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The American Civil Liberties Union: Working to Defend Your Rights

By: Bill Simon

February was so hectic for the Fresno Area Chapter of the ACLU that March seems like we went to sleep. We did mail the request for a pattern or practice investigation of the Fresno Police Department to the federal Department of Justice. They have responded that they are “carefully considering” the request. There is some indication that this is true.

Rev. Floyd Harris and I both addressed LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) at their statewide meeting on February 20. Five of us from Fresno participated in the ACLU-NC Conference and Lobby Day in Sacramento, March 6-8. Mike Rhodes did an admirable job of representing the local chapter in the first of three Fresno County Library ‘Big Read’ panel discussions on March 15. The topic was Video Surveillance. Did you know that you are on candid camera in Fresno with its 94 cameras that have actually helped in achieving one conviction in the last four years? So don’t feel too secure just because you notice a camera on top of a pole!

The lawsuit against the Fresno Police Department concerning a Public Records Act Request in the Glen Beaty case goes on. Depositions were conducted on March 16. We are starting to look at several complaints we have received about the Fresno County Jail, including a lack of heat and hot water in part of the women’s section of the jail, as well as other issues.

We helped Fresno State students get an ACLU Club started on campus. The affiliate continues to pursue issues at Fresno City College, the use of DUI checkpoints throughout the Central Valley, and the collaboration with Californians For Justice to combat the “pushout” problem in our high schools. The Chapter gets involved as we are able.

As Spring approaches, we look forward to next September’s election of a new Chapter Board, which will hopefully include all the members of the present board plus more. So let me know if you are interested in joining the work of the ACLU in Fresno either as a Board member, a committee member or simply as a dedicated card-carrying member. The next Board meeting is Monday, April 5, at 7 p.m. at the Sarah McCardle Room in Fresno’s Downtown Library. Come and join the fun!

Maybe next month we’ll get busy again.

Bill Simon is past chair of the Fresno Area Chapter ACLU-NC and is currently the volunteer coordinator for the chapter. Contact him at simonaclu@sbcglobal.net.

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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