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News & Commentary  |  Jun 3, 2016
Photo: AFSC

A few picks from AFSC staff this week:

As We #SayHerName, 7 Policy Paths to Stop Police Violence Against Black Girls and Women, by Andrea Richie, Colorlines

Author, activist, and scholar Andrea Richie has been studying policy changes and proposals to reduce police violence against Black girls, women, and femmes. She identifies seven key problems and offers clear steps forward. “Of course, changing police policies is not a panacea to police violence against Black girls, women and gender nonconforming people. In order to strike at the root of the issue, we need to transform our responses to poverty, violence and mental health crises in ways that center the safety and humanity of Black women and our communities. Still, taking action in these seven areas would go a long way to reducing harm while we work toward deeper systemic change.” 

 

‘A Fig Leaf For The Occupation’: Israeli Human Rights Group Ends Cooperation With Israeli Military, by Kit O’Connell, MintPress News

In an important step for the rights of Palestinians, an Israeli NGO that investigates human rights abuses announced that it would no longer be cooperating with the Israeli military. “In a May 25 statement sent to Electronic Intifada, an independent news and education site focusing on Palestinian liberation, the executive director of B’Tselem, Hagai El-Ad, wrote: ‘As of today, we will no longer refer complaints to this system, and we will call on the Palestinian public not to do so either.’

‘We will no longer aid a system that whitewashes investigations and serves as a fig leaf for the occupation,’ El-Ad concluded.”

 

Opposing Mass Incarceration Is "Trendy," but Can We Stop the Train of Piecemeal Reform?, by James Kilgore, Truthout

It’s undoubtedly a sign of progress that politicians feel pressured to pay lip service to addressing mass incarceration. Some have even taken action, instituting small scale reforms with the potential to reduce incarceration rates. But bigger, more visionary action is needed if we want to see real change:

 “Ultimately, no elected politician will drive systemic change. They might modify or scrap some laws, or change some of the discourse, but only a grassroots movement with a heavy presence of leadership from the formerly incarcerated, their families and community members will push for the kind of transformation required to smash mass incarceration. On their own, elected political leaders won't do what it takes to bring the US into par with incarceration rates of the other industrialized countries or with the US levels before mass incarceration. That would mean reducing our prison population by about 75 percent. That means about 1.7 million people back out on the streets. This scale of change can never happen without pressure from below. Ultimately, it is not just a movement that focuses on the criminal legal system. Mass incarceration is a subset of a racialized mass criminalization of poor and working people. To address this, we need to go beyond sentencing reform and changes in bail systems. Even reducing the prison and jail population, often referred to as decarceration, is not enough -- necessary, but not enough. We need to transform society, build a movement that explores new forms of democracy and intersectionality, and that finds ways to ask difficult questions about its past practice and future.”