May 21, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2012
Jana Kooren, 651.645.4097 x123; email@example.com
ACLU asks court to protect the First Amendment, and dismiss charges for lawful behavior
St. Paul, Minn. – American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is asking the Court to dismiss the charges against Andrew Henderson, who was cited for peaceably filming paramedics and sheriff's deputies in the parking lot of his apartment building. Henderson was charged in fall 2012 with obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct after he passively filmed an interaction between a resident of his apartment building and Ramsey County Sheriff's deputies.
"It is well-established that the First Amendment protects an individual's right to film police and public officials carrying out their public duty," stated Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN. "It is unfortunate that the Sheriff's office does not believe in protecting this right, and instead are preventing law abiding citizens from exercising their rights."
A hearing on the motion to dismiss will be held on: Wednesday May 22, at 2:00 p.m. in the Honorable Edward Wilson's Courtroom at the Ramsey County District Court located at 15 W. Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55102.
ACLU-MN cooperating attorneys are: John Lundquist and Kevin Riach of Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.
The ACLU has created a helpful guide for people who wish to photograph or film police activity. To learn about what is permissible you can visit the ACLU's website.
May 21, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 20, 2013
Contact: Jana Kooren, ACLU-MN,
651-645-4097 x123, firstname.lastname@example.org
Minnesota Lawmakers Inch Forward on Voting Rights But More Work Needs to be Done, say Voting Rights Groups
(ST. PAUL, Minn) –The Minnesota House passed modest reforms to Minnesota’s election systems, but the ACLU-MN and many members of the Voting Rights Coalition—a nonpartisan partnership of civil and voting rights advocates—caution that more work is necessary to make Minnesota’s election systems more convenient and accessible. The groups call on all Minnesota legislators to support true election reform in the next session. The Minnesota Senate is expected to pass the same reforms before the close of the session today.
This year, the legislature approved no-excuse absentee voting; a move that promises to alleviate some long voting lines and allows more citizens to participate. “No excuse absentee voting is a step forward, but it needs to be accompanied by early voting to give working Minnesotans more voting options and to reduce costs,” said Laura Fredrick Wang of the League of Women Voters Minnesota.
The Voting Rights Coalition warns that implementing no-excuse absentee balloting, without the option to vote early in-person, has the potential to increase the cost of Minnesota’s elections, since absentee ballots are much more expensive to process than standard in-person ballots.
Legislators also failed to address the systemic confusion and unfairness regarding the eligibility of citizens on parole or probation to vote. “Current law is confusing because some people convicted of a crime can vote again, while others can’t if they are still completing probation or parole,” said Chuck Samuelson of the ACLU-MN. “If someone has already served their time, it is only fair to restore their voting rights upon release so they have the opportunity to make a positive contribution and participate in our democracy.”
Next session, the Voting Rights Coalition will focus on passing two important measures that would ensure greater access to voting for Minnesotans:
“These simple, commonsense reforms can help ensure that the voices of all Minnesotans can be heard on Election Day,” said Vina Kay of the Organizing Apprenticeship Project. “Our democracy works best when everyone participates.”
Voting Rights Coalition members include, among others: ACLU-MN, League of Women Voters Minnesota, Organizing Apprenticeship Project, Project Vote, Common Cause Minnesota, People for the American Way, Open Access Connections, Jewish Community Action and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.
The Voting Rights Coalition is comprised of a broad spectrum of organizations that have come together with a common goal of protecting voting rights and fighting to ensure that every U.S. citizen can access the ballot box without facing unnecessary restrictions. The United States is one of the leading democracies in the world, and Minnesota leads the United States in voter participation. One of the main goals of the coalition is to make voting easier and more accessible to more Minnesota citizens.
May 14, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2013
Jana Kooren, ACLU of Minnesota, (651) 485-5925; email@example.com
Robyn Shepherd, ACLU national, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; firstname.lastname@example.org
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota governor Mark Dayton signed a law legalizing marriage for same-sex couples today. Dayton signed the bill shortly after its passage by the state legislature.
Minnesota is now the twelfth state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to recognize marriage for same-sex couples. It joins Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Washington, New York, Iowa, Rhode Island, and as of last week, Delaware.
"It has been 40 years since the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed Baker v Nelson, the first marriage equality case in the country," said Charles Samuelson, executive director of the ACLU of Minnesota. "We are pleased that after 40 years of fighting for the freedom to marry, equality has finally been realized for all Minnesotans. We are glad to join the 11 other states and the District of Columbia in recognizing marriage for all loving committed couples."
"We congratulate the people of Minnesota and all those who worked so hard to allow loving and committed couples the freedom to marry," said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. "It is thrilling to see Minnesota become the third state in just two weeks to grant same-sex couples the recognition and protection that only marriage can provide."
