Friday, June 29, 2007

News: Tying up the loose ends on immigration raids

The Twin Cities Pulse cites a Boston Globe op-ed written earlier this year by ACLUM's Executive Director, Carol Rose, and Communications Manager, Chris Ott, in a column about raids on immigrants.

Press Statement: U.S. Supreme Court Decision Allows Further Progress for Equal Educational Opportunity

We delivered this statement this morning as part of a press conference with a variety of concerned organizations at the Massachusetts State House.

Statement by Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts

BOSTON - Yesterday's Supreme Court decision on the Seattle and Louisville case neither reversed Brown v. Board of Education nor prohibited measures designed to ensure equality in education. Instead, the Court's decision provides a road map for efforts to desegregate public education so that students of all races can have equal educational opportunities.

Under the Court's 5-4 ruling, voluntary desegregation plans at Massachusetts schools may continue as long as they meet the Court's criteria. Though the Court ruled that school integration plans may not rely solely on racial considerations and must take into account other factors, such as income disparities, a majority of the Supreme Court still recognized that racially diverse schools are a compelling interest of our government. Justice Kennedy agreed to strike down the particulars of the Seattle and Louisville plans, but he agreed with the ultimate goal of using race-conscious means to achieve integration.

The ACLU of Massachusetts is sad, however, that four justices turned a blind eye to continuing racial divisions and inequality in present-day American society, and were largely indifferent to efforts to find a remedy. Massachusetts schools are already more segregated today than they have been in more than a decade, and problems caused by racial disparities plague our state. It is foolish to think that these racial disparities can be addressed without consideration of race. We must continue the work of removing barriers to equality in education.

News: Immigrant stories solicited

The Berkshire Eagle reports on work by Anjali Waikar, our Equal Justice Works Fellow, to collect more information about charges that local law enforcement agents are asking people about their immigration status during routine traffic stops. Gov. Deval Patrick rescinded the previous policy of doing this, arguing that state troopers have the right to make these checks but should not routinely be doing the work of federal authorities.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

News: Greenberg rejoins law firm

The Worcester Telegram notes a retired Appeals Court judge's involvement in the local chapter of the ACLU.

News: Judge upholds woman's right to post video online

The Worcester Telegram notes the ACLU's work on behalf of a local activist's right to post online video of a police search and arrest, without a warrant, which was captured by a "nanny-cam".

News: Civil rights advocates question legality of dog searches

The Daily News of Newburyport quotes John Reinstein, our Legal Director, in a story about police use of drug-sniffing dogs to identify people to search:

"If it's a search, it's a search without probable cause," [Reinstein] said. "I think there's a substantial question about the legality of what the Newburyport Police are doing."

News: Woburn is all lathered up about pranks

The Boston Globe quotes Sarah Wunsch, ACLUM staff attorney, in a story about plans to install surveillance cameras in Woburn to thwart a string of recent pranks:

"Sarah Wunsch, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said the ACLU believes that cameras have a legitimate role at sensitive locations, such as nuclear power plants, or for use as an investigative tool when police are looking into a particular problem for a finite period of time."

News: MassEquality focusing on 2008

BayWindows cites the role played by the ACLU of Massachusetts and other organizations in creating the MassEquality coalition, which led the fight to defeat the proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage earlier this month.

Immigrants Are Afraid to Report Crimes Because of Increase in Raids

Last Wednesday’s immigration raid by ICE agents on the island of Nantucket has highlighted an adverse consequence of such raids on the civil rights of immigrants and on public safety. Due to the increased frequency of work site raids, such as the raid on the Michael Bianco factory in New Bedford in March, and the growing cooperation around the country between local police and ICE authorities, many immigrants no longer report crimes that are being committed against them for fear of deportation or harassment.

The Boston Globe reported that several immigrants on Nantucket had been reluctant to step forward after violent crimes were committed against them. Reports from around the country of other immigrants with similar stories are all too common. One woman in Minnesota was afraid of telling her boss that she was being sexually harassed at work after the harasser threatened to report her to immigration authorities. Other workers have been bullied out of reporting on-the-job injuries.

While undocumented workers in this country have long been fearful of drawing attention to themselves, this concern has now spread to legal immigrants who fear harassment and employers who fear stiff penalties and criminal charges. Take, for example, the town of Stillmore, Georgia which has almost disappeared off the map since ICE agents raided the Crider poultry plant last Labor Day weekend. According to a story on National Public Radio last week, the Crider plant has been trying to recruit new employees from a community of Laotian Hmong refugees currently living in Minnesota in order to replace some of the nearly two thirds of its workforce that was lost in the raids and their aftermath. Though the plant did not comment, a Stillmore community leader claims that the employers are afraid to hire any Hispanics.

The past few months have seen a drastic increase in the number of work site and community raids by ICE officials around the country, the effects of which are often only reported by local media. Sanitation workers in Illinois. A military subcontractor in California. A poultry plant in Missouri. A dairy farm in Michigan. Mexican restaurants in Arkansas. A subcontractor for the U.S. Forest Service helping to plant trees in Idaho. Nursery workers in Ohio. An apartment complex in Washington. A manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania. A fruit and vegetable processing plant in Oregon. These are just a few examples of ICE raids in the last three months.

