Petition to St. Louis Mayor: Protect protesters, investigate cops.

[CONTENT NOTE: white supremacy, racist police violence (no images).]

Please sign and signal boost if you are willing and able. Thank you.

via Color of Change:

Police are out of control in St. Louis, and the Mayor has done nothing to stop them. Over the weekend of protests following the not-guilty verdict absolving Jason Stockley of accountability in the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith, police have taunted protesters saying Ferguson-era chants like “Whose streets? Our streets?”1–in the same manner of neo-nazi terrorists in Charlottesville2–and police even trampled over an older woman and pepper-sprayed the people who tried to help her.3

Mayor Lyda Krewson still has not condemned the rampant excessive force police are using to suppress the peaceful protesters she claims to support. After the verdict came down, Krewson was quick to express her disappointment and also made a statement in support of the peaceful protest.4 And today she said internal affairs division of the St. Louis police would investigate misconduct. But we know we can’t rely on the police to investigate themselves. We need Krewson to take REAL action to protect protesters. That’s why we’re calling on her to widely condemn any use of excessive force against protesters and call an independent commission to investigate the actions of police during this time. She won’t have a choice if enough of us join together in making the demand. Will you sign the petition?

Tell the St. Louis Mayor: Take a stand against police violence. Protect the right to protest in your city.

This weekend’s events are history repeating itself again and again since the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement. When Black people gather to demand an end to state violence, the state doubles down on the violence people were there to protest in the first place. We saw the St. Louis Police Department’s militarized response to protest in Ferguson in 2014, and we’re seeing it again today. St. Louis police department has one of the highest rates of police-involved killings.5 And instead of encouraging peaceful protest, St, Louis police invoked fear and provoked the confrontation. Using tear gas and riot gear, the police in St. Louis have arrested over 100 people since Friday that the police chief called “criminals.”6

In fact, the St. Louis Police Department has been overstating the supposed crime and vandalism to excuse their overly aggressive actions against mostly peaceful protests. Just yesterday, the police department tweeted a picture of a spray bottle filled with apple cider vinegar–a remedy protesters use to alleviate the symptoms of tear gas–and called it a “chemical agent” they confiscated from people trying to use it “against police officers.”7 The truth is that St. Louis police agitated protesters, and none of their actions were centered in de-escalation. They came dressed for a riot. And it’s what they got. Taunting at protesters is not how police officers should be engaging during this time.

It’s unacceptable. Mayor Krewson has said she wants to come together as a united St. Louis–and that means speaking out against behavior that seeks to divide us and push back against the change our communities need. Protest is a right that should be protected. And the actions of St. Louis police need to be investigated by an independent commission immediately.

Sign the petition.

Until justice is real,

— Arisha, Rashad, Scott, Clarise, Anay, Malaya, Enchanta, Katrese, and the Color Of Change team


1. “St. Louis officers chant ‘whose streets, our streets’ while arresting protesters,” Washington Post, 09-18-2017

2. “A new generation of white supremacists emerges,” Louisiana Weekly, 08-21-17

3. “St. Louis cops trample, arrest woman at protest,” New York Post, 09-16-2017

4. “Mayor Krewson’s statement on verdict,” Twitter @LydaKrewson, 09-15-2017

5. “Letter to Mayor Krewson re: Police Conduct at Sunday Night Protest,” ACLU of Missouri, 09-18-2017

6. “St. Louis protests continue, police arrest more than 100 people and vow: ‘This is our city,'” Washington Post, 09-18-2017

7. “St. Louis Police Claim an ‘Unknown Chemical’ Labeled ‘Apple Cider Vinegar’ Maliciously Used Against Them,” The Root, 09-19-2017

Color Of Change is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.

Petition: Tell ABC and Tom Llamas to apologize.

[CONTENT NOTE: Anti-black media reporting, anti-black violence.]

via Color of Change (email):

Dear Iris,

He called the police on them for trying to get food.

