TOP: “White Supremacy Murdered Ahmaud Arbery”

The following statement is from Brianna Brown, Co-Executive Director of the Texas Organizing Project, in reaction to a jury finding Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William Bryan guilty in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery:

“The right and only acceptable verdict was reached today, however it will not bring back yet another young Black life violently cut short. Our hearts are with the Arbery family during this emotional and cathartic time.

“Once again, having to hold our breaths in anticipation for whether three men who hunted down a Black man in a modern-day lynching will be found guilty for their actions shows us who our legal system was built to protect, and who it is stacked against.

“Jurors saw for themselves how this sheer act of evil transpired. They witnessed white men acting as vigilantes nefariously distort ‘law’ to end the life of a Black man in broad daylight on that rural road in Georgia, simply for being Black. White supremacy murdered Ahmaud Arbery.

“While we are glad to see this accountability, true justice still evades us here, as it is far too often out of reach for families of color – especially Black families. This of course isn’t by chance. Our nation’s legal system was constructed not to serve Black people, but to punish and dehumanize us.

“A complete overhaul of this system is needed if this country ever expects to eliminate the racism built into the system itself. It’s imperative we support the racial justice work being done on the ground to transform and reimagine this system, in particular by groups such as Just Georgia. We encourage those hungry for making this change in Ahmaud’s memory to support their work by contributing at just-georgia.org.”

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Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris, Bexar, and Fort Bend 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.

This statement was sent out November 24, 2021.

TOP: “This verdict emboldens white nationalist vigilantism and violence”

The following statement is from David Villalobos, Statewide Right2Justice Coordinator of the Texas Organizing Project, in reaction to a jury finding Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts:

“This verdict emboldens white nationalist vigilantism and violence, signaling to militant right-wing extremists that policing and killing in communities of color across the country has little to no consequence under the law. This is white supremacy at work.

“A racist double standard is on full display here: a Black or Latino young man strapped with an AR-15 provoking and engaging in violence in neighborhood streets would have been forcefully confronted by law enforcement and likely fatally shot on the spot, not welcomed and allowed to claim ‘self-defense’ as Kyle Rittenhouse was. 

“If Rittenhouse were Black or Latino, had committed these offenses, and was put on trial for the same charges, he would not only be convicted, he would be looking at a far different outcome, serving time behind bars.”

Tamara Neal, a TOP Right2Justice campaign member, added:

“A far-right militia member equipped with a semi-automatic weapon travelled to a community that is not his own with the sole intent of instigating conflict, resulting in two people being murdered and a third injured in the streets of Kenosha.

“By giving a pass to this clear-cut white nationalist vigilantism, our nation’s justice system is showing us that it did not fail, it disturbingly worked as designed — to protect white supremacy. 

“This consequential moment further highlights how critical it is that we channel our energy and resources to people working on the ground in communities of color to counter this hate and achieve the racial justice we deserve — organizations such as BLOC (Black Leaders Organizing for Communities) in Wisconsin. There are many ways to engage in our collective fight for racial justice. One way is to donate to BLOC’s organizing efforts at blocbybloc.org.”

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Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris, Bexar, and Fort Bend 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.

This statement was sent out November 19, 2021.

Ft. Bend Redistricting Needs To Reflect The Diversity & Demographic Changes From The Past Decade

TOP Calls on County Commissioners Court to Extend Map Deadlines to Allow for Greater Community Input  

Fort Bend County, like other counties across Texas, is currently in the process of redistricting. Redistricting is an opportunity that Texans have every 10 years to represent recent demographic changes in the county at the precinct level, according to new data from the census. Redistricting at the Fort Bend County level should accurately reflect the demographics of the community, and to ensure that happens, the Texas Organizing Project (TOP) is calling on the County Commissioners Court to extend map deadlines to allow for greater community input. Currently, control of the county is split 2-2, which is both politically and demographically disproportionate. The district is majority nonwhite, with Latinos being the largest community of color, a statistic which should be accurately reflected in the redistricting process.

Texas Organizing Project (TOP) is concerned that the county redistricting process will mirror redistricting at the state level, which weakened the votes of people of color and shored up Republican power. These new maps will have significant political impact for the next decade in shaping not just Fort Bend County politics, but the policies that have the potential to transform how we experience our everyday lives. We need to ensure the votes of people of color are protected and that means drawing districts that don’t dilute their power. 

“During the last special legislative session, right-wing state leadership successfully shrunk the political power of communities of color across Texas through the redistricting process. Despite this, one way we can continue to win progressive policies that change everyday lives — from bail reform to COVID relief — in counties across the state is to work with county commissioners courts to draw lines for their precincts that actually reflect the Census,” said Brianna Brown, TOP’s Co-Executive Director. “Our theory of change has always centered on a strong local strategy, in our cities and counties, that builds the political power of communities of color eventually to statewide victories,” continued Brown.

