Workers walk-out on Tax Day to rally for a livable minimum wage

Retail and fast food employees demonstrated on April 15, the nation’s Tax Day, calling for a new federal minimum wage of $15/ hour. The protesters argue that selective, incremental pay raises are insufficient. On a local level, activists in D.C. are mobilizing for a city-wide ballot that would raise the minimum to $15. If successful, D.C. would join San Francisco and Seattle in more than doubling the current federal minimum wage.

Criminalizing PovertyDebtor’s Prison and Failure to Pay Rent

In the recent article, “Skip Child Support. Go to Jail. Lose Job. Repeat,” The New York Times explores the cycle of incarceration and debt that keeps thousands of destitute parents trapped in confrontations with the criminal justice system — and may have caused Walter Scott to flee police. This civil matter is by no means the only way that states have criminalized poverty. The Marshall Project explores the political dynamics in Arkansas,the only state where nonpayment of rent is a criminal matter, and where lawyers are battling lobbyists to change it. In related stories, singer John Legend launched Free America, an effort to end mass incarceration, a system which he says “destroys families and destroys communities” and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee condemns police union statement for the asset forfeiture policy, which “appear[s] to value funding their own operations over protecting civil rights.”

In Missouri, 80% of the police force resign when the town of Parma elected a black, female Mayor

Tyrus Byrd, a former city clerk, was sworn into office as mayor last Tuesday after beating incumbent Randall Ramsey. The former mayor reported that five of the city’s six police officers submitted their resignation because of “safety concerns.” The city’s attorney, clerk and water treatment supervisor also resigned.

To curb sexual assault, immigration detention facilities initiate a dress code for the women.

Berks County Residential center is making female prisoners wear long shorts and baggy shirts in an attempt to reduce the number of sexual assaults by guards after allegations of rape in the immigration detention center. Women at the facility complain that the new regulations provide an opportunity of “petty tyranny” by the guards and organizations such as the ACLU suggest that by telling these women to watch how they dress, Berks administrators  are sending “a chillingly familiar message about who gets blamed when men commit crimes against [women],” which likely deter reports of sexual abuse in the future.