Growing our fight for racial justice

Bail Out Pic

A young man recently shared with me that he gets pulled over by the same police officer at least once a week. He said it very matter-of-factly, like it’s something he just has to put up with.

And I know this is not an isolated matter. Everyday, in our communities, people endure harassment by police, and if they get arrested, spend days and even weeks in jail because they can’t afford bail. And it is no coincidence that most people who are trampled by the justice system are people of color. 

But I also know that it doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to put up with police harassment. We deserve more. We deserve better. We deserve justice. 

That’s why this year, we expanded our fight for criminal justice reform to Dallas and Bexar counties, after kicking it off in Harris County in 2016. Too many of our people are having their lives destroyed by the criminal justice system, and we have the power to change it if we fight together. 

Sign up here to be part of the fight.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of what we did this past month and what’s ahead:

On Tuesday night in Dallas, we held a well-attended Right2Justice community dinner, where members gained valuable input from the community on ways how we can locally protect rights and civil liberties, work toward ending mass incarceration, and resist the Trump agenda.

Earlier Tuesday, TOP Ed Fund signed on as a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of bail practices in Dallas County after we were denied access to bail proceedings by the Dallas County Sheriff, in violation of the public’s First Amendment rights. 

We also bailed out three people who had been in Dallas County Jail accused of minor crimes because they couldn’t afford bail. Call or text Rashd Ibrahim at (469) 510-9069 or email him at ribrahim@organizetexas.org to get involved. 

Currently in Houston, we’re continuing our fight to reform the bail system that a federal judge has already ruled unconstitutional but the county keeps wasting millions to defend it. We’re also gearing up to tackle debtors’ prison, juvenile justice and police accountability. 

And to keep judges accountable, judges who are elected and can be allies or foes on bail reform, we are holding a meet and greet on February 16. Call or text Dieter Cantu at (832) 389-0049 or email him at dcantu@organizetexas.org to get involved. 

With local elections coming up, TOP members in San Antonio are preparing to host a community forum on February 15 to hear from a couple of candidates for Bexar County District Attorney on their vision for bringing change to the office. 

We also are hosting this forum to share with residents information about the power and influence this county position has. RSVP if you’re interested in attending! Call or text Laquita Garcia at (972) 342-5116 or email her at lgarcia@organizetexas.org to get involved.

This year is shaping up to be a powerful one, and our committed members are investing of their time and energy because they know the status quo is not acceptable. They know we need a transformed criminal justice that protects and serves Black and Latino families, not oppresses them. 

Join the fight by contacting us today. 

You can also support our fight for justice by donating here

Yours in the fight,
Tarsha Jackson
Criminal Justice Director
Texas Organizing Project

TOP statement on Dallas County Bail Lawsuit

FC courts

The following statement was made by Tarsha Jackson, criminal justice director of Texas Organizing Project (TOP), on the lawsuit filed against the Dallas County bail system:

“We applaud the filing of a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of Dallas County’s bail system that requires people to buy their freedom, effectively punishing them before guilt has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, the cornerstone principle of our justice system.

“A majority of people in the Dallas County Jail are there because they can’t afford bail. Not only is this practice in violation of the Eighth Amendment, but it is costly to taxpayers and disproportionately hurts people of color. Even a couple of days spent in jail can be devastating to people already living on the margins of society.

“Also, keeping people in jail on excessive bonds serves to cover up deep and intractable societal problems including drug addiction and mental health.

“TOP and Faith in Texas are partnering to organize the community around bail reform and urge the county to settle this lawsuit because it is indefensible.

“We are confident that courts will ultimately stop Dallas County from keeping people in jail simply because they can’t afford to pay for their freedom. The main question left to be answered is how much taxpayer money will District Attorney Faith Johnson waste to defend this unjust practice?”

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Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris and Bexar counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.

Dallas: Líderes latinos respaldan a dreamers tras fin de DACA

JC Dallas

Varios líderes latinos salieron en defensa de los dreamers de Dallas y ofrecieron su apoyo a la lucha que se viene, un día después de que el gobierno de Donald Trump dio por finalizado el programa DACA, que les daba protección de deportación y posibilidad de empleo.

La legisladora estatal Victoria Neave, el vocal de la junta del DISD Miguel Solís y otros oficiales estuvieron junto a activistas del Texas Organizing Project y miembros del North Texas Dream Team durante una rueda de prensa realizada el miércoles en el Latino Center For Leadership Development (LCLD).

Neave recordó la historia del joven indocumentado Alonso Guillén quien perdió su vida tratando de rescatar a sus vecinos en Houston durante el huracán Harvey. “Solo días después de esa tragedia, conocemos del fin del DACA, otro ataque de los representantes republicanos a nuestros jóvenes. Tenemos que volver al lugar en el que podemos defender DACA de manera bipartidista”, dijo.

Solo en el Norte de Texas hay 69,000 beneficiarios del programa que expirará en seis meses según el anuncio del martes hecho por el procurador Jeff Sessions. Según Neave, en todo el estado de Texas, el trabajo de estos dreamers aporta $6,300 millones de dólares al PIB .

Por su parte Miguel Solís, quien también ejerce como presidente del LCLD, dijo hablar con “el corazón triste y frustrado por la cruel decisión” que afecta a estos jóvenes inmigrantes. “No son los criminales que el presidente quiere hacernos creer”, aseguró y prometió que los agentes federales no podrán poner un pie en las escuelas “ni llevarse a nuestros niños”.

Varios beneficiarios de DACA como José Manuel Santoyo mostraron su preocupación por el destino de los datos personales de 1.7 millones de aplicaciones que los dreamers entregaron voluntariamente a USCIS. “Demandamos protección no solo para los dreamers sino para todos aquellos que ni siquiera estaban cobijados por esa medida, como los inmigrantes trabajadores del campo y de las fábricas”, aseguró.

Juan Carlos Cerda, quien llegó a este país a los 7 años proveniente de San Luis Potosí, México, y hoy es organizador comunitario del Texas Organizing project contó cómo el programa iniciado por Barack Obama cambió su vida. De joven indocumentado trabajando por salarios muy bajos y con un futuro estudiantil incierto pasó a la sensación de ser “incluido, aceptado y amado en este país”.

El contraste que ahora trae a su vida la decisión “cruel e inhumana” de Trump, no obstante no le ha quitado las ganas de continuar peleando. “El DHS (Departamento de Seguridad Nacional) dice que me prepare para la deportación: NO. El presidente se quiere lavar las manos de esto: NO. Yo invito a todo el mundo a que cuente su historia porque no tendremos el reconocimiento que merecemos si no vamos a las calles y le mostramos a la gente que estamos aquí para quedarnos”.

El llamado unánime es a presionar al Congreso para que pase una reforma migratoria integral a la brevedad. Este viernes el LCLD estará liderando un banco de llamadas para que la comunidad inmigrante y los ciudadanos de Dallas ejerzan presión a los congresistas de Texas para que esa ley se discuta y apruebe en los siguientes seis meses.

This story originally appeared 9/6/2017 in Al Día.