...BUT UNBOWED:

BLACK MUSLIMS SPEAK ON MASS INCARCERATION IN THE AGE OF COVID

May 2, 2020 |  Zoom Webinar

CAIR - Los Angeles

Prisons, jails and detention centers are ticking time bombs for COVID-19. As of April 21, 2020, over 10,000 people in prison tested positive for the illness, and the number of new cases among prisons is more than doubling each week. Public health experts have advised that the only effective way to reduce the risk of severe illness or death for vulnerable individuals is sustained social distancing and vigilant hygiene -- all of which is impossible to achieve behind bars.

According to the 2019 Muslim Advocates Report: Fulfilling the Promise of Free Exercise for All: Muslim Prisoner Accommodation in State Prisons

  • Muslims make up about 9% of state prisoners, though they are only about 1% of the U.S. population. 

  • In Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and D.C., the share of Muslim prisoners is around 20 percent or higher. 

  • The number of incarcerated Muslim women is also growing, with 8% of female prisoners identifying as Muslim in Pennsylvania and 2.5% identifying as Muslim in Texas and Wisconsin. For this reason, health care professionals, activists and have urgently called for the release of those incarcerated.  

In this webinar, Moderator Aya SaedDr. Yusef Salaam, Atra Flemons, and Jimmie C. Gardner as discuss the ways in which our brothers and sisters behind bars are coping, persevering, and organizing in this moment of crisis.

UNBOWED RECORDING + SLIDES + WRITTEN SUMMARY

CAIR - Los Angeles

Click here to access the webinar slides

Click here to read the written summary

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CAIR - Los Angeles

SPEAKERS

MODERATOR:

Aya Saed, JD, MPA

Bertha Justice Fellow | Center for Constitutional Rights 

Aya Saed is a Bertha Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she specializes in challenging unlawful detentions, counterterrorism practices, the criminalization of dissent, and systemic unlawful policing practices. Before joining the Center for Constitutional Rights, Aya worked as a student attorney at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, where she provided direct legal representation to tenants facing eviction. She also co-founded the Deeply Rooted Emerging Leadership fellowship, a program invested in nurturing emotionally intelligent social justice activists and leaders. Aya earned a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Aya has written a powerful new essay titled "The New World Order", "defining moments, political realities, and the autumn of American supremacy".

"This is a moment of extreme moral reckoning, political awakening, and the manifestation of a bold and disciplined new possibility. What was once deemed impossible is the least we can now demand."

Twitter: @SaedaAya

IG: deenjournal

CAIR - Los Angeles

Dr. Yusef Salaam

Exonerated Five | Yusef Speaks, LLC

On April 19, 1989, a young woman in the prime of her life was brutally raped and left for dead in New York City’s Central Park. Five boys—four black and one Latino—were tried and convicted of the crime in a frenzied case that rocked the city. They became known collectively as “The Central Park Five.” In 2013, documentarians Ken and Sarah Burns released the documentary “The Central Park Five,” which told of this travesty from the perspective of Yusef and his cohorts. In 2014, The Central Park Five received a multi-million dollar settlement from the city of New York for its grievous injustice against them. Yusef was awarded an Honorary Doctorate that same year and received the President's Life Time Achievement Award in 2016 from President Barack Obama. He was appointed to the board of the Innocence Project in 2018, and has released a Netflix Feature limited series called “When They See Us” based on the true story of the “Central Park Five” with Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey and Robert Dinero, in May of 2019.

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Twitter: @dr_yusefsalaam

IG: dr.yusefsalaam

FB: YusefAbdusSalaam

yusefspeaks.com

CAIR - Los Angeles

Atra Flemons

CAIR - Los Angeles

Atra Flemons recently joined CAIR-LA as the Los Angeles Community Organizer. She is leading CAIR’S Census work and developing partnership with community-based organizations in the L.A. area. After moving to L.A. in 1996, Atra’s life was turned upside down when her only child, a son, was wrongly convicted of murder and given three life sentences without the possibility of parole. The family immediately filed an appeal. He was finally exonerated after 19 years and released in 2016.

In 2018, she became an active member of MuslimARC. As an ​American Muslim Anti-Racism Leadership ​ (AMAL) fellow, she is part of the MuslimARC’s three-person team accepted into the Next Generation of Leaders of Color Inland Region​ 2019-2020 Cohort, which is organized by Compass Point nonprofit services. She was accepted into Community Coalition’s Organizing fellowship last year. The work she does with CAIR-LA, Essie Justice, MuslimARC and Community Coalition builds upon decades of her personal advocacy to empower and advance the lives of black and brown people in her community. Atra makes and teaches others how to make soap, bath bombs, lotions and body butters in her spare time. She considers the hobbies as cathartic.

CAIR - Los Angeles

Jimmie C. Gardner

Board Member | Georgia Innocence Project

JC Gardner Speaks

Gardner grew up in Tampa, FL, where he developed a great love for sports as a child. He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs just after high school graduation and played with them in the minor leagues for 4 seasons.  In 1989, while still working towards his business degree, Jimmie was arrested and charged with two separate counts of robbery and sexual assault; as well as burglary and assault-during-the-commission-of-a-felony. He did not commit the crimes and always maintained his innocence, however, he was put on trial in January 1990. Jimmie was found guilty a month later in February 1990, and was sentenced to 110 years in prison. 

Since his release, Jimmie C Gardner has become an advocate for other wrongfully imprisoned men and women who have felt the sting of this country's systemic and racial injustices throughout the criminal justice system. He also advocates for prison reform and inmate rights all over the country. He is an active motivational  speaker,  engaged by high schools, colleges and universities, including the Georgetown School of Law,  churches, community, as well as  civic organizations throughout the country. He has also spoken in prisons such as Lee County State Prison and Autry State Prison in Georgia, in his effort to expose ongoing injustices and bring about prison reform for inmates. Jimmie offers prisoners hope through specific insight and encouragement as only he can share given all that he has endured. Since his release he has hit the ground running and he looks forward to completely embracing his new life and living in his calling.

Twitter: @jcgardnerspeaks

IG: jcgardnerspeaks

FB: Jimmie C Gardner

jcgardnerspeaks.com

CAIR - Los Angeles

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,

      Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

      For my unconquerable soul.

 

In the fell clutch of circumstance

      I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

      Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

 

It matters not how strait the gate,

      How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

      I am the captain of my soul.

CAIR - Los Angeles

*Initiative launched by Muslim Wellness Foundation and Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative
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© 2020 | Collaboration between Muslim Wellness Foundation and Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative