Landmark Accessibility Settlement Reached with the City of San Jose

The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), along with co-counsel Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho (GBDH), reached a landmark settlement with the City of San Jose on behalf of a class of persons with mobility disabilities. The settlement requires San Jose to install or remediate over twenty-seven thousand accessible curb ramps throughout the City over the next eighteen years, and to appropriate more than $130 million to fund this work. Importantly, class members are able to request curb ramp construction and remediation at specific locations according to this settlement. The settlement was approved by the Court on September 2, 2020. Curb ramps provide people with mobility disabilities a safe way to get on and off sidewalks as they travel through the pedestrian right of way. In San Jose alone, there are approximately 157,000 people with mobility disabilities. Missing, broken, or poorly maintained curb ramps prevent people with mobility disabilities from safely using city sidewalks, crosswalks, and other walkways to participate in daily activities like getting to work or going to school. Tim Fox, Co-Executive Director at CREEC and attorney in this case commented, “We initiated this case after receiving reports of people experiencing life-threatening situations as a result of unsafe curb ramps – including being thrown out of their wheelchairs and onto the pavement of busy streets when the wheel of their chair became lodged in a curb ramp gap or hit other construction defects. One person had to wait for more than ten minutes on the pavement before someone stopped and helped them back into their chair. Clearly this is unacceptable.” In 2014 and in response to...

Welcome Anne-Marie!

We are thrilled to welcome Anne-Marie Bravo as CREEC’s newest intern!  A third-year student and Public Interest Law Scholar (PILS) at Northeastern University School of Law (NUSL), Anne-Marie will be working full-time with CREEC’s Immigration Detention Accountability Program (IDAP) from August through November. Anne-Marie is deeply committed to advocating for immigrants with disabilities across all aspects of life. Her professional experiences have included work with immigrant and disability communities as an educator, research analyst, grant writer, and legal intern. Recently Anne-Marie was a legal intern at the Law Office of Jodi Goodwin in Harlingen, TX where she worked directly with refugees placed in Migrant “Protection” Protocols (MPP) in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. This work prompted her to delve deeper into the intersection of immigration and disability law. Anne-Marie states, “After several particularly impactful experiences in my recent internship, I began independently researching the intersection of immigration and disability law and found CREEC’s Immigration Detention Accountability Project. IDAP’s mission is a perfect fit for my professional interests. I know that my work at CREEC will take me deeper into the legal world at the intersection of immigration and disability law. As a person with disabilities myself and from a family with our own immigration experiences, I feel profoundly connected with CREEC’s mission and vision.” Prior to her interest in pursuing a law degree, Anne-Marie conducted budget and research analysis for La Unión del Pueblo Entero in San Juan, TX; was a middle school social studies teacher for Teach for America in Rio Grande Valley, TX; worked for the Texas Civil Rights Project in Austin, TX; and interned at both the Human...

Announcing CREEC’s 2020 Award Winner – Elisabeth Epps

The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center is honored to announce Elisabeth Epps as the winner of this year’s Challenging Discrimination Award for her longtime commitment to racial justice, ending mass incarceration, and addressing racism in the criminal legal system. As a leader in the prison abolitionist movement, a bail activist, organizer, and former public defender, Elisabeth uses her skills and voice to effect change for individuals and across systems and communities. Elisabeth is committed to working with and for vulnerable people, particularly those with justice-involved backgrounds. In 2015, Elisabeth became a Co-Director of the Denver Justice Project which seeks to address systemic racism by transforming law enforcement and the structure of the criminal justice system through intersectional movement building, direct action, advocacy, and collaborative education. Elisabeth founded the Colorado Freedom Fund (CFF) in 2018–a revolving community bond fund that buys freedom for people who are caged only because they cannot afford to pay their bail. CFF works to end wealth-based detention through legislation, litigation, and direct action organizing. Through CFF, Elisabeth partnered with community organizations and legal activists in 2019 to pass into law a bill that prohibits cash bail in Colorado for many low-level offenses, and another bill to increase prompt pretrial liberty and fairness across the state; both laws are already having an impact in decarcerating Colorado cages. In 2018, Elisabeth joined the ACLU of Colorado as its Smart Justice Organizer and in 2019, Colorado Freedom Fund and ACLU in conjunction with community partners launched Bring our Neighbors Home. Early in this summer’s protests in support of the Movement for Black Lives, Elisabeth was part of the team that crafted Colorado’s SB20-217 bill, passed it through the legislature, and saw it signed...

