#BlackLivesMatter Queer and Trans People of Color Coalition respond to NC HB 2

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On the anniversary of the passing of Blake Brockington, a Black trans teen from Charlotte, N.C., Gov. Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly moved to attack working people and create dangerous conditions for women, LGBTQ people, Black and Brown people, and any workers who experience discrimination or who struggle to make ends meet.

The General Assembly and Gov. McCrory chose to criminalize trans and gender nonconforming children and youth, and to scapegoat trans women and other trans people for rape by passing NC HB 2. House Bill 2 bars city and county governments from raising their municipal minimum wage, as well as prohibiting anti-discrimination policies that account for gender identity, expression and sexual orientation.

Lawmakers were given only five minutes to review the bill and it passed within a 12-hour period without a single trans person of color being allowed to speak.

  •      This bill reinforces the school-to-prison pipeline that trans and gender nonconforming students of color already face, by making their choice of toilet grounds for suspension or arrest.
  •      This bill rolls back decades of hard-won progress and will harm our whole state. It undermines municipal democratic control, advancements in anti-discrimination policy and further prohibits wage increases. This is a direct assault on working families and particularly working women of color, who are most likely to be paid poverty wages. LGBTQ folks of color are workers, and we are worth more![1]
  •      This bill uses trans panic and the scapegoating of trans women to derail real conversations about safety and consent. Trans and queer people are survivors of sexual assault, too. Our safety matters, and we don’t make our community safer by threatening others with the brute force of the murderous police or incarceration. If our state is truly concerned for survivors of sexual assault, it will make comprehensive consent and sex education mandatory. This law does nothing to prevent indecent exposure and sexual assault, which are already illegal, but instead prevents local governments from protecting the safety and livelihoods of queer and trans people.
  •      We honor and fight for Blake by affirming that our lives matter. Anti-transgender bias and legislation and persistent structural racism directly impact the devastating rates of suicidality, unemployment, physical and sexual violence, poverty, incarceration and homelessness experienced by transgender people of color.[2]
  •      Trans and Queer people of color demand a living wage and freedom from criminalization and discrimination, in the workplace and in the bathroom.

Tonight, we are calling for a Special Session of the People outside of the Governor’s mansion. For Blake Brockington, for Angel Elisha Walker, for all Black and Brown trans and queer people in North Carolina who have been murdered, disappeared or incarcerated, it is our duty to speak. It is our duty to demand freedom, to demand a living wage, to demand education, to demand comprehensive health care that is accessible and free of charge.

Signatories:

QPOCC, The Tribe, #BlackLivesMatter North Carolina, Sister Song, Ignite NC, Southern Vision Alliance, Youth Organizing Institute, #BlackLivesMatter Gate City, Workers World Party, SONG NC, Greensboro Mural Project, GenderBenders, Fight for $15, QORDS, Trans Pride in Action, Queer Youth Circus, House daLorde, Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia (MERI-NC), SAFE Coalition NC, LGBTQ Center of Durham, Center for Family and Maternal Wellness.

[1] Trans People of Color experience rates up to four times the national unemployment rate. Black transgender people live in extreme poverty with 34 percent reporting a household income of less than $10,000 per year. This is more than twice the rate for transgender people of all races (15 percent), four times the general Black population rate (9 percent), and over eight times the general U.S. population rate (4 percent). Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Discrimination Survey. National Center for Trans Equality and National GLBTQ Task Force (2011).

[2] In the 2011, Injustice at Every Turn National Report comprising of 6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming participants: 41 percent of respondence reported attempting suicide, 55 percent lost a job due to bias, 51 percent were harassed/bullied in school, or were the victims of physical assault (61 percent) or sexual assault (64 percent). www.endtransdiscrimination.org

Early Voting Monitors Find Pat McCrory’s Monster Voter Suppression Law Impedes Young Voters.

Early Voting Monitors Find Pat McCrory’s Monster Voter Suppression Law Impedes Young Voters. Youth Mobilize to Protect NC Voting Integrity.

