Bank of America Disinvests From Detention Camps
As the public becomes more aware of the crisis at the border — and by that crisis we are referring to the government separating families and placing children in detention camps — Charlotte-based Bank of America announced this week that it will cut all financial ties to private prison companies that profit off the detention of immigrants.
“Lacking further legal and policy clarity, and in recognition of the concerns of our employees and stakeholders in the communities we serve, it is our intention to exit these relationships,” a spokesperson told CNN.
Bank of America has long been a financier for Caliburn, which runs a detention center called Homestead under a government contract. They’ve also financed private prison companies like CoreCivic and The GEO Group. The private prison industry is in charge of detaining about 70% of immigrants in custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Local organizations like Action NC have been pressuring banks to disinvest in the private prison industry for years. Wells Fargo announced that it would end its financial relationships with CoreCivic and The GEO Group in March.
“I am glad that Bank of America decided to join other banks in pulling their support from this horrendous industry that treats people like cattle, instead of humans,” said Silvia Sanchez, an Action NC board member. “This decision strikes a big blow to Trump’s war on migrants and ICE’s campaign of terror in our community. It is my hope that other banks like SunTrust will do the same, especially now that they are hoping to merge with a responsible community bank like BB&T.”
Supreme Court Says We’re On Our Own
The Supreme Court on Thursday threw North Carolina’s U.S. House of Representative seats to the wolves in a decision stating that claims of extreme gerrymandering could not be ruled on by the federal courts, as they are political in nature. “Partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the court,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his majority opinion. The vote was 5-4.
In her dissenting opinion, Justice Elena Kagan wrote, “For the first time ever, this court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities.”
The case made its way to the Supreme Court after a lower court found that North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature violated the Constitution by drawing lines for the state’s 13 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in a way that extremely diminished the power of Democratic voters throughout the state.
The decision garnered reactions from organizations across the state, including the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ). Allison Riggs, a senior voting rights attorney for the SCSJ, argued the case at the Supreme Court on behalf of the League of Women Voters of North Carolina in March.
Following the decision on Thursday, Riggs issued a statement: “This is obviously a deeply disappointing outcome. We respectfully disagree with the Chief Justice that this decision won’t be read as an endorsement of excessive partisan gerrymandering. Sadly, given our vast experience in redistricting, we can think of nothing else it will do. The arc towards justice bends slowly, and our fight does not end today. While, unlike citizens in some other states, North Carolinians cannot force redistricting reform upon recalcitrant legislators, we must raise our voices even more loudly, demanding change. We can participate in elections at even higher rates to voice our outrage. We can demand action from Congress and work tirelessly to elect officials to both Congress and state legislatures that will heed our voice. We can remind our friends and neighbors at every opportunity that elections matter. And in some states, including North Carolina, we ask the state courts to do what the Supreme Court is unwilling to do: vindicate the fundamental right to vote.”
Also weighing in on the decision was Rick Glazier, executive director of the NC Justice Center: “It is deeply disappointing that the Supreme Court declined to overturn the extreme partisan gerrymandering of North Carolina’s congressional districts this morning. It is discouraging that the highest court in our nation would deny our state’s residents a voice in Washington; that they now use the political question doctrine as a way to avoid dealing with a political issue created by partisan, political interests; and that our redistricting system remains broken. Fortunately, the decision still leaves open state constitutional changes under North Carolina law as it relates to legislative redistricting. Nothing bars the North Carolina Supreme Court from banning blatant partisan gerrymandering from our state elections. Ongoing litigation challenging partisan gerrymandering of our state’s voting maps should proceed with deliberate speed to finally, firmly end gerrymandering in North Carolina.”
City Council Signs Immigration Compact
Hidden behind a contentious public forum involving abortion access and protests at Monday’s city council meeting, Charlotte quietly became the first city in the country to pass an immigration compact, a statement of support for immigrants living in our city.
The compact, which can be downloaded here, states that the city will advocate for comprehensive immigration reform by taking up stances on federal responsibility, economy, workforce, family, law enforcement and community relations in relation to immigration. While civic coalitions have passed similar compacts in other states dedicated to immigration reform, no other city government has done so.
The compact itself is largely symbolic and doesn’t mean much on its face, although a town hall-style meeting on Thursday evening served as an example of the moves the city is making to help immigrants feel welcome. In partnership with Enlace Latino and Action NC, the city hosted a meeting that consisted of an update on the progress of the Immigration Community Committee, a Know Your Rights workshop and community resource event.
Nearly 100 people showed up to Thursday’s meeting at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in west Charlotte. City leaders and advocates took questions from residents before breaking out into three different workshops: one on tenants’ rights, one on general rights and another in which officers with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the Mecklenburg County Sheriffs Office were able to start a dialogue with those in attendance to build community trust.
Tim Greene Is For The Kids
Local filmmaker and radio personality Tim Greene presented new laptops to seven students at the Dream Academy, a summer mentorship camp held by Greg Jackson’s Heal Charlotte organization, this week. Greene, a host on Gaston College radio WSGE, purchased the laptops with his own money and said they were meant to help the children be successful in school.
“I present laptop computers to students during my 15-city Discover Your Greatness motivational summer tours,” Greene said in a statement. “I want to thank Keisha Moore and Roxann Jimison at The Dream Center Academy as well as Vicki Graves at Gaston College, Verna Rochon and Gracie Flores at the NextGen Program for the great opportunity to present the laptop computers to the students”.
No Murders in Charlotte
As of this writing, there were no homicides in Charlotte this week. We hope it stays that way through the end of the day and furthermore.