“Although there are impending election deadlines, it’s clear that more time for thorough public input and consideration of that input is needed to ensure that Fort Bend County precinct lines accurately reflect growth and provide fair and equal representation. Taking the appropriate amount of time to slow down the process so the maps can fairly incorporate both community input and census data is critical not only for current residents who call Fort Bend home, but for all future residents as well,” said Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian Middleton.

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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.

This press release was sent out October 22, 2021.

TOP statement on the end of the third legislative special session

The following is a statement from Michelle Tremillo, Co-Executive Director of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP) in response to the Texas House and Senate adjourning Sine Die, concluding the state’s third legislative special session:

“Governor Abbott and Texas Republicans proved to us again in this latest special session that it’s cruelty that drives their policy-making, not humanity and the issues affecting the daily lives of their constituents.

“From drawing redistricting maps that dilute the strength of voters of color, to passing policies that attack the dignity and violate the rights of transgender Texans, Abbott and his GOP enablers have once more prioritized callousness and discrimination over reason and progress.

“Since the very start, Abbott’s special sessions have been nothing more than partisan ‘dog and pony shows’ with the dual intention of scapegoating working-class Black and Latino Texans already reeling from this ongoing pandemic, and appeasing far-right extremists — notably the twice-impeached former president.

“These special sessions and the regressive policies they spawned have made crystal clear how pivotal next year’s elections will be to the future of our state. Coordinating with strategic partners, TOP remains committed to doing everything within our collective power to uphold Texans’ rights against Greg Abbott’s extremist agenda as we counter it by building a Texas For All where Black and Latino Texans are centered in advancing bold, progressive change that improves all of our communities.”

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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.

This statement was sent out October 19, 2021.

TOP: “Abbott is endorsing Trump’s lies and demagoguery with his new Secretary of State selection”

The following is a statement from Brianna Brown, Co-Executive Director of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP) in response to Governor Greg Abbott’s appointment of John Scott as Texas Secretary of State:

Governor Abbott is endorsing Donald Trump’s lies and demagoguery with his new Secretary of State selection, John Scott. Scott recently worked with Trump to falsely challenge the results of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania. It’s absurd to put Scott in charge of election administration when it’s clear he does not believe in our democratic institutions or the security of our elections. Abbott’s selection further shows us that he acts in the best interest of Trump, not the Texans he was elected to serve.

“By choosing Scott, an attorney who represented the former president in radical efforts to overturn last year’s election, Abbott is signaling to all across the state that he supports the undermining of free and fair elections, as well as the sabotage of democracy itself.

“Abbott, who just months ago forced through discriminatory legislation suppressing voters of color, is now paving the way for even more voter disenfranchisement and deceitful audits, all in a pathetic attempt to satisfy a man who incited a white supremacist insurrection at our nation’s Capitol.

“Time is working against Texas voters. Absolutely all options must be exhausted by Democrats in Congress to ensure immediate passage of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Anything less is a dereliction of duty that leaves our state exposed to further attacks on our voting rights.”

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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.

This statement was sent out October 21, 2021.

TOP supportive of DOJ investigation into Texas juvenile correctional facilities

The following statement is from Laquita Garcia, Statewide Right2Justice Policy Coordinator for Texas Organizing Project (TOP), in response to the U.S. Department of Justice today announcing an investigation into five Texas juvenile correctional facilities:

“TOP applauds the Department of Justice for launching this investigation and looking into appalling allegations of abuse that have plagued our state’s juvenile justice system for years.

“It is paramount that the fundamental rights of our young people in these facilities are being fully observed and protected at all times.

“We expect nothing less than a thorough investigation to ensure that reports of mistreatment and inappropriate conduct from staff in these five juvenile facilities are acted upon swiftly with strong consequences.”

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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.

This statement was sent out October 13, 2021.

Texas Organizing Project statement recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day

The following is a statement from Michelle Tremillo, Co-Executive Director of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), on the organization’s observance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day this year:

“Today, we join in honoring the past, present, and future of Indigenous people throughout not just the United States but the world, and recognize their vast histories, vibrant cultures, and incalculable contributions that have shaped society since the start of recorded history.

“We also acknowledge the destructive legacy of colonization in this country, rooted in white supremacy, which led to state-sanctioned genocide, forced assimilation, and violent removal of Indigenous peoples from ancestral lands spanning generations.

“The reverberations of these injustices continue to this day, and can be seen through disparities that exist for Indigenous people in areas such healthcare, education, housing, and the environment – issues that TOP organizes around, as we work to build solidarity across communities of color to dismantle the systemic racism that for far too has held us back.”

Laura Rios-Ramirez, a San Antonio TOP member of Indigenous Mexican heritage added:

“Indigenous communities today and everyday are fighting to protect our way of life, and our land and water, across North America, Central America, South America, and beyond. Colonization, as a tool of genocide, has erased the stories of our people many times over, especially in the Somi Se’k territories of what we now know as Texas and Northern Mexico. These territories served as a belt of migration and trade for millennia, as well as a settlement for displaced and detribalized people.