ABC News anchor, Tom Llamas, in Houston to report on Hurricane Harvey, spotted Texans who had recently lost everything entering a grocery store. Instead of reporting on the desperate circumstances with compassion, he actually diverted first responder resources that could be used to save stranded families–and called the police.1

That’s right. Houstonians desperately searching for uncontaminated food and water in order to survive were not only shamed and blasted on social media, but confronted with police as they fought for their lives.

And when we asked Tom Llamas to apologize for his biased and possibly dangerous treatment of Hurricane Harvey victims; instead of owning up to it, he blocked us on Twitter.

Tell ABC News and Tom Llamas to issue an apology now!

Tom Llamas didn’t only wrongfully criminalize disaster victims– he put them in harm’s way. Local authorities recently announced that anyone found “looting” will be faced with mandatory jail time.2 And the District Attorney has escalated burglary charges all the way up to life imprisonment–of course this disproportionately affects poor and Black people who may not have had the money to purchase goods in advance, and will be on the hunt for clean water and food.3

In times of emergency and natural disaster, television news is often the only way that bystanders can ascertain what’s happening. News media has the sacred duty of framing tragedies in an honest, unbiased, and compassionate manner. Unfortunately, we saw this same dishonest and biased reporting during Hurricane Katrina, when thousands of Black families were shamed and criminalized as “looters” while trying to feed their families. Meanwhile, white families were simply characterized as searching for food. And and we know that media representations can have a profoundly negative impact on the ways that people in positions of power and privilege interact with Black people. Research has shown that negative media portrayals can engender antagonism toward people of color and lead to higher tolerance for race-based societal disparities.

Tell ABC News, Tom Llamas to apologize now!

The victims of Hurricane Harvey need compassionate and unbiased reporting in the wake of this horrific natural disaster–not criminalization and unnecessary police intervention. It’s time for Tom Llamas and ABC to stop running and apologize.

Sign the petition.

Until justice is real,

— Brandi, Arisha, Rashad, Anika, Jade, Evan, Corina, the rest of the Color Of Change team


  1. “ABC News reporter covering Hurricane Harvey gets slammed online after reporting alleged looters to police.” Business Insider, 28 August 2017.
  2. “In Houston, Authorities Are Toughening Penalties As Warning To Would-Be Looters.” NPR, August 2017.
  3. “Race and class are the biggest issues around Hurricane Harvey.” The Root, 31 August 2017.

Color Of Change is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.


If you want to know why this is so urgent and important, here’s why [h/t Alyssa Gonzalez]:

Armed Fascists Are Roaming Texas Floods Looking For Looters

Armed right-wing paramilitary groups are patrolling parts of Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey under the guise of helping hurricane victims.

A group of “Proud Boys” — a men’s rights group with fascist leanings — photographed themselves wading through flooded neighborhoods with assault weapons and flashing a hand signal associated with extremist militia groups. They refer to themselves as an “anti looting patrol.”

Of course they do. And that headline should read: Armed White Men Are Roaming Texas Floods Looking For Black People To Shoot. See, starving white people are not looters by definition. They’re simply “finding food.” Starving black people? Well, not so much.

Ladies and gentlemen, behold the power of YOUR LIBERAL MEDIA.

Sign the petition.

We suck. Help save the oceans.


(image via Avaaz)

It’s no secret that I have no love for homo sapiens (or for Sciuridae for that matter, but they are not the goddamn problem FOR ONCE). I do, however, harbor deep affection and compassion for our cousins that dwell in the Earth’s seas.


This is a picture of all my aquatic friends in Costa Rica.
I don’t have an underwater camera. But since I snorkeled extensively in these waters, I can assure you they are fucking amazing.

