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ACLU Pressing Biden To Stick To His Promise Of Decarceration

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is launching a six-figure ad buy featuring both digital and print spots calling for President Biden to adhere to his campaign promise of decreasing the number of incarcerated persons in the country. Specifically, the ACLU wants Biden to grant clemency to thousands of people who meet certain criteria, something that he could do through executive powers. “We use criteria that reflect an evolution in our thinking around criminal justice,” Cynthia Roseberry, deputy director of the ACLU’s justice division, told The Hill. “For example, calling for those who are now incarcerated, but who if they were sentenced today, would not receive the same sentence [to be released].

ACLU Sues Trump Administration Over Use Of Secret Police In Portland

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon sued the Trump administration late Friday over its deployment of federal agents to Portland, where unidentified officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service have been detaining Black Lives Matter protesters without explanation and using indiscriminate force to crush demonstrations. "This is a fight to save our democracy," Kelly Simon, interim legal director with the ACLU of Oregon, said in a statement. "Under the direction of the Trump administration, federal agents are terrorizing the community, risking lives, and brutally attacking protesters demonstrating against police brutality.

ACLU Files Federal Lawsuit Over Police Use Of Force During Anti-Racism Protests

Denver - The ACLU of Colorado has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Black Lives Matter 5280 and other protesters against the City and County of Denver over police use of force during the protests against racism and police violence that erupted in the city last month after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The complaint alleges the use of force by Denver police, Denver sheriffs and Colorado State Patrol effectively “restricted, frustrated, and deterred” the First Amendment right of protesters in the city. The ACLU said police responded, “repeatedly with an overwhelming and unconstitutional use of force” during protests from May 28 to June 2. “Plaintiffs have been-and still want to be-part of the movement to protect Black lives,” the complaint reads.

I Spent 16 Months In Solitary Confinement And Now I’m Fighting To End It

I was just 17 years old when I was sent to solitary confinement in “Camp J,” one of the most severe lockdown units at one of America’s most brutal prisons, the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. I languished in solitary for 16 months. Back then I didn’t know that Louisiana was the solitary confinement capital of the world. All I knew was that I’d been convicted of a crime I didn’t commit, and I had to maintain my humanity in one of the most dehumanizing places on earth. It’s called “23 and 1” because you spend 23 hours alone in your cell, with one hour to take a shower or make a phone call, if allowed.

“No Justice. No Peace. No Private Police.”

“No Justice. No Peace. No Private Police,” was a chant that rang through the Charles Village and Waverly neighborhoods last Wednesday. On the 300th “West Wednesday,” John Hopkins University students and community members gathered together to rally against JHU’s planned private police force and contracts to train employees of the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. While dozens of campus police watched ominously from the sidelines, people marched peacefully in the streets and then rallied inside JHU’s administration building.

ACLU Files First Amendment Challenge To South Dakota Anti-Protest Laws

The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of South Dakota filed a federal lawsuit challenging three South Dakota laws threaten criminal penalties of up to 25 years in prison and $50,000 fines and/or civil liabilities for protesters and social justice organizations that encourage or organize protests, particularly protests against the Keystone XL pipeline. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four organizations: the Sierra Club, NDN Collective, Dakota Rural Action, and the Indigenous Environmental Network; and two individuals: Nick Tilsen with NDN Collective and Dallas Goldtooth with Indigenous Environmental Network. All are planning to protest the pipeline and/or encourage others to do so.

Fighting For Justice: Why Cross-Movement Collaboration Is Essential, Center For Constitutional Rights

With panelists: Joo-Hyun Kang, director of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), a campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York; Kayhan Irani, Emmy-award winning writer, performer, and a Theater of the Oppressed trainer, creating art to build community, and offering spaces for healing; and Carlton E. Williams, lawyer, Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at Cornell University, Political Research Associates Research Fellow and former staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. January 30, 2019.

ACLU Fears Protest Crackdowns, Surveillance Already Being Planned For Keystone XL

The Keystone XL pipeline is expected to draw protests from indigenous and environmental activists when construction begins, and many activists are worried law enforcement agencies may be planning surveillance and a militarized response. Now, the American Civil Liberties Union is accusing federal agencies of trying to hide the extent of these preparations, which the group says are clearly underway. The ACLU and its Montana affiliate sued several federal agencies this week, including the Departments of Justice, Defense and Homeland Security, saying the agencies are withholding documents that discuss planning for the expected protests and any coordination among state and local authorities and private security contractors. Fears about the law enforcement response follow the 2016 armed crackdown on people protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, where authorities used tear gas and turned water cannons on protesters in freezing temperatures.

Amazon’s Facial “Rekognition” Mismatches 28 Lawmakers With Criminals

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California tested Amazon’s facial Rekognition software and the program erroneously and hilariously identified 28 members of Congress as people who have been arrested for crimes. According to Jake Snow, an ACLU attorney, the ACLU downloaded 25,000 mugshots from a “public source.” The ACLU then ran the official photos of all 535 members of Congress through Rekognition, asking it to match them up with any of the mugshots—and it ended up mix-matching 28 members to mug shots. Ooops! Out of those 28, the ACLU’s test flagged six members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia.) Facial recognition historically has resulted in more false positives for African-Americans.

