Blog of Rights

Monica Jones at a press conference

Arrested for Walking While Trans: An Interview with Monica Jones

By Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney, ACLU at 11:19am
In Phoenix, Arizona, you can be arrested for repeatedly stopping and engaging a passerby in conversation. This may, under Phoenix law, be evidence that you are "manifesting" an intent to engage in prostitution. Of course, this could also be evidence that you are lost or canvassing for a political group or simply talking about the weather. The difference between "innocent" and "criminal" behavior often comes down to how a person looks. Transgender women of color are often profiled by police as engaging in sex work for simply being outside and going about their daily routines. Amnesty International documented this disproportionate targeting by police of transgender women as sex workers in a 2005 report. "[S]ubjective and prejudiced perceptions of transgender women as sex workers often play a significant role in officers' decisions to stop and arrest transgender women," the report concluded. One woman told Amnesty, "'No tenemos el derecho a vivir.' (We don't have the right to live.)."
An MRAP Is Not a Blanket

An MRAP Is Not a Blanket

By Kara Dansky, Senior Counsel, ACLU Center for Justice at 4:41pm

This August, Americans watched in horror as the police descended on peaceful protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, as though they were going into battle. In May, a toddler named Bou Bou Phonesavanh had his chest ripped open and his face torn off by a flashbang…

closeup of camera lens

Body-Worn Cameras Should Not Expand Beyond Law Enforcement

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:34pm

The Guardian reported last week that Miami Beach is planning on expanding the use of body cameras beyond the police to include “meter maids,” code enforcement officers, and building and fire inspectors. This use of the technology does not make…

Sorry Officer, You Have a Duty to Protect and Serve, Not Proselytize

Sorry Officer, You Have a Duty to Protect and Serve, Not Proselytize

By Aleksandr Sverdlik, Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief at 2:09pm

Imagine a police officer refusing to guard a Sikh temple, give a presentation on safety and crime prevention at a Catholic elementary school, conduct foot patrols in a neighborhood with a large Orthodox Jewish population, or come to the aid of an injured…

Blog author, Clarisa Christiansen

Why is the U.S. Border Patrol Terrorizing Innocent Families?

By Clarisa Christiansen at 11:11am

Imagine you had just picked up your kids from school. You're driving home on a secluded country road when your car is pulled over by armed US law enforcement agents who threaten you with a knife and taser. That's what happened to me last May and my…

WTF? Our Tax Dollars Are Being Spent to Jail a Vet for Being Poor

WTF? Our Tax Dollars Are Being Spent to Jail a Vet for Being Poor

By Carl Takei, ACLU National Prison Project at 8:10pm

After he returned from Iraq both homeless and out of work, Stephan Papa spent one night in a drunken misadventure. Convicted of destruction of property and resisting arrest, Mr. Papa was sentenced to pay $2600 in fines and court fees.

If Mr.…

Believing Our Lying Eyes

Believing Our Lying Eyes

By Dennis Parker, Director, ACLU Racial Justice Program at 2:08pm

We cannot allow Eric Garner's sadly prophetic words, "It stops today," to refer only to his life.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about yesterday's announcement from the Staten Island grand jury is our own surprise at the outcome.

After…

Preying on the Poor: For-Profit Probation Edition

Preying on the Poor: For-Profit Probation Edition

By Sarah Solon, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 3:48pm

Welcome to Alabama, the state of the never-ending seat belt ticket.

Hali Wood is 17. She's applied to work at several grocery stores in her home town of Columbiana, but none are hiring. A few months back, cops ticketed Hali for not wearing…

Blog author, Justin Jones

How to Starve the For-Profit Prison Beast

By Justin Jones, Former Director, Oklahoma Department of Corrections at 3:27pm

I know some private prison lobbyists who would love it if you were found with a cell phone. Assuming, of course, that you're already locked in one of the prisons their clients operate in Oklahoma.

Introducing a cell phone into a correctional…

Still from Rodney King beating video

The Video Revolution in Policing

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 1:39pm

We may have reached the point where video technology is producing a full-fledged revolution in policing. That revolution has been crystalized, or at least revealed by, the events in Ferguson.

The first element of that revolution is a growing…