Statement: TOP Thanks Mayor for Agreeing to Bring SB4 Lawsuit to a Vote

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The following is a statement by Mary Moreno, director of communications of the Texas Organizing Project, in response to Mayor Sylvester Turner’s tweet announcing that he will ask the City Council to vote on joining a lawsuit to stop SB4 later this month:

“We applaud Mayor Sylvester Turner for listening to the concerns of the community and agreeing to ask the City Council to join a lawsuit to stop SB4.

“The most diverse city in America shouldn’t be on the sidelines when it comes to fighting a law that will effectively encourage and legalize racial profiling. Fearing that police will be able to ask for immigration status when a person is stopped for any reason does not fit with the profile of a welcoming city.

“We need every major Texas city to stand up to Gov. Greg Abbott’s continued attempts to marginalize and criminalize people of color. Joining a lawsuit to stop SB4 would show the community that the Mayor and City Council are on their side.

“Now we ask the Mayor and City Council members to vote the right way and join a lawsuit to stop SB4. Dallas, El Paso, Austin and San Antonio have already done so. We can’t continue sitting on the sidelines.”

Mamas Bail Out Day

Mamas Bail Out Day feature

Mothers should be with their families on Mother’s Day, not in jail waiting for a trial simply because they’re too poor to post bond.

This week, TOP and the Right2Justice coalition are partnering with organizations across the country to bail out mamas in time for Mother’s Day. Pitch in now to help us free mothers so they can be reunited with their families!

Every day, dozens of mothers languish in the Harris County Jail simply because they can’t afford bail. They haven’t been convicted of anything, and many are accused of minor infractions.

The judges that set bond in Harris County, however, like in so many other jurisdictions across the country, simply don’t care about poor people. To them, being poor equates to being dangerous.

Last week a federal judge ordered Harris County to stop jailing people for being poor. The order goes into effect May 15, but meanwhile, we are going to post bond for mothers so they can spend Mother’s Day at home with their families.

Pitch in $20 today, or any amount, so we can let these women know that being poor isn’t a jailable offense, that they deserve to be free while awaiting trial so they can take care of their families. We will begin bailing mothers out this week!

Justice shouldn’t be available only to those who can afford it.

TOP Statement on Harris County Bail Lawsuit Decision

The following statement was made by Tarsha Jackson, criminal justice director of the Texas Organizing Project, on the decision handed down today on the bail lawsuit against Harris County:

“This is exactly the ruling we expected. We’ve long believed Harris County’s practice of holding people charged with misdemeanor crimes on high bonds without taking into account their ability to pay unconstitutional, expensive and inhumane. The court affirmed the unconstitutionality.

“Jail should be reserved for people who are dangerous and are serving their sentences, not mothers and fathers suspected of minor crimes who simply can’t afford to buy their freedom.

“Harris County would do right to accept the judge’s ruling and not appeal. Unfortunately, we expect an appeal. Harris County’s judges and every commissioner, except Commissioner Rodney Ellis, have dug in their heels in defense of the indefensible. They’ve already lined up attorney Charles J. Cooper, who has defended bans on interracial dating and same sex marriage, disenfranchisement of people with felonies and discriminatory redistricting, to represent them on appeal.

“We know that ultimately, courts will stop Harris County from keeping people accused of misdemeanors in jail simply because they’re too poor to pay for their freedom. The only question left to be answered is how much of taxpayers’ money will the county waste to defend this horrid, inhumane practice?”

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Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Brown communities in Texas’ three largest 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.