada through western Maine, is an example of a private project that is likely to require eminent domain.
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Tags: Congressman Mike Michaud·Fracking
We Must Move Forward to Protect Women’s Access to Reproductive Health Care Services
Portland City Council might vote tonight to repeal the city’s buffer zone outside of health centers.Last month the Supreme Court ruled to strike down buffer zones outside of women’s health centers.
“If elected governor, I am committed to working with the Legislature and Attorney General’s office to move forward with common sense measures that strike the right balance between protecting First Amendment rights and patient safety. These include ‘floating’ or ‘bubble’ protection zones around all health centers, the kind of protected zones that were upheld by the Supreme Court 14 years ago (Hill v. Colorado),” said Congressman Mike Michaud.
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Tags: Portland Maine·Women's rights
Late last week, Pine Tree Legal Assistance filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court on behalf of 18 farmworkers claiming multiple egregious violations of federal law by a farm labor recruiter, two Maine employers, and several housing providers, during the 2008 blueberry harvest.
The lawsuit alleges that more than 250 violations of the federal Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (AWPA) during the 2008 blueberry harvest. Maine is the leading producer of wild blueberries, harvesting 91.1 million pounds of wild blueberries in 2012, according to the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistic Service.
“The defendants’ blatant disregard of the legal protections for migrant farmworkers who harvest Maine’s blueberry crop established a pattern of unscrupulous practices that is deplorable, illegal, and should not be tolerated in our state,” said Nan Heald, executive director of Pine Tree Legal Assistance.
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Tags: Agriculture·Workers rights
Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Governor LePage’s refused to take responsibility for holding 8 private meetings with members of a domestic terrorist movement that is on the FBI watch list, Sovereign Citizens
. New reports today claim that LePage lied about the content discussed in his meetings with the extremest group, which has allegedly threatened to arrest and execute Maine Democratic leadership.
“Gov. LePage’s words and actions are out of step with Maine values. By meeting repeatedly with these individuals, he’s given credence to their dangerous beliefs. We must take threats of violence from extremist groups seriously. Gov. LePage has once again shown a severe lapse in judgment that proves he’s not fit to lead the state of Maine,” said Congressman Mike Michaud, the Democratic nominee for governor.
In a, 20-minute audio recording of the Maine Watchman radio show taped after meetings with the governor, hosted by Steve Martin and Jack McCarthy, both members of the Sovereign Citizens movement, got a firsthand account of these individuals extreme beliefs. They espouse anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT conspiracy theories and warn of a “holocaust against America’s Christian population.”
“There is no place for this. It’s completely unacceptable. Gov. LePage owes the people of Maine an explanation and should denounce this at once,” said Michaud.
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Tags: LePage·Sovereign Citizens terror group in Maine
Omar Raouf presenting his first published book to Presidential Inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, on World Refugee Day in Portland, Maine. Photo by Morgan Rogers
World Refugee Day was celebrated and well attended in Portland’s Congress Square Park with Richard Blanco, a Maine resident and 2013 Presidential Inaugural poet, who delivered the main address on June 20th.
The celebration is held every year to honor the 15 million people worldwide who have faced war and persecution in their home countries. City of Portland Mayor Michael Brennan welcomed everyone and highlighted Portland’s continued dedication to give refuge to those in need.
“We recognize that we may be citizens of Portland, that we may be residents of the state of Maine, that we may live in the United States of America, but first and foremost we are human beings joined together by our common humanity,” said Brennan. “And that is more important than the distinction we may have as citizens or as documented residents living in the city.”
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Tags: Human Rights·Richard Blanco·World Refugee Day
Thousands of fast food workers will go on strike in 150 cities on May 15th.
President Barack Obama wants to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 but Republicans in Congress are blocking the measure. Obama issued an executive order to increase the wage to $10.10 for federal employees and contractors as a first step. Meanwhile workers are highlighting their plight and fight for a livable wage that values them.
The following article appeared in Nation of Change
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