Three Reasons Why The Clash should be honorary ACLU members
The legendary UK punk band and the ACLU-WA are more alike than you might think. Here’s why we’re sponsoring International Clash Day:
We fight biased policingOutspoken critics of police brutality and its disproportionate impact on people of color and poor people, The Clash literally took to the streets to make their point. Their first single, “White Riot,” was inspired by band members’ participation in the 1976 Notting Hill riots, which involved Black youths frustrated by the London police use of “stop and frisk”-style policing, and which gave rise to a Britain’s first anti-discrimination law.
The ACLU-WA is working to eliminate police violence statewide by bringing fairness to investigations and prosecutions of fatal shootings by police. We’ve helped to get police in Seattle and Pasco to adopt policies and training that require officers use de-escalation, not weapons, whenever possible. We’re also committed to keeping the presence of police in schools from turning students into suspects.
We defend the rights of immigrants
The Clash offered a stinging critique of how governments have used race, poverty, and national origin to control and divide people. The much-sampled “Straight to Hell” makes this point, while protest anthems like “Clampdown” and “The Call Up” urge resistance.The ACLU-WA combats the racism and xenophobia underlying President Trump’s mass deportation plans and unconstitutional Muslim ban through litigation and advocacy. Just last month, we and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project stopped Spokane police from racial profiling and unlawfully detaining individuals on behalf of federal immigration authorities, and triumphed over Trump’s Muslim Ban again in court by securing the right for a refugee to be reunited with his family.
We stand up for free speechThe Clash saw that intimidating people into censoring themselves is one of the more insidious ways governments chip away at the rights of the most marginalized. “Rock the Casbah” rails against censorship and champions rock music as self-expression, while “Know Your Rights” skewers the idea that democracy achieves equal rights for all: “Know your rights—all three of them,” the song declares. And, “You have a right to free speech/Unless you’re dumb enough to actually try it.”
The ACLU-WA recognizes that the right to speak freely and to protest is essential to democracy. We support students’ right to take a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem, and pushed back against the city of Seattle for buying and using surveillance tools against the community it serves without public knowledge or consent.
We also do Know Your Rights trainings and— spoiler alert— there are more than three of them.