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This Week in Civil Liberties (7/27/12)

Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
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July 27, 2012

Which city’s police department has issued a document on the public’s right to record the police as a result of a settlement of an ACLU lawsuit?

The government can continue to pretend documents made public by what group are still secret?

What sheriff took the stand this week in an ACLU case against racial profiling?

Which state almost executed an intellectually disabled man this week?

Which ACLU affiliate has launched a webpage to track law enforcement abuse of protestors’ rights?

Photographing Police: What Happens When the Police Think Your Phone Holds Evidence of a Crime?

The Washington, DC chief of police on Friday issued a new “General Order” to members of the police department on “Video Recording, Photographing, and Audio Recording of Metropolitan Police Department Members by the Public.” The order, which was part of the settlement of an ACLU lawsuit, includes some very interesting, groundbreaking provisions.

Government Wins Right to Pretend That Cables Released by WikiLeaks Are Still Secret

This week a federal judge ruled that the government is free to continue pretending that the contents of State Department diplomatic cables already disclosed by WikiLeaks are secret. The case concerns an ACLU Freedom of Information Act request seeking 23 embassy cables that had been previously released by WikiLeaks, posted online, and widely discussed in the press. The government had responded by releasing redacted versions of 11 cables and withholding the other 12 in full.

Sheriff Arpaio on the Stand

U.S. citizens are entitled to “equal protection under the law” – that is, unless you look Latino and live in Arizona under the rule of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The nation’s self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff” took the stand in federal court Tuesday, answering hundreds of questions from our legal team and facing the human targets of his racial profiling policies. These victims — the very people Arpaio is sworn to protect — have spent years waiting for the day when the sheriff would be forced to explain his discriminatory practices in open court.

Update: Intellectually Disabled Georgia Man Faces Monday Execution if Supreme Court Does Not Step In

Georgia stood poised to execute Warren Hill on Monday even though a Georgia court affirmed yesterday that Hill has an IQ of only 70. The court said that Hill meets the overall criteria for being intellectually disabled. But, Georgia law requires that death row inmates prove beyond a reasonable doubt they are intellectually disabled in order to avoid execution, and the court said Hill failed to do that.

The state’s Supreme Court issued a stay of execution while it determines whether the Georgia Department of Corrections violated state rules when it failed to announce it was changing its execution protocol to use one drug instead of a three-drug cocktail for lethal injections.

Shining a Spotlight on the NYPD’s Low-Profile War on Protest

When the Occupy Wall Street movement ignited last fall, there was no shortage of disturbing press reports about NYPD misconduct toward the demonstrators. We’ve all read stories about the NYPD’s abuses—the eviction of hundreds of protesters from Zuccotti Park, the mass arrest of 700 people on the Brooklyn Bridge, the pepper-spraying of peaceful protesters.

This week, the New York Civil Liberties Union launched Free Speech Threat Assessment: a webpage that documents the NYPD’s unrelenting, under-the-radar surveillance and harassment of protestors.

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