Civil Rights

Rowland Scherman; restored by Adam Cuerden - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain,

The observance of Martin Luther King's birthday sends us into the archives in search of MLK-related material. 

Newspaper reporter Marc Perrusquia joined us a while back to talk about his book A Spy in Canaan: How the FBI Used a Famous Photographer to Infiltrate the Civil Rights Movement.  The level of infiltration and detail is amazing. 

Rowland Scherman; restored by Adam Cuerden - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain,

Ernest Withers is considered one of the great documentary photographers of the civil rights movement.

He was a confidant of Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers and James Meredith. His photos of pivotal events in the movement -- the Montgomery Bus boycott, the Memphis sanitation workers' strike, the murder of Emmett Till  -- can rightly be called iconic. There is a museum in Withers' home town of Memphis dedicated to his work.

But Withers had a secret: he was an FBI informant, and those iconic photos were often used by the Bureau to identify civil rights activists.

Memphis-based investigative journalist Marc Perrusqia has written an expose of Withers' double life, A Spy In Canaan

Allegations of voter fraud have been followed by allegations of voter suppression by officials in northern California’s Siskiyou County. 

Community Rights Could Be On Oregon Ballot

Mar 10, 2016
James Willamor/Wikimedia

The concept of community rights could grow in stature this year, especially if a ballot measure on those rights makes it to the November ballot. 

The Oregon Community Rights Network stands behind a proposed constitutional amendment that would spell out the rights of communities to decide their own futures. 

The range of issues potentially affected run the gamut from GMOs to gentrification. 

University Press of Mississippi

The Freedom Summer of 1964 helped usher in civil rights laws for black Americans. 

But the price was steep: many people of many ethnic backgrounds gave up their security and even their lives for civil rights. 

Their efforts are not only remembered, but documented extensively. 

A companion to the civil rights efforts was the Southern Documentary Project, which scattered reporters and photographers around the South to record the events for the major picture magazines. 

Prison Pepper Spray Use Under Debate

Nov 8, 2013

Attorneys for California, and those representing prison inmates, are presenting a federal judge with starkly different views of prison guards' use of pepper spray against the mentally ill.

At issue in the trial that ended yesterday is whether guards' heavy use of pepper spray against some mentally ill inmates violates prisoners' civil rights.

Prison Security Housing Units Get Hearing

Oct 10, 2013

Democratic lawmakers on key policy committees say they want to limit California's practice of keeping hundreds of inmates in solitary confinement for years, sometimes decades, as a way of controlling violent prison gangs.

They held the first in a planned series of hearings Wednesday in response to an inmate hunger strike this summer that at one point involved more than 30,000 of the 133,000 inmates in state prisons.

The inmates were protesting conditions for gang leaders held in isolation at Pelican Bay and three other prisons.

California Immigrants Get New Protections

Oct 7, 2013

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that immigration advocates have long considered a top priority.

The measure, known as the "TRUST Act" is one of a number of bills backed by immigration advocates that the governor signed over the weekend. It's intended to protect undocumented immigrants arrested for minor crimes from being turned over to the federal government for possible deportation.

Brown vetoed the "TRUST Act" last year, citing concerns from law enforcement groups. This year, he worked with both sides to craft a compromise.

A Reprieve Granted for California Prison Overcrowding

Sep 25, 2013
California DCR

California has a few more weeks to find a solution to its prison overcrowding. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled state officials have until the end of January to comply with the court order to reduce prison overcrowding. The state had been facing a deadline of December 31st.