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Winter 2021 Newsletter

Photo by Jena Cumbo
Donna Lieberman by Jena Cumbo.

We’ve survived a nightmare. But there’s still work ahead.

I am finally exhaling a little bit. I’m sure many of you will know what I mean when I say that I was a nervous wreck about the election. But we’ve made it through a very dark and dangerous passage. You sticking with us these past four years means everything to me and to everyone here at the NYCLU. The Trump presidency is over—and that’s a very good thing.

Still, it’s too clear that he did real damage. He and his enablers attacked our elections and our right to vote. They chipped away ceaselessly at the rights and dignity of Black and Brown people, women, immigrants, Muslims and LGBTQ folks. The unbridled power of the police, and ICE’s inhumane treatment of people held in custody, has been shocking and a very justified cause for outrage and protest. Even on Trump’s way out, he instigated an attack—a failed coup attempt—on the U.S. Capitol to prevent the orderly transition of power, leading the ACLU to call for his impeachment…again.

So now we have a more humane administration taking shape. But even still, restoring our rights will require time, effort— and your continued support. And it’ll happen on the heels of a year filled with extraordinary pain and uncertainty. COVID-19 has hit communities of color so much harder—and exposed just how deeply white supremacy is baked into our systems and institutions. We’ve grappled with blatant racism from elected officials, the police and other bigots. We’ve lost loved ones from the pandemic—and we’ve lost Black people to racist violence, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many more.

But we’re New Yorkers—and we never give up. Despite the risks, you masked up to march for Black lives, monitor protests, sign petitions—and vote. Together, we logged hard-fought wins We’ve survived a nightmare. But there’s still work ahead. for police accountability, such as finally getting Albany to repeal 50-a, the law that shielded police disciplinary records from public scrutiny. After the repeal, the NYCLU published a database of every NYPD officer complaint going back to the 1980s. We followed that up by filing numerous FOIL requests to get comparable information from other departments around the state.

On other fronts, we were busy. We joined the ACLU in a lawsuit to withhold from the Census citizenship questions designed to intimidate immigrants from participating. And we fought successfully for teenagers to be registered to vote come their 18th birthday, along with opt-out automatic voter registration for anyone who comes in contact with a state agency.

In LGBTQ rights, we forced a settlement in a case against a county that guarantees that people in police custody are housed and given medical care in ways consistent with their gender identity. And in a key step towards blocking the school-to-prison pipeline, we worked with community groups to remove police from schools in Rochester.

Please visit our website for more on our accomplishments. In 2021, our work continues. We’ll fight for fairer elections and for expansion of the right to vote. To enshrine in our state constitution the fundamental principle that women, people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants—everyone—has true equality. And to end racist policing and reinvest in marginalized communities.

Most of all, we’ll fight to keep New York a beacon of hope for people nationwide. So please continue to support us as we put 2020 behind us and work to build a brighter new decade ahead.

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