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CORI Checks Haunt Millions in Massachusetts
Around 2 million people in Massachusetts have criminal records that are accessible by potential employers, public housing officials, and sometimes any member of the public. Last Wednesday, the local Union of Minority Neighborhoods kicked off a campaign to change the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system by holding a public organizing meeting. In this radio piece, Ronald -- a Boston native who's spent 25+ years in jail -- talks about the difficulties, underlying racism, and possible reforms to CORI checks in Massachusetts.
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11 Jul 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : Race
Child-care providers in RI fight for union rights
melida 1.gifOn June 22, Rhode Island governor Donald Carcieri vetoed the Family Childcare Providers Business Opportunity Act of 2005. The act would have allowed the state's 1,300 licensed and hundreds of other unlicensed home-based day care providers, members of the union SEIU 1199, to bargain collectively with the state for wages and benefits.

As wages fall behind inflation for most workers, and welfare payments are eliminated, the home based day care workers have become essential for working parents in Rhode Island. The day care fees are subsidized for thirteen thousand parents by the state, although these subsidies are being cut to pay for tax cuts for the richest Rhode Islanders. But the day care workers are poorly compensated for their central role in the state's economy. The Day Care Justice Co-Op, an organization of day care workers that preceeded the union drive, found that after deducting for the cost of childrens' toys, books, food, safety equipment, and sometimes assistants, the day care workers, mostly black and latina women, ended up with a wage of only $2.76 per hour, less than the legal minimum wage.
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28 Jun 2005 | Filed under: News / Gender : Labor : Race : Social Welfare
Somerville 5 Case: Community Leaders Demand that Charges Against Five African-American Youth be Dropped
somerville5.jpg“Are we going backwards?”

This was the question asked at a June 5 news conference in Dorchester, Mass., held to publicize the demand that five Somerville African American youths be immediately reinstated as students at Somerville High School near Boston and that trumped-up police charges against them be dropped.

The Somerville 5—Calvin Belfon, 17, Cassius Belfon, 15, Earl Guerra, 16, Isiah Anderson, 17, and Marquis Anderson, 16—were victims of racial profiling and a brutal, unprovoked attack by Medford police on April 20. The five have been indefinitely suspended from school. And they face false charges, including assault with a deadly weapon, assault and battery, and disorderly conduct.
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09 Jun 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : Race
Northeast Antifascists' 5/8/05 Reportback
About a month and a half ago, Northeast Antifascists noticed an announcement stating that the local “White Revolution” boys and their three friends were planning on coming out to protest an event at the Holocaust memorial in Boston. Unfortunately, seeing this type of thing is not so uncommon. Usually, if they show up at all, it is the same half dozen or so coming to look stupid and pass out a couple flyers. (A couple months ago, some other local fascists tried to meet up in a mall for a rally, and they couldn't even find each other!) We were planning to act accordingly and confront them, but not bother calling for a big turn-out, as the need wasn't there.

However, shortly after we starting recieving notice that this whole thing might be a bigger deal than we'd thought. Billy Roper himself was coming all the way from Arkansas, and we figured he might stand a chance of actually bringing more fascists together, seeing as he's one of the only people who can pass himself off as a "leader" in a movement teeming with people yearning for domineering father figures. A week and a
half before the action, we duly issued a call to action telling everyone to come and let them know how we feel about nazi trash in our city. The response was huge, and within days, other concerned groups were putting out calls as well. We sent observers to the "Stop the Nazis Now Coalition" meetings, to get a sense of what other people's plans were. Antifascism is a big tent, and we made plans to mostly work around, rather than within or against, this coalition.
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16 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Race
Hate Crime Alleged on Tufts Campus
stophatewhbg.jpgRiyadh Mohammed 20, an Economics Major in his Junior year at Tufts University, alleges that he was attacked by three fraternity brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon in front of their frat house early Saturday morning. He claims he was beaten unconscious, and subjected to a chain of racist epithets. Police confirm that he was in need of medical attention after the incident.

Never one to hold back his opinions, president of the Arab Students Association at the school, and one who friends say, “puts the fact that he is an Arab out there.” Mohammed is proud of who he is.
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03 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : Race
Solidarity shines through on a rainy May Day, Part 2
brocktonkids.jpgSunday, May 1st BOSTON- Felix Arroyo, Maria Elena Letona of Centro Presente, and many others spoke in front of a damp but festive crowd of more than 500 representing immigrant communities from all over Greater Boston and Eastern Massachusetts this Sunday in Copley Square. For this one day a year and, as one young speaker expressed, hopefully for the other 364, widely disparate immigrant communities joined together to address and rally around the issues that affect them all.

Counter protestors did show up, but were largely ignored at their spot far to one side of the rally, save for the corporate press who can’t resist portraying every political story as a perfectly evenly balanced battle of wits. Sorry, not this time.

What I saw was a building of community. People who, usually divided by neighborhood, disparate needs, cultures, or languages, came together to address some issues common to all.
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03 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Labor : Race : Social Welfare
May Day and the Haymarket martyrs
3martyrs_photos.gifMay Day - the real labor day

"The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voice you are throttling today."
- August Spies from the gallows.

May 1st, International Workers' Day, commemorates the historic struggle of working people throughout the world, and is recognized in every country except the United States and Canada. This despite the fact that the holiday began in the 1880s in the United States, with the fight for an eight-hour work day.

In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions passed a resolution stating that eight hours would constitute a legal day's work from and after May 1, 1886. The resolution called for a general strike to achieve the goal, since legislative methods had already failed. With workers being forced to work ten, twelve, and fourteen hours a day, rank-and-file support for the eight-hour movement grew rapidly, despite the indifference and hostility of many union leaders. By April 1886, 250,000 workers were involved in the May Day movement.
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30 Apr 2005 | Filed under: News / International : Labor : Organizing : Race : Social Welfare
Immigrant Rights Rally Fast Becoming May Day Tradition in Boston
May-Day.jpgAccording to the Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Coalition, international immigration to the Commonwealth is responsible for both the population growth and the net labor force growth experienced here in the 1990s. An ever growing coalition of immigrant, labor, religious and community organizations that organizes the perennial ‘MayDay Rally for Immigrants Rights’ has had their finger on the pulse of the demographic shift in the state.

Since the mid-nineties Bostonians have intermittently celebrated May 1st, which since the late 1800s has been an international workers holiday, with an immigrants rights rally. In 2001 the annual rally received a boost thanks in part to a call out from the AFL-CIO for labor to highlight the connection between labor and immigrant rights. Since then the annual rally has just about become a staple of spring in our fair city. It is rumored that Mayor Menino might even make an appearance this year.

Regarding the mayor, Jason Pramas of Massachusetts Global Action, one of the key groups organizing the event, said that while he doesn’t necessarily agree with his politics, ”It is extremely important for a mayor of a major urban center, especially one who has not been as strong on immigrants rights as he could be, to stand up and commit himself to meeting the needs of immigrant populations in Boston.”
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28 Apr 2005 | Filed under: News / Labor : Organizing : Politics : Race
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