We welcome the opportunity to hear from you – whether it is to voice a concern regarding civil liberties issues or report violations of civil liberties in our community; request aid or assistance in locating additional resources; or request help in the effort to promote awareness of civil liberties across the capital region.
Like its parent organization, the ACLU, the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Capital Region Chapter is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization devoted exclusively to protecting the civil liberties of all persons, and to extending them to persons traditionally denied fundamental rights. We seek to preserve and enhance the principles embodied in the United States and the New York State constitutions.
The Chapter receives no governmental funding and is supported by individual contributions, grants from foundations, and more than 2,800 dues-paying NYCLU members in Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Saratoga, Washington, Warren, Columbia and Greene counties.
Through litigation, advocacy and public education, we strive to ensure that the civil liberties guaranteed to all of us by the Constitution are not infringed by the government or private individuals.
Since our founding in 1991, the chapter has challenged racism and police brutality, and defended freedom of expression and privacy, including reproductive choice, right here in your community.
We have protected people of color, women, lesbians and gays, and handicapped persons from discrimination.
We have sought to expand the rights of the mentally ill and the homeless, and to establish the right to counsel in landlord/tenant cases.
We have fought to secure the right of students to an education free of censorship.
The Capital Region Chapter is a visible and articulate defender of civil liberties. Staff and board members appear frequently in the media, and in public forums to educate and promote the individual rights and fundamental freedoms that our nation is based upon.
What We Do
Banned Books Week
Toward the end of September, the Chapter hosts several Banned Book Week events to celebrate the freedom to read books of one's choice and to spotlight continuing efforts to censor free expression.
Campaign to Stop Police Misconduct and Create Meaningful Citizen Review
The Chapter has advocated for meaningful civilian oversight of police agencies in Albany and Schenectady to address serious persistent allegations of police misconduct and corruption. We have sponsored rallies and other public events and joined with community groups and residents to work for institutional reform to ensure that police agencies throughout the Capital Region respect the civil liberties of all residents.
Protecting Reproductive Rights
The Capital Region Chapter sponsors educational events to highlight current issues in reproductive rights on the national and state level. We continue to monitor threats to the availability of reproductive health care in services affected by hospital mergers, medical insurance inequity, Medicaid funding, and all intrusions into reproductive decision-making by a woman and her physician.
Students' Civil Liberties Issues
The Capital Region Chapter is dedicated to informing young persons of their rights at school and in the community. The Chapter holds workshops informing teens of their rights at school, in the community, and when encountering law enforcement.
The legal committee answers many complaints concerning legal rights and civil liberties. We have an active group of dedicated attorneys who selflessly give of their time and effort. They have:
- Drafted a letter, available to inmates on request, clarifying what legal material must be made available to them.
- Sent local landlords a letter clarifying the rights of people to rent property regardless of their immigration status.
- Persuaded the Department of Correctional Services to change its policy regarding inmates’ artwork, and, as a result, an inmate was allowed to send us his artwork as a gift.
- Worked to end the routine use of Bibles to swear in witnesses in court.
- Represented the Sanctuary for Independent Media in its free speech dispute with the City of Troy.
- Written numerous letters to schools about students’ rights and followed up on complaints of anti-religious harassment and bullying in the public schools.
- Prevailed in obtaining permission for Democrats to march in a local parade as members of a political party.
- Opposed overly broad noise ordinances and teen curfews in local municipalities.
- Supported the rights of transgender people to humane treatment in correctional facilities.
Capital Region Chapter Board
Colin Donnaruma, President
Kathy Manley, Vice President
Mark Witecki, Treasurer
Dave Decker, Secretary
Justin Harrison, Legal Committee Chair
C. Mark Lawton
Linda Marie Rennie