ACE Blog

Youth impacts of the criminal justice system – reform now!

May 14, 2008

Boston Workers Alliance

Today, an op-ed in the Globe by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) highlighted some of the deplorable conditions that youth are subjected to by the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS). The column describes the inability of DYS to house the number of minor offenders, resulting in incarceration times averaging 25 days for youth charged with misdemeanors.

This abuse of young people is endemic in the criminal injustice system and is statistically shown to fall heavier on youth of color, a sign of institutional racism in the Commonwealth.

Unnecessary jailing isn’t the only form of cruel and unusual punishment inflicted upon youth and adults in Massachusetts. Despite the groundswell of support for criminal record information (CORI) reform and Governor Patrick’s campaign promise to deliver comprehensive results, the executive order he put forward in January was modest at best. Read more...

What's the future of Dudley Square?

May 13, 2008

An article in the Sunday Globe featured the Dudley Square design competition, part of the City's visioning process for the Roxbury neighborhood. Ideas included light rail, outdoor markets, office towers and revamping the Dudley Square Bus Station. Four architects won awards that carried cash prizes of $5,000 to $10,000.

Dudley Square, Ferdinand Building on left

Next week, the City will hold an open meeting about the proposed development of the new Dudley police station. We invite folks to come down to the meeting to learn what's going on and to voice your ideas of equitable development. In addition to the police station, the City is redeveloping the Ferdinand Building and the Dudley Square Library. Read more...


New book reviews bioterrorism lab campaign

May 12, 2008

An article in a new book features the campaign against the Boston University Bioterrorism Lab as a case-study for building power in neighborhoods of color. The anthology, titled Acting Civically: From Urban Neighborhoods to Higher Education, is a compilation of essays by various Boston-area scholars and academics on the theme of how to create positive, sustainable change in American communities.

Acting Civically book

The authors of the chapter on ACE, Julian Agyeman and Heather Ross, describe the efforts of Boston University Medical Center to construct a Bio-safety Level Four Laboratory situated along the border of Roxbury and the South End, urban communities with a substantial lower-income, immigrant and people of color population.

Agyeman and Ross offer tough criticisms of the project, questioning the economic gains for the communities as well as the widely perceived notion that the Lab, funded in part by the Bush administration through Homeland Security initiatives, would make Americans safer in the case of biological attacks. Read more...

Environmental Justice Bill passed in Connecticut

May 9, 2008

 Rep. Hennessy, Elizabeth Ratliff, Dr. Mark Mitchell, CCEJ President

A coalition of our neighbors in Connecticut have succeeded in getting an EJ bill passed by their state legislature, adding a level of protection from toxic exposure to environmentally overburdened communities.

The Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ) ran a successful campaign that resulted in the bill being passed by a 139 to 9 vote margin in the House after 90 minutes of debate and unanimously in the Senate with no debate! Great work CCEJ and legislators who sponsored and supported the bill! Read more...

Globe weighs in on MBTA debt relief

May 8, 2008

T Debt Relief rally

According to a Boston Globe editorial yesterday, surging gas prices are sending more people to the T. This is good news. Less cars on the road means reduced emissions in our communities that are burdened with pollution and congestion. But even with the increased ridership, the MBTA's financial situation remains tenuous. A 1999 reorganization that cut subsidies left the T with a debt that now totals over $8 billion. To balance its budget for the next fiscal year, the T had to take $19.3 million from reserves.

If the Massachusetts legislature and the Patrick administration keep under-funding and neglecting the T, fares will continue to increase, and lower income communities will continue to be left off the bus. Read more...

Cincinnati ordinance to ban environmental injustices

May 7, 2008

Cincinnati skyline

The movement for environmental justice might receive a huge boost from the Midwest. Cincinnati, Ohio might become one of the first cities in the United States to officially recognize environmental injustices as not just wrong, but illegal. A recent article in the Cincinnati Inquirer reports on an exciting new ordinance known as the Environmental Justice Ordinance, sponsored by Cincinnati’s Vice Mayor David Crowley and backed by a majority in the city council.

At the policy level, the ordinance "would require some proposed projects in Cincinnati’s poorest neighborhoods to undergo an extra environmental justice review…to determine whether the new business would have an adverse impact on the neighborhood and/or on residents’ health there," according to the article. Read more...

Youth present EJ projects at cook-out this Friday

May 6, 2008

REEP students from New Mission High School serve an active and critical role at ACE and in their community. Show them your appreciation this Friday, May 9, by attending "Unity in the Community: A Forum of Environmental Justice Service." This event is sponsored by the high school students at New Mission and is the culmination of a year of working hard in the community.

The event begins at 3:00 p.m. with an Opening BBQ at the Tobin Community Center. Come have some food and drinks and see student artwork about the need for affordable housing in Boston. Then at 4:00, students will unveil and present their workshops, projects, poems, and videos on such topics as the Boston University Bioterrorism Lab and Transportation issues in the city. Stick around until 5:30 when seniors at New Mission and representatives of the Boston Police Department will sponsor a youth forum to discuss solutions on how to make our community safer. Read more...

Ten commandments to save the planet

May 5, 2008

On April 28, Bolivian president Evo Morales presented a ten point program for worldwide ecological security at the inauguration of the UN's VII Indigenous Forum. Included in Morales' proposals, labeled "The 10 Commandments To Save the Planet," were an ecological debt on the global North, an eradication of war, and an end to water privatization.

These convictions are echoed in the 17 principles of environmental justice adopted in 1991 by attendees of the first People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in DC. Read more...

Bedouins fight serious environmental injustices

May 1, 2008

Ra'ed Al-Mickawi of Bustan

On Tuesday, the Boston chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace sponsored a talk by Ra’ed Al-Mickawi, director of Bustan. Taking its name from a word meaning "fruit-yielding orchard" in both Hebrew and Arabic, Bustan is an organization fighting for environmental justice in the Bedouin communities of Israel.

Having cultivated low-impact agricultural practices over several generations in Israel’s Negev Desert, Bedouin culture has long been centered around self sufficiency, communal autonomy, and a deep connection to the land. In 1962 the Israeli government began a relocation program, forcing the Bedouins from rural and agriculture rich areas into small, contained urban townships.

David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, explained that the goal of this forced relocation program was to eventually clear Bedouins out of the Negev completely, "in order not to disturb development plans." Today, most of Israel’s nearly 200,000 Bedouin reside in seven "recognized" townships constructed by the Israeli government. The rest live in about 45 "unrecognized" villages subject to regular house demolitions and forced relocations. Read more...