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Another sobering report from the good folks at the ACLU:

ACLU Report on police militarization finds weapons and tactics of war used disproportionately against people of color – Report shows injustice, suffering caused by SWAT teams deployed for low-level police work, not crises; Investigation looked at many N.C. law enforcement agencies

RALEIGH – After obtaining and analyzing thousands of documents from police departments around the country, today the American Civil Liberties Union released the report War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing. The ACLU focused on more than 800 SWAT raids conducted by law enforcement agencies in 20 states, including North Carolina, and on the agencies’ acquisition of military weaponry, vehicles, and equipment.

“We found that police overwhelmingly use SWAT raids not for extreme emergencies like hostage situations but to carry out such basic police work as serving warrants or searching for a small amount of drugs,” said Kara Dansky, Senior Counsel with the ACLU’s Center for Justice. ”Carried out by ten or more officers armed with assault rifles, flashbang grenades, and battering rams, these paramilitary raids disproportionately impacted people of color, sending the clear message that the families being raided are the enemy. This unnecessary violence causes property damage, injury, and death.” Read More

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Drone 2North Carolina lawmakers moving quickly ahead with troubling proposals to rapidly expand law enforcement surveillance via unmanned “drone” aircraft should take a look at the newest poll numbers on the subject.

This is new from the good folks at the ACLU of North Carolina:

Poll: 72% of North Carolina Voters Support Warrant Requirement for Drone Surveillance

As State Legislative Committee Studies Ways to Regulate Drone Use, New Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for Warrant Requirements to Protect Privacy   

RALEIGH – Seventy-two percent of North Carolina voters believe law enforcement and other government agencies should be required to obtain a warrant from a judge before using a drone, or unmanned aircraft, to conduct surveillance on a private citizen, according to a new poll released today by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) and conducted by Public Policy Polling. Only 13% of those polled said they did not support the warrant requirement.   Read More

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Drone 2The debate over the use of drones – especially by domestic law enforcement agencies – is an issue that’s drawing lots of attention these days as more and more citizens and public officials of all political persuasions worry about the privacy implications.

Last year, the North Carolina General Assembly considered a promising bit of legislation (”The Preserving Privacy Act of 2013”) that would have prohibited individuals and government agencies, including law enforcement, from using drones to gather evidence or other data on individuals without first obtaining a warrant that shows probable cause of criminal activity. The bill included an exception that would have allowed law enforcement to use a drone to conduct searches if the agency possesses “reasonable suspicion” that immediate action is necessary to prevent certain types of immediate harm.

Unfortunately, the bill never advanced and now things appear to be headed in a distinctly different direction. Read More

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ultra117U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Eagles today struck down a North Carolina law requiring abortion providers to show a woman an ultrasound and describe the images in detail four hours before having an abortion, even if the woman objects.  Eagles held that provisions of the law violated providers’ First Amendment rights to free speech.

“Today the court sided with the rights of women and their doctors over the ideological agenda of extremist lawmakers,” said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, which challenged the law along with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“If these unconstitutional measures had gone into effect, doctors would have been prevented from using their best medical judgment to provide patients with care based on their specific individual needs. This law represented an egregious government intrusion into individuals’ private medical decisions, and we are very pleased that it will not go into effect.”

The full decision is here.

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As noted here yesterday, it’s not at all clear that the book banning efforts of religious conservatives in the Brunswick County schools were put to rest with the recent vote to keep Alice Walker’s The Color Purple  on the reading list for some students. Happily, the good folks at the ACLU of North Carolina are digging a little deeper to find out what’s really going on and what’s behind the book banning efforts. This was released this morning:

BOLIVIA, NC – The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) yesterday sent a public records request to the Brunswick County Board of Education and the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners seeking all communications between officials related to recent efforts to ban Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Color Purple,” from Brunswick County Advanced Placement (AP) English classes.

The public records request, filed under North Carolina public records laws, also seeks communications regarding any other proposed curriculum changes or plans for banning other works of literature from Brunswick County public schools going back to the 2012-2013 school year. Read More