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Black Lives Matter course creates room for debate with guest speakers, social media

Black Lives Matter course creates room for debate with guest speakers, social media

Professor Osamudia Jones introduces an economics lecturer to the Black Lives Matter course at UM’s law school. The course welcomed lecturers from a variety of disciplines to educate students about the various causes of racism. Amanda Prats // Senior Photographer The University of Miami School of Law’s first interdisciplinary course on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement will be open to all students and faculty March 9 when Alicia Garza, one of the founding members of BLM, will come to campus and talk to students. Garza is one of the many speakers who have been invited to the class to speak about the converging societal issues that created the BLM movement. The course was created and is taught by professor Osamudia James, vice dean of the School of Law. James, who has contributed columns on race relations in The Washington Post and The New York Times, has been teaching Torts and Administrative Law for nine years, along with a seminar on inequality in the public school system. She formed the Black Lives Matter course to help explain why a group of people felt the need to breathe new life into a civil rights movement in modern-day America. “I probably got the idea when people were saying Black Lives Matter is a hate group or when we started getting the All Lives Matter retort,” James said. “People didn’t understand the underlying social conditions that had prompted it. People didn’t understand the frustration that was behind it … so I wanted to create a space where we could reflect on that.” The interdisciplinary course involves speakers from 19 different UM schools and departments along with local organizations. Two speakers attend James’ Thursday class and discuss intersectional issues, such as disproportionality in child welfare and special education or the use of theater and literature in propelling ideas on Black Lives Matter. James’ law course comes after a two-part undergraduate course about BLM in spring and fall 2016 that took a look at activists and theorists in the movement while analyzing current U.S. race relations. David Ikard, director of Africana Studies, taught the course. The law course was hand-tailored to relate to Miami, with some class sessions focusing specifically on the criminal justice system in Miami-Dade County. Miami-Dade report filings have indicated frequent racial profiling. Such a case involved one young black Miami Gardens man being stopped 258 times by police over the course of four years. Future class sessions will feature individuals from the Community Justice Project and Legal Services of Greater Miami. “Miami is a really interesting place, and identity is understood differently in Miami than it is in other parts of the country,” James said.  “You also have issues of immigration and you have some serious class issues here in Miami. It didn’t make sense to me to talk about Black Lives Matter in Miami and not talk about Miami activists who do the work.” James has also taken steps to bring the conversation out of the classroom and onto social media. Students in James’ class use social media, such as Twitter, to ask questions about the week’s lecture, using the hashtag “PerspectivesOnBLM.” James said there has been vigorous conversation outside of the classroom. Most recently, the debate centered on robo-policing, or the use of robots in the place of human police officers, and veteran police officers and outside law professors joined the conversation. @OsamudiaJ Whoa, great question. DARPA funded Good Strangers research on social interactions in the military & police context; good stuff @OsamudiaJ But distinguishing b/t good & bad reqs a goal, and there are so many diff goals and ways to prioritize them. “I think it’s important that the entire university be able to be involved in the conversation, whether you agree with Black Lives Matter or not, whether you completely understand the issues or don’t,” James said. Law student Amber Dawson said she was excited to participate in the class. As an African-American woman, Dawson said she was able to relate to several topics discussed throughout the course. In particular, she said she related to visiting speaker Donald Jones’ presentation on dangers certain spaces present to black people. “Growing up with money, it was nice to go out driving in a nice car, but you’re not meant to be driving on a highway late at night in a nice car in a nice neighborhood,” Dawson said. “It would give police a reason to pull you over, and you’re just not safe.” Dawson is planning to write her final paper on the perception of African-Americans as property, aging from slave trade to modern day law. She said the course offers a place for students to talk about difficult topics, a crucial form of education to ensure the progression of society toward equality. “I’m proud to say that I attend a law school where this type of interdisciplinary course is made available to so many students because it allows us to further a conversation I think is very long overdue,” Dawson said. James said she plans to continue the class in spring 2018, with new speakers and new topics to cover. Alicia Garza’s presentation will take place at 7 p.m on Thursday, March 9 in the Shalala Student Center Grand Ballroom. 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Airports, legal volunteers prepare for new Trump travel ban

