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Lawsuit Alleges Discrimination in Pritzker Campaign, CTU Protests DeVos, IDOC Sued by Support Group for LGBTQ Prisoners – TODAY 10-19-18

Lawsuit Alleges Racial Discrimination in the Pritzker Campaign

Ten staffers with the J.B. Pritzker campaign filed a lawsuit this week alleging racial discrimination and harassment towards people of color working in field positions.

The lawsuit, filed just a few short weeks before the election, alleges that the Pritzker campaign is “a cesspool of racial discrimination and harassment,” and accuses the Democratic gubernatorial candidate of “herding” black and Latino employees into less desirable jobs than white staffers. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges workers of color on the campaign are “offered no meaningful chance for advancement, and receive less favorable treatment than their white counterparts.” The lawsuit alleges that staffers once were asked to “go round up 40 Black guys” for an event, according to the Sun-Times.

Pritzker shakes hands before Chicago’s annual May Day march. Photo by Aaron Cynic/File

Pritzker vehemently denied the allegations on Thursday.

“The claims that have been made are untrue and (lieutenant governor candidate) Juliana (Stratton) and I are proud that we’ve put together a campaign, the centerpiece of which is inclusion and diversity, and we’re going to have the most diverse administration in the history of the state of Illinois,” he said at a press conference, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Attorneys for plaintiffs in the suit sent a letter to the campaign prior to its filing demanding $7.5 million with a deadline of October 8 before “legal remedies” were sought. Eight out of ten are still presently working for the campaign. Attorney Shay Allen however said the lawsuit is not politically motivated. “Since this lawsuit is not politically motivated, why not file now?” Allen told Politico. “My clients could not wait any longer.”

Pritzker’s running mate state Rep. Juliana Stratton said that the letter showed a lack of good faith, and that the allegations were baseless.

“When people feel like they have been harassed or discriminated against, they have the right to come forward and have their voices heard. In this case, we had a letter delivered to us asking for $7.5 million dollars in 24 hours or they threatened legal action and to go to press,” she said in a statement given to ABC7. “That’s not a good faith effort…The incidents listed in this complaint are baseless and make offensive claims in regard to several members of our staff. We stand by our staff and that’s why we are not afraid to litigate this to the fullest extent of the law.”

Teachers and Students Picket Betsy DeVos at Cultural Center

Dozens of teachers and students picketed outside the Chicago Cultural Center Thursday evening to protest U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who was attending an event hosted by the right-wing National Review Institute.

The demonstration, organized by the Chicago Teachers Union, Chicago Student Action, and the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, came as CTU members at charter schools in Chicago are planning potential strike authorization votes.

DeVos has faced harsh criticism during her tenure for her attempts at privatizing public education via charter schools, proposing big cuts in funding for higher education, advocating eliminating after-school programs, weakening support structures for survivors of sexual assault, and more.

“DeVos should be called the ANTI-Education Secretary,” said CTU President Jesse Sharkey in a press release. “She shares the Rahm/Rauner agenda of charter proliferation and privatization, which has siphoned millions of dollars in critical resources from public schools to fatten the paychecks of operators and their management companies. We’re happy to help ‘unwelcome’ her and her toxic agenda from Chicago.”

LGBTQ Support Group Files Lawsuit Against Illinois Department of Corrections

Attorneys representing Chicago Black and Pink, a national nonprofit organization that works to support LGBTQ prisoners filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the Illinois Department of Corrections alleging it censored communications between the group and prisoners in Illinois over the past two years.

The lawsuit alleges that introductory letters from the group along with, zines, newsletters, chapter updates, and even holiday cards were censored or otherwise kept from prisoners at several Illinois prisons. Attorneys from the Uptown People’s Law Center (UPLC) and the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, who filed the lawsuit, say that IDOC is “intentionally discriminating against Black & Pink based on the LGBTQ identities of its members and subscribers, and the organization’s position and promotion of criminal justice reform.”

The lawsuit alleges IDOC improperly censored materials on at least 202 occasions. Among the instances described, holiday cards with a chapter update were banned at Western Illinois and Danville prisons, with prisoners allegedly being told “We are discouraging communication between our prisoners and the Pink & Black [sic] organization, so we cannot allow the receiving of more propaganda.”

“Prisoners are extraordinarily isolated. Publications give them a lifeline to the outside world,” said Alan Mills, executive director of Uptown People’s Law Center, in a statement emailed to press. “Almost all prisoners will one day be released, and it does no good to isolate them while they’re inside. Having ties to the outside while in prison is one of the best predictors that someone will not return to prison.”

Recommended Reads:

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IPI’s Pritzker Tax Fantasy Debunked – Ted Cox/One Illinois

Ald. O’Connor Accused Again of Racism Following 40th Ward Forum: ‘Out of Touch and Cruel,’ Candidate Says – Alex V Hernandez/Block Club Chicago

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