By Jodi Risper, Citizen Action of New York’s Movement Politics Director

Image for post
Image for post

President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris have both struggled to answer for their history of tough on crime policies that have harmed Black and brown communities across the country. Who they appoint as the Attorney General will be vital in setting a national precedent on what justice means in this country during their term. …

By the Citizen Action of New York Hudson Valley Chapter’s Demand Justice Committee

Millions of people are letting their voices be heard. The decades of state sanctioned violence against Black and Brown people will no longer be accepted. It has been exciting to see so many people answer the call of the Movement for Black Lives and demand police accountability, while pushing our elected officials to reassess inflated law enforcement budgets and to transform public safety as we know it. At Citizen Action, we have been calling to repair the deep harm done to communities by making meaningful investments in…

Image for post
Image for post

As our families push through the ripple effects of COVID-19, participate in the nationwide uprising for Black lives, and prepare for one of the most important elections of our time, our organizers and volunteers created a racial justice reading list to inform the history of systemic racism and fuel the direction for change.

Through our Anti-Racism Reading List, we’re uplifting the voices and wisdom of activists, freedom fighters, professors and more to help us build stronger communities .

I’ve been in Monroe County Jail on a probation violation for 174 days now (but who’s counting?). I expected, based on my probation officers words, that I’d be “held overnight.” Because of the pandemic, overnight turned into missing eight family birthdays and the same number of holidays.

The jail has had to alter policies, cancel or suspend certain things like visits and religious services. Without visits, we no longer have the luxury of seeing our friends and families, or even the opportunity to leave the unit for an hour or two. I’ve grown incredibly sick of the color beige.

The…

By Jess Wisneski, Co-Executive Director, Citizen Action of New York

It’s been a whirlwind of a time. I remember as a high school student learning about the movements and uprisings of the 1960s thinking, wow, I missed such an important time. How naive I was. There hasn’t been a moment in my life where the call to take leadership for social change hasn’t existed. And if comfortable white folks couldn’t recognize it before, we certainly should now.

The multi-racial, grassroots social justice organization I co-lead committed 15 years ago to embrace and consciously do racial justice work. And even with…

For students struggling with poverty or food insecurity, our schools are more than simply a place to learn. They are where they get their meals, access health care, and express themselves through art and recreation. In this current pandemic, we are becoming even more aware of the role our schools play as a social safety net for our youth.

The announcement of Superintendent Terry Dade’s departure — which couldn’t have come at a more difficult time — has left many in the community feeling demoralized or betrayed. This is understandable. But the problems in our district weren’t created by one…

Image for post
Image for post
Jeff Bezos is the richest man on earth. Since the beginning of this crisis, he has increased his wealth by $24 billion, while his workers suffer from unsafe conditions and low pay.
Image for post
Image for post

We’re shifting plans to slow the spread of COVID-19

The next few weeks will challenge us in ways we may not have imagined. I say that both as a director of Citizen Action, Deacon at my church, and mother of two.

The COVID-19 outbreak has laid bare the fact that we are only as strong as the most vulnerable member of our society, and that the lack of meaningful investment in our communities has left us all worse off.

As schools close, children are wondering where they’ll get their next meal. People living paycheck-to-paycheck are already losing income and having their hours cut. Seniors are facing the loss of…

Image for post
Image for post
More than 8,500 Rochester students walked out to protest the mid-year teacher cuts.

Welcome to 2020 and the beginning of a new decade. Like most people, we are excited about the opportunities a fresh start brings to our individual lives, as well as the work. The 2010’s was a decade that brought us a lot of change. Some of it was really good. We were able to push the state legislator to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and some of it, like the election of Donald Trump, has forced us to take a deep look at the work we’re doing, and re-commit to doing the work that doesn’t just transform…

If we look to history, we see that slavery has arisen — time and time again — under new names: the Black Codes, Jim Crow, and now mass incarceration. The mass incarceration system is not broken. It’s working exactly the way it was intended: to punish Black, Brown and low-income people and drive racial and socioeconomic inequity.

Each stage of the system has been designed to inflict the maximum punishment on the most vulnerable members of our society. Instead of repairing harm and creating accountability, the system multiplies harm, breaks apart families and creates lasting trauma.

It’s time to end mass incarceration, fundamentally transform the system and repair the harm done to our families and communities. Partial reforms won’t fix the problem. We must have the courage to reimagine what justice looks like in New York State.

Take action with our #DemandJustice toolkit

Image for post
Image for post

Citizen Action of New York

We look for opportunities to create big changes in NY and the US. Our power comes from the grassroots: people coming together to push the edge of the possible.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store