Cesar Chavez: A Birthday Gift

A man holds a portrait of Cesar Chavez at a mass in Los Angeles. Chavez was born on March 31, 1927. (c) David McNew/Getty Images)

A man holds a portrait of Cesar Chavez at a mass in Los Angeles. Chavez was born on March 31, 1927. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

By Jesús Canchola Sánchez

Cesar Chavez was born on March 31, 1927 in Yuma, Arizona. My grandmother is a year younger than him. She was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. Cesar Chavez and my abuela (grandmother), Beatriz Soto, are a part of me. Their experiences, successes, and faults have constructed my identity in the United States. Without their stories, I wouldn’t have my voice. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

#UnfollowMe: 5 Reasons We Should All Be Concerned About Government Surveillance

UnfollowMe

By Erin Herro, Volunteer Fellow at AIUSA’s Security With Human Rights Program

Today Amnesty International launched #UnfollowMe – a campaign demanding an end to mass surveillance. And we released the results of a global poll of more than 13,000 people across every continent.

What’d we find? More than 70% of respondents worldwide are strongly opposed to the U.S. government monitoring their internet use. And in the United States, less than a quarter of U.S. citizens approve of their government spying on them. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Moving Together to End Police Brutality

South African police block a march by protesting miners in Rustenburg after a security crackdown in the restive platinum belt where officers shot dead 34 strikers (Photo Credit: Alexander Joe/AFP/GettyImages).

I spend my evenings reading Twitter these days. Scroll, refresh. Scroll, refresh. I’m looking for news, yes, but I’m really looking to see if the people that I know who are protesting are still safe.

Last night, I clicked on a video of protestors gathered in front of the Ferguson police department chanting, “Why you wearing riot gear? We don’t see no riot here!” In the echo of that chant runs an anxiety based on experience: that the tension in each new moment could explode in a canister of teargas or pepper spray, in the blast of a sound cannon, in the firing of rubber bullets.

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Ferguson Resignations Underline Need for National Criminal Justice Reform

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Several Ferguson, Missouri officials have now resigned after the release of a scathing Department of Justice (DOJ) report on that city’s police department that documented a widespread pattern of racial discrimination. What is now needed is implementation of criminal justice reforms not only within Ferguson but also nationwide.

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An Iran Specialist Goes to Selma

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I spend much of my Amnesty International time working on Iran, but I just had to go to Selma, Alabama for the 50th anniversary commemoration of “Bloody Sunday” March 7, 1965—the day that about 600 peaceful African-American protesters attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in their campaign for voting rights were attacked and brutalized by state troopers and others.

I was privileged to be part of an Amnesty International delegation to the Selma Jubilee, headed by Executive Director Steve Hawkins, and including about 50 activists and staff from the Chicago area, St. Louis, Atlanta, New York and DC. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

From Ferguson to Selma: An Activist’s Journey

Larry Fellows III (right) traveled to Selma, Alabama with Amnesty International USA for the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday."  (Photo: Amnesty International)

Larry Fellows III (right) traveled to Selma, Alabama with Amnesty International USA for the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.”

This post was originally published on Ebony

I’m riding with folks from St. Louis on a nine hour trip to Selma. A fellow activist, Tiffany, asks the group, “When did you realize you were Black?”I thought about that question and imagined how different this ride would have been in 1965. The fear of being pulled over by a police officer on a back road and beaten to death while being called “boy,” “monkey” or “nigger.”

We are still dealing with the fear of interacting with police today. Black people are being targeted by law enforcement at an alarming rate and a “routine” traffic stop can still become a death sentence. “This ain’t no walk in the park,” fellow St. Louis native, activist, and comedian Dick Gregory tells me as we stand in the warm sun waiting for President Obama’s arrival.

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3 Must-Watch Videos, 13 Lost Years: Shaker’s Story

Shaker Aamer

Shaker Aamer

There’s a superstitious part of me, and a worried part of me. And both parts of me fear this Saturday: it marks thirteen years since Shaker Aamer was airlifted to Guantanamo.

My fear is that in Congress, the fear-mongers who are seemingly relentless in their drive to keep Guantanamo open forever—and to keep Shaker Aamer in detention without charge until he dies. They are encouraging public panic and anxiety over the prospect that anyone at Guantanamo might either go free or face a fair trial.

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What Utah and Virginia Are Trying to Do to Keep The Death Penalty Will Shock You

A protester holds a sign up during an anti-death penalty protest on June 18,2001 in Santa Ana, CA. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

A protester holds a sign up during an anti-death penalty protest on June 18,2001 in Santa Ana, CA. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

As the death penalty declines across the US, a small number of states are taking drastic measures to keep their death chambers active.

In light of last year’s three gruesomely botched executions, Ohio and Oklahoma (responsible for two of them) are taking the precaution of putting executions on hold. But that’s a little too cautious for Utah and Virginia, two states that appear willing to do just about anything to continue executions.

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Guantanamo Forever: 28 Words of Hate

Activists protest the 10th anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay detention, Washington DC, USA, 11 January 2012.

“As far as I’m concerned every last one of them can rot in Hell, but as long as they don’t do that they can rot in Guantanamo Bay.” – U.S. Senator Tom Cotton

I don’t know if it was just me, or if it was everyone, but the room seemed oddly quiet after Senator Cotton said these 28 words at today’s Senate hearing on Guantanamo. Behind me were dozens of high school students, there for some kind of civics lesson. In front of me were protestors in orange jumpsuits, seated and rapt. For the moment, we were all quiet.

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How Did the State of the Union Stack Up On Human Rights?

Obama Travels To Connecticut To Advocate Passing Of Stricter Gun Laws

During tonight’s State of the Union address, President Obama touched on issues of national security, criminal justice reform, immigration policy and women’s health, all of which involve human rights.

It is important to promote awareness of these issues as part of the US national conversation. But as always, the proof is in the pudding. So how do President Obama’s words stack up against actions?

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