Baton Rouge Law Enforcement Settles With Grassroots and Advocacy Groups to Provide More Protection for Protests Posted on November 30, 2016 by Jessica Turner Baton Rouge Law Enforcement Settles With Grassroots and Advocacy Groups to Provide More Protection for Protests  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 28, 2016 CONTACT: Crystal Williams, North Baton...

North Baton Rouge Matters v. City of Baton Rouge, U.S. Dist. Ct., M. D. Louisiana Case 3:16-cv-00463-JWD-RLB Filed July 13, 2016 [gallery link="file" columns="4" ids="151,152,137,145"] Local organizing groups, NOWCRJ, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana have filed a lawsuit against the Baton Rouge and Louisiana State...

BATON ROUGE, LA, July 13, 2016—Local organizing groups and the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana filed a lawsuit today against the Baton Rouge Police Department for violating the First Amendment rights of demonstrators who were protesting peacefully against the killing of Alton Sterling. The case...

Shelterforce Housing Authority Eliminates Ban of Ex-Offenders July 5, 2016 by Katy Reckdahl With the approval of new background check procedures, a criminal conviction won’t automatically disqualify a person from receiving public housing or voucher assistance in New Orleans. Calvin “Cosmo” Russell would like to add his adult son to his apartment’s lease. That might be fairly simple if his son hadn’t been arrested three years ago for possession of five dime bags of weed, which ended in a conviction and a short prison term. The arrest also gives Russell a certain urgency. Though his son is 26, Russell believes that he can help him successfully transition from young adulthood into decades of stable living. Russell’s landlord has met Russell’s son and approved the lease change. But because Russell, 48, is disabled from an on-the-job injury, the Housing Authority of New Orleans helps him pay his monthly rent and must authorize any additions to his lease. In the past, Russell would not have asked. “They wouldn’t let you add an ex-con to your Section 8 voucher,” he says. “They’d tell you ‘no’ flat-out.” Even before his son’s arrest, Russell saw HANO’s screening policy as wrong-headed. Several years ago, he joined the grassroots group STAND with Dignity, which has spent four years working with other local advocates to push for a revised criminal records screening policy. The revisions were particularly necessary in high-poverty New Orleans, where nearly 1 in 4 households receives rental assistance, and per-capita incarceration rates have long been the nation’s highest and disproportionately affect the city’s African-American community, says Cashauna Hill, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center. “Here in New Orleans, we’re at ground zero of the incarceration epidemic,” she says. “Folks are now agreeing that this level of disenfranchisement for people of color is not beneficial for anyone.”