Unfortunately, when it comes to marine habitats all over this planet, humans suck giant walrus balls. Hard. In fact, it invites karmic justice of the highest order that President Cheetohead and his merry band of motherfrackers are busy ensuring Earth’s glaciers and polar ice caps completely melt, covering the entire surface of the globe in water. (BONUS: this would also solve the fucking squirrel problem once and for all. Lard knows future aquatic space alien visitors shouldn’t have to deal with that shit.)

But at least occasionally, we humans attempt to mitigate some of the worst aspects of our lamentable existence. If only momentarily, we will put our violent domination proclivities on hold and shift to a collaborative worldview, as if our very lives depended on it. They actually do, of course. And this is one of those moments.

Continue reading

Conversion therapy: kill it with fire.


Feel like exercising your constitutional right (while it lasts…) to click links? GOOD!

Click on over to Freethought Resistance, then click the link to CREDO* Action’s petition to Congress to ban conversion therapy. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA33), sponsor of the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, says of the legislation:

It says it is fraud if you treat someone for a condition that doesn’t exist and there’s no medical condition known as being gay. LGBTQ people were born perfect; there is nothing to treat them for. And by calling this what it should be, which is fraud, it would effectively shut down most of the organizations.

As a California state senator in 2012, Rep. Lieu was also instrumental in enacting a similar law, the first of its kind in the nation. Just last month, the California law withstood a final appeal to the US Supreme Court based on a “religious freedom” argument. In the wake of the high court’s rejection, there is some momentum on which to capitalize here: the national legislation has been referred to committee in both the House and Senate.

Come on, you godless heathens! You know you enjoy trampling the “religious freedom” of bigoted fraudulent assholes at least as much as I do. Get your click on.

*CREDO Mobile is a lefty activist mobile company: every month it allocates a portion of its revenue to various activist non-profits, as voted and allocated by its customers. (CREDO is, for example, Planned Parenthood’s largest corporate donor.) Consider switching to CREDO as your mobile carrier, and stop funding anti-democratic donors like AT&T that fund conservatives. They offer a lot of the same deals on phones, contract buyouts, incentives, fees, etc.

Hitting them where it hurts.

On Freethought Blogs’ Freethought Resistance page, I posted a new petition (via CREDO Action*) to Democratic Senate Campaign Committee Chair Chris Van Hollen demanding he refuse to allocate campaign funds to any Democratic senator who votes or strikes a deal to advance the confirmation of right-wing extremist Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Directing your activism time, energy and resources toward Democrats, particularly with regard to primary campaigns, is vitally necessary. A primary challenger does not need to win in order to pressure the prevailing candidate to move left on issues that matter. There are far too many corporatist, corrupt conservatives in the party, particularly in leadership positions. If we want to put the pressure on where it counts, we need to take every opportunity to go after wayward conservative Democrats in every way possible. (Yeah I’m looking at you, Chuck Schumer.)

Read the background on the petition and then please sign if you are so inclined.

Because fuck these d00ds, that’s why.

*CREDO is a lefty activist mobile company: every month it allocates a portion of its revenue to various activist non-profits, as voted and allocated by its customers. (CREDO is, for example, Planned Parenthood’s largest corporate donor.) Consider switching to CREDO as your mobile carrier, and stop funding anti-democratic corporations that fund conservatives like AT&T. They offer pretty much all the same deals on phones, contract buyouts, incentives, fees, etc.

Not Afraid.

notafraidFor those inclined toward clicktivism, here is a petition (via Avaaz) you can e-sign that reads:

We stand united in support of the march for Fraternity, Equality and Liberty. We are not afraid, and we will not be divided.

As of this post there are 626,469 signers. They’re aiming for a million.

Work, life and death in conservative dystopia.

[Cross-posted at The Political Junkies for Progressive Democracy.]

At this writing, the death toll at the site of a collapsed garment factory in Bangladesh has reached 1,127. The pictures are horrific, the scale of pain and grief unfathomable.

