Wednesday, September 19, 2018

What’s Houston Justice Doing?

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The Houston Justice Coalition has been around since 2014.  It was founded in the wake of the egregious failure to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of MIke Brown in Ferguson, MO that triggered protests across the nation, including here in Houston.

It also jump started conversations about what law enforcement looks like in the Houston area.     
The organization’s founders decided to focus on things they could demonstrably measure such as local Grand Jury Reform, Body Camera Policy for local law enforcement and Community Policing and started those efforts with an event at the El Dorado Ballroom.     

The launch event drew a overflow crowd of over 300 people.  From that crowd, Houston Justice signed people up to apply for grand jury service and registered them to vote.

After a brief hiatus taken after the 2015 Texas Legislative session in which grand jury legislation favored by Houston Justice was passed,  Houston Justice is now focusing its efforts on three initiatives just in time for the critical 2018 midterm election.
One of the initiatives is #Project Orange, which started in 2017.  It is a nonpartisan effort to register eligible incarcerated persons in the Harris County Jail to vote in addition to staffing voter registration tables in the jail visitation areas.

Those 2017 efforts conducted on four consecutive September Sundays led to over 600 new registered voters who participated in the 2018 Democratic and Republican primary elections.    

Another one of the initiatives being tackled by Houston Justice is the Black Census being organized by the Alicia Garza founded Black Futures Lab.

The Black Census is an online questionnaire with the goal of giving us an opportunity to speak for ourselves and get a detailed informational portrait of Black America.   

The goal is to survey 200,000 people nationally, and Houston Justice wants to get 1000 people in our area to participate in it so that we can have solid data about the Houston Black community to show to legislators, discuss with the media, and other interested parties    

We also wish to get responses from the Black Census from all segments of the Black community, including the LGBTQ segment of it, and our formerly incarcerated people

The third initiative is #HOUVotes.   Texas had an abysmal 28.5% voter turnout in the 2014 midterms.  For the 2016 presidential election it was 51.6%, which ranked it 49th out of 50 states. We must do better than that in November 2018.

The #HOUVotes campaign seeks to reach out to former felons, the formerly incarcerated and their families to get them registered to vote in this critical election cycle, and empower them to go to the polls and do so.

The #HouVotes campaign seeks to achieve the following goals:

*Register 5,000 new voters,
*Communicate with the newly registered voters at least three times
*Increase voter turnout in our target audience     

The push started August 24, as several organizers went through training in preparation for an initial August 26 voter registration at St John’s Church Downtown.  While that was happening, Houston Justice’s Durrel Douglas was interviewed during Majic 102’s Sunday Morning Live show to talk about the initiatives.

Over the next few weeks Houston Justice organizers will also be busy getting the word out about the Black Census, registering voters, and doing their part to ensure that those newly registered voters participate in the November election.

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