Louisiana Artists and Culture Bearers Lining Up to Support Effort to Repeal Jim Crow-era Law in Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: November 1, 2018
CONTACT: press@unanimousjury.org

Louisiana Artists and Culture Bearers Lining Up to Support Effort to Repeal Jim Crow-era Law in Louisiana

"There's no place for discrimination in our city or in our court system. We have an opportunity to correct this injustice.”

New Orleans, La. - A critical mass of artists and culture bearers have joined the effort to get out the vote for Amendment 2. 

"I was born and raised in New Orleans. My work brings me all around the world, and I've always been proud of where I'm from. But the stain in our history of racism and its part in building our broken criminal justice system is nothing to be proud of. There's no place for discrimination in our city or in our court system," says New Orleans native and critically acclaimed actor Wendell Pierce.

Pierce continues, "We have an opportunity to correct this injustice. I'm asking you to be a part of that. Vote yes on Amendment 2 for unanimous juries."

The Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (MaCCNO), which represents over 1,200 artists in southeast Louisiana, is mobilizing their members to engage the community and get out the vote for Amendment 2. In Antigravity Magazine last month, they shared their thoughts with readers:

"Louisiana has the richest musical soil of any state, and the deepest soul. From Louis Armstrong and King Oliver to Huddie William Ledbetter (known as Lead Belly), Lucinda Williams to Big Freedia, Corey Miller to Master P., and Michael Doucet to Wynston Marsalis. But the soil has been fertilized in deep injustice. And the soul of Louisiana has experienced the pain of silenced voices. This year, there is a chance to change all that."

New Orleans-based singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco joined Unanimous Jury Coalition and the Yes on 2 campaign at our second line to the polls on Saturday, October 27. We collaborated with Ani to produce a new music video for her song "Which Side Are You On."

In a PSA recorded by DiFranco, she says, "The use of non-unanimous juries in Louisiana leads to wrongful convictions. I'm going to vote yes on a more just justice system by voting yes on Amendment 2."

In a video posted to Instagram, Win Butler of Arcade Fire says, "Louisiana is the only state where you can be sentenced to life in prison without parole when two of twelve jurors say you're innocent. But in November, voters in Louisiana can ensure that no one is found guilty when there is reasonable doubt." 

In an advertisement targeting Louisiana voters, singer-songwriter and criminal justice reform advocate John Legend says, ‘Make your voice count. Head to the polls with your friends and family to vote yes for Constitutional Amendment 2.’

Election Day, where Amendment 2 will be on the ballot, is November 6. 

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ABOUT UJC:
The Unanimous Jury Coalition is a group of community-focused organizations working on voter education and registration across the state leading up to the November election. It will conduct a robust statewide effort to inform voters about Constitutional Amendment 2.

Bipartisan support for the ballot initiative formed after Louisiana lawmakers were presented evidence indicating 
more than forty percent of all those who have been recently exonerated were (mistakenly) found guilty by non-unanimous juries. Louisiana's outlier status - only Oregon has similar jury procedures - also persuaded lawmakers to bring the issue to a vote of the people. In 48 other states, all jurors must agree on whether a prosecutor has met the burden of proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Louisiana is the only state where someone can be sentenced to life in prison without parole without an unanimous decision of a jury in favor of a guilty verdict. 

For more information, visit www.UnanimousJury.org.

Dylan Waguespack