It isn’t as though no one could see this coming. Over 1,800 garment workers have been killed in fires and building collapses in Bangladesh since 2005. Workers have long been demanding better working conditions and higher wages, which are among the lowest in the world. After massive protests in 2010 garment workers received an 80 percent raise, which sounds promising until one realizes that it is now up to 3,000 takas — $38US — a month. Still, working conditions remained abysmal in Bangladesh’s garment industry, the world’s third largest after China and Italy.

To crush ongoing street protests by thousands of garment workers, in 2010 the Bangladeshi government unleashed a newly-created “Industrial Police force.” Trade union activists have also faced harsh crackdowns including multiple arrests and the mysterious death last year of one union organizer, Aminul Islam, whose body was found a day after he disappeared from his home. Technically, Bangladesh’s 2006 Labor Act allows garment workers to unionize with permission from their employers. Unsurprisingly, no garment factory owner allowed a union, ever.

There is good news in the wake of this catastrophe: the government recently announced that garment workers can now form unions freely. But activist leaders are hardly sanguine that legalization alone will have any beneficial effect:

“The issue is not really about making a new law or amending the old one,” said Kalpana Akter of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity, a group campaigning for garment workers’ rights. “In the past whenever workers tried to form associations they were subjected to beatings and harassment,” she said. “The owners did not hesitate to fire such workers.”

Instead of crushing worker protests, perhaps Bangladesh’s “Industrial Police force” could be repurposed to enforce worker rights? Probably not. When one considers the sheer amount of death, destruction and despair required to pressure the Bangladeshi government into merely legalizing unions, it seems highly unlikely. The State acts as a de facto instrument of wealthy business owners in Bangladesh, and elsewhere (*ahem*). Well, at least until the body count rises and the riots get too large: then the working class can look forward to a few scraps tossed their way, even if the action is merely symbolic. It seems Bangladesh’s oligarchs are fortunate that the country’s major export is clothing and not, say, pitchforks. Or automatic weapons.

Or consider the desperate situation in Haiti. Absent a strong tradition of labor rights or any meaningful way to enforce them — truly, a libertarian paradise! — impoverished factory workers are sexually exploited in the worst ways imaginable, with total impunity.

Thankfully, such horrors could never happen in the U.S. — I mean happen again, of course. More than 100 years have passed since the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, where 146 garment workers died. Many were burned alive, others died jumping out of windows to escape the flames, and a handful of others were crushed when a fire escape collapsed. Workers trapped inside found fire hoses with no water, and exits that were locked or blocked. There were no sprinklers, and there had never been a fire drill. The building itself stands to this day: ironically, it was fireproof.

After the tragedy, U.S. labor groups made significant gains for workers and workplace safety. (SIEU has a good interactive graphic here.) For a while, workers saw unprecedented wage growth and the emergence of a flourishing middle class. But every single gain has remained under relentless attack by America’s Owners and their servants in Congress and state houses across the nation. Indeed, for some workers in the U.S. today, it is almost as if nothing was ever gained at all.

I learned recently of worker exploitation in a Third World country I had never heard of before: “Florida.” It turns out that tomato pickers there earn sub-poverty wages, and have not received a significant raise in over 30 years. Worse, many workers are literally enslaved — and no, that is not hyperbole. The Justice Department has prosecuted seven cases of slavery in the Florida agricultural industry and freed more than 1,000 men and women since 1997, but the abuse continues. Growers have resorted to abductions, pistol whippings, confinement at gunpoint, debt bondage and starvation wages to control desperately poor workers.

About a year ago I learned of the horrendous working and living conditions in yet another Third World country called Louisiana:

My name is Ana Rosa Diaz. I’m 40 years old and I have four children. I came to the United States on an H-2B guestworker visa from my home in Tamaulipas, Mexico. I work in a small town in Louisiana with other guestworkers, peeling crawfish for a company called C.J.’s Seafood, which sells 85% of its products to Walmart.

