HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES HEARING: MODERNIZING GEORGIA’S HIV LAWS

Join us this afternoon, for a Health & Human Services Committee hearing on HB454, a bill originated by SPARK to curb harmful HIV laws TODAY, Tuesday, FEB. 28, at 2:00PM at the State Capitol in room 606 of Paul Coverdell Legislative Office Building.

The bill will be introduced by House Representative Park Cannon and follows a prior hearing SPARK hosted in conjunction with the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus earlier this month.

2nd Annual SPARK A CHANGE – MEET OUR VANGUARD AWARD RECIPIENTS

The 2nd Annual Spark A Change is only 9 days away! Get your tickets at www.sparkrj.org/change and read on to learn more about one of our Vanguard Award recipients, Solutions Not Punishment Coalition (SNaP Co)!

adobe-spark

SNaP Co is a Black, Trans led, broad-based coalition comprised of hundreds of organizations and individuals working to build the power of people most likely to be victims of violence and most likely to be arrested and harassed by police, particularly trans and gender non-conforming people of color, current and former sex workers, and formerly incarcerated people. The coalition envisions a vibrant, inclusive Atlanta that ensures the safety and holistically meets the needs of all the city’s stakeholders and residents and organizes to end the criminalization of our communities and transform the culture and institutions that affect our lives.

Purchase your tickets today!

SPARK A CHANGE – MEET THE VANGUARD OF CHANGE AWARD RECIPIENTS!

adobe-sparkGet your tickets TODAY and read on to learn more about one of our Award recipients, Cortez Wright!


Cortez Wright is a Black Queer Femme feminist digital organizer and writer.

For over five yeas, they have devoted themselves to non-profit communications and development, working at the intersection of queer & trans liberation and reproductive justice in the South. They’ve worked on and assisted in crafting fundraising and communications strategies around a variety of issues, including, but not limited to, anti-shackling and the criminalization of Black mothers, abortion access and stigma, reproductive coercion, pop-culture and media representation of Queer & Trans youth of color.

Cortez previously worked as the Digital Communications & Development Coordinator of SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, where they played an indispensable role in helping to establish the organizational infrastructure and developing the Fierce Youth Reclaiming & Empowering program. Currently, they are the Development Associate at the Southern Center for Human Rights, supporting all aspects of SCHR’s fundraising, social media strategy, and volunteer program.

Cortez is also a 2015 alum of the New Organizing Institute’s (Wellstone Camp) Digital BootCamp and a Ms. Foundation Public Voices Fellow through The OpEd Project.

Spark Off! Apples & Abortion

The second episode of SPARK Off! is a recording of our recent event, Apples & Abortion. Moderated by our Programming Specialist & Organizer, Shayla Robinson, the fishbowl discussion revolves around the taboos and politics of abortion access, contraceptive equity, and bodily autonomy.

 

We are joined by our esteemed panelists:

Oriaku Njoku from ARC South East

Justina Trim of Sister Song

Danielle Gilmore of Feminist Women’s Health Center

 

This session was recorded at The Little Five Points Community Center.

 

Listen in and as always, let us know what you think!

 

Spark Off! Our Vote with Park Cannon

The very first episode of our podcast is here and ready for your enjoyment!

SPARK Off! is a monthly podcast produced by SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW based in Atlanta, GA. Focusing on content based around reproductive justice and beyond, SPARK Off! is like the first sip of coffee into the world of social justice and more.

For this inaugural episode, we speak with Park Cannon and get a peak into her life as the Democratic State Representative for Georgia House District 58, and how she got involved in public service.

Listen in and let us know what you think.

 

National poll shows voters support lifting abortion coverage bans including the Hyde Amendment

unnamedWashington D.C. (September 15, 2016) New polling data released today from Hart Research Associates shows that three in four (76 percent) battleground voters agree (including 60 percent who strongly agree) with the statement, “However we feel about abortion, politicians should not be allowed to deny a woman’s health coverage for it just because she’s poor.” There is broad consensus on this point across party lines with 76 percent of independents, 66 percent of Republicans, and 89 percent of Democrats in agreement. The poll also found that a majority of voters in battleground states would support a bill requiring Medicaid to cover abortion by a margin of 53 percent to 41 percent.

