The face of change has deep brown eyes and curly black hair. His name is Rodman, the son of Salvadoran immigrants who arrived in the United States in 1991, fleeing civil war. Only 21 years old, Rodman (pictured above, far right) grew up in Bayshore and grew up noticing differences between his neighborhood and surrounding communities.
Rodman knew he wanted to work to improve parks in disrepair, to fight for higher-quality education in local schools, and make Long Island a welcoming place for immigrant families like his own. But he didn’t know how.
This summer, Rodman was selected as part of LICET’S Movement Building Organizers program. With LICET’s training and support, Rodman registered dozens of new voters, educated hundreds of immigrant workers about their rights, and built real power for LICET and our allies’ efforts to win environmental justice at Roberto Clemente park, and to raise the minimum wage in New York State.
“I know I have a lot of experiences ahead, but I can honestly say it’s the best experience of my life,” Rodman said this week. “Each day after I went home I felt I had done something important and that I play an important part in changing my community”.
With your support, we're building even bigger for 2016. The Presidential and state elections will shape Long Island – and the country – for years to come. Can we count on you to invest in us to help make sure our communities win respect and dignity in 2016?
We have come a long way from the dark days of anti-immigrant violence on Long Island, but it's clear our work isn't done. We have big plans to build a new generation of leaders, reform policing on Long Island, win language access, and to increase the vote share of African-American, Latino, and immigrant communities.
Your support of $75 or more covers materials and training for more new leaders like Rodman; it also gets you a gorgeous LICET t-shirt! $50 pays for dinner at our next community workshop. Even $10 covers materials for one day of the street outreach that's an essential part of making working-class voters heard in November.
Thank you for being with us this year. In 2016, we have a chance to serve, educate, and mobilize our communities like never before – the stakes have never been higher, and we're ready to get to work, so invest in this effort now.
The killings last year of Eric Garner and Michael Brown sparked a national conversation about police violence and systemic racism in the criminal justice system. On Long Island, the killing of Kenny Lazo, the beating of Kyle Howell, and a variety of other cases have demonstrated that reform is needed here, as well. After a massive grassroots demonstration in Amityville last December, LICET has been proud to join the steering committee of Long Island United for Police Reform (LIPR), a coalition of local civil rights and grassroots organizations working to support victims of police violence and pursue systemic change across the Island.
Today, LICET is releasing two fact sheets we've produced for LIPR. The reports analyze the opportunities for reform in two key areas of policing on Long Island: collection of data on stops and summonses, and the regulation of body camera programs. As both Nassau and Suffolk Counties pursue police body camera programs – programs which may foster accountability, but also represent another form of community surveillance – and as advocates and community members struggle to tell a story about biased policing without publicly-available data to draw on, both of these issues must be priorities for local leaders.
Both reports draw on the work of the Center for Popular Democracy and PolicyLink in their Building Momentum from the Ground Up.
Today, LICET was proud to stand alongside our allies from Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, NYCLU, LatinoJustice, SEPA Mujer, and STRONG Youth to announce a new coalition dedicated to ending discriminatory policing and promoting justice in our region: Long Island United for Police Reform.
Long Island is suffering from increasingly confrontational and unchecked police practices that unfairly target low-income communities of color, young people, homeless people, LGBT people, people with disabilities, immigrants, and women.
These policies make us ALL less safe by creating an atmosphere of fear of the police, instead of trust. These policies are an outrage, violating our fundamental rights and even the most basic fairness of our region. This is not an acceptable approach to public safety on Long Island.
Long Island United for Police Reform (LIPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices on Long Island. We are a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers, and activists working for change.
Members share a commitment to building power and leadership in communities directly affected by discriminatory policing and police violence. We are organizing for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that police protect and serve all Long Islanders. We will be on the streets, in the courts, and on the steps of village halls to educate people about their rights and demand change – until these policies end.
Click through to see coverage of our official launch covered on News12, Newsday, Univision, Noticia, and WCBS. We're just getting this thing started – stay tuned this fall for more on the results of our research and the first coalition-building meetings.
"I can't breathe." 11 times, Eric Garner cried for help. Despite clear evidence that the NYPD used an unlawful chokehold, this week a grand jury failed to allow the Garner family their day in court. This, one week after another failure of justice in Ferguson, in the killing of Mike Brown.
This past Sunday, over 500 Long Islanders gathered to mourn, march, and organize to make sure #ThisStopsToday.
Sunday was just the start. We continue organizing to win police accountability and improved police-community relations.
Organizations across the region are doing powerful work – including the primary organizers of Sunday's action: LICET, Make the Road NY, New York Communities for Change, NYCLU, NAACP, and The Corridor Counts.
This is a moment to unite and plug in. Join us and we'll make sure you're a part of the effort to end racist and unaccountable policing on Long Island.
We're operating at full capacity here in Amityville, as we prepare for state and federal elections that are only days a way (more on that soon), but a quick note to highlight the news coming out of Hempstead last night:
In a race decided by 511 votes, we turned out over 400 voters! This is a big moment for our voter mobilization work, and moreover for the parents, students, and teachers of the Hempstead School District.
Today we start organizing for real reform with a new Trustee – we'll aim for a community meeting to advance the People's Playform the week of 11/10. For now, check out last night's tweet:
This past Friday, LICET and our partners at New York Communities for Change were both honored by the Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association for our work building community power across Hempstead through the "People's Platform" for change in the Hempstead School District, and the large non-partisan get out the vote effort LICET led in May.