Welcome Avi!

  CREEC is thrilled to announce the arrival of our first Director of Outreach for the Accessibility Project, Avi Haimowitz. Avi will be working to spread the word about the Accessibility Project and expand its reach. With more than nine years as an advocate for Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, and Hard of Hearing (DDBDDHH) people in Colorado, including lived experience as a Deaf person, she has witnessed the barriers that DDBDDHH people often face when navigating legal, medical, and human services systems, reinforcing her drive to be part of positive change at a systemic as well as individual level. Avi says about her new position at CREEC, “I’m ecstatic to be joining an organization that I’ve long admired and respected! The civil rights work that CREEC does is crucial to dismantling barriers that society imposes on disabled people like myself. I look forward to working closely with various disability communities, including the DDBDDHH communities, to help ensure their experiences are heard and represented.” Prior to joining CREEC, Avi was involved with Deaf Overcoming Violence through Empowerment (DOVE), a nonprofit that provides advocacy services to DDBDDHH people who experience abuse across the state of Colorado. During her 8 years with DOVE, Avi’s various hats included Outreach Coordinator, Program Director, and Executive Director. A Licensed Social Worker, Avi graduated from Gallaudet University with a Master of Social Work in 2010. She is fluent in English and American Sign Language (ASL). Aside from her work, Avi enjoys navigating the new challenges of parenthood with her partner, exploring the outdoors, and snuggling her dogs – both of whom believe they are still puppies. Director...

Welcome Parima!

CREEC is thrilled to welcome paralegal, Parima Kadikar!  A recent graduate of Columbia University, Parima is drawn to public interest work and looking forward to utilizing what she’s learned in school and internships in the world of nonprofit civil rights advocacy. Before joining CREEC, Parima held legal internships at the Vera Institute of Justice’s Guardianship Project and the City Bar Justice Center of the New York City Bar Association, and policy internships with the NY State Office of the Attorney General and at the Solidarity is Global Institute – where she studied the impact of labor laws on refugee women in Jordan. From direct client interaction, to gaining a comparative perspective, these professional experiences helped solidify Parima’s interest in civil rights and immigration justice. In addition, Parima’s recent community involvement has included work at the New Sanctuary Coalition helping pro se litigants in immigration proceedings in New York and as Co-President of the South Asian Feminism(s) Alliance at Columbia University. Parima states, “I was especially drawn to CREEC because of the opportunity it offers to make an impact at the intersection of civil rights and immigration law. Combined with its focus on disability and health advocacy, this intersection makes CREEC a unique and vital organization both in times of pandemic and beyond.” Passionate about communicating with others in their first language when possible, Parima is fluent in English and Gujarati, works at the intermediate level in Arabic, and is conversational in Spanish and Hindi. She will be putting some of her language skills to work at CREEC with clients whose first language is not English. Outside of work and...

Update: CREEC’s 2020 Annual Event

On June 9, 2020, Amy and Tim emailed the following letter to the CREEC community: Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Supporters, We have made the difficult decision to cancel CREEC’s 2020 in-person event. We’re hopeful that Colorado’s phased-in opening process will proceed smoothly, but are not confident that the Covid-19 virus will be contained enough for us to comfortably hold a large, indoor event by mid-September. Because risk of complications from infection remain high for  medically vulnerable populations, holding an in-person event would exclude members of our community. And that is the opposite of all that we believe in and fight for. Recognizing the importance of coming together and celebrating the critical work of the civil rights community now perhaps more than ever, we at CREEC are determined to find a safe alternative to our annual in-person event. Stay tuned and please continue to reserve some time for CREEC and our community on the evening of September 17, 2020, but know that whatever we have in store for you this year can be done with your slippers on! In community, Amy and...