“Tribal nations like the Esto’k Gna, Carrizo, Carrizo Comecrudo, Apache, Coahuilteca, and many others that have ancestral ties to these lands have their respective everyday struggles with issues that intersect with TOP’s focus on racial and economic justice. Our fights are intrinsically linked.

“Commemorating Indigenous Peoples’ Day is just one important way how we can toss out the problematic “doctrine of discovery” and replace it with a doctrine of truth— one that proclaims that Indigenous peoples from across the hemisphere are very much alive today and declares our full rights to sovereignty, self-determination, and dignity.”

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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.

This statement was sent out October 11, 2021.

TOP announces endorsement in Texas House District 118 special election

Following a thorough process of written questionnaires and virtual interviews, the members of Texas Organizing Project (TOP) have voted to endorse Frank Ramirez for State Representative in Texas House District 118’s special election.

James Hamilton, TOP member and Texas House District 118 resident issued the following statement:

“A product of San Antonio’s Southside, Frank Ramirez recognizes the unprecedented impact this pandemic has had on our state. He knows what working-class Black and Latino families are having to endure, and has the drive and knowledge needed to help Texas House District 118 residents get through this dire time.

“With years of experience in public service and a keen understanding of the legislative process, Frank will hit the ground running at the Texas Capitol to champion a bold policy agenda that puts the priorities of working-class communities first — from expanding access to affordable healthcare, to increasing funding for public schools, to teaming up with cities to improve infrastructure.

“TOP members are proud to endorse Frank and look forward to seeing him deliver for Bexar County residents in the Texas House of Representatives.”

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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.

This statement was sent out September 19, 2021.

Missed opportunities in city budget to keep more San Antonians housed

The following is a statement from Marco Acuna and Devorah Frost, housing justice organizers with Texas Organizing Project (TOP) in response to the San Antonio city budget vote this week:

“San Antonio City Council missed a historic opportunity to invest in our communities with its city budget vote Thursday. As the pandemic continues, negatively impacting working-class San Antonians, the city budget passed falls short on providing the housing funds needed to keep more residents on the verge of eviction from slipping through the cracks.

“The City Budget is a moral document that reflects the values of our community. We applaud the recognition from Councilmembers Castillo, McKee-Rodriguez, and Bravo that our city’s housing programs are far from being adequately funded in this year’s budget. The City of San Antonio has chosen to instead use federal funds that are not yet disbursed to meet our needs. This is simply insufficient, given how there already is a troubling backlog of residents in need of housing and rental assistance.”

Liz Davila, TOP Education Fund board member and District 5 resident:

“At a time when thousands of San Antonians are still living paycheck-to-paycheck as a result of last year’s economic collapse, it’s abysmal that little over 1 percent of our city’s $3.1 billion budget goes toward housing. Our city leadership failed to prioritize in this budget the wellbeing of our residents during such a critical time.”

Kevin LeMelle, TOP board member and District 2 resident:

“TOP members spoke up for their neighborhoods and the need for more housing relief programs at multiple town halls and budget hearings over the past few weeks. As a whole, our mayor and city council didn’t listen; they botched an opportunity to come through in a deeper and more meaningful way for San Antonio residents who are still struggling to make ends meet. This city budget misses the mark.”

Karen Muñoz, TOP member and District 7 resident:

“While I’m disappointed that our council continues to shortchange housing, something that’s a downright injustice especially during this pandemic, I’m grateful for the new council members who showed us a better way is possible in San Antonio if we put more attention and resources toward addressing the basic needs of those who need it most. This city budget is nothing to take pride in, though. When vulnerable communities made clear they needed more in this dire time, our city’s top leaders shrugged their shoulders.”

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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.

This statement was sent out September 18, 2021.

Calling for a road to citizenship for undocumented essential workers

The March to Victory: Relay Across America continued in San Antonio yesterday as part of a nationwide effort to demand a roadmap to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants. As we continue to grapple with this pandemic, inclusive COVID recovery for all is necessary to ensure all get through the crisis.

In observance, TOP immigration campaign members marched “11 Miles for 11 Million” yesterday to raise their voices in support of the millions of undocumented essential workers risking their lives each and every day to keep us fed and sustain our nation’s economy during this pandemic. TOP believes it is long overdue that these essential workers receive not only added protections on the job, but a straightforward path to citizenship.

The Relay Across America consists of community-led efforts across the country, made up of in-person and virtual events, and kicked-off in Washington on March 17, with subsequent events planned in nearly 30 states through May 1. The relay aims to unite communities throughout the nation in calling for a humane immigration system that protects our 11 millions undocumented immigrants, including essential workers, DACA and TPS holders, and those who don’t currently have a pathway to citizenship.

Watch a news clip talking about the event here.

For more information, call or text Cristian Esparza at (210) 952-1096.