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Spring 2021 Newsletter

We pulled off victories amid the chaos of 2020. Help us continue to do so.

When I think back to a bit more than a year ago—the streets of New York City quiet but for the constant wail of sirens, the hospitals packed, everyday New Yorkers either overworked and overexposed or out of work and facing great loss—all I can recall is fear for our city, state, country…world. How, I worried, were we going to make it through the extraordinary crisis of COVID-19? How was the NYCLU going to go on doing our important work—in a high-stakes election year, no less?

But of course, New Yorkers rallied as we always have. We banged pots and pans nightly to celebrate our essential workers. We threw ourselves into mutual aid to make sure our most vulnerable did not go without. And as a year like no other unfolded, we masked up and hit the streets safely to demand justice for Black people killed by the police. To oust Trump and his cronies in perhaps the most consequential election of our lives. And to go on taking care of one another, as only New Yorkers can.

I’m especially proud of you for staying committed to the NYCLU and ACLU through thick and thin. Because of your loyal support, we pulled off yet another year of landmark victories in the middle of a pandemic.

Just think about it: We won important cases and legislative victories increasing police transparency and accountability, and immigrants’ rights. We organized to make sure that New Yorkers got counted in the Census. We educated people about the importance of voting, which effected an important political shift in Albany that is already yielding victories for civil liberties. We won a case that will bring racial justice to the school board in East Ramapo. We helped pass the HALT Act, which will drastically cut back the cruel and dangerous use of solitary confinement in New York prisons. We published a report that called out the environmental racism of the I-81 highway in Syracuse. We trained dozens of volunteers to protect protests during the summer’s demonstrations and beyond. We led the call to hold police accountable for the killing of Daniel Prude—and to get police out of the role of first responder in mental health crises. And our Teen Activist Project (TAP) became a lifeline for hundreds of young people speaking out for equity in remote learning.

I could go on—truly! But aside from expressing gratitude to my staff and to folks like you who supported us, I’d rather outline our priorities as we push through Year Two of life amid COVID and as we face important elections, including the mayoral election in NYC, and the inevitable political battles in D.C. of the 2022 midterms. In the two years ahead, we’re laser-focused on:

Strengthening our democracy. That starts with restoring a robust federal Voting Rights Act and creating a New York version, and ending voter suppression, the hours of waiting, inaccessible poll sites, restrictions on absentee voting, arbitrary deadlines, and gerrymandering.

Safeguarding true equality. We must enshrine in our state constitution the fundamental principle that women, people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants, and all have true equality. And as the 6-3 conservative Supreme Court may try to overturn Roe v. Wade, we must make sure New York safeguards access to abortion care.

Defending immigrants and holding the Biden administration to its promises. We’re demanding an end to local police colluding with ICE, and a fair day in court for Dreamers, children, families, and anyone seeking asylum. The NYCLU is already in court exposing abuses and fighting to reverse systemic injustice.

Ending racist policing. We need to get the police out of mental health crises, schools, and other areas where they don’t belong – and reinvest in our communities – while gathering and publicizing data on abuses.

Racial justice and equity are at the core of all these key components of our 2021-2022 Strategic Plan, which you’ll learn more about here, or you can read in full online.

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
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Civil Liberties Union