This mirrors a June 2015 nationwide poll, in which voters supported such a bill by a margin of 56 percent to 40 percent. Sentiment against the Hyde Amendment is especially strong among Millennials, African Americans, and Hispanics. A growing coalition of community leaders and lawmakers from across the country is calling for an end to the Hyde Amendment and similar policies that deny abortion coverage.

To mark 40 years that women have lived under the Hyde Amendment (as of September 30th, 2016) and showcase the growing commitment to lifting this harmful restriction on abortion, All* Above All—led by young people and people of color across the country—is hosting the first-ever United for Abortion Coverage Week of Action from September 25th to October 1st, 2016.

Organizations participating in the United for Abortion Coverage Week of Action are finding creative ways to send the message that they’ve had enough of politicians interfering in personal decision-making, including:

  • 130 activities hosted by 68 organizations in 38 states to show support for lifting bans on abortion coverage for low-income women;
  • activities such as concerts, yarn “stormings,” comedy shows, bike rides, art installations, and film screenings;
  •  a multi-city ad campaign amplifying the voices of Catholics across the country; and
  • celebration of local victories, like last week’s Ithaca Common Council (Ithaca, NY) unanimous passage of a resolution calling on Congress to pass the EACH Woman Act.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, lead sponsor of the EACH Woman Act – groundbreaking legislation to lift the Hyde Amendment, said: “Forty years of the Hyde Amendment is forty years too long. I was a staffer in the House of Representatives when this shameful and discriminatory policy was first passed.  This is why I introduced the EACH Woman Act to finally make Hyde history. I’m proud that this legislation now has more than 120 co-sponsors.” Lee continued, “However we feel about abortion, none of us, especially elected officials, should be interfering with a woman’s healthcare decision just because she is poor.”

“We have a bold vision—that each of us to should be able to make decisions about pregnancy and parenting that are best for our families without political interference – and voters agree,” said Destiny Lopez, co-chair of All* Above All. “Across the country, people are FIRED up and taking bold and creative action.  We’re ready to bring the shameful era of the Hyde Amendment to an end.”

“For four decades the awful burden of the Hyde Amendment has fallen hardest on people of color, low-income families, and youth,” said Yamani Hernandez, Executive Director, National Network of Abortion Funds. “Every day on the hotlines our funds hear from over 100,000 people who have to make impossible decisions, like choosing between paying for utilities or for their abortion care. Every day we must turn people away. And every time that happens our resolve is strengthened to end the bans on abortion coverage and other restrictions that make our work necessary in the first place.”

“In the last four years, anti-choice politicians have passed a record-breaking number of restrictions on abortion with the sole intent of pushing it out of reach. Too often women’s basic health care is traded away for politics and compromise. Young people are demanding better, organizing on campus and in communities to put an end to needless political interference in our decision-making,” said Kierra Johnson, Executive Director, Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity (URGE).

“For decades, Black women have been among those most harmed by the Hyde Amendment, and today we are leaders in the fight to overturn this insidious ban on abortion coverage. Our vision is bold, our commitment is unwavering, and we will not stop fighting until every Black woman and girl has the care she needs, with dignity and without stigma, shame, or unnecessary obstacles,” said Marcela Howell, Founder and Executive Director, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda.

“Latinas already face too many barriers to getting the health care we need, and we’re sick of politicians who play games with our health,” said Jessica González-Rojas, Executive Director, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “Forty years of Hyde is forty years too long – and if politicians think we’re going to let this cruel policy continue, they have another thing coming. Latinas are organized, mobilized, and ready to do what it takes to build a future without Hyde.”

