USHRN Biannual Conference Workshops and Panels Saturday Session 1

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We are excited to announce the workshop and panel sessions for the Biannual Conference.  The sessions cover a wide range of issue areas, highlighting critical human rights struggles and victories on-going across the United States. Sessions will introduce participants to frontline, cutting edge work that communities around the country are engaged in to promote human rights for all.

 

The sessions scheduled for Saturday, December 7, 1:15pm - 2:45pm, include the following:

 

Dignity Not Detention: Challenging Expansion and Human Rights Violations in the Immigration Detention System

Session Summary
This will be a two-part workshop, including an interactive timeline of the historical and current context of the immigration detention system in the U.S., and panel discussion on strategies and best practices for addressing human rights violations that detained immigrants face in government custody. Attendees will gain knowledge on laws and policies at the national and local level that are fueling the expansion of detention, and become familiar with the most pressing issues facing people in detention, including widespread misuse of solitary confinement, lack of access to counsel and adequate medical care, and abuses particular to vulnerable populations, such as the mentally ill and LGBT individuals. Attendees will also learn about ways in which organizations and communities are challenging unjust policies and human rights abuses in detention systems.

Presenters
Catalina Nieto, Field Director, Detention Watch Network
Madhuri (Madhu) Singh Grewal, Legislative Associate, Detention Watch Network
Jennifer Chan, Associate Director of Policy, Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center
Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants' Rights Project Director ACLU of Georgia and President of the National Lawyers Guild

Location: Camelilia
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I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me:  Surveillance, Political (IN) security & Communities of Color

Session Summary
Surveillance has a purpose!  Concerns about who owns data in digital spaces, location tracking, data mining and government surveillance are only a handful of the issues that impact our privacy, and deserve our attention. What is the relationship between race and social control, and what does it actually mean when our communities are the targets of the State’s surveillance system? Join this informative and interactive session which will explore the intersection of social justice and surveillance, and the impact it has on organizing and political dissent.

Presenters
Joe Torres, Free Press (author "News for All the People, the Epic Story of Race in America)
Kung Li, Consultant and former Executive Director, Southern Center for Human Rights
Dr. Seeta Pena Gangadharan, Senior Research Fellow, Open Technology Institute
Amalia Deloney, Associate Director, Center for Media Justice
Dhoruba Bin-Wahad, Leader, Black Panther Party

Location: Dunwoody A
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USA Political Prisoners:  Is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission the Solution

Session Summary
The workshop will review the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), as proposed by Dr. Mutulu Shakur.  Participants will discuss effective ways to advocate with U.S. state and federal governments, and appropriate UN governing bodies, to review the cases of, and to set free, those individuals who remain incarcerated for participation in the liberation movements of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Panelists will share successful efforts to obtain releases and provide an overview of current advocacy utilizing UN mechanisms and treaties.  Participants will identify ways to advance founding of the Commission using U.S. and UN mechanisms.

Presenters
Efia Nwangaza, Director, Malcolm X Center for Self Determination
Susan Rosenberg, former COINTELPRO/Civil Rights Era Political Prisoner
Masai Eloheme, former Black Panther Party member and a former COINTELPRO/Civil Rights Era  Political Prisoner

Location: Dunwoody B
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Identifying Solutions to Mass Incarceration

Session Summary
This session will consider next steps in reducing mass incarceration through the lens of policy advocates.  Speakers will discuss criminal justice policy reforms that must be implemented to move beyond mass incarceration, or alternatively pivotal litigation opportunities that will facilitate systemic criminal justice reform.   Alternative measures different organizations are pursuing from different perspectives -- policy reform, public messaging, and litigation -- to solve the problem of over incarceration in the United States will be highlighted.  Participants will explore the trajectory and limitations of each of these approaches.

Presenter
Jessica Eaglin, Counsel, Brennan Center Justice Program
Jin Hee Lee, Senior Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense Fund
John Maki, Executive Director of the John Howard Association 

Location: Azalea A
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Right the Wrong of Poverty! An Oxfam Story of Human Rights Impacts in North Carolina Tobacco Fields

Session Summary
Across the globe, thousands of people face daily threats to their human rights by irresponsible foreign investment practices associated with dams, gas and mining, industrial projects and privatization schemes. Participants will be introduced to Oxfam America’s Community Based Human Rights Assessment Initiative, which assists activists in identifying human rights impacts, proposing responses, and engaging government and corporate actors to take action. They will receive a tutorial on the Getting it Right impact assessment tool and learn about the pilot to assess migrant worker rights in North Carolina tobacco fields.