SEATTLE (AP) — Airport officials and civil rights lawyers around the country are getting ready for President Donald Trump’s new travel ban — mindful of the chaos that accompanied his initial executive order but hopeful the forthcoming version will be rolled out in a more orderly way. The new order was expected as soon as Wednesday. A draft suggested it would target people from the same seven predominantly Muslim countries but would exempt travelers who already have visas to come to the U.S….
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Miami judge slams ‘shameful’ FBI delays in making 9/11 documents public

A Miami federal judge Tuesday excoriated the FBI for what she called its “shameful” delays in making public certain records about the bureau’s 9/11 Review Commission. “It is distressing to see the length to which a private citizen must go” to obtain records under the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA],” said U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga. “It’s quite shocking frankly.” facebook twitter email Share More Videos 1:33 How to respond if you receive a robocall Pause 3:40 Widow…
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Airports, Legal Volunteers Prep For New Trump Travel Ban

Follow CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter SEATTLE (CBSMiami/AP) — Airport officials and lawyers are preparing around the country for President Donald Trump’s new travel ban- aware of the chaos that ensued after the first order but hoping the next one will be implemented more smoothly. The new order is expected to be issued in the coming days. A draft suggested it would target people from six of the original seven predominantly Muslim countries but would exempt travelers who already hav…
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Pot is producing jobs and revenue in states where it’s legal

The states that have legalized recreational marijuana — a multi-billion-dollar business — don’t want to hear the federal government talk about a crackdown. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown says she wants Oregonians left alone to “grow these jobs.” In Oregon alone, that’s roughly 12,500 jobs, said economist Beau Whitney of Portland, adding that he is making a conservative estimate. Oregon’s attorney general said she would be duty-bound to fight to protect the state’s marijuana industry. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said his department is reviewing a Justice Department memo that gives states flexibility in passing marijuana laws and noted “it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.” White House spokesman Sean Spicer predicted stepped up enforcement. Underscoring how the marijuana industry is pushing job growth in Oregon, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which regulates and licenses the state’s recreational marijuana industry, says it has over 12,640 applications for marijuana worker permits. It has also received 2,174 marijuana license applications, with over half coming from would-be producers and the rest mostly from those seeking to set up as retailers, processors, wholesalers and laboratories. It had activated 943 licenses by Tuesday. Marijuana shops are prevalent in many Oregon cities. In the countryside, marijuana greenhouses are not uncommon. “We now have a nascent, somewhat successful industry,” Brown said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press and a freelance journalist. “These are good paying jobs. It’s a pretty diverse business community.” In January alone, recreational marijuana sales in Oregon were over $20 million, with medical marijuana generating about $2.8 million more, the OLCC said. In Oregon, Washington state and Colorado, marijuana tax revenues totaled at least $335 million in either the last calendar year or the last fiscal year. Whitney, who has been involved in several marijuana businesses and has advised state government, estimates that workers in the marijuana industry in Oregon earn a total of $315 million per year. That’s based on workers earning an average of $12 per hour. He noted that the wage scales vary widely, with harvesters earning less than processors and chemists. Their wages are pumped back into the local economies. If the Trump administration moves against legalized recreational marijuana, it would be going against its own objectives, Oregon’s governor said. She noted that citizens in several states have voted to make pot legal. Oregon legalized recreational marijuana in a 2014 ballot measure. “This administration very clearly wants to grow the economy and create jobs, and the other piece that they want is to have the states be the laboratories of democracy,” Brown said. “There is no better type of laboratory than the initiative process, and voters in Oregon and Washington and California and Alaska and Nevada, and there’s a few other states, have voted to legalize marijuana. On the West coast alone, that’s 49 million people.” Her message to Washington: “Let our people grow these jobs.” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum indicated she would go to court to protect those jobs. Currently, the Cole Memorandum, which provides guidance for federal marijuana enforcement, restricts it to a few areas, including preventing distribution to minors and preventing marijuana from being transported from pot-legal states to other states. Under the Cole Memorandum, states where marijuana is legal have been largely been left alone. “If the Cole memorandum is pulled, or replaced with other guidance, we would evaluate it immediately,” Rosenblum said in a recent interview with AP. “Possibly if we felt we had a basis, we would push back against that, because we have a burgeoning industry here, very successful so far with some bumps in the road … so that would be important for the attorney general to take a stand.”
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