Friday, November 18, 2016

Feel Good Friday - ACLU

As I mentioned last week, the outcome of the US presidential election is influencing what organizations I write about on Feel Good Friday. There will come a time when I'm back to panda preservation and art programs for kids but not yet. Last week it was the Southern Poverty Law Center and this week it's the ACLU.

The American Civil Liberties Union, more commonly referred to as the ACLU, was created in 1920 in response to the "Palmer Raids". Fearing the Communist Revolution in Russia would spread to the United States, Attorney General Mitchell Palmer began rounding up so-called radicals and arresting them without warrants. A small group of people banded together to defend them and so the ACLU was born.

Their work is summarized on their website as follows, "For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States". This includes, denouncing the interment of Japanese Americans during WWII when no one else would, fighting off attacks on women's reproductive rights and defending free speech. More details on their cases throughout the years can be found here.

The current focus of the ACLU is challenging Donald Trump, should he attempt to enact any of his campaign promises that violate people's civil liberties. The response from the public has been to donate over 8 million dollars in less than two weeks.

On an ongoing basis the work of the ACLU includes topics such as criminal law reform, national security and religious liberty. You can view the full list of issues and subcategories here. They also have guides to help you know your rights, for example what to do if you are stopped by police, immigration or the FBI. In the upcoming days it will also be useful learn more about anti-Muslim discrimination, what to do if you are detained for taking photographs and your rights during demonstrations and protests.

To support the work of the ACLU, become a member, volunteer with your local affiliate and stay in the loop by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @ACLU. Because as they say, "freedom can't protect itself".

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