Since the passage of the Hyde amendment in 1976, Congress has withheld coverage for abortion services from women insured through the Medicaid program:

  • Thirty-five states and Washington, D.C. deny a woman’s coverage for abortion just because she is poor.
  • This restriction has a widespread impact for women across the country as approximately 1 in 6 women of reproductive age (15 to 44) are enrolled in Medicaid.
  • Over the years, the Hyde Amendment has been extended to deny coverage to federal employees and their dependents, military service members, Native Americans, Peace Corps volunteers, immigrants, and residents of Washington, D.C.
  • As a result of the Hyde Amendment and similar restrictions, nearly 29 million women of reproductive age do not have insurance coverage for abortion.

Research has demonstrated the impact of the Hyde Amendment on women and families:

Nonprofit Civic Engagement Organizations Team Up for ‘National Voter Registration Day’ A Stronger Georgia, Every Vote Counts

ATLANTA­­ — On Monday, September 26th at 11:00a.m., community groups and individuals will meet at Liberty Plaza to highlight their efforts to register Georgia voters on National Voter Registration Day to ensure that no Georgian is left out. National Voter Registration Day takes place on Tuesday, September 27th.

At Liberty Plaza, community leaders will:

●  Address the importance of registering to vote and then voting

●  Discuss the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the Voting Rights Act in Georgia

●  Showcase examples of how voting empowers citizens to influence issues and local communities

●  Announce a day of action to register voters across Metro Atlanta.

This election is critical, with important races being decided from top of ticket all the way down the ballot to State House, State Senate, Judges, and ballot questions. This election, we want to make sure every eligible Georgia voter votes, and that every vote cast is counted. The deadline to register to vote is October 11.

WHO: 9to5 Atlanta; ABLE; Advancement Project; Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta; Atlanta Jobs with Justice; Common Cause of Georgia; Community Voters Project; Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS); Environmental Georgia; Equality Foundation of Georgia; Faith in Public Life; Feminist Women’s Health Center; Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials; Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda; Georgia Muslim Voter Project; Georgia NAACP; Georgia Stand Up!; Georgia WAND Education Fund; Higher Heights for America; League of Women Voters of Georgia; McIntosh Seed; National Domestic Workers Alliance ­ Atlanta Chapter; New American Pathways; NAPAWF; New Georgia Project; Partnership for Southern Equity; Planned Parenthood Southeast; Rise up Georgia; SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!; Women Engaged; Working America; and eligible voters.

WHAT: Press conference to kick off National Voter Registration Day. Community leaders will speak to the importance of voting and call on voters to make an impact on their communities by voting.

WHEN: Monday, Sept. 26 from 11:00 a.m. to 12 p.m.
WHERE: Liberty Plaza (Liberty Plaza, Capitol Ave SW, Atlanta, GA 30334)

Quotes from Partner Organizations:

Victoria Hunyh, Vice President, Center for Pan Asian Community Services: “The Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS) is excited to again be a part of a nationwide effort to assist hundreds of voters register to vote at various locations on National Voter Registration Day in the state of Georgia on September 27, 2016.”

“The Coalition for the People’s’ Agenda has historically been engaged in registering voters. We participate in “National Voter Registration Day” as a means to further highlight the importance of registering to vote to have a voice in your government, as well as, ensuring your elected officials represent your needs,” stated Helen Butler, Executive Director.

Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO): “The Latino vote has grown a lot this year and we expect it to continue to grow. We work in partnership to ensure the Latino vote will be as strong as ever and ensure that it turns out to vote. Our partnership with Univision 34 Atlanta today helps bring that message to the Latino community in Spanish as well. Su Voto Es Su Voz!”

Aisha Yaqoob, Executive Director of the Georgia Muslim Voter Project:
“Exercising our right to vote makes us a better informed and stronger nation. The Georgia Muslim Voter Project is proud to be part of an initiative to engage diverse groups of people.”

“The League of Women Voters believes that our democracy is strongest when every voice is heard. We must all make sure we are registered to vote and then exercise that right during early voting, absentee voting or election day voting – November 8th ”, states Elizabeth Poythress, President, league of Women Voters of Georgia.

