Kentuckians throughout the state are elated that Gov. Steve Beshear has taken steps to restore the voting rights for tens of thousands of state residents.
“Pretty awesome,” is how KFTC member Mantell Stevens reacted to the news. “To be able to vote means a lot to me. I always encourage people to vote, but now I can lead by example. I tell my nieces and nephews the importance of voting, but I could never vote myself.
“To be able to actually go and vote and to show them the importance of participating in democracy will mean so much to me,” added Stevens, who lost his right to vote in 2000 after spending 30 days in jail and three years on probation for a drug possession charge.
Last month the Jefferson County Chapter hosted the 2nd annual Smoketown GetDown for Democracy block party: the party hasn’t stopped since! The event was a celebration of the history of the Smoketown neighborhood and the innovative ideas from local residents for its future.
The Northern Kentucky chapter of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth held a forum on March 15th raising awareness about the challenges facing former felons upon returning to their community. Member Rick Traud opened the event by welcoming the 40 people who attended, and talking about his personal expreience dealing with former felons trapped in a cycle of poverty as the result of mistakes in their past while working as a volunteer with Saint Vincent De Paul in Northern Kentucky.
The Jefferson County Chapter of KFTC (JCKFTC) partnered with eight local allies to host a Grassroots Lobby Training on January 27. This two-hour training was free and open to the public and was attended by nearly 80 community members, a majority of whom were new to grassroots lobbying.
Wearing buttons that read "Let Us Vote," about two dozen voting rights supporters attended the last regularly scheduled meeting of the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Wedneday to bear witness as Senate Republicans yet again refused to act on HB 70, a proposed constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to nearly a quarter million Kentuckians. As expected, they did not see senators take action on the bill. But there was plenty of other action in committee room that day.
We will be live streaming the final Senate State and Local Government Committee hearing of this legislative session tomorrow, March 4 at noon. This committee hearing will be the last opportunity of the year for the Senate to move our Restoration of Voting Rights amendment (HB 70).
This Thursday (February 26th) members of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and allies will be gathering at the Capitol for a focus lobby day and rally in support of voting rights for former felons, and ask the Kentucky General Assembly to Let Us Vote! We hope you will join us in asking legislators to pass House Bill 70, and let the people vote on voting rights for former felons.
Where are we, Louisville? How is our local narrative fitting into larger regional, statewide and national social conditions?
Louisville, like the rest of the country, has become a place with a more visible and increased militarized police presence. Less than a year ago our local media in conjunction with with many elected officials and police, used an incident with young people downtown to funnel over $200,000 into more surveillance and policing of youth of color particularly along the Waterfront and new areas of “urban” development. Young people were framed as rioting and dangerous. The damaging effects of this increase in the policing of young people can be seen in the case of the Misidentified 4, where young men from our community were brutalized and whose families have been vocal about the need for a civilian review board.