Our boss forces us to work [VIDEO] up to 24 hours at a time with no overtime pay. No matter how fast we work, they scream and curse at us to make us work faster. Our supervisor threatens to beat us with a shovel to stop us from taking breaks.

We live in trailers across from the boss’s house, and we’re under surveillance all the time. The supervisors come into our trailers without warning, and they threaten to fire us if we leave after 9 p.m.

The supervisor also locked us in the plant so we couldn’t take breaks. One worker called 911. After that the boss rounded us up at 2:30 a.m., closed the door to keep the American employees out, and threatened our families.

He said, “As a friend I can be very good, but you don’t want to know me as an enemy. I have contacts with good people and bad people, and I know where all your families live. I can find you no matter where you hide.” We were terrified.

We want to work. We need to support our families. But we also want to be treated like human beings.

There is a reason why corporations bankroll politicians who will work to undermine unions and regulation at every turn: it is in their interest to see the U.S. workforce go back to living and working exactly the way Ms. Diaz does. It can only help the all-important bottom line. In places without strong labor unions, meaningful regulations or enforced worker protections the picture is always this ugly, or worse. For the vast majority of the world’s workers this is just life in the glorious “free market,” wherever and whenever employers can get away with it. Tempting as it may be to believe the bad old days are all in the past, this is the present for Ms. Diaz, for agricultural workers in Florida and for many others in the Land of the Free. It takes unrelenting vigilance and sustained pressure by labor activists and empowered regulators to protect worker rights, especially where the State is a de facto instrument of wealthy business interests. Well, at least until the body count rises and the riots get too large.

One might also be tempted to blame the Republican Party for this state of affairs: after all, its track record on union-busting, massive tax breaks for wealthy corporations, deregulation, and blocking minimum wage increases speaks for itself. But at least Republicans are explicit about serving the interests of America’s Owners. It’s the treacherous New Democrats — economic conservatives serving exactly the same masters while feigning otherwise — who present the serious threat to our economic well-being. Those who bought into Barack Obama’s rhetoric in 2008 still refuse to see that they were wrong about him on matters as far ranging as unions, corporate servitude, U.S. imperialism, civil rights, transparency, warrantless wiretapping, even Iraq. Under the Bush-Cheney regime the same policies merited scathing condemnation from Democrats. Now? *crickets.* Welcome to bipartisan consensus.

No one should want to see the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire or the tragedy in Bangladesh repeated, anywhere. To economic conservatives who remain unmoved, I will just say this: it is well worth considering the implications of your position, for all of us.

Lazing around on the Internetz.

Via the awesome Abby Martin, we learn that as the pernicious CISPA bill stalls in Congress, it turns out that the Obama administration has already secretly authorized and put into effect the worst of the bill:

Well, knock me over with a feather. On the plus side: Abby Martin is a badass.


Speaking of badasses, Melissa McEwan at Shakesville has written one of the most succinct, well-expressed and devastating takedowns of the “principles” of economic conservatism I have seen anywhere. I was going to quote from it liberally (see what I did there?) but I will just urge you to go read it.


If you are so inclined, please go sign this petition by navy Veteran and rape survivor Trina MacDonald,  urging Congress to amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice to move the prosecution of military sexual assault out of the chain of command.

According to estimates from the Department of Defense, 19,000 service men and women are sexually assaulted while serving in the United States military every year. But 86% of them never report their assault—too often because seeking justice threatens their safety, their job security, and their future.

One really shouldn’t have to report one’s rape to one’s rapist—or their enablers. Go do your good deed for the day and sign the petition.


Without endorsing all of it, this is an excellent analysis of Why Things Happen that I mostly agree with. Short version: wars, lies and corruption are not the result of a “conspiracy” per se, at least not in the typical way we think of it. They are the inevitable emergent properties of a system: global capitalism.

Do powerful forces attempt to control events? Yes, they do. But these forces, in this day and age, are political representatives of a class—the capitalist-imperialist class. And they do not have total control.


