Activists win access to NYPD’s Black Lives Matter surveillance files

  • A New York judge has ordered the New York Police Department to divulge files showing how it surveilled Black Lives Matter demonstrations two years ago, a group of activists announced Wednesday.
  • According to a written decision by Judge Manuel Mendez, the NYPD must release records of the undercover surveillance it conducted on BLM protests related to the police-involved death of Eric Garner
  • The activists, whose initial request seeking the records was initially denied by the NYPD, learned through court documents in September that officials have files that match their request, as well as records of communication between the undercover officers assigned to the demonstrations and officers’ handlers. Read more

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Winter has descended on North Dakota. A blizzard swept through the state earlier this week, shutting down nearly 300 miles of interstate highway there. And the weather doesn’t promise to relent in the coming months.

In the midst of it all, a large group of protesters remains at the temporary camps on the northern edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

The movement, which started in early 2016, had small roots but grew into the thousands, drawing support from Native Americans from across the country, as well as activists who joined in solidarity against the proposed route of the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline just north of the reservation.

Last week those protests won a concession from the federal government: The Army Corps of Engineers announced it would deny the permit necessary to build the oil pipeline in that area. And now, with an eye toward the impending winter weather, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota is asking people camping near the route to go home.

Still, many “water protectors” have vowed to hold their ground.

Here are some of their own stories, their experiences at the camp and their reasons for joining the protest — in their own words.

In Their Own Words: The ‘Water Protectors’ Of Standing Rock

Photos: Cassi Alexandra for NPR

If you were to witness a bias-based attack or a hate crime, how would you respond?

It’s something some activists are preparing some New Yorkers to be ready for, as reports of hate crimes in the city have increased since the election of Donald Trump. They are up 63 percent compared to the same period last year as of Dec. 14, according to the New York City Police Department.

Earlier this month, a man allegedly threatened to cut the throat of an off-duty police officer wearing a hijab. Two days later, a transit worker wearing a hijab was allegedly pushed down the stairs in Grand Central Terminal by a man who called her a “terrorist.”

Christen Brandt, a trainer with the Center for Anti-Violence Education, wants more bystanders who witness attacks and hate crimes to become what she calls “upstanders” — people who will intervene rather than just walk away.

In New York, Activists Prepare Bystanders To Take Action Against Harassment

Photo: Canadian Pacific/Flickr



PLEASE SHARE. This happened to my vegan friend who dedicates her time to protecting animals from illegal hunters. She was so hurt and terrified. We need to spread awareness that this is happening to vegan activists all over England, especially women. ):


Photographer Gabriel Garcia Roman’s portraits feature friends and acquaintances, activists and poets, Americans and immigrants — some naturalized, some undocumented.

All of them are queer people of color.

“I wanted to specifically focus on this community because queer and trans people of color are so rarely represented in the art world,” says Roman, who is Mexican-American and also identifies as queer.

The photo series, called “Queer Icons,” evokes the colorful, religious artwork that Roman grew up with. “Because I grew up Catholic in a Mexican community in Chicago, my first introduction to art was religious art,” he says.

He was particularly inspired by the fresco paintings of haloed saints that decorated the walls of his neighborhood church. “I’ve always thought of the halo as something very powerful — it’s like a badge of nobility,” he says.

And because Roman’s subjects are activists and artists who do good for the community, “I wanted to represent them as saints,” he says.

He also wanted to capture their pride and their strength. “I wanted them to be warriors — that’s why a lot of them are looking straight at the camera, saying ‘Here I am, and I’m not going to hide.’”

Not Your Mother’s Catholic Frescoes: Radiant Portraits Of Queer People Of Color

Photo credit: Courtesy of Gabriel Garcia Roman



October may be National Bullying Prevention Month, but for Lizzie Velásquez, combating bullying and empowering others is an everyday way of life. As a teenager, the 26 year-old author and motivational speaker was called “The World’s Ugliest Woman” in a YouTube video. Brutal comments left on the clip suggested that the world would be a better place without her, even going so far as to suggest methods for committing suicide.

Though she was initially devastated by reactions to the video, Velásquez took this as an opportunity to help others by telling her story. She suffers from an incredibly rare congenital disease that leaves her incapable of gaining weight. She is blind in her right eye - with limited vision in the other - and has a weak immune system.

Beyond speaking engagements, writing three books and appearing in the 2015 documentary A Brave Heart, Velásquez has advocated for anti-bullying legislation to be put in place, traveling to Washington to speak with lawmakers and convince them to push a long-delayed bill through.

My third grade teacher called my mother and said, ‘Ms. Cox, your son is going to end up in New Orleans in a dress if we don’t get him into therapy.’ And wouldn’t you know, just last week I spoke at Tulane University, and I wore a LOVELY green and black dress.
—  Laverne Cox (Transgender. Actor. LGBT Advocate. Reality Television Star. Activist. Television Producer. American.)