Immigrants -- whether documented or not -- are being forced to trade in their right to make their communities safe in order to avoid deportation or extensive investigation into their legal status. What will be the effect on public safety? Who benefits when people are afraid to report crimes and sexual harassment of immigrants goes unchecked in the workplace? Is immigration becoming another chapter in America’s politics of fear?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sweating for the Rule of Law on the "Freedom Trail"

By the time the Day of Action had dawned, the ACLU of Massachusetts conference room was full of props, and I was getting worried.


Would we really have enough people to wear the two dozen orange jump suits and gags at lunchtime when the temperature was supposed to reach the mid 90s? Would they really show up?


Would the media show up? If they did, would they find us in disarray? Would we have enough time to get everyone suited up and coordinate the carrying of coffins for Habeas Corpus and the Rule of Law, and "Torture Air," the rendition airplane?


What about all the other paraphernalia – the cell bars over mirrors that accompanied signs bearing the words of Martin Niemoller's poem about no one being left to speak for me? Were we too ambitious for a procession in the middle of the working day?


By noon, as the orange jump suits, gags and black hoods found their wearers, I began to grasp just how outraged people were by torture, Guantanamo and our government's abuse of power. Some had taken off work to be there. Others had traveled large distances. The heat was the last thing on their minds. They wanted to take these issues to the streets of Boston, home of the "Freedom Trail."


And so we set out, more than 60 strong, walking slowly to the beat of a drum. We were led by two men in black robes and a Bush mask who carried an orange jumpsuit stretched on a frame that bore the sign: "We have them in your size too."


Our intention was to pause at certain "stations of the Constitution," to remember the freedoms that were fought for at those sites. Pedestrians would be able to read the Niemoller poem and see their own faces in the mirrors beyond the bars.


The first "station" was the spot where Massachusetts delegates had signed the US Constitution in February 1788. It is commemorated by a plaque on the side of a giant Bank of America building. No sooner did we approach on the sidewalk when a Wackenhut guard barked out that we were on private property and should leave immediately. Through the megaphone I told him that we, and the members of the media who were with us, were interested to hear that the public was no longer able to pay its respects to the cradle of the Constitution in Massachusetts. He huddled with his fellow guards to decide what to do next.


We soon moved on, through the lunch hour foot traffic. Many people clapped. Some cheered. No one jeered. It seemed bystanders were happy to see us. Several came up and told us so.


Our next "station" was across the street from the Old South Meeting House, where the Sons of Liberty used to meet and the Boston Tea Party was organized. These streets had seen their share of symbolic protests over the years.


We moved on, to the front of the Old State House where the Declaration of Independence was first read to citizens of the Commonwealth, and then up the street to the seat of federal power.


Outside the JFK Federal Building we had speeches and spirited chants. One group went upstairs to Senator Kerry's office, while the rest of us chanted our way back to the ACLU office.


We had just finished changing clothes and rehydrating, when we were joined by those who had met with Kerry's staff. They said they were told he had just signed onto the Restoring the Constitution Act and the act to shut down Guantanamo.


If this is true – his support is not yet reflected on a Congressional website - it means that Representatives Delahunt and Lynch are the only Massachusetts Members of Congress who have not become co-sponsors of the Restoring the Constitution Act. This critically important legislation restores habeas corpus and fixes the worst aspects of the unconstitutional Military Commissions Act.


Where do we go from here? We have no illusions that one procession to mark the June 26 Day of Action will by itself turn things around. But on June 26 in Washington and around the country people are showing their dedication to the fundamental freedoms that were largely nurtured on the streets of Boston. We have right on our side, a pile of jumpsuits and props at the ready for future actions, and we will prevail.


Nancy Murray
Director of Education

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Day of Action

Many of us are participating in the Day of Action down here in DC, or ACLUM's events in Boston and Worcester. We'll be letting you know how it goes!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Guantanamo: "Deeply flawed"

The Boston Globe reports today on charges from an army reserve officer that the process for determining whether a detainee should be held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison camp is "deeply flawed." It's the first time that someone on the inside of Guantanamo has spoken out.

Criticism of Guantanamo from the outside, including from the US Supreme Court, has been abundant. Hundreds of supposed "enemy combatants" have been held there for years without trial.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Letter to Editor: 'Day of Action' rally scheduled in city

Ron Madnick, Director of the Worcester County Chapter of the ACLU of Massachusetts, published this letter to the editor about the upcoming Day of Action to Restore Law and Justice.

News: Detainees allege jail strip search

The Boston Globe cites the involvement of Laura RĂ³tolo, our Human Rights Fellow, in investigating charges that two guards conducted a public strip search of three men facing possible deportation, in front of other detainees.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

News: Court official 'was masterful' in handling student assault case

The Worcester Telegram mentions ACLU involvement in a case involving a middle school student who had assault and battery charges brought against him after a school fight:

"The ACLU has expressed concern about the criminalization of school discipline when youths end up in Juvenile Court or the criminal-justice system for behavior that in the past wouldn’t have led to the intervention of law enforcement."

