An Introduction to the GLACLU

After the results of the 2016 election, we are experiencing an influx of people interested in assisting the American Civil Liberties Union in our mission. Hello, and welcome.

WHO WE ARE

The ACLU is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that seeks to protect and preserve the civil liberties granted to U.S. citizens by the Constitution and other laws in the United States. The ACLU is active nationally, and in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Many states also have local chapters, such as the Greater Lafayette ACLU.

The Greater Lafayette ACLU was organized in 1955 and has been active over the last 60 years, with the mission to provide educational opportunities to the Greater Lafayette area, and support the Indiana ACLU with awareness, advocacy, advisement, and fundraising initiatives.

We take on politicians and government officials who ignore the Constitution and put liberty at risk. We don’t answer to polls or to the whims of the electorate. We get out the facts, and when our freedoms are on the line, we mobilize grassroots support to protect our civil liberties.

We educate the next generation of civil libertarians, and the public. Our outreach programs help thousands of Hoosiers understand their constitutional rights and what they must do to protect them.

We challenge intolerance and bigotry wherever we find it. We work to root out any and all attempts to deny people the equal protection under the law that the Constitution guarantees.

WHAT WE DO

The GLACLU funds educational initiatives in Greater Lafayette and supports the state ACLU’s research, education, and litigation efforts.

The Indiana ACLU brings cases against government entities on behalf of Hoosiers whose rights have been curbed by anti-Constitutional laws brought within the state. Led by Jane Henegar and litigated by Bloomington attorney and professor Ken Falk, the Indiana chapter has an extremely successful record of litigation. Recent victories include:

The GLACLU board members meet monthly at the Unitarian Universalist church in West Lafayette, at 7PM on the second Wednesday of the month. If you are interested in attending meetings or serving on the board, please contact us to confirm meeting times, as meetings are sometimes moved. At meetings, we discuss current events, educational opportunities for the Lafayette area, upcoming state initiatives, and fundraising efforts. We have over 200 years of collective activist experience on the board, and meetings are often informative, entertaining, and inspirational.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

We anticipate that many laws testing the limits of our civil liberties  — including your right to freedom of speech, your rights to privacy, your right to peacefully assemble in protest, your right to practice your religion freely without state interference, and more — will be coming to the U.S. soon. Anxieties are warranted and the ACLU is ready and able to work on your behalf.

Here’s what you can do to support us:

  1. Report violations of constitutional liberties. This is, after all, our mission. From disability rights to youth rights, to protecting prisoners from discrimination and cruel and unusual punishment, to protecting religious liberty, free speech, privacy, voting rights and much more, the ACLU is here to help you protect and preserve your Constitutional rights. For us to take up a case, the criteria are as follows:
    1. Your civil liberties must have been violated by a government entity;
    2. Your issue concerns a right or freedom protected by the U.S. or Indiana Constitutions;
    3. You are the person or party whose constitutional rights have been violated. We are not able to accept complaints made by third parties.

The Indiana ACLU accepts these complaints directly here and will notify you whether or not your case can be litigated. If it is not, we do have resources available for those who we are unable to assist with litigation.

  1. Join the local ACLU. Annual membership dues for the local chapter are $10, and help fund educational initiatives in Greater Lafayette and support the state ACLU’s research, education, and litigation efforts. Send dues along with email and/or snail mail addresses to:

ACLU of Indiana
Greater Lafayette Chapter
PO Box 2706
West Lafayette, IN 47906

We send an bi-annual newsletter by mail with editorial and informational content, and are building our email list now for calls for more immediate local action. We promise not to share your information or spam your inbox.

    1. Join the state ACLU. You will strengthen our lobbying efforts and grassroots activity by becoming a member of the state ACLU. Paying annual dues of $35 or more entitles you to a membership in BOTH the state and national ACLU.
    2. Attend a board meeting. Board meetings are on the second Wednesday of each month. We meet at the UU Church in West Lafayette, 333 Meridian St, West Lafayette, Indiana. We discuss current events, educational opportunities for the Lafayette area, upcoming state initiatives, and fundraising efforts, and welcome member participation.
    3. Attend our events. We host regular lunchtime talks, an annual fundraising dinner, and weekend events throughout the year. We discuss civil liberties issues happening locally, statewide, and nationally, and provide networking opportunities for activists to make deeper and more meaningful connections in the community.
    4. Take initiative. When the horn is sounded for action, take the time to follow through on writing or calling your representatives. Many representatives hear little from the electorate, and are voting to confirm or deny laws without much citizen input. You can change that by devoting a small amount of time following through on these calls to action. Generally speaking, a phone call is more powerful than an email. Sometimes the ACLU will need warm bodies to support organizational efforts as well. Make time to assist. Oftentimes, the time needed to assist an organization like ours is only a few hours a month or less.
    5. Support your neighbors. Living in a Big Ten town, we have a unique opportunity to seed our efforts with locals, faculty, and students, some of whom will stay and grow a culture of advocacy and organization in Greater Lafayette, and some who will take their experiences with them to new areas of the state, nation and globe. It is important that we listen to, respect, and support one another during anxious times, and nurture a culture of advocacy and organization so our efforts can continue wherever we end up.
    6. Get active, period. The ACLU may not be the right organization for your time and energy, and we appreciate that. There may be other organizations that better fit your resources and expertise. Find them, ask what they need, and then do that. Become an expert in it, and tell everyone you know why this work is so important. The secret sauce of political organizing is awareness, amplification, and learning how to show up and show out — every time, en masse.