April 22, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2013
NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union reacted to the apprehension of the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing and statements from federal officials that he would be questioned without being read his Miranda rights.
"The ACLU shares the public's relief that the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings has been apprehended," said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director. "Every criminal defendant is entitled to be read Miranda rights. The public safety exception should be read narrowly. It applies only when there is a continued threat to public safety and is not an open-ended exception to the Miranda rule. Additionally, every criminal defendant has a right to be brought before a judge and to have access to counsel. We must not waver from our tried-and-true justice system, even in the most difficult of times. Denial of rights is un-American and will only make it harder to obtain fair convictions."
February 20, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The following is a statement from Chuck Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN, on today’s hearing regarding proposed photo-cop legislation.
“This proposed legislation brings with it so much baggage, the members of the Minnesota Legislature would be wise to abandon it with great haste. The ACLU opposes photo-cop legislation on the very simple premise that the constitution guarantees anyone accused of a criminal offense the right to face their accuser in open court. Replacing police officers with cameras also removes this very basic constitutional right. And despite the selective reporting put forth by the proponents, there is no actual compelling data to suggest that accidents are reduced with the use of these cameras. And then there is the question of the trustworthiness of the company pushing the legislation. A simple Google search of the manufacturers of these devices will show that they bring a great deal of controversy and even corruption nearly everywhere they go. In the past, the legislature would ask if we should make a change like this before asking if we can make the change. The current legislature would be wise to ask if they should do this, as the answer is quite clear.”
For More Information or to set up an interview with Chuck Samuelson, please contact Nate Dybvig at 651.230.3018 or email@example.com.
February 19, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Teresa Nelson, Legal Director for the ACLU-MN, 651.645.4097 x122
St. Paul, Minn. – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota announced that it has filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court against police and the City of Gaylord, the Sibley County Sheriff’s office and others for violating the constitutional rights of Jesus Mendoza Sierra. Ms. Mendoza Sierra’s Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated when the defendant officers and deputies arrested, detained and interrogated her in March of 2012, after the driver of the car she was in was arrested.
Police had no reason to suspect Ms. Mendoza Sierra had committed any criminal activity. Rather, the officers assumed that, because she was Hispanic, she was illegally in the United States. Despite being informed that she had valid Minnesota identification and had no warrants, these officers brought her to the police department where they detained and interrogated her. She was only released after officers took her to her home and entered her bedroom to look at her private immigration documents. Audio from the day of the incident includes a segment in which defendant Gaylord Police Officer Jeff Milette can be heard saying “look at the monkeys, look at the monkeys” in reference to some Latinos in the jail lockup.
The lawsuit seeks damages, declaratory and injunctive relief for the violations of Ms. Mendoza Sierra’s rights.
“In over twenty years of handling §1983 civil rights cases, this is the most blatant disregard of an individual based on ethnicity and national origin by police that I have seen,” stated cooperating attorney Albert Goins.
“The ACLU is greatly concerned about the attitude of law enforcement toward minorities in Gaylord and throughout the state,” stated Charles Samuelson, Executive Director for the ACLU-MN. “Ms. Mendoza Sierra should not have suffered the indignities that she did at the hands of licensed peace officers whose mission is to ‘Protect and Serve.’”
Attorneys working on the case are: cooperating attorney Albert Goins, Goins Law Offices, Ltd. in Minneapolis, Ian Bratlie, Staff Attorney for the Greater Minnesota Racial Justice Project of the ACLU-MN in Mankato, and Teresa Nelson, ACLU-MN Legal Director.
December 05, 2012
The Greater Minnesota Racial Justice Project North, of the American Civil Liberties Union-Minnesota is now accepting applications for the fourth annual "Art from Within" exhibit, slated for April 2013. The Art from Within show features artwork that gives a personal and compelling view into the lives of real people whose civil liberties, protected under the Bill of Rights, have been challenged. Artists relate to the art show both literally (art produced within the prison) or metaphorically. Past exhibits highlighted the works by Ojibwe artists as well as individuals impacted by incarceration.
Now in its fourth year, Art from Within provides an important venue for American Indians as well as non-Natives who have been impacted by the criminal justice system, to express their lived experiences through the medium of art. This year's theme focuses on artists' feelings and understandings about what the Bill of Rights means to them. First Amendment freedom of expression is guaranteed for all who reside in the United States, regardless of their civil status. Art is another way that those whose voices are often suppressed can find an audience.
The call for entries is open to emerging or established artists. American Indians from Minnesotan tribes are strongly encouraged to submit entries, as well as youth from northern Minnesota. Applications are due by March 5th, 2013. The opening reception will take place on April 5th, 2013 at the Headwaters School of Music, Bemidji. The exhibit will run from April 5th through April 27th. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Region 2 Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to defending and expanding individual rights and personal freedom. The ACLU is the nation's foremost guardian of liberty. The ACLU-MN fights to protect civil liberties of Minnesotans through litigation, public education, and lobbying. The Greater Minnesota Racial Justice Project North provides public education regarding racial justice issues through community outreach, court-monitoring, and intake services.