News: You Can "I Do"

Reporter Chuck Colbert of InNewsweekly quotes Holly Gunner, an ACLU of Massachusetts board member and our representative on the MassEquality board, in his story on work by people of faith to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment to ban marriage for gay and lesbian couples. The New York Blade picked up the story too.

BayWindows cites the work of Norma Shapiro, our Legislative Director, in its article on the lobbying work that led to last week's 151-45 win.

Grudging credit

Well, what do you know? A local "pro-family action center" gave grudging credit last month to the ACLU of Massachusetts for defending the First Amendment:

"In a rare move, ACLU agrees... that you can't suspend the 1st Amendment!"

There's no direct link to the quote, but you can currently scroll down to it on the homepage of massresistance.org. It's about our oppostion to legislation that would expand protest buffer zones. As we told the Boston Globe, "We're strong supporters of reproductive freedom, but we're also strong supporters of freedom of expression."

A rare move? The ACLU has been defending free expression -- and the freedom of religion and belief -- for 87 years.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

News: SJC Gives Police Leeway to Frisk

The Boston Globe Herald quotes ACLUM's Legal Director, John Reinstein, in its story about a Supreme Judicial Court decision which green-lights police frisking of pedestrians if they suspect the person is carrying a weapon and is in a high-crime area. The Boston Herald did as well.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

News: Reaction to the Gay Marriage Vote

The Boston Globe's photo gallery after Thursday's historic gay marriage vote includes ACLUM's Legislative Director, Norma Shapiro, as well as board member Holly Gunner.

News: Reaction to the defeat of the proposed same-sex marriage ban

The Boston Globe immediately included a comment from Carol Rose, our Executive Director, in its roundup of reactions to the defeat of the proposed same-sex marriage ban.

Letter to Editor: ACLU Defends First Amendment

Board Member Holly Gunner responds to a letter critical of the ACLU in Bay Windows. Both letters appear at the bottom of the pages that display them.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

News: Boy faces charges in school fight

The Worcester Telegram cites our attorney Sarah Wunsch in a story about the criminalization of the school discipline process. She told the Telegram:

“What used to be a shoving match on the school playground ends up in juvenile court or criminal proceedings. It’s crazy.”

News: The New Frontier: Monitoring Academic Research

The Huffington Post mentions ACLUM's concern about FBI monitoring of college campuses. So does The Bostonist.

News: Unlikely Bedfellows

Inside Higher Ed cites our Legal Director, John Reinstein, in its story on the national controversy over an FBI program to "set up meetings with college leaders to discuss strategies for safeguarding academic research from unfriendly foreign interests." Sci-Tech Today.com does too, along with the journal photonics.com.

The story has also been noticed abroad as well, in countries including India, Canada and the Netherlands.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

News: FBI warns universities to watch for spies

This AP story quotes ACLUM's Legal Director, John Reinstein, on the FBI program asking universities to keep a lookout for "suspicious" behavior. It made national news.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Press Release: ACLU of Massachusetts Salutes Adams Pro Bono Publico Award Recipients

BOSTON - The ACLU of Massachusetts salutes the recipients of the sixth annual Adams Pro Bono Publico awards, conferred on June 4th by the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services. The awards recognize outstanding commitment to providing volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged in Massachusetts.

This year's recipients were Attorney Leigh-Ann Patterson Durant of Lexington, Associate General Counsel of Clinical Trials and Medical Affairs for EMD Serono, Inc. in Rockland, and formerly of Nixon Peabody LLP; Attorney Holly Sanborn Dyar of Kingston, a solo practitioner in Plymouth; and the Boston office of the law firm of Dechert, LLP.

The SJC Committee also recognized the pro bono work of approximately seventy attorneys in private practice who volunteered to represent people detained or affected by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials' raid in New Bedford on March 6, 2007. Attorneys from the ACLU of Massachusetts and Greater Boston Legal Services have also been working-within hours of the raid-to assist detainees and their families.

"The rule of law and our country's ideals of equality can be compromised when legal representation is out of financial reach," said Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. "We commend these attorneys for their unselfish devotion to fairness, as well as the Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services for recognizing the importance of this service."

For more information about the Adams Awards, the recipients, and their work, please see the SJC's press release:

http://www.mass.gov/courts/press/pr060507_print.html

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Editorial: Common sense on troopers, immigrants

The Berkshire Eagle weighs in on the controversy over state troopers and immigrants in this editorial.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

News: Troopers checking drivers' US status

The Boston Globe cites ACLU concerns and quotes our staffer Anjali Waikar in a story about state troopers enforcing immigration laws. Earlier this year, Gov. Patrick reversed Gov. Romney's plan for state troopers to add immigration enforcement to their duties.