Irene Godinez, Monserrat Matehuala, and Emma Akpan monitor polls early Tuesday morning in Southeast Raleigh

In August 2013, Pat McCroy signed HB589 into law, a set of new rules referred to pro-democracy advocates as North Carolina’s Monster Voting law.  On the day Gov McCrory signed the bill he stated, “…the law will ensure integrity at the North Carolina ballot box and provide greater equality in access to voting.”

While the Constitutionality of the laws remains quagmired in litigation, most aspects of the law will be implemented during this March election cycle, including:

  • A reduction in the time period for Early Voting,
  • An end to out-of-precinct voting,
  • The expansion of the ability of a voter to challenge another voter at the polls,
  • An end to the broadly popular pre-registration for 16 and 17 year-olds,
  • Requiring a state issued Voter ID, but excluding the use of university IDs.

Laci in the fieldIn response Ignite NC’s Vote Defender Project, launched in August 2013, has trained and deployed non-partisan election protection volunteers across the state during the March early voting period. These “Vote Defenders” will provide voters with information about the new laws, document

any incidents, and conduct an academic exit survey in partnership with a political science professor at UNC-Charlotte.  On Election Day, Ignite NC will join with pro-democracy partners in deploying more than 1000 volunteers monitors across 45 counties.

“We have already been hearing troubling reports from our monitors, such as overly-long lines, not enough early voting hours, inadequate equipment at early voting sites, and students being turned away for inadequate ID” said Holden Cession, an organizer with the election protection effort. “If Pat McCroy and the state of North Carolina want to be true to their word and protect the integrity of the election, they must take immediate action and stop defending the monster voter suppression law in the courts, and follow the lead of other states like Oregon to pass laws such as automatic voter registration.”

A few days into the early voting process has revealed that the state is unable to adequately administer the new changes: We have seen:

  • In Boone, NC, students waiting over two hours to try to squeeze into the Early Voting window which has no weekend or evening hours. In addition, high profile political operatives being unlawfully stationed inside polling locations.
  • In Chapel Hill, students have been turned away for improper ID and not offered a Provisional ballot or ID impediment forms
  • North Carolina State University students experiencing transportation barriers as Wake County failed to provide a single Early Voting site on or within walking distance of campus.

“These long lines are a symptom of the new voting law,” said Rachel Clay, the Western Election Protection field organizer with Ignite NC who witnessed Boone’s voting lines. “Watauga County cut every single evening and weekend Early Voting hour.  We warned them that this would be the result.  With decisions made to cut early voting, insufficiently staffing precincts, and requiring everyone to show ID, it is not surprising the lines piled up. While I am thrilled with the amount of students showing up to vote, I call on the state to do more.”

“During a highly contested presidential primary, and with several key local races on the March 15 ballot, we are right to question the impact of this new law and the intentions of Pat McCroy, who signed it,” said Irving Allen an organizer with Ignite NC. “It’s not a coincidence that we are seeing problems at precincts with high concentrations of young people and people of color.”

In the past three years, North Carolina’s General Assembly has amassed a well-documented history of suppressing dissent. In 2013 we saw the state illegally arrest and ban hundreds of people during the Moral Monday movement. Last month, four youth were arrested at a last-minute meeting of the UNC Board of Governors, for addressing a public body that has no process for public input.

BOG4Earlier this week, Lt. Governor Dan Forest announced the introduction of an Orwellian “Campus Free Expression Act” that would actually serve to put punitive limits on freedom of expression by students and faculty who dare to speak out against the austerity agenda of the current BOG and their hand-picked champion, the highly controversial appointee, Margaret Spellings.

Democracy requires that every person impacted by the laws and policies of the state have a voice in choosing their representatives. This law moves us in the opposite direction.

The NC Vote Defender Project encourages every eligible voter to cast a ballot on March 15 or during Early Voting.

Any voter who has questions about the new law, or trouble casting their ballot should call the Election Protection Hotline at 1-888-OUR VOTE, where legal experts will help them vote, provide non-partisan information, and document any instances of wrongdoing by the state.

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