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ACLU Launches Nationwide Investigation into Police Use of Military Technology & Tactics

Militarization of Local Law Enforcement Erodes Civil Liberties, Encourages Overly Aggressive Policing

March 6, 2013

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NEW YORK – American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in 23 states today simultaneously filed more than 255 public records requests to determine the extent to which local police departments are using federally subsidized military technology and tactics that are traditionally used overseas.

"Equipping state and local law enforcement with military weapons and vehicles, military tactical training, and actual military assistance to conduct traditional law enforcement erodes civil liberties and encourages increasingly aggressive policing, particularly in poor neighborhoods and communities of color," said Kara Dansky, senior counsel for the ACLU's Center for Justice. "We've seen examples of this in several localities, but we don't know the dimensions of the problem."

ACLU settles bias lawsuit filed by Latino students

By CHRISTINA HOAG - Associated Press

GLENDALE, Calif. -- A suburban Los Angeles County school district and police department have agreed to revise policies to settle a racial profiling lawsuit filed by a group of Latino students who said they were rounded up at school and treated as if they were potential gang members, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California announced Wednesday.

Under terms of the settlement negotiated by the ACLU, the Glendale Police Department agreed to train officers on dealing with students at schools and revised its policies on racial profiling. The Glendale Unified School District agreed to notify parents if students are interrogated on campus.

States propose limiting use of drones by police

By MATT GOURAS - Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. -- Lawmakers in at least 11 states are looking at plans to restrict the use of drones over their skies amid concerns the unmanned aerial vehicles could be exploited to spy on Americans.

The American Civil Liberties Union says state legislators are proposing various restrictions on local authorities' use of the technology.

Betty Williams to Lead Sacramento County ACLU Chapter


The Sacramento County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California Board of Directors unanimously elected Betty Williams as Chair and Executive Director of the Sacramento Chapter at its meeting on January 14, 2013. Ms. Williams is the first African American to head the local ACLU Chapter and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the branch.

With a historical tenure of 8 years as immediate Past President of the Sacramento National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Ms. Williams has long been a defender of and advocate for the civil liberties of Sacramento County residents. She serves as advisor to the County Sheriff's Advisory Committee, the Career Education Training Board, the California High Speed Rail Community Board and a number of other groups. Additionally, she is responsible for development and implementation of the Parents' Know Your Rights in Education Academy, the Associated Ministers Empowering Neighborhoods Group and Free Legal Clinics for Sacramento residents.

ACLU pushes English classes for 20,000 Calif. kids

Associated Press
Published Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 -

LOS ANGELES -- The American Civil Liberties Union of California on Wednesday charged that about a quarter of California school districts are violating state and federal laws by failing to provide English language instruction to all students who need it and demanded state education officials take action.

The ACLU, along with the Asian Pacific Legal Center, sent a letter to Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and state school board members stating that it will file a lawsuit if English classes are not provided to some 20,000 students within 30 days.

Twin Rivers, Wheatland top list of districts not serving all English learners

Posted by Diana Lambert -

The California Department of Education could be sued if it doesn't take action to ensure all school districts are offering adequate instruction to English learners, according to civil rights groups.

State data shows that 20,318 English learners attending California schools don't receive any of the instructional services required. The data was submitted by school districts for the 2010-11 school year, the most recent year available.

The American Civil Liberties Union of California, The Asian Pacific American Legal Center and the law firm of Latham and Watkins held a joint press conference in Los Angles this morning to announce their intent to file a suit if state education officials don't act immediately to fix the problem.

Police license-plate scanners raise privacy concerns

By Darrell Smith
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 - 11:56 am

Police say it's a high-tech tool to help cops stay one step ahead of the bad guys.

But a mobile license-plate reader used by Woodland's police force since early November has attracted critics who say the technology trumps privacy rights.

One of Woodland's patrol cars is equipped with the system, which uses cameras to scan license plates within its field of vision, matches the scanned images against national crime databases and alerts the officer.

Use of drones by police strikes a nerve


SEATTLE -- For years, law enforcement agencies have used helicopters and airplanes for search-and-rescue missions, manhunts, SWAT-team operations, traffic control and car chases.

So why have plans by Seattle police and other enforcement agencies to deploy unmanned drones drawn such intense fire?

The vocal opposition against the drones came into sharp focus a few weeks ago during a public meeting in Seattle when members of the Seattle Police Department were shouted down with chants of "No drones!"

ACLU asks courts to block parts of Proposition 35 on human trafficking

By Torey Van Oot

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the courts to block provisions of California's new voter-approved law targeting human trafficking.

The federal court in Sacramento granted a request for a temporary restraining order to halt implementation of Proposition 35 pending a hearing, writing that the "plaintiffs have raised serious questions about whether the challenged sections of the (proposition) violate their First Amendment right to free speech and other constitutional rights."

Defeat of death penalty repeal brings move to ease executions in California

By Sam Stanton and Andy Furillo -

After beating back a well-funded effort to abolish capital punishment in California, death penalty supporters said Wednesday that their efforts to have executions resume may include going to the voters in 2014.

"We may have to go to the ballot ourselves," said Kent Scheidegger, legal director for the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento, one of the groups that helped defeat Proposition 34 Tuesday.

The measure, which was backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and would have replaced death sentences with life without possibility of parole, lost 53 percent to 47 percent.

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