Stories from the ACLU of Washington

Published: 
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Outrage erupted in Utah last week after an anonymous group delivered a detailed list of 1300 alleged undocumented immigrants to media outlets and law enforcement, with a demand that these individuals “be deported immediately.“ The immigration hit list contained birth dates, workplaces, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, names of children and the exact due dates for several pregnant women. All of the names appeared to be Hispanic.
Published: 
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
People rarely think about police accountability until their city is faced with a disturbing and well-publicized incident of police misconduct.  In Spokane that incident was the 2006 death of a mentally disabled man during an arrest.  Community outrage came immediately, but it took two years of public debate and discussion for the City Council and Mayor to enact an ordinance creating the Office of Police Ombudsman.  A little over a year ago, the City of Spokane took the next major step toward advancing police accountability by hiring its first Police Ombudsman.     Read more
Published: 
Monday, July 19, 2010
I've recently returned from vacation in San Diego, a beautiful city from which you can see Tijuana, or "TJ," as the locals call it. My family and I had a fabulous time relaxing, reuniting with loved ones, and stuffing our gullets with the wonders of Juanita's Taco Shop. But my husband broke my cardinal vacation rule - no talk about work, please - and brought up California's Proposition 19. That forced my hand: If you're going to talk about cannabis reform, you have to talk about Mexico.
Published: 
Friday, July 16, 2010
In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right to remain silent during the now-famous court case Miranda v. Arizona.  But last month the Court redefined the process of invoking one’s Miranda rights. In Berghuis v. Thompkins the Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 split, that one must declare that she or he is invoking her or his right not to speak to police either before or during a police interrogation. In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor said the majority had created a kind of paradox: “A suspect who wishes to guard his right to remain silent,” she wrote, “must, counter intuitively, speak.”
Published: 
Friday, July 16, 2010
Most Americans are not “racists”.  Most of us don’t look for ways to discriminate against people who look different from us, and very few of us try to harm others because of the color of their skin. But that doesn’t mean that most Americans live their lives free of racial biases.  As Seattle Times columnist, Jerry Large discusses in his recent article, implicit bias – the unconscious way that we think about people of different races or genders or religious groups – is as big a problem in America today as overt racism was a few years ago. Implicit bias affects the decisions we make every day – who we hire, who we arrest, whose testimony we believe, who gets the better grade, even who we talk to on the bus. And it affects us all.  Researchers at Project Implicit have spent years studying unconscious bias in the United States and have made some of their research tools available online. Take one of their many tests to see what effect stereotypes and unconscious prejudices have on your decision-making.  It is an eye-opening experience.
Published: 
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
The use and abuse of prescription opiates (powerful pain killers, such as Vicodin® and OxyContin®) has been steadily increasing in recent years. 1 in 5 adolescents and 1 in 10 adults are prescribed an opiate medication each year. Many of these drugs will be used illicitly by those who do not have a prescription. In 2008, prescription opiate abuse accounted for 20% of all publicly funded treatment admissions, ahead of marijuana and cocaine. A variety of solutions have been offered for how to deal with the prescription opiate problem. Better education for patients and healthcare professionals, tighter regulations for how and when they can be used, and disposal programs for unused medications. Notably absent from these solutions is one we commonly rely on in the United States; total prohibition via criminal enforcement. Thank goodness.
Published: 
Monday, July 12, 2010
While summer days have (finally) arrived, and many of us are thinking most about play and vacations, Washington’s primary election is just around the corner, on August 17. And the registration deadline for the primary election online or in-person is only days away, on July 19.
Published: 
Friday, July 9, 2010
Join the ACLU of Washington at Saturday in the Park on July 10, 2010 from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm for a day of fabulousness and activism!  This event will take place on the Esther Short Commons located at the corner of 6th and Esther Streets in Downtown Vancouver (map). The LGBT civil liberties pendulum continues to sway in 2010.  When will it stop? I do not know.  What I do know is that the ACLU of Washington continues to fight tirelessly for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks to enjoy equal access to marriage, in the military, from discrimination and for our youth.  ACLU-WA is so busy; it is often difficult to keep up.  Are you up to date on Witt V. U.S. Air Force? Don’t worry; I wasn’t before this week began.  The Clark County Chapter will be smiling proud at the ACLU-WA booth ready to answer questions like… How is the ACLU-WA currently working to protect my civil liberties? Are there any upcoming public education events? How do I become a member of the ACLU-WA? How can I volunteer for the ACLU-WA? Is my outfit cute or what? The ACLU of Washington demands equal treatment for all people in America under the law, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.  Stand with us as we stand with you and have a Happy Pride!
Published: 
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Last week the California NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) endorsed Proposition 19, a marijuana legalization initiative, which will appear on the November ballot in California. As stated by California NAACP president Alice Huffman, “we are joining a growing number of medical professionals, labor organizations, law enforcement authorities, local municipalities and approximately 56% of the public in saying that it is time to decriminalize the use of marijuana.” Adding further, that “the war on drugs is a failure and disproportionately targets young men and women of color, particularly African-American males.”   Read more
Published: 
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Recently obtained documents show that the University of Washington Police Department authorized an officer to spy on, collect information about, and participate in meetings of the UW Student Worker Coalition, without any suspicion of criminal activity. The ACLU of Washington is working with the SWC to uncover the extent of surveillance, and to encourage the University to take the steps necessary to prevent suspicionless surveillance in the future.   Read more

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