Irin Carmon has an interesting and provocative piece at Salon, in which she reflects on the intersection between toxic masculinity and terrorism in the case of the Boston bombings. Does it surprise anyone that friends of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s wife Katherine told NPR that he “flew into rages, calling her a slut and a prostitute and throwing things at her”? Or that he was arrested for domestic violence against another woman in 2009?

“Large public acts of terrorism are very public displays of masculinity, making a statement in the biggest way possible,” says Abby Ferber, a sociologist at the University of Colorado who has studied white supremacist groups and masculinity. In her work, she said, she often encountered a “vulnerability to their sense of masculinity whether it’s their relationship with their father, their culture. And there are a limited number of ways in the culture to show your masculinity.” In the absence of the traditional forms of masculinity — including financial or social power — “you’re more likely to see extreme means. They’re showing that they’re real men, man enough to do something like this.”

This is problem #423,752 with traditional cultures — i.e. conservative cultures: gender roles are distinct and narrowly limited. Where Real Men™ are defined by their status in a hierarchy and dominance over others, masculinity becomes synonymous with power and strength, and femininity with submission and weakness. This dynamic isn’t good for anyone in a healthy and diverse society. It’s a cultural meme that is self-perpetuating. It won’t die easily.


Last but certainly not least, Glenn Greenwald has a revealing post about the San Francisco Gay Pride parade’s decision to ban any mention of Bradley Manning, while marching under the banner of some of the most corrupt corporations on the planet.

Yes, there will undoubtedly still be exotically-dressed drag queens, lesbian motorcycle clubs, and groups proudly defined by their unusual sexual proclivities participating in the parade, but they’ll be marching under a Bank of America banner and behind flag-waving fans of the National Security State, the US President, and the political party that dominates American politics and its political and military institutions. Yet another edgy, interesting, creative, independent event has been degraded and neutered into a meek and subservient ritual that must pay homage to the nation’s most powerful entities and at all costs avoid offending them in any way.

Budding fascists in the Democratic Party running the San Francisco pride parade: this is what authoritarianism looks like in the age of Obama.


I think I’ll have a refreshing cocktail. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, you godless heathens.


We have signed not one, not two, but three Internet petitions today: one we signed because it has an excellent chance of accomplishing what it sets out to do, the second because it is so darkly amusing to contemplate, and the third because RAGE.

First up is CREDO Action’s petition to pressure the remaining few advertisers on the Rush Limbaugh show to drop him like a hot potato and to keep up the pressure on other advertisers who have only committed to “suspending” their ad campaigns on his show.  That massive whooshing you heard was the sound of dozens of advertisers fleeing as fast and as far away from Limbaugh as they could get, and there is no question that this was a direct result of consumer activism.  CREDO has 444,000 signatures, and would like to get that number up to a cool half million in order to turn up the heat on the stragglers.  Shockingly enough, it turns out that when an advertiser pays for radio spots, it is generally for the express purpose of generating business as opposed to driving it away.  This is a clear cut example of people power working for good:

Over 140 companies1 have pulled their advertising dollars from the Rush Limbaugh show. In fact the national advertising exodus has been so devastating, that Rush Limbaugh has had to resort to filling his advertising slots with free public service announcements and even minutes of dead air at some points.

And just yesterday, Premiere Networks, the subsidiary of Clear Channel that distributes the show, told local affiliates it was pausing national ads for two weeks, though they were free to air ads from two companies remaining loyal to Rush Limbaugh: Lifelock and Lear Financial.

Rush Limbaugh is clearly feeling the pressure of our activism, and the emails we have received from major companies like Geico and Netflix after receiving petitions with your signature show that your activism truly does work. Both companies have instructed their advertising companies to ensure that their ads do not air on the Rush Limbaugh Show in the future.

