This Week in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: April 16

This week, Trump attacked Medicaid recipients, DeVos threatened students’ civil rights, and police violence affected a member of our Harvard community.

Police Violence

Police violence affected our own community this weekend, as a black Harvard College student was beaten and arrested by Cambridge PD officers. The Harvard Black Law Students Association issued a letter Sunday noting that Harvard University Health Services was called for support, but then referred callers to police officers who resorted to violence. For updates, please follow @HarvardBLSA. To protect the privacy of the victim, BLSA is encouraging students not to circulate video of the incident online (Harvard BLSA)

 

Education

DeVos may exacerbate the school-to-prison pipeline. A new GAO report confirmed again that black students are punished more — and more harshly — than white students for the same conduct. But Betsy DeVos is still threatening to roll back critical guidance that clarifies students’ civil rights and school’s obligations to fight the school-to-prison-pipeline. (Washington Post)

 

Labor, Employment, and Economic Justice

The wage gap is still real. Last week was Equal Pay Day, symbolizing how far into the current year the average woman has to work to catch up with what men were paid last year. Do you have mansplainers in your mentions saying the wage gap isn’t real? The National Women’s Law Center has you covered with an Equal Pay Day field guide. (NWLC)

Trump signed SESTA into law, putting sex workers’ lives at risk. SESTA, the Stop Enabling Sex-Trafficking Act (and its House equivalent, FOSTA) makes web publishers like Craigslist and Backpage responsible if third parties use them to post ads for consensual sex work. The bill’s advocates say it will help fight sex trafficking — but in reality, SESTA takes away essential tools sex workers use to advertise and screen potentially dangerous clients. As sites like Backpage shutter under federal pressure, sex workers will have to find clients on the street, where they won’t be able to pre-screen clients and will be at greater risk of violence and arrest. (Vox)

 

Healthcare

Trump moves to shred the social safety net. The President privately signed an executive order requiring all cabinet department to produce plans imposing new regulations like work requirements on people who receive life-saving social service programs, like food stamps and Medicaid. Analysis of existing proposals suggest that they’re so punitive even people who do work but have irregular hours could be pushed off of Medicaid. (Vox)

Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants. The racial disparity today is even wider than it was in 1850, before the end of slavery. (New York Times)

 

Fair Housing

Melissa Harris-Perry traces the history of the Fair Housing movement’s first #MeToo case for Elle. This landmark 1982 case was the first to establish that sexual harassment could be a basis for Fair Housing claims. (Elle)

 

Immigration

Pennsylvania police officers is a free-for-all for cops cracking down on illegal immigration. With virtually no guidelines or oversight, some police officers are using traffic stops to racially profile Hispanics, question them, and turn undocumented immigrants over to ICE. (ProPublica)

 

Actual Good News

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced his retirement — which is basically the first good thing Ryan has done for civil rights in his two decades in Congress. (The Hill)

 

Image Credit: ACLU

Written by

Sejal Singh is a 1L student at Harvard Law, where she's interested in gender justice, economic justice, and educational access. While not doing the reading, Sejal is a columnist at Feministing and a Policy Coordinator for Know Your IX, a national campaign fighting sexual harassment in schools. Find her on Twitter at @Sej_Singh.

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