Judge Slams Family Separation As ‘Brutal, Offensive’ Conduct, Lawsuit Proceeds

SAN DIEGO — A federal judge ruled that the American Civil Liberties Union’s challenge to the Trump administration’s practice of forcibly separating asylum-seeking parents and young children can proceed. The Trump administration argued that these asylum-seeking families had no constitutional right to remain together. The court squarely rejected that position stating that “Such conduct, if true, as it is assumed to be on the present motion, is brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency.” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, had this reaction: “In the most forceful language, the court rejected the Trump administration’s claim that the Constitution permits it to engage in the inhumane practice of tearing little children away from their parents.”

TSA Sued Over Searches Of Digital Devices

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit today demanding government documents about Transportation Security Administration (TSA) searches of electronic devices belonging to people traveling on domestic flights. “The federal government’s policies on searching the phones, laptops, and tablets of domestic air passengers remain shrouded in secrecy,” said Vasudha Talla, Staff Attorney with the ACLU Foundation of Northern California. The lawsuit seeks records from the TSA field office in San Francisco, California and the TSA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. In particular, the lawsuit seeks records related to policies, procedures, or protocols regarding the search of passengers’ electronic devices; equipment used to search, examine, or extract data from passengers’ devices...

Previously Anonymous Police Officers Named In ACLU Suit For J20 Abuses

In a new filing, amending a pending lawsuit against Washington D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department, the ACLU named 27 police officers who they say violated the constitutional rights of several citizens as they cordoned off and arrested more than 200 people on Inauguration Day. The officers had previously been identified only as John or Jane Doe. The amended suit also adds two additional plaintiffs to the four already engaged in the suit: a mother and her 10-year-old son who were exposed to pepper spray. “The first thing to understand about who we named today is that unlike the United States Attorney’s office who decided to charge criminally everyone who was nearby where vandalism occurred [during the protests]...

Farm Workers Sue North Carolina To Protect Their Union Rights

By Brian Hauss for ACLU - Dolores Huerta, the legendary civil rights icon and farmworker activist, had it right: “Organized labor is a necessary part of democracy.” Day in and day out, unions struggle to make sure that farmworkers have a voice in in their workplace and in their communities, but they face enormous obstacles. Farmworkers, most of whom are people of color and many of whom are in this country on temporary visas, have long been excluded from federal and state labor laws. That means they don’t enjoy many of the key protections under the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and numerous state minimum wage, workers’ compensation, and youth employment laws. As a result, they face high risks to their health and safety, substandard living conditions, and abuse and exploitation by their employers. Now North Carolina has mounted a direct assault on the state’s only farmworkers union, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), which works tirelessly to protect those workers. A new state law, sponsored and supported by legislators who have a financial interest in suppressing farmworker organizing, would make it all but impossible for the union to operate effectively in the state.

10th Amendment Center Activist Fights Against Local Gov Bullying Tactics

By Staff of Activist - The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky will represent Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Michael Maharrey in a lawsuit filed against him by the City of Lexington after he attempted to obtain documents relating to surveillance cameras owned and operated by the Lexington Police Department (“LPD”). “Honestly, I think it’s a bullying tactic more than anything,” Maharrey said. “I think the city thought it could just slap me with a lawsuit and I’d go away. Newsflash – I’m not going away.” The LPD denied Maharrey’s request citing a statute that exempts certain documents relating to homeland security, along with a second statute exempting certain “investigative reports.” On appeal, the Kentucky attorney general’s office rejected both exemptions claimed by the LPD and ordered it to turn over the records. At that point the city sued Maharrey. “One of the fundamental principles of our government is transparency. The public has a right to know the actions of government officials and disseminate that information to others. City officials appear to be shirking their responsibility to provide records they are obligated to by law, simply because they don’t want the public to have access to them,” ACLU of Kentucky Attorney Heather Gatnarek said. Maharrey has been involved in efforts at the Tenth Amendment Center to address the growing federal surveillance state through state and local action for several years.

LA Police Arresting People For Speaking 20 Seconds Over Allotted Time

By Emily C. Bell for AlterNet - The tweet comes after Melanie Ochoa, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California, who sent a letter Tuesday morning to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles city councilmembers. The letter calls on them to “reject the proposed ordinance," because “although styled as a public safety ordinance, it would do nothing to improve public safety.” The letter goes on to reference two specific cases in which residents were removed from meetings at the Board of Police Commissioners. The LAPD had the most “officer-involved killings” in 2015 and 2016, according to the Guardian. When the data is compared to cities with similar populations, the “rate of fatal encounters” was higher in LA than both Chicago and New York last year. The ACLU letter states: “Part of the duty of public officials is to bear the brunt of the public’s displeasure as well as expressions of gratitude and satisfaction. City Council’s irritation is not a public safety threat, and the serious consequences of criminal law should be limited to conduct that actually poses a risk to the safety of others.” The letter gives the example of 81-year-old Tut Hayes. A video posted by user PM Beers shows Hayes speaking at a meeting in 2016, before being forcibly removed from the room, while onlookers yell at the police to let him go.
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