Fill out an application to be a part of the show today! Applications are due March 5.
December 03, 2012
A group of legal luminaries, attorneys and judges alike, gathered early in November to honor retired Magistrate Judge Jonathan Lebedoff as he received the 16th annual Earl Larson Award, which annually honors a member of the Minnesota legal profession who has excelled in commitment to preserving civil liberties. Judge Lebedoff's work as a young attorney, his rulings from the bench and his service on the ACLU-MN board of directors were all shaped by his belief in the importance of civil liberties.
As always true to his modest nature, Judge Lebedoff deflected credit for his achievements from himself when he said, "I was lucky enough to have parents who were sensitive and caring, wise in all meaningful ways, who set a standard for decency that I've tried to follow and demonstrated a commitment to community service that I can't match."
When speaking of his feelings for the organization, Judge Lebedoff said, "The Civil Liberties Union...also, on occasion, took positions that they knew were consistent with civil liberties, but which offended some of their core constituency. They've never wavered in doing what they believed to be the right thing, even if in the short term it might cost them financially or otherwise."
In choosing Judge Lebedoff for the Earl Larson Award, the ACLU honors him for never wavering from doing what he believed to be the right thing.
November 07, 2012
Contact: Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN 651.645.4097 x121,firstname.lastname@example.org
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is ecstatic that Minnesota has become the first state to defeat both a freedom-limiting marriage amendment and a voter restriction amendment. The ACLU-MN is proud of the work they did through their Vote No 2012 campaign that helped to make a difference. The ACLU-MN was a member of both campaigns working to defeat the amendments, Minnesotans United for All Families, and was a founding member of Our Vote Our Future. Both campaigns worked tirelessly to achieve these defeats. Finally the ACLU would like to congratulate the people of Minnesota for standing up and doing what is right by voting down these two freedom restricting amendments.
Moving forward we will continue to fight for marriage equality and to ensure that voting rights are protected for all Minnesotans.
August 27, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2012
Charles Samuelson, Executive Director for the ACLU-MN, 651.645.4097 x121; email@example.com
William Pentelovitch, Partner at Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand, 612-672-8338, firstname.lastname@example.org
Minnesota Supreme Court allows misleading voting amendment to stay on the
St. Paul, Minn. – The American Civil Liberties Union expressed extreme disappointment today in Minnesota's Supreme Court for allowing the voter restriction amendment to stay on November's ballot. In a 4 – 2 decision the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected the ACLU's argument that the ballot question was misleading and unclear, and upheld the amendment and ballot question as written by the Minnesota Legislature.
"The ACLU is disappointed in that the Court allowed a false and misleading amendment to stay on the ballot," stated Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN.
"The Minnesota State Legislature wasn't telling voters the truth about its proposed photo ID requirement for voting, and they have a right to know," said Laughlin McDonald, director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project. "Not only is this part of a wave of laws that have already had a severe impact on the right to vote nationwide, but this particular amendment effectively spells the end of Election Day registration, which significantly increases turnout."
The petition was filed in the Minnesota Supreme Court in June on behalf of the League of Women Voters Minnesota, Jewish Community Action and Common Cause Minnesota, as well as five individual plaintiffs: Gabriel Herbers, Shannon Doty, Gretchen Nickence, John Harper Ritten, and Kathryn Ibur.
In its decision the Court did provide clarification to photo ID requirements noting that absentee voters will also have to present photographic identification.
"A grave miscarriage of justice was done to Minnesota voters today when the Minnesota Supreme Court allowed this amendment to stay on the ballot as is," stated Bill Pentelovitch, of Mason Edelman Borman & Brand, LLP. "Minnesotans will walk into their polling place and cast a vote on a misleading and confusing amendment that could be permanently enshrined in the Minnesota Constitution."
The court also ruled today that the Secretary of State must use the title designated by the legislature. The ACLU-MN filed an amicus brief in this case arguing that the Secretary of State did have the authority to designate a title.
In the coming months the ACLU-MN will continue its efforts along with other advocacy groups to defeat the voter restriction amendment by talking to voters and educating them on how this will effectively end Election Day Registration, place hurdles in front of seniors and active duty military, and negatively impact citizens ability to absentee vote.
Attorneys in the case are: William Pentelovitch, Richard Wilson, Justin Perl, Wayne Moskowitz, Alain Baudry and Catherine Ahlin-Halverson of Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand, LLP and Laughlin McDonald of the ACLU Voting Rights Project, and Teresa Nelson of the ACLU of Minnesota.