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  • Tell the NYPD: Release Records of Undercover Operations at Black Lives Matter Protests

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    GOAL: 519 signatures

    For every 1000 signatures, NationofChange will send a letter to NYPD Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill asking for him to release the NYPD records on their undercover operations at Black Lives Matter events.

    According to legal papers filed by the New York Police Department, the NYPD sent, and is probably still sending, undercover officers to Black Lives Matter protests after the death of Eric Garner.

    As reported by The Guardian, NYPD was asked to disclose these undercover operations when requested to do so by a “group of New York attorneys requesting records under the state freedom of information law.” But the NYPD is refusing to release the records.

    • The first set contains “multimedia records” relating to the petitioners’ request for “pictures, videos, audio recordings, data, and metadata” collected or received by the NYPD at the Grand Central Station protests, which Black Lives Matter groups are still leading, according to the NYPD response.
    • The second “consists entirely of communications between and among NYPD undercover officers and their handlers”, pertaining to the protests. According to a 22 August NYPD Memorandum of Law, these undercover communications “consist primarily of immediate impressions concerning ongoing events”.
    • The third “consists of a single record, which is a communication from an NYPD officer working in an undercover capacity and his base”, pertaining to the protests, the response indicates.

    The records request is the same one that led The Intercept to release documents a year ago detailing the MTA and Metro-North transit police sending their own undercover officers to spy on Black Lives Matter protesters in and around Grand Central. Officers in plainclothes monitored the protestors and took photos of the activists. The outcome of their observations determined that the protests were “peaceful” and “orderly.”

    The attorneys involved in the request for the records say that the NYPD’s undercover operations are potential constitutional violations. MJ Williams, one of these attorneys, stated:

    “The fear and disarming effect caused by undercovers being assigned to what were and continue to be extraordinarily peaceful protests is disturbing. To the extent that it would influence individuals not to participate and get individuals to censor what they say because of a fear of undercovers – that’s a basis for a first amendment violation.”

    “As someone who was present at the protests, it’s disturbing to know the NYPD may have a file on me, ready to be used or to prevent me from getting a job simply because I’ve been active in some political capacity. That’s potentially a fourth amendment violation for unlawful seizure, but on the other hand, we’ve seen law enforcement agencies have all sorts of justifications for data collection for public safety that the courts have allowed.”

    Help us tell the NYPD to release their records and provide transparency for the undercover operations in peaceful protests.

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  • Tell Congress: Give Regulatory Agencies Enough Funding to do Their Jobs

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    GOAL: 1,606 signatures

    For every 1000 signatures, NationofChange will send a letter to Congress, demanding that the Justice Department and other regulatory agencies receive enough funding to do their jobs.

    [Update: We have surpassed 500 signatures! NationofChange is sending the first letter to Congress with your signatures attached. We will continue to send letters for every 500 signatures.]

    As Robert Reich says, “It’s easy to holler at CEOs. It’s time for Congress to stop hollering and take action.”

    Congress can grill CEOs about bank fraud, such as their latest questioning of Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, or condemn CEOs of pharmaceutical companies for price gouging, like Mylan’s Heather Bresch, all they want but it isn’t going to change a thing.

    Republicans can rage at CEOs all they want, but that doesn’t stop them from getting paid millions of dollars for hitting certain profit targets, often in shady ways.

    The Justice Department needs to be given enough funding to pursue criminal charges against corporations and executives who violate the law. Other regulatory agencies, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, needs more funding in order to police the market.

    Help us tell Congress that these agencies need more funding to stop things like price gouging, fraud, and shady business practices from happening.

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  • Save the Irrawaddy Dolphins from Extinction

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    GOAL: 2,150 signatures

    For every 1,000 signatures, NationofChange will send a letter to the Laos government asking them to halt construction of the dam that threatens the lives on the Irrawaddy dolphins.

    [Update 2/2/17: We are sending the second letter to the Laos government with 2,000+ of your signatures. We will continue to send letters every 1,000 signatures. Thank you!]

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    We are concerned about the impending extinction of the Irrawaddy Dolphins.

    “The alarming decline of Mekong Irrawaddy dolphins in Laos that we have witnessed this year is tragic,” Teak Seng, WWF Conservation Director for the Greater Mekong, said in a statement. “At this stage, we fear that in a year or two, there may be no more dolphins in Laos.”

    The biggest threat to these beluga-like dolphins is gill net fishing. These large bodied mammals frequently get entangled in the long lines of unmanned nylon gill nets that are hung vertically to catch fish, and drown as a consequence.

    Cambodia has banned the use of gill nets in the Mekong River. But in Laos, gill net fishing is prohibited only in the deepest parts of the Cheuteal pool off Hangsadam Village, where the dolphins usually reside. These nets, however, can be used immediately outside of the pool. So when the dolphins venture out of the pool, they run the risk of being trapped.

    Thousands of tourists visit the dolphin pools in Laos every year. In fact, dolphin-watching tours have more than doubled since 2008, according to WWF. So the disappearance of the Irrawaddy dolphins from Lao waters could significantly impact eco-tourism in the area, the team says.

    Therefore, NationofChange is asking the Laos government to extend the gill net ban to two kilometers radius around the Cheuteal Pool, expandable to four kilometers in the rainy season. We also ask for increased enforcement of gill net bans in other Mekong River dolphin pools to protect the remaining dolphin populations.

    As Teak Seng said, “The loss of this iconic species for Laos is even more tragic given that it was entirely preventable through strict enforcement against gill net fishing.”

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