We welcome your interest in our organization and are thrilled to have your attention.  Please continue to agitate for the respect and preservation of civil liberties while we plan the 2017 season of the GLACLU. We promise we have much in store for you in the coming days.

Lauren Bruce
Judy Weitzman
Presidents, Greater Lafayette ACLU

The ACLU defends the rights of all the people.

One of our favorite quotes from Molly Ivins:

“It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.”

The ACLU has lead that struggle for 90 years. In fact, the ACLU was created for just that purpose. The ACLU is not here to defend the rights of only the people we like, but all the people.

Not just the people who look like us. All the people.

Not just the ones who share our views. All the people.

Not just the ones whose behavior is popular. All the people.

Today it should be no surprise that the ACLU supports the legal rights of Rev. Fred Phelps to picket the funerals of American Soldiers. Phelps and his followers condemn “fags” and celebrate the deaths of U.S. soldiers as signs that God hates America because of our approval of the “LGBT lifestyle.”

There is no doubt that the Reverend Phelps’s views are hateful and reflect a set of beliefs that are totally contradictory to the ACLU’s long history in support of Gay Rights. As early as 1936, the ACLU defended the play, The Children’s Hour, that was banned in Boston because of its lesbian content. And just this year, the ACLU successfully defended Constance McMillen’s right to take her girlfriend to the Senior Prom in Fulton, Mississippi.

The ACLU supports the rights and freedoms of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people. The Rev. Phelps does not. Nonetheless, the Reverend Phelps is within his rights. Whether we like the speech or not, free speech is defended by the Constitution.

When people challenge you about the logic of the ACLU supporting Fred Phelps, remind them what Molly said so well …”extend the liberties of the Constitution to everyone in America.”

Sincerely,

Roberta Schonemann and Judy Weitzman

Co-Presidents, Greater Lafayette Chapter ACLU of Indiana

 

How does the ACLU use your donation?

Originally published Spring 2010

When you support the ACLU with contributions and letter-writing campaigns, you probably feel good about what you do. Have you ever wondered who else is grateful for your support? Let us introduce you to a few.

There’s 13 year old Savana Redding. She was strip searched at her middle school in Stafford, Arizona, based on a classmate’s false accusation that she possessed ibuprofen pills. Savana and her mom were turned away by lower courts when they challenged this violation of privacy. The ACLU helped them take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. According to Savana, “With supportive ACLU lawyers by my side, we won a critical Supreme Court ruling that establishes new protections against strip-searches in public schools — a ruling that will protect generations of students from having to go through the same kind of humiliating invasion of privacy that I did.”

Nick George, a Pomona College foreign language student was abusively interrogated, handcuffed and detained at the Philadelphia International Airport because of a set of English-Arabic flashcards he had with him. A TSA supervisor questioned Nick, asking him how he felt about 9/11, whether he knew who did 9/11, and whether he knew what language Osama bin Laden spoke. Nick was handcuffed, led through a terminal to the airport police station where he was left in a locked cell for two hours in the handcuffs, and for two more hours with the handcuffs removed. He was then interrogated for half an hour, and he was not informed of his rights. By the time he was released, Nick had long since missed his flight and was told by airline officials that he would have to wait until the next day to travel. The ACLU and the ACLU of Pennsylvania have filed a lawsuit on Nick’s behalf.

Cynthia Stewart, a 17-year-old junior at Tharptown High School in northern Alabama, a member of her school’s prom planning committee, had personally raised over $200 for the prom and created the theme her classmates had chosen for the dance. She is also an out lesbian.

When Cynthia approached her principal to ask if she could bring her girlfriend with her to the prom, she was denied permission. He also made Cynthia remove a sticker she was wearing that said, “I am a lesbian,” and told her, “You don’t have that much freedom of speech at school.”

Cynthia’s aunt and guardian, Kathy Baker, appealed the principal’s decision to the school board, which let stand the decision to bar Cynthia from bringing her girlfriend to the prom. Cynthia then sought help from the ACLU of Alabama. Subsequently, the Franklin County School System officials reversed their decision: Cynthia will be allowed to attend the prom with her girlfriend.

Who else appreciates your support? We do.

Sincerely,

Roberta Schonemann and Judy Weitzman
Co-Presidents, Greater Lafayette Chapter ACLU of Indiana