The American’s Civil Liberties Union is turning 100 years old and to mark the occasion, the ACLU is going on national tour to engage the community on the ongoing work of the organization as well as threats to current civil liberties. ACLU Colorado Executive Director Nathan Woodliff-Stanley spoke to KGNU on the topic.
“The ACLU of course was founded in 1920, the year that women got to vote, and that means that 2020 is the 100th anniversary, or the centennial for the ACLU nationwide. The ACLU of Colorado was founded I think in 1952 but there’s been ACLU presence going back earlier than that here. Over that time, the ACLU has changed a lot, I mean it really started defending peace and labor activists. It became very much a legal organization where it was focused on lawsuits defending rights under the bill of rights and the constitution. In more recent years, we’ve really expanded into more legislative and policy work, more communications and recently more engagement with elections, organizing and work in the field.”
This weekend there will be an exhibit at the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora tailored to the ACLU’s 100 year lifespan. It will feature exhibits focused on specific issues from mass incarceration to LGBT rights to surveillance issues as well as many more issues the ACLU has worked on and continues to do so.
One of the groups performing on Saturday, April 6th are the UndocuMonologues, who have been featured on KGNU multiple times. It features first person monologues written and performed by undocumented immigrants telling their own stories, in an effort to combat dehumanizing rhetoric on immigrants. The ACLU is fighting for immigrants both nationally and on the state level. Woodliff-Stanley says the ACLU takes the separation of families at the border incredibly seriously, and is continuing to fight to reunite those families back together, despite glaring challenges in their way. These challenges involve families not being reunited despite court orders, and delayed information on families being separated in the first place.
In Colorado, one of the things that the ACLU is focusing on is the separation of local law enforcement from ICE. “When those get entangled with each other it breaks down trust in all local law enforcement. You end up with situations like the woman we represented at one point Claudia Valdez, a victim of domestic violence and when she called, she’s the one who ends up being arrested. And people won’t call about things like domestic violence, they won’t call the police about anything, they won’t want to be witnesses if they’re afraid that local police are tied in with ICE.”
There are several bills in the current legislative session that the ACLU is supporting. Some have already passed such as a police transparency bill that’s currently waiting to be signed by the Governor. There’s also a bill that’s been led by One Colorado this year focusing on banning gay conversion therapy.
For more information on the exhibit this weekend, visit ACLU100.org.