Presenter
Gabrielle Watson, Manager, Policy Advocacy Evaluation, Oxfam

Location: Dunwoody C
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Climate and Environmental Justice – Two Sides of the Same Coin

Session Summary
International climate negotiations have made no progress in achieving emission reduction commitments beyond 2014. Scientists expect temperatures to rise, while extreme energy fossil fuel developments are expanding, particularly hydraulic fracturing worldwide.  False Market Solutions are being pushed, such as using forest, agriculture and soils of the global south as carbon sponges, creating human rights abuses for forest dwelling peoples, particularly Indigenous peoples. Meanwhile, other extreme energy developments are taking place such as the nuclear power industry building the first two nuclear reactors in the U.S. in 30 years in rural Georgia, already home to 4 nuclear reactors. New nuclear development is currently being proposed that pose additional Environmental Justice issues for people of color in the Southeast. Presenters will address these issues, from a local-to-global perspective of extreme energy developments resulting in on-going environmental justice and human rights concerns. Continued fossil fuel, biomass and nuclear development are being pushed by government and corporations with lack of acknowledgement of Climate Justice and Environmental Justice concerns.

Presenters
Courtney Hanson, Director of Organizing and Outreach, Georgia WAND
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network

Location: Azalea B
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Defending the Human Rights Defenders: Strategies to Counter Opposition

Session Summary
Human rights are hard-won and need protecting. This is the role of human rights defenders: those who stand up, even at great personal risk, to protect rights we all enjoy. Human rights defenders include anyone who works for human rights, such as activists, labor leaders, student organizers, government whistleblowers, investigative journalists or healthcare providers. Unfortunately, defenders around the world are sometimes targeted for who they are and what they do. The U.N. system has a mechanism to respond to such threats—the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders—who receives information from defenders, monitors trends across regions, and works with government to strengthen protection mechanisms. This workshop will introduce the human rights defender framework to U.S. human rights activists and provide case studies of how those in the U.S. [and around the world] have used it to call for accountability, promote visibility of human rights, and build an enabling environment for human rights work. Participants will receive training in concrete ways to engage with the Special Rapporteur and other international mechanisms as part of their ongoing advocacy campaigns.

Presenters
Sunita Patel, Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights 
Katrina Anderson, Human Rights Counsel, Center for Reproductive Rights
Lucy Félix, Coordinator of the Texas Latina Advocacy Network, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Lori Johnson, Staff Attorney, Farmworker Unit, Legal Aid of North Carolina
Saladin Muhammad, Coordinator, International Worker Justice Campaign, and Member, Black Workers for Justice

Location: Gardenia
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Using New Media & Ethnic Media to Break the Silence in Communities & Courts

Session Summary
This session will feature presentations from Silicon Valley De-Bug, New America Media, and WITNESS. Each organization will share case studies and discuss how they use new media to break taboos in ethnic communities; shift perceptions around those entangled in the criminal justice system; and use this as a strategic advocacy tool for human rights defenders.  Workshop attendees are encouraged to contribute to the conversation around the benefits, challenges and strategies of using new media in human rights work.

Presenters
Jackie Zammuto, Engagement Associate, WITNESS
Raj Jayadev, Executive Director, Silicon Valley De-Bug
Jacob Simas, Editor and Director Youth Media, New America Media

Location: Maplewood A
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Sharing the Human Rights Message:  Children, Family, and Community

Session Summary
This session addresses the importance of grassroots organizing and social media in building a rights-based campaign for the realization of human rights “close to home” through brief presentations and interactive discussions. Presenters will speak from their experiences as organizers and educators, and outline the relevance of the right to family and its intersections with children’s rights and the right to participate within community and beyond to shape just policies, laws, and programs. They will highlight the rights of family and diverse family models, as well as rights-based approaches to mobilizing on related issues of family-based violence, children’s rights, and community-based action.

Presenters
Justyn Hintze, Deputy Director of Operations, Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance
Shirley Gatenio Gabel, Faculty Member, Fordham University
Ricci Joy Levy, Executive Director, Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance
Kathryn Libal, Associate Professor in the School of Social Work and Associate Director Human Rights Institute University of Connecticut
Jane McPherson, LCSW, Doctoral Candidate Florida State University
Donald Mowry, Professor and Chair Department of Social Work, University of Wisconsin Eau Claire

Location: Maplewood B
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Reclaiming the Tech

Session Summary
Historically people of color have made huge contributions to human technology, yet "techie" culture is overwhelmingly white and male. We must deconstruct the ways in which oppression is built-in to the ways we teach, use, design, and talk about technology, while building alternative models. Participants in May First/People Link's people of color in technology invite you to a discussion on hacking the power dynamics within technology communities and re-imagining the role of technology within our movements. Join participants in May First/People Link's People of Color Techie Training program to discuss the impact of racism on technology in the movement.

Presenter
Alfredo Lopez, Founder and Leadership Committee member of May First/People Link
Ross Glover, May First/People Link
Tomas Aguilar, The Progressive Technology Project
Rita Mendez, The Florida Immigrant Coalition

Location: Conference Center

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