HHCA and its Executive Director, George Siberón, is one of LICET's closest partners and does tremendous work offering ESL classes and bilingual tutoring, counseling services, recreational activities, and much more for Latino families in Hempstead and beyond. We're honored by the recognition for work that George helped make possible, and looking forward to many more years of partnership to come!
Team LICET & NYCC at the Gala. Clockwise from far left: Sandy Castro, Lucas Sanchez, Maribel Touré, Mimi Pierre Johnson, George Siberón, Steve McFarland, Diane Goins, and Ben Shapiro.
Hempstead voters made history this week, but it hasn't been easy. One thing is clear amid contested results and reports of voter suppression and fraud: after decades of corruption and misrule, the people have mobilized like never before and change is coming to the Hempstead School District. This week, the Newsday Editorial Board called out our organizing by name:
"LICET, NYCC, and TCC worked hard to increase awareness and bolster voter turnout, which nearly doubled from last year." (Click for the full editorial!)
In fact, turnout was nearly double any previous School Board election on record! In an election with a history 2,100 ballots cast, our amazing volunteers made over 700 door knocks and 1,700 phone calls – we made this happen together! We worked with hundreds of Hempstead parents, students, teachers, and community members to build the "People's Platform" at workshops led by LICET, NYCC, and the New York Civil Liberties Union. Newsday's Joye Brown dedicated her column to the coalition and policy agenda we built there.
We'll make sure to update you as the fight for a fair election moves to the State Education Commissioner. Meanwhile, we continue to organize, stand up, tell our stories:
Join us Saturday, June 21 for a Civic Leadership workshop and build the skills to take step up your advocacy! Click here for more info & to RSVP.
The arc of history is long, but it's bending toward justice in Hempstead. Congratulations to all who have been part of this effort; let it fuel us to win the reforms we're fighting for. We'll be in touch, and I hope to see you on the 21st!
A simple to-do list for Hempstead schools
May 21, 2014 by JOYE BROWN / firstname.lastname@example.org [Original article here]
Hats off to the Hempstead school district. On Tuesday, residents almost doubled previous numbers at the polls. And while results remained muddy Tuesday night, the board got one new member, Ricky A. Cooke Sr., who could be joined by another after an absentee ballot court challenge.
What happens now? Actually, some 350 residents who met over a series of weeks to talk about schools have some idea. They're looking for greater community oversight for the board, along with fiscal transparency.
For children, they're looking for better parent-school communications and smaller class sizes. And for Hempstead overall, they're looking for stronger community-school ties.
The list seems so simple, -- mundane even. But what makes it extraordinary is that it's rising up from Hempstead. From teachers, parents and community members; African-Americans, immigrants and the district's majority Latino student population.
It's a bottom-up, active, engaged coalition that Hempstead -- consistently, one of Long Island's lowest performing districts -- hasn't seen in decades. One that could -- and should -- seed clones in other segregated, low-performing districts.
The narrative in Hempstead is that school board president Betty Cross needed to be replaced. That's wrong. Because much of the decades-long systemic dysfunction in that and other majority-black-and-Hispanic school districts does not rise from one personality. Or bad boards.
In fact, forget about viewing them as purely education-related entities at all.
Instead, they might be better understood as fiefdoms, with the ability to gift jobs and contracts -- potent power in neighborhoods lacking solid economic development and a strong tax base.
They act like political machines because, well, they're machines -- which, sadly and far too often, makes self-survival trump the fortunes of students they serve. In Hempstead, for decades, Cross has been Boss.
Hempstead's abysmal school graduation rate would not be tolerated, excused -- or shielded from view by manipulation of grades -- by parents anywhere.
But in Hempstead, parents complained about being cut out of the process. And, in some cases, ignored or asked to leave board meetings.
And Hempstead -- along with other districts -- also had to grapple with the region's changing demographics. As schools became mostly Hispanic, it was inevitable that Latinos would push for power -- no matter how hard entrenched African-American leadership pushed back.
The conflict was compounded by the fact that, for decades in many segregated Long Island neighborhoods, districts were the only seats of power in town.
But change comes. And, in Hempstead, it started at the public library -- long before Tuesday's raucous election. Beginning in March, the Long Island Civic Engagement Table [with New York Communities for Change and the Nassau County Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union] pulled together 16 local organizations -- from the local Classroom Teachers Association to The Corridor Counts, a political advocacy group -- to talk about schools.
Cross went to the first session but left before the group drafted its first suggestions for pulling up Hempstead schools. No matter the final results, Hempstead's new coalition must stand up, and stay together, to get that work done.
After months of planning and a workshop series that mobilized 350 community members to build a People's Platform for the future of the Hempstead Schools, all of our coalition work has led to this: launching and executing a powerful non-partisan Get Out the Vote campaign with our amazing volunteers!
Next Saturday, May 3, 10 AM at the Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association, we celebrate the launch of our grassroots Get Out the Vote campaign! Join with a large group of other leaders and volunteers for an exciting training and canvass day.
Not able to attend on Saturday, but interested in volunteering this month to Get Out the Vote for the Hempstead schools? Click here to sign up for weeknight and Saturday volunteer shifts in these crucial four weeks!
Redistricting is neither red, nor blueElections are about choice. At least, they're supposed to be. But for many Nassau County residents, the choice in our elections is made before we even get to the polls.
That's because the process that determines the shape of our county legislative districts -- redistricting -- is controlled by political appointees who owe their designations to the political parties. A report recently released by the Nassau United Redistricting Coalition concluded that given the opportunity, both Republican and Democratic partisans will gerrymander legislative lines to gain advantage and protect incumbents.