Don’t feel too sorry for Rush, though — he’s worth a mint.  And we are so looking forward to his forthcoming book detailing his Christ-like suffering and innocent victimhood at the hands of the fearsome feminazis.  Do feel free to pile on if you are so inclined.

The second is a petition for a Personhood Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to be submitted to potential supporters Senators Patty Murray, Al Franken, and Kristen Gillibrand to ask them to introduce it to Congress.  No, it’s not like those “personhood amendments” declaring any fertilized egg to be deemed a U.S. citizen with a concealed handgun carry permit or whatever the fuck those dumbasses are up to in the state legislatures.  This Personhood Amendment is directed at — get this! — the rights of “a person identifying as a woman and/or having a uterus,” and therefore it has virtually no chance of ever passing.  But it is nevertheless wildly entertaining to imagine the spectacle of Congress openly debating whether women are, in fact, people.  Is it not?  Here’s the proposed Amendment:

“A person identifying as a woman and/or having a uterus shall retain all of the full, basic, and fundamental rights of a US citizen as promised by the Declaration of Independence—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Congress and the States shall make no law that infringes upon a person’s life, including but not limited to access to life-saving or life-improving healthcare, and/or medicines and procedures deemed necessary or beneficial by a medical professional and/or by the person having the uterus, procurement of which shall not be denied in and of itself by the presence of a uterus. Congress and the States shall make no law that infringes upon a person’s liberty, including but not limited to autonomy over hir own body and the ability to make decisions regarding hir own healthcare. Congress and the States shall make no law that interferes with a person’s pursuit of happiness, including but not limited to access to a full spectrum of reproductive options, freedom from forcible reproduction, and the ability to make decisions regarding family planning and family resources.”

Sign on if, like me, you would absolutely love to watch Theatre of the Absurd on C-SPAN as lawmakers fiercely debate who owns my uterus!

Finally, via a missive from we have a tale from Florida that makes me ashamed to be a human being:

Dear Iris,

Heartbreaking tragedy: 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was visiting a relative’s house in a Florida gated community when he walked to the store to get Skittles and iced tea for his little brother. He never made it home. Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a self-styled neighborhood watch leader, who told police he thought Trayvon was “suspicious” in the mostly-white community.

Unbelievable twist: A man named George Zimmerman allegedly admitted to police that he shot Trayvon Martin in the chest. Zimmerman claims he acted in self defense, even though police allegedly told him not to do anything until they arrived — and despite the fact that Trayvon was unarmed, carrying only a bag of Skittles when he died. In the two weeks since Zimmerman allegedly killed Trayvon, police have refused to arrest the confessed killer.

Hope for justice: Sybrina Fulton is Trayvon’s mother, and she’s leading a campaign on to get justice for her son. Tracy knows that if enough people raise an outcry, Sanford, Florida authorities will be forced to investigate Zimmerman the same way they would investigate any confessed killer.

Sign Sybrina’s petition calling on the authorities in Florida to charge George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin and try him before a jury of his peers.

From Sybrina Fulton’s letter we also learn:

When Zimmerman reported Trayvon to the police, they told him not to confront him. But he did anyway. All I know about what happened next is that my 17 year-old son, who was completely unarmed, was shot and killed.

I don’t know if my family will ever receive justice for this terrible tragedy. It’s been nearly two weeks and the Sanford Police have refused to arrest George Zimmerman. In their public statements, they even go so far as to stand up for the killer – saying he’s “a college grad” who took a class in criminal justice.

Please join me in calling on the the Sanford Police Department and Florida State’s Attorney Norman Wolfinger to investigate my son’s death and prosecute George Zimmerman for the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin.

Please sign the petition if you are so inclined.  There is no telling whether it will lead to the criminal prosecution of a murderer, but it certainly cannot hurt.  At a minimum, doing so will let a grieving mother know there are citizens who care deeply about her unfathomable loss and are outraged by the inaction of the Sanford Police.