“National Voter Registration Day is a wonderful moment to highlight the important work happening across the state each day and the New Georgia Project is proud to help fellow Georgians fully participate in the democratic process.” ­­ Nse Ufot, Executive Director, New Georgia Project

Civic Engagement Organizations will hold Voter Registration Drives around Metro Atlanta in celebration of National Voter Registration Day on September 27, including:

  • ●  Woodruff Park; 11AM to 2PM
  • ●  Five Points MARTA Station
  • ●  Georgia State MARTA Station
  • ●  Al­Falah Academy in Lilburn
  • ●  COSMO Health Center (G, 6185 Buford Hwy, Norcross, GA 30071)
  • ●  CPACS Main Office (3510 Shallowford Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30341)
  • ●  Georgia Gwinnett College (1000 University Center Ln, Lawrenceville, GA 30043)
  • ●  Mountain View High School (2351 Sunny Hill Rd, Lawrenceville, GA 30043)
  • ●  Univision Office Building in Buckhead

    ###

Contact:
ProGeorgia
Collette Carter, 718­928­4312, ccarter@progeorgia.org

HOW IS EXPERIENCING CAR TROUBLE JUST CAUSE FOR DEATH?

Tulsa, Oklahoma September 17, 2016 – Police shot an unarmed black man, Terence Crutcher, at close range after he walked slowly, with his hands up, to his vehicle. His death is the latest in a series of unjustified police-involved murders, resulting from deep systemic problems that continue to go unaddressed at the peril of black men, women, and even children, across the nation.

Mr. Crutcher, a father of four, was on his way home from attending classes at a local community college when his SUV broke down on the side of the road. Officer Betty Shelby arrived at the scene after police reportedly received reports of an abandoned vehicle blocking a road. Video recorded by a police helicopter and a patrol car’s dashboard camera shows Mr. Crutcher raising his hands and leaning against his car before he was tasered by a second officer, Tyler Turnbough, who had been called onto the scene by Shelby along with two other officers. Shelby then shot Mr. Crutcher, and has since been put on paid administrative leave. It was later reported that Shelby is a trained EMS basic and had a trauma bag issued in her trunk but did not render aid to the wounded victim, who lay bleeding on the ground before her. Mr. Crutcher was eventually taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The footage released exposes how racial bias contributes to systemic flaws in the justice system that put black lives at risk. An officer in the police helicopter is heard saying that Mr. Crutcher “looks like a bad dude” despite having no interaction with the victim.

Terence Crutcher’s death is the latest in almost 400 police murders of black men in the US since the start of 2015. This shooting follows police murders of unarmed black men, women and teenage boys in Ohio, Minnesota and Cleveland.

The Department of Justice will open a civil rights investigation into the shooting, as well as recommendations of whether criminal charges should be filed against the officers. U.S. Attorney Danny C. Williams said the Department of Justice’s inquiry will be separate from the local investigation. “The Justice Department is committed to investigating allegations of force by law enforcement officers and will devote whatever resources are necessary to ensure that all allegations of serious civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated,” he said.

Speaking Monday in Tulsa, civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump said Crutcher committed no crime and gave officers no reason to shoot him.

“When unarmed people of color break down on the side of the road, we’re not treated as citizens needing help. We’re treated as, I guess, criminals — suspects that they fear,” said Crump, who is representing Crutcher’s family just as he did relatives of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed, black Florida teenager who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012.

“So I guess it’s a crime now to be a big black man,” Crump said. “My God, help us.”

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW stands and kneels with Terence Crutcher’s family at this tragic time and calls for a national referendum on the state of racial equality in our justice system. Preconceived notions rooted in a complex and conflicted racial history continue to affect the daily lives of black and brown people across the nation and it is our responsibility to make a difference. For more inform

ALWAYS.

ALWAYS.

ation on SPARK and the recent brutal events contact:

Dr. Krystal Redman
Executive Director
SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!
404-331-3250
krystal@sparkrj.org
www.sparkrj.org