1. End Solitary Confinement in Lehigh and Lackawanna Counties
Our nation's founding documents affirm that all people are created equal, and that liberty and justice belong to all of us. In recent years, instead of making good on these ideals by investing in things like schools, healthcare, and jobs, some politicians have doubled down on the same old policing and prison practices that have been shown time and time again to hurt our communities. Throughout our history, we've seen that this country only realizes our highest ideals when everyday people stand up and demand change.
That's why PA Stands Up and our members are currently working to collect signatures to add a major initiative on the ballot and in front of voters this November that would move towards a care-first approach to public safety.
In Lackawanna and Lehigh, voters will have the chance to cast a ballot for restorative justice by ending the cruel and harmful practice of solitary confinement in county prisons.
Studies show that placing incarcerated people in solitary confinement worsens their mental health, and the practice is widely condemned as a form of torture. Far from furthering restitution and recovery, solitary confinement endangers our communities by increasing the risk of recidivism when prisoners return home. Yet, some politicians continue to rely on this inhumane and ineffective practice, despite its lose-lose outcomes. Ending solitary confinement is a care-first solution that would go a long way toward real restorative justice that would keep both inmates and our communities healthy and safe.
These two initiatives would be a major step toward enacting a care-first approach that keeps us safe, and making good on the promise that liberty and justice are for all of us. But we know we won't be able to win without you. It's up to us to stand up and speak out.
2. Defund the Police / Invest in Communities
The call has been clear for the last few months after the murder of George Floyd. The police are playing judge, jury, and executioner in our streets and are given far too many resources to keep killing us. Our call is to Defund the Police, move that money to community services like education, arts, mental health first aid, and more. Imagine what we could do with just a fraction of the millions that are given to the police. Community centers, youth programs, stellar basic education for all. Click these links to email the city council of Bethlehem, Allentown, or Easton (depending on where you live) and tell them to reallocate funds now. Those links give you some language to start with; just fill in your name and anything you want to add about why we need to shift from cops to compassion in the Lehigh Valley.
The people leading this movement are largely queer students of color here in the valley. They are calling for schools to break their contract with police departments and use that funding for counselors and a de-colonized curriculum. Click these links to email the school board in Bethlehem and this one for the school board in Allentown to demand that they remove officers from the schools before the new semester begins.
3. Voting rights / Recruiting and Endorsing candidates
Pennsylvania is getting used to new voting measures like Vote By Mail, but here in the Lehigh Valley, counties were woefully underprepared to deal with the influx of a new voting system and COVID-19. No one has contested election results here in over a decade. When LVSU members tried to file complaints about the broken system, they could not even decide on a course of action to take to fix it. Now a hearing has been scheduled to launch a complaint in Lehigh county, but we need to make sure that Monroe and Northampton counties are also holding free and fair elections.
It’s not about the candidates, it’s about the voice of the voter. But we also want to lift candidates who are actually for the people and care about transformative values. The system is not built to work for the working class. We need strong community members to run and be supported by us. That starts now.
Contact Ce-Ce if you are interested in running for office!